In 1587, Pope Sixtus V (1521-1590) established an official Vatican publishing division and retrospectively created a literary past for the Christian religion by producing of a series of unashamedly fictitious books. As a result, a series of illusory works were written to defend and support untrue allegations about Christianity’s past:
‘Several of these fake books are frequently cited and applied to the defence of Christianity by the Church as true and genuine pieces’.
(‘A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the People’, Lippincott and Co. 1877; also, Diderot’s ‘Encyclopèdie’, 1759; also, ‘The Propaganda Press of Rome’, Sir James W. L. Claxton, Whitehaven Books, Belgrave Square, London, 1942)
During the 16th and 17th Centuries, the Vatican flooded the world with false books about its alleged ‘popes’, the most blatant example being the famous or infamous, but ‘official’, ‘Book of the Popes’ (‘Liber Pontificalis’). Like the ‘Liberian Catalogue’, this tome is notorious for its fictitious accounts of early and mythical ‘successors’ of an un-historic ‘Pope St. Peter’. This papal fabrication provides a collection of glowing diatribes describing pontificates of docile and devout popes, most of who never existed, and has about it the spurious air of ingenuousness that so often amuses the non-Christian reader.
The ‘Book of the Popes’ makes martyrs of thirteen ‘popes’ of the Third and Fourth Centuries who never existed, for it is known that their names were created in later times and retrospectively inserted into Catholic chronicles to create an illusion of an unbroken succession of popes back to the First Century. Here we see another example of the Vatican forging its own credentials, supported by the fact that all popes down to the year 530, with the benefit of hindsight, were honored as ‘saints’. This pretence gave the ‘pseudo popes’ an elevated Christian status, a kudos, and it concealed their fake nature. The evidence is confessed to by the Church itself:
‘The Vatican has now confessed that the ‘saintly’ distinctions are ‘without foundation’’.
(‘The Popes, A Concise Biographical History’, Burns and Oates, Publishers to the Holy See, London, 1964, p. 32)
The Holy See knows that they were retrospectively applied to invented people by later Catholic authors fabricating a false history for Christianity. Starting from 530 onward, the authors then did away with the prefix ‘St’, and it became rare, and eventually disappeared. This additional admission of the deceitfulness of the ‘Book of the Popes’ is found in the ‘Catholic Encyclopedia’:
‘In most of its manuscript copies there is found at the beginning a spurious correspondence between Pope Damasus and St. Jerome. These letters were considered genuine in the Middle Ages. Duchesne [papal historian, d. 1922] has proved exhaustively and convincingly that the first series of biographies, from St. Peter to Felix III (IV, d. 530) were compiled at the latest under Felix’s successor, Boniface II (530-532). The compilers of the ‘Liber Pontificalis’ [‘Book of the Popes’] utilized also some historical writings, a number of apocryphal fragments [e.g. the ‘Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions’], the ‘Constitutum Sylvestri’, the spurious Acts of the alleged ‘Synod of the 275 Bishops under Sylvester’, etc., and the fifth century ‘Roman Acts of Martyrs’. Finally, the compilers distributed arbitrarily along their list of popes a number of papal decrees taken from unauthentic sources, they likewise attributed to earlier popes liturgical and disciplinary regulations of the sixth century. The authors were Roman ecclesiastics, and some were attached to the Roman Court … in the ‘Liber Pontificalis’ it is recorded that popes issued decrees that were lost, or mislaid, or perhaps never existed at all. Later popes seized the opportunity to supply a false pontifical letter suitable for the occasion, attributing it to the pope whose name was mentioned in the ‘Liber Pontificalis’.
(‘Catholic Encyclopedia’, Farley Eds., Vol., v, pp. 773-780; ix, pp. 224-225, passim; also, ‘Annales Ecclesiastici’, Folio xi, Antwerp, 1597, Baronius; (‘De Antiqua Ecclesiae Disciplina’, Bishop Lewis Du Pin (Folio, Paris, 1686)
The falsity of the ‘Book of the Popes’ is thereby shown, and the intentional presentation of a fictitious papal lineage is revealed. The summations of popes are decorated with the official halo of sanctity but a hagiographic scholar and a member of the Bollandists, Father Hippolyte Delehaye (1859-1941), a leading Catholic investigator of this kind of Vatican literature, frankly admitted:
‘There is no evidence whatever that the papal genealogies [in the ‘Book of the Popes’] are based upon earlier sources’.
(‘The Legends of the Saints’, Father H. Delehaye, Fordham University Press, 1962)
The Vatican again admitted that its papal biographies in the ‘Book of the Popes’ are not a candid digest of men of considerable erudition, but are untruthful fabrications:
‘Historical criticism has for a long time dealt with this ancient text in an exhaustive way … especially in recent decades … and established it historically untenable’.
(‘Catholic Encyclopedia’, Farley Eds., Vol., v, pp. 773-780; ix, pp. 224-225)
Thus, the Holy See confessed that its ‘Book of the Popes’ is a phony record, compiled in the typically fraudulent manner of all Christian literature. However, Catholic authors regularly quote the Vatican-produced falsehood as factual, and continue to deceive people about the true nature of popes and the real purpose of their office.
Fine-tuning the records
In 1947, and to the amazement of Catholics worldwide, Pope Pius XII announced that he had deleted six ‘popes’ from the Vatican’s ‘official’ list because ‘a mistake had been made for they never existed’ (New York Times; also Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 19th, 1947). He also authorized the falsification of the dating of 74 popes, and removed the ‘sainthood’ of four others. In reality, the Vatican amended its fabricated list of popes, and fine-tuned for itself a false papal inventory back to the First Century. These ‘popes’ were vested with an aureole of sanctity so, in the eyes of believers, the miraculous ‘holiness’ of the ‘early popes’ is safe, overlooking Vatican confessions that it knows nothing about them except what is written in the ‘official panegyric’ that the Holy See invented for itself.
The ‘Book of the Popes’ is a bizarre Catholic publication that is so deceptive, sophistical, doctrinal and prejudiced that in the interests of revealing historical facts, it is not worthy of reference in any serious work, yet Christian dictionaries, particularly the ‘Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church’ constantly expand upon its fictions and references the forged book as if its entries were historically true, but covers itself by attaching the word ‘unreliable’ in brackets after citations (e.g., Entry on page 1540 under ‘Stephen I’; 1997 Ed.,). Here we see another example of false information making its way into Christian encyclopedias and dictionaries and used today with great profit to fool people into believing something about Christianity’s past that is untrue.