by Anura Guruge
We do not have reliable (or complete) ‘anniversary’ dates, in particular their birthdays, for the first 204 popes. Complete records are only available as of 1400, i.e., starting with Innocent VII (#205) 1404 – 1406, and even then the birth dates of the first four, Innocent VII to Eugene IV (#208), are based on estimates. The only pope to have abdicated since 1400, viz. Gregory XII (#206), who did so to help bring to an end the Great Western Schism, happens to be the second pope in this list of four with uncertain birthdays.
One thing that becomes clear is that there is no discernible ‘pattern’ as to a preferred age at which popes get elected — though the expression ‘a fat pope is followed by a young pope,’ definitely seems to have a role when it comes to age. Lets start with an overall snap shot showing age elected, reign length and age at end for all 62 of the last popes.
<< click on charts for an enlarged version >>
Notice that there have only been three (3) instances when successive popes were the same age when elected, the most recent of these being Paul VI (#263) an John Paul I (#264). In reality there are only 18 instances where successive popes are within 5 years in age of each other, plus or minus, at the time of election. See below.