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#1 Unbound68

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 07:40 PM

Was there a female pope in the 8th century?

#2 Evangelion

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 08:35 PM

No.

Joan, Pope. The legend of a female Pope first appears in the (13th-cent.) Dominican chronicler Jean de Mailly, and was repeated in various versions by historical writers of the following centuries.

The gist of the story is that about the year 1100 (later forms say after St Leo IV, d. 855) a woman in male disguise, after a distinguished career as a scholar, succeeded to the chair of St Peter. After reigning more than two years she gave birth to a child during a procession to the Lateran and died immediately afterwards.

There is no evidence whatever to substantiate the tale, but it was widely believed in the Middle Ages. Today it is rejected as an invention by all serious scholars. J. J. I. von Döllinger explained it as an ancient Roman folk-tale.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev.; Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 883.


:book:/>
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#3 Unbound68

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 09:18 PM

No.

Joan, Pope. The legend of a female Pope first appears in the (13th-cent.) Dominican chronicler Jean de Mailly, and was repeated in various versions by historical writers of the following centuries.

The gist of the story is that about the year 1100 (later forms say after St Leo IV, d. 855) a woman in male disguise, after a distinguished career as a scholar, succeeded to the chair of St Peter. After reigning more than two years she gave birth to a child during a procession to the Lateran and died immediately afterwards.

There is no evidence whatever to substantiate the tale, but it was widely believed in the Middle Ages. Today it is rejected as an invention by all serious scholars. J. J. I. von Döllinger explained it as an ancient Roman folk-tale.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev.; Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 883.


:book:/>/>



Hi Dave. Have you read any literature that supports the tale?

#4 Evangelion

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 09:36 PM

Hi Dave. Have you read any literature that supports the tale?


No, I haven't. You'll find the story repeated online (often uncritically) but I can't recall ever having seen a substantial, evidence-based piece in support of it.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#5 Unbound68

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 05:11 PM


No.

Joan, Pope. The legend of a female Pope first appears in the (13th-cent.) Dominican chronicler Jean de Mailly, and was repeated in various versions by historical writers of the following centuries.

The gist of the story is that about the year 1100 (later forms say after St Leo IV, d. 855) a woman in male disguise, after a distinguished career as a scholar, succeeded to the chair of St Peter. After reigning more than two years she gave birth to a child during a procession to the Lateran and died immediately afterwards.

There is no evidence whatever to substantiate the tale, but it was widely believed in the Middle Ages. Today it is rejected as an invention by all serious scholars. J. J. I. von Döllinger explained it as an ancient Roman folk-tale.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev.; Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 883.


:book:/>/>/>



Hi Dave. Have you read any literature that supports the tale?



Contra the citation above, the works I have been reading allege the story to have originated in the 11th century (Marianus Scotus) or the 10th century (Radolphus Flaviacencis). I think the statement that "there is no evidence whatever to substantiate the tale" is a bit too presumptuous.

#6 Evangelion

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 05:54 PM

Contra the citation above, the works I have been reading allege the story to have originated in the 11th century (Marianus Scotus) or the 10th century (Radolphus Flaviacencis). I think the statement that "there is no evidence whatever to substantiate the tale" is a bit too presumptuous.


I'd be interested to see your sources. No modern historian accepts this story. It has been totally debunked from start to finish.

JOAN, POPE. The story of an alleged female pope was widely believed from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. So much so, that when David Blondel argued in 1647 that it was a legend he was criticized by fellow Protestants. The story has it that a scholarly woman, disguised as a man, succeeded to the chair of Peter about 1100 (later versions state 855). After about two years in office she gave birth to a child as she was taking part in a procession to the Lateran, and then died.

It seems that a thirteenth-century Dominican chronicler, Jean de Mailly, first gave respectability to the legend and that it gained wide currency in the Middle Ages, partly due to the influence of Martinus Polonus (d.1278) and the use of the story in fifteenth-century controversies over the extent of papal power. Some scholars interpret the story as a modification of a Roman folk-story, the original possibly relating to a priest of Mithra and a child.

J. D. Douglas et al., The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), 536.


'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#7 Unbound68

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 09:02 PM

Dave,

May I ask how you arrive at the conclusion that the story has been "totally debunked from start to finish," if you haven't read works in support of the tale, by your own admission?

#8 Fortigurn

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 09:54 PM

Dave,

May I ask how you arrive at the conclusion that the story has been "totally debunked from start to finish," if you haven't read works in support of the tale, by your own admission?


By reading works that totally debunk it from start to finish. :)

#9 Evangelion

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 11:56 PM

^^ What Fort said. Also the fact that there is simply no evidence to support it.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#10 Unbound68

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:21 AM

^^ What Fort said. Also the fact that there is simply no evidence to support it.

Hi Jon! What would you guys consider valid "evidence" and how are you defining "debunk?" Also, in your opinion, what motivated the creation of this tale in the first place?

#11 Fortigurn

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:29 AM

Hi Jon! What would you guys consider valid "evidence" and how are you defining "debunk?"


Valid evidence would be a reliable primary source, or a couple of reliable secondary sources, as evaluated by professional historians. I am defining 'debunk' as a demonstration that there are no such reliable sources, and there is evidence contradicting the account. For example, there are two conflicting date ranges given by the sources, and they can't be verified by or harmonized with the reliable sources for those eras.

Also, in your opinion, what motivated the creation of this tale in the first place?


I really don't know, I would have to look into it more. Anti-papal sentiment most likely, perhaps by a disgruntled church faction. Or maybe just earthy medieval satire.

#12 Unbound68

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:47 AM

A couple works I've been reading on the subject are "Pope Joan: A Historical Study" by Rhoidis and a contribution to The Harleian miscellany vol 4, entitled "Pope Joan: A Dialogue Between a Protestant and a Papist," by Alexander Cooke. In both of these works several authors of papal histories are cited in support, the majority of them being papists themselves. It wasn't until the reformers started using this episode against the Papacy that the papists started denying the factualness of it. As I said in a previous post, the story has been traced to the 10th and 11th centuries by the aforementioned sources of mine, and one of the works I have even suggests it can be traced within 50 years of the death of Pope Joan.

The information in those two works, as well as what is found in other works I've been reading, contradicts the two excerpts provided by Dave.

Edited by Unbound68, 30 March 2013 - 08:51 AM.


#13 Fortigurn

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 09:04 AM

A couple works I've been reading on the subject are "Pope Joan: A Historical Study" by Rhoidis and a contribution to The Harleian miscellany vol 4, entitled "Pope Joan: A Dialogue Between a Protestant and a Papist," by Alexander Cooke. In both of these works several authors of papal histories are cited in support, the majority of them being papists themselves. It wasn't until the reformers started using this episode against the Papacy that the papists started denying the factualness of it. As I said in a previous post, the story has been traced to the 10th and 11th centuries by the aforementioned sources of mine, and one of the works I have even suggests it can be traced within 50 years of the death of Pope Joan.

The information in those two works, as well as what is found in other works I've been reading, contradicts the two excerpts provided by Dave.


Ok, that's something I can work with.

1. Cooke was an 18th century scholar and Rhoidis was a 19th century scholar. I am interested to see if any modern professional historians support their conclusions.

2. Yes there are records of pope Joan in the histories by various Catholic writers. However, they typically contradict each other on key details (at least four different dates are given, spanning three centuries, and three different names), several of them are clearly copied and embellished from earlier sources (so neither independent nor reliable sources), and at least one of them expresses caution and skepticism of the story.

3. Although the story was attributed to some 10th and 11th century writers, it does not actually appear in the manuscripts of their work. This shows later writers were making things up.

4. I haven't seen any evidence that Catholics first started denying it when it was used by Reformers against the papacy. The 16th century writer Florimond de Raemond (Catholic then Protestant, then Catholic again), subjected the story to examination using standard text critical methodology, which identified numerous contradictions among the sources, and demonstrated the way in which the story had been fabricated. A 16th century Catholic historian and a 17th century Protestant historian provided good evidence that the story was legendary, using similar analysis of the sources.

Edited by Fortigurn, 30 March 2013 - 09:05 AM.


#14 Evangelion

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 11:18 AM

The information in those two works, as well as what is found in other works I've been reading, contradicts the two excerpts provided by Dave.


That is because those two works are outdated and unreliable sources.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#15 Unbound68

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 11:47 AM

The information in those two works, as well as what is found in other works I've been reading, contradicts the two excerpts provided by Dave.


That is because those two works are outdated and unreliable sources.


And what fact-based evidence do you have that proves them unreliable?

#16 Unbound68

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 12:09 PM

1. Cooke was an 18th century scholar and Rhoidis was a 19th century scholar. I am interested to see if any modern professional historians support their conclusions.


I doubt it. Looking at various modern takes on the story, they all read like the two citations Dave provided....almost verbatim. Me thinks there has been a lot of copying amongst the modern historians as well.


2. Yes there are records of pope Joan in the histories by various Catholic writers. However, they typically contradict each other on key details (at least four different dates are given, spanning three centuries, and three different names), several of them are clearly copied and embellished from earlier sources (so neither independent nor reliable sources), and at least one of them expresses caution and skepticism of the story.


Can you provide the evidence?


3. Although the story was attributed to some 10th and 11th century writers, it does not actually appear in the manuscripts of their work. This shows later writers were making things up.


Can you provide the evidence? Spanheim is said to have seen the story in upwards of 500 mss.


4. I haven't seen any evidence that Catholics first started denying it when it was used by Reformers against the papacy.


The Jesuit Bower, in his Lives of the Popes, admits just that.


a 17th century Protestant historian provided good evidence that the story was legendary, using similar analysis of the sources.


Are you referring to Blondel?

Edited by Unbound68, 30 March 2013 - 12:10 PM.


#17 Fortigurn

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 12:35 PM

I doubt it. Looking at various modern takes on the story, they all read like the two citations Dave provided....almost verbatim. Me thinks there has been a lot of copying amongst the modern historians as well.


Modern historians typically quote reliable sources which have already passed the scrutiny of peer review. They can also identify and verify the data used by a source to reach conclusions. This is not analogous to the blind copying and uncritical quoting of sources by medieval writers.

Can you provide the evidence?


Sure, the relevant Wikipedia article is a great place to start; it is comprehensively referenced. Was she called Agnes, Johanna, John, or Joan, and why does the earliest reference to her (13th century), not even name her at all? Why is there no record of her in any of the official papal lists? Jean de Mailly places the events in 1099, but Martin of Opava sets the story in the 9th century. The story is attributed by some to Anastasius Bibliothecarius in the 9th century, but the only manuscript of his work which contains it is unreliable, and in that manuscript the story only appears in a footnote added by a later writer after the 13th century. This is the kind of mess which indicates fabrication.

Can you provide the evidence? Spanheim is said to have seen the story in upwards of 500 mss.


It doesn't matter how many manuscripts he saw it in, if there are earlier manuscripts which don't have the story; like 1 John 5:7. Here's a quotation from the Wikipedia article on the matter of manuscripts and sources.

Other references to the female pope are attributed to earlier writers, though none appears in manuscripts that predate the Chronicon. The one most commonly cited is Anastasius Bibliothecarius (d. 886), a compiler of Liber Pontificalis, who was a contemporary of the female Pope by the Chronicon's dating. However, the story is found in only one unreliable manuscript of Anastasius. This manuscript, in the Vatican Library, bears the relevant passage inserted as a footnote at the bottom of a page. It is out of sequence, and in a different hand, one that dates from after the time of Martin of Opava. This "witness" to the female pope is likely to be based upon Martin's account, and not a possible source for it. The same is true of Marianus Scotus's Chronicle of the Popes, a text written in the 11th century. Some of its manuscripts contain a brief mention of a female pope named Johanna (the earliest source to attach to her the female form of the name), but all these manuscripts are later than Martin's work. Earlier manuscripts do not contain the legend.


Emphasis mine.

The Jesuit Bower, in his Lives of the Popes, admits just that.


Would I be right in saying that this information is found in a Protestant anti-papist writer? Would I also be right in saying that he doesn't mention the skepticism shown by the Catholic historian Bartolomeo Platina when writing in 1479? Would it also be reasonable to say that anti-papist Protestants found it a useful story for their own ends, and weren't particularly careful about checking their facts?

Are you referring to Blondel?


Yes.

Edited by Fortigurn, 30 March 2013 - 08:17 PM.


#18 Unbound68

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 07:27 PM

Modern historians typically quote reliable sources which have already passed the scrutiny of peer review. They can also identify and verify the data used by a source to reach conclusions. This is not analogous to the blind copying and uncritical quoting of sources by medieval writers.


The majority of writers who relate the story are Papists themselves. Why would they blindly copy and uncritically quote sources (themselves!) that related a story injurious to the Papacy?


Sure, the relevant Wikipedia article is a great place to start; it is comprehensively referenced. Was she called Agnes, Johanna, John, or Joan, and why does the earliest reference to her (13th century), not even name her at all? Why is there no record of her in any of the official papal lists? Jean de Mailly places the events in 1099, but Martin of Opava sets the story in the 9th century. The story is attributed by some to Anastasius Bibliothecarius in the 9th century, but the only manuscript of his work which contains it is unreliable, and in that manuscript the story only appears in a footnote added by a later writer after the 13th century. This is the kind of mess which indicates fabrication.


The Inquisitor Bernard Gui includes it in his History, after claiming to have discovered and corrected the errors of all the chronicles written by his predecessors. Further, Martin Polonus states that the Holy See decreed that Joan's name was not to be in the lists of Popes.


It doesn't matter how many manuscripts he saw it in, if there are earlier manuscripts which don't have the story; like 1 John 5:7. Here's a quotation from the Wikipedia article on the matter of manuscripts and sources.


I need to make a correction here. Spanheim is said to have found the story in over 500 chroniclers, not mss.


Other references to the female pope are attributed to earlier writers, though none appears in manuscripts that predate the Chronicon. The one most commonly cited is Anastasius Bibliothecarius (d. 886), a compiler of Liber Pontificalis, who was a contemporary of the female Pope by the Chronicon's dating. However, the story is found in only one unreliable manuscript of Anastasius. This manuscript, in the Vatican Library, bears the relevant passage inserted as a footnote at the bottom of a page. It is out of sequence, and in a different hand, one that dates from after the time of Martin of Opava. This "witness" to the female pope is likely to be based upon Martin's account, and not a possible source for it. The same is true of Marianus Scotus's Chronicle of the Popes, a text written in the 11th century. Some of its manuscripts contain a brief mention of a female pope named Johanna (the earliest source to attach to her the female form of the name), but all these manuscripts are later than Martin's work. Earlier manuscripts do not contain the legend.


The wiki-source aside, Who do you suppose would insert a fictitious story about a female Pope into Marianus Scotus's mss? Surely you aren't suggesting that Protestants did.


Would I be right in saying that this information is found in a Protestant anti-papist writer?


No. Bower was a Jesuit. If you are questioning Rhoidis's citation of Bower, I have verified it in Bower himself.


Would I also be right in saying that he doesn't mention the skepticism shown by the Catholic historian Bartolomeo Platina when writing in 1479?


No, you wouldn't.


Would it also be reasonable to say that anti-papist Protestants found it a useful story for their own ends, and weren't particularly careful about checking their facts?


Sure they found it useful. But, as I said, the story of Pope Joan wasn't denied by Papists until the Reformers started using the story against them. (Again, see Bower).

Edited by Unbound68, 01 April 2013 - 07:29 PM.


#19 Fortigurn

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 08:15 PM

The majority of writers who relate the story are Papists themselves. Why would they blindly copy and uncritically quote sources (themselves!) that related a story injurious to the Papacy?


For the same reasons that they did this with all the other stories which were injurious to the papacy; partly because as historians they felt it was necessary to record what they believed was history, and partly because they didn't have robust fact checking procedures.

The Inquisitor Bernard Gui includes it in his History, after claiming to have discovered and corrected the errors of all the chronicles written by his predecessors.


This doesn't alter the facts I listed previously, which are overwhelming evidence for a legendary story.

Further, Martin Polonus states that the Holy See decreed that Joan's name was not to be in the lists of Popes.


This is what we call and ad hoc argument. Where's the evidence for this claim? Where is this decree recorded? This is just a made up reason by Polonus to explain why there's no official record of 'Joan'. And again, where is she supposed to fit in the line of popes? This is exactly what we see in the formation of a legend. It starts off as a scrappy reference (in this case 'Joan' doesn't even have a name at first), with only a small number of details, the details change according to the source (in this case several different names are attributed and the sources can't even agree on which century the story is supposed to have taken place in), later sources attempt to tidy up the story, inventing ad hoc reasons as to why it can't be found in any relevant reliable records and adding details such as names, and then trying to explain why it was believed in the first place. This has the fingerprints of legend all over it.

I need to make a correction here. Spanheim is said to have found the story in over 500 chroniclers, not mss.


That's an even more outrageous claim. Who are all these chroniclers? Do any of them actually date earlier than the 13th century? How many are independent sources?

The wiki-source aside, Who do you suppose would insert a fictitious story about a female Pope into Marianus Scotus's mss?


Someone who thought it was true, or who had a political motive for doing so.

Surely you aren't suggesting that Protestants did.


No.

No. Bower was a Jesuit. If you are questioning Rhoidis's citation of Bower, I have verified it in Bower himself.


I'm asking if the claim about what Bower said is found in a Protestant anti-papist writer. You have confirmed that it is in a Protestant anti-papist writer. I don't doubt this is what Bower said, but it's irrelevant to determining the facts of the case.

No, you wouldn't.


Really? Then that's good news; which of the Protestant writers acknowledge that the Catholics didn't start questioning this story until the Reformers started using it against them?


Sure they found it useful. But, as I said, the story of Pope Joan wasn't denied by Papists until the Reformers started using the story against them. (Again, see Bower).


But as I've pointed out, skepticism of the story was already shown by some Catholic historians. At the end of the day however you need to address the evidence I have provided which indicates this story is fraudulent.

#20 Unbound68

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:24 PM

For the same reasons that they did this with all the other stories which were injurious to the papacy; partly because as historians they felt it was necessary to record what they believed was history, and partly because they didn't have robust fact checking procedures.


Or maybe there is some truth to the legend. Opponents of the story would have us believe that NONE of the many papists who testify to her existence in their histories and chronicles were interested in checking their facts. In other words, they all conspired to parrot the guy before them. Worse still, every last Reformer who cites the story is accused of having no interest in the facts.


This doesn't alter the facts I listed previously, which are overwhelming evidence for a legendary story.


I admit that the information provided by today's scholars does seem overwhelming (only because they all say the same thing, original and secondary sources surely not searched out and inspected independently by each and every one of them), but have you looked at Spanheim's witnesses? I noticed in all the wiki and dictionary articles that have been provided by you and Dave, no mention is made of Spanheim at all. Why not?


This is what we call and ad hoc argument. Where's the evidence for this claim? Where is this decree recorded? This is just a made up reason by Polonus to explain why there's no official record of 'Joan'.


Have you searched through the Chronicon of Polonus? If not, how can you genuinely ask where the evidence is for his claim, and then accuse him of making stuff up?


That's an even more outrageous claim. Who are all these chroniclers? Do any of them actually date earlier than the 13th century? How many are independent sources?


Why do you think the claim is so outrageous? I believe you can find out exactly who the 500+ chroniclers are if you search through the work of Spanheim (Histoire de la Papesse Jeanne, 2 volumes).


I'm asking if the claim about what Bower said is found in a Protestant anti-papist writer. You have confirmed that it is in a Protestant anti-papist writer.


Why does this matter if what Rhoidis claims Bower said is accurate? After all the work you put into defending historicism against this same fallacy put forth by futurists, this line of questioning surprises me.


which of the Protestant writers acknowledge that the Catholics didn't start questioning this story until the Reformers started using it against them?


Why do you need a Protestant witness when a Jesuit readily admits this to have been the case? Or, like Alexander Cooke wrote: "The testimony of a papist against a papist, and the testimony of a papist for a protestant, is without exception."


But as I've pointed out, skepticism of the story was already shown by some Catholic historians.


So what? Skepticism does not equal repudiation.


At the end of the day however you need to address the evidence I have provided which indicates this story is fraudulent.


John, Joan, Johanna. I don't see that as evidence against the story.
Why isn't she in the papal lists? That's already been answered. I'm sure she's not the only one missing from more than a few of them.
Ninth or eleventh century? I can't say for sure. Some of my sources mention Morozia in support of the latter. As for why the writers don't agree on the century Joan reigned, from what I've read the lists vary on the numbering of the popes.

Edited by Unbound68, 06 April 2013 - 10:33 PM.





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