A RARE Papal Bull – issued by an Antipope briefly imprisoned for his crimes against the Church- today joined the great wealth of historical artefacts housed in Chester at the Cheshire Record Office.
The Bull, on parchment bearing the Seal of Pope John XX111 was issued in 1412, to John Leyot, a priest from Hale.
It gave Leyot permission to study away from his residence and granted an indulgence- a form of remission of temporal punishment of sins-to anyone who contributed to the endowment of Hale Chapel.
In June 2007, it came under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London and was bought by the Hale Parish Council for over £4,500 with the help of a grant from Cheshire County Council.
Now the Parish Council has decided it is time for the 600 –years-old document to be handed over to the custody and safe care of the Record Office.
Said County Archivist Jonathan Pepler: “This is a wonderful piece of local history but it also involves a man who certainly make his mark on the early history of the Catholic Church for all the wrong reasons.“
Mr. Pepler collected the Papal Bull from local councillor Ron Crawford and Rev Janice Collier, Priest- in- Charge of St. Mary’s, Hale.
The Oxford Dictionary of Popes describes John XX111 – elected Pope in May 1410 during the Great Schism -as “an unscrupulous, grasping and ambitious man as well as an unblushing libertine”.
He began his career as a ‘piratical adventurer‘; was reputed to have seduced 200 women whilst papal legate to Romagna and Bologna and abdicated at the request of the Council of Constance.
In May 1415, the former Pope fled disguised as a groom and was brought back a prisoner; charged with “simony (selling religious relics or pardons) perjury and the ‘grossest misconduct”, spending three years in custody.
The Bull, which helped the Dean of St. John’s, Chester, establish a Chantry in the Chapel at Hale, will be stored under special conditions, at The Records Office but available for inspection by the public.