Pope Shenouda III of Egypt's Coptic Christian church passed away Saturday at the age of 88, but you'd be forgiven for not realizing he exists. Head of the ancient Coptic order of Christians, numbering about 10 million in Egypt today, he was chosen to lead the church in 1971 by a blindfolded child, who picked his name out of three identical pieces of paper in an ancient rite that was revived in the twenty-first century. His official title is Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Orthodox and Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle that is, in Egypt, Pentapolis, Libya, Nubia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and all Africa.
Shenouda III was perhaps the most famous other pope, but not the only one! Here are five other popes that you've never heard about...
Pope Theodoros with the Orthodox who dove after the blessing cross this year in Alexandria following the blessing of the waters. Photo courtesy of Jon Marc.
1. Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria
My man Theodore II, born Nikolaos Horeftakis on the Greek island of Crete, leads the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, which is of course not to be confused with the Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa. Theodore II leads the Greek Orthodox church in Africa, which diverged from the Coptic church in the fifth century A.D. Both churches accepted the teachings of the First Council of Ephesus of 431, but the Copts -- referred to as non-Chalcedonians -- refused to accept the teachings of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451.
Pope Gregory XVII and his stigmata. Photo courtesy of José Manuel García Bautista.
2. Pope Gregory XVII
The self-declared Pope Gregory XVII of the modern Palmarian Catholic Church schismatic movement is one of the most famous anti-popes, or religious figures who claim that they, not the official Catholic pope in Rome, are the true heirs to the throne. The movement has its origins in an apparition claimed by four school girls outside of the Spanish town of Palmar de Troya, and is officially called the Christian Palmarian Church of the Carmelites of the Holy Face. Clemente Domínguez y Gómez, an insurance broker from Seville, also claimed to see a vision of the Virgin Mary at the same field, and declared himself pope in 1974 after the death of Rome's Pope Paul VI in 1978. Domínguez at one point excommunicated John Paul II, but was dogged by rumors of homosexuality and sexual affairs with young nuns, although the movement lived on after his death. Father Sergio María, known as Pope Gregory XVIII, is the current Palmarian pope, and claims thousands of adherents across Europe and North America.
Photo courtesy of Futurama Wiki.
3. Space Pope
Little is known about the Space Pope, as his only exposure has been in the animated documentary Futurama. His official title is Crocodylus pontifex, and it is unclear whether or not he is indeed reptillian, but he is most definitely green. Continuing his third millenium predecessors' tradition of conservative social views, he endorsed a propaganda film that discouraged human-robot relationships, according to the Futurama Wiki.