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, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuries, antipopes were supported by a fairly significant faction of religious cardinals and secular or anti-religious 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 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 quotes from 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 scandal of the Western Schism created anti-papal sentiment and fed into the Protestant Reformation at the turn of the 16th century.
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.
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 (0)||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 (0)||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 allegedly faithful Catholics, none of whom was a cardinal:
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.
Amadeus VIII (4 September 1383 – 7 January 1451) was a Savoyard nobleman, the son of Amadeus VII, Count of Savoy and Bonne of Berry. He was surnamed the Peaceful. After the death of his father in 1391, his mother acted as a regent, because of his youth. He was an antipope of the Catholic Church from 1439 to 1449 as Felix V, in opposition to Popes Eugene IV and Nicholas V.Anastasius Bibliothecarius
Anastasius Bibliothecarius or Anastasius the Librarian (c. 810 – c. 878) was bibliothecarius (literally "librarian") and chief archivist of the Church of Rome and also briefly an Antipope.Antipope Alexander V
Peter of Candia or Peter Phillarges (c. 1339 – May 3, 1410) as Alexander V (Latin: Alexander PP.
V) (Italian: Alessandro V) was a nominal pope elected during the Western Schism (1378–1417). He reigned briefly from June 26, 1409, to his death in 1410 and is officially regarded by the Catholic Church as an antipope.Antipope Anacletus II
Anacletus II (died January 25, 1138), born Pietro Pierleoni, was an Antipope who ruled in opposition to Pope Innocent II from 1130 until his death in 1138. After the death of Pope Honorius II, the college of cardinals was divided over his successor. A majority of cardinals elected Pietro, while a minority elected Papareschi (Innocent II). This led to a major schism in the Roman Catholic Church. Anacletus had the support of most Romans, and the Frangipani family, and forced Innocent to flee to France. North of the Alps, Innocent gained the crucial support of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter the Venerable, and Emperor Lothar III, leaving Anacletus with few patrons. Anacletus, with little remaining support, died in the middle of the crisis. In 1139 the second Lateran Council ended the schism, though opinion remained divided.Antipope Benedict XIII
Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor (25 November 1328 – 23 May 1423), known as el Papa Luna in Spanish and Pope Luna in English, was an Aragonese nobleman, who as Benedict XIII, is considered an antipope (see Western Schism) by the Catholic Church.Antipope Callixtus III
Antipope Callixtus III or Callistus III (died before 19 October 1183) was antipope from September 1168 to 29 August 1178.Antipope Clement III
Guibert or Wibert of Ravenna (c. 1029 – 8 September 1100) was an Italian prelate, archbishop of Ravenna, who was elected pope in 1080 in opposition to Pope Gregory VII and took the name Clement III. Gregory was the leader of the movement in the church which opposed the traditional claim of European monarchs to control ecclesiastical appointments, and this was opposed by supporters of monarchical rights led by the Holy Roman Emperor. This led to the conflict known as the Investiture Controversy. Gregory was felt by many to have gone too far when he excommunicated the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and supported a rival claimant as emperor, and in 1080 the pro-imperial Synod of Brixen pronounced that Gregory was deposed and replaced as pope by Guibert.
Consecrated as Pope Clement III in Rome in March 1084, he commanded a significant following in Rome and elsewhere, especially during the first half of his pontificate, and reigned in opposition to four successive popes in the anti-imperial line: Gregory VII, Victor III, Urban II, and Paschal II. After his death and burial at Civita Castellana in 1100 he was celebrated locally as a miracle-working saint, but Paschal II and the anti-imperial party soon subjected him to a thorough deletio and damnatio memoriae, which included the exhuming and dumping of his remains in the Tiber. He is considered an anti-pope by the Roman Catholic Church.Antipope Clement VII
Robert of Geneva (French: Robert de Genève) (1342 – 16 September 1394) was elected to the papacy as Clement VII (French: Clément VII) by the French cardinals who opposed Urban VI, and was the first antipope residing in Avignon, France. His election led to the Western Schism.Antipope Honorius II
Honorius II (c. 1010 – 1072), born Pietro Cadalo (Latin Petrus Cadalus), was an antipope from 1061 to 1072. He was born at Verona and became bishop of Parma in 1046. He died at Parma in 1072.Antipope John XXIII
Baldassarre Cossa (c. 1370 – 22 December 1419) 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. He was eventually deposed and tried for various crimes, though later accounts question the veracity of those accusations.Antipope Laurentius
Laurentius (possibly Caelius) was Archpriest of Santa Prassede and later antipope of the Roman Catholic Church. Elected in 498 at the Basilica Saint Mariae (presumably Saint Maria Maggiore) with the support of a dissenting faction with Byzantine sympathies, who were supported by Eastern Roman Emperor Anastasius, in opposition to Pope Symmachus, the division between the two opposing factions split not only the church, but the senate and the people of Rome. However, Laurentius remained in Rome as Pope until 506.Antipope Nicholas V
Nicholas V, born Pietro Rainalducci (c. 1258 – 16 October 1333) was an antipope in Italy from 12 May 1328 to 25 July 1330 during the pontificate of Pope John XXII (1316–1334) at Avignon. He was the last Imperial antipope—that is, one set up by a Holy Roman Emperor.Antipope Paschal III
Antipope Paschal III (or Paschal III) was, from 1164 to 20 September 1168, the second of the antipopes to challenge the reign of Pope Alexander III.Antipope Ursicinus
Ursicinus, also known as Ursinus, was elected pope in a violently contested election in 366 as a rival to Pope Damasus I. He ruled in Rome for several months in 366–367, was afterwards declared antipope, and died after 381.Antipope Victor IV (1159–1164)
Victor IV (born Octavian or Octavianus: Ottaviano dei Crescenzi Ottaviani di Monticelli) (1095 – 20 April, 1164) was elected as a Ghibelline antipope in 1159, following the death of Pope Adrian IV and the election of Alexander III. His election was supported by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. He took the name Victor IV, not accounting for Antipope Victor IV of 1138, whose holding of the papal office was deemed illegitimate.Conclavism
Conclavism is the claim to election as pope by a group acting or purporting to act in the stead of (i.e., under an assumption of the authority ordinarily vested in) 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 term comes from the word "conclave", the term for a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, when that see is vacant, but which proponents of conclavism apply to the group that elects an antipope.
A similar but distinct phenomenon is that of those (referred to as "mysticalists") who base their claim to the papacy on supposed personal supernatural revelations.Hippolytus of Rome
Hippolytus (c. 170–235 AD) was one of the most important second-third century Christian theologians, whose provenance, identity and corpus remain elusive to scholars and historians. Suggested communities include Palestine, Egypt, Anatolia, Rome and regions of the mideast. The best historians of literature in the ancient church, including Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome, openly confess they cannot name where Hippolytus the biblical commentator and theologian served in leadership. They had read his works but did not possess evidence of his community. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of Irenaeus, who was said to be a disciple of Polycarp, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that he suggested that Hippolytus so styled himself. This assertion is doubtful. One older theory asserts he came into conflict with the popes of his time and seems to have headed a schismatic group as a rival to the Bishop of Rome, thus becoming an Antipope. In this view, he opposed the Roman Popes who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. However, he was reconciled to the Church before he died as a martyr.Starting in the fourth century, various legends arose about him, identifying him as a priest of the Novatianist schism or as a soldier converted by Saint Lawrence. He has also been confused with another martyr of the same name. Pope Pius IV identifies him as "Saint Hippolytus, Bishop of Pontus" who was martyred in the reign of Severus Alexander through his inscription on a statue found at the Church of Saint Lawrence in Rome and kept at the Vatican as photographed and published in Brunsen.Pope Leo VIII
Pope Leo VIII (died 1 March 965) was the head of the Catholic Church from 23 June 964 to his death in 965; before that, he was an antipope from 963 to 964, in opposition to Pope John XII and Pope Benedict V. An appointee of the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I, his pontificate occurred during the period known as the Saeculum obscurum.Pope Sylvester III
Pope Sylvester III or Silvester III (1000 – October 1063), born Giovanni dei Crescenzi–Ottaviani in Rome, was Pope from 20 January to March 1045.
Antipopes of the Catholic Church
|Middle Ages and earlier|