SIR.-In your issue of November 7 it is stated that the longest reign amongst the Popes was that of Pius IX, from 1846 to 1878.
This is an error and a very common one, almost a universal one. The longest reign was that of St. Peter himself. If we assume that the death and ascension of Our Lord occurred, as is popularly supposed. in the year 33 A.D. and that St. Peter's death took place in A.D. 67 we have a pontificate of 34 years. that is two years longer than the reign of Pius IX. Many hold that Our Lord's death and ascension occurred in the year 29. which would give St. Peter a pontificate of 38 years.
This common error arises from forgetting that St. Peter was Pope before he was bishop of Rome. According to the common opinion he became Bishop of Rome in the year A.D. 42. which gives him a Roman episcopate of 25 years.
This Roman episcopate was exceeded in length by that of Pius IX. and possibly by that of Leo XIII, but St. Peter's reign as Pope has not yet been exceeded. The old saying spoken to a new Pope has not yet been falsified; "Thou shalt not see the days of Peter." " Historicus"