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According to Catholic tradition, Jesus founded the papacy in the first century, when he chose St. Peter, the leader of the apostles, to be his earthly representative. "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church," he states in chapter 16 of Matthew. "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Those words, which now circle the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, serve as the biblical mandate for the papacy. All popes are considered symbolic descendants of Peter and are thought to hold "Peter's Chair"

Since then, there have been more than 260 occupants of the papal office. The institution has endured through the defining moments of European history, including the split of the Roman Empire, the bloodbath of the crusades and the rise of the Italian Renaissance. More recently, popes have struggled to reconcile the strict traditions of doctrinaire Catholicism with the realities of modern life, including defending firm stances against abortion and the death penalty. Here, a short history of some of the most notable occupants of "St. Peter's Chair."

Pope

Years

2013 - Current

2005 - 2013

1978 - 2005

John Paul I

1978 - 1978

Paul VI

1963 - 1978

Saint John XXIII

1958 - 1963

Pius XII

1939 - 1958

Pius XI

1922 - 1939

Benedict XV

1914 - 1922

1903 - 1914

1878 - 1903

Blessed Pius IX

1846 - 1878

1831 - 1846

1829 - 1830

1823 - 1829

1800 - 1823

1775 - 1799

1769 - 1774

1758 - 1769

1740 - 1758

1730 - 1740

1724 - 1730

1721 - 1724

1700 - 1721

1691 - 1700

1689 - 1691

Blessed Innocent XI

1676 - 1689

1670 - 1676

1667 - 1669

1655 - 1667

1644 - 1655

1623 - 1644

1621 - 1623

1605 - 1621

1605 - 1605

1592 - 1605

1591 - 1591

1590 - 1591

1590 - 1590

1585 - 1590

1572 - 1585

1566 - 1572

1559 - 1565

1555 - 1559

1555 - 1555

1550 - 1555

1534 - 1549

1523 - 1534

1522 - 1523

1513 - 1521

1503 - 1513

1503 - 1503

1492 - 1503

1484 - 1492

1471 - 1484

1464 - 1471

1458 - 1464

1455 - 1458

1447 - 1455

1431 - 1447

Martin V

1417 - 1431

1406 - 1415

1404 - 1406

1389 - 1404

1378 - 1389

1370 - 1378

Blessed Urban V

1362 - 1370

1352 - 1362

1342 - 1352

1334 - 1342

1316 - 1334

1305 - 1314

Blessed Benedict XI

1303 - 1304

1294 - 1303

1294 - 1294

1288 - 1292

1285 - 1287

1281 - 1285

1277 - 1280

1276 - 1277

1276 - 1276

Blessed Innocent V

1276 - 1276

Blessed Gregory X

1271 - 1276

1265 - 1268

1261 - 1264

1254 - 1261

1243 - 1254

1241 - 1241

1227 - 1241

1216 - 1227

1198 - 1216

1191 - 1198

1187 - 1191

1187 - 1187

1185 - 1187

1181 - 1185

1159 - 1181

1154 - 1159

1153 - 1154

Blessed Eugene III

1145 - 1153

1144 - 1145

1143 - 1144

1130 - 1143

1124 - 1130

1119 - 1124

1118 - 1118

1099 - 1118

Blessed Urban II

1088 - 1099

Blessed Victor III

1086 - 1087

1073 - 1085

1061 - 1073

1058 - 1061

1057 - 1058

1055 - 1057

1049 - 1054

1048 - 1048

1046 - 1047

1045 - 1046

1045 - 1045

1032 - 1045

1024 - 1032

1012 - 1024

1009 - 1012

1003 - 1009

1003 - 1003

999 - 1003

996 - 999

985 - 996

983 - 984

974 - 983

973 - 974

965 - 972

964 - 964

963 - 964

955 - 963

946 - 955

942 - 946

939 - 942

936 - 939

931 - 935

929 - 931

928 - 928

914 - 928

913 - 914

911 - 913

904 - 911

903 - 903

900 - 903

898 - 900

897 - 897

897 - 897

896 - 897

896 - 896

891 - 896

885 - 891

884 - 885

882 - 884

872 - 882

867 - 872

St. Nicholas I (the Great)

858 - 867

855 - 858

847 - 855

844 - 847

827 - 844

827 - 827

824 - 827

817 - 824

816 - 817

795 - 816

772 - 795

767 - 772

757 - 767

752 - 757

752 - 752

741 - 752

731 - 741

715 - 731

708 - 715

708 - 708

705 - 707

701 - 705

687 - 701

686 - 687

685 - 686

684 - 685

682 - 683

678 - 681

676 - 678

672 - 676

657 - 672

655 - 657

649 - 655

642 - 649

640 - 642

640 - 640

625 - 638

619 - 625

608 - 615

607 - 607

604 - 606

579 - 590

575 - 579

561 - 574

556 - 561

537 - 555

536 - 537

533 - 535

530 - 532

526 - 530

523 - 526

514 - 523

498 - 514

496 - 498

492 - 496

483 - 492

468 - 483

461 - 468

432 - 440

422 - 432

418 - 422

417 - 418

401 - 417

399 - 401

384 - 399

366 - 383

352 - 366

337 - 352

336 - 336

314 - 335

311 - 314

309 - 310

308 - 309

296 - 304

275 - 283

269 - 274

260 - 268

257 - 257

254 - 257

253 - 254

251 - 253

236 - 250

235 - 236

230 - 235

222 - 230

217 - 222

199 - 217

189 - 199

175 - 189

166 - 175

155 - 156

140 - 155

136 - 140

125 - 136

105 - 115

97 - 105

88 - 97

67 - 76

32 - 67

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