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A ring that passes from hand to hand

· Pope Francis' episcopal genealogy, one month after the beginning of his Pontificate ·

On 13 March 2013 Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected Pope and — as he himself told the journalists with whom he met three days later in the Paul VI Hall — automatically took the name Francis, the saint of Assisi in whom poverty, peace, and care for creation worked in unison in a supreme witness of love, “the immense love of the inflamed heart”, which Iacopone da Todi sang in his praise dedicated to him (40, vv. 155-156). The first American Pope, although both of his parents are of Italian origin, and the first Jesuit among the Successors of the Apostle Peter, the new Bishop of Rome was born in the Argentine capital on 17 December 1936. He became a novice of the Society of Jesus on 11 March 1958 and took a degree in philosophy and theology at the Colegio Máximo San José of San Miguel.  On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest by Archbishop emeritus Ramón José Castellano of Córdoba in Argentina, and on 22 April 1973 he took perpetual vows in his order. He was then professor of Literature and Psychology, Novice Master, and Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina.  John Paul II appointed Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires on 20 May 1992. He thereby became the immediate collaborator of Cardinal Archbishop Antonio Quarracino, from whose hands he received the fullness of Orders with his episcopal consecration on 27 June of the same year.

Pope Francis shares with the greater part of his predecessors on the Throne of Peter – from the 18th to the 21st century (from Clement XI to Benedict XVI) – the same episcopal genealogy.  The first ring in the chain was Cardinal Scipione Rebiba, who was elected 16 March 1541 and in the same year appointed titular Bishop of Amicle, Auxiliary of Archbishop Gian Pietro Carafa of Chieti, the future Pope Paul IV, who created him a cardinal on 20 December 1555.

In particular, Pope Francis shares the same episcopal lineage as the Popes in whose pontificates he has lived — from 1936 to 2013 — with the sole exception of Pius XI, that of Cardinal Paluzzo Paluzzi Altieri degli Albertoni (consecrated bishop 2 May 1666), from whom the future Pope Benedict XIII (3 February 1675) received episcopal ordination.  He in turn consecrated the future Benedict XIV (16 July 1724), by whom the person who was to become Clement XIII was consecrated bishop (19 March 1743).

Until Clement and since Cardinal Rebiba the episcopal lineage of Pope Francis is identical to that of Pius XII, Paul VI and John Paul II; with John XXIII and John Paul I the shared episcopal forefathers go further, all the way to Cardinal Pietro Francesco Galleffi, consecrated a bishop on 12 September 1819; finally, with Benedict XVI the common episcopal heritage has included one more ring, Cardinale Giacomo Filippo Fransoni, consecrated by Galleffi 8 December 1822. Fransoni then ordained as bishops Antonio Saverio De Luca (8 December 1845) and Carlo Sacconi (8 June 1851)  – future cardinals –  whence the respective episcopal lineage of Benedict XVI (from De Luca [1805-1883] to Josef Stangl, Bishop of Würzburg [1907-1979]) and that of Pope Francis (from Sacconi to Quarracino) diverge.




St. Peter’s Square

Oct. 17, 2019