Ten Popes Who Shook the World


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Eamon Duffy

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Of all the men who have served the Catholic Church as pope, who were the ten most influential?

The Bishops of Rome have been Christianity's most powerful leaders for nearly two millennia, and their influence has extended far beyond the purely spiritual. The popes have played a central role in the history of Europe and the wider world, not only shouldering the spiritual burdens of their ancient office, but also in contending with - and sometimes precipitating - the cultural and political crises of their times. In an acclaimed series of BBC radio broadcasts Eamon Duffy explored the impact of ten popes he judged to be among 'the most influential in history'. With this book, readers may now also enjoy Duffy's portraits of ten exceptional men who shook the world.

The book begins with St Peter, the Rock upon whom the Catholic Church was built, and follows with Leo the Great (fifth century), Gregory the Great (sixth century), Gregory VII (eleventh century), Innocent III (thirteenth century), Paul III (sixteenth century), and Pius IX (nineteenth century). Among twentieth-century popes, Duffy examines the lives and contributions of Pius XII, who was elected on the eve of the Second World War, the kindly John XXIII, who captured the world's imagination, and John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in 450 years. Each of these ten extraordinary individuals, Duffy shows, shaped their own worlds, and in the process, helped to create ours.

Eamon Duffy is professor of the history of Christianity, Cambridge University, and fellow and former president of Magdalene College. He is the author of many prizewinning books, among them Fires of Faith, Marking the Hours, and Saints and Sinners, all available from Yale University Press. He lives in Cambridge, UK.

“A spiky and enjoyable account.”—Peter Standford, The Sunday Times

“Enlightening”—Mary Carroll, Booklist

“The 10 sketches in this short book were broadcast in an acclaimed series on Radio 4 in 2007. They work well on the page, achieving brilliantly something hard to pull off: vivid brief lives that are accurate, fair and engaging…..In The Stripping of the Altars, Eamon Duffy changed the way we looked at England on the eve of the Reformation. His Ten Popes provokes us to rethink the way the bishops of Rome made world history.”—Christopher Howse, The Tablet

“….. [A] very readable book….a book highly to be recommended.”—Robert Nowell, Church Times

“Not only is Duffy an elegant stylist; he is the best qualified person in the English-speaking world to write on [this] subject. You will not, therefore, be disappointed in these 10 sketches.”—John W. O’Malley, America

"First presented as radio broadcasts, these 10 insightful profiles from a world-class historian are well worth your time."—Dan Connors, Catholic Digest

“It will only take you a couple of hours to read this book but you’ll learn a great deal.”—Jonathan Wright, BBC History Magazine

“This is an honest book, full of fresh insights, and can be read not only by Catholics, but, being totally objective, can be read by all who are interested in religious history.”—John Irvine, The Good Book Stall.org

“Duffy’s broadcasting voice transfers smoothly to the printed page, and his book manages to be both effortlessly readable and consistently thought-provoking.”—Peter Marshall, Times Literary Supplement

"[Duffy's] introduction and very selective bibliography are worth the book’s price, and his essays are simply brilliant. Academic libraries should obtain this to prove to dubious students that scholarly writing need not be dry or obfuscating, and parish libraries will appreciate the book’s
brevity and delightful style. Most highly recommended."—Daniel Boice, Catholic Library World

"[P]erceptive and persuasive . . . Duffy offers brief, lucid narratives and convincing interpretations of the considerable significance of each of the ten popes included."—W.L. Pitts Jr., Choice

“A lively and enjoyable read.”—James Kelly, Catholic Times

“…an interesting collection and a good introduction to the papacy.”—Contemporary Review
ISBN: 9780300176889
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
160 pages, 5 1/4 x 8'
30 b/w illus.
The Stripping of the Altars

Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580
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The Voices of Morebath

Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village

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Marking the Hours

English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570

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Fires of Faith

Catholic England under Mary Tudor

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Saints and Sinners

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The Stripping of the Altars

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