Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Joan, Pope.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

In the Middle Ages, especially in the licentious period from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century, when every kind of sex-story was relished, the legend of a female Pope, who embarrassed the Papal Court by her pregnancy, was very popular. Her "pontificate" was said to be from 855 to 858, which, we have every reason to believe, was, as stated in all lists of the Popes, the period of the pontificate of Benedict III. The Papal Court was in fact gross and half-barbaric, as is described by the monk-secretary of Charlemagne, Eginhard, in his Annals, but it was not until centuries later that the lascivious story of Joan appeared. The real interest of it is that it was extra-ordinarily popular during just those centuries when the Church is supposed to have kept Europe pious, virtuous, and devoted to the Papacy; so popular that Joan was included in the series of busts of Popes in Siena Cathedral. The statement that from 858 onward the cardinals took measures to verify the sex of a candidate for the Papacy must, like the legend of Joan, be regarded as popular fiction of the erotic later Middle Ages.

 

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Scanning, HTML Rae West. First upload 98-02-08