Bellairs's references to the papacy are mostly regulated to his Catholic satire, Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, and then within the mock-textbook chapter, A Short Guide to Catholic Church History where he entertains a study on the "good, bad, and lost popes" of antiquity: "since no Catholic will be called upon to defend Good Popes, and since we know nothing at all about the Lost Popes, let us concentrate upon Bad Popes."
Real popes also figure in the short comedic pieces, such as Pius IX's list (and probable list, had he lived long enough) and ways to improve the next papal visit to the United States, after Paul VI's 1965 visit to New York City. In addition, there is also a short piece on the hoopla involved with popes and antipopes, as seen in the discussion of the Grand Central Schism.
According to the notes found in the desk of a New York advertising executive, Jesuits say they will lend an Aston-Martin to the pope on his next visit to New York (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 27).
- Chair of Saint Peter
- Papal bull
- Papal cross
- Papal insignia
- Papal tiara
- Vatican Councils
Alfred Myers says he and Bellairs were both attracted to the rogues, eccentrics, and general foul balls of the papacy than the much more numerous austere, competent and virtuous examples.
"For example, there was Julius II, the warrior Pope, who would have been delighted to show Stalin how many divisions the Pope had.
However, our all-time favorite was Alexander VI, born Rodrigo Borgia and the father of the legendary Lucrezia Borgia, who at one point was married to Giovanni Sforza (their wedding was held at the Vatican, no less).
One truly important decision that Borgia made was to partition the New World between Spain and Portugal, so they would develop their colonies without conflict. That's why Brazil occupies the Eastern half of South America today, while the countries along the west coast and Central America are Spanish.
John and I used to joke that 'Alexander VI partitioned the New world with a turkey leg!' by which we meant that after a hard day of wenching in the Vatican, Alexander was probably stuffing himself at the banquet table when some couriers came in with a map and said, 'Excuse us Your Holiness, but we have this problem between Spain and Portugal that you have to decide.' Whereupon, Alexander probably grabbed the nearest implement from the banquet table - a turkey leg - drew it across the map without giving any thought to the matter, and then resumed his gorging. Well, we thought it was funny. I guess you hadda be there. Anyway, John tried to work the turkey leg bit into one of his early books - probably Saint Fidgeta in fact - but he had to take it out because none of his editors could understand what he was getting at.”Some of the names that Bellairs used for his characters owe something to Vatican history:
- Evaristus Sloane shares his name with one of the long-forgotten fathers of the church, Pope Evaristus.
- Zephyrinus the Anchorite shares his name with Pope Zephyrinus.