When Joseph Ratzinger chose the Papal name Benedict XVI he consciously bought into a legacy that has stretched over nearly 1500 years. From Bonosus in 575 to Bendict XV in 1914 the Benedictine legacy has been one of turmoil.
Benedict XV is one of the least known Popes of the 20th century, but one of the most important. Elected in 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War he dedicated his Papacy to achieving peace throughout Europe. In August 1917 he offered a 'Peace Note' to the warring powers to bring about the cessation of hostilities, engaged in humanitarian activities and was instrumental is setting up the Save the Children Fund.
Benedict sought to heal the wounds created by the 'Modernist crisis' of his predecessor, Pius X reign, but only after the end of World War I was he able to focus on matters within the church. Despite his innate conservatism he took up progressive positions on both the Easter Rite Churches and Catholicism's missionary outlook. He died relatively young yet his reign is one of the most important of any in the twentieth Century.
This is the first biography of Pope Benedict XV published in English in over forty years. The author has made use of hitherto unavailable archival sources, particularly those of the Vatican previously unpublished private papers of his family.
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About the Author
John Pollard is at Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge.