Quod Multum – On the Liberty of the Church, by Pope Leo XIII, 22 August 1886

To the Bishops of Hungary. Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.

1. We have long and ardently desired an opportunity to address you with an apostolic letter. Just as We have addressed the bishops of many other nations, We desire to inform you of Our plans, which concern the prosperity of the Christian cause and the salvation of the Hungarian nation. These days present Us with an excellent opportunity, since Hungary is celebrating the liberation, two centuries ago, of Budapest.

That victory will stand out forever in the memory of the Hungarian people. It was granted to your ancestors, because of their strength and perseverance, to recapture their capital city, which for a century and a half had been occupied by their enemies. That the grace and memory of this divine blessing might remain, Pope Innocent XI justly decreed a celebration throughout all Christendom in honor of Saint Stephen, the first of your apostolic kings, on the second day of September, the anniversary of this great event. Moreover it is well-known that the Apostolic See took a significant part in the almost spontaneous victory three years before over the same foe at Vienna. This victory, rightly attributed in great part to the apostolic efforts of Pope Innocent, began the decline of the influence of the Mohammedans in Europe.

Besides, even before that age and under similar circumstances, Our predecessors assisted the Hungarian forces with counsel, aid, money, and treaties. From Callistus III to Innocent XI, many Roman Pontiffs are recorded whose names deserve to be honored for their activity in such affairs. Let Clement VIII serve as an example. When Stregan and Vincentgraz were liberated from the domination of the Turks, the highest councils of the kingdom decreed that public thanks be given to him for he alone had come to their aid opportunely at a time when the situation was almost beyond hope.-Therefore, just as the Apostolic See never failed the people of Hungary whenever they had to fight the enemies of religion and Christian morality, so now, when happy memories inspire the people, We gladly join you in sharing their joy. Taking into account the differing conditions of time, We desire to confirm the people in their profession of the Catholic faith and also to assist them in warding off common dangers. In this way We shall serve the public good.

2. Hungary herself knows that no gift of God either to individuals or to nations is greater then to receive by His grace the Catholic faith, and having received it, to keep it with perseverance. This gift contains an abundance of other gifts by means of which individual persons receive both eternal happiness in heaven and greatness and prosperity for their state on earth. When Stephen first clearly grasped this truth, he asked God for nothing more vehemently, indeed he labored for nothing more energetically and consistently, than to obtain the Catholic faith for his whole kingdom and to establish it on a firm foundation from the very beginning. Therefore very early he began a change of studies and offices among the Roman bishops, the kings, and the people of Hungary which future ages did not abolish. Stephen founded and built a kingdom, but received his crown only from the Roman Pontiff, for he wanted to offer his kingdom to the Apostolic See. He established many Episcopal Sees, endowing munificently, and founding piously. Accompanying these many good works was the good pleasure and indulgence of the Apostolic See in many matters altogether singular. From his faith and piety, this holy king drew the light of counsel and the best norms for ruling his kingdom. He acquired his strength from diligence in prayer, by which he put down the evil plots of public enemies and returned as victor from the attacks of his foes.

Thus under the auspices of religion, your state was born. Under the same guardian and leader, you have come at quick march not only to maturity, but also to the strength of empire and the glory of your name. Hungary has kept holy and inviolate the faith received from her king and parent as an inheritance, and this despite the great difficulties of the times, when neighboring nations were drawn from the bosom of the Church by pernicious error. Faith, obedience and devotion to the Apostolic See have remained constant in kings, bishops, and all the people. In turn We see the predilection and paternal benevolence of the Roman Pontiffs for the Hungarian people confirmed by many testimonies. Today after many centuries and many events, the original intimate friendship remains, by the blessing of God. The virtues of your ancestors are by no means lacking in their descendants. There are many laudable and fruitful labors of the episcopate: relief in calamities, zealous defense of the rights of the Church, and your constant and courageous determination to preserve the Catholic faith.

3. When We recall these things, Our soul is filled with joy. To you and to the people of Hungary, We gladly pay the tribute of praise for things well done.

But We cannot remain silent. Everyone knows how inimical to virtue these times are and how the Church is attacked. We have much to fear amid such dangers, lest a shaken faith languish even where it has taken strong and deep roots. It is enough to recall rationalism and naturalism, those deadly sources of evil whose teachings are everywhere freely distributed. We must then add the many allurements to corruption: the opposition to or open defection from the Church by public officials, the bold obstinacy of secret societies, here and there a curriculum for the education of youth without regard for God.

And if ever, then surely now is the time to realize not only how appropriate, but entirely necessary the Catholic religion is for public safety and tranquillity. Daily experience proves to what lengths they who fear no authority nor have ever restrained their passions will go to undermine the state. Indeed, everyone knows what they intend, what means they employ, and with what perseverance they labor. The mightiest empires and the most flourishing states are compelled to contend almost every hour with such societies of men, joined together in unity of intention and likeness of deeds. Thus, the public safety is always in danger. Against such audacity of evil men, a good plan has been perfected in some places, that the authority of magistrates and the force of laws be well prepared.

4. Nevertheless to restrain the danger of socialism there is only one genuinely effective means, in the absence of which the fear of punishment has little weight to discourage offenders. It is that citizens should be thoroughly educated in religion, and restrained by respect for and love of the Church. For the Church as parent and teacher is the holy guardian of religion, moral integrity, and virtue. All who follow the precepts of the Gospel religiously and entirely are, by this very fact, far from the suspicion of socialism. For religion commands us to worship and fear God and to submit to and obey legitimate authority. It forbids anyone to act seditiously and demands for everyone the security of his possessions and rights. It furthermore commands those who have wealth to come graciously to the aid of the poor. Religion aids the needy with all the works of charity and consoles those who suffer loss, enkindling in them the hope of the greatest eternal blessings which will be in proportion to the labor endured and the length of that labor.-Therefore those who rule the states will do nothing wiser and more opportune than to recognize that religion influences the people despite all obstacles and recalls them to virtue and uprightness of character through her teachings. To distrust the Church or hold it suspect is, in the first place, unjust, and in the second, profits no one except the enemies of civil discipline and those bent on destruction.

5. By the blessing of God great civil unrest and the gathering of fearsome mobs, which have occurred elsewhere, have been spared the people of Hungary. But threatening dangers force all of us to strive by daily zeal to assure that the name of religion flourishes there and that honor endures in its Christian institutions.

For this reason the Church should enjoy full and integral freedom in the whole kingdom of Hungary as it did in former times, and this for the common good. As for Us, We are most anxious that those things which conflict with the rights of the Church, diminish its liberty of action, and impede the profession of the faith be removed from the laws. To attain this end both We and you must constantly labor, as far as We legally can and as so many illustrious men have already done. Meanwhile, as long as these laws remain, it is your duty to see to it that they injure the common security as little as possible and to admonish the citizens what they have to do in this matter. We shall mention some statutes which seem more injurious than others.

6. To embrace religion is a most serious duty, which is not to be restricted by age. No age is unfit for the kingdom of God. As everyone knows this, so he ought to act without delay, for from the will to act is born the right to act for everyone, which cannot be violated without the greatest injury. Therefore, if pastors of souls are forced to make a choice in the matter, they must choose to endure the penalties prescribed by civil law rather than provoke the wrath of an avenging God.

7. You must labor, venerable brothers, that Catholic teaching about the sanctity, oneness, and perpetuity of matrimony takes firm root in souls. Remind the faithful frequently that the marriage of Christians is subject solely to ecclesiastical authority. Remind them also what the Church thinks and teaches concerning so called civil marriage and with what mind and heart Catholic people should obey such laws. Further remind them that even for the gravest of reasons it is not permitted to enter into marriage with Christians who are not Catholics; those who do so without the authority and indulgence of the Church sin before God and the Church. Since these issues are so vital, all who have a concern in this matter should most diligently see to it, as far as they can, that no one sins here for any reason. For in this especially, obedience to the Church is necessarily bound to the public interest. This is the reason why the beginnings and best principles of civil life depend in great part on domestic society, so that the peace and prosperity of the state result in large part from marriage. Nor can marriage succeed except under the care of God and the Church. Deprived of such care and entered upon contrary to the will of God, matrimony is reduced to the service of various passions, is deprived of necessary heavenly aids, and is despoiled of that common life which is of greatest concern to man, i.e., religion. Of necessity it produces bitter fruit, to the great harm of the family and of the state. For this reason We must commend those Catholic men who, when the legislative assembly of Hungary was asked two years ago whether it would consider the marriage of Christians with Jews valid, rejected the proposal unanimously and freely and succeeded in having the old marriage law retained. Their vote received the approval of the vast majority of people from all parts of Hungary, proving with admirable testimony that the people thought and felt as they did. May there be like consent and similar constancy whenever the Catholic cause is in controversy, for then victory will be at hand. At least civil life will be more vigorous and fruitful when languor and sloth have been banished, for these are the means by which the enemies of the Christian name certainly wish to stupefy all Catholic virtue.

8. Nor will less profit accrue to the state if the education of youth is wisely and rightly provided for from the beginning. Such are the times and customs that too many people with too much effort strive to keep studious youth away from the vigilance of the Church and the salutary virtue of religion. Schools called neuter, mixed, and lay are popular and sought out here and there, doubtless with the intention that the students grow up ignorant of all things holy and of all religious concerns. Since this evil is more widespread and greater than its remedies, we see a progeny growing up uninterested in spiritual goods, without religion and often impious. Keep so great a calamity out of Hungary with all your energy! The education of youth from childhood in Christian habits and Christian wisdom is today of the greatest possible concern not only to the Church, but also to the state. All who are truly wise understand this. That is why We see many Catholic men in many places who are deeply concerned about the proper upbringing of youth, devoting special and constant effort to this matter, undismayed by the greatness of the labor or by the cost. We also know of many in Hungary who are working toward the same goal with similar proposals. Permit Us nevertheless to rouse your episcopal zeal even more.

In this grave situation, We desire that in the public education of youth, that part be reserved to the Church which has been divinely assigned to it. All We can do is to exhort you to deal vigorously with this matter. Meanwhile continue to admonish fathers again and again not to permit their children to study and learn so as to threaten injury to their Catholic faith. At the same time see to it that the schools which are under your or the clergy’s direction be commendable for their soundness of doctrine and the uprightness of their teachers. This is to be understood not only of primary schools, but also of those of higher learning.

9. With God-fearing generosity, and especially with the liberal contributions of your kings and bishops, many noble institutions devoted to the study of letters have been established. The memory of Cardinal Pazmany, Archbishop of Esztergom, is still alive among you, not only as the founder of the Catholic University at Budapest, but also as its generous patron. It is inspiring to recall that he undertook so great a work out of the pure and sincere motive of advancing the Catholic religion. King Ferdinand II confirmed this when he said of its purpose that the truth of the Catholic religion would remain unshaken where it flourished; where weakened, it would be strengthened, and divine worship would be propagated everywhere. We realize how diligently you have labored to ensure that these excellent centers of study retain their original nature, the kind that their founders intended, namely that they remain Catholic Institutions. Their household, administration, and faculty are entirely under the control of the Church and the bishops. Therefore We exhort you to continue to encourage this noble and excellent venture. And you will succeed because of the goodness of the Apostolic King and the prudent men in charge of the government; also, what has been given to non-Catholic communities will not be denied to the Catholic Church.

If the tenor of the times demands that some new institutions are to be founded or old ones expanded, We have no doubt that you will imitate the example of your fathers and their devotion to religion. In fact We have received reports that you are already planning a school for the training of teachers; this is an excellent plan, one worthy of your wisdom and virtue. That you may accomplish it quickly with the Lord’s help is Our prayer and exhortation.

10. If the education of all youth in general contributes a great deal to the true welfare of the state, this is much more true of the education of those aiming at ordination. To this matter you must give special attention; it should occupy the greater portion of your vigils and labors, since the youths destined for orders are the hope and, as it were, the incomplete form of future priests. You surely know how much the reputation of the Church and the eternal salvation of her people depend on priests.

In the education of clerics, two elements are absolutely necessary: learning for the development of the mind and virtue for the perfection of the spirit. To the ordinary humanistic subjects in which youths are educated must be added Sacred and Canonical studies. Care must be taken that their content is sound and everywhere pure, in full harmony with the documents of the Church and eloquent, so that the priest may be able to exhort . . . even those who contradict.

Holiness of life, without which knowledge puffs up and does not edify, consists not only in good and honorable habits, but also in that group of sacerdotal virtues which makes good priests exemplars of Jesus Christ, the eternal High Priest. For this purpose there are sacred seminaries. You have some for youths preparing for the priesthood and others for the education of seminarians, all of them well-founded. Choose teachers and spiritual directors for these institutions thoughtfully. They should be men of sound doctrine and good morals, men to whom you can confidently entrust a matter of such great importance. Choose rectors and spiritual guides who are outstanding in prudence, counsel, and experience. The common life and discipline should be so arranged by your authority that not only will the students never offend against piety, but that there will be an abundance of all aids which nourish piety. The students should thus be encouraged to make daily progress in acquiring the sacerdotal virtues. Your industrious and diligent labors in the education of priests will bear much desirable fruit, making your episcopal office easier to administer and producing a richer profit for all.

11. But it is necessary that your paternal care extend further, namely to the assistance of priests in the exercise of their duties. Skillfully and sweetly, as becomes your love, see to it that they are not exposed to worldly temptations and that they are not led by selfish desires or concern for secular affairs. See to it that they excel in virtue, providing an example of deeds well-done. Further, see to it that they never fail in their devotion to prayer and that they approach the sacred mysteries spotlessly. When supported and strengthened by these defenses, they will gladly fulfill their daily sacred duties and fittingly turn to the studious cultivation of the spirits of their people, especially by the ministry of word and sacraments.

But to renew the strength of soul which human weakness does not allow to flourish constantly, nothing seems more effective than that they retire from time to time to meditation, devoting all of their time solely to God and themselves. This is the custom in other places and has proven very successful. Furthermore you will easily and spontaneously get to know the talents and the habits of individual priests as you go about administering your dioceses. You will also learn what you have to do by way of prohibition in this matter, and what evils have to be eradicated. To do this and to save ecclesiastical discipline from violation, you must use the just severity of canon law where necessary. All must understand that both the priesthood and the various grades of dignity are no more than a reward for useful labors. For this reason they are reserved for those who have served the Church, who have labored in the care of souls, and who are distinguished for their learning and the holiness of their lives.

12. When the clergy is distinguished by these virtues, the people will profit in no small measure, since they love the Church, are very devoted to the ancestral religion, and easily and willingly submit to the directives of their pastors.

However you must never fail to make sure that the integrity of Catholic doctrine is preserved in the people and that Evangelical discipline is retained in their actions, life and character. Let frequent sacred retreats for the care of souls be undertaken. To direct this work, choose men of tried virtue, animated by the spirit of Christ, and inflamed with love of neighbor.

Well-written pamphlets to guard against errors or to extirpate them should be widely disseminated. They must be in accord with the truth and encourage virtue. Some societies have already taken up this laudable proposal, with fruitful results. We wish therefore that their number increase and that their success continue from day to day.

Another thing We wish all of you to do, but especially those of you who excel in learning, dignity, and authority, is that in both private and public life, you be solicitous for the good name of religion. Let the cause of the Church be more vigorously prosecuted under your leadership. Let all present and future institutions founded to promote the Catholic cause be willingly aided and increased.

In like manner you must oppose certain false opinions, perversely proposed to safeguard each one’s dignity, but which are entirely contrary to the precepts and faith of Christian customs and which open the door to many pernicious and criminal acts.

Finally you must assiduously and vehemently oppose improper organizations, particularly those which We have mentioned in our encyclicals to other places, whose contagion must be averted by every means. In this matter, We desire that you exercise care in proportion to their number, power, and resources.

13. Urged by Our love, this is what We have to prescribe for you, venerable brethren, and which We trust will be accepted by the whole nation of Hungary with prompt obedience.

The fact that your forefathers triumphed so magnificently over bitter foes at Budapest was not solely due to their warlike fortitude, but also to the strength of religion. Just as in the beginning religion gave birth to the strength and authority of a great empire, so it also promises for the future prosperity at home and glory abroad. All of these things, whether they are for your honor or for your advantage, We desire for you, and We pray that you obtain them with the assistance and under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God. The kingdom of Hungary has been consecrated to her and received its name from her. For the same reason We earnestly ask the aid of Saint Stephen, who has blessed your kingdom with every kind of gift for its glory and growth. We have the certain hope that he will look down from heaven and guard you with his strong patronage.

14. Relying on this hope, venerable brothers, We impart to you individually, to the clergy, and to all your people, as a sign of heavenly gifts and a proof of Our paternal good will, Our apostolic benediction.

Given at Rome at Saint Peter’s, 22 August 1886, in the ninth year of Our pontificate.

The Lie of Pope Joan

There never was a Pope Joan – but there are certainly tales of her. I have found a few articles about the story, and you can read them here or download an ebook with all of them for reading offline. Enjoy.

The Fable of Pope Joan

“But avoid foolish and old wives’ fables.” - 1st Timothy 4:7

Every one is more or less familiar with the story of a female pope, which runs thus: Pope Leo IV died in 855, and in the catalogue of Popes Benedict III appears as his successor. This, claim the Joan story-tellers, is incorrect; for between Leo and Benedict the papal throne was for more than two years occupied by a woman. Her name is not permitted to appear in the list of popes, for the reason that historians devoted to the interests of the church desired to throw the veil of oblivion over so sacrilegious a scandal, and here, say they, is the true account of the affair.

On the death of Leo IV the clergy and people of Rome met to elect his successor, and they chose a young priest, a comparative stranger in Rome, who during his short residence there had acquired an immense reputation for learning and virtue, and who, on becoming pope, assumed the name of John VII, or, according to some, John VIII. (And it was the most convenient one to take. Before 855 there were seven popes named John, and at the period when the story began to spread there had been twenty-one.)

Now, the pope so elected was, in fact, a woman, the daughter of an English couple travelling in Germany. She was born in Fulda, where she grew up and was well educated. Disguised as a man, she entered the monastery at Fulda, where she remained undiscovered for years, and from which she eventually eloped with a monk. They fled to England, thence to France and Italy, and finally to Greece. They were both profoundly versed in all the science of the day, and went to Athens to study the literature and language of that country. Here the monk died. Giovanna (her name was also Gilberta or Agnes, according to the fancy of the writer) then left Athens and went to Rome, where her reputation for learning and the fame of her virtue soon spread. She gave public lectures and disputations, to which she attracted immense crowds of hearers, all delighted with her exemplary piety and astonished at her matchless learning. All the students of Rome, and even professors, flocked to hear her. On the death of Leo, she was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome from among many men pre-eminent for their learning and virtue. After governing with great wisdom for more than two years – there being not the slightest suspicion of her sex – she left the Vatican on a certain festival at the head of the clergy to walk in procession to the Lateran; but on the way was seized with the pains of labour, and in the open street, amid the astounded bishops and clergy and surrounding concourse of people, then and there gave birth to a child – and died.

It was then determined that the pontiff in procession that desecrated street, and a statue was placed on the spot to perpetuate the infamy of the fact, and a certain ceremony, minutely described, was ordained to be observed at the consecration of all future popes, in order to prevent the possibility of any similar scandal.

Of course there are numerous versions of the narrative, infinitely varied in every detail, as is apt to be the case with any story starting from no place or person in particular and contributed to by everybody in general.

As told, this incident is supposed to fill every polemical Protestant with delight, and to fill convicted Catholics with what Carlyle calls “astonishment and unknown pangs”.

Now, granting every tittle of the story as related to be true, we see no good reason for delight on one side nor pangs on the other. We repeat, conceding its entire truth, there is nothing in the story that necessarily entails injury or disgrace on the Catholic Church. Why should it? Catholic morality and doctrine no not depend upon the personal qualities of popes. In this case, supposing the story true, who was elected pope? A man – as all concerned honestly believed – of acknowledged learning and virtue. There is no intrigue, no improper influence; and those who elected him had no shame in the imposture, but were victims, not the participators, of the deceit practised. The cunning and the imposture were all hers, and her crime consisted, not in being delivered in the streets, but in not have lived chastely. True, it was a scandalous accident; but the scandal could not add to the original immorality of which, in all the world, but two persons were guilty, and guilty in secret – for there is no pretence, in all the versions, that the outward life of the pretended she-pope was otherwise than blameless and even edifying. Those who elected her were totally ignorant of her sex – an ignorance entirely excusable – an error of fact brought about by artful imposture. To their honor be it said, that they recognized in their choice the sole merits of piety and learning, and wished to reward them.

But a female pope was once the head of the church! Dreadful reproach to come from those who call themselves Reformed, Evangelical, and Puritans, who have not only tolerated but established, even forced some queens and princesses to declare themselves Head of the Church or Defender of the Faith in their own denominations, and dispose of church dignities and benefices, and order other matters ecclesiastical according to their personal will and pleasure.

Let us now look into the story and examine the testimony on which it is founded. The popess is said to have reigned two years and more. Rome was then the greatest city and the very centre of the civilized world, and always full of strangers from all parts of the earth. The catastrophe of the discovery brought about by the street delivery took place under the eyes of a vast multitude of people, and must have been known on the same day to the entire city before the sun had set. An event so strange, so romantic, so astounding, so scandalous, concerning the most exalted personage in the world, must surely have been written about or chronicled by the Italians who were there, and reported by letter or word of mouth by foreigners to their friends at home, and found its way from a thousand sources into the writings of the time; for it must be remembered the pope, of all living men, was of especial interest to the class who at that period were in the habit of writing. Such testimony as this, being the evidence of eye-witnesses, would be the highest testimony, and would settle the fact beyond dispute. Where is it? Silence profound in our only answer. Nothing of the kind is on the record of that period. Ah! then in that case we must suppose the matter to have been temporarily hushed up, and we will consent to receive accounts written ten, twenty – well, we’ll not haggle about a score or two – of even fifty years later. Silence again! Not a scrap, not a solitary line can be found.

And so we travel through all the history which learning and industry have been able to rescue from the records of the past down to the end of the ninth century, and find the same unbroken silence.

We must then go to the tenth century, where the murder will surely out. Silence again, deep and profound, through all the long years from 900 to 1000, and all is blank as before!

And now we again go on beyond another half-century, still void of all mention of Pope Joan, until we reach the year 1058, just two hundred and three years after the assigned Joanide.

In that year a monk, Marianus Scotus, of the monastery of Fulda, commenced a universal chronicle, which was terminated in 1083. Somewhere between these dates, in recording the events of 855, he is said to have written, “Leo the Pope died on the 1st of August. To him succeeded John, who was a woman, and sat for two years, five months, and four days.” Only this and nothing more. Not a word of her age, origin, qualities, or circumstances of her death. So far it is not much of a story; but little by little, link by link, line by line, like unto the veridical and melodious narrative of The House that Jack built, we’ll contrive to make a good story of it yet.

The statement first appears in Marianus. So much is certain. For during the 17th century, when the Joan controversy raged, and cart-loads of books and pamphlets were written on the subject – a mere list o the titles of which would exceed the limits of this article – every library and collection in Europe was ransacked with the furious industry of which a polemic writer is alone capable, for every – even the smallest – fragment or thread connected with this subject. Nevertheless, this ransacking was neither so thorough nor so successful as during the present century; for as the learned Döllinger states, “it is only within forty years that all European collections of mediaeval manuscripts have been investigated with unprecedented care, every library, nook and corner thoroughly searched, and a surprising quantity of hitherto unknown historical documents brought to light.”

Comparing the so-called statement of Marianus with the latest sensational and circumstantial relation, it is plain that the story did not, like Minerva, spring full-armed into life, but that it is the result of a long and gradual growth, fostered by the genius of a long series of inventive chroniclers.

But where id the monk of Fulda get the story? Ah, here is an interesting episode. His chronicle was first printed at Basle (1559) from the text known as the Latomus manuscript. Its editor was John Herold, a Calvinist of note, who, in printing the passage in question, quietly left out the words of the original, “ut asseritur” – that is to say, “as report goes,” or “believe it who will” – thus changing the chronicler’s hearsay to a direct and positive assertion.

But the testimony o the Marianus chronicle comes to still greater grief. And here a word of explanation. The original manuscript of Marianus is not known to exist, but we have numerous copies of it, the respective ages of which are well ascertained. Döllinger mentions two of them well known in Germany to be the oldest in existence, in which not a word concerning the popess can be found. The copy in which it is found is of 1513, and the explanation as to its appearance there is simple. The passage in question was doubtless put in the margin by some ready or copyist, and be some later copyist inserted in the text. And so we return to the original dark silence in which we started.

A feeble attempt was made to claim that Sigbert of Gembloux, who died in 1113, had recorded the story; but it was triumphantly demonstrated that it was first added to his chronicle in an edition of 1513. The same attempt was made with Gottfried’s Pantheon and the chronicle of Otto von Freysingen, and also lamentably failed. In 1261 there died a certain Stephen of Bourbon, a French Dominican, who left a work in which he speaks of the popess, and says he got the statement from a chronicle which must have been that of Jean de Mailly, a brother Dominican.

To the year 1240 or 1250 may then be assigned, on the highest authority, the period when the Joan story first made its appearance in writing and in history – nearly four hundred years after its supposed date.

In 1261 an anonymous unedited chronicle, still preserved in the library of Saint Paul of Leipsic, state that “another false pope, name and date unknown, since she was a woman, as the Romans confess, of great beauty and learning, who concealed her sex and was elected pope. She became with child, and the demon in a consistory made the fact known to all by crying aloud to the pope:

“Papa Pater Patrum papissae pandito patrum,
Et tibi tunc edam de corpore quando recedam.”

Some chroniclers relate it differently, namely, that the pope undertook to exorcise a person possessed of an evil spirit, and on demanding of the devil when he would go out from the possessed person’s body, the evil one replied in Latin verses above given, that is to say, “O Pope! thou father of the fathers, declare the time of the pope’s parturition, and I will then tell you when I will go out from this body.”

The demon always was a fellow who had a keen eye for the fashions, and he appears to have indulged in alliterative Latin poetry precisely at the period when that sort of literary trifling was most in vogue among scholars who recreated themselves with such lines as

“Ruderibus rejectis Rufus Festus fieri fecit;”


“Roma Ruet Romuli Ferro Flammaque Fameque.”

A few years later, Martinus Polaccus or Polonus, Martin the Pole, who died in 1278, the author of a chronicle of popes and emperors down to 1207, says, “John of England, by nation of Mayence, sat 2 years, 5 months, and 4 days. It is said that this pope was a women.” The chronicle of Polonus is merely a synchronistic history o the popes and emperors in the form of dry biographical notices. Nevertheless, from the fact that he had lived many years in Rome and was intimate with the papal court his book had, to use a modern phrase, an immense run. It was translated into all the principal languages, and more extensively copied than any chronicle then existing. The number of copies (manuscript) still in existence far exceeds that of any other work of the kind, and this fact suggests an important reflection. Great stress is laid by some writers on the multitude of witnesses for Joan. But the multitude does not increase the proof when they but repeat one another, and they suspiciously testify in nearly the same words. “The advocates for Pope Joan,” says Gibbon, “produce one hundred and fifty witnesses, or rather echoes, of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. They bear testimony against themselves and the legend by multiplying the proof that so curious a story must have been repeated by writers of every description to whom it was known.”

(The tradition concerning the resignation of Pope Cyriacus was also widely spread by the same chronicle. The story ran that Pope Cyriacus resigned the pontificate in the year 238, and first took its rise a thousand years after that date. It was pure fiction, and was connected with the legend of Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. No such pope as Cyriacus ever existed.

The various versions that copy one another must necessarily bear a strong family likeness. Their number can add nothing to their value as proof, and is no more conclusive than the endeavor to establish the doubted existence of a man by a great variety of portraits of him, all – as Whately so well remarks in his Historic Doubts “all striking likenesses of each other.”

In this case the most ancient testimony is posterior to the claimed occurrence some four hundred years, and is utterly inconsistent with the indisputable facts related by contemporary authors. The erudite Launoy, in his treatise De Auctoritate Negantis Argumenti, lays down the rule that a fact of a public nature not mentioned by any writer within two hundred years of its supposed occurrence is not to be believed. This is the same Launoy who waged war on the legends of the saints, claiming that much fabulous matter had crept into them. On this account he was called “Denicheur des Saints” – the Saint hunter or router – and the Abbé of Saint Roch used to say, “I am always profoundly polite to Launoy, for fear he will deprive me of Saint Roch.” The general rule (Launoy’s) so important in historical criticism is in perfect harmony with a great and leading principle of jurisprudence. In the Pope Joan incident the silence of all the writers of that age as to so remarkable a circumstance is to be fairly received as a, prerogative argument (Baconian philosophy) when set up against the numerous modern repetitions of the story. It may be taken as a general rule that the silence of contemporaries is the strongest argument against the truth of any given historical assertion, particularly when the fact asserted is strange and interesting, and this for the reason that man is ever prone to believe and recount the marvelous; and in the absence of early evidence, the testimony of later times is, for the same reason, only weaker. Now this is in strict accordance with the principle of English common law, which demands the highest and rejects hearsay and secondary evidence; for scores of witnesses may depose in vain that they have heard of such a fact; the eyewitness is the prerogative instance. This is the logic of evidence.

And now we find that what happened to Marianus Scotus also befell Polonus. He was entirely innocent of any mention of Joan! Passage exists in none of the oldest copies, and is wanting in all that follow the author’s close and methodical plan of giving one line to each year of a pope’s reign, so that, with fifty lines to the page as he wrote, each page covered precisely half a century. This method is entirely broken up in those manuscripts which contain the passage concerning Joan, and the rage to get the passage in was such that in one copy (the Heidelberg manuscript) Benedict III is left out entirely and Joan put in his place. Dr Döllinger and the learned Bayle concur in the opinion that the passage never had any existence in the original work of Polonus.

And just at this juncture the testimony of Tolomeo di Lucca (1312) is important. He wrote an ecclesiastical history, and names the popess with the remark that in all the histories and chronicles known to him, Benedict III succeeded Leo IV. The author was noted for learning and industry, and must necessarily have consulted every available authority, and yet nowhere did he find mention of Joan but in Polonus. In 1283, a versified chronicle of Maerlandt (a Dutchman) mentions Joan: “I am neither clear nor certain whether it is a truth or a fable; mention of it in chronicles of the popes is uncommon.”

And now, as we advance into the 14th century, as manuscripts multiply and one chronicler copies another, mention of Joan increases; and successively and in due order, and the malt, the rat, the cat, the dog, and all the rest appear in turn to make perfect the nursery ditty, so the statue, the street, the ceremony, and all the remaining features of the story come gradually out, until we have it in full and detailed description, and our popular papal “House that Jack built” is complete.

Then we have Geoffroy of Courlon, a Benedictine (1295), Bernard Guidonis and Leo von Orvieto, both Dominicans (1311), John of Paris, Dominican (first half of 14th century), and several others, all of whom take the story from Polonus.

In 1306 we get the statue from Siegfried, who thus contributes his quota, “At Rome, in a certain spot of the city, is still shown her statue in pontifical dress, together with the image of her child cut in marble in a wall.” Bayle says that Thierry di Niem (15th century) “adds out of his own head” the statue. But it appears that it was referred to 23 years earlier than Siegfried by Maerlandt, who says that the story as we read it is cut in stone and can be seen any day:

“En daer leget soe, als wyt lesen
Noch also up ten Steen ghehouwen,
Dat Men ane daer mag scouwen.”

Amalric di Angier wrote in 1362, and adds to the story her “teaching three years at Rome.” Petrarch repeats the version of Polonus. Boccacio also relates it, and was the first who at that period asserted her name was not known.

Jacopo de Acqui (1370) says that she reigned nineteen years.

Aimery du Peyrat, abbot of Moissac, who compiled a chronicle in 1399, puts “Johannes Anglicus” in the list of popes with the remark, “Some say that she was a woman.”

In 1450, Martin le Franc, in his Champion des Dames, expresses surprise that Providence should have permitted such a scandal as to allow the church to be governed by a wicked women.

“Comment endura Dieu, comment
Que femme ribaulde et prestresse
Eut l’Eglise en gouvernement?”

Hallam (Literature of Europe) mentions as among the remarkable among the Fastnacht’s Spiele (carnival plays) of Germany the apotheosis of Pope Joan, a tragic-comic legend, written about 1480. Bouterwek, in his History of German Poetry, also mentions it.

In 1481, “to swell the dose,” as Bayle says, the stool feature of the story first comes in.

In the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 (Astor Library copy) Joan is put down as Joannes Septimus, and the page ornamented (?) with a wood-cut of a woman with a child in her arms. It relates that she gained the pontificate by evil arts, “malis artibus.”

IN the beginning of the same century there was seen a bust of Joan among the collection of busts o the popes in the cathedral at Sienna. And, more astonishing still, the story was related in the Mirabilia urbis Romae, a sort of guide-book for strangers and pilgrims visiting Rome, editions of which were constantly reprinted for a period of 80 years, down to 1550!

In the middle of the 15th century we find the story related at full length by Felix Hammerlain, and later by John Bale, then Bishop of Ossory, who afterward became a Protestant. He pretty well completes the tale.

According to Tolomeo di Lucca, the Joan story in 1312 was nowhere found but in some few copies of Polonus. Nevertheless, it is notorious at that time countless lists and historical tables of popes were in existence, in none of which was there any trace of the popess.

Suddenly we find extraordinary industry exercised in multiplying and spreading the copies of Polonus containing the story, and in inserting it in other chronicles that did not contain it. As the editors of the Histoire Litteraire de France aptly remark:

“Nous ne saurions nous expliquer comment il se fair que ce soit precisement dans les rangs de cette fidele milice du saint-siege que se rencontrent les propagateurs les plus naifs, et peut-etre les inventeurs, d’une histoire si injurieuse a la papaute.”

“We cannot understand how it is that, precisely among the ranks of the faithful soldiers of the holy see, we find the most credulous propagators and, perhaps, inventors of a story so injurious to the papacy.

Dr Döllinger answers this by stating that those who appeared to be most active in the matter were Dominicans and Minorites, particularly the former, (Sie waren es ja, besonders die ersten.) This is specially to be remarked under the primacy of Boniface VIII, who was no friend of either order. The Dominican historians were particularly severe in their judgments on Boniface in the matter of his difficulty with Philip the Fair, and appear to dwell with satisfaction upon this period of the weakened authority of the papal see.

In 1610, Alexander Cooke published in London, Pope Ioane, a Dialogue Betweene a Protestant and a Papist, manifestly prouing that a woman called Ioane was Pope of Rome: against the surmises and objections made to the contrarie, etc. Cooke has a preface, “To the Popish or Catholicke reader – chuse whether name thou hast a mind to”; which is very handsome indeed of Mr Cooke.

The papist in the Dialogue has a dreadful time of it from one end of the book to the other, and Gregory VII is effectually settled by calling him “that firebrand of hell”. Bayle grimly disposes of Cooke’s work thus: “It has been better for his cause if he had kept silence.”

Discussion of the story comes even down to this (late 19th) century. In 1843 and 1845 two works appeared in Holland, one, by Professor Kist to prove the existence of Joan; the other, by Professor Wensing, to refute Kist. In 1845 was also published a very able work by Bianchi-Giovini: Esame critico degli atti e Documenti relativi alla favola della Papissa Giovanna, di A Bianchi-Giovini, Milano.

It is doubtful if in all the annals of literature there exists a more remarkable case of pure fable growing, by small and slow degrees through several centuries, until, in the shape of a received fact, it finally lodges in serious history. Taking its rise no one knows where or how, full 400 years after the period assigned to it, and stated at first in the baldest and thinnest manner possible, it goes on from century to century, gathering consistence, detail, and incident; requiring three centuries for its completion, and finally comes out the sensational affair we have related. All stories gain in time and travel, scandalous stories most of all. These last are particularly robust and long-lived. They appear to enjoy a freedom amounting to immunity. Just as certain noxious and foul-smelling animals frequently owe their life to the unwillingness men have to expose themselves to contact with them, so such stories, looked upon at first as merely scandalous and too contemptible for serious refutation, acquire, through impunity, an importance that, in the end, makes them seriously annoying. Then, too, well-meaning people thoughtlessly accept reports and repeat statements that, through mere iteration, are supposed to be well-founded. Let anyone, be his or her experience ever so small, look around and see how fully this is exemplified every day in real life.

Moreover, there was no dearth of writers in the middle ages who used, to the extent of license, the liberty of criticizing and blaming the papacy. By all such, the Joan story was invariably put forward by way of illustration; and they appear to have gone on unchecked until it was found that the open enemies of the church began to avail themselves of the scandal.

In 1451, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II), in conference with the Taborites of Bohemia, denied the story, and told Nicholas, their bishop, that “even in placing thus this woman, there had been neither error of faith nor of right, but ignorance of fact”. Aventinus, in Germany, and Onuphrius Pauvenius, in Italy, staggered the popularity of the story. Attention once drawn to the subject, and investigation commenced, its weakness was soon apparent, and testimony soon accumulated to crush it.

Ado, Archbishop of Vienne, France, who was at Rome in 866, has left a chronicle in which he says that Benedict III succeeded immediately to Leo IV.

Prudentius, Bishop of Troyes at the same period, testifies to the same fact.

In 855, the assigned Joanide period, there were in Rome four individuals who afterward successively became popes under the names Benedict III, Nicholas I, Adrian II, and John VIII. During the pretended papacy of Joan, these men were all either priests or deacons, and must have taken part in her election, and have been present at the catastrophe. Of all these popes there exist many and various writings, but not a word concerning the popess. On the contrary, they all represent Benedict III to have succeeded Leo IV.

Lupo, Abbot of Ferrieres, in a letter to Pope Benedict, says that he, the abbot, had been kindly received at Rome by his predecessor – Leo IV.

In a council held at Rome, in 1863, under Nicholas I, the pontiff speaks of his predecessors Leo and Benedict.

Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, writing to Nicholas I, says that certain messengers sent by him to Leo IV had been met on their journey by news of that pontiff’s death, and had, on their arrival at Rome, found Benedict on the throne. Ten other contemporary writers are cited who all testify to the same immediate succession, and afford not the slightest hint of any story or tradition that can throw the least light on that of the female pope. “The time of Pope Joan,” says Gibbon, “is placed somewhat earlier than Theodora or Marozia; and the two years of her imaginary reign are forcibly inserted between Leo IV and Benedict III. But the contemporary Anastasius indissolubly links the death of Leo and the elevation of Benedict; and the accurate chronology of Pagi, Muratori, and Leibnitz fixes both events to the year 857.”

But there is no smoke without fire, it is said, and the wildest stories must have some cause, if not foundation. Let us see. Competent critics find the story to be a satire on John VIII. “Ob nimian ejus animi facilitatem et mollitudinem,” says Baronius, particularly in the affair with Photius, by whom John had suffered himself to be imposed upon. Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was known to be a half-man, and yet so cunning as to over-reach John. Therefore, they said John was a woman, called him Joanna, instead of Joannes, that tone of butter raillery constantly indulged in by the Roman Pasquins and Marforios, and this raillery, naturally enough, in course o time came to be taken for truth.

And again: Pope John X, elected in 914, was said to have been raised by the power and influence of Theodora, a women of talent and unscrupulous intrigue. In 931, John, the son of Marozia and Duke Alberic, and grandson of Theodora, was said to be a mere puppet in the hands of his mother. “Their reign,” (Theodora and Marozia) says Gibbon, “may have suggested to the darker ages the fable of a female pope.”

Again, in 956, a grandson of the same Marozia was raised to the papal chair as John XII. He renounced the dress and decencies of his profession, and his life was so scandalous that he was degraded by a synod. Onuphrius Pauvinius and Liutprand are quoted to show that a woman, Joan, had such influence over him that he loaded her with riches. She is said to have died in child-bed. (At this period the church was as yet without the advantage of the great reform effected by Gregory VII in 1073, and the choice of a pope by the bishops or cardinals was ratified or rejected by the Roman people who were, too often at that time, the dupes or tools of such men as the marquises of Tuscany and the counts of Tusculum who, says Gibbon, “held the apostolic see in a long and disgraceful servitude.”)

Long series of years preceding and following these events were anything but times of pleasantness and peace to the successors to Saint Peter. Even Gibbon says, “The Roman pontiffs of the 9th and 10th centuries were insulted, imprisoned and murdered by their tyrants, and such was their indigence, after the loss and usurpation of the ecclesiastical patrimonies, that they could neither support the state of a prince nor exercise the charity of a priest.”

Now, with such materials as these, a Pope Joan story is easily constructed; for, with the license of speech that has always existed in Rome in the form of pasquinades, it is more than likely to have been satirically remarked by the Romans under one or all of the three popes John, that Rome had a popess instead of a pope, and that the chair of Saint Peter was virtually occupied by a female. These things would be repeated from mouth to mouth by men who, according to their temper and ability, would comment on them with bitter scoff, irreverent comment, snarling sneer, or ribald leer, and they might readily have been received as matter of fact assertions by German and other strangers in Rome.

Carried home and spread by wandering monks and soldiers, it is only wonderful that they did not sooner come to the surface in some such fable as the one under consideration. Diffused among the people, and acquiring a certain degree of consistency by dint of repetition through two centuries, it finally reached the ear of the individual who inserted it in the Marianus chronicle in the for of an on dit, and so he put it down “ut asseritur” – “they say”.

Certain it is that no such story was known in Italy until it was spread from German chroniclers, and the absurdity was too monstrous to pass into contemporary history even in a foreign country.

But, it is answered, by Coeffetau and others, we do not hear of it for so many years afterward because the church exerted its omnipotent authority to hush up the story. There needs but slight knowledge of human nature to decide that such an attempt would have only served to spread and intensify the scandal. As Bayle wisely remarks, “People do not so expose their authority by prohibitions which are not of a nature to be observed, and which, so far from shutting their mouth, rather excite an itching desire to speak.”

Then, too, it is claimed that for a period of several hundred years after 855, writers and chroniclers, by agreement, tacit or express, not only maintained a profound silence on the subject of the scandal, but, in all Christian countries of the world, conspired to altar the order of papal succession, forge chronicles, and falsify historical records. And yet those who use their argument tell us that in the city of Rome, under papal authority, a statue was erected, an order issued, turning aside processions from their time-consecrated itinerary, and customs as remarkable for their indecency as their novelty were introduced, in order to perpetuate the memory of the very same events tyrannical edicts were issued to conceal and blot out! Comment is not needed.

The total silence of contemporary writers, and the immense chasm of two hundred years (taking the earliest date claimed) between the event and its first mention, was, of course, found fatal. Consequently, an attempt was made to prop up the story by assertion that it was chronicled by Anastasius the Librarian, who lived in Rome at the alleged Joannic period, was present at the election of all the popes from 844 to 882, and must, therefore, have been a witness of the catastrophe of 855. The testimony of such a witness would certainly be valuable – indeed, irrefutable. Accordingly, a manuscript of the 14th century, a copy of the Anastasian manuscript, was produced in which mention was made of Pope Joan. But this mention was attended with three suspicious circumstances. First, it was qualified by an “ut dicitur”, that is, “as is said”. Anastasius would scarcely need an on dit to qualify his own testimony concerning an event that took place under his own eyes, and must have morally convulsed all Rome. Secondly, it was not in the text, but in a marginal note. Thirdly, and fatally, the entire sentence was in the very words of the Polonus chronicle. Naturally enough, it was found singular that Anastasius, writing in the 9th century, should use the identical phrasing of Polonus was was posterior to him by 400 years.

But, in addition t these reasons, Anastasius gives a circumstantial account of the election of Benedict III to succeed Leo IV, absolutely filling up the space needed for Joan. In view of all which the critical Bayle is moved to exclaim, “Therefore I say what relates to this woman (Joan) is spurious, and comes from another hand.” A zealous Protestant, Sarrurius, writes to his co-religionist, Salmasius (the same who had a controversy with Milton), after examining the Anastasian manuscript, “The story of the she-pope has been tacked to it by one who had misused his time.” And Gibbon says, “A most palpable forgery is the passage of Pope Joan which has been foisted into some manuscripts and editions of the Roman Anastasius.”

With regard to the early chronicle manuscript, it must be borne in mind that it was common for their readers (owners) to write additions in the margin. A professional copyist – the publisher of those days – usually incorporated the marginal notes with the text. Books were then, of course, dear and scarce, and readers frequently put in the margin the supplements another book would furnish them, rather than buy two books. Then again – for men are alike in all ages – those who purchased valuable books wanted, as they want today, the fullest edition, with all the latest emendations. So a chronicle with the Joan story would always be more saleable than one without it.

But one of the strongest presumptions against the truth of the story is seen in the profound silence of the Greek writers of the period (9th to 15th century). All of them who sided with Photius were bitterly hostile to Rome, and the question of the supremacy of the pope was precisely the vital one between Rome and Constantinople. They would have been only too glad to get hold of such a scandal. Numbers of Greeks were in Rome in 855, and if such a catastrophe as the Joanine had occurred, they must have known it. “On writers of the 9th and 10th centuries,” says Gibbon, “the recent event would have flashed with a double force. Would Photius have spared such a reproach? Would Liutprand have missed such a scandal?”

We have disposed of the absurdity o the supposition that the power and discipline of the church were so great as to enforce secrecy concerning the Joan affair. But – even granting the truth of this assertion – that power and discipline would avail naught with strangers who were Greeks and schismatics. In 863, only eight years after the alleged Joanide, the Greek schism broke out under Photius, who was excommunicated by Nicholas I. There was no period from 855 to 863 when there were not numbers of Greeks in the city o Rome – learned Greeks, too. Many of them agreed with Photius, who claimed that the transfer of the imperial residence, by the emperors, from Rome to Constantinople, at the same time transferred the primacy and its privileges. Yet not only can no allusion to any such story be found in any Greek writer of that century, but there is found in Photius himself no less than three distinct and positive assertions that Benedict III succeeded Leo IV.

The Greek schism became permanent in 1053 under Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who undertook to excommunicate the legates of the pope. With Cerularius, as with Photius, the papal supremacy was the main question, and neither he nor Photius would have failed to make capital of the Joan fable, had they ever heard of it. So also with all the Byzantine writers, and they were numerous. It was not until the 15th century that the first mention of the story was made by one of them (Chalcocondylas), an Athenian of the 15th century who, in his De Rebus Turcicis, states the case very singularly: “Formerly a woman was in the papal chair, her sex not being manifest, because the men in Italy, and indeed in all countries of the West, are closely shaved.” It is true that Barlaam, a Greek writer, mentioned it in the 14th century, but Barlaam was living in Italy when he wrote his book.

And now, as we reach the so-called Reformation period, we find the tale invested with a value and important it had never before assumed. It was kept constantly on active duty without relief, and compelled to do fatiguing service in a thousand controversial battles and skirmishes. Angry and over-zealous Protestants found it a hand thing to have in their polemical house. And, although the more judicious cared not to use it, the story was generally retained. Spanheim and Lenfant endeavored to think it a worthy weapon, and even Mosheim affects to cherish suspicion as to its falsity. Jewell, one of Elizabeth’s bishops (1560) seriously, and with great show of learning, espoused Joan’s claims to existence.

Nor were answers wanting; and including those who had previously written on the subject, it was fully confuted by Aventinus, Onuphrius Pauvinius, Bellarmine, Serrarius, George Sherer, Robert Parsons, Florimond de Remond, Allatius, and many others.

The first Protestant to cast doubt on the fable was David Blondel. A minister of the Reformed Church, Professor of History at Amsterdam, in 1630 he was held by his co-religionists to be a prodigy of learning in languages, theology, and ecclesiastical history. In his Pable de la Papesse Jeanne, with invicible logic and an intelligent application of the true canons of historical criticism, he demonstrates the absence of foundation for the story, the tottering and stuttering weakness of its early years, the suspicions which stand around its cradle; and instead of disputing how far the Pope Joan story was believed or credited in this or that century, shows that by her own contemporaries she was never heard of at all; the whole story being, he says, “an inlaid piece of work embellished with time.” Blondel was bitterly assailed by all sections of Protestantism, and accused of “bribery and corruption,” the question being asked, “How much has the pope given him?” Blondel’s work brought out a crowd of writers in defense o Joan, foremost among whom was the Protestant Des Marets or Maresius, whose labours in turn called out the Cenotaphium Papessae Joannae by the learned Jesuit Labbe, the celebrity of whose name drew forth a phalanx of writers in reply.

But the worst for Joanna was yet to come. Another Protestant, undeterred by the abuse showered upon Blondel, gave Joan her coup de grace. This was the learned Bayle, who, with rigid and judicial impartiality, sums up the essence of all that had been advanced on either side, and shows unanswerably the altogether insufficient grounds on which the entire story rests. More was not needed. Nevertheless, Eckhard and Leibnitz followed Bayle in the extinguishing process, and made it disreputable for any scholar of respectability to advocate the convicted falsehood.

There was no dearth of other Protestant protests against Joan. Casaubon, the most learned of the so-called reformers, laughed at the fable. So did Thuanus. Justis Lipsius said of it, “Revera fabella est haud longe ab audacia et ineptis poetarum.” (“In truth, it is a fable not much differing from the boldness and silly stories of the poets.”) Schookius, professor at Groningem, totally disbelieved it. Dr Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, said, “I don’t believe the history of Pope Joan,” and gives his reasons. So, also, Dr Bristow. Very pertinent was the reflection of Jurieu ( fanatical Protestant if ever there was one – the same noted for his controversy with Bayle, who was a “friend of the family” – so much so, indeed, as to cause the remark that Jurieu discovered many hidden things in the Apocalypse, but could not see what was going on in his own household), in his Apology for the Reformation, “I don’t think we are much concerned to prove the truth of this story of Pope Joan.”

The erudite Anglican, Dr Cave, says, “Nothing helped more to make that Chronicle (Polonus) famous than the much talked of fable of Pope Joan. For my own part, I am thoroughly convinced that it is a mere fable, and that it has been thrust into Martin’s chronicle, especially since it is wanting in most of the old manuscripts.”

Hallam calls it a fable. Ranke passes it over in contempuous silence. So also does Sismondi; and Gibbon fairly pulverizes it with scorn.

A favourite polemical arsenal for Episcopalians is found in the works of Jewell, so-called Bishop of Salisbury. Let them be warned against leaning on him concerning the Joan story. Listen how quietly yet how effectually both Joan and Jewell are disposed of by Henry Hart Milman, D.D., Dean of Saint Paul’s, in his History of Latin Christianity: “The eight years of Leo’s papacy were chiefly occupied in restoring the plundered and desecrated churches of the two apostles, and adorning Rome.

The succession to Leo IV was contested between Benedict III, who commanded the suffrages of the clergy and people, and Anastasius, who, at the head of an armed faction, seized the Lateran (September 855), stripped Benedict of his pontifical robes, and awaited the confirmation of his violent ursurpation by the imperial legates, whose influence he thought he had secured. But the commissioners, after strict investigation, decided in favour of Benedict. Anastasius was expelled with disgrace from the Lateran, and his rival consecrated in the presence of the emperor’s representatives.” (29 September 855) Like Ranke, Milman also passes over the Joan story with contemptuous silence.

In his Papst-Fabeln des Mittelalters, the learned Dr Döllinger has exhausted the erudition of the subject, and not only demonstrated the utter unworthiness of the invention, but – what is for the first time done by him – points out the causes or sources of all the separate portions of the narrative. Thus, the statue story arose from the fact that in the same street in which was found a grace or monumental stone, of the inscription on which the letters P.P.P. could be deciphered, there was also seen a statue of a man or women with a child. It was simply an ancient statue of a heathen priest, with an attendant boy holding in his hand a palm-leaf. The P.P.P. on the grave-stone, as all antiquarians agreed, merely stood for Propria Pecunia Posuit (erected at his own expense); but as the marvellous only was sought for, the three P’s were first cooly duplicated and then made to stand for the words of the line already referred to – Papa Patrum, etc. – much in the same way as Mr Johnathan Oldbuck insisted that A.D.L.L., on a utensil of imaginary antiquity he had found, stood for Agricola Dicivit Libens Lubens when it actually meant Aiken Drum’s Lang Landle.

The controversy concerning the existence of Joan may be considered as long since substantially closed, and Joan, or Agnes, or Gilberta, or Ione as she is called in English (London, 1612) edition of Philip Morney’s Mysterie of Iniquitie, to stand convicted as an impostor, or, more properly speaking, a non-entity. Her story is long since banished from all respectable society, although it contrives to keep up a disreputable and precarious existence in the outskirts and waste places of vagrant literature. We are even informed that it may be found printed under the auspices and sponsorship of societies and individuals considered respectable. If this be true, it is for their sakes to be regretted; and we beg leave severally to admonish the societies and individuals in question, in the words of the apostle: “Avoid foolish and old wives’ fables: and exercise thyself to piety.”

- from the April 1869 edition of The Catholic World, author not listed

Quum Diuturnum – On the Latin American Bishops’ Plenary Council, by Pope Leo XIII, 25 December 1898

To the Bishops of Latin America.

1. As We remember the long course of Our pontificate, We are conscious that We have always endeavored to strengthen and extend Christ’s kingdom among your peoples. You still remember with gratitude what We have already done for you with the help of God, venerable brothers. Your zealous efforts have ensured that Our deeds and planning were not in vain.

2. But now We want to give you a new proof of Our regard for you, something We have wanted to do for a long time. Since the time of the solemn celebration of the fourth centenary of the discovery of America, We have diligently sought a way to provide for the common interests of Latin America which comprises more than half of the New World. And We foresaw that this could best be done if all you bishops from these regions came together for consultation at Our invitation and under Our authority. We knew that by comparing ideas and sharing the wisdom which each of you has derived from experience, you will be perfectly able to ensure that the unity of Church discipline is preserved among your peoples who are united by racial affinity; that morals worthy of the profession of the Catholic faith flourish; and that thus, by the concerted efforts of good citizens, the Church publicly prospers.

3. What greatly contributed to the realization of Our plan was that on being asked for your opinion, you welcomed Our proposal with great approval. As the time approached to make the idea a reality, We gave you the choice of location for this meeting. Most of you indicated that you would prefer to meet in Rome, especially since it would be easier for the majority of you to come here than to go to some distant American city on account of the difficulties of travel in your own country. We could only give our complete approval to this declaration of your opinions which was no light indication of your love for the Apostolic See. However, We are bothered that Our present circumstances do not allow Us to treat you with all the liberality and honor We would like when you stay in Rome.

4. Consequently, We have already given orders to the Sacred Congregation, which is in charge of interpreting the decrees of the Council of Trent, to convoke an assembly of all the bishops of Latin American countries next year in Rome and to prescribe in due time, the rules which will govern this meeting.

5. In the meantime, venerable brothers, We give you very affectionately Our apostolic blessing as a pledge of heavenly favors and as a witness of Our good will to you, to the clergy, and to the people entrusted to your care.

Given at Rome, at Saint Peter’s on the very day of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 1898, in the twenty-first year of Our Pontificate.

Reputantiubus – On the Language Question in Bohemia, by Pope Leo XIII, 20 August 1901

To Our Venerable Brothers Theodore, Archbishop of Olomouc, and the Archbishops and Bishops of Bohemia and Moravia.

1. As We reflect often on the condition of your churches, it seems to Us that at this moment nearly everywhere everything is full of fear, full of concern. However, this situation is more serious in your case because, while Catholicism is exposed to the hatred and cunning of external enemies, domestic issues also divide it. For while heretics both openly and covertly endeavor to spread error among the faithful, seeds of discord grow daily among Catholics themselves-the surest means to hinder strength and break down constancy.

2. Surely the strongest grounds for dissension, especially in Bohemia, are to be found in the languages which each person, according to his origin, employs. For it is implanted by nature that everyone wishes to preserve the language inherited from his ancestors.

3. To be sure, We have decided to refrain from settling this controversy. Indeed one cannot find fault with the preservation of one’s ancestral tongue, if it is kept within defined limits. However, what is valid for other private rights, must be held to apply here also: namely, that the common good of the nation must not suffer from their preservation. It is, therefore, the task of those who are in charge of the state to preserve intact the rights of individuals, in such a way that the common good of the nation be secured and allowed to flourish.

4. As far as We are concerned, Our duty admonishes Us to take constant care that religion, which is the chief good of souls and the source of all other goods, not be endangered by controversies of this nature.

5. Therefore we earnestly exhort your faithful, although of various regions and tongues, to preserve that far more excellent kinship which is born from the communion of faith and common sacraments. For whoever are baptized in Christ, have one Lord and one faith; they are one body and one spirit, insofar as they are called to one hope. It would be truly disgraceful that those who are bound together by so many holy ties and are seeking the same city in heaven should be torn apart by earthly reasons, rivaling with one another, as the Apostle says, and hating one another. Therefore, that kinship of souls which comes from Christ must constantly be inculcated in the faithful and all partiality must be eradicated. “For greater indeed is the paternity of Christ than that of blood: for the fraternity of blood touches the likeness only of the body; the fraternity of Christ, however, conveys unanimity of heart and spirit, as is written: One was the heart and one the spirit of the multitude of believers.”

6. In this matter the holy clergy should surpass in example all others. Indeed, it is at variance with their office to mingle in such dissensions. If they should reside in places inhabited by people of different races or languages, unless they abstain from any appearance of contention, they may easily incur hatred and dislike from both sides. Nothing could be more detrimental to the exercise of their sacred function than this. The faithful, to be sure, should recognize in fact and practice that the ministers of the Church are concerned only with the eternal affairs of souls and do not seek what is theirs, but only what is Christ’s.

7. If, then, it is well known to all alike that the disciples of Christ are recognized by the love that they have for one another, the holy clergy must observe this same love mutually among themselves far more. For not only are they thought, and deservedly so, to have drunk much more deeply from the charity of Christ, but also because each one of them, in addressing the faithful, ought to be able to use the words of the Apostle, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

8. We can easily admit that this is very difficult in practice, unless the elements of discord are erased from their souls at an early time when they, who aspire to the clerical state, are formed in our seminaries. Therefore, you must diligently see to it that the students in seminaries early learn to love one another in a fraternal love and from a genuine heart, as those born not from a corruptible seed but an incorruptible one through the word of the living God. Should arguments break out, restrain them strongly and do not allow them to persist in any way; thus those who are destined for the clergy, if they cannot be of one language because of different places of origin, still may certainly be of one heart and one spirit.

9. From this union of wills, indeed, which must be conspicuous in the clerical order, as we have already intimated, this advantage among others will follow: that the ministers of the sacraments will more efficaciously warn the faithful not to exceed the limits in preserving and vindicating the rights proper to each race, or by excessive partisanship not to do violence to justice and overlook the common advantages of the state. For we think that this, according to the circumstances of your various regions, should be the principal task of priests, to exhort the faithful, in season and out, to love one another; they should warn them constantly that he is not worthy of the name of Christian who does not fulfill in spirit and action the new command given by Christ that we love one another as He has loved us.

10. Certainly, he does not fulfill it, who thinks that charity pertains only to those who are related in tongue or race. For if, as Christ says, you love those who love you, do not the publicans do so? and if you salute your brothers only, do not the pagans do so? For to be sure a characteristic of Christian charity is that it extends equally to all; for, as the Apostle warns, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord of all, rich to all who invoke him.

11. May God, who is Love, kindly grant that all be united in their thoughts and in their convictions, thinking the same and having no contention; grant that in humility they may think each other better than themselves, each not looking to his own interests, but to those of others.

12. May the Apostolic blessing, which we grant most lovingly in the Lord, to you, Venerable Brothers, and the faithful committed to each of you, be a token of this and also of Our benevolence.

Given in Rome at Saint Peter’s, 20 August 1901, in the 24th year of Our Pontificate.

Insignes – On the Hungarian Millennium, by Pope Leo XIII, 1 May 1896

To the Bishops of Hungary.

1. You have most rightly decreed that special, joyful thanksgiving be offered to the eternal God of Hungary. For your nation, beyond all others, is bound to recall the great abundance of benefits which it has received from God, the most provident establisher and preserver of kingdoms, throughout many centuries and in troublesome trials. The birthday of your country, as it most happily returns, is a very suitable time for recollecting and celebrating these blessings. For you are now marking the thousandth year since your ancestors established their homes and residences in those lands and the history of Hungary began.

2. We are in no doubt that the observances planned will have an outcome worthy of the occasion and be productive of the most noble advantages. For there can be no citizen with pure love whom the glories of the country in which he has a share do not affect and to whom the ancient glories of the past publicly remembered affects him with a keen desire to imitate them.

To all of this will be added the unanimous approval of so many civilized nations who, as they share rejoicing in friendship, will surely congratulate a kingdom founded on appropriate laws and institutions, preserved by its civil prudence and valor in war and brought by many deeds of excellence to its present longevity and growth.

3. Your prosperity affects Us in the most delightful possible way, and We desire nothing more than to be present with you among your people, Venerable Brothers, and to dwell there in mind and spirit. This Our wish is prompted chiefly by Our special attraction towards and loving care for Catholic Hungary and by their devoted feelings towards this Apostolic See and Ourselves. Among other indications of devotions, in recent years Rome has seen Hungarians in great numbers come, under your leadership, to venerate the tombs of the Princes of the Apostles. They have presented beautiful testimonies of faith, obedience, and love in the name of all their fellow countrymen. They won Our benevolence and an exhortatory address to strengthen their spirits in the duties of their holy profession. Indeed We had purposely manifested this benevolence of Ours to the entire nation in Our first and second letters to you. Now, however, recollecting the modesty and favor with which the clergy and all good men received Our instructions, once again may this letter convey Our love and may it both increase the joy of the secular celebration and redouble its fruits.

4. In the preparation for your celebrations, the power of the Catholic religion as an excellent promoter of public safety and as the source or support of good things among the peoples shines forth. Certainly, as your wiser historians state, the Hungarian nation would not have held their occupied areas either very long or very prosperously unless the Gospel had led it, freed from the yoke of superstition, to accept these well-known principles: to respect natural law, to do harm to no one, to be merciful, to pursue peace, to be subject to princes as to God, and to practice brotherhood at home and abroad.

5. In a wonderful manner, the beginnings of the Catholic faith in your country were consecrated in the persons of Prince Geza and the leaders of the nation, especially by the efforts of the holy bishop Adalbert, a man famous for his apostolic labors and finally, his martyr’s crown. Those beginnings, however, were the more remarkable in that, considering the times and the position of their territories, they lay dangerously open to the lamentable separation from the Roman Church which was breaking out among the Easterners. What his father had begun, Stephan, a most exemplary Christian prince, persisted in and completed. He is therefore rightly celebrated as the chief pillar and light of your nation; he not only instructed it in the attainment of eternal salvation, but he also increased its extent and renown.

6. Under that same prince, who offered and dedicated his sceptre to the Mother of God and blessed Peter, that exchange of deeds of zeal and duty between the Roman pontiffs and the kings and people of Hungary began, which we have already praised. A permanent symbol of this bond was the royal crown adorned with images of Christ the Savior and the Apostles which Our predecessor Sylvester II sent as a gift to Stephan, when he conferred on him the title of king because “he had greatly spread abroad the faith of Christ” in your country. That famous incident establishes the constancy of the Hungarians in their obedience to Peter, for this crown has borne the brunt of the shifting and dangerous squalls of critical times unscathed, still radiant with its ancient honor; consequently it has always been regarded as the great glory and defense of the kingdom, and therefore protected religiously.

7. Thus it came about that Hungary, as it grew in resources, entered on the same paths as the peoples of youthful Christian Europe were traveling; because of the outstanding character of the race, it attained virtue and humanity more rapidly. For this reason, many men came forth who brought true fame to their country and themselves by holiness of life, teaching, literature, arts, and the fulfilling of their duties.

8. We have heard that a project has been undertaken which We fully approve for the current celebration. It is planned to publish the ancient forgotten evidence of services conferred by religion. Furthermore, the letters, both those from you and those in Our Apostolic records, bear concordant witness to the fact that religion has benefited mankind. It is of great importance to reflect upon this, especially at the present time.

Consider what functions the Church fulfilled for your ancestors in establishing and administrating public law; certainly its wisdom, order, and fairness permeated everywhere at the request of all classes. Moreover, the Roman pontiffs have shown themselves guardians and defenders of civil liberty whenever it was placed in critical danger, either when requested to or of their own accord. Your people have also never ceased to fight for this liberty. This has happened many times in the past, especially when the attacks of the bitter enemies of the holy faith had to be beaten back.

When the Turks invaded, everyone without exception agrees that the terrible defeat which was threatening most of the Western peoples was averted by the unconquerable courage of the Hungarians. Nevertheless, Our predecessors contributed greatly to the success of the events by supplying money, sending reinforcements, arranging treaties of alliance, and by effective prayer for heavenly support.

9. Innocent XI in particular gave aid in this struggle. His name is famous in connection with two extraordinary deeds: the liberation of Vienna from enemy siege and the great deliverance of Buda, your chief city, after long oppression.

10. Likewise Gregory XIII performed an undying service for your nation when your religion was dangerously afflicted by the influence of revolutionary movements which spread from neighboring peoples. He undertook for Hungary the sound measure which he had already carried through for other countries. We refer of course to the College which he established for you in Rome, which he then combined with the German College, in which chosen students would be thoroughly educated in the learning and virtues worthy of the priesthood. Then afterwards, they would work with greater effect in your churches. And this indeed was the richly productive result, since many who were educated there also held episcopal rank and brought equal glory to Church and state.

11. These and similar benefits from the continuous favor of the Church are not so much recalled in history books as they are deeply etched on the minds of your citizens. A witness whose credibility is equal to all the rest is the famous John Hunyadi in the fifteenth century, whose strategy and bravery Hungary will always remember and praise. He declared in a welcome and eloquent manner, “This country would never have stood fast on its resources, I think, if it had not stood fast in its faith.” And while the same man was governor of the kingdom, all classes in a common letter to Nicholas V professed: “Whatever our condition is, it is especially due to the support of your Apostolic favor that we hold our own.” Far from reducing the importance of these testimonies, succeeding ages have clearly added substantially to them as their benefits increased.

12. The Hungarians have always striven to keep their kingdom bound as closely as possible to the Apostolic See as its “very own and most devoted possession.” The register of public proceedings records many proofs of this, whether in the form of letters written by kings and nobles to the Roman pontiffs, or in the form of examples of heroic and energetic virtue which assisted the Church to protect its rights or to avenge its loss of rights on its enemies. This was even before the struggle began against the invading forces of the Moslems. The relationship of mutual service between King Louis the Great and Innocent VI and Urban V indicate this. And when Paul II urgently requested that the Catholic cause should be given strong help against the attack of the Hussites in Bohemia, King Mathias replied: “I have dedicated myself and my kingdom entirely to the Holy Roman Church and to your Beatitude. The Vicar of God on earth, nay, God Himself, cannot command any deed so difficult for me, or any so dangerous, that I should not think it dutiful and salutary to undertake, that I should not fearlessly attempt, especially when it is a case of strengthening the Catholic faith and crushing the perfidy of the impious…. Whatever enemies of religion it is necessary to meet in battle, behold, Mathias together with Hungary . . . remain devoted to the Apostolic See and to your Beatitude and will remain so for ever.” And the event did not fall short of the words of the king nor of the Pope’s expectation; and it remains an evidence of great importance for later times.

13. Moreover, the cooperation of nation and Church is shown by those commendations, neither few nor faint, with which this Apostolic See has honored your people, and likewise by the extraordinary titles of honor and privileges which it has given to your kings. We desire, however, and it is completely suited to the present celebration—to produce a glorious page from the long official document in which Clement XIII, in accordance with his power, confirmed to Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary, and to her successors in the same kingdom, the title of Apostolic King. That title was to supersede previous privilege and custom. So as their fathers and grandfathers have already done, let the grandchildren themselves rejoice in this Papal proclamation: “The flourishing Kingdom of Hungary has been accurately considered the best fitted of all for extending the boundaries of Christian authority and glory, both by reason of the bravery of a most entrepid nation and the nature of its territories. And indeed, everyone knows the Hungarians’ many outstanding deeds for the protection and expansion of Our religion. They have often engaged in battle with terrible enemies; by blocking as with their own bodies the advance of the same enemies, who were bent on destroying the Christian state, they wrested great victories from them. These famous events have been published in well-known literary works. But We can in no way pass over in silence Stephan, that most holy and brave King of Hungary, consecrated with heavenly honors and placed among the number of the Saints. The imprint of his virtue, his holiness, and his bravery survives in your country to the eternal praise of the Hungarian name. And all his successors in the kingship have at all times imitated his beautiful examples of virtue. So it should seem strange to no one that the Roman pontiffs have always honored with great praises and privileges the Hungarian nation and its leaders and kings for their outstanding services to the Catholic faith and the Roman See. The principal mark of honor, of course, is the right to have the Cross carried in front of the kings in public procession as the most shining symbol of the Apostolate; this is in order to show that the Hungarian nation and its kings glory only in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ and that in this sign, they are accustomed always to fight for the Catholic faith and to be victorious.”

14. We greatly enjoy gracing your religious festivities with these recollections of famous men and their deeds. But this event itself prompts some additional action, which will bring with it real improvement for the common good. Hungary should reflect upon itself and, inspired by a consciousness of the nobility of its most religious ancestors together with a knowledge of the present time, devote its efforts to worthy ends.

The exhortation of the Apostle certainly summons you, whatever your rank: “Stand fast in the faith, act manfully and be strong.” To this all ought to respond with one mind and voice: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” “Let us have no cause to question our honor.”

15. When we observe the tendency of this age as a whole, it is lamentable some Catholic men everywhere do not practice the Catholic religion as they should, either in thought or in action. It is also lamentable that men make Catholicism almost the same as the form of any other religion and, in fact, even hold the former in suspicion and hatred. It is scarcely any use to say what sort of act it is to reject with degenerate spirit this outstanding inheritance from their ancestors. Nor is it any use to note how much it is the mark of an ungrateful and uncircumspect mind, both to be unwilling to recognize the longstanding benefits of the Catholic religion, and to neglect those anticipated benefits. In Catholic wisdom and doctrine, a power and effectiveness inheres which is thoroughly wonderful and works in many ways for the good of human society. Since it does not vanish with the passage of time, it is always the same and vigorous; in the same way, it is likely to be beneficial in modern times provided it is not stifled.

16. As to what pertains more nearly to your people, in former letters and similar pronouncements, We have denounced dangers from which religion should be protected, and We have proposed aids which would lead more suitably to its freedom and dignity. And since civil affairs cannot be separated from religious, We have been extremely eager to give Our attention and help to the former as well, since this is clearly an integral part of Our Apostolic duty. For the frequent advice and commands which We gave you as your circumstances required, contributed not a little, as you rightly remember, to the public safety and prosperity as well. But if, in this very people, the actions of good men comply more strongly each day with Our advice and warnings, why should We not embrace the hope which blossoms more abundantly on the occasion of this secular commemoration, and which foreshadows to a rapid fulfillment of all men’s prayers? For surely all good citizens pray that by removing causes for disagreement, the Church will not be denied its proper honor. Then the proper honor of the state too will shine more brilliantly in alliance with and under the guidance of the ancestral religion. This will result in the authority of governments, the mutual duties of the classes, the education of youth, and many other matters like these maintaining themselves in truth, in justice, and in love: for on these foundations and supports especially, states depend and thrive.

17. Not the least effective means of your enjoying this combination of good things, as your famous forefathers did, is to allow your feeling of piety towards the Roman Church to be inspired by their example, as under new auspices. The most honorable crown of Stephan will be borne on a set day through the capital city in an unusually solemn procession; this will be in the course of the public rejoicing for the dedication of the House of Assembly. Indeed, nothing is more closely connected with the glory of your nation and your kings, nothing so suitable to the right organization of civil affairs, than that sacred symbol of royal power. But We anticipate that a twofold permanent result will arise without difficulty from this occasion: first that among the nobility and the common people, obedient and faithful allegiance to the august House of Hapsburg will be strengthened. That House has always worn this same crown, which was confer red on it by your ancestors of their own accord. The second anticipated result is that the consequent recollection of the very close relations of your ancestors with the Chair of Peter, which are plainly approved and consecrated by this papal gift, may add firmness and strength to these same bonds.

18. Let the illustrious people of Hungary know, however, that they can and ought to entrust themselves completely to the authority and favor of the Apostolic See. This See will never forget their famous deeds for the Catholic cause; it retains and will continue to retain its former disposition of forethought and maternal kindness towards them.

19. If up to now We have helped you, may God help you to prosper even more. During this celebration in particular, may He be concerned for your Apostolic King, for the nobility, for the clergy, and for the whole people; and may He make them abound with those good things which He has Himself promised to nations and kingdoms which preserve justice and peace. And may your great lady Mary be concerned for you all likewise, together with Stephan and Adalbert, who are apostles and heavenly patrons of your kingdom. Under their salutary protection, which your forefathers experienced, you rejoice in more abundant fruit as the days go by. We add a special prayer with the greatest love: may all the citizens whom a single love of this country inspires, and whom this occasion of public thanksgiving joins in a brotherly fashion, be bound together some day by one and the same faith in the blessed embrace of Mother Church.

20. You, however, Venerable Brothers, continue as you are doing watchfully and attentively so that you deserve well of your people and the state: receive, as an auspice of divine rewards and as a witness of Our special kindness, the Apostolic blessing which We impart most lovingly to each one of you and to the whole of Hungary the nineteenth year of Our Pontificate.

Written by Pope Leo XIII

Urbanitatis Veteris – On the Foundation of a Seminary in Athens, by Pope Leo XIII, 20 November 1901

To the Archbishops and Bishops of the Latin Church in Greece.

1. Greece, the adornment of ancient civilization and the mother of all the arts, even after so many misfortunes in its affairs and such great variety in its fortunes, has nevertheless in no way grown old in the memory and admiration of men. Indeed no one is so uncivilized as not to be moved by reflecting on its greatness and glory. In Our case there resides in Our spirit not only a remembrance joined with admiration but a real love, and that too from a long time back. From Our youth We have ever admired Ionian and Attic literature and especially that science concerned with the search for the truth in which the outstanding philosophers of your nation have played such an influential role that the human mind does not seem to have been able to progress any further by the light of nature alone. How much We value this wisdom of the Greeks is sufficiently clear from the diligent and manifold solicitude exercised from the high office of Our Pontificate in restoring and making known the philosophy of the Angelic Doctor. For if those whose training and teaching have been followed in acquiring wisdom rightly receive a large part of the glory due wise men, We judge that your Aristotle certainly has received honor from the fact that We have honored blessed Thomas Aquinas, easily the most outstanding of the disciples and great followers of Aristotle.

2. Moreover, if We are to speak of Christian issues, the Greek practice of the sacraments has always been approved by Us: in the ceremonies and sacred rites which Greece takes care to preserve spotless, as they have been received from their ancestors, We have always paid reverence to this image of ancient custom and majesty joined with variety. And since it is both right and expedient that these rites should remain as incorrupt as they are, We have restored to its original plan and pristine form the Roman College, named after Athanasius the Great, for students of the Greek rite. Likewise the reverence due to the Fathers and Doctors which Greece has produced, and they were by God’s benevolence many and great, has only increased with time. Practically from the beginning of Our Pontificate, We have determined to give greater honor to Cyril and Methodius. It has been Our desire, led by devotion, to make better known from east to west the virtues and deeds of both these men so that they, deserving of a universal Catholic name, may be more reverently cherished by Catholics everywhere.

3. Moreover we are delighted to no little degree by those of Our predecessors to whom Greece gave birth and race, and frequently We recall how wisely they aided and abetted the Christian Church as it progressed through hard and difficult times in those days. How bravely most of them, as Anacletus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, after accomplishing great labors, underwent martyrdom. Although, to tell the truth, We scarcely ever recall the Popes of Greek origin without grief and longing because of the great loss brought about by the misfortune of later centuries. We refer to that ancient union, free from discord, by which Greeks and Latins were held together for their mutual profit when that part of the earth which had produced Socrates and Plato often provided the Supreme Pontiffs. The sharing of man and great blessings would have remained if concord had remained.

4. However, in no way should our spirits lose courage by recalling ancient memories, but rather be inspired to salutary vigilance, to fruitful labors. Continue to exercise your episcopal duty skillfully, as indeed you do: labor so that whoever obeys your sacred authority may everyday be more aware of what the profession of the Catholic faith demands, and learn from your example to unite the proper love of their country with a love and zeal for their holy faith. As for Our part, We will be zealous to defend, preserve, and strengthen the Catholicism in your midst with all possible labor and exertion. We know full well the great role played for the protection of morals, for civil discipline, and for the very glory of the Catholic name by the education of souls and the practice of the arts of the mind. For this reason, We founded some years ago a college at Athens in which Catholic youth might have the opportunity to give themselves to letters and, in particular, learn the language which at the hands of Homer and Demosthenes produced such splendor. Recently your joint letter of 9 September urges the introduction there of something similar which would look to the education of young clerics. You have Our agreement and consent; to be sure We judge it most useful and most opportune that that house of letters at Athens, which We have mentioned, be accessible also to students of sacred things. There they may give themselves over to the practice of more refined humane studies, and not be permitted to come into contact with theology or philosophy before they have thoroughly learned their ancestral tongue and literature in their own chief city. By this means they will better protect the dignity of their vocation and will carry out more usefully their ministry. Therefore We have willingly taken up your suggestion to establish such a seminary for young clerics of the Latin rite, but of Greek birth, as well as other easterners of the Greek tongue. At another time in a letter, We will describe the plan of the whole enterprise and the regulating principles of the institution.

5. Moreover if you reflect but a short time you will discover the same goodwill in Our predecessors as in Ourselves, who never neglected anything in their power which seemed to be of benefit for your nation. Thus, as history attests, Pius V, belonging to that alliance of Christian princes who triumphed so magnificently in the Echinades Islands, wished not only to defend Italy but also to free all of Greece. To this end did this most holy Pontiff toil for the state and well being of Greece. And if hope eluded both the man and his undertakings, nonetheless it was certainly a great undertaking full of love, and it was not his fault that it was not successful. Moreover in much more recent memory, when your fathers were laboring to expel a foreign master and claim their own rights, the Roman states offered a safe refuge to all those compelled at the time to abandon their native soil. Nor could they have been received in a more open-handed manner than they were by Pius VII, who bade the territories he ruled to be open to the refugees and was eager moreover to come to their aid with every resource and in every fashion. These events are recalled now for no other reason than to reveal from this accustomed manner of acting the fraternal nature of the goodwill and the true desires of the Roman Pontificate. Will not prejudiced opinions, which lamentable occurrences in the distant past have implanted so strongly, gradually, and with God’s help give ground to the truth? The true nature of things must surely appear to those who judge with equity and integrity, namely, that the oriental peoples have nothing to fear if the union with the Roman Church should be restored: nothing whatsoever would be lost to Greece of its dignity, its fame, and all its adornments; nay, more, no little reinforcement of its glory would accrue. The age of Constantine was not deficient as far as the flourishing state of the nation is concerned. What did the times of Athanasius or Chrysostom leave wanting? And yet in those times the authority of the Roman Pontiff was held sacred by all. Both east and west, to the agreement and profit of the souls of both, gave allegiance to the same as to the legitimate successor of blessed Peter and, in consequence, to the supreme ruler of the Christian Church.

6. We, meanwhile, continue, insofar as is possible and proper, to commend your entire nation to the common savior of all, Jesus Christ, not in vain, as We trust, through the advocacy of the Virgin Mother of God, whom the Greeks have always honored with special veneration and have most truthfully and charmingly called “ever holy.”

7. As a presage of the divine aid and in testimony to Our benevolence, we most lovingly in the Lord impart the Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brothers, the clergy and your people.

Given in Rome at Saint Peter’s, 20 November 1901, in the 25th Year of Our Pontificate.

Christi Nomen – On Propagation of the Faith and Eastern Churches, by Pope Leo XIII, 24 December 1894

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Bishops, and Other Local Ordinaries Enjoying Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

1. Our first duty is to spread the name and reign of Christ more widely every day, and to call back the mutinous and the wandering to the bosom of the Church; this has occupied Our concern for a long time. For this reason We never cease to safeguard and multiply pious projects and to support them with the help gathered from the Catholic people. By this means the powerful light of Christian wisdom is spread among the erring. We did this especially in the third year of Our pontificate with the encyclical letter “Sancta Dei Civitas” in order to win for the illustrious Society for the Propagation of the Faith both greater support and generosity from the faithful. Then We were pleased to follow with exhortations showing how it had grown in a short time, from small beginnings to so large a stature; and with what testimonies of praise and grants of indulgences Our illustrious predecessors, Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX had honored it. Finally, Our exhortations demonstrated how much aid had been given to the sacred missions throughout the world from this source, and how much more was to be expected. Nor by God’s blessing was the fruit small in response to this exhortation. In the following years we saw the expansion of this most worthy work, since the generosity of the faithful responded to the zeal and the perseverance of the bishops. But now there is a new need and one more grave, which may demand that the spirit of Catholic love become more wide-spread. Venerable Brethren, may it stimulate your skill.

2. From the apostolic letter “Praeclara” published last June, you know that We invited and urged all nations to the unity of the Christian faith. Thus, through Us the divine promise of “one sheepfold and one Pastor” would be realized. You have learned from Our recent apostolic letters concerning the safeguarding of the Eastern Rites that We look with special care to the East and its churches, renowned and venerated by many names. From these same letters you have learned the procedures by which, in consultation with the Eastern patriarchs, We have investigated how to bring about more readily the desired end, namely the union of the Roman and Eastern Catholic Churches. We do not deny that this goal involves great difficulties. To overcome them, Our strength is not sufficient; nevertheless We confidently judge that the necessary strength of trust and of constancy is found in God. For He who motivated Us to undertake this mission will in His providence certainly supply the strength and the resources to complete it. And this is what We implore from Him, and We exhort all the faithful to also pray earnestly for this. Since the divine help must necessarily be joined with human effort, it is right for Us therefore to expend special care in seeking and supporting whatever seems to contribute to the end We have in view.

3. To ensure that the Eastern Christians who have seceded will return to the one true Church, it is necessary to provide them with an abundance of holy ministers who, endowed with doctrine and piety, may persuade the others to accept the desired unity. In addition, Catholic wisdom and life must be made known and imparted to them in such a fashion that it will fit their national character congenially. Therefore houses must be opened wherever expedient for the sacred education of the youth, a sufficient number of high schools should be available, distributed according to population. Their power of exercising each rite may thus be supplied with dignity. Genuine knowledge of religion, should be extended to all by making the best literature available. You can easily understand the costs of these and similar ventures. You also understand that the Eastern Churches by themselves cannot meet all these expenses. Nor can We Ourselves in these hard times offer the help We would like. Suitable aid must be asked principally from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith which We have just now praised. Its purpose is entirely consonant with what We now have in mind. But lest apostolic missions, deprived in part of the aids by which they are sustained, suffer any harm, We must insist that the generosity of the Catholics toward the Society become greater. It is fitting that a similar concern also be applied to the Society for the Schools of the East whose growth We encouraged, especially since its directors have openly promised to contribute as much as possible for this worthy cause.

4. For this, venerable brothers, We particularly ask your assistance. We do not doubt that you, who are so eager to support with Us the cause of the Church, will undertake this outstanding work. Zealously see to it that the Society for the Propagation of the Faith grows as much as possible among the faithful entrusted to your care. We are certain that many more will eagerly give both their name and their resources to this Society if they see clearly its excellence, the abundance of spiritual gifts it has to offer, and the benefits which can now be rightly hoped for the Christian cause. It certainly should move Catholic men to know that they can do nothing for Us so pleasing, nor so salutary for themselves and the Church than to meet Our desires by contributing. With their contributions We can accomplish what We have resolved upon for the good of the Eastern Church. May God, who alone is glorified with the spread of the Christian name and its unity in faith and government, graciously bless Our beginnings and favor Our desires. As an auspice of His choicest blessing, Venerable Brethren, We most lovingly give Our Apostolic Blessing to all of you, your clergy and your people.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, 24 December 1894, in the seventeenth year of Our pontificate.

New Catholic Dictionary – Pope Leo XIII


(Gioacchino Vincenzo Pecci) (1878-1903) Born Carpineto, near Anagni, Italy, 1810; died Rome. He studied under the Jesuits at Viterbo and at the Roman College, acquiring that classical facility in Latin and Italian, later justly admired in his official writings and poems. He entered the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics and the University of Sapienza, and was ordained in 1837. As civil governor of Benevento he stamped out brigandage and reformed the system of taxation. As governor of Perugia, he reformed the educational system and established a savings bank and loan system to help the workers. A month after he was appointed nuncio at Brussels, 1843, he was consecrated titular Archbishop of Damietta. He promoted union among the Belgian Catholics and inspired the foundation of the Belgian College, Rome, 1844. Appointed Bishop of Perugia, retaining, however, the title of archbishop, he inspired his clergy with increased zeal for learning, catechizing, preaching, and missionary work. He defended the temporal power, and protested against state interference in ecclesiastical affairs when Piedmont had unjustly annexed Perugia and Umbria. He was made a cardinal, 1853. As pope he evinced marked administrative and executive ability. He found the church in a difficult position with respect to civil power, yet by his tact he improved relations everywhere. He called on French Catholics to accept the Republic loyally, and inspired the Franco-Russian alliance. He secured an amelioration of the laws against Catholics in Russia, Prussia, Switzerland, and renewed diplomatic relations with Germany, finally bringing that country into accord with the papacy. French jealousy respecting the Eastern missions prevented the establishment of relations with China. In regard to Italian affairs, Leo remained a prisoner in the Vatican, like his predecessor. In 1885 he acted as arbitrator between Spain and Germany regarding the Caroline Islands. The hierarchy was restored in Scotland and India; Anglican Orders were definitely declared invalid. In the United States his action regarding the Knights of Labor met with approval and an Apostolic delegation was established at Washington, 1892. Six years later the erroneous tendencies of “Americanism” evinced by the Catholic clergy were condemned in an Apostolic letter. A letter to the Brazilian bishops pointed out the evils of slavery. The missionary field was enlarged and strengthened and new sees (248) and vicariates Apostolic (49) established. The Uniat Armenian schism was ended, the Basilian Order reformed, and ecclesiastical colleges were established for Ruthenians, Armenians and Bohemians at Rome, and for Chaldeans at Mossul. The study of scholastic philosophy was urged, and a Biblical commission established in 1902. Most of the Vatican archives were thrown open to scholars, 1883. Among Leo’s great encyclicals are those dealing with socialism, capital and labor, Christian marriage, Freemasonry, the Christian basis of political life, and the true idea of liberty. His reign may be fittingly entitled the “Era of Peace.”

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Leo XIII”. New Catholic Dictionary. Saints.SQPN.com. 27 July 2014. Web. 28 July 2014. <>