…by Anura Guruge
1/ Benedict XVI’s Rapid Rise Through The Longevity Ranks
— December 15, 2011.
2/ Benedict XVI on March 1, 2012, 6th Oldest as of 1400, by the Numbers
— February 29, 2012.
3/ Benedict XVI is also the 6th oldest, as of 1400, to create cardinals
— March 4, 2012.
4/ Benedict XVI the oldest pope to travel abroad, since 1400
— March 26, 2012.
On Monday, April 16, 2012 the pope turns 85. This does not change any of his longevity records. He became the 6th oldest, as of 1400, on March 1, 2012.
The next meaningful landmark will be on September 8, 2012 when he draws ahead of the 7 year 4 month 2 weeks and 5 day pontificate of Benedict XV (#259). There is symbolism in this.
This pope, upon being elected, explained to his electors why he chose to be a ‘Benedict’. He is then said to have quipped, emulating a similar sentiment declared by John XXIII (#262), in 1958, when he was justifying his chosen name, that Benedict XV had only served briefly. The implication, as had been the case when John said that ‘most of pope Johns had had short pontificates’, was that the pope did not foresee a lengthy reign; John, alas, having been right.
Benedict XV had reigned for 7.3 years, a tad above the 7.2 (or 7.19 to be precise) average for all pontificates.
John XXIII, though he got the number of legitimate ‘Johns’ prior to him wrong, was, however, right that popes named ‘Johns’ tended to have short pontificates.
The twenty (as opposed to the incorrectly stated twenty-two) popes named ‘John’ that preceded 1958’s ‘Good Pope John’ had an average length of reign of 5.87 years. John XXIII, with his short but dramatic pontificate that lasted only 4.58 years, reduced this average further to 5.81 years.
The sixteen ‘Benedicts’ [counting the three separate terms of Benedict IX (#146, #148, #151) individually], have an average length of reign that is even shorter; i.e., 5.27 years.
So, Benedict XVI has already surpassed the average for ‘Benedicts’.
On September 8, 2012, 145-days after his 85thbirthday, the length of this pope’s reign will exceed that of Benedict XV.
[Coincidently, Benedict XII (#198), in the 14th century, had a reign that was just fifteen days shorter than that of Benedict XV’s.]
The current pope has already exceeded the reigns of ten of his namesakes (albeit, two of these being Benedict IX’s short, second and third terms).
Yet, there is Benedict VII (#136) who reigned for 8.75 years, while Benedict IX in his first term and Benedict VIII (#144) reigned for just under twelve years. There is a good chance that this pope might get close matching the tenure of ‘VII’, and possibly an outside chance that he might even get close to the twelve year mark – which he would reach in 2017!
P.S., If they are already talking about a February 2013 Benedict XVI consistory — this pope will sail past September and October with ease.