Nonfiction

That Pope Cray

31 May 2013

Rose Johnstone looks at the history of eccentricity amongst leaders of the Catholic faith.

Pope Stephen VI (896-97)

Pope Stephen VI had a revenge problem. You see, Steve wanted Pope Formosus, his corrupt predecessor, to pay for his sins…despite the fact that he was already dead. So, as anyone would do in such a situation, Pope Stephen VI exhumed the still-rotting Formosus, dressed him up in his best robes, and put him to trial. But in order to provide a fair trial, Steve appointed a deacon to hide behind the corpse and, in a little ghost-voice, deny his crimes. Naturally, Formosus was found guilty, and Steve fist-pumped like a medieval madman as the defiled corpse was thrown into a river. Justice was served, Vatican-style.

Pope Pius II (1458-1464)

“She was deep-bosomed, and her breasts swelled out on either side like two pomegranates, so that one longed to touch them.” Excuse me while I fan myself for a moment. True fact—Pope Pius II wrote the 50 Shades of his time. Yes, this quote is from an erotic novel written by a mother flippin’ Pope. This novel is apparently still read to this day, presumably by those too ashamed to read modern erotica on the train, pretending to study Latin or some shit. But I know what you’re really doing, Classics students. And so does Pope Pius II. And he loves you for it.

Pope Paul II (1464-1471)

Pope Paul II wasn’t the brightest sceptre in the jewel-encrusted box, but what he lacked in strategic knowledge he made up with the sparkly tiara he wore on his head. If political meetings weren’t going his way, he would just sit there, crying, until his cardinals gave in because he looked so sad in his pretty clothes. The crocodile tears, along with his rather badly-hidden homosexual tendencies, (and the fact that he is said to have died from a heart-attack whilst being ‘sodomised’ by a young man) earned him the nickname ‘Our Lady of Pity’. Oh, Pauley. You sweet, sensitive darling.

Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503)

This original gangsta came from the infamously corrupt Borgia family and pretty much bribed his way to the top. Pope Alexander VI balled so hard in his Pope palace that his ‘Banquet of Chestnuts’ party is legendary. It may sound innocent, but it was dirty as all sin. After dinner, fifty prostitutes got naked, and were then forced to pick up the chestnuts strewn about the d-floor. An orgy of papal-proportions ensued, and, by historical accounts, servants kept score of each male guest’s orgasms, to whom Pope Alex then distributed prizes. YOLO.

Pope Benedict (2005-2013)

They may not have as much free reign as they once did, but today’s popes are still high on the wacky scale. Our recently-retired Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope to get a Twitter account (#Godsreponearth), and he released a classical music album; a great dating profile if I ever heard one. And he’s clearly not afraid to flout convention–Benny-boy decided he CBFed leading the Catholic church anymore, and straight-up resigned, like no pope had done since 1415. A maverick if I ever saw one. You just can’t hold this guy down, literally—he still loves flying the papal helicopter around Rome, and he isn’t even the Pope anymore!


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