We are fast closing in on the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, who continues to confound both fans and enemies and, doubtless, will continue to do so in the year ahead. For those desirous of understanding previous popes and their surprising antics in papal history, as well as their relations to the Christian East, they would do well, as I have often remarked in the past, to turn to what is the best one-volume history of the papacy available in English, now about to enter its fourth edition: Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes; Fourth Edition (Yale University Press, 2015), 500pp.
About this book the publisher tells us:
This engrossing book encompasses the extraordinary history of the papacy, from its beginnings to the present day. This new edition covers the unprecedented resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of the first Argentinian pope.Praise for the earlier editions:
“Duffy enlivens the long march through church history with anecdotes that bring the different pontiffs to life. . . . Saints and Sinners is a remarkable achievement.”—Piers Paul Read, The Times“A distinguished text . . . offering plenty of historical facts and sobering, valuable judgments.”—Henry Chadwick, New York Times Book Review
“Will fascinate anyone wishing to better understand the history of the Catholic Church and the forces that have shaped the role of the papacy.”—Gloria J. Tysl, Christian Century