German village Igelheim's backward priest hopes his sons to succeed him after education in the bishop's cathedral school, but the elder succumbs to disease and the youngest lacks any intellectual drive. Traveling teacher Aesculapius arranges for the inquisitive daughter Johanna to be enrolled too, against their father's wishes. Unfit for the boys-only dorm, she gets to stay with count Gerold, incurring his wife's due jealousy. She's to be dismissed, but survives a Viking pillaging slaughter and assumes brother Johannes's identity to join a monastery, where she becomes the infirmary's trainee. Fleeing exposure as female, she arrives in Rome. As a protégée of rivals in the viper nest-like papal court, she ends up elected as pope, but carries count Gerold's baby, guaranteeing exposure. Written by
22 October 2009 (Germany)
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Did You Know?
The film is based on the popular story of the 'female Pope' that has become widespread since the Middle Ages and thereafter. Pope Joan has been mentioned in works that were released several centuries after her supposed reign. Most modern scholars have dismissed the stories as fictional, due to lack of contemporary documentation, and the debunking of indirect evidence. Many theories abound that the lack of evidence is the result of successful attempts by the Catholic Church to erase Joan's existence from history. The matter therefore remains controversial. See more
Pardon me, Eminence. The girl has arrived. You had her fetched from Ingelheim.
Oh yes, now I remember. That Greek scholar's idea. But am I seeing double?
The boy is her brother. Their father, a Priest, insists that he too be allowed to attend the Scola.
What do you know? I send for one and get two! If only the Emperor were as generous as these holy men from the countryside!
Version of Pope Joan