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The coat of arms of Benedict XIII displayed the papal tiara and cross. During this period, papal heraldry varied greatly and the crossed keys had not yet fully developed as a symbol of the papacy.

An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the one who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope,[1] the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were supported by a fairly significant faction of religious cardinals and secular monarchs and kingdoms. Persons who claim to be pope, but have few followers, such as the modern sedevacantist 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 Roman Catholic Church with a shared feast day on 13 August. Whether two or more persons have been confused in this account of Hippolytus[2] 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 quotes[3] from an unnamed earlier writer the story of Natalius, a 3rd-century priest who accepted the bishopric of the Adoptionists,[4] a heretical group in Rome. Natalius soon repented and tearfully begged Pope Zephyrinus to receive him into communion.[5][6]

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 scandal of the Western Schism created anti-papal sentiment and fed into the Protestant Reformation at the turn of the 16th century.[citation needed]

List of historical antipopes

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).[7]

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.[8]

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,[9] but with the annotation: "Considered by some to be an antipope". Other sources classify him as an antipope.[10][11]

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 ca. 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
Urban I
Mar 251–Aug 258 Novatian Novatianus Novatian ca. 200 Rome, Roman Empire 51 / 58 (†93) 7 years, 153 days (2710) Founder of Novatianism Cornelius
Lucius I
Stephen I
Sixtus II
20 April 309 - 16 Aug 310 Heraclius Heraclius Heraclius ca. 165 Rome, Roman Empire 45 / 46 1 year, 118 days (483) Eusebius
355–26 Nov 365 Felix II* Felix secundus Felix ca. 170 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 ca. 200 Rome, Roman Empire 66 / 67 1 year, 46 days (411) Damasus I
27 December 418–3 April 419 Eulalius Eulalius Eulalius ca. 370 Rome, Roman Empire 38 / 39 (†42) 1 year, 46 days (411) Boniface I
22 Nov 498–Aug 506/8 Laurentius Laurentius Lorenzo Celio ca. 460 Rome, Roman Empire 38 / 46 (†48) 9 years, 283 days (3569) Supported by Byzantine emperor Anastasius I Symmachus
22 September 530 - 14 Oct 530 Dioscorus Dioscurus Dióskoros ca, 450 Alexandria, Aégyptus 70 / 70 22 days (22) Boniface II
21 Sept 687 Theodore Theodorus Theodore ca. 599 Rome, Western Roman Empire 88 / 88 (†92) 97 days (97) Sergius I
21 Sept 687 Paschal (I) Paschalis Pascale ca. 598 Rome, Western Roman Empire 89 / 89 (†94) 97 days (97
28 June 767–6 Aug 768 Constantine II Constantinus secundus Konstantinus ca.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 ca. 701 Rome, Western Roman Empire 68 / 68 (†99) 0 days (0) Installed by envoy of Lombard King Desiderius Stephen III
25 Jan - 31 May 844 John VIII Joannes octavus Giovanni ca. 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 ca. 810 Rome, Papal States 45 / 45 (†68) 89 days (89) Benedict III
3 Oct 903–27 Jan 904 Christopher Christophorus Christoforo ca. 850 Rome, Papal States 53 / 54 116 days (116) Between Leo V and Sergius III
July 974 Boniface VII* Bonifacius Franco Ferrucci ca. 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 August 984–20 July 985 Between John XIV and John XV
April 997–Feb 998 John XVI* Joannes John Filagatto ca. 941 Rossano, Calabria, Papal States (Italy) 56 / 56 (†59) 1 year, 0 days (365) Supported by Byzantine emperor Basil II Gregory V
June, 1012 Gregory VI Gregorius Sextus Gregorio ca. 960 Rome, Papal States 52 / 52 (†60) 29 days (29) Benedict VIII
4 April 1058–24 Jan 1059 Benedict X* Benedictus Decimus Giovanni Mincio dei Conti di Tusculo ca. 1000 Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire 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 June 1080, 21 March 1084–8 Sept 1100 Clement III Clemens Tertius Guibert of Ravenna ca. 1029 Parma, Papal States 51 / 51, 54 / 71 20 years, 44 days (7348) Supported by Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor Gregory VII
Victor III
Urban II
Paschal II
8 Sept 1100–Jan 1101 Theodoric Theodoricus Theodoro ca. 1030 Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire 70 / 71 (†72) 121 days (-244) Successor to Clement III Paschal II
Jan 1101 - Feb 1102 Adalbert or Albert Adalbertus Albert ca. 1046 Atella, Campania, Papal States, H.R.E. 55 / 56 (†85) 31 days (31) Successor to Theodoric
8 Nov 1105.–11 Apr 1111 Sylvester IV Sylvester Quartus Maginulf ca. 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 ca. 1057 Limousin, Occitania, France 61 / 65 (†72) 3 years, 43 days (1139) Gelasius II
Callixtus II
16 Dec. 1124 Celestine II Cœlestinus Secundus Teobaldo Boccapecci ca. 1050 Rome, Papal States 74 / 74 (†86) 0 days (0) Honorius II
14 Feb. 1130–25 Jan. 1138 Anacletus II Anacletus Secundus Pietro Pierleoni ca. 1090 Rome, Papal States 48 / 48 7 years, 345 days (2902) Innocent II
23 Mar 1138 Victor IV Victor Quartus Gregorio Conti ca. 1057 Ceccano, Papal States 81 / 81 (†90) 2 days (2) Successor to Anacletus II
7 Sept. 1159–20 Apr. 1164 Victor IV Victor Quartus Ottavio di Montecelio ca. 1095 Tivoli, Papal States 64 / 69 4 years, 226 days (1687) Supported by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor Alexander III
22 Apr 1164–28 Sept. 1168 Paschal III Paschalis Tertius Guido di Crema ca. 1110 Crema, Lombardy, Papal States 54 / 58 4 years, 159 days (1620)
Sept. 1168–29 Aug. 1178 Callixtus III Callixtus Tertius Giovanni of Struma ca. 1090 Arezzo, Papal States 78 / 88 (†90) 9 years, 362 days (3649)
29 Sept. 1179–Jan. 1180 Innocent III Innocentius Tertius Lanzo of Sezza ca. 1120 Sezze, Papal States 59 / 60 (†63) 95 days (95)
12 May 1328–12 Aug. 1330 Nicholas V Nicolaus Quintus Pietro Rainalducci ca. 1258 Corvaro, Papal States 70 / 74 822 (2 years, 92 days) Supported by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor John XXII
20 Sept. 1378–16 Sept. 1394 Clement VII Clemens Robert of Geneva 1342 Annecy, [France 36/52 15 years, 361 days (5840) Avignon Urban VI
Boniface IX
28 Sept. 1394–23 May 1423 Benedict XIII Benedictus Pedro de Luna 25 November 1328 Illueca, Aragon 65/94 28 years, 237 days (10463) Avignon
Innocent VII
Gregory XII
Martin V
25 Jun 1409–3 May 1410 Alexander V* Alexander Pietro Philarghi ca. 1339 Crete, Republic of Venice 70 / 71 312 days (312) Pisa Gregory XII
25 May 1410–29 May 1415 John XXIII Ioannes Vicecimus Tertius Baldassare Cossa ca. 1365 45 / 50 (†54) 5 years, 6 days (1832) 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) Avignon Martin V
1424–1430 Benedict XIV Benedictus Quartus Decimus Bernard Garnier 1370 France 54 / 59 (†89) 6 years, 211 days (2403) Claimed successor to Benedict XIII  
1430–1437 Benedict XIV Benedictus Quartus Decimus Jean Carrier ca. 1370 France 59 / 66 7 years, 242 days (2799) 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
Nicholas V


Many antipopes created cardinals, known as quasi-cardinals, and a few created cardinal-nephews, known as quasi-cardinal-nephews.

Quasi-cardinal Nephew of Elevated Notes
Giacomo Alberti Antipope Nicholas V 15 May 1328 Excommunicated by Pope John XXII.[12]
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.[12]
Tommaso Brancaccio Antipope John XXIII 6 June 1411 Attended the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.[13]
Gil Sánchez Muñoz Antipope Clement VIII 26 July 1429 Submitted to Pope Martin V after his uncle abdicated.[14]

Modern claimants to papacy

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 Roman Catholic Church, they are schismatics, and as such are automatically excommunicated.[15]


Palmarian Catholic Church

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.

Other examples

The following were elected by allegedly faithful Catholics, none of whom was a cardinal:

  • Popes of the "Legio Maria", based in western Kenya (not technically Conclavist): Timothy Joseph Blasio Atila (1963–1998). Pius Lawrence Jairo Chiaji Adera (1998–2004). Raphael Titus Otieno (2004–present).
  • David Bawden (Pope Michael I), (1990–present) elected in Kansas, USA.[17]
  • Victor von Pentz (Pope Linus II), (1994–present). Another conclave, this time held in Assisi, Italy, elected the South African Victor von Pentz, an ex-seminarian of the Society of St Pius X, as Pope Linus II in 1994. Linus took up residence in Hertfordshire, England.
  • Pope of the "True Catholic Church": Lucian Pulvermacher (Pope Pius XIII), (1998–2009), elected in Montana, USA.
  • Mirko Fabris (Pope Krav I), (1978–2012), elected in Zagreb, Croatia.[18]
  • Joaquín Llorens (Pope Alexander IX), (2005–present), elected in Elx, Spain.[19]
  • Popes of the "Iglesia Católica Apostólica Remanente", based in Buenos Aires, Argentina: Oscar Michaelli, elected on 24 March 2006 by a group of 34 episcopi vagantes[20] as Pope Leo XIV. On his death on 14 February 2007, he was succeeded by Juan Bautista Bonetti, who took the name of Pope Innocent XIV, but resigned on 29 May 2007. Alexander IX was chosen in his place.[21]

Antipope of Alexandria

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.[22] 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.

  • Jean Raspail's novel l'Anneau du pêcheur (The Fisherman's Ring), and Gérard Bavoux's "Le Porteur de lumière" (The Light-bringer).[23][24]
  • The fictional synth-pop artist Zladko Vladcik claims to be "The Anti-Pope" in one of his songs.[25]
  • Dan Simmons's novels Endymion and Rise of Endymion feature a Father Paul Duré who is the routinely murdered antipope Teilhard I. At the end of the last novel, it is mentioned that the person calling himself the pope of the Technocore loyal Catholics is recognized by very few even among those, and he is referred to as an antipope.
  • In the Girl Genius comics series, set in a gaslamp fantasy version of Europe thrown into chaos by mad science (among other things), there is a brief reference to the existence of seven Popes—all of whom apparently ordered a particular text burned.
  • Ralph McInerny's novel The Red Hat features a schism between liberals and conservatives following the election of a conservative African Pope; the liberal faction elect an Italian cardinal who calls himself "Pius XIII".
  • In the video game Crusader Kings II by Swedish developer Paradox Interactive, Catholic rulers may appoint one of their bishops as an antipope. An emperor-tier ruler such as the Holy Roman Emperor may declare war on the Papal States to install their antipope as the "true" pope, thereby vassalizing the Papacy.
  • In episode 3 of The Black Adder (set in the late 15th century), "The Archbishop", Baldrick remarks on selling counterfeit papal pardons, that one for the highest crimes requires the signatures of "both popes" (implying one pope and one antipope). At the end of the episode, the Mother Superior of the local convent informs Edmund that he has been excommunicated by "all three popes".

See also


  1. ^ "One who opposes the legitimately elected bishop of Rome, endeavours to secure the papal throne, and to some degree succeeds materially in the attempt" (Encyclopædia Britannica: Antipope).
  2. ^ "The catacombs the destination of the great jubilee". Vatican City. Archived from the original on 10 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 
  3. ^ Historia Ecclesiastica, V, 28
  4. ^ Dix, Gregory; Chadwick, Henry (2013). The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr. Routledge. p. xvii. ISBN 9781136101465. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature: Zephyrinus
  6. ^ "Monarchians – Dynamists, or Adoptionists". Catholic Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 
  7. ^ Michael Ott, "Pope Martin V" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1910)
  8. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2012 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2008 ISBN 978-88-209-8722-0), p. 12*
  9. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: List of Popes". Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Charles William Previté-Orton The Shorter Cambridge Medieval History (Cambridge University Press 1952, republished 1975 ISBN 0-521-20962-5), vol. 1, p. 477
  11. ^ Joseph Épiphane Darras, A General History of the Catholic Church, vol. III, p. 58
  12. ^ a b Miranda, Salvador. 1998. "14th Century (1303–1404)."
  13. ^ Miranda, Salvator. 1998. "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Biographical Dictionary: Antipope] John XXIII (1410–1415): Consistory of 6 June 1411 (I)."
  14. ^ Miranda, Salvador. 1998. "15th Century (1404–1503)."
  15. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 1364
  16. ^ "Self-styled 'Pope' dies in France". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. Reuters. 24 June 1974. Retrieved 13 April 2017 – via  open access publication – free to read
  17. ^ "10 Most Bizarre People on Earth". Oddee. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  18. ^ George D. Chryssides, Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements (Rowman & Littlefield 2011 978-0-81087967-6)
  19. ^ "Iglesia Católica Apostólica Española Tradicionalista y Mercedaria - Iglesia Católica Apostólica Española Tradicionalista y Mercedaria". Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  20. ^ Rosentrater, Erwin (2015). The Esoteric Codex: Antipopes. p. 3. ISBN 131298922X. 
  21. ^ Iglesia Católica Remanente. "Iglesia Católica Apostólica Remanente". Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  22. ^ "Common Statement Between The Coptic Orthodox Church And The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa Regarding Max Michel" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  23. ^ Jean Raspail, "L'Anneau du pêcheur," Paris: Albin Michel, 1994. 403 p. ISBN 2-226-07590-9
  24. ^ Gérard Bavoux, "Le Porteur de lumière," Paris: Pygmalion, 1996. 329 p. ISBN 2-85704-488-7
  25. ^ Zladko Vladcik - I am the Antipope. YouTube. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 

External links and bibliography

  • Catholic Encyclopedia: "Antipope"
  • Encyclopædia Britannica: "Antipope"
  • The Pope Encyclopaedia: "Antipope"
  • Kelly, J.N.D, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, Oxford University Press, USA (1 June 1986), ISBN 0-19-213964-9.
  • Raspail, Jean, 'L'Anneau du pêcheur, Paris: Albin Michel, 1994. 403 pp. ISBN 2-226-07590-9.
  • Bavoux, Gérard, Le Porteur de lumière, Paris: Pygmalion, 1996. 329 pp ISBN 2-85704-488-7.
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