Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

'Pope Joan' (La Papessa)


'YOU know, of course, that there was once a Papessa? They have put that in the books, I suppose?'

               'I know there is such a story, but learned writers have proved it was a mere invention.'

               'Well, I daresay it isn't true; but there's no one in Rome who has not heard of it. And what makes them believe it is this. [1] Outside of St. Peter's somewhere there's a statue of her all among the apostles and saints; and they say it's because a Pope must have a statue, and they didn't dare to put hers inside the church, so they put it up outside. And if it isn't a Papessa, what is a woman's statue doing there, for it wasn't the Madonna, that's certain?'

               'Oh! that's a statue of Religion, or the Church. [2] There never was a woman-pope.'

               'Ah, well! you read books. I dare say you know best; but, anyhow, that's what they say. And, after all, who knows!'



[1] An argument worthy to take rank beside the famous one of 'Mrs. Brown' concerning Noah's Ark.

[2] I said this, really thinking at the moment there was such a statue surmounting the apex of the pediment of the façade; but it afterwards came to mind and I have since verified it on the spot, that the statues on the pediment represent the twelve Apostles with Christ in the centre, and there is no female figure there. Among the numerous statues of saints surmounting the colonnade, are a small proportion of female saints, but no one at all prominent.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 'Pope Joan' (La Papessa)
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Estes and Lauriat
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1877
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: unclassified

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