My cousin Nancy has two sons. The older boy, Owen, attends a preschool hosted by the local Roman Catholic parish, where portraits of popes past and present are found on the wall. The younger boy, Joel, often accompanies Nancy on her trip to take Owen to school. As he toddles by each Successor to Peter, Joel likes to ask, "Who dat?" I like to imagine that the conversation goes something like this:
|Nancy:||That's John XXIII, dear. He was expected to be an insignificant stop-gap pope, but instead called the Second Vatican Council, which had far-reaching consequences felt yet today.|
|Nancy:||Honey, that's Gregory XIII. He is best known for establishing the modern calendar in response to the increasing difference between the Julian calendar and the solar year, but also he founded many universities and supported the arts.|
|Nancy:||My dear boy, that is Pius XI, remembered for his anti-Nazi encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, written in German, rather than the usual church Latin.|
|Nancy:||My beloved son, that is Leo XIII. His encyclical Rerum Novarum was the first papal document addressing the conditions of the working class; it attacked both communism and unrestrained capitalism while affirming the right to private property.|
That's the water fountain, Joely. Your father's relatives in Wisconsin would call it a "bubbler."
So delighted is Joel with papal regalia that Nancy instituted a "Pontiff-fy My Son" contest on her blog. I had to give it a shot - if not because Lisa and I are the godparents of this would-be Bishop of Rome, then for the can of Old Bay seasoning promised to the winner.
My entry didn't win - it was bested by some very gifted Photoshop artists - but I stand by it:
Take heed, Pope Joel I: sic transit gloria mundi.