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Pope John Paul II's Reign Is Fifth-Longest

September 14, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

Pope John Paul II has become the fifth-longest-serving pontiff in the history of the Roman Catholic Church and is less than eight months away from taking fourth place.

As of Sept. 9, the 82-year-old pontiff moved ahead of Hadrian I, who reigned for 23 years, 10 months and 24 days between 772 and 795. John Paul was elected pope Oct. 16, 1978, and took office officially six days later.

According to tradition, the longest-serving pope was the first, St. Peter, who is believed to have led the church for 34 to 37 years.

Vatican records put Pius IX second; Leo XIII third; and Pius VI, who served for 24 years, six months and seven days between 1775 and 1799, fourth.

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