Pope Joan

There is an ancient legend that under the name of Pope John the Eighth was hiding a women. She was said to occupy this position for several years. It is an interesting fact that her existence wasn’t denied even by the heads of Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages and the serious dis-confirmations were provided only in the late seventeenth century. In the Cathedral in Sienna her sculpture bust can be found among the depictions of the Popes. At the present time the opinion of Vatican is clear. The clergy suppose that it was just a legend aimed to cut up the respect of the Roman Catholic Church.

There are several versions of this legend that were popular in various periods of time. Some of them even mention the name of the woman who managed to become a Pope. The one detail coincides in all of them however. The Popess’s secret had been unveiled when she gave birth to a baby during the solemn religious procession. The most wide-spread version of this legend was invented in Vatican. The chaplain and confessor Martin of Troppau who lived in the middle of the thirteenth century was the author of Chronicon Pontificum et Imperatorum, a historical document which listed the names and titles of the governors. In that chronicles he told the vague story of female pope Joan. The chronicles acquired popularity due to this legend and all of its issues contain various versions of the legend which may differ.

General plot looks the following way. In the middle of ninth century two young people moved to Athens to study philosophy and theology. They lead the modest life and spent much time in prayers and their studies. One of them who was the more successful student was a woman actually. But nobody except her friend knew about it. After graduating their life ways parted. The woman dressed in the mens’ clothes set her feet to Rome where she became a theology professor. She made others admire her intelligence, smart opinions and purity of her life. After the death of the Pope Leo the Sixth in 855 this woman was elected as the new Pope and acquired the name John from Mainz. She was holding her position for two years, five months and three days. She may had occupied her position for a longer period of time but she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby during the procession from St. Peter’s to the Lateran. She died as well as her baby.

The other versions of the legend are not so sad. The Pope Joan is said to stay alive after giving birth to a son, who inherited her abilities and intelligence. He became a bishop and continued the business of his mother. The woman was forcefully dent to a monastery where she still was respected and had much influence.

This legend appeared to be very interesting and it began to constitute a plot for many modern movies and books. And it’s not of a great importance of the Pope Joan really existed or not.

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