How Many Popes Have There Been?

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The first pope of the Catholic Church was St. Peter, the apostle.

Since then (and including St. Peter), there have been a total of 266 popes in a continuous line of apostolic succession spanning almost 2000 years. The current pope (#266) is Pope Francis.

(FYI, if you find discrepancies in this official number sometimes, it’s because there have actually been 264 popes but 266 pontificates. Pope Benedict IX served multiple times, but with interruptions. So depending on how you count that, the number may vary. You also may see the total number sometimes put at 267, rather than 266. This is because they are counting Stephen II, who was elected pope, but died before being consecrated. He is not usually officially counted in the total number.)

An entire list of the popes can be found here.

Pretty awesome!

Bonus: Listen to Why do we have a Pope?, by Scott Hahn.

As a former Protestant minister, Dr. Scott Hahn knows very well the common objections non-Catholics have to the Catholic Faith. In this informative talk, he tackles the tough issue of the Papacy and defends our belief that the Pope is part of Christ’s design for His Church.

9 comments Add comment

Michael February 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I was able to convert a protestant to the Catholic Church just by showing them a timeline similar to this one.

maritza January 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm

good thing god created the internet cause if he didn’t i would have to be researching on books and books are really boring

leila crowe October 10, 2012 at 5:33 am

thankyou sooooo much you helped me

Sacha December 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Hi you say he is the #266 pope I googled this other site say 265? You sure he is 266?

Matthew Warner December 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Sacha – that’s a good observation. I actually updated the post to reflect some additional information that clarifies some of that. Hope that helps!

Iona March 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm

So what’s the answer? I get different numbers on different web sites, and I don’t know which ones have been updated for today’s Papal election (March 13, 2013). Including Pope Francis (and counting Benedict IX three times for each one of his Papacies, as is customary), HOW MANY HAVE THERE BEEN, ALREADY? 266 or 267?

Sacha December 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Thanks Mathew! I am all smiles now :)

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