In 1869, some seven hundred Catholic bishops traveled to Rome to participate in the first church-wide council in three hundred years. The French Revolution had shaken the foundations of the church. Pope Pius IX was determined to set things right through a declaration by the council that the pope was infallible.
John W. O’Malley brings to life the bitter, schism-threatening conflicts that erupted at Vatican I. The pope’s zeal in pressing for infallibility raised questions about the legitimacy of the council, at the same time as Italian forces under Garibaldi seized the Papal States and were threatening to take control of Rome itself. Gladstone and Bismarck entered the fray. As its temporal dominion shrank, the Catholic Church became more pope-centered than ever before, with lasting consequences.
“O’Malley’s account of the debate over infallibility is masterful.”
“[O’Malley] excels in describing the ways in which the council initiated deep changes that still affect the everyday lives of Catholics.”
“An eminent scholar of modern Catholicism…O’Malley…invit[es] us to see Catholicism’s recent history as profoundly shaped by and against the imposing legacy of Pius IX.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Gripping…O’Malley continues to engage us with a past that remains vitally present.”
“The worldwide dean of church historians has completed his trinity of works on church councils…[A] masterclass in church history…telling us as much about the church now as then.”
[O’Malley’s] oeuvre now forms a satisfyingly coherent whole…As authoritative as it is accessible.
An eminent scholar of modern Catholicism…O’Malley…invit[es] us to see Catholicism’s recent history as profoundly shaped by and against the imposing legacy of Pius IX.
With Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church, John O’Malley, S.J., the worldwide dean of church historians, has completed his trinity of works on church councils… O’Malley completes his masterclass in church history and ecclesiology of the last 500 years, telling us as much about the church now as then.
The best available [work] in English on Vatican I…O’Malley’s account of the debate over infallibility is masterful…The descriptions of the council’s setting and procedure convey a feel for what the bishops experienced there.
O’Malley offers a comprehensive and gripping narrative of Vatican I…In his eminently accessible volume, O’Malley repeats the success of his earlier histories of Vatican II and Trent…[He] weaves together the doctrinal issues with the personalities of the principal historical characters in the drama of controversy and conflict…[This] belongs to a long and productive career of exposing a wide readership to the fascinatingly complex history of the Church.
O’Malley gives an accessible, even-handed overview of the council with a minimum of interpretive gloss. He excels in describing the ways in which the council initiated deep changes that still affect the everyday lives of Catholics.
Much needed and very informative…O’Malley’s book shows the many ways in which the church we know is still very much shaped by the First…Vatican Council. Put differently, the modern church is still, in certain ways, the work of reactionaries.
A gripping good read…With characteristic economy and clarity, O’Malley tells the story of Vatican I and the making of the ultramontane church—and, most importantly, why it matters.
Provides an elegant historical narrative.
A fascinating and dispassionate glimpse into a pivotal and dramatic period of Catholic Church history.
[A] judicious work of scholarship, carefully researched and elegantly narrated.
A concise and accessible overview of the Council and the history that led to it…O’Malley does an excellent job of narrating the dynamics at play as the Church picked up the pieces from the devastation of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.
To be the premier historian of the modern ecumenical councils would seem an odd bit of praise, but John O’Malley, S.J., is exactly that and with characteristic grace. His history of Vatican I is a marvelous bookend to his field-shaping history of Vatican II and possesses the lucidity, insight, and erudition we associate with one of the world’s leading historians of Catholicism. It immediately becomes the standard history.
This excellent book fills a critical need for an up-to-date and comprehensive account of the events, the personalities, and the elaboration of the doctrine at the First Vatican Council. O’Malley draws from the best and most recent historical sources published in multiple languages to weave together masterfully the complex convergence of social, political, intellectual, and ecclesial movements that contribute to a culture of ultramontanism, the horizon against which one must understand both the event of the council and its teaching.
O’Malley is not new to writing re-assessments of pivotal events of modern Roman Catholic history. One can think of his important volumes on What Happened at Vatican II and Trent: What Happened at the Council, which have proven to be trend-setting in their interpretation of present-day Roman Catholicism. In this new book on Vatican I it is as if he has completed the trilogy on the three modern councils…O’Malley’s strength lies in the comprehensiveness of his historical reconstruction.
- 320 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
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