It often happens that I wake at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope.

POPE JOHN XXIII (1881-1963)

The Pope

RITA RUDNER

I admire the Pope. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can tour without an album.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, many popes were elected in their early 20s and several were teenagers.

Popemobiles


In 2005 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, sold his 1999 VW Golf for $13,000. It was reported to be in a ‘well-cared-for condition’ and was later re-sold on eBay for $244,000 to the Golden Palace casino in Austin, Texas as a ‘celebrity status item’.

There are at least 20 Popemobiles around the world, including half a dozen in the Vatican garage. There are several Mercedes, a Range Rover, a Chevvy, a VW, a SEAT Panda, a Ford Transit, a Ferrari and one made by a Canadian Fire Engine company.

The licence plate is SCV 1 which stands for Stato della Citta del Vaticano (Vatican City State). The local joke in Rome is that it is an acronym for Se Cristo Vedesse – ‘if only Christ could see this’. In 2011, a German filed a complaint against the Pope for not wearing a seat belt.

No Salary for the Pope


The Pope is paid nothing and owns nothing. This was confirmed in 2001 when Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls ended speculation about the Pope’s personal wealth by saying ‘The Pope does not and has never received a salary.’

However, as head of the Catholic Church and head of state of the Vatican, all the Pope’s worldly needs are looked after. A recent estimate of the Vatican’s wealth by Time magazine put it at between $10 and $15 billion. In full, the Pope’s job titles are: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City and Servant of Servants of God.

Before officially taking on the role, the Pope-elect’s private property is donated to the Church, transferred to another relative, used to endow a foundation or placed in trust. He can also choose to retain controlling ownership and use his will to specify what should happen to everything when he dies. When John Paul II died in 2005 he left no possessions and asked for his personal papers to be burned. Three bags containing gold, silver and bronze coins were placed beside the body. Each bag contained one coin for each year of his reign, the only monetary compensation he received for his service, adding up to about €100 (£80).

People who are frightened of the Pope are called papaphobes.

During his time in office, Pope John Paul took over 100 ski vacations.

SHUTTERSTOCK

RICHARD NIXON (1913-94)

I would have made a good Pope.

John Paul II asked the media not to use the word Popemobile as he thought it was undignified. They ignored him.

The best-selling work of fiction of the 15th century was The Tale of the Two Lovers, an erotic novel by the man who later became Pope Pius II.