Pope Francis I: Who Could the Name Really Be Honoring? Five Possibilities

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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio surprised a lot of people yesterday when he chose the name he'd be using as leader of the Catholic Church: Pope Francis I.

As the "I" indicates, he's the first to ever use Francis, and there have been a hell of a lot of popes before him who could have done so. About (the actual count is slippery) 266 popes have had the chance to call themselves "Francis I," and none did. (Technically, he won't get the "I" attached until he dies.)

The new pope says he's honoring Francis of Assisi, but come on -- there's no way today's Church would hold up a stone-cold radical like Frankie Assisi as a model. Someone who actually gave up a luxurious, sex-laden lifestyle to live with and help the poor?

Not likely. So who is Francis I named after? Five guesses:

5. The "Lighten up, Francis" dude

Who better to spread a message of peace and serenity than this guy? Not to mention he'd be a strong candidate for patron saint of Not Touching My Stuff.

4. Black Francis

Sure, there are some great songs sung during Mass. "O Come All Ye Faithful" ("Adeste Fideles" for the hardcore) is hard to beat, and not many hymns have been turned into anthems by shitty `80s hair bands -- we can thank "O Come" for the melody of "We're Not Gonna Take It."

Still, much like the mindless sludge that is the oeuvre of Twisted Sister, the music of Mass needs to challenge those in the pews. Who better than Black Francis of Pixies fame? No one's sleeping through Mass with Black Francis and his band at the altar.

"And now if you'll turn to page 134 in your hymnals, we'll celebrate the Eucharist with 'Monkey Gone to Heaven.' "

Too outlandish an idea? Don't forget the name of one of his solo bands:

3. Francis the Talking Mule

Francis was the Mister Ed of the first half of the 1950s, dispensing wise advice to his human sidekick in the Army. (He was voiced by Chill Wills, who was the voice of God until James Earl Jones came along.) Look at the trailer for the sixth in the series,

Francis in the Navy

: "There's Joy Ahoy!" it says, and is not the message of God one of hope and joy?

The film, under the aegis of noted auteur Arthur Lubin, also introduced Clint Eastwood to America, as "Jonesy" is his first credited role.

Francis of Assisi was big with the animals, right? That's why every kid loves him. But to love animals so much that you name yourself after one -- well, greater love hath no man and all that.

2. Sage Francis

A white rapper who doesn't draw much of a black audience, Sage Francis might seem an odd choice for a pope to honor As we said in

previewing a 2010 appearance


There is the camp who think he's an extremely lucky pothead/knucklehead and those who think he's playing the role of extremely lucky pothead/knucklehead, while in reality Francis is a canny, whip-smart, lyrically gifted MC who can spit rhymes with the best of the best of them.

So ignore the first part and focus on the second. It's a lot like picking the best parts of Leviticus and ignoring the rest.

1. Connie Francis

Okay, okay, maybe it's not a great idea for a pope to name himself after one of the stars of

Where the Boys Are

. Lawsuits, settlements, altar boys -- we get it, we get it. But Connie Francis had an absolute string of hits, like "When the Boy in Your Arms (Is the Boy in Your Heart)," "Follow the Boys" and, ummm, "Who's Sorry Now?" -- shit. Oh well, let's not concentrate so much on the musical career, shall we?

It seems Connie Francis was Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero when she was growing up in the Ironbound section of Newark until she changed her name.

She changed her name. Just like Pope Connie Francis I had to. So it's no surprise he was inspired by her daring move and her wish to spread her message all over the world. (Even if that message is sometimes "Lipstick on Your Collar.")

Or maybe Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio just really, really likes Where the Boys Are.

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