Numismatic and History Discussions > Medieval, Islamic and Crusader Coins

Pope Joan

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Follibus Fanaticus:
Medals for pope Joan

Gobble, gobble.  Only a turkey that does not read would bring up the old monks’ joke about Pope Joan.  Read "The oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.D.N. Kelly [He ain’t Catholic.] Oxford University Press, oxford, 1986.  Kelly treats the legend in an appendix, pp. 329-330.  Kelly says:  "The story first appears between 1240 and 1250…The story, often embellished with fantastic details, was accepted in Catholic circles without question for centuries [Get that!]…It [the story] scarcely needs painstaking refutation today, for not only is there no evidence of a female pope at any of the dates suggested for her reign, but the known facts of the respective periods make it impossible to fit one in…Its [the story’s] kernel is generally taken to be an ancient Roman folk tale.

When in doubt of a fact about the papacy, I always read Kelly, who accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury (Michael Ramsey) on his visit to Pope Paul VI.  I have behind me in my bookcase several histories of the popes by Roman Catholics.  I fear to say they contain grosser myths than the one about a female pope.

Now, on Pope Joan—I suggest we work together on a set of medals depicting the events of her legendary reign.  The Franklin Mint will issue these in gold, silver and copper.  The set will fit right in with other Franklin Mint products.

Follibus Fanaticus


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