This chronological list of popes corresponds to that given in the Annuario Pontificio under the heading "I Sommi Pontefici Romani" (The Supreme Pontiffs of Rome), excluding those that are explicitly indicated as antipopes. Published every year by the Roman Curia, the Annuario Pontificio no longer identifies popes by regnal number, stating that it is impossible to decide which pope represented the legitimate succession at various times. The 2001 edition of the Annuario Pontificio introduced "almost 200 corrections to its existing biographies of the popes, from St Peter to John Paul II". The corrections concerned dates, especially in the first two centuries, birthplaces and the family name of one pope.
The term pope (Latin: papa, lit. 'father') is used in several churches to denote their high spiritual leaders (for example Coptic pope). This title in English usage usually refers to the head of the Catholic Church. The Catholic pope uses various titles by tradition, including Summus Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus, and Servus servorum Dei. Each title has been added by unique historical events and unlike other papal prerogatives, is not incapable of modification.
Hermannus Contractus may have been the first historian to number the popes continuously. His list ends in 1049 with Leo IX as number 154. Several changes were made to the list during the 20th century. Christopher was considered a legitimate pope for a long time. Pope-elect Stephen was listed as Stephen II until the 1961 edition, when his name was removed. The decisions of the Council of Pisa (1409) were reversed in 1963 in a reinterpretation of the Western Schism, extending Gregory XII's pontificate to 1415 and classifying rival claimants Alexander V and John XXIII as antipopes.
A significant number of these popes have been recognized as saints, including 48 out of the first 50 consecutive popes, and others are in the sainthood process. Of the first 31 popes, 28 died as martyrs (see List of murdered popes).