by Anura Guruge
Pope Benedict XVI becomes the 7th oldest pope. July 19, 2010 post.
On Saturday, April 16, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI (#266) will turn 84.
He was elected pope, following a 2-day, 4-ballot conclave, on April 19, 2005, three days after his 78th birthday. He was the 5th oldest to be elected pope since 1400. [Refer to this post for the four older electees.]
Benedict XVI was the oldest to have been elected in 274 years. The prior pope older than him was Clement XII (#247) who was elected on July 12, 1730. Clement, was also 78, but was 83 days older.
When he turned 83 last April, there were three popes (since 1400) who had died when 83 ahead of him in terms of longevity. On July 19, 2010 he overtook all three of them to become the 7th oldest since 1400.
Directly ahead of him is his long-time friend and collaborator John Paul II (#265) who died, April 2, 2005, when 84 years, 10 months, 2 weeks and 1 day.
So Benedict XVI has just over ten and a half months, following his 84th birthday, to leapfrog over his predecessor. That is 319 days as of April 16, 2011. That happens to fall on a leap-day, February 29, 2012. Following that he will be the 6th oldest pope since 1400.
Then, ‘6 weeks’ later, on April 16, 2012, he will turn 85 [31,047 days]. Innocent XII (#243) who died at 85 spent 31,244 days on earth. So it will take another 198 days (~7 months), from his 85th birthday, before Benedict XVI can claim the 5th slot (albeit, again, since 1400). That would be October 31, 2012.
Here is the current chart, as of the pope’s 84th birthday, of the oldest popes since 1400:
The reason that all of the above discussions are contingent as of 1400 is because we either don’t have any dates at all or the ones we have are unreliable for the popes that came prior to that. Even the birthdays of the first four popes since 1400 are based on estimates — but none of these four lived long enough to impact the oldest top 10 (or even 11).
There have only been 62 popes since 1400 [i.e., 23%]. So we don’t know ages of 204 of the popes! Hence, there is definitely a likelihood that some of these popes may have lived to be 84, 85 or older. So Benedict’s longevity may have been surpassed by other popes. Hence the constant emphasis of ‘as of 1400.’
For one, John XXII (#197), who reigned for 18.3 years between 1316 and 1334, may have been close to 90 when he died. But, his date of birth is a ‘guesstimate.’ So we can’t be sure. That is the problem/