Part of the call of the Year of Faith is to renew our knowledge of and commitment to the faith that was gifted to us at baptism. Veritas is therefore happy to offer a Year of Faith: Book of the Month. These books are intended to inform readers on a wide variety of faith topics. As an initiative for the Year of Faith, you might like to start a Year of Faith Book Club in your work, school or parish community, where these publications can be discussed and shared.
Book of the Month for Octber: Francis, Bishop of Rome: A Short Biography by Michael Collins
The election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis has reinvigorated interest in the Church for many people, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. With a winning smile and a casual ‘buona sera’ the new Pope greeted the world, and the world was entranced.
His message of simplicity, and his commitment to the poor and marginalised, have attracted the rapt attention of an often cynical world. So who is Francis, Bishop of Rome, the man his colleagues went ‘to the end of the world’ to find? This short biography by Fr Michael Collins, Vatican expert and biographer of Pope Benedict XVI, explains in simple terms who Francis is, where he came from, and what the main influences on his life have been.
Collins also outlines briefly the important events in the new pontiff’s life to date, from entrance to the Society of Jesus as a young man, his appointment as Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina at a time of great civil unrest, his appointment as bishop and later Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and ultimately his election as Pope and Bishop of Rome.
A Review of Francis, Bishop of Rome: A Short Biography
Francis, Bishop of Rome is a chronicle by Fr Michael Collins of the early life of Jorge Bergoglio, and the one event that changed the man who would be led to the Throne of Peter. The author gives a simple recounting of the early life of Jorge Bergoglio and focuses on key factors of family life, work and study which influenced the young boy living in Argentina.
The rise of facism in mid-1922 in Italy prompted the emigration of the Bergoglio family in September 1929. Fate or a guiding hand saved the family from shipwreck to their eventual landing on 15 February 1930 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Great-uncles were waiting for them and the family of former shop owners settled into business in paving and construction.
Jorge Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936. The family was devoted to the church and the saints and a week later Jorge was baptised in the Basilica of San Carlos Borromeo in Almagro. Father Enrique Pozzoli, a Salesian priest performed the ceremony. He later became Jorge’s spiritual director. Collins notes that Jorge learned Italian at his grandmother’s knee and listened to her wistful tones, stories of family and friends they would never see again.
On 21 September 1953, the first day of an Argentinian spring, Jorge had decided to propose marriage to a young girl that he had been in a relationship with. On his way to the event, he went to confession at church. And if you want to know what happened to change his life, you’ll have to find it in the book!
The author allows the reader to draw his/her own conclusions as to the makings of Pope Francis. My take is that a pope is a spiritual leader; mother, father, comforter and friend. If you understand the workings of the Holy Spirit, you can understand the qualities and prayer life of a pope. All in all, if you enjoy spiritual reading and learning how a spiritual calling is implemented in the realities of life in the Church, you will enjoy this book.
- Review by M.K. Kildor
About the Author:
Michael Collins is a priest for the Archdiocese of Dublin, where he has served in a number of parishes. He has written and co-authored a number of books, including Benedict XVI: Successor to Peter, John Paul II: The Path to Sainthood, and The Story of Christianity. He also edited The Illustrated Bible, which was the Year of Faith: Book of the Month in December 2012.
Previous Books of the Month:
September 2013: Where God Hides: A Journey of Divine Awakening
August 2013: Where God Hides by Liam Lawton
July 2013: Jesus: Social Revolutionary?
June 2013: The Gospels Box Set
May 2013: Faith Working Through Love: Prayers, Meditations and Reflections Celebrating the Year of Faith
April 2013: Dear James Anthony: Why I Want You to be Catholic
March 2013: Share the Good News: National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland
February 2013: Take the Plunge by Timothy Radcliffe
January 2013: Will there be Faith? Depends on Every Christian by Thomas H. Groome
December 2012: The Illustrated Bible: Story by Story by Michael Collins
November 2012: Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2013, from www.sacredspace.ie
October 2012: Heaven Sent: My Life Through the Rosary by Fr Gabriel Harty