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History Bearing – Story on Pope Joan

By rowena on November 30, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

La Popessa – Pope Johannes VIII

Pope Joan, as she is now known, was born in Mainz, Germany, to a family of English missionaries. In the early ninth-century, denied her desire to be educated, she ran away with her brother so she could study and enter the Holy order. To achieve this she dressed as a boy and became (alias) John Anglius. Joan’s tertiary pursuits were so outstanding that she was elected Pope and the estimated time for her papacy-around the 850’s-is said to have commenced between the reigns of Benedict III and Nicolas I. For two years, seven months and four days she succeeded in hiding her gender until one day when on procession through the streets of Rome, concealing a pregnancy, she went into early labour and gave birth to child. Pope Joan and her baby were executed and buried on the spot. To honour her reign the erection of a bust amongst other past Popes was sculpted for the Duomo of Siena. Pope Joan’s bust was named ‘Johannes VIII, Foemina de Angolia’. However, the Catholic Church denied the existence of Pope Joan and in 1601 Pope Clement VIII declared the legend to be untrue and the famous bust of Johannes VIII was re-carved, relabelled and replaced by a male figure of Pope Zachary.

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