Should Popes be an exception to name guidelines concerning prefixes and suffixes?

+12 votes
I have recently started a free space project for the Popes, and am trying to establish a guideline for how to enter names. Traditionally when Popes take the office, they choose a new name for their reign. This name may include a roman numeral suffix to indicate how many Popes before have held that name.

General guidelines would have Pope go in the prefix field, the number in the suffix field and the papal name in either the preferred name or nickname field. This creates an odd mixing that would not be seen in other contexts, certainly never how they would have used it.

WikiTree style:

Pope Karol (John Paul) Josef Wojtyla II

Suggested Alternative:

Karol (Pope John Paul II) Josef Wojtyla

This is the resulting display of having both the prefix and the suffix in the nickname field. I personally find this preferable as it keeps the prefix and suffix with the name they go with. I also find it preferable over a third style:

Pope John Paul II Josef Wojtyla

Where the new name is in the preferred name field obscuring the given first name in some contexts.

Currently all three styles are being used, is my suggested alternative style a reasonable exception. I am certainly open to other ideas on how to display these names well if anyone has any.
WikiTree profile: Space:Popes
in Genealogy Help by Greg Shipley G2G6 Mach 6 (68.4k points)

Just a more general thought; Should it be "Pope"? The Vatican's official language is not English, shouldn't it be "papa"? And for the same reason Ioannes Paulus II? And birth name Karol Józef Wojtyła.

Hello, Greg!

Your suggested alternative is already part of current guidelines. See item #2 near the bottom of this page:

Basically the name, including the title and any suffix, used as Pope should be considered a single unit; so all parts of the name should be entered into a single name field (use either Preferred Name or Other Nicknames).



Thanks for the link to the right place in the style guide. I thought I had seen something like that in passing, but wanted more than my memory to go on before making changes and marking false database errors.


I had also considered this and in principle believe Papa may be better. However, for the prefix field where I would only include one, I was tending toward what would someone be searching for? A couple of google attempts found that even the vatican website uses the English name more than the Latin one.

A second advantage of the nickname field is the inclusion of both.
The problem with Popes is that each language has its version of their names, even now. Putting them all in the nickname field could look messy.

Wouldn't keeping the Latin version in the Nickname field and giving other versions in the biography be better? Pope John Paul II is not only Ioannes Paulus in Latin, he is Jean Paul in French, Giovanni Paolo in Italian, and son on.
That shouldn't be a problem, Isabelle, since we use their convention, not ours.

I would put the official Vatican version in the Preferred Name field and the local (per each individual) version in the Other Nicknames field; more that one version could go in this field, if necessary.

Each name unit would include the title and suffix (if any), of course.

1 Answer

+3 votes
Hi Greg, I just wanted to let you know I think this is a great subject for a project :-)
by Leigh Murrin G2G6 Mach 2 (29.4k points)

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