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Caitrin Bennett reviews a beautiful new picture book written to help young children learn about the history of the papacy and how a new pope is selected. 

In October, my husband and I took the trip of a lifetime to Italy. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing Vatican City. It was surreal to stand in St. Peter’s Square, gaze up at the famous Sistine Chapel ceiling, and pray at the tomb of Pope St. John Paul II. When I opened Emmaus Road Publishing’s newest picture book, We Have a Pope, I relived some of those wonderful moments, and discovered an invaluable tool to teach my young children about the office of the Vicar of Christ. 




All five members of my family, from age 33 down to 3, absolutely loved this book. Author Katherine Bogner presented the history of the papacy, from St. Peter receiving the keys to the kingdom up to present day conclaves, in a way that made sense to my children without watering down the truths of our Church. The book was rooted in Scripture and included diverse languages and skin colors of cardinals to help portray the universal nature of Catholicism.  

Even I learned something from this informative work! The details of the voting process during a conclave fascinated us all, and I know my kids will want to pull out this book when it is time to select a new pope once again. On the last few pages, you can find helpful resources like a prayer for the current Pope, translations for Latin phrases used during papal conclaves, and a list of Scripture verses that inform our understanding of the papacy. 

Kortnee Senn portrays some of the most important Catholic articles and places with illustrations that are simultaneously beautiful and simple. A dove representing the Holy Spirit is always near the cardinals or Pope, guiding the process with wisdom. The last picture, which depicts a brand-new Pope on the balcony waving to the joyful crowds below, brought me back a few months to my trip to Italy, and even many years to the moment I watched Pope Francis emerge onto that same balcony on television. “Habemus papam!” We have a Pope, indeed. 

Ask for We Have a Pope at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Emmaus Road Publishing.


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Copyright 2024 Caitrin Bennett
Images: Canva