An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who makes a widely accepted claim to be the lawful pope, in opposition to the pope recognised by the Roman Catholic Church. In the past antipopes were typically those supported by a fairly significant faction of cardinals and kingdoms. Persons who claim to be the pope but have few followers, such as the modern sedevacantist antipopes, are not generally counted as antipopes, and therefore are ignored for regnal numbering.
In its list of the popes, the Holy See's annual directory, Annuario Pontificio, attaches to the name of Pope Leo VIII (963-965) the following note: "At this point, as again in the mid-eleventh 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."
The Catholic Encyclopedia also mentions a Natalius, before Hippolytus, as first antipope, who, according to Eusebius's EH5.28.8-12, quoting the Little Labyrinth of Hippolytus, after being "scourged all night by the holy angels", covered in ash, dressed in sackcloth, and "after some difficulty", tearfully submitted to Pope Zephyrinus. As proof of the angels' actual intervention, Natalius displayed the wounds they had left on his back.
Novatian (d. 258), another third-century figure, certainly claimed the See of Rome in opposition to Pope Cornelius, and is thus reckoned as the first unequivocal antipope. The period when 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 in order to further their cause. The popes, likewise, sometimes sponsored rival imperial claimants in Germany in order to overcome a particular emperor.
The Great Western Schism, which, on the grounds of the allegedly invalid election of Pope Urban VI, began in 1378 with the election of Clement VII, who took up residence in Avignon, France, led to two, and eventually three, rival lines of claimants to papacy: the Roman line, the Avignon line, and the Pisan line. The last-mentioned line was named after the town of Pisa, Italy, where the council that elected Alexander V as a third claimant was held. To end the schism, in May 1415, the Council of Constance deposed John XXIII of the Pisan line, whose claim to legitimacy was based on a council's choice. Pope Gregory XII of the Roman line resigned in July 1415. In 1417, the Council of Florence also formally deposed Benedict XIII of the Avignon line, 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. The scandal of the Great Schism created anti-papal sentiment and fed into the Protestant Reformation at the turn of the 16th century.
|Antipope||Original name||Dates||Notes||In opposition to:|
|Natalius||around 200||later reconciled (see above)||Pope Zephyrinus|
|Saint Hippolytus||217–235||later reconciled with Pope Pontian (see above)||Pope Callixtus I|
|Pope Urban I|
|Novatian||251–258||founder of Novatianism||Pope Cornelius|
|Pope Lucius I|
|Pope Stephen I|
|Pope Sixtus II|
|Felix II||355–365||installed by Roman Emperor Constantius II||Pope Liberius|
|Eulalius||418–419||Pope Boniface I|
|supported by Byzantine emperor Anastasius I||Pope Symmachus|
|Dioscorus||530||Pope Boniface II|
|Theodore (II)||687||Pope Sergius I|
|Paschal (I)||687||Pope Sergius I|
|Constantine II||767–768||Pope Stephen III|
|Philip||768||installed by envoy of Lombard King Desiderius|
|John VIII||844||elected by acclamation||Pope Sergius II|
|Anastasius III Bibliothecarius||855||Pope Benedict III|
|Christopher||903–904||between Pope Leo V and Pope Sergius III|
|Boniface VII||974||between Pope Benedict VI and Pope Benedict VII|
|984–985||between Pope John XIV and Pope John XV|
|John XVI||John Filagatto||997–998||supported by Byzantine emperor Basil II||Pope Gregory V|
|Gregory VI||1012||Pope Benedict VIII|
|Benedict X||John Mincius||1058–1059||supported by the Counts of Tusculum||Pope Nicholas II|
|Honorius II||Pietro Cadalus||1061–1064||supported by Agnes, regent of the Holy Roman Empire||Pope Alexander II|
|Clement III||Guibert of Ravenna||1080, 1084–1100||supported by Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor||Pope Gregory VII|
|Pope Victor III|
|Pope Urban II|
|Pope Paschal II|
|Theodoric||1100–1101||successor to Clement III||Pope Paschal II|
|Adalbert or Albert||1101||successor to Theodoric|
|Sylvester IV||Maginulf||1105–1111||supported by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Gregory VIII||Maurice Burdanus||1118–1121||Pope Gelasius II|
|Pope Callixtus II|
|Celestine II||Thebaldus Buccapecus||1124||Pope Honorius II|
|Anacletus II||Pietro Pierleoni||1130–1138||Pope Innocent II|
|Victor IV||Gregorio Conti||1138||successor to Anacletus II|
|Victor IV||Ottavio di Montecelio||1159–1164||supported by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor||Pope Alexander III|
|Paschal III||Guido di Crema||1164–1168|
|Callixtus III||Giovanni of Struma||1168–1178|
|Innocent III||Lanzo of Sezza||1179–1180|
|Nicholas V||Pietro Rainalducci||1328–1330||supported by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor||Pope John XXII|
|Clement VII||Robert of Geneva||1378–1394||Avignon||Pope Urban VI|
|Pope Boniface IX|
|Benedict XIII||Pedro de Luna||1394–1423||Avignon|
|Pope Innocent VII|
|Pope Gregory XII|
|Pope Martin V|
|Alexander V||Pietro Philarghi||1409–1410||Pisa||Pope Gregory XII|
|John XXIII||Baldassare Cossa||1410–1415||Pisa|
|Clement VIII||Gil Sánchez Muñoz||1423–1429||Pope Martin V|
|Benedict XIV||Bernard Garnier||1424–1429|
|Benedict XIV||Jean Carrier||1430–1437|
|Pope Eugene IV|
|Felix V||Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy|| 5 November 1439 –|
7 April 1449
|elected by the Council of Basel|
|Pope Nicholas V|
As for Sylvester III, sometimes listed as an antipope, the Holy See's Annuario Pontificio classifies him as a pope, not an antipope. In line with its above-quoted remark on the obscurities about the canon law of the time and the historical facts, especially in the mid-eleventh century (see the second paragraph of this article), it makes no judgement on the legitimacy of his takeover of the position of pope in 1045. The Catholic Encyclopedia places him in its List of Popes, though with the annotation: "Considered by some to be an antipope".
They are usually religious leaders of breakaway Roman Catholic groups who reject the commonly recognized popes (sedevacantist groups), For this reason they are often called "sedevacantist antipopes". Claiming to have elected a pope in a "conclave" of perhaps half a dozen laypeople (conclavism), they hold that, because of their action, the see of Rome is no longer vacant and they are no longer sedevacantists.
A significant number of them have taken the name Peter II, due to its special significance.
Those listed below have a very limited following, ranging from very few to some hundreds, and accordingly are not antipopes in the historical sense of the term.
Michel Collin (1905-1974) claimed to have been made pope as Clement XV, even while Pius XII was alive, and in 1963 founded the ultra-liberal, ultra-modernist "The Renewed Church of Christ" or "Church of the Magnificat," based first in Lyons, then at St. Jovite, Quebec, Canada. The Colinites have since disintegrated into several factions, with one successor pope in France.
A larger faction is led by Jean-Gaston Tremblay, one of Colin's disciples, who declared himself constituted pope by apparition, even before Colin had died, and who calls himself "John-Gregory XVII." He is now based in St. Jovite, as head of the "Order of the Magnificat" and The Apostles of the Latter Days. The 1846 secret of Mélanie Calvat, which called for the constitution of these Apostles of the Latter Days is central to his claims and mission.
The Palmarian Catholic Church regards as true popes those until 1978, including Pope Paul VI, who is revered by them as a martyr. Palmarians do not claim the See of Rome, but hold that the Pope of Rome is excommunicated and that the position of the Holy See has been transferred to the See of El Palmar de Troya, on the grounds of claimed apparitions.