Pope Ganymede V was a pope whose "doubtful masculinity" supposedly led to the rumors of Pope Joan, according to A Short Guide to Catholic Church History (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 62).


Much about the pontiff's early years are unknown, though by the early 1500s he was described as "golden-haired [and] rather limp-wristed" and by the anti-Catholic historian Furze as "a raving queen". The Short History assumes that his election in 1503 was so that his reign would counter the then-recent run of lecherous popes.

Ganymede was known to fall into the arms of Leonardo da Vinci, who was so inspired his unfinished painting Saint Sebastian Dying in a Bed of Zinnias was really Ganymede frolicking in the Boboli Gardens wearing a kirtle of begonias.

The body of the pope was found in 1505, having been smothered by orchids that fell from an open skylight while he slept.


Ganymede is another name, similar to Sporus, with classical antecedents, specifically a Trojan prince who is abducted by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus[1]. The story was the subject of the poem "Ganymed" by Goethe[2], and in Shakespeare's As You Like It, Ganymede is Rosalind's name when she is disguised as a man. Today Ganymede is known as Jupiter's largest moon, named after the mythological character.

Had Ganymede V a record in the Annuario Pontificio, the annual directory of the Holy See that lists all the popes to date[3], his brief tenure as Pope would have overlapped with the following papal tenures:

  • Alexander VI (1492-1503)
  • Pius III (1503)
  • Julius II (1503-1513)


  1. Wikipedia: Ganymede (mythology)
  2. Wikipedia: Ganymed (Goethe)
  3. Wikipedia: Annuario Pontificio