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An antipope (Latin : antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the legitimately elected pope, makes a significant attempt to occupy the position of Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuries, antipopes were supported by important factions within the Church itself and by secular rulers.
Sometimes it was difficult to distinguish which of two claimants should be called pope and which antipope, as in the case of Pope Leo VIII and Pope Benedict V.
Persons who merely claim to be pope and have few followers, such as the modern conclavist antipopes, are not classified with the historical antipopes.
Hippolytus of Rome (d. 235) is commonly considered to be the earliest antipope, as he headed a separate group within the Church in Rome against Pope Callixtus I. Hippolytus was reconciled to Callixtus's second successor, Pope Pontian, and both he and Pontian are honoured as saints by the Catholic Church with a shared feast day on 13 August. Whether two or more persons have been confused in this account of Hippolytus and whether Hippolytus actually declared himself to be the Bishop of Rome, remains unclear, since no such claim by Hippolytus has been cited in the writings attributed to him.
Eusebius quotesfrom an unnamed earlier writer the story of Natalius, a 3rd-century priest who accepted the bishopric of the Adoptionists, a heretical group in Rome. Natalius soon repented and tearfully begged Pope Zephyrinus to receive him into communion.
Novatian (d. 258), another third-century figure, certainly claimed the See of Rome in opposition to Pope Cornelius, and if Natalius and Hippolytus were excluded because of the uncertainties concerning them, Novatian could then be said to be the first antipope.
The period in which antipopes were most numerous was during the struggles between the popes and the Holy Roman Emperors of the 11th and 12th centuries. The emperors frequently imposed their own nominees to further their own causes. The popes, likewise, sometimes sponsored rival imperial claimants (anti-kings) in Germany to overcome a particular emperor.
The Western Schism—which began in 1378, when the French cardinals, claiming that the election of Pope Urban VI was invalid, elected antipope Clement VII as a rival to the Roman Pope—led eventually to two competing lines of antipopes: the Avignon line (Clement VII took up residence in Avignon, France), and the Pisan line. The Pisan line, which began in 1409, was named after the town of Pisa, Italy, where the (Pisan) council had elected antipope Alexander V as a third claimant. To end the schism, in May 1415, the Council of Constance deposed antipope John XXIII of the Pisan line. Pope Gregory XII of the Roman line resigned in July 1415. In 1417, the council also formally deposed antipope Benedict XIII of Avignon, but he refused to resign. Afterwards, Pope Martin V was elected and was accepted everywhere except in the small and rapidly diminishing area that remained faithful to Benedict XIII.
The following table gives the names of the antipopes included in the list of popes and antipopes in the Annuario Pontificio , with the addition of the names of Natalius (in spite of doubts about his historicity) and Antipope Clement VIII (whose following was insignificant).
An asterisk marks those who were included in the conventional numbering of later popes who took the same name. More commonly, the antipope is ignored in later papal regnal numbers; for example, there was an Antipope John XXIII, but the new Pope John elected in 1958 was also called John XXIII. For the additional confusion regarding popes named John, see Pope John numbering.
The list of popes and antipopes in the Annuario Pontificio attaches the following note to the name of Pope Leo VIII (963–965):
At this point, as again in the mid-11th century, we come across elections in which problems of harmonising historical criteria and those of theology and canon law make it impossible to decide clearly which side possessed the legitimacy whose factual existence guarantees the unbroken lawful succession of the successors of Saint Peter. The uncertainty that in some cases results has made it advisable to abandon the assignation of successive numbers in the list of the popes.
Thus, because of the obscurities about mid-11th-century canon law and the historical facts, the Annuario Pontificio lists Sylvester III as a pope, without thereby expressing a judgement on his legitimacy. The Catholic Encyclopedia places him in its List of Popes,but with the annotation: "Considered by some to be an antipope". Other sources classify him as an antipope.
As Celestine II resigned before being consecrated and enthroned in order to avoid a schism, Oxford's A Dictionary of Popes (2010) says he "...is classified, unfairly, as an antipope,"a position historian Salvador Miranda also shares.
Those with asterisks (*) were counted in subsequent papal numbering.
|Pontificate||Common English name||Regnal (Latin) name||Personal name||Place of birth||Age at election / Death or resigned||Years as antipope (days)||Notes||In opposition to|
|c. 199 – c. 200||Natalius||Natalius||Natalius||c. 159 Rome, Roman Empire||38 / 48||1 year, 0 days (365)||Later reconciled (see above)||Zephyrinus|
|20 Dec 217 – 28 Sept 235||Saint Hippolytus||Hippolytus||Hippolytus||170 Rome. Roman Empire||45 / 65 (†66)||17 years, 282 days (6491)||Later reconciled with Pope Pontian (see above)||Callixtus I|
|Mar 251 – Aug 258||Novatian||Novatianus||Novatian||c. 200 Rome, Roman Empire||51 / 58 (†93)||7 years, 153 days (2710)||Founder of Novatianism||Cornelius|
|20 Apr 309 – 16 Aug 310||Heraclius||Heraclius||Heraclius||c. 265 Rome, Roman Empire||45 / 46||1 year, 118 days (483)||Eusebius|
|355 – 26 Nov 365||Felix II*||Felix secundus||Felix||c. 270 Rome, Roman Empire||80 / 90||10 years, 329 days (3982)||Installed by Roman Emperor Constantius II||Liberius|
|1 Oct 366 – 16 Nov 367||Ursicinus||Ursicinus||Ursinus||c. 200 Rome, Roman Empire||66 / 67||1 year, 46 days (411)||Damasus I|
|27 December 418 – 3 April 419||Eulalius||Eulalius||Eulalius||c. 370 Rome, Roman Empire||38 / 39 (†42)||1 year, 46 days (411)||Boniface I|
|22 Nov 498 – Aug 506/08||Laurentius||Laurentius||Lorenzo Celio||c. 460 Rome, Roman Empire||38 / 46 (†48)||9 years, 283 days (3569)||Supported by Byzantine emperor Anastasius I||Symmachus|
|22 Sep 530 – 14 Oct 530||Dioscorus||Dioscurus||Dióskoros||c. 450 Alexandria||70 / 70||22 days (22)||Boniface II|
|21 Sep 687||Theodore||Theodorus||Theodore||c. 599 Rome, Western Roman Empire||88 / 88 (†92)||97 days (97)||Sergius I|
|21 Sep 687||Paschal (I)||Paschalis||Pascale||c. 598 Rome, Western Roman Empire||89 / 89 (†94)||97 days (97)|
|28 Jun 767 – 6 Aug 768||Constantine II||Constantinus secundus||Konstantinus||c. 700 Rome, Western Roman Empire||67 / 68 (†69)||1 year, 39 days (405)||Between Paul I and Stephen III|
|31 Jul 768||Philip||Philippus||Philip||c. 701 Rome, Western Roman Empire||68 / 68 (†99)||0 days ()||Installed by envoy of Lombard King Desiderius||Stephen III|
|25 Jan – 31 May 844||John VIII||Joannes octavus||Giovanni||c. 800 Rome, Papal States||44 / 44 (†91)||151 days (151)||Elected by acclamation||Sergius II|
|Jan 855 – 31 Mar 855||Anastasius III Bibliothecarius||Anastasius tertius||Anastasius||c. 810 Rome, Papal States||45 / 45 (†68)||89 days (89)||Benedict III|
|3 Oct 903 – 27 Jan 904||Christopher||Christophorus||Christoforo||c. 850 Rome, Papal States||53 / 54||116 days (116)||Between Leo V and Sergius III|
|Jul 974||Boniface VII*||Bonifacius||Franco Ferrucci||c. 900 Rome, Papal States||73 / 73 and 84 / 85||30 days (30)|
334 days (334)
total 364 days (364 days)
|Between Benedict VI and Benedict VII|
|20 Aug 984 – 20 Jul 985||Between John XIV and John XV|
|Apr 997 – Feb 998||John XVI*||Joannes||John Filagatto||c. 941 Rossano, Calabria, Papal States (Italy)||56 / 56 (†59)||1 year, 0 days (365)||Supported by Byzantine emperor Basil II||Gregory V|
|Jun 1012||Gregory VI||Gregorius Sextus||Gregorio||c. 960 Rome, Papal States||52 / 52 (†60)||29 days (29)||Benedict VIII|
|4 Apr 1058 – 24 Jan 1059||Benedict X*||Benedictus Decimus||Giovanni Mincio dei Conti di Tusculo||c. 1000 Rome, Papal States,||58 / 59 (†80)||295 days (295 )||Supported by the Counts of Tusculum||Nicholas II|
|July 1061 – 31 May 1064||Honorius II||Honorius Secundus||Pietro Cadalus||1010 Verona, Papal States||51 / 54 (†62)||2 years, 335 days (1065)||Supported by Agnes, regent of the Holy Roman Empire||Alexander II|
|25 Jun 1080, 21 Mar 1084 – 8 Sep 1100||Clement III||Clemens Tertius||Guibert of Ravenna||c. 1029 Parma, Papal States||51 / 51, 54 / 71||20 years, 44 days (7348)||Supported by Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor||Gregory VII|
|8 Sep 1100 – Jan 1101||Theodoric||Theodoricus||Theodoro||c. 1030 Rome, Papal States,||70 / 71 (†72)||121 days (−244)||Successor to Clement III||Paschal II|
|Jan 1101 – Feb 1102||Adalbert or Albert||Adalbertus||Albert||c. 1046 Atella, Campania, Papal States,||55 / 56 (†85)||31 days (31)||Successor to Theodoric|
|8 Nov 1105 – 11 Apr 1111||Sylvester IV||Sylvester Quartus||Maginulf||c. 1050 Rome, Papal States||49 / 55 (†56)||5 years, 324 days (31)||Supported by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor|
|10 Mar 1118 – 22 Apr 1121||Gregory VIII||Gregorius Octavus||Maurice Burdain||c. 1057 Limousin, Occitania, France||61 / 65 (†72)||3 years, 43 days (1139)||Gelasius II|
|16 Dec 1124||Celestine II||Cœlestinus Secundus||Teobaldo Boccapecci||c. 1050 Rome, Papal States||74 / 74 (†86)||0 days ()||Honorius II|
|14 Feb 1130 – 25 Jan 1138||Anacletus II||Anacletus Secundus||Pietro Pierleoni||c. 1090 Rome, Papal States||48 / 48||7 years, 345 days (2902)||Innocent II|
|23 Mar 1138||Victor IV||Victor Quartus||Gregorio Conti||c. 1057 Ceccano, Papal States||81 / 81 (†90)||2 days (2)||Successor to Anacletus II|
|7 Sep 1159 – 20 Apr 1164||Victor IV||Victor Quartus||Ottavio di Montecelio||c. 1095 Tivoli, Papal States||64 / 69||4 years, 226 days (1687)||Supported by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor||Alexander III|
|22 Apr 1164 – 28 Sep 1168||Paschal III||Paschalis Tertius||Guido di Crema||c. 1110 Crema, Lombardy, Papal States||54 / 58||4 years, 159 days (1620 days)|
|Sep 1168 – 29 Aug 1178||Callixtus III||Callixtus Tertius||Giovanni of Struma||c. 1090 Arezzo, Papal States||78 / 88 (†90)||9 years, 362 days (3649 days)|
|29 Sep 1179 – Jan 1180||Innocent III||Innocentius Tertius||Lanzo of Sezza||c. 1120 Sezze, Papal States||59 / 60 (†63)||95 days (95 days)|
|12 May 1328 – 12 Aug 1330||Nicholas V||Nicolaus Quintus||Pietro Rainalducci||c. 1258 Corvaro, Papal States||70 / 74||2 years, 92 days (822 days)||Supported by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor||John XXII|
|20 Sep 1378 – 16 Sep 1394||Clement VII||Clemens||Robert of Geneva||1342 Annecy, France||36/52||15 years, 361 days (5840 days)||Avignon||Urban VI|
|28 Sep 1394 – 23 May 1423||Benedict XIII||Benedictus||Pedro de Luna||25 November 1328 Illueca, Aragon||65/94||28 years, 237 days (10463 days)||Avignon|
|25 Jun 1409 – 3 May 1410||Alexander V*||Alexander||Pietro Philarghi||c. 1339 Crete, Republic of Venice||70 / 71||312 days (312 days)||Pisa||Gregory XII|
|25 May 1410 – 29 May 1415||John XXIII||Ioannes Vicecimus Tertius||Baldassare Cossa||c. 1365||45 / 50 (†54)||5 years, 6 days (1832 days)||Pisa|
|10 Jun 1423 – 26 Jul 1429||Clement VIII||Clemens Octavus||Gil Sánchez Muñoz y Carbón||1370 Teruel, Aragon||52 / 59 (†77)||6 years, 49 days (2241 days)||Avignon||Martin V|
|1424–1430||Benedict XIV||Benedictus Quartus Decimus||Bernard Garnier||1370 France||54 / 59 (†89)||6 years, 211 days (2403 days)||Claimed successor to Benedict XIII|
|1430–1437||Benedict XIV||Benedictus Quartus Decimus||Jean Carrier||c. 1370 France||59 / 66||7 years, 242 days (2799 days)||The "hidden pope"|
|5 Nov 1439 – 7 Apr 1449||Felix V||Fœlix||Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy||4 September 1383 Chambéry, Savoy||56/65 (†67)||9 years, 153 days (3441)||Elected by the Council of Basel||Eugene IV|
Many antipopes created cardinals, known as quasi-cardinals , and a few created cardinal-nephews, known as quasi-cardinal-nephews.
|Giacomo Alberti||Antipope Nicholas V||15 May 1328||Excommunicated by Pope John XXII.|
|Amedeo Saluzzo||Antipope Clement VII||23 December 1383||Abandoned Antipope Benedict XIII after having been deposed by him on 21 October 1408; participated in the Council of Pisa, the election of Pope Alexander V (now regarded as an antipope), the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.|
|Tommaso Brancaccio||Antipope John XXIII||6 June 1411||Attended the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.|
|Gil Sánchez Muñoz||Antipope Clement VIII||26 July 1429||Submitted to Pope Martin V after his uncle abdicated.|
In modern times various people claim to be pope and, though they do not fit the technical definition of "antipope", are sometimes referred to as such. They are usually leaders of sedevacantist groups who view the See of Rome as vacant and elect someone to fill it. They are sometimes referred to as conclavists because of their claim, on the basis of an election by a "conclave" of perhaps half a dozen laypeople, as in the case of David Bawden ("Pope Michael I"), to have rendered the See no longer vacant. A significant number of these have taken the name "Peter II", owing to its special significance. From the point of view of the Catholic Church, they are schismatics, and as such are automatically excommunicated.
The Palmarian Catholic Church regards Pope Paul VI, whom they revere as a martyr, and his predecessors as true popes, but hold, on the grounds of claimed apparitions, that the Pope of Rome is excommunicated and that the position of the Holy See has, since 1978, been transferred to the See of El Palmar de Troya.
The following were elected by professedly faithful Catholics, none of whom were cardinals:
As the Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, has historically also held the title of pope, a person who, in opposition to someone who is generally accepted as a legitimate pope of Alexandria, claims to hold that position may also be considered an antipope. In 2006, the defrocked married Coptic lector Max Michel became an antipope of Alexandria, calling himself Maximos I. His claim to the Alexandrine papacy was dismissed by both the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III and Pope Theodore II of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria.The Coptic pope of Alexandria and the Greek pope of Alexandria currently view one another, not as antipopes, but rather as successors to differing lines of apostolic succession that formed as a result of christological disputes in the fifth century.
Another Coptic (Alexandrian) antipope is known to have laid claim in the fourth century. His name was Gregory of Cappadocia.
Antipopes have appeared as fictional characters. These may be either in historical fiction, as fictional portraits of well-known historical antipopes or as purely imaginary antipopes.
Baldassarre Cossa was Pisan antipope John XXIII (1410–1415) during the Western Schism. The Catholic Church regards him as an antipope, as he opposed Pope Gregory XII whom the Catholic Church now recognizes as the rightful successor of Saint Peter.
Antipope Felix, was a Roman archdecon in the 4th century. He was installed as antipope from 355 to 365. Previously he was an archdeacon of Rome. He was installed irregularly in 355 after Emperor Constantius banished the reigned pope Liberius. Constantius, following the refusal of the laity to accept Felix attempted to have them co-rule but Felix was forced to retire. He was resented in his lifetime but has enjoyed a more popular memory since. Antipope, in the Roman Catholic church described any figure attempting to oppose the legitimately elected Bishop of Rome, with Felix being among the unsuccessful.
The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, the Roman pontiff or the Sovereign Pontiff, is the bishop of Rome, head of the worldwide Catholic Church and head of state or sovereign of the Vatican City State. According to Catholics, the primacy of the bishop of Rome is largely derived from his role as the apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus, giving him the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013.
Pope Gregory XII, born Angelo Corraro, Corario, or Correr, was the Roman claimant to the headship of the Catholic Church from 30 November 1406 to 4 July 1415. Reigning during the Western Schism, he was opposed by the Avignon pope Benedict XIII and the Pisan popes Alexander V and John XXIII. Gregory XII was a very holy man who wanted the Church to be unified, and voluntarily abdicated in 1415 to end the Schism.
Pope Gelasius II, born Giovanni Caetani or Giovanni da Gaeta, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 January 1118 to his death in 1119. A monk of Monte Cassino and chancellor of Pope Paschal II, Caetani was unanimously elected to succeed him. In doing so he also inherited the conflict with Emperor Henry V over investiture. Gelasius spent a good part of his brief papacy in exile.
Pope Nicholas II, otherwise known as Gerard of Burgundy, was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 January 1059 until his death. At the time of his election, he was bishop of Florence. During his Papacy, Nicholas II successfully expanded the influence of the papacy in Milan and southern Italy. He was also responsible for passing papal election reforms which resulted in greater papal influence in electing new Popes.
The Western Schism, also called Papal Schism, The Vatican Standoff, Great Occidental Schism and Schism of 1378, was a split within the Catholic Church lasting from 1378 to 1417 in which bishops residing in Rome and Avignon both claimed to be the true pope, joined by a third line of Pisan popes in 1409. The schism was driven by personalities and political allegiances, with the Avignon papacy being closely associated with the French monarchy. These rival claims to the papal throne damaged the prestige of the office.
Benedict XIV was the name used by two closely related minor antipopes of the 15th century. The first, Bernard Garnier became antipope in 1424 and died c. 1429. The second, Jean Carrier, became antipope c. 1430 and apparently left office, whether by death or resignation, by 1437.
Gregory VIII, born Mauritius Burdinus, was antipope from 10 March 1118 until 22 April 1121.
Adalbert was elected pope of the Catholic Church in February 1101 and served for 105 days. He was a candidate of the Roman party opposed to Pope Paschal II and is regarded today as an antipope. Prior to his election he was created a cardinal by the antipope Clement III. He was captured by partisans of Paschal II and forced to live out his days as a monk.
A papal renunciation occurs when the reigning pope of the Catholic Church voluntarily steps down from his position. As the reign of the pope has conventionally been from election until death, papal renunciation is an uncommon event. Before the 21st century, only five popes unambiguously resigned with historical certainty, all between the 10th and 15th centuries. Additionally, there are disputed claims of four popes having resigned, dating from the 3rd to the 11th centuries; a fifth disputed case may have involved an antipope.
Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor, known as el Papa Luna in Spanish and Pope Luna in English, was an Aragonese nobleman, who as Benedict XIII, is considered an antipope by the Catholic Church.
Antipope Paschal III was a 12th-century clergyman who, from 1164 to 1168, was the second antipope to challenge the reign of Pope Alexander III. He had previously served as Cardinal of St. Maria.
The Annuario Pontificio is the annual directory of the Holy See of the Catholic Church. It lists the popes in chronological order and all officials of the Holy See's departments. It also provides names and contact information for all cardinals and bishops, the dioceses, the departments of the Roman Curia, the Holy See's diplomatic missions abroad, the embassies accredited to the Holy See, the headquarters of religious institutes, certain academic institutions, and other similar information. The index includes, along with all the names in the body of the book, those of all priests who have been granted the title of "Monsignor".
A papal name or pontificial name is the regnal name taken by a pope. Both the head of the Catholic Church, usually known as the pope, and the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria choose papal names. As of 2013, Pope Francis is the Catholic pope, and Tawadros II or Theodoros II is the Coptic pope. This article discusses and lists the names of Catholic popes; another article has a list of Coptic Orthodox popes of Alexandria.
Conclavism is the claim to election as pope by a group acting or purporting to act in the stead of the established College of Cardinals. This claim is usually associated with the claim, known as sedevacantism, that the present holder of the title of pope is a heretic and therefore not truly pope, as a result of which the faithful remnant of the Catholic Church has the right to elect a true pope.
The 1119 papal election was, by an order of magnitude, the 12th century's smallest papal election that is currently considered legitimate by the Roman Catholic Church.
The numbering of "popes John" does not occur in strict numerical order. Although there have been twenty-one legitimate popes named John, the numbering has reached John XXIII because of two errors that were introduced in the Middle Ages. First, antipope John XVI was kept in the numbering sequence instead of being removed. Then, the number XX was skipped because pope John XXI counted John XIV twice.
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