- Pope John XX
There has never been a Pope John XX, because the 20th pope of this name, formerly Petrus Hispanus, decided to skip the number XX and to be counted as
John XXIinstead. He wanted to correct what in his time was believed to be an error in the counting of his predecessors John XV through XIX.
Confusion in numbering Popes John results from an error in the textual transmission of the entry on
John XIV(983/984) in the Liber Pontificalis. This entry originally specified not only the duration of his pontificate "("VIII mens." = eight months), but also the duration of his ensuing imprisonment by antipope Boniface VII, "per IV menses" ("for four months"). In the 11th century, some time after the pontificate of John XIX, this entry on John XIV was misread to be referring to two different popes John, the first reigning for eight months and directly succeeded by another John reigning for four months:
:"Iohannes m. VIII" ("John, eight months"):"Iohannes m. IV" ("John, four months")
In distinguishing these two Johns, the second one came to be numbered as "Iohannes XIV. bis" ("John XIV the second"). Given the fact that the following Popes John, from
John XV(985-996) until John XIX (1024-1034), seemed to have neglected the existence of John XIV "bis", Petrus Hispanus meant to correct this error by electing for himself the name John XXI.
Afterlife of Pope John XX
In modern times, some have used this discontinuity in numbering for arguing that the Church created this confusion by trying to suppress the existence of a very special Pope John, that is, of "
Pope Joan" (see myths and legends surrounding the Papacy). However, this argument is in conflict with the chronology, given that the legend of Pope Joan, not attested before the 13th century, used to present her as a direct successor of Leo IV(† 855), whereas John XIV "bis" as successor of John XIV would have to be a pope of the 10th century, and John XX, if suppressed by the Church, would even have to be a pope of the time between 1034 (death of John XIX) and 1276 (election of John XXI).
In the humorous
fantasy novel" Jurgen", by James Branch Cabell, the protagonist learns of this omission. He gains admission to Heavenby pretending to be Pope John XX, there being no one to contradict him by claiming the title.
List of Popes
Pope John (numbering)
*Reginald L. Poole: "The Names and Numbers of Medieval Popes," in: "The English Historical Review," Vol. 32, No. 128 (1917), pp. 465-478, see especially pp. 474-475
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Pope John — has been the most common papal name in the Roman Catholic Church, used by 21 popes, though the numbering of them has been irregular through history due to antipopes and differences in old lists. The Latin name is Iohannes .# Pope John I (523–526) … Wikipedia
Pope John X — Pope John X † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope John X Born at Tossignano, Romagna; enthroned, 914; died at Rome, 928. First a deacon ( see Deacons ), he became Archbishop of Ravenna about 905, as successor of Kailo. In a document dated 5… … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope John IX — Pope John IX † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope John IX (898 900). Not only is the date of John s birth unknown, but the date of his election as pope, and that of his death are alike uncertain. He became pope in the early part of 898 … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope John II — of Alexandria was the Coptic Pope from 505 to 516 .Infobox Pope English name=John II birth name=Mercurius term start=January 2 533 term end=May 8 535 predecessor=Boniface II successor=Agapetus I birth date=??? birthplace=Rome dead=dead|death date … Wikipedia
Pope John IV — Pope John IV † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope John IV (640 642). A native of Dalmatia, and the son of the scholasticus (advocate) Venantius. The date of his birth is uncertain; d. 12 October, 642. At the time of his election he was… … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope John II — Pope John II † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope John II (533 535). The date of the birth of this pope is not known. He was a Roman and the son of Projectus; if not born in the second region (Coelimontium) he had at least been a priest … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope John VI — Pope John VI † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope John VI (701 705). A Greek, the date of whose birth is unknown; d. 11 January, 705. He ascended the papal throne 30 October, 701. Some time during his reign there came to Rome from… … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope John V — Pope John V † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope John V (685 686). A Syrian whose father was one Cyriacus; when he was born is not known; d. 2 August, 686. As a deacon ( see Deacons ) he was one of those who represented the Apostolic… … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope John XI — Pope John XI † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope John XI Date of birth unknown, became pope in 931; d. 936. He was the son of Marozia by her first marriage with Alberic; some, taking Liutprand and the Liber Pontificalis as their authority … Catholic encyclopedia
Pope,John — Pope, John. 1822 1892. American Union general in the Civil War who was defeated by Gen. Robert E. Lee at the Second Battle of Bull Run (1862). * * * … Universalium