I have been enjoying the efforts of some of my artistically inclined friends the last few days with the annual coming of the phenomenon that is Inktober. While I'm generally partial to a festival, and the sillier the better, Inktober has never been one that has interested me, because despite my long-standing desire to make a comic about time-travelling popes one day, I cannot draw to save my life.
That said, if I were to attempt to participate, I would no doubt try to do something Papish. Back when I began this blog, I used to spend a lot of my time thinking of strange situations to put various popes in, but I have a memory like a sieve and over the years I've forgotten almost all of the useless information that I've crammed into my head, so if I am going to do this, I'm going to have to do a lot of googling.
I've already missed day one, but the prompt for today is mindless. While it would seem like there's got to be some low-hanging fruit there making fun of some ridiculous theological stance, it was never really the vibe for Habemus Papas to make fun of religion. Instead, I want to have fun with religion, using these fascinating historical figures as the backdrop. So if theology is out, so where does mindlessness take us?
Then the obvious answer hit me. What I was looking for was a pope who had quite literally lost their mind. Which popes had been decapitated? Sadly for the purposes of this aspiring cartoonist, the list is shorter and less interesting than I would have expected. Lots of the early popes are have been traditionally described as martyrs, and often as beheaded, but actually sourcing the stories of their deaths is difficult, largely because we know very little about most of them. There's Sixtus II, who was almost certainly beheaded in 258 AD under Valerian, but what would I draw, 5 blokes in a cemetery blessing? Oh, for a papal Cephalophore!
In the end, I decided just to go right ahead and pick a scene from the life of my favourite possibly decapitated pope, St Fabian. He was martyred by Emperor Decius, traditionally understood to have been by the sword, so he counts as mindless, but perhaps his closest association with beheading is that he sent St. Denys, (Guess we're going to talk about Cephalophores after all!) to Gaul.
For most of papal history, Popes could be appointed in three main ways. Either the electors voted and picked someone, or they appointed a subcommittee to pick someone for them, or most rarely, by acclamation, where everyone unanimously just picks someone. Fabian, who wasn't even a priest at the time, became the first Pope appointed by acclamation when a dove landed on his head while he was standing in the crowd watching the voting, and the similarity to Pentecost was so overwhelming that everyone agreed that it was a miraculous sign and instantly declared him Pope.
He turned out to be a pretty good Pope, too. I can't see him being a notable character in a time travelling pope comic given how little we really know about him, but he's undoubtedly going to turn up in the background somewhere when I get around to it, which is definitely absolutely about to happen, because, hey, he has a birb on his head.