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Myths and legends surrounding the Papacy

The papacy has been surrounded by numerous myths and legends. Among the most famous are the claims that Both these claims have been independently verified as being myths.

Table of contents
1 The Vicarius Filii Dei Myth
2 Pope Joan
3 Additional reading

The Vicarius Filii Dei Myth

One common myth surrounding the papal tiara, particularly coming from Seventh-day Adventists, involves the claim that the words Vicarius Filii Dei exist on the side of one of the tiaras. The myth centres on the widely made claim that, when numerised (i.e., when those letters in the 'title' that have roman numeral value are added together) they produce the number '666', described in the Book of Revelations as the number of the Antichrist (whom some have claimed would 'wear' a crown similar to a triple tiara). This claim has been made by some fundamentalist protestant sects who believe that the pope as head of the Roman Catholic Church is the antichrist. However a detailed examination of all the tiaras shows that no such decoration exists.

Pope Joan

The claim that a woman become pope first appeared in a Dominican chronicle in 1250. It soon spread Europe-wide through Preaching Friars. The story grew in embellishment but centred on a set of claims.

Protestant historian David Blondel conclusively proved that the 'Pope Joan' story is a myth in a seventeenth century study. The story may well be a satire that came to be believed as reality.

Additional reading