Who Was the Youngest Pope?

Editorial credit: Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com. A portrait depicting Pope Benedict IX, who was pope on three separate occasions.

Throughout history, there have been examples of young gentlemen who were chosen to be popes at what most of us would consider a tender age for such a task. In fact, there are two distinctive cases documented whereby the post was inherited and run by teenagers. These young popes are explored below.

The Four Youngest Popes of All Time

Pope Benedict IX

Pope Benedict IX was the Pope three separate times between the years 1032 and 1048. The circumstances surrounding his papacy have been said to be unorthodox as he was given this post through an act of bribery. His father bribed the people at the Roman Empire so as to allow his son take charge. He was ordained to become a pope at an age between the age of 11 and 20. He is documented as the only pope who held the post on three separate occasions. His legacy as pope did not end well as it is believed he sold his papacy to his successor.

Pope John XII

This young man became pope at the age of 18 years. He reigned as pope for the period between the years 937 and 964.

Pope John XI

Pope John the XI who became pope at the age of 20. He reigned from 931 until his death in 935. No one really knows the father to John the XI as two men claimed paternity to him. His mother was regarded to be very powerful in Rome.

Pope Gregory V

This young personality began serving in the church as a chaplain at very tender age before even become pope. He took the mantle of papacy in the year 996 and ruled until 999 when he passed away. He was aged 24 years when he was conferred the title of pope. Just like most of his predecessors, he too hailed from the royal family of popes which may explain why he was pope at such a young age.


The papacy though a noble and dignified profession has seen corruption and nepotism - a fact that takes shape in the existence of such young popes throughout history.

Who Was the Youngest Pope?

Rank´╗┐Pope NameAge at Beginning of Palpacy
1Pope Benedict IXBetween 11 and 20
2Pope John XII 18
3Pope John XI20
4Pope Gregory V24

More in Society