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ABC Pushes Anti-Catholic "Pope Joan" Tale
Newsbusters.org ^ | 28 December 2005 | Dave Pierre

Posted on 12/28/2005 10:48:42 AM PST by infoguy

Check out the promotional ad for this Thursday evening's (December 29, 2005) episode of ABC's Primetime. The promo is for the story, "On the Trail of Pope Joan" (audiotape on file; emphasis mine):

"Diane Sawyer takes you on the trail of a passionate mystery. Just as intriguing as The Da Vinci Code. Chasing down centuries-old clues hidden even inside the Vatican. Could a woman disguised as a man have been Pope? Thursday night. One astonishing Primetime."

It doesn't get much uglier than this, folks. Quite simply, there was never a female pope, or "Pope Joan." The tale is a complete fabrication dating back to the 13th century - nearly 400 years after the reported "reign" of the so-called "Joan." For reliable summaries of the bogus tale, see this and this. Scholars debunked the fable hundreds of years ago, and recent books (this and this, for example) have further repudiated it.

Over the centuries, the "Pope Joan" story has been used as a slanderous tool to tarnish the Catholic Church and degrade Catholics. In his acclaimed 2003 book The New Anti-Catholicism, Philip Jenkins writes, "The Pope Joan legend is a venerable staple of the anti-Catholic mythology" (page 89). Jenkins adds,

"Though it has not the slightest foundation ... [f]rom the sixteenth century through the nineteenth, the tale was beloved by Protestants, since it testified to Catholic stupidity ... [Today] Pope Joan enjoys a lively presence on the Web, where feminist anti-Catholics celebrate her existence much as did seventeenth-century Calvinists" (page 89).

That a major network like ABC would lend credibility to such a vicious anti-Catholic smear is deplorable.

What could be worse? Donna Woolfolk Cross' novel, Pope Joan, seeks to advance the stature and validity of the fictional character, and a movie of this book is currently in production. Yikes.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abc; abcnews; anticatholic; boobtube; catholic; catholicchurch; christianity; christians; dianesawyer; disneynews; fakebutaccurate; feminazis; hollyweird; jesushaters; legend; liberalbigots; makingitup; mediabias; pope; popejoan; primetime; religion; religiousintolerance; sewerpipe; urbanrumor; waltsrotatingcorpse; zogbyism
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1 posted on 12/28/2005 10:48:43 AM PST by infoguy
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To: infoguy

You can tell a lot about a man (or an organization) by his enemies.


2 posted on 12/28/2005 10:51:30 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (Peace Begins in the Womb)
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To: infoguy

For a moment there I thought you were referring to Joan of Ark.


3 posted on 12/28/2005 10:51:55 AM PST by nmh (Intelligent people believe in Intelligent Design (God))
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To: infoguy

I'm breathlessly awaiting ABC's next passionate reportage: "Was Mohammed A Child Molester?"


4 posted on 12/28/2005 10:55:02 AM PST by karnage
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To: infoguy

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08407a.htm


5 posted on 12/28/2005 10:55:05 AM PST by seton89
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To: infoguy

Followed by:

Peter Jennings Reporting: UFOs — Seeing Is Believing


6 posted on 12/28/2005 10:56:11 AM PST by polymuser (Losing, like flooding, brings rats to the surface.)
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To: infoguy
Although I try not to ever listen to ABC, I wouldn't believe them if they said "good morning."

Muleteam1

7 posted on 12/28/2005 10:56:18 AM PST by Muleteam1
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To: infoguy

How is this "anti-Catholic"? I find it interesting.


8 posted on 12/28/2005 10:56:19 AM PST by Lunatic Fringe (North Texas Solutions http://ntxsolutions.com)
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To: infoguy

Let me know when Diane Sawyer does one of these "investigative reports" on Mohammed, will you?


9 posted on 12/28/2005 10:57:08 AM PST by Antoninus (Hillary smiles every time a Freeper trashes Santorum.)
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To: Lunatic Fringe

I do too. Had never heard this. Of course until a few months ago I had never heard the term 'anti-pope'. The Catholic Church has some interesting history to say the very least.


10 posted on 12/28/2005 10:59:07 AM PST by billbears (Deo Vindice)
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To: infoguy
Just as intriguing as The Da Vinci Code.

Right up there with Chariots of the Gods.

11 posted on 12/28/2005 10:59:11 AM PST by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: infoguy
"It doesn't get much uglier than this, folks."

Actually, I think it does. The Catholic church will hardly rise or fall based on an "investigation" on ABC's "Primetime" of something that may or may not have happened 400 years ago. It just goes to show how desperate the media has become in their effort to make news. What's next...perhaps an in depth investigation into the Abominable Snowman? It would be just as relevant. Just do what 99.5% of the rest of America does, and ignore the show altogether.

12 posted on 12/28/2005 10:59:18 AM PST by Rokke
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To: karnage

Or maybe "Was Mohammed Gay?"


13 posted on 12/28/2005 10:59:22 AM PST by polymuser (Losing, like flooding, brings rats to the surface.)
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To: seton89
NBC also has a major anti-Catholic series starting. It is all part of the drive for a secular society. What better way to prepare us for the threat of Muslim domination?
14 posted on 12/28/2005 10:59:41 AM PST by paguch
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To: Lunatic Fringe
How is this "anti-Catholic"? I find it interesting.

Uh, they are presenting something that's utterly untrue and without any historical foundation as fact or at least a strong possiblity.

I've run into any number of seemingly intelligent people who have seen shows like this and then swore up and down that "Pope Joan" was for real.
15 posted on 12/28/2005 10:59:46 AM PST by Antoninus (Hillary smiles every time a Freeper trashes Santorum.)
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To: nmh
That brings to mind an event that will stay with me for the rest of my lifetime.

Many yeas ago before computers were common place in the classroom. I had my students do a 5 minute oral presentation on someone famous in history.

One of the boys was assigned to do a report on Joan of Arc.

The next morning the boy, dropped his encyclopedia on this desk and exclaimed, "How am I going to do a report on this lady?? She was captured by cannibals who beat her up and ate her."

By the expression on my face and the rest of the classroom, he knew he had our undivided attention.

"Really Miss. it is right here, she was beatified and cannibalized and her feast day is May 1st.

16 posted on 12/28/2005 11:00:43 AM PST by mware (everyone that doesn't like what America and President Bush has done for Iraq can all go to HELL.")
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To: Antoninus

The MSM runs this kind of dreck, then when it fails they will claim there is no market for religous programs.


17 posted on 12/28/2005 11:01:16 AM PST by stocksthatgoup ("It's inexcusable to tell us to 'connect the dots' and not give us the tools to do so." G W Bush)
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To: billbears
I do too. Had never heard this. Of course until a few months ago I had never heard the term 'anti-pope'. The Catholic Church has some interesting history to say the very least.

Yeah. Our true history is much more interesting than the lies that have been made up by centuries of Catholic haters.

I wonder when the "Are Christians sacrificing babies again?" episode of PrimeTime will air?
18 posted on 12/28/2005 11:01:42 AM PST by Antoninus (Hillary smiles every time a Freeper trashes Santorum.)
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To: Rokke

It's easy to ignore Primetime and their anti-Catholic bias; less easy to ignore it when it's right here on FR.


19 posted on 12/28/2005 11:02:55 AM PST by ladyjane
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To: Lunatic Fringe

It's false scandal-mongering aimed at undermining the authority of the Pope.

The myth comes from various sources: The name possibly comes from a Pope John, who was derided for being affeminate who may have been mocked as "Pope Joan." That probably accounts for the name.

There was an incident of one of the Medici family (Catherine?) giving birth during a papal procession. This woman was powerful enough, it was joked that she was the real Pope, like people nowadays scornfully refer to President Hilllary. That probably accounts for many of the details.

And then there the street named for a Mrs. Pape, which non-Italians could easily mistake for being named after a female Pope.


20 posted on 12/28/2005 11:04:43 AM PST by dangus
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To: infoguy

This was already a film with Liv Ulman in 1972.


21 posted on 12/28/2005 11:08:10 AM PST by wtc911 (see my profile for how to contribute to a pentagon heroes fund)
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Just as intriguing as The Da Vinci Code

-- and just as phony!


22 posted on 12/28/2005 11:08:41 AM PST by Syberyenta
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To: ladyjane
If the Catholic hierarchy in America were made up of manly men instead of wusses, Hollywood wouldn't dare put this crap out, because there would be massive boycotts of advertisers and any company that did business with the Catholic-bashing filmmakers.

Unfortunately, the Catholic leadership is too timid or apathetic to mount a campaign to defend themselves and their Church. Really pathetic if you think about it.

Hollywood couldn't get away with slandering Judaism this way. Jewish leaders demand apologies -- and get them.

23 posted on 12/28/2005 11:09:53 AM PST by churchillbuff
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To: Antoninus
I wonder when the "Are Christians sacrificing babies again?" episode of PrimeTime will air?

?!? It's just a myth about a woman pope, not killing children. So what if there was a woman pope? It wouldn't be the end of the world and it wouldn't have any affect whatsoever on Christian beliefs.

Not saying I believe it, and apparently there has been plenty of information to refute it, but all in all it's not that big a deal

24 posted on 12/28/2005 11:10:07 AM PST by billbears (Deo Vindice)
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To: billbears

>> The Catholic Church has some interesting history to say the very least. <<

But a lot less juicy.


25 posted on 12/28/2005 11:10:48 AM PST by dangus
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To: dangus
"undermining the authority of the Pope."

Since the pope only has "authority" over Catholics, what do you care ehat non-Catholics think? If a silly legend about an alleged female Pope 1100 years ago can undermine the current Pope's "authority" then I'd start looking for another religion quick.

26 posted on 12/28/2005 11:13:28 AM PST by Lunatic Fringe (North Texas Solutions http://ntxsolutions.com)
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To: infoguy
Better off reading fellow freeper Patrick Madrid's book.


27 posted on 12/28/2005 11:15:51 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: churchillbuff

It's not just Hollywood. Right here on FR last week there was a poster with a tagline that said she was a "Jew that breeds like a Catholic."

Not the worst thing to say about a Catholic - even though it's totally untrue. Hassidic Jews have more kids than Catholics.

Can you imagine the uproar during Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur if someone had a parallel tagline about Jews?


28 posted on 12/28/2005 11:17:13 AM PST by ladyjane
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To: ladyjane
"less easy to ignore it when it's right here on FR."

A quick read of most religious threads on this site reveals the ugliness flows both ways. It is unfortunate and unnecessary. It just makes everyone look bad.

29 posted on 12/28/2005 11:17:35 AM PST by Rokke
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To: ladyjane
Can you imagine the uproar during Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur if someone had a parallel tagline about Jews?"""

Actually, in context the tagline sounds like a salute to Catholics. Because it is clearly a statement of pride in having a number of offspring, and it's a salute to Catholics for approaching life the same way.

30 posted on 12/28/2005 11:19:20 AM PST by churchillbuff
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To: Lunatic Fringe

So what if Mary Mapes and Dan Rather can fabricate documents about President Bush. Big deal. The truth is irrelevant.


31 posted on 12/28/2005 11:19:34 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: infoguy
Interesting

I read about Pope Joan years ago, can't remember where
According to the story I read, "he" was discovered as a "she" when she went into labor during a processional

32 posted on 12/28/2005 11:21:34 AM PST by apackof2 (You can stand me up at the gates of hell, I'll stand my ground and I won’t back down)
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To: infoguy
Pope Joan

John Anglicus was a ninth century Englishman. He travelled to Athens where he gained a reputation for his knowledge of the sciences. Eventually he came to lecture at the Trivium in Rome where his fame grew even larger. He became a Cardinal, and when Pope Leo IV died in 853 A.D., he was unanimously elected pope.

As Pope John VIII he ruled for two years, until 855 A.D. However, while riding one day from St. Peter's to the Lateran, he had to stop by the side of the road and, to the astonishment of everyone, gave birth to a child. It turned out that Pope John VIII was really a woman. In other words, Pope John was really Pope Joan.

Engraving of Pope Joan from an 18th Century polemic, "A Present for a Papist." Note the infant at her feet. According to legend, upon discovering the Pope's true gender, the people of Rome tied her feet together and dragged her behind a horse while stoning her, until she died. Another legend has it that she was sent to a faraway convent to repent her sins and that the child she bore grew up to become the Bishop of Ostia.

It is not known whether the story of Pope Joan is true. The first known reference to her occurs in the thirteenth century, 350 years after her supposed reign. Around this time her image also began to appear as the High Priestess card in the Tarot deck.

The Catholic Church at first seemed to accept the reality of Pope Joan. Marginal notes in a fifteenth century document refer to a statue called "The Woman Pope with Her Child" that was supposedly erected near the Lateran. There was also a rumor that for some years the chairs used during papal consecrations had holes in their seats, so that an official check of the pope's gender could be performed.

During the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the Catholic Church began to deny the existence of Pope Joan. However, at the same time, Protestant writers insisted on her reality, primarily because the existence of a female pope was a convenient piece of anti-Catholic propaganda.

Modern scholars have been unable to resolve the historicity of Pope Joan.

33 posted on 12/28/2005 11:23:02 AM PST by Bommer
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To: infoguy
How about this - ( On January 6, NBC will begin a new series entitled The Book of Daniel. )

While the public has not seen the program, NBC is promoting "The Book of Daniel" as a serious drama about Christian people and the Christian faith. The main character is Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest whose wife depends heavily on her mid-day martinis.

Webster regularly sees and talks with a very unconventional white-robed, bearded Jesus. The Webster family is rounded out by a 23-year-old homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer, and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter. At the office, his lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law.

NBC and the mainstream media call it "edgy," "challenging" and "courageous." The series is written by Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual who describes himself as being "in Catholic recovery," and is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation and isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus. "I don't necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true," he said.

Would the alphabet media group try this will Islam? Hecccckkk NO! you gotta be a Christian of any stripe to be besmirched by the MSM and the ACLU.

34 posted on 12/28/2005 11:23:20 AM PST by yoe
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To: A.A. Cunningham

You are comparing apples and oranges, friend.


35 posted on 12/28/2005 11:23:33 AM PST by Lunatic Fringe (North Texas Solutions http://ntxsolutions.com)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Patrick Madrid is a freeper. Do you know his tagname? I have always enjoyed his writings.
God bless.


36 posted on 12/28/2005 11:23:33 AM PST by lastchance (Hug your babies.)
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To: billbears
So what if there was a woman pope? It wouldn't be the end of the world and it wouldn't have any affect whatsoever on Christian beliefs.

Uh, because it's not true. Why not just run a piece on how the Bush Admin blew up the WTC on purpose, or how the Holocaust never happened, or how Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene? There's as much "evidence" for all of these claims as there is for "Pope Joan."
37 posted on 12/28/2005 11:25:57 AM PST by Antoninus (Hillary smiles every time a Freeper trashes Santorum.)
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To: infoguy

Although the myth of Pope Joan is just that - a myth, one original usurper of Christendom was a woman, namely the Empress Theodora. She may be the figure upon whom the fictional Pope Joan was based. Her own official biographer Procopius wrote his Secret History to ensure that she [and Justinian] be known for their crimes.

http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/library-procopius/secrethistory-2.htm


38 posted on 12/28/2005 11:27:50 AM PST by novembersurprise (madisonRepublican)
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To: mware
"One of the boys was assigned to do a report on Joan of Arc."

LOL....I very recently heard a supposedly true story that took place in a Catholic Elementary School...The student's were provided their paper, crayons, markers, etc. and given the assignment of drawing their interpretation of the Nativity.

Most of the results were relatively prototypical manger scenes, to include one boy's who depicted the Christ child, Mary, Joseph, livestock, angels and the three kings...with the conpicuous addition of an obviously obese, and seemingly incongruous male off to one side of the drawing.

As the nun walked about the class she noted the figure and asked the boy who the extra figure was, he looked at her as if she should already know, then answered, "It's Round John Virgin!"

39 posted on 12/28/2005 11:29:51 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum.)
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To: dangus

Its not like the Vatican hasn't had its real scandals over the centuries. A lot of those Popes and Cardinals weren't saints.


40 posted on 12/28/2005 11:30:01 AM PST by conserv13
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To: Antoninus

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0060.html

Triumph of the Catholic Church by Anglican convert H.W. Crocker. It is a fascinating 2000 year history. Even deals with the Anti-Popes, the Great Schism, etc.

F


41 posted on 12/28/2005 11:30:22 AM PST by Frank Sheed ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." ~GK Chesterton.)
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To: Joe 6-pack
"It's Round John Virgin!"

LOL. When I was little I thought there was an angel named Hark. Hark the Herald Angel.

42 posted on 12/28/2005 11:32:31 AM PST by conserv13
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To: Lunatic Fringe

It is anti-Catholic because it says that a central Catholic doctrine - the Apostolic Succession - is a complete fraud and is provably so (i.e. a non-ordained woman became Pope) and the Church is engaged in an elaborate conspiracy to suppress history.


43 posted on 12/28/2005 11:32:46 AM PST by wideawake
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To: infoguy
The tale is a complete fabrication dating back to the 13th century

Well, I've never heard of it and I'm interested in the story.
I'll make sure and watch.. I missed most of the current events in the 13th century.

44 posted on 12/28/2005 11:33:29 AM PST by humblegunner (If you're gonna die, die with your boots on.)
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To: infoguy

I couldn't be happier that the writers of the "Code" are being sued by the guys who wrote "Holy Blood, Holy Grail."

This rising tide of anti-Christian bias, which needs confronting, is misdirected anger at Islam which, as we all know, is politically incorrect and dangerous to attack.

The only answer to Islam is Christ. The anti-Christians can't handle that.


45 posted on 12/28/2005 11:34:41 AM PST by Prospero (Ad Astra!)
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To: conserv13
A lot of those Popes and Cardinals weren't saints.

Of course not.

But 99.999% of the scandals weren't very interesting - they mostly involved misappropriation of property.

No denomination is free of that taint.

46 posted on 12/28/2005 11:34:59 AM PST by wideawake
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To: conserv13

Oh, Gosh no, they certainly weren't! It's just sometimes it seems that the worst offenses are conflated together in some people's minds, and then attributed to the vast majority of popes.

Long before the Reformation, Catholics were keenly aware of the inherent tendency for wicked men to rise to power. For hundreds of years, men have made comments such as, "The highway to Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops," and then been recognized by Popes (bishops of Rome) as great saints and apologists. It is unfortunate that the uneducated and the intellectually stubborn have for so long misunderstood infallible to mean inerrant. Peter himself was upbraided by Paul, not for proclaiming false doctrine, but for sinning in allowing false teachings to stand unrefuted.


47 posted on 12/28/2005 11:35:17 AM PST by dangus
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To: Bommer
Source: catholic.com
Q: Recently my sister, who is a Catholic nun, told me that one of the popes was a woman. She also said St. Brigid was a bishop! I have never heard this before and I feel so distressed. I would appreciate any information which you could share with me.

A: Your sister is wrong on both counts. First, there never was a woman pope. The old story of Pope Joan is sometimes used to suggest otherwise, but this legend has been thoroughly discredited. The appendix to The Oxford Dictionary of the Popes (written by a Protestant, J. N. D. Kelly) says the legend of a woman pope "scarcely needs painstaking refutation today, for not only is there no contemporary evidence for a female pope at any of the dates suggested for her reign, but the known facts of the respective periods makes it impossible to fit one in."

Second, St. Brigid was never a bishop, although she did start, along with the hermit Conleth, the religious community of Kildare in fifth-century Ireland. Conleth was a bishop and was the abbot for a house of men. Brigid was the abbess of a nearby convent, but was never a bishop.


48 posted on 12/28/2005 11:36:14 AM PST by COBOL2Java (The Katrina Media never gets anything right, so why should I believe them?)
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To: Bommer
How about this somewhat more scholarly take from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Popess Joan

The fable about a female pope, who afterwards bore the name of Johanna (Joan), is first noticed in the middle of the thirteenth century.

VARIATIONS OF THE FABLE

First Version: Jean de Mailly. The first who appears to have had cognizance of it was the Dominican chronicler Jean de Mailly (Archiv der Gesellschaft fur altere deutsche Geschichte, xii, 17 sq., 469 sq.) from whom another Dominican, Etienne de Bourbon (d. 1261), adopted the tale into his work on the "Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost."

In this account the alleged popess is placed about the year 1100, and no name is yet assigned her. The story runs that a very talented woman, dressed as a man, became notary to the Curia, then cardinal and finally pope; that one day this person went out on horseback, and on this occasion gave birth to a son; that she was then bound to the tail of a horse, dragged round the city, stoned to death by the mob, and was buried at the place where she died; and that an inscription was put up there as follows: "Petre pater patrum papissae prodito partum". In her reign, the story adds, the Ember days were introduced, called therefore the "fasts of the popess".

Second Version: Martin of Troppau. A different version appears in the third recension of the chronicle of Martin of Troppau (Martinus Polonus) possibly inserted by the author himself and not by a subsequent transcriber. Through this very popular work the tale became best known in the following form: After Leo IV (847-55) the Englishman John of Mainz (Johannes Anglicus, natione Moguntinus) occupied the papal chair two years, seven months and four days. He was, it is alleged, a woman. When a girl, she was taken to Athens in male clothes by her lover, and there made such progress in learning that no one was her equal. She came to Rome, where she taught science, and thereby attracted the attention of learned men. She enjoyed the greatest respect on account of her conduct and erudition, and was finally chosen as pope, but, becoming pregnant by one of her trusted attendants, she gave birth to a child during a procession from St. Peter's to the Lateran, somewhere between the Colosseum and St. Clement's. There she died almost immediately, and it is said she was buried at the same place. In their processions the popes always avoid this road; many believe that they do this out of abhorrence of that calamity.

Here occurs for the first time the name of Johanna (Joan) as that of the alleged popess. Martin of Troppau had lived at the Curia as papal chaplain and penitentiary (he died 1278), for which reason his papal history was widely read, and through him the tale obtained general acceptance. One manuscript of his chronicle relates in a different way the fate of the alleged popess: i.e., after her confinement Joan was immediately deposed, and did penance for many years. Her son, it is added, became Bishop of Ostia, and had her interred there after her death.

Later Versions. Later chroniclers even give the name which she bore as a girl; some call her Agnes, some Gilberta. Still further variations are found in the works of different chroniclers, e.g. in the "Universal Chronicle of Metz", written about 1250, and in subsequent editions of the twelfth (?) century "Mirabilia Urbis Romae". According to the latter, the popess was given the choice in a vision, of temporal disgrace or eternal punishment; she chose the former, and died at her confinement in the open street.

EARLY EVALUATIONS OF THE LEGEND

Credulous Acceptance. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries this popess was already counted as an historical personage, whose existence no one doubted. She had her place among the carved busts which stood in Siena Cathedral. Under Clement VIII, and at his request, she was transformed into Pope Zacharias. The heretic Hus, in the defense of his false doctrine before the Council of Constance, referred to the popess, and no one offered to question the fact of her existence. She is not found in the "Liber Pontificalis" nor among the papal portraits in St. Paul's Outside the Walls, at Rome.

Critical Evaluation. This alleged popess is a pure figment of the imagination. In the fifteenth century, after the awakening of historical criticism, a few scholars like Aeneas Silvius (Epist., I, 30) and Platina (Vitae Pontificum, No. 106) saw the untenableness of the story. Since the sixteenth century Catholic historians began to deny the existence of the popess, e.g., Onofrio Panvinio (Vitae Pontificum, Venice, 1557), Aventinus (Annales Boiorum, lib. IV), Baronius (Annales ad a. 879, n. 5), and others.

Protestant Evaluation. A few Protestants also, e.g., Blondel (Joanna Papissa, 1657) and Leibniz ("Flores sparsae in tumulum papissae" in "Bibliotheca Historica", Göttingen, 1758, 267 sq.), admitted that the popess never existed. Numerous Protestants, however, made use of the fable in their attacks on the papacy. Even in the nineteenth century, when the untenableness of the legend was recognized by all serious historians, a few Protestants (e.g. Kist, 1843; Suden, 1831; and Andrea, 1866) attempted, in an anti-Roman spirit, to prove the historical existence of the popess. Even Hase ("Kirchengesch.", II, 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1895, 81) could not refrain from a spiteful and absolutely unhistorical note on this subject.

PROOFS OF ITS MYTHICAL CHARACTER

The principal proofs of the entirely mythical character of the popess are:

1. Not one contemporaneous historical source among the papal histories knows anything about her; also, no mention is made of her until the middle of the thirteenth century. Now it is incredible that the appearance of a "popess", if it was an historical fact, would be noticed by none of the numerous historians from the tenth to the thirteenth century.

2. In the history of the popes, there is no place where this legendary figure will fit in.

Between Leo IV and Benedict III, where Martinus Polonus places her, she cannot be inserted, because Leo IV died 17 July, 855, and immediately after his death Benedict III was elected by the clergy and people of Rome; but owing to the setting up of an antipope, in the person of the deposed Cardinal Anastasius, he was not consecrated until 29 September. Coins exist which bear both the image of Benedict III and of Emperor Lothair, who died 28 September, 855; therefore Benedict must have been recognized as pope before the last-mentioned date. On 7 October, 855, Benedict III issued a charter for the Abbey of Corvey. Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims, informed Nicholas I that a messenger whom he had sent to Leo IV learned on his way of the death of this pope, and therefore handed his petition to Benedict III, who decided it (Hincmar, ep. xl in P.L., CXXXVI, 85). All these witnesses prove the correctness of the dates given in the lives of Leo IV and Benedict III, and there was no interregnum between these two popes, so that at this place there is no room for the alleged popess.

Further, is is even less probable that a popess could be inserted in the list of popes about 1100, between Victor III (1087) and Urban II (1088-99) or Paschal II (1099-1110), as is suggested by the chronicle of Jean de Mailly.

ORIGIN OF THE LEGEND

This fable of a Roman popess seems to have had an earlier counterpart at Constantinople. Indeed, in his letter to Michael Caerularius (1053), Leo IX says that he would not believe what he had heard, namely that the Church of Constantinople had already seen eunuchs, indeed even a woman, in its episcopal chair (Mansi "Concil.", XIX, 635 sq.).

Concerning the origin of the whole legend of Popess Joan, different hypotheses have been advanced.

Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, III, 24) believes that the tale was brought from Constantinople to Rome.

Baronius (Annales ad a., 879, n. 5) conjectures that the much censured effeminate weaknesses of Pope John VIII (872-82) in dealing with the Greeks may have given rise to the story. Mai has shown (Nova Collectio Patr., I, Proleg., xlvii) that Photius of Constantinople (De Spir. Sanct. Myst., lxxxix) refers emphatically three times to this pope as "the Manly", as though he would remove from him the stigma of effeminacy.

Other historians point to the degradation of the papacy in the tenth century, when so many popes bore the name John; it seemed therefore a fitting name for the legendary popess. Thus Aventinus sees in the story a satire on John IX; Blondel, a satire on John XI; Panvinio (notae ad Platinam, De vitis Rom. Pont.) applies it to John XII, while Leander (Kirkengesch., II, 200) understands it as applicable generally to the baneful female influence on the papacy during the tenth century.

Other investigators endeavour to find in various occurrences and reports a more definite basis for the origin of this legend. Leo Allatius (Diss. Fab. de Joanna Papissa) connects it with the false prophetess Theota, condemned at the Synod of Mainz (847); Leibniz recalls the story that an alleged bishop Johannes Anglicus came to Rome and was there recognized as a woman. The legend has also been connected with the pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, e.g. by Karl Blascus ("Diatribe de Joanna Papissa", Naples, 1779), and Gfrörer (Kirchengesch., iii, 978).

Döllinger's explanation has met with more general approval ("Papstfabeln", Munich, 1863, 7-45). He recognizes the fable of Popess Joan as a survival of some local Roman folk-tale originally connected with certain ancient monuments and peculiar customs. An ancient statue discovered in the reign of Sixtus V, in a street near the Colosseum, which showed a figure with a child, was popularly considered to represent the popess. In the same street a monument was discovered with an inscription at the end of which occurred the well-known formula P.P.P. (proprie pecuniâ posuit) together with a prefixed name which read: Pap. (?Papirius) pater patrum. This could easily have given origin to the inscription mentioned by Jean de Mailly (see above). It was also observed that the pope did not pass along this street in solemn procession (perhaps on account of its narrowness). Further it was noticed that, on the occasion of his formal inauguration in front of the Lateran Basilica, the newly-elected pope always seated himself on a marble chair. This seat was an ancient bath-stool, of which there were many in Rome; it was merely made use of by the pope to rest himself. But the imagination of the vulgar took this to signify that the sex of the pope was thereby tested, in order to prevent any further instance of a woman attaining to the Chair of St. Peter.

Erroneous explanations — such as were often excogitated in the Middle Ages in connection with ancient monuments — and popular imagination are originally responsible for the fable of "Popess Joan" that uncritical chroniclers, since the middle of the thirteenth century, dignified by consigning it to their pages.
49 posted on 12/28/2005 11:37:10 AM PST by Antoninus (Hillary smiles every time a Freeper trashes Santorum.)
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To: churchillbuff

Thanks for your rant which added a great deal to the discussion (/sarcasm).

Since you are in tune with things religious, perhaps you noticed the incredible garbage that passed for religious history on Discovery, the National Geographic Channel, the History Channel and A & E as a good many of the cable channels "handed it to Jesus" as His Birth was being celebrated. But, that's okay. Catholics were really offended but didn't stage a protest; we are putting our house in order and fending off anti-RC bigots. I wonder how many other Churches "bought this crap" with 'nigh a whimper, however, as their Savior was psychoanalyzed, demythologized and debunked?

F


50 posted on 12/28/2005 11:37:23 AM PST by Frank Sheed ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." ~GK Chesterton.)
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