Friday, August 4, 2006

St. Peter's Basilica

I have to add my hearty endorsement to the many that have already been published to R.A. Scotti's book on the history of St. Peter's entitled Basilica. It is a masterfully written history of Christendom's main church from its conception by Nicholas V to its dedication. It is not a thorough history and there are a few minor errors, detectable only by those who really know Rome and/or Roman history. But her chronology is correct as are her portraits of the main characters in this drama- Julius II, Michangelo, Raphael, and some of the unsung players without whom we would either have no basilica, or one not nearly as grand. It is also a well-written, popular book on the Renaissance and the transition from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation. While a Catholic book through-and-through, Scotti does a decent job of discussing the corruption of the Renaissance Church, the sources of her corruption, and attempts at Reform, such as Luther's, which one in particular was due in no small part to his visit to Rome and the trafficking in indulgences to pay for the construction of St. Peter's Basilica. This book, along with James Martin, S.J.'s My Life With The Saints are two of the best popular books I have read this year.

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