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Pope Joan

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Pope Joan, Johanna or Joanna, was a legendary female Pope. She was said to have ruled for a few years some time during the 1100s.[1] The story first appeared in 13th century chronicles. It later spread throughout Europe through the writings of preachers and story tellers. She was widely believed to be real for centuries. Today, religious scholars think she is a made up character who came from legend. Whether she is real or made up is subject to debate.

The stories say she was German and arrived in Rome dressed as a man and convinced everyone there that she was in fact a man. Her alleged male name was John Anglicus. Her role in the clergy started out as a curial notary, next a cardinal and then she became a pope. Her role as a pope went on for about two and a half years but her true gender was soon found out, because she became pregnant. The birth of her child was thought to either take place in the road that separated the Colosseum and St. Clement's, or in the church. Her death and punishment are unknown. [2]


  1. Kirsch, J.P. (1910). "Pope Joan". CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA:. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  2. Aherne, C. M. "Joan, Pope." New Catholic Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Biography In Context. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.