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Did the Medieval Catholic Church Have a Female Pope?
Christian Post ^ | March 14, 2013 | Michael Gryboski

Posted on 03/17/2013 5:55:14 PM PDT by Alex Murphy

The election of Pope Francis as the 266th bishop of Rome held many milestones. Francis is the first Latin American pope in history and the first non-European pontiff in about 1,200 years.

However, some have claimed that a Medieval pope might have reached a milestone considered impossible given the standards and rules of Vatican City for ordained clergy.

Legend has it that in the ninth century the Roman Catholic Church was ruled briefly by a "Pope Joan," who disguised herself as a man, rising through the ranks of the male-dominated hierarchy.

Many have hailed the legend as true, with two feature-length films (1972 and 2009) and a 2009 novel by American writer Donna Woolfolk Cross advancing the idea.

"For 1,200 years her existence has been denied. She is the legend that will not die--the woman who disguised herself as a man and sat for two years on the papal throne," reads an entry on the home page of Cross' website for the work.

"In this stirring international bestseller, Donna Woolfolk Cross brings the Dark Ages to life in all their brutal splendor, and shares the dramatic story of a woman whose courage makes her a heroine for every age."

However, historians are unconvinced. Mack Holt, professor of History at George Mason University, told The Christian Post that the "Pope Joan" story is fictional in nature.

"Pope Joan is a myth and no serious scholar today believes the story to be true. It was first claimed in the 13th century by Jean de Mailly, a Dominican chronicler, that a woman in male disguise succeeded Pope Leo IV in 855," said Holt.

"After reigning for two years she gave birth to a child and died soon thereafter. Although many medieval Christians believed in this myth, there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the story."

Holt attributed the enduring nature of the story to "some people's readiness to believe in any and every conspiracy theory out there."

Diarmaid MacCulloch, a theologian and historian from Oxford University, recently told CNN in an interview that the Pope Joan story is merely fictional satire.

"It keeps appealing to new anxieties and new interests … So first it's medieval people who resented the papacy. Then it's Protestants. Then it's French revolutionaries who want to discredit the church," said MacCulloch.

"The next constituency is actually Catholics who want to see women priests. And this seems to me the most dangerous aspect of the story, because it's using a story which is patently nonsense to boost a good cause."

Oren Falk, associate professor of History at Cornell University and director of its Medieval Studies Program, told The Christian Post that stories like the Pope Joan one were products of Medieval imagination and politics.

"Dominicans and Franciscans were often in conflict with the papacy, especially in the later 13th and early 14th century (at that time the Franciscans were forced by the papacy to relinquish one of their founding principles of not owning property, or be burned as heretics, which a number of them were)," said Falk.

"There are reasons why a scandalous story against the papacy might have been launched, and there are always stories of cross-dressing of heroes and holy men in medieval culture. The oddity of a very learned woman always attracted interest in the Middle Ages as well."

In addition to no confirmed accounts from the ninth century of a "Pope Joan," positioning her after the reign of Leo IV becomes awkward given the confirmed record of papal reigns. According to Catholic Encyclopedia, in the same year that Pope Leo died Pope Benedict III was consecrated; this would make it make hard for a two-year reign by a female pontiff to take place.


TOPICS: Catholic; History; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: argentina; catholic; conclave; godsgravesglyphs; middleages; popefrancis; popejoan; renaissance; romancatholicism; urbanlegend
The election of Pope Francis as the 266th bishop of Rome held many milestones. Francis is the first Latin American pope in history and the first non-European pontiff in about 1,200 years. However, some have claimed that a Medieval pope might have reached a milestone considered impossible given the standards and rules of Vatican City for ordained clergy. Legend has it that in the ninth century the Roman Catholic Church was ruled briefly by a "Pope Joan," who disguised herself as a man, rising through the ranks of the male-dominated hierarchy.....

...."Pope Joan is a myth and no serious scholar today believes the story to be true. It was first claimed in the 13th century by Jean de Mailly, a Dominican chronicler, that a woman in male disguise succeeded Pope Leo IV in 855," said Holt. "After reigning for two years she gave birth to a child and died soon thereafter. Although many medieval Christians believed in this myth, there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the story"....

1 posted on 03/17/2013 5:55:14 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

people love myths over reality, especially leftists who live in lala land anyways


2 posted on 03/17/2013 6:05:13 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Alex Murphy; ColdOne; navymom1; Pat4ever; RIghtwardHo; Reaganite Republican; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

3 posted on 03/17/2013 6:06:46 PM PDT by narses
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To: Alex Murphy

I saw a program several years ago that showed there is a shrine in Rome at the spot where this fictional Pope Joan died.

People still leave flowers there.


4 posted on 03/17/2013 6:09:42 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (CLICK my name. See the murals before they are painted over! POTEET THEATER in OKC!)
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To: Alex Murphy
"There are reasons why a scandalous story against the papacy might have been launched, and there are always stories of cross-dressing of heroes and holy men in medieval culture. The oddity of a very learned woman always attracted interest in the Middle Ages as well."

It also looks attractive as a cudgel with which the feminists can beat the Catholic Church.

5 posted on 03/17/2013 6:13:54 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Alex Murphy

Meanwhile, America’s first female pontiff, Pope Pooftus XVIV, already has broken a number barriers.


6 posted on 03/17/2013 6:26:29 PM PDT by twister881
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To: Alex Murphy

Heh, Pope Joan again. Nothing like a fictional woman with a title that means “Father” . . .


7 posted on 03/17/2013 6:30:33 PM PDT by Olog-hai
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To: Alex Murphy

**”Pope Joan is a myth and no serious scholar today believes the story to be true.**

NO, there has never been a female Pope. Your post has the proof.


8 posted on 03/17/2013 6:30:53 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
I saw a program several years ago that showed there is a shrine in Rome at the spot where this fictional Pope Joan died. People still leave flowers there.

You can see it the thread When in Rome: The Legend of Papessa Giovanna


9 posted on 03/17/2013 6:34:00 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
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To: Alex Murphy
A female papa ?

That's absurd

(Except in San FranSicko)

10 posted on 03/17/2013 6:34:51 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: Salvation
NO, there has never been a female Pope. Your post has the proof.

Your point being....?

11 posted on 03/17/2013 6:35:11 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
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To: Alex Murphy

As much as the left would like to believe there was, there is no evidence that a female pope ever existed.


12 posted on 03/17/2013 6:37:33 PM PDT by Wyrd bi ful ard (Gone Galt, 11/07/12)
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To: SuziQ
The oddity of a very learned woman always attracted interest in the Middle Ages as well."

This completely stupid. There were many very learned women during the Middle Ages. St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Teresa of Avila are Doctors of the Church. She wasn't afraid to make suggestions to the Pope. (Which he was impressed with)

13 posted on 03/17/2013 6:38:36 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: Alex Murphy

NO!


14 posted on 03/17/2013 7:06:36 PM PDT by G Larry (Which of Obama's policies do you think I'd support if he were white?)
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To: Alex Murphy

The gay feminists are busy bees.


15 posted on 03/17/2013 7:07:32 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: nickcarraway
St. Hildegard of Bingen has also been named a Doctor of the Church.

I was a student in 1978 and remember the student newspaper editorializing that the cardinals should choose a woman pope, using the Pope Joan story as support.

16 posted on 03/17/2013 7:09:32 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Alex Murphy

If physical structures are proof then Mrs Claus must be real too because I once decorated a cookie in her kitchen. And her place is a lot bigger than Pope Joan’s!


17 posted on 03/17/2013 7:11:34 PM PDT by PeevedPatriot
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To: nickcarraway

And this past October, Pope Benedict named Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church as well...


18 posted on 03/17/2013 7:11:37 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
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To: GeronL
Thank you for being on the correct side of an argument.
19 posted on 03/17/2013 7:23:13 PM PDT by verga (A nation divided by Zero!)
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To: Alex Murphy
Did the Medieval Catholic Church Have a Female Pope?

No, but the Anglican Church had a female head, like two or three times.

This last female head just endorsed gay marriage.

20 posted on 03/17/2013 7:31:08 PM PDT by Slyfox (The Key to Marxism is Medicine ~ Vladimir Lenin)
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To: Alex Murphy

There was a TV show about that last year. I tried watching it, but it got boring.


21 posted on 03/17/2013 8:01:18 PM PDT by murron (Proud Mom of a Marine Vet)
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To: Alex Murphy

“Legend has it that in the ninth century the Roman Catholic Church was ruled briefly by a “Pope Joan,” who disguised herself as a man,...”

Legend has it that Mr. Big Foot was seen in Central Park, too...


22 posted on 03/17/2013 8:03:04 PM PDT by Insigne123 (It is the soldier, not the community organizer, who gives us freedom of the press)
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To: nickcarraway
Not to mention Hildegard of Bingen, who was a philosopher, Abbess, and wrote gorgeous music in praise of Jesus.

There are several women from the early years of the Church, and into the Medieval era, who are considered "Doctors of the Church"

23 posted on 03/17/2013 8:16:05 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Alex Murphy; NYer

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Alex Murphy.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


24 posted on 03/17/2013 8:42:14 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: Alex Murphy
Oren Falk, associate professor of History at Cornell University and director of its Medieval Studies Program, told The Christian Post that stories like the Pope Joan one were products of Medieval imagination and politics. "Dominicans and Franciscans were often in conflict with the papacy, especially in the later 13th and early 14th century (at that time the Franciscans were forced by the papacy to relinquish one of their founding principles of not owning property, or be burned as heretics, which a number of them were)," said Falk.

Interesting that a legend such as there being a woman pope is more scandalous than warring factions of religious orders within the Roman Catholic Church over one groups' principles about the ownership of property. Those that believed the orders should not be about amassing wealth were threatened with execution - and some WERE executed - if they refused to approve the Church's building of its temporal fortune. Somehow, I think the Franciscans had it right. Maybe the new Pope Francis will carry on that tradition. It appears he has already made public his eschewing of the finery, pomp and frills. (Think he might have read Free Republic when we were talking about this?)

25 posted on 03/17/2013 11:26:52 PM PDT by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.)
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To: Alex Murphy
However, some have claimed that a Medieval pope might the have reached a milestone considered impossible given the standards and rules...

There's that extraterrestrial, "some" again. Maybe we should pronounce it so-may to make it sound more authoritative, when the "some" is always characterized by the subculture of the "sexual perversion" description.

26 posted on 03/18/2013 12:02:02 AM PDT by publius911 (Look for the Union label, then buy something else.)
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To: GeronL

Pope Joan was probably lesbian too...wonder why they left out that same degree of accuracy in this speculation? Might as well eat the whole cake.


27 posted on 03/18/2013 5:23:47 AM PDT by ThePatriotsFlag ( EVERY DIME Obama Spends is given to him by the Republicans in the House.)
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To: Alex Murphy

I don’t see why anyone even cares...

Papal history is full of stuff like this.

“Otto I subsequently summoned a council which demanded that John present himself and defend himself against a number of charges. John responded by threatening to excommunicate anyone who attempted to depose him. Undeterred, the emperor and the council uncanonically deposed John XII, who by this time had gone hunting in the mountains of Campania, and elected Pope Leo VIII in his stead.”

“Edward Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, (Harvard University Press, 2009), 150.”

[Otto I] didn’t like what Pope John XII was doing so he deposed him and put in his own Pope, Leo VIII. Doh!

So why all the denial? Pope Joan is pretty small potatoes compared to all the other little “oopsies” with which the Catholic Church has to contend.


28 posted on 03/18/2013 7:04:32 AM PDT by MeOnTheBeach
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To: MeOnTheBeach
I don’t see why anyone even cares...

Not everyone has the suspension of disbelief required to be a Mormon sympathizer.

29 posted on 03/18/2013 7:07:10 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
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To: Alex Murphy
"Not everyone has the suspension of disbelief required to be a Mormon sympathizer."

Isn't that an oxymoron? How can you suspend the lack of something?

Instead of being snarky, why don't you show me where I came to the wrong conclusion in what I posted? Did I err?
30 posted on 03/18/2013 7:43:23 AM PDT by MeOnTheBeach
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Comment #31 Removed by Moderator

To: A.A. Cunningham
If the wording [of the heading caption] could have ceased after the first comma, all would be well and good. Enough.

Leave the direct personal insult notes out of it, if possible please.

Try reposting it, with the sneer removed, and you may have something worthwile. Then hit the ol button on the prior reply, have it removed, sins then not only forgiven, but removed as far as East from West. :^)

The moderator could likely be persuaded to play along as "editor".

32 posted on 03/18/2013 9:31:35 AM PDT by BlueDragon (If you want vision open your eyes and see you can carry the light with you wherever you go)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.


33 posted on 03/18/2013 10:31:56 AM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Alex Murphy
Didn't I read somewhere that, after the fiasco of Popette Joan, part of the inauguration of any new pope requires a physical examination on a “special” seat? Or is that a myth, too?
34 posted on 03/18/2013 1:34:54 PM PDT by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.)
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To: boatbums
Didn't I read somewhere that, after the fiasco of Popette Joan, part of the inauguration of any new pope requires a physical examination on a “special” seat? Or is that a myth, too?

I'm told that's part of the myth, too. The topic of the papal examination chair (possibly a commode) is covered in this thread:
Pope Joan film sparks Roman Catholic Church row

35 posted on 03/18/2013 1:45:16 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
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