Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

Is the Purpose of the “Room of Tears” to Confirm That a Newly Elected Pope Is Male?

Question:

A non-Catholic told me that when a new pope is elected he is taken to a "Room of Tears" and checked to make sure he is a man because once a female pope named Joan was elected by mistake. Is any of this true?

Answer:

The purpose of the Room of Tears is not to examine the pope’s body; it is to allow the new pope to change into papal vestments before receiving the pledges of obedience from his fellow cardinals and then being introduced to the people of Rome and to the world from the loggia above St. Peter’s square. The room is nicknamed the Room of Tears because new popes have often been overcome with emotion at thought of the heavy burden that has been given them. The story of Pope Joan is a legend, roundly dismissed by serious historians as unworthy of belief. (See “The Popess Who Just Won’t Go Away” in the January 2008 issue of This Rock)

Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!Donatewww.catholic.com/support-us