A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present
John W. O'Malley
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A History of the Popes tells the story of the oldest living institution in the Western world―the papacy. From its origins in Saint Peter, Jesus' chief disciple, through Pope Benedict XVI today, the popes have been key players in virtually all of the great dramas of the western world in the last two thousand years. Acclaimed church historian John W. O'Malley's engaging narrative examines the 265 individuals who have claimed to be Peter's successors. Rather than describe each pope one by one, the book focuses on the popes that shaped pivotal moments in both church and world history. The author does not shy away from controversies in the church, and includes legends like Pope Joan and a comprehensive list of popes and antipopes to help readers get a full picture of the papacy.
This simultaneously reverent yet critical book will appeal to readers interested in both religion and history as it chronicles the saints and sinners who have led the Roman Catholic Church over the past 2000 years. The author draws from his popular audio CD lecture series on the topic, 2,000 Years of Papal History, available through Now You Know Media (www.nowyouknowmedia.com).
twelve years after Nicaea, the church had entered a golden era, with its hand held firmly and appreciatively by its great patron. That does not mean its course was untroubled. Of all the troubles, Arianism headed the list and generated bitter controversies. Constantine never formally wavered in his support for the council’s anti-Arian stance, but he came more and more under the influence of Arian bishops, who were able to persuade him of the ill will or malfeasance of leaders of the orthodox
with his personality is the story that every day he invited a dozen poor men to dine with him. Gregory employed a large corps of notaries and secretaries, who preserved and organized the archives, drew up official letters and documents. He dictated to them almost daily. He created a council of advisers to help him in his decision-making and to keep things running smoothly when he was unavailable. He fulfilled in an extraordinarily effective way, in other words, the duties that had long been
there of the Papal States in the sense that he was the first to bring them, if only temporarily, under effective papal control. They lay in the hands of local families and factions, some more loyal to the emperor than to the pope. Through his own authority and through his family connections, Innocent was able to place men loyal to himself in major cities and centers such as Bologna, Ancona, and Parma and thus ensure the States’ stability and the flow of income into Rome. He campaigned for
turn toward experiment and mathematics from supposedly authoritative texts such as Aristotle’s works on “natural philosophy.” With faith in the ancients’ analysis of the physical world shaken, faith in their metaphysical categories could not be far behind. Descartes’s search for certitude was of a piece with this new situation. The language and many of the presuppositions of learned discourse changed. The Aristotelian principles that underlay Scholasticism, the dominant genre of Catholic
intellectual mainstream, some few among them were testing the new historical approaches to sacred subjects like the Bible and the liturgy that would bear fruit later. Back in the Vatican, however, by 1870 the situation of the papacy looked bleak. Pius IX died on February 7, 1878, after the longest pontificate in history and certainly one of the most important. Just a month earlier King Victor Emmanuel II died in the Quirinal Palace a mile away from the Vatican, across the Tiber. The king and his