Popes tend to last a long time, so I am partly surprised at how many I am about to mention.
I was raised Irish Catholic, and wanted to be a nun until I was about 11. I had the advantage of growing up with first of all the Celtic influence overlaying the more narrowminded aspects of the Catholicism of the day, and secondly, the fact that the men in my family were not Catholic, so when the nuns would tell us the occasional blanket fallacy (ie.: All non Catholics are going to Hell) my mother and grandmother would squash that right away, which left me very early with the idea that you had to use *both* the brain and the conscience you were given. I will say I have never ever ever regretted my education - the dominicans are awesome teachers.
The Pope of my early childhood was Pius XII. All I want to say about him here is that as I grew and read, I leared how dangerous it was when popes take names like Pius and Innocent.
Then came the ringer - John XXIII. To this day I don't know how he got through, but he is what I now think of as a miracle. He was a fortunate moment, and I wonder how I would have come to think about organized religion if he had lived longer. But, he didn't. I lost my faith in organized religion at that time. Partly because of him, I did not lose my faith with it.
I was living with Jim when Pope Paul died and John Paul I came in. The office had ceased to mean religion to me, but it was still current events. Jim and I did not have a tv at the time, but the radio was full of mentions of the entire process in the background of our conversations.
The reason I remember this all so clearly is that Jim and I were flying to the World Science Fiction Convention in Phoenix while this was happening. News of the regular world comes to a halt when I was in that world, and so when we got home and I heard that the Pope was lying in state, I was irate that they were still dragging the ceremonies out. I had missed the fact that JPI had died while I was away, and I somehow thought the ceremonies were going back to medieval lengths...
I went out into the courtyard and snitched the newspaper of the girl across the way from us (She was away, and we were cat sitting for her baby Starstuff.) And then I plunked myself in the bath, intending to catch up that night.
But Jim had no idea what I had snitched the paper for - I have a slight newsprint allergy, so we never brought papers into the house as a rule. He opened the days mail, and one of the envelopes was an enticement to subscribe to Highlights for Children, which came with several pages of dayglo orange smiley face stickers. Jim amused himself by sticking these all over the house -- on the stove knobs, on the underside of the bookshelf above our bed - and one on himself which he regretted later as it proved quite difficult to remove.
So when I sat down with my coffee to read the filched paper, there was a big lead article on JPI. He had lasted such a short time that the media had all decided to talk about his wonderful smile. In my paper, the picture of this wonderful smile was a pope who's head had been replaced by a large dayglo orange smiley face sticker.
This was funny to me in a way I can't possibly convey to you all these years later. And when Jim realized what he had done to me, he lost it completely, buckling up with his completely infectious laugh. it went on for ages.
It amused Jim so much, he hung the picture by the phone where it remained for nearly a year (being taken down only because parents were coming to visit) He became known to my friends as Pope Chuckles the Unendurably Pleasant.
At least he didn't find out how much it hurt to have those stickers removed.