This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28 -- Feast of Saint Pope Hilarius

Stephen the Uninvested
There have been 265 popes of the Roman Catholic Church so far.  This doesn't include Stephen who was elected on March 23, 752 and died on March 25, 752 without ever having been consecrated and invested with all the papal authority and majesty.  If you want to count him, there have been 266 popes so far. 

Y'all are probably aware that His Holiness Benedict XVI handed in his retirement papers, snapping a six century streak of dying in office.  The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has the latest line on the all things papal -- in addition to betting on a specific candidate, one can wager on age, national origin, length of the conclave, number of ballots required ut habeamus papam, and of course the name the new pope will take.  As I write this, Peter is an even money bet and Damian is 200:1.    Hilarius is not even on this list, a fact on which you and I could capitalize.  But first...

Pope Hilarius -- could be more cheery
Pope Hilarius (that picture makes him look like the Queen of Clubs in an antique deck of cards, but he was actually a pretty vigorous pontiff) was #45 to succeed St. Peter (that's #46 overall).  He was a deacon to Pope Saint Leo the Great, who was no slouch himself.  Hilarius went to the Second Council of Ephesus on behalf of Leo, and there he defended the orthodox camp against the Monophysites.  Having experienced how a council can be manipulated by those able to travel to it (they called that one the Robber Council), he summoned the legates to Rome when he needed councils (or counsel).

One might not associate the term bathhouse with virtue, but if the Pope builds it, perhaps it is really about public health.  Hilarius ordered two new bathhouses to be constructed which would have been an important contribution to slowing the urban decay in fifth century Rome.  He also commissioned the construction of a few churches, chapels, and oratories, including one to Saint John the Apostle, to whom he attributed his escape from the Robber Council.  And lest you think he was all about the praying and bathing, he also built a couple of libraries.
Bathhouses, huh? A business plan for tomorrow.
If His Holiness the Next Pope is reading this, I think that Pope Hilarius is really your best bet for a name.  First, the name means cheerful, and frankly, the Papacy could use a little of that sunshiny disposition again.  [No offense intended toward His Holiness Pope Benedict.  My cardinal rule (get it?) is that you don't kick a lame duck.]

Second, Hilarius was a solid pope, and no one else has come along to sully the name.  Sure, you could go with Leo, but there were good and bad Leos.  Same is probably true of John, Paul, Gregory, Urban, and maybe even Pius.  I was surprised to see the odds on Julius (50:1) and Alexander (40:1) [as of this writing] since I would have thought they'd both be off the list by associations with prior popes.  Even more surprising, there are no odds on Hilarius.  I should probably lay money now; I could get 1000:1.

"Pax Christi" "Amen" "Hail Mary" and such
Of course, if you don't want to go with Hilarius, I've got a couple other suggestions.  You could be Valentine II and launch a campaign urging the faithful to "Fall in love with the Church all over again."  The first Valentine was a five-week caretaker so there can't be any bad associations.  No?  You could rescue the name Agapetus from the tenth century and its political machinations.  Agape is even the right kind of love for the church.  Agapetus III? No?

Beloved witness of faith
Okay, how about Sixtus VI?  Add one more six to the mix and cook the noodles of all the Apocalypse-preppers.  Linus hasn't been used since the first century, but he is a beloved character from the comic strip Peanuts.  Moreover, he's the one who explains the true meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown.  Lando was pope from 913 to 914; of course Lando was also Billy Dee Williams' character in Star Wars.  That series will be making a huge comeback now that Disney has bought the rights.  Too commercial?  And neo-pagan? 

Pope Lando... A New Hope for Catholicism
Then, there is always the Malachy Prophecy to consider.  Remember that Irish archbishop who made a list of the remaining 112 popes before Doomsday?  Benedict was #111.  So how do you handle this tricky little patch of millennialism while still piloted the Church through its third millennium? Setting aside the fact that Lando Calrissian used to pilot the Millennium Falcon, there are a couple of ways.  You could tweak their noses by taking the name Pope Malachy or perhaps just embrace the hype by calling yourself Pope Ultimus.

If that doesn't suit you, let's take another look at Hilarius.  

1 comment:

  1. I will freely admit that Pope Francis did not cross my mind. I didn't even give it much credit when my wife suggested it. I've got to learn to listen to her more often.