An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the legitimately elected pope, makes a significant attempt to occupy the position of Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church.[1] At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuries, antipopes were supported by important factions within the Church itself and by secular rulers.

Sometimes it was difficult to distinguish which of two claimants should be called pope and which antipope, as in the case of Pope Leo VIII and Pope Benedict V.[2]

Persons who merely claim to be pope and 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[3] 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[4] from an unnamed earlier writer the story of Natalius, a 3rd-century priest who accepted the bishopric of the Adoptionists,[5] a heretical group in Rome. Natalius soon repented and tearfully begged Pope Zephyrinus to receive him into communion.[6][7]

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.

List of historical antipopes

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).[8]

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.[9]

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,[10] but with the annotation: "Considered by some to be an antipope". Other sources classify him as an antipope.[11][12]

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. 200NataliusNataliusNataliusc. 159 Rome, Roman Empire38 / 481 year, 0 days (365)Later reconciled (see above)Zephyrinus
20 Dec 217 – 28 Sept 235Saint HippolytusHippolytusHippolytus170 Rome. Roman Empire45 / 65 (†66)17 years, 282 days (6491)Later reconciled with Pope Pontian (see above)Callixtus I
Urban I
Mar 251 – Aug 258NovatianNovatianusNovatianc. 200 Rome, Roman Empire51 / 58 (†93)7 years, 153 days (2710)Founder of NovatianismCornelius
Lucius I
Stephen I
Sixtus II
20 Apr 309 – 16 Aug 310HeracliusHeracliusHeracliusc. 265 Rome, Roman Empire45 / 461 year, 118 days (483)Eusebius
355 – 26 Nov 365Felix II*Felix secundusFelixc. 270 Rome, Roman Empire80 / 9010 years, 329 days (3982)Installed by Roman Emperor Constantius IILiberius
1 Oct 366 – 16 Nov 367UrsicinusUrsicinusUrsinusc. 200 Rome, Roman Empire66 / 671 year, 46 days (411)Damasus I
27 December 418 – 3 April 419EulaliusEulaliusEulaliusc. 370 Rome, Roman Empire38 / 39 (†42)1 year, 46 days (411)Boniface I
22 Nov 498 – Aug 506/08LaurentiusLaurentiusLorenzo Celioc. 460 Rome, Roman Empire38 / 46 (†48)9 years, 283 days (3569)Supported by Byzantine emperor Anastasius ISymmachus
22 Sep 530 – 14 Oct 530DioscorusDioscurusDióskorosc. 450 Alexandria70 / 7022 days (22)Boniface II
21 Sep 687TheodoreTheodorusTheodorec. 599 Rome, Western Roman Empire88 / 88 (†92)97 days (97)Sergius I
21 Sep 687Paschal (I)PaschalisPascalec. 598 Rome, Western Roman Empire89 / 89 (†94)97 days (97)
28 Jun 767 – 6 Aug 768Constantine IIConstantinus secundusKonstantinusc. 700 Rome, Western Roman Empire67 / 68 (†69)1 year, 39 days (405)Between Paul I and Stephen III
31 Jul 768PhilipPhilippusPhilipc. 701 Rome, Western Roman Empire68 / 68 (†99)0 days ()Installed by envoy of Lombard King DesideriusStephen III
25 Jan – 31 May 844John VIIIJoannes octavusGiovannic. 800 Rome, Papal States44 / 44 (†91)151 days (151)Elected by acclamationSergius II
Jan 855 – 31 Mar 855Anastasius III BibliothecariusAnastasius tertiusAnastasiusc. 810 Rome, Papal States45 / 45 (†68)89 days (89)Benedict III
3 Oct 903 – 27 Jan 904ChristopherChristophorusChristoforoc. 850 Rome, Papal States53 / 54116 days (116)Between Leo V and Sergius III
Jul 974Boniface VII*BonifaciusFranco Ferruccic. 900 Rome, Papal States73 / 73 and 84 / 8530 days (30)
334 days (334)
total 364 days (364 days)
Between Benedict VI and Benedict VII
20 Aug 984 – 20 Jul 985Between John XIV and John XV
Apr 997 – Feb 998John XVI*JoannesJohn Filagattoc. 941 Rossano, Calabria, Papal States (Italy)56 / 56 (†59)1 year, 0 days (365)Supported by Byzantine emperor Basil IIGregory V
Jun 1012Gregory VIGregorius SextusGregorioc. 960 Rome, Papal States52 / 52 (†60)29 days (29)Benedict VIII
4 Apr 1058 – 24 Jan 1059Benedict X*Benedictus DecimusGiovanni Mincio dei Conti di Tusculoc. 1000 Rome, Papal States,58 / 59 (†80)295 days (295 )Supported by the Counts of TusculumNicholas II
July 1061 – 31 May 1064Honorius IIHonorius SecundusPietro Cadalus1010 Verona, Papal States51 / 54 (†62)2 years, 335 days (1065)Supported by Agnes, regent of the Holy Roman EmpireAlexander II
25 Jun 1080, 21 Mar 1084 – 8 Sep 1100Clement IIIClemens TertiusGuibert of Ravennac. 1029 Parma, Papal States51 / 51, 54 / 7120 years, 44 days (7348)Supported by Henry IV, Holy Roman EmperorGregory VII
Victor III
Urban II
Paschal II
8 Sep 1100 – Jan 1101TheodoricTheodoricusTheodoroc. 1030 Rome, Papal States,70 / 71 (†72)121 days (−244)Successor to Clement IIIPaschal II
Jan 1101 – Feb 1102Adalbert or AlbertAdalbertusAlbertc. 1046 Atella, Campania, Papal States,55 / 56 (†85)31 days (31)Successor to Theodoric
8 Nov 1105 – 11 Apr 1111Sylvester IVSylvester QuartusMaginulfc. 1050 Rome, Papal States49 / 55 (†56)5 years, 324 days (31)Supported by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
10 Mar 1118 – 22 Apr 1121Gregory VIIIGregorius OctavusMaurice Burdainc. 1057 Limousin, Occitania, France61 / 65 (†72)3 years, 43 days (1139)Gelasius II
Callixtus II
16 Dec 1124Celestine IICœlestinus SecundusTeobaldo Boccapeccic. 1050 Rome, Papal States74 / 74 (†86)0 days ()Honorius II
14 Feb 1130 – 25 Jan 1138Anacletus IIAnacletus SecundusPietro Pierleonic. 1090 Rome, Papal States48 / 487 years, 345 days (2902)Innocent II
23 Mar 1138Victor IVVictor QuartusGregorio Contic. 1057 Ceccano, Papal States81 / 81 (†90)2 days (2)Successor to Anacletus II
7 Sep 1159 – 20 Apr 1164Victor IVVictor QuartusOttavio di Montecelioc. 1095 Tivoli, Papal States64 / 694 years, 226 days (1687)Supported by Frederick I, Holy Roman EmperorAlexander III
22 Apr 1164 – 28 Sep 1168Paschal IIIPaschalis TertiusGuido di Cremac. 1110 Crema, Lombardy, Papal States54 / 584 years, 159 days (1620 days)
Sep 1168 – 29 Aug 1178Callixtus IIICallixtus TertiusGiovanni of Strumac. 1090 Arezzo, Papal States78 / 88 (†90)9 years, 362 days (3649 days)
29 Sep 1179 – Jan 1180Innocent IIIInnocentius TertiusLanzo of Sezzac. 1120 Sezze, Papal States59 / 60 (†63)95 days (95 days)
12 May 1328 – 12 Aug 1330Nicholas VNicolaus QuintusPietro Rainalduccic. 1258 Corvaro, Papal States70 / 742 years, 92 days (822 days)Supported by Louis IV, Holy Roman EmperorJohn 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
Boniface IX
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
Innocent VII
Gregory XII
Martin V
25 Jun 1409 – 3 May 1410Alexander V*AlexanderPietro Philarghic. 1339 Crete, Republic of Venice70 / 71312 days (312 days)PisaGregory XII
25 May 1410 – 29 May 1415John XXIIIIoannes Vicecimus TertiusBaldassare Cossac. 136545 / 50 (†54)5 years, 6 days (1832 days)Pisa
10 Jun 1423 – 26 Jul 1429Clement VIIIClemens OctavusGil Sánchez Muñoz y Carbón1370 Teruel, Aragon52 / 59 (†77)6 years, 49 days (2241 days)AvignonMartin V
1424–1430Benedict XIVBenedictus Quartus DecimusBernard Garnier1370 France54 / 59 (†89)6 years, 211 days (2403 days)Claimed successor to Benedict XIII  
1430–1437Benedict XIVBenedictus Quartus DecimusJean Carrierc. 1370 France59 / 667 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
Nicholas V


Many antipopes created cardinals, known as quasi-cardinals, and a few created cardinal-nephews, known as quasi-cardinal-nephews.

Quasi-cardinal Nephew of Elevated Notes
Giacomo Alberti Antipope Nicholas V 15 May 1328 Excommunicated by Pope John XXII.[13]
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.[13]
Tommaso Brancaccio Antipope John XXIII 6 June 1411 Attended the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.[14]
Gil Sánchez Muñoz Antipope Clement VIII 26 July 1429 Submitted to Pope Martin V after his uncle abdicated.[15]

Modern claimants to papacy

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.[16]


  • Michel Collin, self-proclaimed Pope Clement XV (1961–1974) in France, founder of the Apostles of Infinite Love[17]
  • Jean-Gaston Tremblay, Gregory XVII (1968–2011), in Canada
  • Mathurin de la Mère de Dieu, Gregory XVIII (Since 2011), in Canada[18]

Palmarian Catholic Church

  • Clemente Domínguez y Gómez (Pope Gregory XVII), mystically self-proclaimed (1978–2005) in Spain
  • Manuel Corral (Pope Peter II) (2005–11)
  • Ginés Jesús Hernández (Pope Gregory XVIII) (2011–2016)
  • Joseph Odermatt (Pope Peter III) (2016–present)

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.

Other examples

The following were elected by professedly faithful Catholics, none of whom were cardinals:

  • Popes of the "Legio Maria", based in western Kenya (not technically Conclavist):
    • Timothy Joseph Blasio Atila (1963–1998)
    • Pius Lawrence Jairo Chiaji Adera (1998–2004)
    • Raphael Titus Otieno (2004–present; disputed since 2010)
    • Romanus Ong’ombe (2010–present; disputed)
  • David Bawden (Pope Michael I), (1990–present) elected in Kansas, USA.[19]
  • Victor von Pentz (Pope Linus II), (1994–present).[20][21] Another conclave, this time held in Assisi, Italy, elected the South African Victor von Pentz, an ex-seminarian of the Society of Saint Pius X, as Pope Linus II in 1994. Linus took up residence in Hertfordshire, England.
  • Pope of the "True Catholic Church": Lucian Pulvermacher (Pope Pius XIII), (1998–2009), elected in Montana, USA.
  • Mirko Fabris (Pope Krav I), (1978–2012), elected in Zagreb, Croatia.[21]
  • Joaquín Llorens (Pope Alexander IX), (2005–present), elected in Elx, Spain.[22]
  • Popes of the "Iglesia Católica Apostólica Remanente", based in Buenos Aires, Argentina:
    • Oscar Michaelli (Pope Leo XIV), (2006–2007) elected by a group of 34 episcopi vagantes.
    • Juan Bautista Bonetti (Pope Innocent XIV), (2008), resigned May 2008.
    • Alejandro Tomás Greico (Alexander IX), (2008–present).[23]

Antipope of Alexandria

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.[24] 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.

In fiction

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.

  • Jean Raspail's novel l'Anneau du pêcheur (The Fisherman's Ring), and Gérard Bavoux's Le Porteur de lumière (The Light-bringer).[25][26]
  • The fictional synth-pop artist Zladko Vladcik claims to be "The Anti-Pope" in one of his songs.[27]
  • Dan Simmons's novels Endymion and The Rise of Endymion feature a Father Paul Duré who is the routinely murdered antipope Teilhard I. At the end of the last novel, it is mentioned that the person calling himself the pope of the Technocore loyal Catholics is recognized by very few even among those, and he is referred to as an antipope.
  • In the Girl Genius comics series, set in a gaslamp fantasy version of Europe thrown into chaos by mad science (among other things), there is a brief reference to the existence of seven popes—all of whom apparently ordered a particular text burned.
  • Ralph McInerny's novel The Red Hat features a schism between liberals and conservatives following the election of a conservative African Pope; the liberal faction elect an Italian cardinal who calls himself "Pius XIII".
  • In the video game Crusader Kings II by Swedish developer Paradox Interactive, Catholic rulers may appoint one of their bishops as an antipope. An emperor-tier ruler such as the Holy Roman Emperor may declare war on the Papal States to install their antipope as the "true" pope, thereby vassalizing the Papacy.
  • In the video game Age of Empires II the third scenario in the game's Barbarossa campaign is called "Pope and Antipope" and is based on the Siege of Crema and the subsequent Wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines.
  • In episode 3 of The Black Adder (set in the late 15th century), "The Archbishop", Baldrick remarks on selling counterfeit papal pardons, that one for the highest crimes requires the signatures of "both popes" (implying one pope and one antipope). At the end of the episode, the Mother Superior of the local convent informs Edmund that he has been excommunicated by "all three popes".
  • The Last Fisherman by Randy England features an anti-pope John XXIV elected in opposition to Pope Brendan I
  • Bud McFarlane's Pierced by a Sword includes an anti-pope John XXIV who is elected when the assassination attempt on Pope Patrick (fictional successor to John Paul II) is believed to have succeeded. He commits suicide at the end of the book.
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina features an antipope who leads the Churches of Darkness. This antipope reigns in the Vatican Necropolis beneath Rome.

See also


  1. "One who opposes the legitimately elected bishop of Rome, endeavours to secure the papal throne, and to some degree succeeds materially in the attempt" (Encyclopædia Britannica: Antipope).
  2. Of Pope Leo VIII, the Annuario Pontificio, the Holy See's yearbook, says: "At this point, as again in the mid-eleventh century, we come across elections in which problems of harmonizing 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" (note 19 to the list of popes in the Annuario Pontificio). Of Pope Benedict V it says: "If Pope Leo VIII was lawful Pope, [...] Benedict V is an antipope" (note 20 to the list of popes).
  3. "The catacombs the destination of the great jubilee". Vatican City. Archived from the original on 10 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  4. Historia Ecclesiastica, V, 28
  5. Dix, Gregory; Chadwick, Henry (2013). The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr. Routledge. p. xvii. ISBN 9781136101465. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  6. Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature: Zephyrinus
  7. "Monarchians – Dynamists, or Adoptionists". Catholic Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  9. Annuario Pontificio 2012 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2008 ISBN 978-88-209-8722-0), p. 12*
  10. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: List of Popes". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  11. Charles William Previté-Orton The Shorter Cambridge Medieval History (Cambridge University Press 1952, republished 1975 ISBN 0-521-20962-5), vol. 1, p. 477
  12. "Darras "title of sylvester iii" - Google Search".
  13. Miranda, Salvador. 1998. "14th Century (1303–1404)."
  14. Miranda, Salvator. 1998. "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Biographical Dictionary: Antipope] John XXIII (1410–1415): Consistory of 6 June 1411 (I)."
  15. Miranda, Salvador. 1998. "15th Century (1404–1503)."
  16. "Code of Canon Law - IntraText".
  17. "Self-styled 'Pope' dies in France". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. Reuters. 24 June 1974. Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2019 via
  19. "10 Most Bizarre People on Earth". Oddee. 6 December 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  20. "Modern Alternative Popes 17: Linus II". Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  21. George D. Chryssides (25 November 2011). Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements. Scarecrow Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-8108-7967-6.
  22. "Iglesia Católica Apostólica Española Tradicionalista y Mercedaria – Iglesia Católica Apostólica Española Tradicionalista y Mercedaria". Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  23. Iglesia Católica Remanente. "Iglesia Católica Apostólica Remanente". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  24. "Common Statement Between The Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa Regarding Max Michel" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  25. Jean Raspail, L'Anneau du pêcheur, Paris: Albin Michel, 1994. 403 p. ISBN 2-226-07590-9
  26. Gérard Bavoux, Le Porteur de lumière, Paris: Pygmalion, 1996. p. 329 ISBN 2-85704-488-7
  27. Zladko Vladcik – I am the Antipope. YouTube. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2015.

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