17 Popes Who Didn't Practice What They Preached
17 Popes Who Didn’t Practice What They Preached

17 Popes Who Didn’t Practice What They Preached

Jennifer Conerly - October 22, 2018

17 Popes Who Didn’t Practice What They Preached
Pope Boniface VIII. When the domineering Boniface VIII wasn’t badgering medieval European monarchs to bend to his will, he enjoyed sexual escapades with both sexes. Ironically, Dante condemned him to the eight circle of Hell in his Inferno for simony, not his other activities. Papal Artifacts.

1. The Bisexual Boniface VIII Took Male Lovers and Had a Threesome with a Mother and Daughter

Boniface VIII’s papacy was so brutal and scandalous that it was immortalized in classic literature. In 1294, he badgered his predecessor, the morally infallible Celestine V, into resigning; after his election, Boniface threw Celestine into prison, where he died less than a year later. Known for his volatile temper, Boniface bullied Rome and the powers of Europe into acknowledging his authority in both religious and secular matters. If they refused to comply, he burned their cities to the ground.

The pope’s open view of sexuality made him the talk of medieval Europe. The bisexual Boniface liked to seduce young boys, allegedly declaring that sodomy “was no more a sin than rubbing your hands together.” Two of his male lovers publicly quarreled on the streets of Rome, fighting over which one the pope loved more and who received the finer gifts. Most importantly, they argued over which one of them had the right to call himself “the Pope’s whore.”

Pope Boniface VIII did enjoy some dalliances with women, so much so that he had two at one time. He reportedly had regular ménage-a-trois sessions with a mother and a daughter. According to his contemporaries, the pope broke the cardinal sins of incest and adultery and violated his vow of celibacy, all in one turn. After his death in 1303, the result of a kidnapping and beating by his enemies, Boniface’s name endured for his appearance in Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. As shocking as the pope’s sexual escapades were to medieval society, the author condemned him to the eighth circle of Hell for simony.


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