Episode #18 – Was There a Female Pope?

The story that a woman disguised as man was once elected Pope has been floating around since the 1200’s. In fact it was widely believed for hundreds of years that there had once been a real female Pope. But during the tumult of the Protestant Reformation the story was rejected by the Catholic Church, and it has subsequently been scoffed at as a myth. Was Pope Joan just a strange medieval legend, or was her legacy erased by a conspiracy? Tune in and find out how transvestite nuns, anti-popes, and a weird chair with a hole in the seat all play role in the story!

Works Cited

Baring-Gould, Sabine. Curios Myths Of The Middle Ages. London: Rivingtons, 1876. Print.

Boureau, Alain. The Myth of Pope Joan. Chicago (Ill.): U of Chicago, 2001. Print.

Breverton, Terry. Breverton’s Phantasmagoria: A Compendium of Monsters, Myths and Legends. London: Quercus, 2011. Print.

Pardoe, Rosemary Anne., and Darroll Pardoe. The Female Pope: The Mystery of Pope Joan: The First Complete Documentation of the Facts behind the Legend. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England: Crucible, 2006. Print.

Rustici, Craig M. The Afterlife of Pope Joan: Deploying the Popess Legend in Early Modern England. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 2006. Print.