The Grand Central Schism is the only "really important" schism in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, according to A Short Guide to Catholic Church History; it seemingly lasted from 1252 to 1254 (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 58-9).


  • 1252
    • August: the documented commencement of the schism in Rome between French and German cardinals over kitchen facilities at the conclave they were attending. The French cardinals flee to Oeufs, France, where they elect the antipope Carius.
    • October: Phobus IV is elected by four French and four Italian cardinals in Pisa.
    • November: Turkish pirate Ragbash seizes the Dalmatian port town of Spug and threatens to impale the whole town unless he is made pope.
    • December: the three claimants exchange excommunications for Christmas.
  • 1253
    • January: Dutch mystic Jan ter Koot knows the identity of the real pope - but no one cares.
    • May: the three claimants assemble at the Verona Arena in Verona where Zosimus II is elected and agreed upon by all claimants - except Ragbash.
  • 1254
    • January: Four claimants appear in a boat on the Tiber River but later disappear.



The Grand Central Schism satirizes the details of the better-known Great Schism or Western Schism (1378-1417), where, following the death of Pope Gregory XI, the successor elected by the cardinals proved so unpopular that the College of Cardinals reconvened, declared his election invalid, and elected someone else.  Antipopes (those rival claimants to the papacy) were nothing new but none before had been elected by the cardinals. Both men claimed to be Pope, with Urban VI ruling in Rome and Clement VII ruling from Avignon, France. Somewhere in the midst of this a third counsel deposed both and elected a third pope (Alexander V, from Pisa, Italy).  Eventually the Counsel of Constance deposed all claimants and elected a new pope, Martin V[1].

The proposed title of Bellairs's first book was The Grand Central Schism and Other Parodies for Catholics.


  1. Wikipedia: Western Schism
5. A Short Guide to Catholic Church History

Popes: Spatulus IIISporus VI
Schisms: Grand Central Schism
Heresies: Econophanic HeresyMonophonic HeresyScrupularian Heresy
Old Canards: Pope JoanGalileoAlfred Smith