The Cardinals: Thirteen Centuries of the Men Behind the Papal Throne

The Cardinals: Thirteen Centuries of the Men Behind the Papal Throne

by Michael Walsh
     
 

Although a highly visible part of the ecclesiastical furniture of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican for thirteen centuries, surprisingly little has been written about cardinals or (apart from some notable individual biographies), about the men who became 'papal princes'.

The cardinals of the Roman Church are “the nearly men” of Catholicism -

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Overview

Although a highly visible part of the ecclesiastical furniture of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican for thirteen centuries, surprisingly little has been written about cardinals or (apart from some notable individual biographies), about the men who became 'papal princes'.

The cardinals of the Roman Church are “the nearly men” of Catholicism - those whose office since the 11th century has been chiefly to choose the Pope, following efforts to wrest this power from Rome's nobility and militia. This compelling history traces the origins and growth of the office of cardinal and tells the stories of some of the remarkable (for all kinds of reasons) men who have worn the red cap, coveted by some, refused on occasion and sometimes laid down in exchange for marriage, though one maverick got wed in his red hat.

The Cardinals is an informative and entertaining look at the lives of some of the more colourful characters who have worn the cardinatial red or purple. It reveals an unlikely company of saints and villains, patrons of the arts and scholars, cardinals who might have been pope but who were blackballed, and cardinals who were deprived of the title because of their dissolute lives, doubtful opinions, or interference in papal policies. There are diplomats in these pages, statesmen, kingmakers and soldiers. There are members of royal and noble families, and the son of a Doge of Venice. And there are the cardinals whose fame simply lies in their goodness and their care of the dioceses entrusted to them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“With his trademark gifts of beautiful prose, vast learning, and a decided flair for storytelling, Walsh leads us through the lives of the redoubtable clerics who won their 'red hats,' and in the process became at times saints, and at times quite the opposite. The Cardinals is that rare book that helps you to see church history in a surprising new light.”
— James Martin, S.J.
author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

“It is no understatement to say that this book makes for an interesting read that is also factually reliable, highly informative, and often surprising.”
— J. Robert Wright
Historiographer of the Episcopal Church

“Variously scandalous, edifying, and informative, The Cardinals is more than a series of intriguing biographies; it is a seminar in the history of Christianity.”
— Kevin Schmiesing
Acton Institute

Library Journal
Walsh (former librarian, Heythrop Coll., London; The Popes: 50 Celebrated Occupants of the Throne of St. Peter), author of many books on the Catholic Church, now supplies readers with two- to three-page biographies of over 60 men who have held the office of cardinal. His introduction provides a brief but thorough and well-sourced history of the office and its origins. But the biographies are the centerpiece, including men from the 11th through the 20th century. However, rather than in chronological order, the biographies are arranged thematically, grouping together cardinals who have had similar experiences or shared particular characteristics, with Walsh briefly explaining the reasoning behind these groupings, such as cardinals who were also soldiers, cardinals who almost became popes, and cardinals who were scholars.Verdict Walsh's work provides an excellent overview of the office of cardinal and an informative account of the men who have thus served the pope. Recommended especially for students of the ecclesiastical history of the Church.—Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Coll. Lib., Erie, PA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802829412
Publisher:
Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date:
03/15/2011
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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