For almost 2,000 years, the papacy has been among the most influential forces in world history. Popes have created emperors and deposed monarchs, divided the spoils of conquest and plunged nations into war. A living link between the age of the New Testament and the 21st century, today’s Holy Father commands the spiritual allegiance of more than a fifth of the world’s population and attracts greater crowds than presidents and pop stars.
In Saints and Sinners the distinguished historian Eamon Duffy traces the tumultuous processes by which a humble fisherman from Galilee became the foundation and first figurehead of a prodigious institution that has challenged the authority of the mightiest rulers and states, and reached to the heart of culture and society in every era. Duffy follows the story of the papacy from the dying days of the Roman Empire to modern times.
Among the 262 extraordinary men who have led the Catholic Church we encounter the pious and pragmatic Gregory the Great, who initiated the evangelisation of Anglo-Saxon England; Alexander VI, the notorious Borgia Pope; Leo X, whose efforts to fund the rebuilding of St Peter’s Basilica precipitated the Reformation; Pius XII, diplomat extraordinaire of the Second WorldWar; and John Paul II, whose uncompromisingly traditionalist principles were no barrier to his status as the most popular pope ever.
Our edition of Saints and Sinners uses the most up-to-date version of the text published in 2006. Regarded by critics as the finest single-volume account of the papacy available, this is a historical tour de force – and a magnificent portrait of one of the most powerful and ancient institutions in the world.