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, founder of a religious order, and depending on to whom you talk, 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.
©2011 Jon M. Sweeney (P)2012 Franciscan Media
"I’m not embarrassed to say that I knew very little about the remarkable story of Peter Morrone, the monk turned pope. But I’m delighted to say that the tale, as exciting and compelling as any novel or film, is beautifully told by Jon Sweeney. This long-forgotten saga is rightly restored to its place as one of the most unusual episodes in the entire history of the church." (James Martin, SJ, author of Between Heaven and Mirth)
“Jon M. Sweeney’s loving portrait of Celestine V is that rare work of history that also feeds the soul. Anyone interested in the collision of hope, despair, and faith will come away nourished.” (John L. Allen Jr., author of A People of Hope)
"I have read several of Jon Sweeney’s books, always with pleasure. He is a conscientious researcher, and a fine storyteller, with a wonderful gift for creating a sense of place and time. This time he tells the story of Celestine V, a hermit who was elected pope, then abdicated five months later. In The Pope Who Quit, Sweeney gives us a vivid snapshot of a tumultuous period in the history of the Catholic Church and Western Europe." (Thomas J. Craughwell, author of Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics)
Software Designer & Armchair Philosopher
My formal education is BA in European History, with my focus being on the Late Medieval, and I'm a hobbyist medievalist since. So that's why I picked this book--that, and I'm a Catholic.
The narration was what you might expect from a non-professional. I have to say that it seemed his pronunciation of places and names was somewhat random, as well as the Latin bits. Probably the most annoying part was the reading of the parenthetical notes (dates). At times, it was very distracting. I think I'd suggest/prefer leaving those out in the read version, or at least being selective as to which dates are pertinent.
The text, as I recall it, vacillated between almost story-like narrative and historical writing. I think, given the apparent popular focus, it would have been better served to have erred more towards storytelling.
All that said, it did offer a good slice of history of the period with the focus on Pope St. Celestine V, and interesting speculation about the circumstances surrounding his elevation, resignation, and death. Not a bad listen for what it was.
Sweeney narrates his own historical plunge into the life & times of Peter of Moroni. His passion for the details is obvious in his considerable detective work to examine the history from all angles, providing a richly woven tribute to this mysterious man of God.
Further exploration of key persons in government & Church of the time--including Francis of Assisi, the "pillar saints" & hermits--create a fuller bounty of understanding for the life & choices of the brief but godly Pope.
An excellent read/listen that will keep your attention throughout.
Tell us about yourself!
I found that as much as I wanted to learn about this pope, the author never stayed on point. We had flash forwards, flash backwards and mixed in with that were lots of key points in history. This does not flow like a regular book, but rather a bunch of bullet points that are formed together in some sort of time line with tid bits hanging off of that. I never could stay focused enough to finish the book.
With the election of Pope Francis the First and the abdication of Pope Benedict, this book is truly timely.
I had it in my library before Pope Benedict made his announcement to resign. I immediately listened again.
The life and times of Pope Celestine V is truly a story worth knowing. I think this author's goals in writing this book were admirable, but I think he failed in his efforts in many ways.
One of the main ways he falls is by constantly imputing motives to the individuals of history. A good historian shows what happened according to the facts that are known and then perhaps suggests some possible motives but with some reluctance. The reader is capable of deducing these things on their own if the author presents the information properly. Beside, we must always remember that we were not there. We do not know at this distance all that a person was thinking and doing. We pay our courts millions of dollars to determine motives in the present without much assurance that we have the right answer. What is sad is how this author rarely gives anyone the benefit of the doubt. Thank God there will be a General Judgment where God will show the truth of all history, including motives. Surely all will be surprised at how wrong they were in their own private judgments.
Second, he is a typical modern writer who looks down on the middle ages or those that came before us as if we know better now. For example, a number of times he mentions how science has helped us. He says science has helped us understand death. My goodness, how is this? Science may have helped us understand the mechanism of death, but to my knowledge science has not helped us understand anything about death itself which is the separation of body and soul. If anything, science denies the existence of the soul. As a result, the arrogance of his writing is almost too much to take in places.
Third, this author is typical of those who see only the worst in things in historical figures and situations. They love to report even the hints or rumors of wrong doing at the level of the papacy or any other office. They love to concentrate all their efforts on where a saint seems to have failed. This is all part of modern thinking where we blame our parents and ancestors for everything and how they did nothing right.
I could go on and on with this book...but, in a word, sad to say, I cannot recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand the fascinating life and times of Pope Celestine V.
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