Skip to comments.Is it Saint Swithin’s Day Already?
Posted on 06/23/2010 12:14:58 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
So theres a new movie coming out about the legendary (and I do mean legendary) female Pope of the 9th Century Joan. Its the job of movie directors to use good stories rather than tell accurate accounts of history. But we should expect more accuracy in media coverage. Lets see how its going.
The Daily Mails story begins with a very funny headline that probably wasnt intended to be funny: Mystery of the pregnant pope: New film reopens one of the Vaticans most enduring wounds. Um, considering that no one with any knowledge of history actually believes in the female pope, it might be better referred to as the least enduring wound. Instead:
For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has tried to bury her story. But of all the legends suppressed by the Vatican over the years, this is one that refuses to go away. Now, a new film has brought to life the story of the only female pope - and it is being shown this week in cinemas cheek by jowl with the Vatican. And there are plans to bring it to Britain.Theres no doubt that the story of Pope Joan is an old one. Though her reign was supposedly for three years in the 850s, her story didnt appear until the 13th century. But it was widely believed for centuries - even within the church. Most historians think it developed out of anti-papal satirical writings. The first mention was from the chronicle of Jean Pierier de Mailly, but the most popular one cacme from Martin of Troppaus Chronicon Pontificum et Imperatorum.
Its a great story, not the least of which is because it ends with her giving birth one day while on horseback. Well, really it ends with her being brutally killed. Either way, its a great story. Within a couple hundred years, critical scholars had debunked it but the legend lives on and is made into movies and stuff. You can read more about it at the Catholic Encyclopedia. The encylopedia provides two proofs for why it cant be believed. The first is that its crazy to think a dramatic story about a female pope would not have any contemporary corroboration. The second is that theres no room for a female Pope in the 850s in the interregnum between Leo IV and Benedict III. The Telegraph story is better:
A new film based on the legend of Pope Joan an Englishwoman who purportedly disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female pontiff in history has sparked debate in the Roman Catholic Church.Well, there isnt really any knowledgeable disagreement about whether Pope Joan existed and while Jan Hus did talk about her, it was at a time when her legend was widely believed. Its not really accurate to blame Protestants for the legend considering it predates them.
The film has fuelled disagreements over whether Pope Joan really existed or, as the Church has always maintained, she was a mythical figure used by the early Protestant Church to discredit and embarrass Rome.
Anyway, its not just overseas coverage. The Oklahoman religion editor writes:
I wonder if it is causing contention because it brings up questions about things people would rather not talk about, ala The Da Vinci Code.You mean questions like, Should facts matter? Or what questions, exactly?
....there isnt really any knowledgeable disagreement about whether Pope Joan existed and while Jan Hus did talk about her, it was at a time when her legend was widely believed. Its not really accurate to blame Protestants for the legend considering it predates them.
Jeopardy Question Last Night: "Who is Pope Joan?"
Pope Joan (Diane Sawyer looks at FEMALE POPE)
ABC Pushes Anti-Catholic "Pope Joan" Tale
ABC-TV DISCOVERS POPE JOAN
ABC's Bogus "Pope Joan" Story Also Hocked Debunked "Rule of Thumb" Myth
The Fable of Pope Joan [Debunks Diane Sawyer on ABC]
The lady was a pope
Movie About "Pope Joan" Set for Release
Pout Like A Pope, Baby! [Catholic Caucus]
Pope Joan film sparks Roman Catholic Church row[article mentioned in this thread]
Mystery of the pregnant pope: New film reopens one of the Vatican's most enduring wounds [article mentioned in this thread]
When Will Pope Joan -- AKA the Lady-Pope Biopic -- Come to the U.S.?
A Primer on the Persistent Myth of "Pope Joan"
Geez, I thought this was going to be about St. Swithin. Patron saint of Sherwood Forest.
To answer your question, no, St. Swithin’s day is July 15.
And, for some reason, I thought this was going to be about St. Hubbins, patron saint of quality footwear....
Oh, wait, there is. And I AM amused, so carry on!