I have been to Rome three times and feel almost like it’s my second home. As an avid history lover, I was excited to jump into a book that promised to reveal so many truths about Church history and about the city I adore.
Diving into Vatican Secret Archives: Unknown Pages of Church History felt like sitting and talking to an elderly family member and going through scores of photos and information about my own family. Yet I was quite aware that the information contained in these pages has a much more powerful impact on the world.
Authors Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikon compiled years of research into one fascinating book that includes little-known facts about events such as the trial of the Knights Templar, the Crusades, the Inquisition, missionaries in the New World, the trial of Galileo, the French Revolution, civil war in Spain, and Pope Pius XII’s response to the Holocaust. I devoured each section with the excitement of a little kid opening gifts on Christmas morning.
This beautiful coffee table book contains eye-catching photos, illustrations, and maps, and is divided into nine sections, so it need not be read all at once. In fact, there is so much information in each of the sections that it would behoove the reader to savor each section and read each one deliberately and slowly. Just as with family history, you want to develop an understanding of what your ancestors experienced, so hearing the stories once isn’t enough. I recommend reading each section two or three times to really comprehend the meaning of the events.
Personally, I found the sections on Galileo, the French Revolution, and the Spanish civil war the most fascinating, as I was not as familiar with these aspects of history. I was astounded to learn just how much persecution our Catholic ancestors faced during these times and in these countries. Reading these sections will definitely open your eyes to the suffering they endured for their faith.
My only concern with this book is the inordinate number of typos throughout. This may be a result of its translation from Polish to English, it may be sloppy editing, or it may be a combination of both. But, as an editor, I was saddened to see such a beautiful book blemished by these kinds of mistakes.
However, these issues do not detract from the overall beauty of this book, nor do they affect the profound impact it can have on your knowledge of Church history. This book will even serve as great fodder for conversation within your family. You can read parts to younger children or have teens read sections and discuss. With so many secular viewpoints out there and so much hatred for the Catholic Church, we must teach our children the truths about their faith so that they can defend it.
So, whether you are a history buff or just looking to increase your knowledge about Church history, Vatican Secret Archives is sure to entice you, and it will make a great addition to any home library.
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Copyright 2020 Susan Ciancio
About the Author
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer. She is executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program and editor of ALL's Celebrate Life Magazine.