'A promiscuous she-pope with a dilated cervix': the legend of Pope Joan, who gave birth on a horse
By Miles Pattenden, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry/Gender and Women's History Research Centre, Australian Catholic University
If Pope Joan — the infamous female pope of the 9th century – didn’t exist, you can see why someone would have had to invent her.
For the Catholic Church, she became a story of why women should not be allowed to hold power; for the Protestants, she was a helpful argument against falsehoods embedded in the papacy.
A woman who inveigled her way onto St Peter’s throne, some said the “Popess” was English; others German. A popular medieval version of her tale has her gender “discovered” during a papal procession because she gives…
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- Monday, February 22, 2021