Papal Lap Book Unit Two: The Holy Fathers, Past and Present

by | Mar 7, 2013 | Papal Unit Study | 18 comments

As we continue The Primacy of Peter :: A Papal Unit Study and Lap Book, we moved on from our first unit about St. Peter, The First Pope last week and began our second unit based on all of the Holy Fathers, Past and Present, of the Roman Catholic Church!  Beginning with Saint Peter the Apostle and first Pope, and ending with Pope Benedict XVI the 265th Pope, who is now the Pope Emeritus.

What a blessing it was to have high speed internet and watch (via EWTN online) the Holy Father, during his last hours as our Pope on February 28th, say goodbye, leave the Vatican as the bells rang during Lent, give his final blessing from the balcony at Castle Gondolfo, and then watch the doors close and the guards leave their post…   I didn’t expect to cry, but I did, and Bud clapped along with all the crowds!

Here is a peek at our extra studies this past week as we continue working on our Papal Lap Books:  
Unit Two: The Holy Fathers, Past and Present


Family Read Aloud

Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI had me completely confused when it arrived in the mail…  I took the dust cover off and tried to put it on “correctly” but it didn’t work.  I finally figured it out when I opened the “front” cover…   I’ve never read a book from the back to the front, but the boys sure found it intriguing!

Create More Lap Book Mini-Books:

Who is the Pope?

For this mini-book I read “The Bishop of Rome” (pages 112-113 My Catholic Faith) while the children colored and assembled their mini-books.

Some Special Popes

For this Tab Book the children studied five different popes beginning with St. Peter and ending with Pope Benedict, and looked through the complete List of Popes.    We learned how St. Gregory the Great invented Gregorian Chant and called himself “Servant of the Servants of God.”  We learned about St. Leo the XIII who wrote the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer.  And we also learned about Pope Pius X, the Pope of the Eucharist.

In addition to the original blank book I created, I created a couple additional books for my younger children.  The first has traceable text and a reduced size coloring page for them to color for each of the Popes!   You can download my document here:  Some Special Popes – Coloring/Quotes (Note:  you will need to print the coloring pages at a reduced size to paste into the provided spaces.  The coloring pages are from other websites and copyrighted.) 

Here are the links to the various coloring pages we used for our mini-book:

Rose was so excited she started jumping up and down when I gave her the book to color.  

We read some short stories about each of the Popes.  For those who don’t have access to these saints stories at home, here are a few online sources:

My husband also helped create a “Fill-in-the-blank” version of this book as well, for some of our children.   I uploaded it here: Some Special Popes Fill in the Blank

Amazing Pope Facts

The children also started  working on their Amazing Facts mini-books.   These were inspired by the short chapter in the ebook Who is the Pope?   Here is also an interesting article with A Few Fun Facts about Popes in History.   Some of the topics I suggested to the children included:  

  • Which Pope was the Pope the longest?
  • Which Pope was the Pope the shortest? 
  • What happened in 1978? Answer: 1978: The Year of The Three Popes (I found this especially interesting since I was born in January of 1978!)  😉 
  • What is meant by the infallibility of the Catholic Church?

We also read the section from My Catholic Faith on Infallibility of the Church, which I think is Amazing!

Question: What is meant by the infallibility of the Catholic Church?
Answer: By the infallibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, cannot err when it teaches or believes a doctrine of faith and morals.

Question: Has the Church in fact proved itself infallible?
Answer: It is a historical fact that the Catholic Church, from the twentieth century back to the first, has not once ceased to teach a doctrine on faith or morals previously held, and with the same interpretation; the Church has proved itself infallible.

My Catholic Faith goes on to explain:

  1. It is a historical fact that not one Pope, whatever he was in his private life, has ever taught error.
  2. True, some high rulers of the Church have gravely sinned. Nevertheless, enemies of the Church have exaggerated even the lack of impeccability. In the long line of Popes the vast majority led virtuous lives. Many of them are honored as Saints and martyrs. The enemies of the Church can bring charges against only five or six Popes: Most of the charges are calumnies or exaggerations. But even if the charges were true, they prove nothing against infallibility.  (Of the Sovereign Pontiffs that have succeeded Peter, 84 are canonized Saints, of whom 32 were martyrs. However holy the Pope, he regularly goes to confession to a priest. No Pope ever considers himself above the laws of the Church and of God.)
  3. The Church cannot change its teachings on faith and morals. But it may restate the doctrines more clearly and completely. Year after year the Church proclaims the same unchanging doctrines. Her doctrines need no reform, for they are of Divine origin, the work of the Incarnate God.  (No Pope or general Council in almost two thousand years has annulled or revoked a single decree of faith or morals enacted by a previous Pope or Council. This is history.)

Additional Activities:

Saints Who Were Popes

I pulled out our copy of Can You Find Saints? : Introducing Your Child to Holy Men and Women and had the little ones search for various Saints Who Were Popes including St. Gregory the Great who “developed a special way of singing praises to God called Gregorian Chant.”

Research the Pope’s Coat of Arms

Color Blessed John Paul II’s Coat of Arms
Color Pope Benedict XVI’s Coat of Arms and info
Study “What is a Coat of Arms?” and look up our own family Coat of Arms.

Add Pope Benedict to Timeline

When we were discussing Pope Benedict XVI this past week, and that he was had been Pope for 8 years, Chiquita wanted to know if he was elected Pope before or after she was born.   I remember very clearly the day Pope Benedict XVI was elected, and watching the white smoke (via a webcam) coming from the Sistine Chapel, but most of the rest of that year (pre-blogging days with 4 babies age 4 and under) is a blur… 

Apparently she was born the very next day!   And, yes, I do remember that day very clearly after all… I just never connected it with the election of the new Pope the day before.   In my defense, she was three weeks early, and not “due” until May 7th. I suppose she didn’t want to miss out on all the excitement! 

Rascal choose to add illustrations to his timeline for both the date Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on February 11, 2013, and another for his last day as Pope on February 28, 2013. 
Now we are moving on to our next unit all about The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church!  To go along with this unit I just finished downloading Monica’s Guess Who?! The Cardinals game!   I’ve come down with a bad cold/cough and seem to have developed a sinus infection, so this next unit might be slow going… 
I’ve also created another Novena book option which can be downloaded at Scribd.


  1. AmyRobynne

    Thank you so much for posting this tonight (just in time for me to start the unit tomorrow)! This will be so helpful. You've also inspired me to begin a tradition of giving the kids books about the Popes for Easter. I'd love to have your collection and I've always been opposed to baskets full of chocolate at Easter because the kids certainly have enough holidays to primarily associate with presents.

    I'm also a 1978 baby — I'm one of the few John Paul I babies! I thought that was so fun during the last Conclave when I was a new Catholic and just learning about historical Conclaves.

    My boys were excited to make their pop-up books today and check out St Peter's online. Yesterday we did the St Peter parts of unit 1 (we just covered Peter in our history studies – CWH vol 2 – so we didn't spend too much time on those parts).

    This is the first time we've made lapbooks and it's great watching the pieces come together.

  2. Jessica Gordon

    You are welcome! It was your comment on the other post that motivated me to finish this post. I hope it helps! I'm so excited to see so many of you creating Lap Books for the first time. They really are fun!

    Great idea on the books! I love including books in our children's Easter baskets. I also try and find something to represent their patron saints as well.

  3. Chris

    This is all amazing. Thank you so much!

    My kids are 10 and 12, so I will be adapting some activities and/or using the ones intended for older kids…you have a wealth of info here…

    Havea lovely day

  4. Aimee Landreneau

    This is amazing, and we are having SO MUCH FUN with it! Thank you so much!

    The traceable/coloring pages for the special popes is missing the coloring part when I click through to Scribd…wondering if this is on my end??

  5. Jessica Gordon

    That was intentional Aimee… The coloring pages are copyrighted and aren't mine to share, so they will need to be downloaded from their original sources, reduced in size when printed, and then pasted into the space provided. Sorry for the extra work!

  6. Jessica Gordon

    That is excellent! Thanks for sharing the link!

  7. Aimee Landreneau

    Ohhh!!! Can you tell me what percentage you reduced them?

  8. Aimee Landreneau

    Okay…all documents have worked so far, but Amazing Pope Facts is giving me an error. It could be me again, but just in case others are having trouble, could you double check? Thanks!!

  9. Jessica Gordon

    Hmmmm… It seems to work on my end. I'll email you the file. 🙂

  10. Krista

    Just wondering if anyone else has had any trouble downloading the ebook "Who Is The Pope?" on Kindle for Mac?????? I purchased on Amazon, it was sent to my "Kindle for Mac" and appears there fine, but when I go to download the book, it keeps giving me the message that it can't download the book at this time, try again later… This has never happened before with any book I've purchased for the Kindle for Mac. I've tried Amazon's "troubleshooting" and it doesn't address this problem and there doesn't seem to be a tech support number to call??? Anyone else have this happen to them???? Not sure what to do now….

  11. Brynne

    Thank you again for your amazing work! I truly appreciate the updates, since I wasn't sure how I was going to get my younger ones to fill in the Some Special Popes book. Please consider making more lapbooks — yours is the first I ever came across and it was of such high quality that I haven't been able to find any others I like as well. I would happily pay for this level of quality and detail about liturgical seasons, etc.

  12. Jessica Gordon

    Have you been able to get it to work yet? I have the kindle app on my iPad and it works fine here… That is so strange!

  13. Krista

    Yes, I finally got it to download – had to go to the live chat on Amazon with a tech and we ended up having to reinstall my app for the Mac – have no idea why it "packed up"…. At least I could get it and can get subsequent titles. I've used it for the "Amazing Facts" section and created some neat fonts that she can color inside the letters and used some public domain pictures of the popes referenced. At her age, as much color as possible really goes a LONG way! 🙂 This week will be fun working on the "Election" section as well!!!!!! EXCITING TIMES!!!!! Thanks again, Jessica, for this wonderful lapbook and yes, PLEASE DO SHARE ANY FUTURE LAPBOOKS for your readers!!!!

    God bless!

  14. Krista

    Oh, we're also going to make the smoke stack for the conclave! What a great little template that is! Thanks for that link, too!

  15. alohavale

    I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed doing this lapbook with my kids. I sent it out to my homeschool group and another mom let me know that she too was already doing it! My kids have learned so much! God Bless you for putting this together!

  16. Amber

    I did the exact same thing with the manga book about Pope Benedict! Once we got it figured out, we really enjoyed the book. I was impressed at how well the author and illustrator took advantage of the format to tell the story. I'm not sure I'd seek out more manga (well, the other ones by the author look interesting!) but I'm glad I bought it.

    We will be doing this unit next week (I did them out of order so I could do the Conclave mini-books this week!) and your post was very helpful as I figured out how to break it down. I do wish there was a good book on St. Gregory the Great. I might read the part in St. Augustine Comes to Kent where he's featured… He's a name saint in our family and I'd love to see a book about him!

    Thank you for not only this beautiful lapbook, but all your work putting together these posts on how they came together in your family!


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