The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation
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 hum...more
After I got the book in the mail I realized that I might not be the ideal reviewer they are looking for thought because the book is b ...more
It would be so easy to give in ...more
Inspired in part by recent references to this legendary Pope who resigned from office only months after taking on the job (most notably by Benedict XVI), Sweeney weaves a tale of inspiration and intrigue surrounding this man who entered the Papacy with a vision of purity of heart and purpose only to leave that vision behind months later and ultimately suffe ...more
The subject of the book is Peter Morrone who became Pope Celestine V in August of 1294 at age 84 and resigned in December of the same year. Peter was best known for living a contemplative, hermit-like existence for well over half of his life which was unusual for Popes during that period who characteristically were far more involved with church and secular politics. It should be noted that very few sources exist that ...more
That said, Sweeney is meticulous in his research, and careful not to classify or imply as fact any questionable theories. I appreciate that in a biography.
There are many positives with this book. First, the story is a truly interesting one. Morrone was an influential spiritual ascetic. Following in the grand tradition of the desert fathers, he retreated to the foothil ...more
It's a good read, a history (non-fiction) about Benedictine Brother Peter Morrone (1210-1296), who took his last name from a mountain in the rough Italian Abruzzi. He lived there as a hermit—but not just any hermit. Morrone was a rock star hermit, attracting crowds of followers and fans. He even founded a strict but popular religious order, the Celestine ...more
After five months of rule over the church, never reaching Rome, he abdicated. His successor, Boniface VIII tried to assert papal dominance over all of life, i ...more
I enjoy histories of the Middle Ages to begin with, but this is an especially good one. Pope Celestine, born Peter Damian was a hermetic and deeply ascetic monk who was vociferously critical of the luxury and politics of Rome. He was elected by the cardinals in order to be a "tie breaker" of sorts between rival families. But it is ...more
Interestingly, the narrative mentions more than once the seeming fascination of the then-sitting pope, Benedict XVI, with Celestine's story, before blithely conclud ...more
That said, some quibbles with the book -- it is penned for a Fox News audience. Or better ...more
The book also provides a solid account of the life and politic surrounding the childho ...more
But the conclusions he draws should be well taken. You have a contemplative person selected to be pope, who tries to infuse his spirituality into the politics of the 13th century Roman Catholic Church and gets chewed up ...more
Also, the author devoted an entire chapter to speculating that St. Celestine V was murdered by poison by his successor Boniface VIII, and that's all it is: speculation and con ...more
Sweeney seemed to participate actively in blurring the line between fact and fantasy, citing anecdotes about Celestine's visions as if they were literal truth. (I'm not arguing that Celestine's visions aren't important or shouldn't be discuss ...more
Incredibly easy to read and approachable. The story is well researched and told by also weaving larger historical events.
However, it's disjointed, jumping from point to point. Occasionally the author references earlier sections in the book i was supposed to recall to randomly become important for just that paragraph. It also diverges from the focal point of the book.
Despite this is still recommend this ...more
This book tried very hard to explain not only the story of Celestine V but the atmosphere of the Middle Ages itself to its modern audience, as the several references to popular culture and the then-current pope make clear. Fortunately, this lessened as the book went on.
While the generalizations, assumptions, and disputed points nagged at me a little, I was able to enjoy the telling overall. The book probably would have benefited from less characterization, and I suspect it will later b ...more
He has written more than 20 books, ...more