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Religious Sexism in 855

Saturday, January 17th, 2009
Posted in Entertainment by Joel Gross

Found and entertaining bit of history for you about the Female Pope, from the Chronicon Pontificum et Imperatum by the Polish chronicler Martin of Opava:

John Anglicus, born at Mainz, was pope for two years, seven months and four days, and died in Rome, after which there was a vacancy in the papacy of one month. It is claimed that this John was a woman, who as a girl had been led to Athens dressed in the clothes of a man by a certain lover of hers. There she became proficient in a diversity of branches of knowledge, until she had no equal, and afterwards in Rome, she taught the liberal arts and had great masters among her students and audience. A high opinion of her life and learning arose in the city, and she was the choice of all for pope. While pope, however, she became pregnant by her companion. Through ignorance of the exact time when the birth was expected, she was delivered of a child while in procession from St Peter’s to the Lateran, in a narrow lane between the Colisseum and St Clement’s church. After her death, it is said she was buried in that same place. The Lord Pope always turns aside from the street and it is believed by many that this is done because of abhorrence of the event. Nor is she placed on the list of the holy pontiffs, both because of her female sex and on account of the foulness of the matter.

Not sure if our friend Martin of Opava was telling the whole truth, but I think it at least gives you an idea of the prevalent attitudes towards women at that time.‚  Even though we live in “modern times” now, I am still glad to be a man.