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Jeopardy Question Last Night: "Who is Pope Joan?"
E-mail from Jeopardy Viewer

Posted on 01/06/2005 8:26:14 PM PST by Diago

According to an e-mail I received today:


Did you see this ? ?

- from ******* ...

Last night, January 5, 2005, Jeopardy (the television program) had this question:

"What female, after giving birth in Rome, was stoned out of the city?"

And the answer: "Pope Joan"!!

We need to make one simple phone call. A very friendly man answered with a simple 'Hello' when I called today. He knew exactly what I was talking about. He said he is keeping a log of the cities/states of callers who are complaining.

If enough people call, the program will retract their question. That is important to get TRUTH out. So please tell your friends in other cities to call, even if they didn't watch the show. Jeopardy is waiting to hear form us, he said!


1-310-264-3364 "I disagree with your Catholic question..."

TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: popejoan
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1 posted on 01/06/2005 8:26:14 PM PST by Diago
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To: Diago

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Transcribed by Marie Jutras

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII
Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

2 posted on 01/06/2005 8:30:23 PM PST by Diago
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To: Diago

Pope John VIII supposedly was Pope Joan. This story has never been verified.

3 posted on 01/06/2005 8:33:48 PM PST by stylin19a (Marines - end of discussion)
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To: Diago
If true this would just represent an exception to the rule.

That is, most generalizations (truths) can be represented by 2 bell curves that overlap.

Gender is such a thing, there do exist masculine woman and feminine men.

Thus, she would be quite masculine to pass as a man. So she is not representative of women in general as some would like to portray her.

The rule against women being pope was probably made with the overlapping bell curves in mind (maybe not the picture but the concept). Just as driving age, drinking age and age of consent are based on this concept.

I do not understand why people do not seem to grasp this concept.
4 posted on 01/06/2005 9:40:54 PM PST by demecleze
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To: NYer; Coleus; Salvation

Last night, January 5, 2005, Jeopardy (the television program) had this question:

"What female, after giving birth in Rome, was stoned out of the city?"

And the answer: "Pope Joan"!!

5 posted on 01/07/2005 3:53:29 AM PST by Diago
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To: Diago

Movie News! (updated September 2004)

Pope Joan, the movie, has made some progress! It is being produced by Constantin Films. Producer: Herman Weigal. Director Volker Schlondorf; Screenwriter Michael Hirst ("Elizabeth"). Principal photography to begin in late Spring/early summer 2005.

6 posted on 01/07/2005 7:31:59 AM PST by HarleyD
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To: Diago; american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...

1-310-264-3364 "I disagree with your Catholic question..."

Catholic Ping - please freepmail me if you want on/off this list

7 posted on 01/07/2005 7:39:35 AM PST by NYer ("In good times we enjoy faith, in bad times we exercise faith." ... Mother Angelica)
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To: Diago
And the answer: "Pope Joan"!!

Kinda makes you wonder about their credibility. Don't they fact check?

8 posted on 01/07/2005 7:45:45 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: demecleze
The rule against women being pope was probably made with the overlapping bell curves in mind (maybe not the picture but the concept).
The exclusively male priesthood of Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians has nothing to do with overlapping bell curves. It was instituted by Christ.
9 posted on 01/07/2005 7:53:28 AM PST by eastsider
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To: Diago

What was the category?

10 posted on 01/07/2005 7:54:45 AM PST by eastsider
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To: eastsider
What was the category?

Stupid Legends Started by Anti-Catholics

11 posted on 01/07/2005 8:29:28 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: Diago

I can't believe the story, because an answer was provided to a question, but in TRUE Jepordy format, it ought been vice-versa.

12 posted on 01/07/2005 8:33:27 AM PST by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Diago

has an online forum.

13 posted on 01/07/2005 8:44:04 AM PST by Dominick ("Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought." - JP II)
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To: stylin19a
"Pope John VIII supposedly was Pope Joan. This story has never been verified."

I watched the program last night, and after Alex gave the "question" Pope Joan, he qualified it with "or Pope John" though to me it sounded like "Pope Jean" (the french pronunciation)

I like to watch Jeopardy for the Catholic questions they often ask, but this was a rally strange one. I've known of this story for years, but know it's never been verified, or even thought of as serious. Some Pope may have euphamistically been known as Pope Joan, but nobody would possibly think he had a baby, or was dragged out of the Vatican and killed.

I would have liked to listen in on the conversation when that "answer" was postulated. It's possible that it was used as a strawman in order to test how many people are watching. (how many call in to complain) They are worried about their ratings since Ken Jennings lost.

14 posted on 01/07/2005 9:05:12 AM PST by Arguss (Take the narrow road)
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To: Aquinasfan; NYer
Stupid Legends Started by Anti-Catholics
"Legends for $1000, Alex."

"The mosaic of this famous female bishop is found in the church of Santa Praxedis in Rome."


15 posted on 01/07/2005 9:17:39 AM PST by eastsider
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To: NYer; Diago; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...
Ok, I called the first telephone number listed:
Which is the office of George Rannie,  a private advertising firm in charge of "affiliate relations"  which does the web page and other advertising for the show.
They gave me another number to call which is the number for the production office of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
and talked to Michelle in Writing and Research.  She went on to tell me that the category of the question was:
"Legend Says"
and went on to say that most questions are from Merriam Webster, Britannica, and Columbia encyclopedia "all reputable sources"  and if you want a personal response you must write:
Writing Staff
10202 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City CA 90232
Contact Jeopardy

16 posted on 01/07/2005 9:22:07 AM PST by Coleus (Abortion and Euthanasia, Don't Democrats just kill ya! Kill Humans, Save the Bears!!)
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To: Diago

I thought it was Joan of Arcadia.

17 posted on 01/07/2005 9:37:58 AM PST by doug from upland (THE RED STATES - celebrate a great American tradition)
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To: Coleus

I also called the 1-310-244-4000 number and spoke with Michelle She gave me the same story and also added the head writer was Catholic and didn't feel the question was ant-Catholic at all given the category was "Legend Says"

18 posted on 01/07/2005 9:59:16 AM PST by pegleg
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To: pegleg
Oh, so the head writer is Catholic and that means it's OK and we should be done with it. I think I've heard that one before.
19 posted on 01/07/2005 10:03:52 AM PST by Coleus (Let us pray for the 125,000 + victims of the tsunami and the 126,000 aborted Children killed daily)
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To: Diago

I studied in Rome in college and took a course on the medieval history of the city. My prof who was quite liberal and far from a Catholic even noted that Pope Joan is a load of BS. No serious historian actually believes Pope Joan existed.

As for the mosaic in St Praxede, do you have any more information about it? I noticed the halo is square, which means the person depicted was living when the mosaic was made. The same church has an image of the current pope, Pascal II, with a square halo as well. Are there any records of a prominent Theodora from the 9th century? Could she possibly have been a bishop's wife - hence the term episcopa?

20 posted on 01/07/2005 10:37:36 AM PST by sassbox
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