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Reading Guide for "The Pope Who Quit"
11 / OBSESSED WITH SALVATION
Do you see more or less "obsession" with salvation today, as compared to Peter's era?
12 / RIDING ON AN ASS
See pages 141-146. How did the image of Saint Francis of Assisi impact the world of the thirteenth century? Prophecies of Joachim of Fiore foretold a century before Francis were believed to have been fulfilled by him. Poets writing in the century after Francis wrote about how he was a "new Christ." There were more followers of Francis in the first half century of his movement than had joined any other monastic movement previously. How was Francis different from other religious figures who'd come before him? Was Peter Morrone at all like Francis?
13 / THE COLORFUL KINGS OF NAPLES AND SICILY
Fathers and sons. The history of the world could probably be told through the lens of sons sometimes modeling and sometimes rebelling against, their fathers. How would you describe Charles I? And how about his son?
14 / FIFTEEN DISASTROUS WEEKS
Do you see any similarities between Pope Celestine V and any of the popes who have lived and ruled during your lifetime? Is it conceivable that a pope would make some of the same mistakes that Celestine made, today?
15 / AWKWARDNESS IN ROBES
In Sweeney's telling, the papal curia, Castle Nuovo, and the College of Cardinals all become like "characters" in the story, each influencing the "angelic" Pope Celestine. How did they each impact him—for good or ill?
Part IV—The Passion and the Pity, 1294-96
16 / I, PETER CELESTINE, AM GOING AWAY
One of the enduring questions from the life of Peter Morrone/Celestine V is this: Was he guileless and saintly, or was he something else? In the final chapter, Sweeney concludes by weighing in on this topic. But at this point, what do you think?
17 / THE NEW ADVENT OF FRIAR PETER
There have been many stories in history of a religious figure running for his life. One thinks, for example, of the 14th Dalia Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fleeing the Chinese communists across the Himalayan mountains from Tibet to India in 1959. A more ancient example might be Celestine's spiritual model, Jesus Christ, who of course lost his life and never tried to flee. What do you think of Celestine's running from Naples?
18 / MURDERED BY A POPE
Did Cardinal Gaetani have Celestine V murdered? What do you think? What evidence is missing that would allow a legal case to be made?
19 / THE WORLD IS FALLING APART
The undercurrent of this chapter is also an undercurrent that marks different religions and spiritual teachers from one another. That is, is this the only world or is there another to come? And then, are there ways to be faithful to God that have nothing to do with living in this world? How would you describe Peter Morrone's beliefs on these topics—based on his actions?
20 / IS SAINT ENOUGH?
What do you think of Sweeney's concluding thought, that Peter Morrone/Celestine V was a quitter, yes, but that by quitting he also showed himself to be enlightened?
Praise for Jon M. Sweeney's Work
"Jon M. Sweeney's loving portrait of Celestine V is that rare work of history that also feeds the soul. Anyone interested in the collision of hope, despair, and faith will come away nourished."
—John L. Allen, Vatican correspondent for National Catholic Reporter and author of Conclave and All the Pope's Men