Popess Joan

Name given to a legendary character who appeared in histery from time to time as a female pope. The earliest reference by name of this so-called popess occurs in the chronicles of Martin of Troppau, c.1250, but there is no vacant space in the line of popes in which she could be placed, and there are no grounds to support the claim that she existed. The "Liber Pontificalis" does not mention her, and her picture is not included among the papal portraits. The most accepted explanation is that the fable is a survival of a Roman folk-tale.

New Catholic Dictionary

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