Skip to comments.Jeopardy Question Last Night: "Who is Pope Joan?"
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..."
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.
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
Pope John VIII supposedly was Pope Joan. This story has never been verified.
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"!!
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.
1-310-264-3364 "I disagree with your Catholic question..."
Catholic Ping - please freepmail me if you want on/off this list
Kinda makes you wonder about their credibility. Don't they fact check?
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.
What was the category?
Stupid Legends Started by Anti-Catholics
I can't believe the story, because an answer was provided to a question, but in TRUE Jepordy format, it ought been vice-versa.
has an online forum.
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.
Stupid Legends Started by Anti-Catholics"Legends for $1000, Alex."
I thought it was Joan of Arcadia.
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"
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?
oops, that post should have been to eastsider
Doo doo doo doo...
An Anatomy of Error VI
A fascinating aspect of the campaign to see women ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion has been the attempt to find ancient precedent for the practice. Consonant with scripture and required by the tradition was Michael Adies over-optimistic formula on 11 November 1992. So it was clearly incumbent on somebody to come up with a sound and ancient provenance for the practice. Otherwise, how could one explain the fact that what was so plainly required had never actually been done?
To be fair to the most ardent proponents, they supposed in 1992 that the required evidence was readily to hand.
The ground work was put in place (as one might expect) by a liberal Roman Catholic. The venerable feminist Joan Morris died in 1985, but not before she had woven a veritable web of inconclusive speculation and set more hares running than the White City Dog Track.
Pope Joan, Theodora Episcopa, the female concelebrants of the catacomb of Priscilla, the revival of interest in Junia Apostolos: all can be traced back to Morris. Nor has any serious work been done subsequently either to question or verify her assertions. Across the entire spectrum, from the academically prestigious to the journalistically jejune (from Tom Torrance to Lavinia Byrne) people have been content simply to repeat or occasionally to embellish what Joan Morris had already written.
So to what does the Morris oeuvre amount?
A bishop and a Pope?
The legend of Pope Joan (recently the subject of a book by Peter Stanford and a television programme based on it) has probably, as a result, finally been consigned to the cabinet of curiosities to which it properly belongs. The evidence adduced by Stanford is compromised at every point. Georgina Massons Companion Guide to Rome gives one more reliable information on the subject in a paragraph and a half than does Stanford in two hundred pages.
About Theodora Episcopa, the supposedly prelatical mother of Pope Paschal I, there has been no advance on Morris either. Poor Joan does not even appear in the bibliography of Lavinia Byrnes Woman at the Altar: The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church, which is hugely dependent on her work and where Theodora makes the obligatory guest appearance. The idea that, at the height of the iconoclast controversy, no mention is made in Byzantine documents of an iconodule Pope of Rome who had a non-celibate woman bishop for his mother remains audacious in the extreme. [But who cares?]
Nor has subsequent scholarship thrown further light on Morriss assertions about the now notorious fresco in the Catacomb of Priscilla. Tom Torrance maintained that this shows Aquila and Priscilla and a few friends concelebrating (with attendant deacons). Mary Ann Rossi (from the Womens Studies Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison let the reader understand) opined that it undoubtedly shows seven women concelebrating with the joyful self-possession which she recognizes from the concelebrations of Mass undertaken by herself and friends.
The facts, alas, are against both. There are no deacons in the fresco Torrance had, quite simply, never seen the picture when he pontificated. And if this fresco is indeed a picture of any kind of concelebration it would be not only the earliest surviving representation of a eucharistic rite, but precede any other evidence for concelebration by about a thousand years.
Foremost among the Apostles?
Enthusiasm about the apostle Junia appears, at first sight, to have far greater credibility. No less an authority than St John Chrysostom appears to have given her credence. But closer examination renders her status (and even her existence) more than doubtful. Reference to a Junia who was foremost among the apostles (Romans 16) has understandably excited the enthusiasts for a female episcopate. But it is all far from plain sailing.
In the first place, the feminine form of the name is not the only reading in the relevant manuscripts. In the second place, the phrase which has sometimes been translated as foremost among the apostles can as well (some say better) be translated as well-known to the apostles. Last of all, there is the problem of why Andronicus and Junia, if they really were apostolically foremost (were they brother and sister, husband and wife, we wonder?), are mentioned nowhere but here. Whilst Priscilla and Aquilla are the hardy perennials of the Pauline mission, Junia and Andronicus (putatively of higher status than either) get hardly a mention.
The truth is that Junia the Apostles reputation rests merely on the absence of a single consonant from some manuscripts, and on an interpretation of an idiom in New Testament Greek which could be construed no more certainly by John Chrysostom than by us. A single letter would condemn the female apostle to ignominious masculinity; and a variant interpretation of the idiom would render her gender sublimely irrelevant!
So much for the Morris legacy, which amounts to little if anything. There remains the work of Professor Giorgio Otranto of the Institute of Classical and Christian Studies at the University of Bari.
Otranto worked for some years on the epigraphy of Christian tombs in Calabria and Basilicata, and published in 1982 an evaluation of a letter of Gelasius I (492496) to the bishops of Southern Italy, which seems to have specifically addressed the problem of women celebrating the eucharist:
We have heard to our annoyance, writes Gelasius, that divine affairs have come to such a low state that women are encouraged to officiate at the sacred altars and to take part in all matters imputed to the offices of the male sex, to which they do not belong.
Otrantos conclusion from this remarkable letter (the Latin of which is hardly unambiguous) is no less remarkable and Byrne it need hardly be said is close behind him. With the confident gesture of the trickster who pulls a rabbit out of the hat, Otranto concludes that because a pope condemned priestly acts by women, that there must have been priestly women. And because priestly women are supposed once to have existed, that their priesthood ought now to be valid and accepted. Furthermore, that because the priestly ministry of women is not received and accepted now, that there must be (and have been) a conspiracy to deny their existence then. The proof both of the existence and the legitimacy of women priests rests simply on the condemnation of them!
This interesting argument could obviously prove useful in other circumstances. The condemnation of almost anything might, on these principles, be taken as condoning it. Pauls stricture against Corinthian adultery, for example, would simply encourage contemporary Christians to commit it; and a solemn anathema by an ecumenical council would infallibly pronounce the orthodoxy of a doctrine.
But the bold claim that the tradition requires womens ordination drowns, we suggest, in the limpid pool of history. That age which should have fostered women priests in profusion, even on the evidence of their most enthusiastic proponents, did not do so. Theirs, sadly, is an argument from something less than silence. None but heretics perceived the necessity.
You will put your quotation marks in that last sentence where you will.
"Episcopa" above her image refers to the fact that Theodora was the mother of Pope St. Paschal I (817-824), who had the Church built to honor her. Dissident Catholics who clamor for women's ordination have foolishly tried to coopt the reference and spin it as her being a bishop.
If the category really was "Legend Says..." then I don't see any reason to complain.
Furthermore, if they had a question referring to Peter as the first pope, I wouldn't call & complain even though I believe that's false doctrine.
I believe they said the category was called "Legend Says..." so at this point I'm not sure what all the hub-bub is.
This myth was refuted long ago, by several protestants no less.
A number of books deal with the topic, including a chapter in fellow freeper Patrick Madrids' book, "Pope Fiction".
I am speculating on why not how.Speculating as to why Christ instituted the exclusively male priesthood? Or why Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians faithfully preserve the divinely instituted male priesthood?
I would assume that priests keep this directive with high fidelity because it is the word of God.
Starting with Christs priesthood, Christ is the unique mediator between the Father and the people. He effects that mediation both by interceding for the Church, representing the Church to the Father as head of the body of the Church, and as God's representative to his people, the Church, as the Bridegroom who betrothes the Church. The sexual imagery of Christ's mediation would lose its force if sex were merely contingent.
Ordained priests, in an analogous and derivative way, make real the dual role of Christ the Head. In baptism, we have all put on Christ; he has incorporated us into his body and each person acts in persona Christi. But to use the formulations of canon law, the priest is said to be acting in persona Christi capitis, of having the unique role of representing the 'headship' of Christ Jesus. The uniqueness of the priesthood is that Christ wills that his role as head and his pastoral presence be no less present than it was two millennia ago.
Christ the High Priest's two roles representative and bridegroom are fundamentally male, for whatever reason in the mystery of God. Theologically, the importance of the iconic meaning of Christ as male is paramount. On a purely physical level, the priest is the icon of Jesus, who was a man; but on a deeper level, the priest is the icon of Christ who comes as the Bride of the Church to conceive within the Church the life of grace, an icon for the whole mystery of Christs mediation of God to the people.
One of my recollections of the Vatican was a dark hallway to the left, about 20 feet down and just above floor level on the right side there is a caved in skull head sculpture and skeleton arm reaching up. Has anyone else seen that and know what it was?
Briefly, for background, the matter associated with each sacrament must meet certain specifications (a topical example being male and female for matrimony). For the sacrament of holy orders, the proper matter is a male.
Thus, with regards to the priesthood, the Church looks to a person's sex, not gender, when vetting candidates because of the male sex's intrinsic potential to generate. (Cf. #34 ("the priest is the icon of Christ who comes as the Bride of the Church to conceive within the Church the life of grace")).
There's the problem! If the guy was French, he would likely be mistaken for a woman. After all, just look at French"men" today. To find a man to run their country, they had to find an import from Hungary. And my male cat has been French since he was neutered.