Pope Benedict may have ignored warnings about pedophiles and doddered while Rome perved, but he's nowhere near the worst pope ever. Here, via history writer Tony Perrottet, we round up the Vatican's greatest villains – syphilis, hookers and all.
Benedict is trying, bless him. Just this week he gamely called same-sex marriage one of the most "insidious and dangerous" threats facing the world. And he's presided over dreadful allegations of child sex abuse.
- In 1501 Alexander VI once threw a party he called the "Joust of the Whores":
- Between whorejousts his hobbies included watching horses copulate, which would make him "laugh fit to bust."
- John XII slept with his two sisters. We do not mean nuns.
- Boniface VIII massacred a whole town, and somehow still found time to be a major pedophile.
- On his deathbed, Sergius III "ordered a comely wet nurse to supply him with milk fresh from the breast."
- Julius II was unable to allow his foot to be kissed by the faithful as it was completely covered with syphilitic sores.
- Of Benedict IX, it is said he was "a wretch who feasted on immorality" and "a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest."
- Upon his death, 50 priests offered Mass for Clement VI for nine consecutive days, but this was agreed to be nowhere near enough.
We are legally obliged to advise you not to try the Joust of the Whores at home.