Free Public Library
Donna Woolfolk Cross
When her older brother dies in a Viking
attack, the brilliant young Joan assumes his
identity and enters a Benedictine monastery
where, as Brother John Anglicus, she
distinguishes herself as a scholar and
healer. Eventually drawn to
Rome, she soon becomes enmeshed in a dangerous
mix of powerful passion and explosive
politics that threatens her life even as it
elevates her to the highest throne in the
important is it to this story to believe
in its historicity?
similarities or differences do you see
between Pope Joan and Saint Joan of Arc?
Why was one Joan expunged from history
books and the other made a saint?
reason and faith incompatible?
implications does Joan’s story have
with regard to the role of women in the
reviewer wrote: “Pope Joan... is a
reminder that some things never change,
only the stage and the players do.” Are
there any similarities between the way
women live in some places of the world
today and the way they lived back then?
might medieval society have believed so
strongly that education hampered a
woman’s ability to bear children? What
purpose might such a belief serve?
sacrificed much because she loved Gerold.
Do you know women who have sacrificed
opportunities to exercise mind, heart,
and spirit for love of a man? For love of
a child? Are such sacrifices justified?
Joan had agreed to leave with Gerold when
he first came to
, what would her life have been like? Did
she make the right choice or not?
causes Joan’s inner conflict between
faith and doubt? How do these conflicts
affect the decisions she makes? Does she
ever resolve these conflicts?
are there lessons to be learned from
Joan’s story, regardless of whether it
is legend or fact?
Questions adapted from http://www.readinggroupguides.com