Well this is what I was up to for the last 15 months. Writing this book, an adjunct to this blog.

If you read this blog you should check out this book. If you like this blog you must buy the book.

This is the definite, no stones left unturned handbook for the NEXT papal election — whenever that comes to be.

The dignified pomp as red-clad cardinals solemnly congregate in Rome, the obstinate obfuscation as to who is in the running to be the next pope, and the eagerly awaited color-coded smoke signals [sfumata] are matchless and enduring.

With this book you will be ahead of the game. Don’t rely on the media ‘pundits.’ With this book you will be a true expert as to who is in the running [i.e., the papabili], what makes them credible contenders, the traditions, the precedents, the rules, the schedule … even the shape of the urns used to collect the ballots.

For a detailed look at the Table of Contents please click <here>.

For previews of the book please click <here>.

To order the book please click <here>.

Thank you. You will like this book. You will find it informative. You will find it very useful. Trust me. Have I ever let you down?

Google Books for Anura Guruge The Next Pope Book

The Next Pope” by Anura Guruge is now available on Google books.

So you can now peruse through much of the book at will. I, albeit considerably biased, think you will like what you see. Let me know. Any and all feedback much appreciated.

The permanent, portal for this book can he found <here>.



Grace, and may peace be with you.

Anura Guruge

Posted by: aguruge | December 17, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI Christmas 2009 By Catholic Press Photo

Rome’s ‘Catholic Press Photo,‘ who for the last 41 years have been providing tantalizing images of the popes and the cardinals, permitted me to display their 2008 Christmas Greeting last year. It was very popular. They, in particular Alessia Giuliani, have again honored me by letting me reproduce their card here. Thank you Alessia, thank you Catholic Press Photo.

I guess this years motif is the ‘pope in 2009.’ I like it.

Catholic Press Photo is a great resource for photos. I urge you to spend some time enjoying what they have on display.

As we Brits like to say, have a VERY JOLLY Christmas. May 2010 be good to you and shower you with all that is beautiful in life.

Grace, and may peace be with you, now and forever.

Anura Guruge

Posted by: aguruge | November 22, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI’s ‘Music From The Vatican’ CD

This CD, with the pope singing and praying, in multiple languages, will be available for sale as of end of November 2009.

Some of the proceeds will be used to provide musical instructions to underprivileged kids around the world. Not sure how it is going to done. From what I see, the record [i.e., CD] company, viz. the British Geffen Records, is going to handle this directly, rather than the Vatican.

Anyway, I found a couple of good videos clips about this CD on YouTube. Here are the links:

  1. First link
  2. Second link, where you can see the pope playing the piano. I, for one, did not know that this pope could play the piano. Good for him.

Hope this helps. Thanks.

Anura Guruge

Posted by: aguruge | June 22, 2009

Apologia For Listing Errors In Pope Books

by Anura Guruge

Given that I have been writing, for money, since the early 1980s, I am acutely aware how easy it is to slip up and get things wrong. Now after 7 published books, well over 350 published articles (including White Papers), a number of books with my name on the cover as the editor and multiple Web sites/BLOGs, I, more so than ever, appreciate that I flirt with fallibility on daily basis. Then, we have that perspicacious adage about ‘people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.’ Consequently I am venturing into this with utmost trepidation and more humility than might be readily available.

So, I want to first start by pointing out the errors in my first papal book. You can find the list HERE.

<< Web page with the errors I am currently flagging. >>

Over the last four years or so when I have been researching papal history with vigor, I have found innumerable, demonstrable errors (and omissions) in books and Web sites dealing with popes, conclaves and cardinals. Given the volume of material involved and the complexity (and breadth) of the matter covered some of this is inevitable.

Errors in Web sites do not bother me much. They can, and are corrected. I find typos on my BLOGs with sickening regularity. But, then again I tell people openly (including those that hire me for professional writing) that my middle name is ‘typo.’ So just this weekend, I noticed that I had missed a ‘1’ in ‘194!’ So I had said that: ‘Following his last consistory in 2003 there were 135 electors within a College of 94 (plus one in pectore [i.e., name not announced])!’ Hopefully most readers, and this page has been viewed by ~200 folks in the last two months, realized that I was having finger problems. I am SORRY.

I also understand that sometimes you accidentally omit a word that makes what you are saying incorrect — though grammatically your sentence is still valid. So often, editors, who are rarely subject matter experts, never realize that you have goofed. I did that on another BLOG entry. I first said: ‘One has to go back to 1689 to find a pope who was older at the time of election, that being Alexander VIII who was 79.’ I meant to also add ‘older than 78 at the time of the election.’ Without the ’78,’ my statement was WRONG. Sorry. In addition to the current pope, Benedict XVI, there were two other popes elected in their 78th year. I wanted to go BEYOND 78. But I initially screwed up.

So, I know how easy it is to screw up.

I also fully appreciate what it is like to ‘break into a cold sweat.‘ It is a scary feeling. Happened to me once. I realized that I had got some prices wrong in a monthly column I used to write for a leading computer networking newspaper. I had overlooked some documentation. When I discovered that I had erred, I realized, though it was very late at night, in the middle of winter in New Hampshire, that I was suddenly sweating. I was lucky. I managed to get it changed before the column was printed.

Errors in books, particularly if these books are considered to be ‘authoritative,’ are a problem. There is gravitas (or similar) in a printed book. People tend to believe that if they see it in a book, it has to be right. But there is no magic to make that so. So there are errors in books and magazines. But here is the real problem and I have been at the end of this so many times. People claim that YOU wrong because they saw something to the contrary in a book or magazine. (In the mid-1990s I actually managed, with the help of IBM, to get an Internet-related monthly magazine terminated because I go so sick of people arguing with me that I was wrong because they had read a different opinion in that magazine.)

I have tried very had to keep my mouth shut about the errors that I find in papal-related matter. In the case of Web sites I have had nothing but joy in terms of getting things fixed. THANK YOU. I communicate, via email, with a number of Web site authors/owners and point out ‘discrepancies’ that I discover. Send an email just a few minutes ago related to the number of cardinals created by John Paul II.

The problems with books is that it is not that easy to fix errors in them. Yes, with today’s ‘print-on-demand’ (PoD) technology you can deliver new editions fairly easily and without undue costs. But most publishers do not, as yet, exploit PoD.

Authors could have companion Web sites with an errata section. That would be good. But that doesn’t happen either.

Way back in the 1970s there was a renowned computer expert called Donald Knuth who wrote a multi-volume book on computer algorithms. As with papal history this was complicated enough to ensure that there would inevitably be some errors. Prof. Knuth, in his preface, offered two pounds sterling (i.e., UK pounds) to each person who was the first to notify him of an error. Then in the next edition he fixed those errors. I was lucky enough to get one of those cheques from Prof. Knuth c. 1973.

So, that is my justification. I am not trying to be a smart Alec or a gadfly. I know better than that. I also realize that I now have yet another TARGET painted on a hitherto spared part of my anatomy. So now I will have authors gunning for me. C’est la vie. I am sorry I have to do this. But somebody has to and I am now old enough to give it a try.

Many thanks. All the best.

Grace, and may peace be with you.


The newly elected president, minutes into his inaugural speech made the statement: “Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.”

This was incorrect.

He, though the 44th president, was but the 43rd American to take the presidential oath.

This is due to President Grover Cleveland who served two terms. But his two terms were separated by President Benjamin Harrison. Since they were not concurrent, Grover Cleveland is counted as both #22 and #24.
[Recall, we too have this problem thanks to the three terms of Benedict IX.]

Well, Pope John XXIII, immediately upon accepting his election and stating that he wished to be known as ‘John,’ provided this explanation to the cardinals that had just elected him: “Twenty-two Johns of indisputable legitimacy have [been pope], and almost all had a brief pontificate.”

The last part of that statement was indeed true. The average length of reign for the popes named ‘John’ are below that of the average for all popes.

The first part of the statement, however, was a slip — akin to Obama’s.

Though he would certainly be ‘John XXIII,’ i.e., the 23rd, there had not been 22 legitimate popes named ‘John’ prior to him. There had only been 20, with 3 antipopes. A numbering confusion in the 13th century meant that there was never a ‘John XX,’ pope or antipope.

So John XXIII shouldn’t have said 22, just like Obama should not have said 44.

But there is a big difference. John XXIII had one night of preparation time (him having realized the prior evening that he would most likely garner the votes necessary to be elected the following morning).

Obama, on the other hand, had over two months to prepare this speech — with a small army of speech writers to help. << smile >>


Thank you.

Anura Guruge

Posted by: aguruge | December 24, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI Christmas 2008 Photo

An inspiring photograph of the Pope and the dome of St. Peter’s by the maestros at “Catholic Press Photo” in Rome.


Catholic Press Photo, founded 40 years ago, is a treasure trove of images for those of us interested catholic-press-photoin popes, the papacy and the cardinals.

Of late I have been enjoying the great library of photos of they have of the cardinals.

IF you are in anyway interested in the papabili (next pope) check out this list of papabili 2009 and then look up there pictures. Cardinal Odilo Scherer was on EWTN this last Saturday. One of my friends happen to catch it and send me an e-mail while the show was still on. Was good to see him in action. Certainly looks papabile with LOTS of gravitas.

Well have a Merry Christmas and may 2009 be a great year for all of you.

Many thanks for your time.

Anura Guruge

Posted by: aguruge | November 15, 2008

Catholic News Agency Reviews My “Pope Names” Book

Anura Guruge's "Popes and the Tale of Their Name" book

Anura Guruge

Brother Benet Exton, O.S.B., St. Gregory’s University, Shawnee, Oklahoma has reviewed my “Popes and the Tale of Their Names” book for the “Catholic News Agency”.

You can read the review here.

The book is readily available from Amazon.

Thank You.

Anura Guruge

Two local papers did interviews about my latest book, “Popes and the Tales of Their Names.”

This appeared on August 7, 2008. It has some details from within the book. It also mentions how my (16 year old) son sent a copy of the book to Pope Benedict XVI. interviewbaysider-2pages

This interview appeared on July 17, 2008 (the day before the book was available from Amazon.com) and has more insights as to my motivations for writing the book. interview-laconiadailysun-3pages

The book is getting decent reviews, even by those that don’t know me, and is available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Thank you.

Anura Guruge

Posted by: aguruge | July 18, 2008

Sketches of the Popes by Matt Kirkland

When I was writing my “Popes and the Tale of their Names” book, earlier this year, I was constantly scrabbling to find images of the various popes mentioned in the text that I could use to embellish my writing. Having lots of embedded images has become somewhat of a trademark of my writing style.

With the past books (or articles) obtaining the images I wanted was never a problem. In most cases I could create them myself since much of it was along the lines of technical drawings.

Sourcing pictures of popes, even those from the early or mid 20th century, was a challenge. I was working on a shoestring budget. I couldn’t pay agencies the princely ransoms they delighted in quoting as soon as I mentioned the loaded phrase “it is for a book.” Plus high resolution images seemed to be in short supply. Publishers demand that all images have to be at 300 dpi or more.

During my regular searches for papal images, always starting with a quick Google, I came across Matt Kirkland’s sketches of the popes. I was impressed. If I could get some of these in 300 dpi I would be all set.

Here is a ‘thumbnail’ of Matt’s sketch of Pope Pius X [Aug. 4, 1903 – Aug. 20, 1914 and pope #258 per my numbering. Matt has him at #257 because he skipped the original, short-lived Stephen II].

Now here is a (cropped) photograph of Pius X from Wikipedia. You can appreciate that Matt has beautifully captured the ‘essence’ of the pope including getting the hair just right.

I e-mailed Matt. I hadn’t put much stock on hearing back from him. Over the years I have just become resigned to people reveling in being rude.

Matt proved to be the exception to the rule. He responded promptly and was as helpful as I could ever have hoped. He was more than happy to collaborate and was not after any of my limbs as payment for his work. I was so impressed.

In the end I did not use any of Matt’s sketches in the book. It had nothing to do with Matt or his sketches.

But I am hoping to collaborate with Matt on a new project. I have to talk to him about it.

But I would like you all to get to know Matt’s work. He is a very gifted and personable young man.

Thank You.

Anura Guruge

Posted by: aguruge | July 15, 2008

“Popes and the Tale of Their Names” Book

This, my first book on papal history, is now available from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher.

It is the first in-depth exploration of papal names and what they mean: with a revised history of papal name changes and a complete account of the rationales for the 125 known instances of assumed papal names.

Please click here for a synopsis of the book.

If you are at all curious as to what motivated me to research papal names, a hitherto overlooked facet of papal history, and write this book (which happens to be my sixth, but the first that is not about technology),
please click here.

This book is not meant to be controversial or sensational. It is instead meant to elucidate and hopefully entertain.

It includes a plethora of brand new facts, statistics and papal history trivia.

I, acutely aware of the ever increasing costs of books, wanted, from day one, to keep the price of this book low — and hence, affordable. To that end, I kept it short and agreed to minuscule rate of royalty. Consequently you can order the book from the publisher for $8.70 (U.S.) plus shipping.

When I started writing this book in late November 2007 I kind of set my sights on an Amazon.com price under $12.00. Well, Amazon.com is selling it at $11.99. So I am pleased.

I think you will enjoy the book. It has 24 pictures. Page 95 is shown here so that you can see what I mean when I say I did include 24 pictures.

If you have any question please do not hesitate to e-mail me or leave a comment.

Anura Guruge

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