Léo Taxil  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Léo Taxil, originally Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès (March 21 1854March 31 1907), was a French hoaxster who duped the pope and the French prelates.

He was born in Marseille. He first became known for writing scurrilous anti-Catholic books, notably the famous sado-masochistic titles Les Debauches d'un confesseur, Les Pornographes sacrés: la confession et les confesseurs, and Les Maîtresses du Pape in which leaders of the Catholic church were portrayed as hedonistic creatures exploring their fetishes in the manner of the Marquis de Sade; in 1879 he was tried at the Seine Assizes for writing a pamphlet "A Bas la Calotte" ("Down with the Cloth"), which was accused of insulting a religion recognized by the state, but he was acquitted.


The Taxil hoax

In 1885 he professed conversion to Catholicism, was solemnly received into the church, and renounced his earlier works. In the 1890s he wrote a series of pamphlets and books denouncing Freemasonry, charging their lodges with worshipping the devil and alleging that one Diana Vaughan had written for him her confessions of the Satanic "Palladism" cult. That book had a great sale among Catholics, although Diana Vaughan never appeared in public. In 1892 Taxil also began to publish a paper La France chrétienne anti-maçonnique. In 1887 he had an audience with Pope Leo XIII, who rebuked the bishop of Charleston for denouncing the anti-Masonic confessions as a fraud and in 1896 sent his blessing to an anti-Masonic Congress in Trent.

Doubts about Vaughan's veracity and even her existence began to grow, and finally Taxil promised to produce her at a lecture to be delivered by him on April 19 1897. To the amazement of the audience (which included a number of priests), he announced that Diana was one of a series of hoaxes. He had begun, he said, by persuading the commandant of Marseille that the harbour was infested with sharks, and a ship was sent to destroy them. Next he invented an underwater city in Lake Geneva, drawing tourists and archaeologists to the spot. He thanked the bishops and Catholic newspapers for facilitating his crowning hoax, namely his conversion. Diana Vaughan was revealed to be a simple typist in his employ, who laughingly allowed her name to be used by him.

The audience received these revelations with indignation and contempt, and Taxil was mobbed on leaving the hall so that policemen had to escort him to a neighbouring café. He then moved away from Paris. He died in Sceaux in 1907.




Léo Taxil a fait paraître certains de ses ouvrages sous divers pseudonymes : Paul de Regis, Adolphe Ricoux, Prosper Manin, Miss Diana Vaughan, Jeanne Savarin, Carlo Sebastiano Volpi.

Ouvrages anticléricaux

  • À bas la calotte ! (1879)
  • Les Soutanes grotesques (1879)
  • La Chasse aux corbeaux (1879)
  • Le Fils du jésuite (1879)
  • Les Bêtises sacrées, revue critique de la superstition, Librairie anticléricale, (1880).
  • Les Friponneries religieuses, avec Alfred Paulon, suivies de quelques variétés anti-cléricales, Librairie nationale, (1880).
  • Plus de cafards !, Librairie anticléricale, (1880).
  • Calotte et calotins (1880-1882). Histoire illustrée du clergé et des congrégations.
  • Les Borgia (1881)
  • Les Pornographes sacrés : la confession et les confesseurs (1882)
  • La Bible amusante (1882)
  • Un Pape femelle (1882)
  • L'Empoisonneur Léon XIII et les cinq millions du chanoine (1883)
  • La Prostitution contemporaine (1883)
  • Pie IX devant l'Histoire (1883)
  • Les Amours secrètes de Pie IX par un ancien camérier secret du pape, Librairie anticléricale, Librairie populaire, 2 vol., Paris, (1881)
  • Les Maîtresses du Pape, roman historique anti-clérical, Librairie anti-cléricale, (1884)
  • La Vie de Veuillot immaculé (1884)
  • Bibliothèque anti-cléricale
  • La Bible amusante, Édition complète de 1897-1898 donnant les citations textuelles de l'Écriture sainte et reproduisant toutes les réfutations opposées par Voltaire, Fréret, lord Bolingbroke, Toland et autres critiques, Librairie pour tous, (1897)
  • Les Livres secrets des confesseurs dévoilés aux pères de famille, P. Fort, (1901).

Ouvrages antimaçonniques

‎* Les assassinats maçonniques‎, avec Paul Verdun, Albert Savine, vers 1887; rééd. Letouzey et Ané (1890)


  • Les Trois cocus, P. Fort, (1900)
  • La Vie de Jésus, P. Fort, (1900)


  • Les Conversions célèbres, deuxième série, Tolra, (1891)
  • M. Drumont, étude psychologique, Letouzey et Ané, (1890)
  • L'Art de bien acheter, guide de la ménagère mise en garde contre les fraudes de l'alimentation, moyens pratiques de reconnaître toutes les tromperies, écrit sous le pseudonyme de Template:Mme Jeanne Savarin, E. Petit, (1904).
  • L'Enclave Monaco, L'auteur, (1905)

Livres d'illustrations

  • La Ménagerie républicaine, galerie amusante de nos petits grands hommes, illustré par Barentin, Letouzey et Ané, (1889).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Léo Taxil" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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