A: Surely, not every pope can be the perfectly virtuous model we expect him to be. After all, every human being has their moral shortcomings. In any case, with a list of popes numbering 262 and counting, there’s bound to be a few bad apples in the bunch. But how about a pope who was not just bad, but really bad – and by that, we mean, rotten to the core?
Meet Pope Alexander VI (reigned 1492-1503). A member of the Spanish branch of the powerful and corrupt Borgia family, Alexander bought and bribed his way onto the papal throne, and used it to gather wealth and women for himself and influence for his children (yes, children!).
By some accounts he had as many as seven illegitimate kids and carried on with numerous mistresses while on the papal throne. Alexander also made a fortune selling indulgences (or “free passes” to heaven), and married off his beautiful fair-haired daughter Lucrezia three times, each time to someone richer and more powerful. When the pope finally checked out, his peers decided to pay their respects by leaving Alexander to rot and turn purple in the Sistine Chapel, until his bloated corpse had to be stuffed and crammed into his coffin. Amen.