[ilds] Fw: [HELLAS-GREECE:7259] Pope Joan

Richard Pine rpinecorfu at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 22 06:19:11 PDT 2010

Charles, you might like to circulate the following, if you haven't already done so!

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: June Samaras <june.samaras at gmail.com>
To: hellas-greece <HELLAS-GREECE at googlegroups.com>
Cc: biblio <Biblio at bibliophilegroup.com>
Sent: Tue, June 22, 2010 8:06:59 AM
Subject: [HELLAS-GREECE:7259] Pope Joan

Royidis,Emmanuel (Trans. Lawrence Durrell)
Pope Joan
Rollicking story of the only female Pope.
First published in 1886, and banned by the Greek Orthodox Church

Cross, Donna Woolfolk Pope Joan
New York Ballantine 1996 0-345-41626-0 / 9780345416261 Reprint Soft
Cover Very Good
" For a thousand years men have denied her existence--Pope Joan, the
woman who disguised
herself as a man and rose to rule Christianity for two years. Now this
compelling novel animates
the legend with a portrait of an unforgettable woman who struggles
against restrictions her soul
cannot accept."

Available from Kalamos Books


Pope Joan film sparks Roman Catholic Church row

A new film based on the legend of Pope Joan – an Englishwoman who
purportedly disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only
female pontiff in history – has sparked debate in the Roman Catholic


Nick Squires, in Rome
Published: 10:00PM BST 20 Jun 2010

A new film based on the legend of Pope Joan ? an Englishwoman who
purportedly disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only
female pontiff in history ? has sparked debate in the Roman Catholic
Johanna Wokalek stars as Johanna von Ingelheim in Pope Joan Photo: SUMMIT

The film has fuelled disagreements over whether Pope Joan really
existed or, as the Church has always maintained, she was a mythical
figure used by the early Protestant Church to discredit and embarrass

For a Church that even in the 21st century remains staunchly opposed
to the idea of female priests, a female Pope was anathema.

To make matters worse, the deception is said to only have been found
out when Joan gave birth during a procession through the streets of

The medieval epic stars a German actress, Johanna Wokalek, as the
female Pope, the American actor John Goodman as Pope Sergius and David
Wenham, an Australian last seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as
her lover, a knight named Gerold.

It is based on a highly contentious story – that in the ninth century,
a baby girl was born in Germany to English parents, who had moved to
the Continent as Christian missionaries.

According to the legend, she grew up to be an unusually intelligent
young girl and, frustrated by a lack of opportunity for women,
disguised herself as a boy in order to enter a Benedictine monastery,
calling herself Brother John Anglicus.

She studied for a while in Greece before arriving in Rome, where she
so impressed the Vatican with her abilities that she became a cardinal
and was eventually elected pontiff in 853, after the death of Pope Leo

She supposedly ruled as head of the Church for nearly three years,
before her deception was found out.

One improbable account insists that she was riding a horse near the
Colosseum when she suddenly went into labour.

The crowd, shocked and angered to find that the Holy Father was in
fact a holy mother, either stoned her to death or tied her to the
horse and had her dragged through the streets of Rome.

The Catholic Church has long argued that Pope Joan is not mentioned in
any contemporary records and that the whole tale is a fantasy, cooked
up by scheming Protestants.

L'Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops' Conference, last
week dismissed the movie as "a hoax" and a film of "extremely limited

But proponents of the story point out that papal records are almost
non-existent in the 10th and 11th centuries and that even male popes
are barely documented.

They point to one particularly extraordinary artefact as evidence that
she existed – a wooden chair with a hole in the seat which, it is
claimed, was used for 600 years to establish the gender of would-be
popes in the wake of the Pope Joan scandal.

Papal candidates were supposedly made to sit on the 'sella
stercoraria', which is today owned by the Vatican Museums, while a
deacon prodded their genitalia from underneath to make sure of their

"Joan's absence from contemporary church records is only to be
expected. The Roman clergymen of the day, appalled by the great
deception visited upon them, would have gone to great lengths to bury
all written reports of the embarrassing episode," argues the American
writer Donna Woolfolk Cross, on whose novel, 'Pope Joan', the film is

"The Dark Ages really were the dark ages," said Peter Stanford, a
former editor of the Catholic Herald and the author of 'The She-Pope:
a quest for the truth behind the mystery of Pope Joan'.

"There is absolutely no certainty about who the popes of the ninth
century were. We have to rely instead on medieval chronicles, written
hundreds of years later.

"It's perfectly feasible that Joan existed. A monk's cowl is baggy and
well suited to covering up a woman's body. We know that some women
bound their breasts and cut their hair to pass themselves off as men."
He dismisses the Catholic line that the story of Pope Joan was the
product of Protestant black propaganda.

"That is categorically not true. There are plenty of pre-Reformation
Catholic texts which mention Pope Joan. They were written by bishops,
archbishops – even a secretary to a pope. "They all accept that she
existed. The Catholic Church was embarrassed by the story and just
erased it from the records, sometimes very crudely." Official
histories of the popes make no mention of Pope Joan and many
historians dismiss the story as a fable.

The truth about her may never be known, but the story continues to
fascinate modern audiences.

The film reached the top 10 of most popular movies in Italian cinemas
last week, just behind Hollywood blockbusters such as Robin Hood and
Sex and the City 2.

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "HELLAS/GREECE" group.
To post to this group, send email to hellas-greece at googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to hellas-greece+unsubscribe at googlegroups.com.
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/hellas-greece?hl=en.


More information about the ILDS mailing list