All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated


One who uncanonically claims or exercises the office of Roman pontiff. Historically this situation has occurred as the result of various causes, not all of which imply bad faith. Antipopes have risen by violent usurpation (Constantine II, 767); by election following a prior selection falsely judged as invalid (Clement VII, 1378); accession after an unwarranted deposition or deportation of the previous pope (Felix II, 355); or double election (Anacletus II, Innocent II, 1130). Yet not all antipopes emerged because of malfeasance or bad faith. Because of the lack of a readily accessible electoral code, there could be confusion as to the requirements for a valid choice. Instances occurred where a pontificate, uncanonical in its beginnings, was validated by subsequent acceptance on the part of the electors (Vigilius, after Silverius's resignation or death, 537). It must be frankly admitted that bias or deficiencies in the sources make it impossible to determine in certain cases whether the claimants were popes or antipopes.

The term "antipope" can be traced to c. 1192 [J. H. Baxter and C. Johnson, Medieval Latin Word-List (1950) 22], although other names appear earlier, e.g., perturbator (370; Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 35:52), pervasor (506; Thiel, Epist. Rom. pont. 1:697). Authors variously calculate the number of antipopes: Baümer counts 33 with three others bracketed with legitimate popes: Amanieu, 34; Frutaz, 36 plus seven doubtful and nine improperly designated; Moroni, 39. Since 1947 the Vatican Annuario Pontificio has printed Mercati's list of popes that includes 37 antipopes in the text. All lists are subject to reservations, and the Mercati catalogue has provoked dissent. Biographies of the 37 antipopes can be found in this encyclopedia under their pontifical names, except for Anastasius the Librarian, who can be found under that name.

Bibliography: Annuario Pontificio (2001) 7*22*, cf. a. mercati, "The New List of the Popes," Mediaeval Studies 9 (1947) 7180. l. duchesne, Liber pontificalis (Paris 188692; 1958). p. jaffÉ, Regista pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198 (2d ed. Leipzig 188188; repr. 1956). l. a. anastasio, Istoria degli antipapi, 2 v. (Naples 1754). g. moroni, Dizionario de erudizione storico-ecclesiastica (Venice 184061) 2:181215. a. amanieu, Dictionnaire de droit canonique ((Paris 193565) 1:598622. g. jacquemet, Catholicisme 1:653658. Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 4:583585. r. bÄumer, ibid. 8:5459.

[h. g. j. beck/eds.]

views updated

Antipope. A person in Christianity who claims (or exercises) the office of pope illegitimately. The RC Church lists thirty-seven, from Hippolytus (d. c.235) to Felix V, who abdicated in 1449. The major and serious conflict over the papacy took place in the W. schism, 1378–1417. After the election of Urban VI in 1378, some cardinals, claiming that he was mentally unstable, elected Clement VII, who returned to Avignon as the centre of papal authority. Attempts to heal the schism included the election of a third pope, Alexander V, at Pisa. The attempt to locate continuing authority in these circumstances led directly into the conciliar controversy, raising the possibility that a general council, or the college of cardinals (with or without such additional figures as certain university professors), had the ultimate authority—a position condemned by Pius II in the Bull Exsecrabilis, and also by the First Vatican Council. The schism was ended by the elevation of Oddo at the Council of Constance (1414–18) to become Martin V.

views updated

antipope Name given to rivals of legitimately elected popes, generally ‘appointed’ by unauthorized religious factions. The first was Hippolytus (217–35), a Trinitarian heretic and rival of Calixtus I. The most famous were the Avignon popes, who rivalled those of Rome during the Great Schism (1378–1417).

views updated

antipope a person set up as Pope in opposition to one canonically chosen, and applied particularly to those who resided at Avignon during the Great Schism. Recorded from late Middle English (in form antipape) the name comes from medieval Latin antipapa, on the pattern of Antichrist.

views updated

an·ti·pope / ˈantiˌpōp/ • n. a person established as pope in opposition to one held by others to be canonically chosen.