Badass Papacy

By on November 16, 2015

The institution of the Pope is one of the most unquestionably badass institutions in the history of human existence. It is one of the most feared, most loved and most respected institutions in the world. And it is not for nothing. This institution is one that is religiously followed by over a billion of the world’s population.

You don’t get followed by that many people unless you are badass.

The institution is no stranger to stories and rumours that serve for a good laugh every now and again. As a person who is looking forward to the Pope’s visit, I find it worthwhile to share some of these interesting stories (both fact and fiction) that have surrounded the institution.

As I share this information, allow me to start by putting a disclaimer out and saying that a good chunk of the stuff contained in this Blog post is entirely for humour purposes. There might be a drop of fact here and there but I don’t expect anyone to quote me in their research paper or thesis entitled ‘History of the Papacy’.

And neither do I expect my name to be forwarded to Pope Francis for excommunication and/or banishment.

Supremacy of the Pope

According to Catholic teaching, the pope is supreme. He is an absolute monarch who answers to absolutely no man on earth. That means that even if the Pope’s mum told him to do the dishes or go to bed he would have the right to tell her to sod off. As a matter of fact, the Pope can excommunicate his mum if she attempted to hold him down with chores.

The catholic church has an interesting phrase which pretty much explains it: “Roma locuta est, causa finita est”—“Rome [the pope] has spoken, the debate has ended.” Therefore if there is an argument between two people and they request the pope to weigh in, his opinion will most likely be the decider for who is right and who is wrong. The Pope is so supreme that if he woke up one day and said two plus two is no longer four but rather five, all Mathematicians and Scientists would have to revise their theories to accommodate the new school of thought.

Quite badass if you ask me.

The Antipope

There is a fella in Kansas who calls himself the Pope. He basically reigns over his family, a few friends and a couple of folks around the world who total up to no more than fifty. Pope Michael I became Pope in 1990 in a ceremony that probably consisted himself, his parents and one or two cousins. The idea was to create a parallel papacy that was not answerable to Vatican and did not recognise the system in Rome. As it turns out, the Vatican does not recognise him either but he’s pretty chilled about it. You will often bump into him doing his house chores (he still lives with mum) and toiling away to put food on the table through his local timber mill business. He thinks the Pope should engage in work. Not that he has too many options seeing as his Sunday Church collections are barely enough to buy biscuits for the altar boys.

When he’s not home with his mum or at the mill, he is penning down papal encyclicals (letters), to his congregation probably to remind them that he is still alive and he is still their pope, lest they forget him.

There have been stories of antipopes and people who have claimed the right to the Papacy despite there being an actual pope. In 236 A.D., some guy named Fabian who was not even among the candidates for Papacy claimed to be Pope after a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, was flying around and somewhat landed on his shoulder.

This guy was actually dead serious. He rallied a few guys who insisted that Holy Spirit had taken matters into his own hands and picked the pope. Sadly for him, the Cardinals were not having any of that bullshit so they simply laughed out loud and moved on.

He never became pope.

There is a group of very interesting guys in Kenya. The Legio Maria also known as Legio Maria of African Church Mission is a Spirit Initiated Church (SIC) or new religious movement originally started among the Luo people of western Kenya. These guys started their movement claiming that a mystic woman had appeared to several Roman Catholic members giving them messages about the incarnation of the son of God as a black man.

It is not clear whether the woman appears naked, winking and beckoning for men to follow her but from the look of things  she is a pretty sexy being because it is estimated that the Church has 3.5 to 4 million followers and has a Pope who is not the other guy in Rome but some fella called Pope Raphael Titus Otieno. Pope Raphael however also has a guy who is not too happy with him being Pope so he also has his side thing as a Pope Romanus On’gombe and he’s been Pope since 2010.

Simeo_OndetoBaba Simeo Lodvikus Simeo Melkio Ondetto, eternal spiritual mediator of Legio Maria, Jerusalem church in Migori, 1988 (Photo Credit : Wikipedia)

I am thinking of calling together a few buddies, order pizza, pull out the Bible and become a pope.

The Standoff

Cardinals, the cool guys with stylish Robes and cool head gear are the guys who elect the Pope. There are no campaigns and TV debates and neither are there campaign posters and spots for TV ads. Everything is done behind closed doors.

In November 1268 these guys got together for the traditional Conclave following the death of Pope Clement IV. However, they seemed not to agree on who should become Pope and it started worrying everyone in Rome. The guys were undecided for a whooping 33 months. During this time, 3 cardinals actually died and one simply threw in the towel and resigned.

The guys just weren’t making up their minds.

The townfolk of Viterbo, north of Rome were not too impressed with the delay they decided to tear off the roof of the building that housed the undecided Cardinals. Being the cool guys that they were, the Cardinals did not flinch. And then the residents got really mad and started restricting the Cardinals’ food to bread and water. Something that probably did not bother the Cardinals too much seeing as they took an extra year before finally electing Pope Gregory X.

A few scandalous Popes

The papacy is no stranger to scandals. Just like any other institution, there have been instances where Popes behaved in a less-papal manner.

Pope Alexander VI known to many as Rodrigo Borgia was probably the most badass and scandalous popes of all time. It is said that this guy was so badas he personally ran a “crime family” which was the first of its kind. This dude even ran a pretty lucrative business creating new cardinal positions in exchange for money.

And that is not all; it is said that he hosted a bunch of crazy orgies every once in a while and it that he had a twisted incestuous relationship with a certain illegitimate daughter of his, Lucrezia Borgia.

Another rather interesting Pope was Pope Benedict IX who was Pope on three separate occasions between October 1032 and July 1048. This guy first became Pope at the sweet tender age of 20. History has him down as the youngest pope in history and the only fella to have been Pope on more than one occasion. To top his list of scandalous deeds, this dude is also credited as the only man ever to have sold the papacy.

Also, he was a homosexual.

This guy is shunned in Catholic history so much that the Catholic Encyclopedia refers to him as “a disgrace to the Chair of Peter.”

And then of course there is that rumour about a one Pope Joan whose name was apparently scrapped off the list of Popes for fear that the world could not handle this level of scandal.

This legend lends credence to the fact that women ran the world long before Beyonce made that song.

Many legends and stories offer different spins to the story of Pope Joan and even though the Catholic Church maintains she never existed, some people insist that she duped all Cardinals into thinking she was male and was only uncovered (pun unintended) when she popped a tot while taking a horse ride.

Legend has it that she was then dragged through the streets and stoned to death. The spot where she died is one that all Popes are required to look away from in case they ever are passing that street. Her name was struck off the list of popes and it was agreed that she would never be talked about – ever.

Lady Pope

Badass! (Photo Credit :

More badass Popes

A few other popes have been quite badass for instance Pope Adrian II (867 – 872) the last married pope who lived with his wife Setphania and their daughter in the Palace and Pope John VIII (872 – 882) who was the first ever pope to be assassinated. This guy was first poisoned and then subsequently beaten to death. Then there was Pope Sixtus IV (1471 – 1484) who named a whooping six nephews as cardinals. It was also under him that the Sistine Chapel was created. Not forgetting St. Pius V (1566 – 1572) who was no joking subject he once excommunicated Queen Elizabeth of England from the church.

Four of the popes between 1464 and 1555 were rumored to have engaged in homosexual activities during pontificate. Among these were popes Paul II, Sixtus IV, Leo X and quite famously, Julius III who was rumoured to be sharing his bed with a Cardinal-Nephew; some 15-year-old bloke.

Power Struggles

During the Renaissance period, one did not just become Pope easily. There were instances of power struggle, usurping power and generally megalomania.

There is something in Catholic history known as the ‘Cadaver Synod’. This was the posthumous ecclesiastical trial of a one Pope Formosus that was held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome during January of 897. During this trial, the freshly named successor, Pope Stephen (VI) VII launched himself into a tirade of allegations and insults against Formousus saying he had obtainted the papacy wrongly and that basically he was a bad dude. And get this, Pope Formosus had been dead for nearly 9 months but Stephen was not having any of it.

Formosus’ body was dug up, dressed in some ugly Papal outfit, sat on a chair and tried; with a deacon to represent him. By the time the trial was done, it was clear that poor Formosus was guilty; on all counts.


A painting of the Cadaver Synod showing Pope Stephen lunge out at the rather confused corpse of Pope Formosa

Stephen then had this hommie stripped of his rings and his body dumped in River Tiger.

There was massive anger from the people so much that Stephen, the Necromancer Pope, was thrown in jail where as fate would have it, he bumped into an unhappy Catholic who took it upon himself to strangle the former Pope without asking questions.

Ready for Pope Francis

With Uganda set to host Pope Francis, the third Pope visiting Uganda after Pope Paul VI (1969) and Pope John Paul in 1993, preparations are in high gear and there is no way I shall be left out.

I am off to buy myself a few of those rosaries fresh with blessings from the Vatican.

It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope. – Pope John XXIII

a.k.a Beewol
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