Curious Christian Trivia

December 9, 2015 — 17 Comments

beatlesHow many of these Christian trivia questions can you answer?

In my last post I shared a number of fascinating facts that I learned reviewing Catéchic, “the Catholic trivia game” by Tyco®. Read on and discover some intriguing information about the history and theology of the largest denomination in the Christian world.

How are the following for odd facts?

Question: What Iowa city has a name which means “of the monks” in French?

Answer: Des Moines

Here in Washington State we have city named Des Moines (pronounced with the final “s”) which is named after the Iowa township and not the monks who first helped established it.

What New York museum was built entirely from stones of Christian shrines imported from France by John D. Rockefeller?

The Cloisters

Leave it to the Americans to denude a country of their historic shrines to aggrandize a civil monument to a political dynasty.

Was St. Patrick Irish?


Now there’s a fact with which many Irishmen would take umbrage. The truth is, of course, that Patrick was Romano-British, enslaved by the Irish, who willingly chose to return to Ireland after his liberation to share the Gospel with his former captors.

The game includes a fair representation of literary questions. Two of them even deal with the esteemed author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Just one for now, with the promise of more literary insights in my next, and final, column about trivia.

Who is the Anglican children’s author that wrote the apologia The Case for Christianity?

C.S. Lewis

I can overlook the inappropriately limiting label “children’s author” since they have had the wisdom to include this reference to the Oxford don.

Students of history, including recent history, will have an advantage in answering the following questions.

Who designed the colorful uniforms of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican?


They still look dandy. Fortunately for the security of the Papal See, they have advanced from relying on pikes to using modern weaponry.

Who was the most famous Bishop of Hippo?
Saint Augustine

Who in the world could name any other Bishop of Hippo?

Besides Richard M. Nixon, what other U.S. president was a Quaker?

Herbert Hoover

Didn’t know that. And, as memorable as Herbert Hoover was, I fear I’ve already forgotten . . .

Who was the Catholic, four-term mayor of Chicago known as “Boss?”

Richard J. Daley

Ugh. Two dishonest politicians in a row! I don’t believe I would want to claim Daley as a Roman Catholic if I was one . . . or Nixon as a Quaker, if I professed that creed.

According to the Beatles song “Let It Be,” who whispers words of wisdom?

Mother Mary

This must have been before the Beatles jettisoned any lip service to Christianity, claimed their renown exceeded that of Jesus, and entrusted their spiritual destiny to the philosophy of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Naturally the questions include a variety of details about Roman Catholic faith and practices themselves.

Should Catholics genuflect whenever they enter a Catholic Church?

No, only if the blessed Sacrament is present in the church.

Interesting. I had never thought about it, but it makes sense, since the obeisance is actually being offered to Jesus, present in the consecrated elements.

For what group is the annual Red Mass celebrated?


Observation: What? Whose idea was that, and do Roman Catholics grace all other professions with their own dedicated masses? If so, what color Masses are dedicated to insurance brokers, microbiologists and wig makers?

What was the name of the portable throne once used to carry the pope so that everyone could see him?

Sedia Gestatoria

Replaced by the bulletproof Popemobile.

When was the last time that a pope proclaimed a Catholic teaching infallible?

1954 (the Assumption, Pope Pius XII)

A good reminder to countless misguided Protestants who think Roman Catholics believe that most or all of what the popes say is “infallible.” The lesson would be better taught, however, if the cited instance was not for an extra-biblical doctrine with which most Protestants strongly disagree.

What is the day on which Judas received his payment for betraying Jesus sometimes called?

Spy Wednesday

That’s a new one for me, but it sounds like a great title for a new movie about the wayward disciple.

Who was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity?

Constantine the Great

It is good to see Constantine’s conversion affirmed here, although it is often maligned by critics. (Constantine was a child of his brutal age and after his conversion remained an imperfect sinner, just like the rest of us.) Only in the Eastern (Orthodox) Church is Constantine acclaimed a saint.

I will end with a question that holds a special place in my life, since I have spent the majority of my public ministry as a military chaplain.

What was the name of the Catholic chaplain on the TV show M*A*S*H?

Father Mulcahy

My favorite chaplain. I had the “blessed” experience of interviewing him for an article. I posted on William Christopher here and you can download a copy of the interview here.

17 responses to Curious Christian Trivia

    Maria Tatham, a gentle iconoclast December 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Hi, Rob! You give the Roman Catholic Church a kind of free pass with this – have you seriously considered whether it is truly a Christian denomination? Have you no sense that the Counter-Reformation is ongoing and that the RCC is the implacable enemy of Biblical Christianity?
    If my tone is harsh, please forgive me. Your tone is light and the post is amusing. Sorry, but these things are so important.


      I wondered about the The Cloisters when I visited it. It’s very interesting, and they do claim that a lot of the pieces were “rescued” from buildings that were falling apart or had already been destroyed, but I’m always skeptical about “rescuing” things from other countries and cultures. :/ Not that it’s never necessary (some of what’s being lost and destroyed in certain areas in the Middle East right now is breaking my art-historian heart!), but it’s a “tradition” with an extremely sketchy history.


      just my 2 cents. I’ve no intention of offending you, but I feel that not offering my witness on such a question would be a betrayal of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
      I’m an Evangelical Protestant, I consider myself a Biblical Christian (though it is very possible you would not consider me so, and that’s ok. There are a lot of different opinions on just what that phrase means), and I absolutely believe that the RCC are Christians. I know my history, I know some theology, and more importantly, I know a lot of Roman Catholics. For all our differences, I see the work of Christ in their lives, and I know they have the Holy Spirit working in them, and that’s enough for me.

        Maria Tatham, a gentle iconoclast December 9, 2015 at 8:31 pm

        I agree that many individual Catholics know the Lord. I believe my Mother did. It’s the institution that I was speaking of. From first grade through college I attended Catholic schools. Looking back I realize that their emphasis was on the RCC as our mediator, never Jesus Christ. I was taught to be right with the church to be saved.



      This is just the sort of discussion in a blog that tends to leave no one truly satisfied. However, I’ll try to briefly respond to your question and do so without the intention of offending anyone.

      First, I agree with you that theological principles (e.g. justification by grace through faith rather than works) are of vast importance.

      And I’m pleased to see you in your comment to Jubilare acknowledging that members of God’s true flock are found in various communions, including the Roman Catholic Church.

      So the question boils down to this, it seems: are the teachings of the Roman Catholic denomination truer to biblical faith than those of other denominations. That very question raises one distinction; Roman Catholics regard “tradition” in a different light than Protestants do. In the latter, tradition and history are always subordinate to biblical teaching. And that is one reason why I believe evangelical (in the Reformation sense of the word) to be more right than the alternative.

      That distinction made, I find myself in the camp of those who find the shared confession of the ecumenical creeds to provide the core teachings of Christianity (Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection, etc.). Secondary and tertiary considerations remain important, but less so than the affirmation that we seek to worship the same God.

      Added to that is the acute awareness I have of the ongoing consequences of the Fall, and I hold no illusions that there is a perfect church (denomination or congregation) in existence (c.f. 1 John 1:8).

      I happen to believe that integrity demands I identify publicly with a church with which I share the greatest agreement. The fact that I am a confessional Lutheran makes evident some of my personal theological differences with “Rome.”

      I would happily discuss this further with anyone who stands on any side of these matters. But I’d prefer to do so privately. The “about” link above has info on how to contact me.


        “Well said” doesn’t seem sufficient, but I haven’t other words at present. I hope I didn’t offend by responding to a comment addressed to you.


      Thank you for your response, Maria. :)


    Woops, sorry, Wrong comment box!


    Interestingly, there is a sweet lady who regularly visits the church I pastor. Every time she walks in she genuflects (I always just said “crosses herself”) before sitting in the pew. I pastor a Baptist church and she still attends mass at a Catholic church. Go figure.


      She is obviously finding something she appreciates and or misses in her church home. In the military it is quite common for Episcopalians, Lutherans and various other Protestants to attend the Roman Catholic Mass (even though they cannot technically commune) because they appreciate the liturgy and the particular approach to reverence that they find there. (This is particularly true overseas.)


    I am a Roman Catholic living in Korea, who was led to Jesus Christ by C. S. Lewis in the first place. Though I do not agree with some teachings found in the “Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae”, I couldn’t have found a better communion for me to follow Christ.
    It reminds me of the preface to the , especially the last paragraph saying, “When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.” Oremus pro invicem.


      I doubt that any extremely knowledgable–and honest–person ever could agree 100% with an institution (including a denomination or congregation). One reason I am convinced of this is because God created us to learn and grow, which means that our own beliefs and convictions shift as they mature.

      As we read so clearly in I Corinthians 13… “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” How can I, still seeing only dimly, judge with finality any other Christian’s door?

      Still, as we devote ourselves to the study of God’s word and the pursuit of his righteousness (Matthew 5:6)… we will share more and more unity on the essentials (e.g. ecumenical creeds).

      God blessed me with the opportunity to live in Korea for a year (88-89, probably before you were born). A lovely land filled with gracious people.


        I agree with you, sir.

        What I meant by saying that I couldn’t have found a better communion is not about doctrine. It mainly have something to do with my personal circumstances. For me, the (Catholic) Church is not a institution headquartered in Vatican, but the Body of Christ “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity” as Screwtape uttered ironically.


        Yes, I understand the appeal of the visible universality of the Roman Catholic Church. We Protestants hold to the doctrine of the Body of Christ also. Timeless, universal, comprised of all true Christians wherever and whenever they lived, regardless of ecclesial bonds.

        Yes, Screwtape spoke many truths, despite his desire to twist them to his own dark purposes. Just like that ancient, fallen angel he follows.


    I did not know the NY Museum was built of imported stones of religious significance. Pretty odd. (Did they pay for them or just load them up when no one was looking?)


      I found it odd as well. Your question is a good one. My guess is that they offered to clean up the “litter” in the various communities… restoring them to their pristine natural state.

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