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Pope Joan – National Geographic – Mystery Files


In Rome today is the street known as Vicus Papissa, ‚the street of the woman pope‘. In that avenue is an alcove in which it is said an image of Joan once stood, in memory of the spot where she gave birth. The street runs between St Peter’s and the Lateran to the Coliseum and was part of the processional route of all popes in Rome until the 13th Century, when it was suddenly redirected away from the location of Joan’s legendary procession. Some scholars believe that the official route was changed so that the new pope wouldn’t have to pass the notorious site. No contemporary 9th century accounts of a female pope exist, but with no conclusive proof to the contrary, the possibility remains that a talented woman could have risen to become Bishop of Rome? The words of the first writer to account for Joan, Jean de Mailly, resound even more loudly today than they did centuries ago; next to his story of Joan, he wrote the words, ‚to be verified‘.

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