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Thursday, February 15, 2007

"A History of the Popes: 1830-1914"



I have just finished reading "A History of the Popes: 1830-1914" by William Owen Chadwick. William Owen Chadwick, OM, KBE, FBA, FRSE is a British professor, writer and prominent historian of Christianity. He is a former Master of Selwyn College, University of Cambridge.

His study is comprehensive, lucid, and fair. The history covers four pontificates: Gregory XVI (1831–46), Pius IX (1846–1878), Leo XIII (1878–1903), and Pius X (1903–1914).

One particular passage struck me in particular. In his discussion of Pope Saint Pius X, he writes (page 362):

"Historians, in hindsight, if asked which act of which pope did most to affect the Church since 1800, would put their finger on this change of 1905-6: the encouragement of frequent, even daily communion, and the receiving of it by children."

Probably not the first thing which would immediately come to mind if one was asked the question, but the more and more one thinks about it, the more one realises that it is true.