August 3, 2013

The Pope Who Quit (Not Benedict!)

Is it weird to recommend a book before I've even read it? When I heard that Relevant Radio was going to interview the author of a book called The Pope Who Quit, I obviously thought it was going to be about Pope Benedict. But boy was I wrong.

The full title is The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation by Jon M. Sweeney. When Pope Benedict stepped down earlier this year, we all heard in news stories that the only other time a pope had quit was back in the 1200s. But I had no idea about the wild details behind Pope Celestine's rein.

Here's the publisher's description:

The riveting story of Pope St. Celestine V, the pope who retired from the papacy.

At the close of the tumultuous Middle Ages, there lived a man who seemed destined from birth to save the world. His name was Peter Morrone, a hermit, a founder of a religious order, and, depending on whom you talk to, a reformer, an instigator, a prophet, a coward, a saint, and possibly the victim of murder. A stroke of fate would, practically overnight, transform this humble servant of God into the most powerful man in the Catholic Church. Half a year later, he would be the only pope in history to abdicate the chair of St. Peter, an act that nearly brought the papacy to its knees. What led him to make that decision and what happened afterward would be shrouded in mystery for centuries. The Pope Who Quit pulls back the veil of secrecy on this dramatic time in history and showcases a story that involves deadly dealings, apocalyptic maneuverings, and papal intrigue.

Sounds more like a mystery novel than a history lesson, doesn't it. And it's pretty funny that the author wrote a book called The Pope Who Quit just about one year before another pope ended up stepping down.

After hearing the interview, I bought the e-book version, but it may be a while before I get around to reading it. I have a stack of books (hard copy and electronic) that I've been meaning to read. But with work, baseball season (how could I possibly read a book while there's a Braves game on?), parenting and the fact that I can barely stay awake once our two young kids are asleep, it's a challenge to find any time to read.

But I promise you that one day I'll read this one. Perhaps you should too. Even if you aren't interested in Catholicism or papal history, this one sounds like a good read.

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