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Popé (1630?-1690?)

Pueblo religious and political leader


Early Spanish Contact. Popé was a revolutionary leader of the Pueblo peoples of present-day southwestern United States. When conquistadores under Francisco Vásquez de Coronado passed through Pueblo territory in 15401542 the Pueblo peoples were forced out of their homes temporarily but returned to them for a full generation before the Spanish reappeared. Rumors of gold and the desire to avenge old wounds stimulated Spanish interest, and by 1590 a short-lived Spanish colony was established near the village the Europeans named Santo Domingo. Finally in 1591 the scion of a wealthy immigrant family, Don Juan de Oñate, moved to the Rio Grande and Chama River. He established his capital at the town he called San Juan and ordered the Indians to disperse to nearby villages. As friars delivered religious instruction, troops searched for plunder and provoked a rebellion at the Pueblo town of Acoma. The villagers reacted by throwing the Spaniards over the side of the cliffs of their mesa. More Spanish troops arrived, and in the subsequent fighting more than one thousand native warriors died. Others were tried, convicted, and had their hands and feet chopped off as punishment; Acoma women were enslaved.

Christianity. Spanish officials established the capital of Santa Fe a few miles northeast of Santo Domingo. They imposed an encomienda regime, treating Indians like European serfs and demanding annual payment of tribute in addition to forced labor. Some Pueblo people began to accept Christianity, although traditionalists continued to resist. Disputes among the colonists over the authority of the governor and the priests weakened the authority of both.

Resistance. By 1660 droughts began to reduce the food supply for a growing colonial population, causing some Indians to fear that their old gods were offended. Starving Apaches attacked Pueblo peoples for food. At this point an older Tewa religious leader named Popé emerged in San Juan. The Spanish had seized and enslaved his older brother as punishment for Popes rejection of Christianity and his persistence in observing the old religion. Popé told the people that the drought was caused by the Spanish friars; only their departure would end the shortage of rainfall, he warned. As word spread of his preaching, his audience grew, and attempts to suppress him only fed the rising panic. When Popé and other priests were imprisoned in Santa Fe, a delegation obtained their release by threatening outright rebellion. Popé urged the execution of all informers, even if they were members of his own family. He dramatized the anger of the gods by arranging for a symbolic costumed dance in a kiva (ceremonial pit). He sent cords with knots tied in them as a signal for the number of days remaining before a general revolt.

Attack on Santa Fe. Coordinated attacks began on 10 August 1680 and were highly successful. In a few days time, the entire Spanish community had retreated to Santa Fe. After several days of fierce fighting the Pueblo Indians burned Santa Fe to the ground and forced the white settlers to flee southward hundreds of miles to El Paso. In the Pueblo towns the Spanish language and the Christian religion were banned, and all converts were ritually cleansed of their sins. Eventually Popé lost the support of his followers, who had become accustomed to European trade goods. In addition they were vulnerable to attacks by Apaches who seized their horses and introduced them to other native cultures north of the Pueblo region. Popé died sometime around 1690, and Pueblo unity eroded. In 1691 the Spanish returned in force and reasserted their authority in the Southwest.


Ramón Gutiérrez, When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico 15001846 (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1991);

Joe S. Sando, Pueblo Profiles: Cultural Identity through Centuries of Change (Sante Fe, N.M.: Clear Light, 1995).

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As a name, it is derived from the Latin papa, in turn derived from the Greek πάπας (πάππας), which in classical Greek was a child's word for father. Papa and πάπας appear in Christian literature from the beginning of the 3d century as a title used of bishops, suggesting their spiritual paternity. From the 3d to the 5th century the name was applied to all bishops, but in the 6th century it began to be reserved to the bishops of Rome. The first writer to do this with any consistency was Magnus Felix ennodi us (d. 521). The practice of restricting the title to the Roman bishops has been universal in the Western Church since the 8th century.

The office of the pope is described in the Annuario pontificio (official directory of the holy see) by the following titles: "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Chief of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City." Of these titles, the basis of all the rest is the third, Successor of the Chief of the Apostles. vatican council i defined that Christ constituted St. peter chief of all the apostles and visible head of the whole Church militant, granting him a primacy not merely of honor but of true jurisdiction; that Christ established that Peter should have perpetual successors in this primacy; and that the Roman bishops are these successors (Enchiridion symbolorum 3055, 3058). The pope, then, being bishop of Rome and successor of Peter in his primacy, is the supreme pontiff of the universal Church. The term pontifex, used in classical Latin of the members of the college of high priests, began to be used of bishops late in the 4th century. The term supreme pontiff applied to the pope means that he is the first and chief bishop in the Church, and head of the episcopal college, having truly episcopal authority over all the faithful and all pastors, whether singly or all together (Vatican I, Enchiridion symbolorum 3060). As Christ, the good shepherd (Jn 10.11), before His Ascension appointed Peter pastor of all His flock (Jn 21.1517), thus leaving him as His visible substitute or vicar on earth, endowed with the keys and the power of binding and loosing (Mt 16.19), so also the pope, as successor to St. Peter, is the vicar of Christ for the spiritual government of the universal Church. The titles Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, and Archbishop of the Roman Province are based on the principle that the Roman see, being that of St. Peter, is the chief see of any jurisdictional area of the Church of which it is a part. The last of the titles in the Annuario is based on the Lateran Treaty, by which Vatican City is recognized by Italy as a sovereign state with the pope as its temporal ruler.

See Also: apostolic see; bishop (in the bible); bishop (in the church); father (religious title); papacy; patriarch; states of the church.

Bibliography: p. de labriolle, "Papa," Archivum latinitatis medii aevi 4 (1928) 6575. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 190753) 13.1:10971111. m. maccarrone, Vicarius Christi (Rome 1952). m. j. wilks, "Papa est nomen jurisdictionis," Journal of Theological Studies 8 (1957) 7191. p. mccord, A Pope for All Christians? (New York 1976). a brandenburg and h. j. urban, eds. Petrus und Papst (Münster 1978). j. m. r. tillard, The Bishop of Rome (Wilmington, Del. 1983). j. n. d. kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of the Popes (Oxford 1986).

[f. a. sullivan]

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pope1 / pōp/ • n. 1. (usu. the pope or the Pope) the bishop of Rome as head of the Roman Catholic Church. ∎  the head of the Coptic Church, the bishop or patriarch of Alexandria. 2. another term for ruffe. DERIVATIVES: pope·dom / -dəm/ n. pope2 • n. a parish priest of the Orthodox Church in Russia and the Balkans.

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323. Pope


chirograph, cheirograph
an apostolic letter written by and signed by the pope.
encyclical, encyclic
a letter from the Pope to the Roman Catholic clergy on matters of doctrine or other concerns of the Church, of tenmeant to be read from the pulpit.
excessive veneration or worship of the pope. papolatrous, adj.
1. the papacy.
2. the state and government of the Vatican or the Pope.
Derogatory & Offensive. Roman Catholicism.
a supporter of Pope Urban VI in the conflict of 1378 when an opposing faction established Clement VII as Pope. See also 277. MONKS and NUNS .
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Pope title of the Bishop of Rome as head of the Roman Catholic Church, and seen as in direct succession from St Peter; in extended use, a person who assumes or is credited with a position, authority, or infallibility like that of the Pope.

Recorded from Old English, the word comes via ecclesiastical Latin from ecclesiastical Greek papas ‘bishop’, patriarch’, variant of Greek pappas ‘father’.

St Peter (see Peter1) and St Gregory the Great are the patron saints of popes.

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Pope (Gk., pappas, ‘father’). In the Roman Catholic Church a title applied exclusively to the bishop of Rome since the 11th cent., though used earlier of all bishops. The Coptic patriarch of Alexandria is also known as the pope, and in the Greek Orthodox Church the title is commonly used of all priests.

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pope2 parish priest of the Orthodox Church in Russia, etc. XVII. — Russ. (OSl.) popŭ — WGmc. *papo (cf. OHG. pfaffo) — later Gr. pápas; see PAPA, POPE1.

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popeaslope, cope, dope, elope, grope, hope, interlope, lope, mope, nope, ope, pope, rope, scope, slope, soap, taupe, tope, trope •myope • telescope • periscope •stereoscope • bioscope • stroboscope •kaleidoscope • CinemaScope •gyroscope • microscope • horoscope •stethoscope • antelope • envelope •zoetrope • skipping-rope • tightrope •towrope • heliotrope • lycanthrope •philanthrope • thaumatrope •misanthrope •isotope, radioisotope

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pope1 the Head of the R. C. Ch. OE. pāpa — ecclL. pāpa bishop — ecclGr. pápas, papâs bishop, patriarch, later form of páppas father (see PAPA).
Hence popery, popish XVI.

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Pope See papacy