Thursday, July 24, 2014
The Pope Who quit, first nonfiction review
The Pope Who Quit by Jon Sweeney
This is a history book about the first Pope to resign his post.
What? No, no, no! Not him!
Right! This guy! Who the hell is he, you ask?
Pope Celestine V, born Peter Morrone, a hermit, founder of a religious order of hermits. Managed to get himself elected Pope by accident in 1294! The old Pope had died and the the Cardinals (all 7 of them back then) were taking their sweet time picking a new Pope. This made people nervous about the fate and the direction of the Catholic Church and Christianity itself. Peter decided that his faith demand he take action. So he wrote a letter to the Cardinals to get the lead out and pick a new Pope already...
Be careful what you ask for.
The Cardinals decided he was the perfect guy for the job. He would serve as Pope for 6 months before resigning . Never once did he step foot in Rome, serving as Pope from Naples the whole time. His resignation was an act that rocked the Catholic Church to it's very bedrock and would pave the way for Benedict's own resignation. He has at times been remembered as a saint, a fool, a naive puppet and an ill fated reformer.
This book discusses the times that produces Pope Celestine V and his early life, the issues the Church was going through and the political times and people who were players in this drama. We learn about his large family, his intense spiritual and religious impluses and his constant quest to be alone with God. We get a look at the intense religious feelings and desires that were boiling away during this age, the corruption and failings of the Church and the conflicting desires of the Church's Princes. The conflict within spiritual orders between those who want great rigor in their lives and those who sought liberalization and how this all feeds into this Papacy and it's failure. This book was really interesting and enlighting not just about the very brief Popacy but the events that led up to it. Although there's weak coverage of the aftermath in my opinion. I won't say to much more because I don't want to end up rewriting the book.
If you're interested in the Middle Ages, odd stories of history, the Catholic Church or any combination of the last 3, then you're interested in this book.
The Pope Who Quit gets a B+
Well that was much better. I think I'm ready to dive back into fiction now!