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Joan the Female Pope

Updated on August 3, 2013

Fact or Fiction?

Could it be true that there was actually a female Pope? There is many opinions on this mysterious topic. Some believe it was no more than a bit of folklore; this opinion is held by religious scholars and historians alike. Then there are others who believe that the female Pope (Joan) did indeed exist. It is a very fascinating story about a woman who hid her gender in order to enter the male dominated world of the Roman Catholic church. Once there she became very successful in making her way through the hierarchy. Eventually she would reach the highest position when she became Pope.

Portrayed Herself As a Man

The story of Pope Joan started to circulate in and around the 13th-century. In the different versions of this story most mention that she was a learned and intelligent woman who dressed and portrayed herself as a man. She was also known to be accompanied much of the time by her said lover. She was said to go under the name of "John of Mainz" or "John Anglicus" reigning between Leo IV and Benedict III during the 850's.

Mystery Surrounding Her Death

She taught liberal arts and was well learned in many topics. Joan was said to be Pope for two years, seven months and four days until she died in Rome. In most versions she died while riding horseback during which time she gave birth thus revealing her true gender. She then was said to have died shortly after either by natural causes or was killed by an angry mob.

Dung Chair

Later in the 14th century there was two ancient marble seats which the Latin meaning translated into- the dung chair. It is believed by many that these chairs were used to check the gender of new Popes. This practice came to light after the reign of Pope Joan. Apparently the new Pope would sit naked on the seat while a group of cardinals looked through the hole making sure the new Pope was a male. The majority of modern scholars believe that Pope Joan was no more than a Medieval legend.


I guess it is left for us to decide if we believe that a female Pope named Joan existed or not. But from a woman's point of view I don't see why a female couldn't be Pope. I'm sure if "God" had a say he would want all of his children to be treated equally no matter what their gender. Unfortunately many different types of discrimination are still thriving in the world today. But who knows maybe someday there might be a Pope Joan II to lead the Roman Catholic church into a brighter future where the gender of the Pope does not matter only that they are worthy and capable of this title of honor. Maybe a female Pope can lead the world towards the ultimate goal of many - World Peace!

Female Pope

Do you believe women should be allowed to become Popes?

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    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      loved this hub. I am sure a woman could do a very good job. But, since I am not catholic, I really have no idea.

      Still loved this hub.

      Voted up

    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 6 years ago from Miller Lake

      Well anastasia I would think that I female pope can do no worse than the men that is for sure! Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      anastasia 6 years ago

      excellent work keep up the stories and who knows there may come a time for a lady pope as the men have done a bad job when so many are leaving the church.