The Messed Up Truth Of Pope John XII

In 2018, the AV Club published the scrumptious headline, "The young Pope John XII died as he lived: Fornicating." It simultaneously raises eyebrows and stokes lowbrow thoughts, the kind of thoughts that might normally make a pious man feel guilty as sin. Luckily, it's hard to sin as much as Pope John XII. Speaking with Time, Professor Ken Punnington of the Catholic University of America remarked, "There have been unsavory Popes, but he was certainly the one with the worst reputation." Granted, his infamous reign happened in the 10th century, so it's possible that the outrageous accusations leveled against John are a load of papal bull. But from the sound of things, the most bullish thing about Pope John's story was his horniness.

The father, the son, and the holy moly

Originally named Octavian, per Britannica, Pope John XII came to power in 955. He was about 18 years old at the time, and Time points out that "his papacy even started with a broken rule." Granted, that was more the fault of his father, the influential Duke Alberic II of Spoleto. Alberic ordered the clergy to appoint John even though his predecessor was still alive. Once installed, the young Pope broke plenty of rules on his own.

While concurrently serving as prince of Rome the Pope supposedly converted his palace into a brothel. Whether or not he ran a palace of ill repute, he acted like a John in the naughtiest sense of the name. Professor Ken Pennington delightfully described John as "a randy Pope." Citing the writings of church leaders Live Science writes that Pope Randy the John allegedly bedded his own niece, "his father's long-term girlfriend," and two widows.

In Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: A History of the Papacy, Roger Collins lists a mix of sinister and strange charges leveled against John. Among them were that he "castrated and killed a subdeacon," committed arson, accepted bribes for ordinations, "ordained a deacon in a stable," "drank wine out of love for the devil," and, weirdly, wore armor in public. Rather than mount a defense, John threatened to excommunicate any accusers who sought to remove him. But eventually life excommunicated John. The naughty pontiff died in 964. Legend has it that John suffered a stroke while getting to know a married woman biblically.