A History of the Popes, 1830-1914

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A History of the Popes, 1830-1914. By Owen Chadwick. [The Oxford History of the Christian Church.] (New York: Oxford University Press. 1998. Pp. x, 614. $135.00.)

Following up his 1981 volume in the same series, The Ropes and European Revolution, Professor Chadwick has now given us a history of the four popes from Gregory XVI to Pius X. He devotes one chapter to each of them except Pius IX, to whom he accords five. He emphasizes their relations with the major countries of the Continent but spends little time on Great Britain and Ireland and almost none on the rest of the world, since, as an editor's note states, the history of the Church in the British Isles and in non-European countries, including the Americas, is to be found in other volumes of the series. The eight chapters on individual pontiffs contain much material about the Catholics in various countries, especially France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, even in affairs in which the popes did not play a major role, as well as much political history, for example concerning Cavour and Napoleon III. Under the subheading "Pius X and France" (p. 377) the relations between Catholics and Jews in Italy, Austria, and Poland are traced before the Dreyfus Affair and its aftermath (mainly the separation of Church and State in France) are recounted. These eight chapters the author complements with three on "Nationality and Religion" in Tyrol and Poland (including Ruthenians), Spain, and Portugal. He then bestows a chapter on "The Religious," meaning mostly male orders or congregations. He concludes the book with three briefer chapters on Catholic universities, "The Idea of Reunion," and "Saints in the Modern World," including Doctors of the Church. Papal promotion of the foreign missions is not considered even though most of the missionaries were Europeans and their headquarters and seminaries were in Europe.

Professor Chadwick deftly relates the history of the four conclaves. He is especially adept at painting character sketches or vignettes of well-known persons such as Lamennais, Felix Dupanloup, Louis Veuillot, and Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, and of lesser-known persons such as several Italian bishops, Enrico Campello, Ignacy Holowinski, Umberto Benigni, and Antonio Maria Claret, who appears a second time in the chapter on saints. His treatment of particular topics such as the Syllabus of Errors and the First Vatican Council, though necessarily brief, are excellent. Throughout the book the author skillfully interweaves the secular history with the religious history of the countries he studies. …