Monday, May 14, 2012

The First and Only Quitter

The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation by Jon M. Sweeney

Summary: 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 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.

Review: More a history of the time period and the important historical figures than an actual history of Celestine. 

I must admit that I was disappointed in this book. I was expecting it to be about Pope Celestine, whom the book is named after. Celestine's story is fascinating. I did not know he was the only pope to abdicate. I was expecting to learn about why he was chosen to be pope and why he quit. Unfortunately, this book is rather short on Celestine's story. There is not much information about Celestine and a lot of that information is embellished. 

To understand Celestine and his abdication, one must understand the history of the time period Celestine lived in. I found the history the most fascinating part of the book. I like the time period and enjoy reading about the Middle Ages. There is a lot to touch on and the book does a good job of providing enough history to understand Celestine and his times. I honestly felt I did not learn too much about Celestine. There was not enough information about him. I do not think Celestine's story warrants its own book. I think it would have been fine being part of a history of the Church during the Middle Ages. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this to those interested in religion, Church history, or the Middle Ages. 

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