Pope Joan, Johanna or Joanna, was a legendary female Pope. Said to have ruled for several years during the 1100s, her story first appeared in 13th century chronicles, then spread throughout Europe through the writings of preachers and story tellers. For centuries she was widely believed to be real; however, today religious scholars think her story is legend. Whether she is real or made up is subject to debate.
The Pope Joan story states that she was German and arrived in Rome dressed in men's clothes, managing to convince people that she was in fact a man. Her alleged male name was John Anglicus. She started out in the clergy as a curiae notary; next she became a cardinal, and then finally she became the Pope. She served as pope for about two and a half years but her true gender was exposed when she became pregnant. The birth of her child was thought to have taken place either on the road that separated the Colosseum and St. Clement's or in the church. Her death and punishment are unknown.