Does the papacy really use a Silver Hammer to make sure the Pope is dead?

Our dinner conversation tonight driffted to the election of the
pope of the Roman Catholic church and my dad said that a silver
hammer is of some significance either in the election or the
death of the Pope

So is it really true that they bang the pope with a silver hammer
to make sure hes dead or is there some other significance
to the hammer?

Also, we talked about one of my dads associates being Coptic,
a rite of the Cathloic church. I remember from religion class the
rites are Roman, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Bizzantine, Russian,
and a couple others. My question is are they all under the
leadership of the pope? Do they have different parishes and
diosesse? Can a Coptic pope be elected instead of a Roman pope?

With regards to the silver hammer, it is apparently true. This site quotes the book, Pontiff, written by journalists Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts:

I am curious to know if it is the same silver hammer the Pope uses to knock down the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica.

With regards to your second question, the Coptic, Byzantine, and various Orthodox rites are all separate churches. So you’re not likely to see a Coptic pope in charge of the Roman Catholic Church (or Latin rite, to be contrasted with the others).

Has there ever been Camerlengo named Maxwell Edison?

The mystery of the Roman Catholic church never ceases to amaze me. I swear I;'ve read this before.

“Hello, Vatican emergency medical services”
“Something terrible has happened, the holy father is dead!”
“Calm down now, let’s take this one step at a time. First let’s make sure he’s actually dead.”
<sound of reciever being put down… BASH!>
“Okay, now what?”

Hey, the “there were two hunters…” variant of that just recently won the “Funniest Joke in the World” contest.

Hahahaha :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


Carry on.

It is not true that the Eastern Rite churches are seperate from the Roman Catholic Church. Certainly the Orthodox Church is seperate (and has been officially since 1054), but the Catholic Church, in addition to the Latin Rite, contains churches of the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Antiochene, Chaldean, and Armenian Rites. (Other Catholic rites, like Syro-Malabar Rite, which is found in India, are actually forms of one of those five rites. [Chaldean in the case of Syro-Malabar.])

Eastern Rite (or “Uniate”) Churches are very different from what you probably think of as Catholic. They are generally more similar to Orthodox churches. Unlike Latin Rite churches, Eastern Rites often have married clergy. They follow their own liturgy, have their own sets of Canon Law, and maintain their own heirachies each headed by a Patriarch. Nevertheless, they are part of the Roman Catholic Church, and acknowledge the Pope as the supreme head of the Church.

Obviously, it is unlikely that an Easten Rite priest would ever become Pope. On the one hand, since the Pope is Bishop of Rome, and Rome is part of the Latin Rite, it may also be impossible. On the other hand, I imagine the Cardinals have a lot of leeway in who they elect. I have no idea if there are “requirements” for election. (Under Canon Law, that is. Of course the Cardinals won’t elect just anyone.)

Most of this information can be found here


Well, actually, in 1958, one of the Cardinals they thought might be named pope was Cardinal Agagianan, who was a member of the Armenian Catholic Church. So, if he had been elected, you would have had a member of the Armenian rite as the head of the Latin Rite (because the Pope is the head of the Latin rite).

I’m sorry, ultrafilter, but that is incorrect.

The Byzantine Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite church, yes, but under the authority of the Holy See and whose members are bound by the Code of Canon Law. The Byzantine Church includes the Maronites, the Melkites, and the Assyrian Catholics, among others. In addition, the Coptic rite Catholics in Egypt and elsewhere, Armenian rite Catholics, Chaldean-rite Catholics in Iraq and Iran, and Ethiopian rite Catholics in Africa, are all Catholics in union with the Holy See, and …

Vatican II’s Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches

So a Byzantine bishop not only could be elected Pope, but he would not need episcopal ordination. I say this only to point out that, in theory, any person could be elected pope, even a layman. The era of lay Popes is long gone as a matter of realism, of course… but a Byzantine Pope is certainly possible.

  • Rick

"in theory, any person could be elected pope, even a layman. The era of lay Popes is long gone as a matter of realism, of course… "

So there could be a Pope Zev I? Cool! Actually, I am guessing that by “any person”, you would only include Roman Catholics of one rite or another.

When was there a “lay” Pope? I know a lot of them acted as if they were “lay” persons, but I didn’t thing there’d ever been a non-ordained pope before.

Among others, John XII was a lay person (and only 18) when he was picked. If a non-priest was selected pope, he would be ordained and then officially coronated.


I’ve never heard of the silver hammer. Just one more thing [besides the silly dresses and hats] to keep me smiling all day.

Thank You. :slight_smile:

In theory, any male person could be elected. He would not actually be pope, however, until he had been baptised, been ordained a bishop and accepted his election.

In practice, the election of a layman is unlikely, and the election of an unbaptised layman even less likely.

I stand corrected.

Am I the only one to find myself humming bing bang Maxwell’s Silver hammer came down upon his head…?

Me too. It should be the theme song for this thread.

Wait a minute, Rick, you claim that all Catholic Rites are bound by the same Code of Canon Law. My source (which I linked to in my earlier post) says that’s not the case. This is a pretty minor technical point (from the perspective of the general public), but I’m curious. Are you sure?

I’m glad I’m not alone. I also have a twisted version of “If I had a Hammer” in my head as well:

If I had a Hammer,
I’d a hammer pope Martin
I’d hammer pope Eugene
All over this Land

(Clever lots can add more verses)

“So Mr Costanza, what is it that attracts you to our religion?”

“I think it’s the hats.”