The above image is of a papal bull which favours the dean of St Buryan; one half citing a grant by King Athelstan , the other of Pope Martin V to William Lord of Charde, dean, of 1427.

In 1302, Boniface VIII issued the papal bull Unam Sanctam ( “bull” from the latin word bulla for the boiled seal appended to papal documents). The papal bull obtains it`s name from the first words of the issued document. Unam Sanctam extended claims of papal power well beyond it`s previous reach; this document confirms in the written word that the Church claims the right to wield the physical sword and temporal authority being subject to spiritual authority;  and from this date, the Church`s arm was long, and it`s vengeance total.

An interesting footnote in papal history which heralds from just before the time of Boniface VIII, concerns the papal prepuce: legend has it that every new pope undergoes an important ceremony in the secrecy of the Sistine Chapel, where the pope sits in a specially made chair with a hole in it`s seat, to confirm by careful examination that he is a male. A priest then declares triumphantly…………..

“Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes.”

“He has two testicles and they hang well.”

The rumours circulating around this supposed ceremony, centre on the legendary Pope Joan, of blessed memory, who masqueraded as the papal top honcho in the middle of the 9th century, although the Church insists that it`s the product of a 13th century legend, which was itself based upon a story from the 11th century. Who knows: I quite like the story of such a misogynistic organisation as the Catholic Church being bossed by a woman in inverted drag.

Such a document as the Unam Sanctam certainly played into the hands of the religious reformists who were to sweep aside the papacy`s power megalomania two centuries later. By this document, the papacy prescribed itself as judge, jury and spiritual executioner of all earthly matters, and merely rubbed the doubters and reformists even further up the wrong way.

” Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

~~ Lord Acton ~~


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