Pope John VIII was the most unique Pope of all times. She was the only woman to hold this position. Her name was erased from the annals of history shortly after her death and the Papacy has kept the lids on upon one of their big errors.
There are scarce resources about Pope John VIII. Her real name was Johannes Angelicus and she was an English woman. Johannes was born in the town of Mainz in modern day Germany. This simple country girl fell in love with a Benedictine monk. She travelled with the monk disguised as a man to Athens. She learned Latin and Greek from the monk before moving to Rome. While in Rome, no one doubted Johannes of being a girl. She gained the attention of Papacy with her keenness to learn things quickly. She was soon tasked to be a papal notary. She was soon promoted to a Cardinal.
She was not only a keen and quick learner, but passed on the knowledge effectively to her scribes. She had deep insights into things she knew. Such talents made her ideal candidate to become the Pope. She was successful at concealing her gender all the while. When Pope Adrian II died, Johannes Angelicus was elected as the new Pope and assumed the title Pope John VIII. There was rejoicing all around, as customary after the election of a new Pope.
Few days went by smoothly and everyone around was deeply impressed by the capabilities of Pope John VIII. But all the joys were short-lived. It is learned from some sources that during a procession the Pope suddenly started having labor pain. Her true identity was revealed. She was put in chains immediately. The papal court tried Johannes for heresy and found her guilty. She was moved out of Rome and stoned to death.
After this debacle, the Papacy have included a new ritual in their Pope Election process. The candidate has to seat on a specially constructed seat, with hole in between. The gender is judged and then confirmed.