Numismatic and History Discussions > Medieval, Islamic and Crusader Coins

Pope Joan

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I just saw a reference to a female Pope Joan from 855.  Supposedly gave birth to a son and was stoned to death.  I then did a little research, and the Catholic Encyclopaedia says that she never existed and was simply a myth.

 I had never even heard of her, and her non-existance would make sense. what do you all think?


It's an interesting myth, but there isn't a shred of evidence to support it. In those days most people didn't eat so well, and were probably skinnier than today, though I don't suppose that applied to Popes. Women used to wrap lengths of cloth round their breasts to hold them in place; together with the lack of fat, this would have made them less obviously female, and women very likely did pass as men at times, if only for self-protection. So the story of a female Pope developed; as she comes to a bad end, it was presumably told by men!


She was supposidely English or at least Anglo-Saxon and she gave birth whilst in a procession.  Bit of a giveaway!  She was then stoned to death by the angry crowd...

The book I read about her had as proof, a chair with a hole in the seat, in the Vatican which all subsequent Popes had to sit on and have an "examination" to prove that they were male!

"Once bitten, twice shy" as they say...

Wonder why this legend never got into the Da Vinci Code?



Because an excellent Greek author named Papadiamantis had already done it perfectly in "I Papissa Ioanna" (if I spelled that right).  Pat L.

I don't know whether it still goes on, but apparenlty applicants for the RC priesthood traditionally had to be examined to ensure they had all their bits in order, since Leviticus bars eunuchs from the priesthood!


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