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Pope Joan

The story of an alleged female pope was widely believed from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. So much so, that when [[David Blondel]] argued in 1647 that it was a legend he was criticized by fellow Protestants. The story has it that a scholarly woman, disguised as a man, succeeded to the chair of Peter about 1100 (later versions state 855). After about two years in office she gave birth to a child as she was taking part in a procession to the Lateran, and then died. It seems that a thirteenth-century Dominican chronicler, Jean de Mailly, first gave respectability to the legend and that it gained wide currency in the [[Middle Ages]], partly due to the influence of Martinus Polonus (d.1278) and the use of the story in fifteenth- century controversies over the extent of papal power. Some scholars interpret the story as a modification of a Roman folk- story, the original possibly relating to a priest of Mithra and a child.