Can a Pope be female

A woman as a Popess?

Has a woman ever sat on the papal throne in the course of 2000 years of history?

Probably not. To this day, according to the ecclesiastical law of the Catholic Church, only men are allowed to exercise the priesthood and become bishops or popes.

But there is a medieval story about a woman on the papal throne. Her name was Popess Johanna.

According to legend, Popess Johanna was born in Ingelheim around 818. Her parents are said to have died early and Johanna grew up in a women's convent, where she quickly attracted attention because of her unusually high talent.

Johanna is said to have disguised herself as a man for the first time in a monastery in the city of Fulda. However, she was discovered and had to flee. After many years Johanna came to Rome, where she quickly made a career disguised as a man in the Roman clergy.

As Pope Johannes Anglicus, she is said to have risen to succeed Pope Leo IV in 855. During her tenure, she was expecting a child who she gave birth to dead in a procession on the Via Sacra in Rome. Robbed of her camouflage, Popess Johanna was defenseless at the mercy of the crowd, who stoned her angrily.

In fact, there was the anti-Pope Johannes Anglicus in the year 855. But the various sources that report on Popess Joan are considered by historians to be unreliable.

In the 13th century, the supposed Popess Johanna was first mentioned in writing by the Dominican monk Martin von Troppau in a chronicle. This postpones the term of office of the Popess, originally dated in legends to the 11th century, by two centuries. All later stories about the woman in the Holy See are based on this chronicle.

Authors of novels and popular scientific works today vehemently claim that Popess Joan existed. Serious history studies, however, assume that the Popess is fictitious.