Ghost: Which Papa Emeritus reigns supreme?

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 17: Papa Emeritus II of Ghost performs live for fans during the 2014 Big Day Out Festival at Western Springs on January 17, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Jason Oxenham/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 17: Papa Emeritus II of Ghost performs live for fans during the 2014 Big Day Out Festival at Western Springs on January 17, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Jason Oxenham/Getty Images) /

With the news that we will be getting a Papa Emeritus IV in 2020, we look back to determine which of Ghost’s leaders reign supreme.

It’s PRETTY obvious that we are Ghost fans. We’ve made a list for new fans to the band and we have questioned if Cardinal Copia was the Antichrist, and we’ve talked to Tobias about what goes on behind the curtain but now we are asking ourselves an even more controversial question: which Papa Emeritus (past, present and future) is the best leader of Ghost thus far?

Nearly every fan of the band has their own personal favorite and we love all the Papas equally, but let’s break down the albums, the personalities and the looks to see which leader comes out on top as the Supreme Papa. Let’s list these sassy leaders from worst to best.

5. Papa Emeritus

Up until recently, this was the Papa that started it all. With his elderly stature, Papa Emeritus didn’t have the raw sex appeal that his younger successors emanated. Papa I led Ghost from his debut in 2010 until 2012 when he was replaced by his younger brother, Papa II during a live show.

So, why does the OG Emeritus make it to the bottom of the list? Even though he is the face that started it all with Opus Eponymous, it’s almost unsettling to hear a young, buttery voice coming from the face of a very old man.

Even though Papa I did follow many of the same rituals that the following Papas did (such as swinging the incense censer), he was considerably less animated than later successors. There aren’t that many pictures or videos of the early Papa as the band started to gain some footing, but it really began to kick into gear with the succession of Papa Emeritus II.

4. Cardinal Copia

Papa Emeritus
NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 15: Tobias Forge performing as Cardinal Copia of the band Ghost at Barclays Center on December 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images) /

I feel almost guilty putting Cardinal Copia this far down on the list but there are reasons. First and most importantly, he’s not a Papa…yet, but it seems that we will find out if he can make the cut by 2020 or if he will be kicked for another fresh-faced, Lucifer-loving leader. He also has a tick mark because it took our other beloved Papas getting killed for him to be band leader.

Cardi C is easily one of the most flamboyant and biggest personalities of any of Ghost’s leaders. Because he’s not yet a full anti-pope, we get to see him in a variety of Cardinal livery as well as his skintight white suit and black Count Copia ensemble.

Cardinal Copia took over in early 2018 to current and is funny, silly, dance-y AF and positively oozing with sex appeal. He was present for the experimental Prequelle and has THE best Ghouls behind him. If Cardinal Copia makes it to Papa status, he will be the first to lead the band through two albums (not including cover albums and Ceremony and Devotion). I can’t wait to see his story unfold.

3. Papa Nihil/Young Papa Nihil

In the last year, Papa Nihil has turned from just the old father of the Papas to a significant character in the Ghost mythology, because there IS in fact Ghost mythology now. Since he began to appear in various Chapter videos, he has become a favorite among the band’s fans. While old Papa Nihil doesn’t perform, we recently got to see a young Papa Nihil as he led Ghost in 1969 performing “Kiss the Go-Goat.”

We’ve begun to delve into Papa Nihil and Sister Imperator’s sexy past and all the while we are becoming bigger fans of Papa Nihil both past and present. And lest we not forget his wicked saxophone skills.

2. Papa Emeritus III

Papa Emeritus
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 15: Musician Papa Emeritus III (C) and fellow members of Ghost attend The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS) /

Even though Papa Emeritus III is my PERSONAL favorite, he doesn’t quite make it to the title of Supreme. Papa III (who led from 2015-2017) was the first leader to bring frivolity to the title of bandleader.

He was sex obsessed, come-hither and knew how to rock a suit and a full papal ensemble. The youngest brother of the three, he lead the band during the release of Meliora, during which they won their first Emmy.

Papa III is the master of the Mummy Thrust and really started to take the band in a different direction. Sure, Ghost is a metal band and “Hail Satan,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while you do it.

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Papa II also began to utilize the stage considerably more, making lots of movement a part of the show. He laid the groundwork for the experimentation and creativity that would expand with Cardinal Copia.

Plus, he had some luscious locks and the COOLEST looking Ghouls. He was pulled off stage during a live performance to the announcement that the Dark Ages were upon us.

1. Papa Emeritus II

Papa Emeritus
INDIO, CA – APRIL 14: Papa Emeritus II of the band Ghost B.C. performs onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2013 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella) /

And the top Papa of all time…so far…goes to Papa Emeritus II (who led from 2012-2015). This was the first mask created for the band and Papa II had a presence about him. He seemed like he was stories tall in his robes and papal attire.

His face was stern and intimidating and he was the beginning of the sex appeal that would only increase with later leaders. He was widely known as the biggest jerk of the three brothers that was fired from the clergy.

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It was during his lead that Ghost created one of the best albums they have ever done, Infestissumam. I am not one of those people that dislikes any particular album. I think every album Ghost has ever done is fantastic and I haven’t heard a song they’ve recorded that I didn’t like.

I even love the experimentation with pop, psychedelic rock and their instrumental songs. It still stands that Infestessumam was Ghost getting comfortable with their theme, their music, their sense of humor and their stage presence.

Papa II embodied that foothold that Ghost had where they could be dark and serious but then all of a sudden, you’d see Papa II’s butt after a wild night in Vegas and remember that this music is insanely fun and supposed to make you feel good, which is does.

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Not everyone’s list will look the same, but based on the music, the personalities, the looks and the behaviors of Ghost’s leaders throughout its history, this seems to be the best way to sort them out, my preferences aside.

Am I wrong? Did the best Papa not make the top slot? Let me know in the comments!