Thursday, 28 February 2013 11:26
VATICAN CITY (CNS) • When Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced his resignation, he said that “both strength of mind and body are necessary” to carry out the papal ministry in the modern world.
He was elected in 2005, just after his 78th birthday. Of the 102 popes whose exact age at election is known, Pope Benedict was one of 17 churchmen elected bishop of Rome while between the ages of 71 and 80.
Ambrogio Piazzoni, vice prefect of the Vatican Library and author of a book on the history of papal elections, distributed a sheet of “some curiosities” about elections to reporters Feb. 21, the day after brieﬁng journalists at the Vatican.
On the topic of the age of the pope at election, he said:
• Three popes were under the age of 25. The last was Pope Gregory V, who was 24 when elected in 996.
• Seven were between 25 and 40 years old. The last was Pope Leo X, who was 37 in 1513.
• Eleven were between 41 and 50. The last was Pope Clement VII, who was elected in 1523 at the age of 44.
• 24 popes were in their 50s. The most recent was Blessed John Paul II, who was 58 years old when he began his papal ministry in 1978.
• 37 were between 61 and 70 years old. The last was Pope John Paul I, who was 65 when he began his 33-day papacy in 1978.
• Only three popes were over 80 when elected. The last, chosen by cardinals in 1406, was Pope Gregory XII. He was 81.