Simon became Peter, and later on many popes did change their name. Some did not. We read in the pauline Epistles than Linus (probably the same person as the 2nd pope) was called Linus already.
When did this practice came about, and why Linus choose to keep his birth/baptism name?
To me, the question seems misleading. Hardly any of the early popes changed their names.
Pope John II (533-535) was the first Pope to change his name upon assuming the Papacy. He was born under the pagan name Mercurius, and decided it wouldn’t be appropriate for the leader of the Church to have the name of a pagan god.
Pope John II (r. 2 January 533 – 8 May 535) “was the first pope to adopt a new name (regnal or papal name) upon elevation to the papacy, as his theophoric birth name honoured the Roman god Mercury.” (Wikipedia)
He was the 56th pope.
The last pope to use his birth name as a regnal name was Marcellus II (r. 9 April
– 1 May 1555, only 9 days), b. Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi. He was pope #222
He did. His original name was Steve.
I would like to see a modern pope keep his own name. Really, unless a new pope’s birth name was really obnoxious, there is no need to take a new name. The current pope was named Jorge Mario at birth; nothing wrong with that name. Pope Benedict XVI’s given name was Joseph. No need to have changed that.
I am sorry if it mislead you. By “Later on”, I meant much later. But I could have argued that Since Simon had his name changed…oh well, and then I remember Cletus and the others.
Actually, Simon didn’t have his name changed when he became Bishop of Rome. Jesus nicknamed him when they first met.
Yes, as always I am unclear, but this is what I meant. Jesus gave Simon his “religious name” if you like, as most of the religious men do have one such name, without losing the one the were born with. So Bergoglio remians Bergoglio, but is known as Francis. No change, but a conversion dare I say.
The taking of a regnal name has been in practice as a way for the Popes to show, sometimes, what course they wish to chart in their Papacy, to set the tone from day 1. Pope Benedict XVI took the name both to recall St. Benedict, patron of Europe and one who had a great impact on the culture of the western world (the crisis in which is a constant theme in his work), as well as Pope Benedict XV, a Pope who labored mightily for peace in a turbulent time in the world. Francis chose his name in honor of St. Francis, to show solidarity with the poor. There’s no “need” to take a regnal name, but it’s a good practice all the same.
I think it is a great practice. It gives an indication of the tone and focus the Pope wishes to emphasize, and it also denotes a change in the man, when he assumes the office of the Pope. It shows on outward sign of an inward reality.
Plus it also gives great clarity when people are talking about them, and when they are cited. It’s very helpful when people reference something they said, to have their papal name for things after they assumed office and their birth name before.
Plus it is yet another sign that the Bishop of Rome is different from all other bishops, and the changing of names helps the world to understand that.
I hope it never goes out of style.
That wasn’t a common practice at the time. While popes in the first centuries retained their birth names after their accession to the papacy, later on popes began to adopt a new name upon their accession. This first started in the sixth century but didn’t became customary until the 10th century.
Here’s a little more information I found. During the first centuries of the church, the bishops of Rome continued to use their baptismal names after their elections. The custom of choosing a new name began in AD 533: Mercurius deemed it inappropriate for a pope to be named after the pagan Roman god Mercury, and adopted the name John II in honor of his predecessor John I, who was venerated as a martyr. In the 10th century clerics from beyond the Alps, especially Germany and France, acceded to the papacy and replaced their foreign-sounding names with more traditional ones.
The last pope to use his baptismal name was Marcellus II in 1555