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The Shoes of the Fisherman (The Vatican Trilogy #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,280 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
The pope has died, and the corridors of the Vatican hum with intrigue as cardinals from all over the world gather to choose his successor. Suddenly, the election is concluded - with a surprise result. The new pope is the youngest cardinal of all - and a Russian. Shoes of the Fisherman slowly unravels the heartwarming and profound story of Kiril Lakota, a cardinal who reluc ...more
Hardcover, 374 pages
Published April 1st 1990 by St Martins Press (first published January 1st 1963)
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Profound on many levels, this book is amazing. Although written in 1963, it predicts a Ukrainian Pope named Kiril Lakota who suffered much under the Communist system, envisions a worldwide, peace-making role for the papacy, anticipates traveling to Marian apparition sites, and is deeply spiritual. Does this remind you of anyone? Even the name Karol Wojtyla and the Eastern-block location are eerily close. I wonder what Morris West thought when Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła) became pope? I wond ...more
Sep 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Read and enjoyed this years ago (before the movie). Current readers may have a little trouble understanding why a Russian pope would have had such impact (prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and election of John Paul II).
May 06, 2017 rated it it was ok

Almost every year from 1940 to 1963, there has been at least one Christian novel on the Top 10 Bestseller list. The Shoes of the Fisherman took the #1 spot in 1963. It is the story of a Pope, how he was chosen, and what he faced in trying to keep the Catholic Church relevant in the postwar, communist influenced Cold War era. Kiril Lakota, Ukrainian Russian, victim of torture in the gulags, becomes Pope Kiril I.

According to the Author's Note in the front of the book, "This is a book set in a fict
Jim Vuksic
Jan 03, 2014 rated it liked it
"The Shoes of the Fisherman" had only been available for two years when my advanced literature class was obliged to read it in 1965. I was a senior, attending a Roman Catholic seminary, so it came as no great surprise that this book would be required reading.

Reluctantly, I started to read; fully expecting it to be a pious propaganda piece for the Catholic Church and quite boring as well. I was wrong on both counts.

This story of a young Russian Cardinal being elected Pope turned out to be inspira
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.

The combination of philosophical internal discussions from the highest seat in the Catholic church and the everyday worries of a middle-aged man set in the midst of the cold war was brilliant. When you think that this was written just a few years before the Cuban crisis, it shows a clear insight to the tension at the time. In light of the resent appointment of Pope Francis, it is particularly interesting to read about the Jesuits and the development of the role of the
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book for college English 50 years ago. I revisted it in anticipation of the upcoming conclave. Amazing how things haven't change to a great degree from when this was published. Still trying to get the church to connect with the common man and divorce itself from pomp and circumstance. Still a worthwhile read fifty years later.
Juan Carlos
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
West is without a doubt a superb writer, however I found The Shoes of The Fisherman to be a great dissapointment. In spite of the fact that most of the reviews I have read higly praise the book, it never really got to me.

The concept seems quite interesting at first: an unknown russian, cardinal Kiril Lakota is elected pope. After being held prisioner for quite a few years, he steps up to lead millions of people around the globe in a new world which he basically has knowledge of only from his ye
Apr 06, 2010 rated it liked it
The book I just read was a paper back, published in May of 1964. There was a movie made of this story that I saw in the late 60's.

When I first started reading the book I fully expected it to track somewhat closely to the movie.

Not so.

The book story line begins with a new pope from behind the iron curtain. This brings with it some special challenges as you can imagine. The development of the new pope Lakota has to face the daunting job of being a pope during the height of the cold war. The story
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Moments of crisis - in spirit, in thought, in love, in action - populate this book and Morris West does not shirk from giving his characters hard things to think about, and hard things to do, as well as the hard consequences of their actions. Ostensibly this is about the first few months of a new pope, but his dealings with his torturer who is now Russian premier, a woman who is wandering aimlessly until she finds herself, a puppet politician controlled by his aunt and his love affairs with the ...more
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was fantastic!!
Alberto Delgado
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Posiblemente la mejor novela vaticana que se haya publicado.
Zebardast Zebardast
Aug 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
just crap
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, religion
I enjoyed this old novel (it came out in 1963) about the Vatican and a new, young Pope from an Eastern block country who shakes things up in Rome. The author was an Australian, and in his novels he managed to predicted the Papacy of John Paul II fifteen years before it happened, as well as the retirement of Pope Benedict decades before it took place. It was interesting for me to read about the concerns of the Catholic Church on the eve of Vatican II (the novel actually came out on the day Pope J ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: clergy, fiction
A novel ahead of its time - the theme of a non-Italian Pope would not come to life (after centuries of Italian Popes) until 1978, 15 years after this novel. This enjoyable and highly readable novel was made into a blockbuster film in 1968, starring Anthony Quinn.

Vatican Trilogy Book I - A Russian - and the youngest cardinal of all - is elected as the new pope. This is the story of Kiril Lakota, a cardinal who reluctantly steps out from behind the Iron Curtain to lead the Catholic Church and to g
David Renderos
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Las Sandalias del pescador" se remonta en un conflicto ideológico denominado "Guerra Fría" sin embargo , El Papa ha muerto , Pero ¿Quién tomara su lugar será algún cardenal italiano? , Por otra parte el personaje principal es Cirilo I Pontífice Máximo , es escogido Papa ; Pero lo que distingue a Cirilo I de otros cardenales , es su sencillez y humildad ; por otra parte , se apoya de la ayuda de David Telémond.
Un libro muy interesante y curiosamente que aborda temas esenciales sobre el Vaticano
Amy Doeun
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a providential read for me. I got it at the library through their "blind date with a book" program for Valentine's Day. So I didn't know the book I picking, but I found it extraordinarily timely. I have been grappling with my spirituality for a long time and how God fits in my life. This book has many of the same contemplations. I wrote down many great quotes to help me on my spiritual journey. At the same time it was an enjoyable and quick read, though some sections dragged.
L.   (Your Migraines Are Podcasts Trying To Be Produced)
2.5 stars

The story of a newly elected pope dealing with the problems of the Atomic Age, including nuclear armageddon and babies deformed by prescription drugs.

The reason I'm docking the book a couple of points is because of a secondary story. Something about some woman trying to get a divorce so she can marry an American. It was nothing but filler with no impact on the main story. Cut it out and you wouldn't even miss it. Why was it even put in there?
Ed DeLoach
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Cold War study from a different angle

A fictional study of life during the Cold War from a different point of view, the Catholic Church. Everybody has read fiction and non-fiction about the Cold War, but nobody has looked at a group committed to peace and given a view from that point of view. It’s an interesting read and well done.
Liz Barlow
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting view into the inner workings of the Vatican. It's very reflective of the typical bureaucracy weighed down by people too old to move with the times and so have lost touch with their essential purpose. The book's a little dry and drawn out in spots with old school type writing but a good read nevertheless.
Mike Glaser
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have always enjoyed the movie based on this book and finally found the opportunity to do so. Once again, I find that the book is so much better than the movie, mainly because it is afforded the opportunity to more define and flesh out the characters.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, catholic, classics
I really wanted to like this book much more than I actually did. The different story lines seemed disjointed to me and it seemed more like the book just stopped rather than had an ending.
Jose Luis Meza Garcia
Que buen libro! Me arrepiento haber descubierto a esta edad a Morris West cuando de pequeño en casa habían muchos libros de él. Pero por otro lado pienso que esta es la edad perfecta para disfrutar un autor así con temas político, religiosos, humanos y espirituales. De todas formas me siento contento de poder disfrutar al autor en ésta época de mi vida.

Respecto al libro, son tantos los aspectos que cubre en sus 317 páginas que numerarlos todos es complicado. Empieza por la necesidad de nombrar u
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read by the author, and I confess to never really being interested in his work before. A few pages in though, and I was hooked on this story about a Pope. This, up to now, would have been a contradiction in terms as I have little interest in religious matters and tend to view the ceremonies and procedures around the elections and duties of the position as archaic and peculiar. There are two things which drew me in initially: the back story of Pope Kiril – he had bee ...more
Bob Koelle
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Coming from a deep dislike of the Catholic Church, I'm not sure why I even wanted to read this. But I enjoyed it particularly because I think the author projected his ideals about what intellectual and spiritual life at the highest levels of church hierarchy should be. I don't think these characters resemble reality in any way, which is fine. This is fiction, after all.

Pope Kiril I has a deep humanity, and his interaction with the Jesuit Jean is one of the best expressions of affection toward a
David Miller
This book was written just before Vatican II. Between then and now, many of the ideas West advocates in this book have come to pass. West (through his characters of course) acknowledges the possible bad effects of a traveling papacy; Mass in the vernacular; decentralizing doctrine and discipline. All of these bad effects and more have come to pass.

The pope in this novel does acknowledge his responsibility to safeguard and pass on the deposit of faith without the smallest taint of change or error
Feb 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholic, fiction
The beginning of the book reminded me of Angels & Demons because it starts with the death of a pope and election of a new one. But it seems better researched. And so far that's the only similarity. I'm not very far into it, but I'm enjoying it so far. A little bit slow-moving, but thoughtful.

This was different from what I usually read... Not a whole lot of action, but still fascinating to read about the thinking of all these characters. There's a lot in there. The book also lacks a neat reso
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, fiction
Quería que me gustara, porque una de mis amigas me dijo que era muy bueno y además es un libro con una historia impresionante. Todo el mundo lo sabe, pero lo diré de nuevo: Morris West viajó al futuro y decidió escribir libros al respecto. Todo lo que dice es escandalosamente acertado.
Pero fuera de eso no hay comentarios muy grandes. Se trata de un libro sobre un Papa, por lo que la prosa piadosa no me sorprendió nada. Lo que sí me sorprendió - y no en el buen sentido - fue la forma en que el au
Donna R
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Published in 1963 and the first in a trilogy, I am keen to find the next instalments. An interest I'm immersed in is to read the novels later adapted to film in which Anthony Quinn acted. This is #5 and I am so wrapped up in this endeavour that I can best describe Anthony as my reading buddy. That being so, I am genuinely enjoying spreading my reading net to eras and themes that I would not have otherwise chosen.

The Shoes of the Fisherman is a novel of substance, it gives me insight to the mach

Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have wanted to read this book for years and finally got around to it. I'm not going to include a synopsis since many other reviewers have already done so. I thought it was a difficult read that I put a lot of time into and am not sure that it was worth it. I found myself compelled to read because I came to care for many of the characters but the end didn't give me any closure. I still want to know what happened to all of them. A very old review on the back of the book calls it a "cliff-hanger, ...more
Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quizá yo no sea la mejor persona para hablar de religión, pues en este tema se corre el riesgo de siempre toparte con aquellos que estructuran su propia ideología en un cuadrado, sin embargo, debiese entenderse que el fin quizá ultimo de todas las religiones habidas o que por lo menos hasta ahora conozco es el bien...
Desde está mi perspectiva este libro a venido a mostrar la estructura cabal de la iglesia no como fe o religión sino como ente mismo de una sociedad, regida por hombres, hombres cuy
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Morris Langlo West was born in St Kilda, Melbourne in 1916. At the age of fourteen, he entered the Christian Brothers seminary ‘as a kind of refuge’ from a difficult childhood. He attended the University of Melbourne and worked as a teacher. In 1941 he left the Christian Brothers without taking final vows. In World War II he worked as a code-breaker, and for a time he was private secretary to form ...more
More about Morris West

Other books in the series

The Vatican Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Clowns of God
  • Lazarus
“Who cares about theology except the theologians? We are necessary, but less important than we think. The Church is Christ—Christ and the people. And all the people want to know is whether or not there is a God, and what is His relation with them, and how they can get back to Him when they stray.” 1 likes
“»En todas partes el hombre ha tomado conciencia de sí mismo como un animal de tránsito y lucha desesperadamente por afirmar su derecho a lo mejor del mundo durante el breve período que habita en él.” 0 likes
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