As expected, black smoke came off from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday night at the Vatican City. Not that the world was way so much excited to have a new pope installed and proclaimed just after the first balloting alone. But just as the world awaits on who will be the 266th successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, people are just as curious as to the name game that the new pope will take.
And whether the 115 cardinal electors admit it or not, they are already contemplating the new papal names they would take, win or lose. For after all, after confirming one's acceptance of one's new post, the second question that would be asked of the formal cardinal now pope is "By which name do you wish to be called?"
"I don't think anybody would admit it, but I think it's one of those things people might daydream about," Robert Dennis, a religious and intellectual historian at Queen's University in Montreal, said. "The likelihood is that it crossed their mind at some point in time."
"They're thinking about something when they choose this name; it's not just something that they think sounds good -- they consider it to be a weighty thing," William Portier, chair of Catholic theology at the University of Dayton, said.
Punters and bettors over at the Irish online betting site Paddy Maker suggest Leo, Pius and Gregory are good names for the new pope.
Ambrogio Piazzoni, a church historian and vice-prefect of the Vatican library, said the new pope's name would very much reflect the message that he wants to convey from the very first day of his new job.
"The name the new pope chooses tells a lot about the thrust of his papacy," he said.
The new pope could take on one of the names suggested at Paddy Maker, or he may make a trend of his own, just like what Pope John Paul I did when he took on the names of two previous popes, John and Paul. The latter two popes were the ones who guided the Roman Catholic church through the turbulent Second Vatican Council otherwise known as Vatican II in the 1960s.
Or the new pope may choose not to alter his birth name after all, as in the case of Pope Marcellus II in 1555, whose real name was Marcello Cervini.
The new pope may also consider rehashing names of the popes who lived in the first century, such as Linus, Hyginus, Zephyrinus and Dionysius. Even Lando.
But most noteworthy is that no one among the present cardinal electors and even among the future ones will take on the papal name Peter II.
Filling the responsibility is already hard enough.
And they wouldn't want to be eternally compared to the first pope.
"In the Bible, when you get a new job from God, you pick a new name or you're given a new name, and that's the idea -- they feel they've been chosen to do this very weighty job and they need a name that will sort of help them and inspire them," Mr Portier told CTV News. "It's also a signal to the rest of the church and the world."
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