Religion: Pontifices Maximi

The Roman Catholic Church this week officially abolished six popes.

It was mainly the work of 77-year-old Monsignor Angelo Mercati, Prefect of the Vatican Archives, who began looking into the papal roster during the reign of the present Pontiff's predecessor, Pius XI. Two centuries ago, Giovanni Marangoni, custodian of the Roman catacombs, made up a list of popes based largely on a series of dated papal portraits on the walls of the famed Roman church, St. Paul's Outside the Walls. Scholars had known that the old list was inaccurate, but it took Monsignor Mercati's...

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