Biography of Joan Anglicus the Woman Pope of Rome Part 2

About the supposed woman Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Joan Anglicus, her biography and history.

Footnote People in World History

JOAN ANGLICUS (818-855). Pope of Rome.

She lectured and gave sermons constantly, and her popularity grew. Her rise in the hierarchy of the Vatican was rapid. In 853, after Pope Leo IV's probable actual death (changed to 855 by Church apologists), a new Pontiff was sought. As Emmanuel Royadis wrote in his romanticized biography, Papissa Joanna, published in 1886: "They praised the virtue and unselfishness of Father John, insisting that as he had neither nephews to advance nor a harem to keep up he was most likely to spend the revenue of St. Peter's among the poor. The struggle lasted for 4 whole hours.... All at once she heard the great cry of her supporters mount up into the sky, hailing the new Pontiff John VIII.... The new Pope trembled with joy as she drew the purple robe about her shoulders and put on the slippers bearing the Cross."

For writing this account of Pope Joan, author Royadis was excommunicated by the Catholic Church. When critics disparaged Royadis' biography as being largely fabrication, he published a stream of indignant pamphlets, insisting, "Every sentence in my book... is based upon the testimony of contemporary authors."

During Pope Joan's reign, she introduced Ember Days and consecrated King Louis II of France. According to Royadis, she also "ordained 14 bishops, built 5 churches, added a new article to the Creed, wrote 3 books against the iconoclasts...."

Things were going well enough for Joan until, in the 2nd year of her reign, she fell in love with her private chamberlain, a blond youth of 20 named Florus. They became lovers, and to her horror, Joan found herself pregnant. She hoped to escape the Vatican for a period, to bear the child in secrecy and be rid of it, but circumstances kept her confined.

Then, one day during a ceremonial procession from St. Peter's to the Lateran Palace, while she rode on horseback, she suffered the pangs of premature childbirth. The procession was halted. She was lifted from her horse, and fell to the street, and before the eyes of an astounded mob "a premature infant was produced from among the voluminous folds of the papal vestments."

The crowd, upon realizing that it was not a miracle but in fact a deception, became enraged. Joan was tied to the tail of her horse, dragged through the streets of Rome and back to the spot where she had been exposed; there she was stoned to death.

Pope Joan was buried in the midst of this avenue. Her son survived and later grew up to become the Bishop of Ostia. Florus retired to a monastery.

The attempts to discredit Joan's very existence have been many and vigorous. And yet, even today the Popes avoid the road where Joan gave birth to the child in angry deference to this example of a woman's struggle in a man's world.

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