Dive into the literary world of Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the first pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit pope. Elected as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis is known for his humility, concern for the poor, and commitment to interfaith dialogue. He has been a vocal advocate for a "church for the poor," environmental stewardship, and the reform of the Vatican. His teachings and actions often emphasize mercy, social justice, and the need to bridge gaps between people of different faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds. Pope Francis has made significant efforts to modernize the Church's approach on various contemporary issues, making him a pivotal figure in its recent history.

Reading has made many saints.❞ — Pope Francis

Pope Francis is also an avid reader and has expressed his fondness for classic literature and theological works. His intellectual pursuits include a broad array of topics from religious texts to philosophical treatises. He often quotes literary figures and intellectuals in his speeches and writings, reflecting a deep engagement with the world of ideas. His recommendations for reading have included not only spiritual and theological works but also writings by authors like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Jorge Luis Borges, indicating his broad literary tastes and the influence of these readings on his thought and teachings.

Pope Francis' Favorite Books

Last Updated: June 2024

The Brothers Karamazov

This profound novel delves into the lives of the Karamazov family, focusing on their internal moral struggles, profound philosophical dialogues, and the search for faith and meaning amidst personal tragedy.

The Lord

This seminal work by Romano Guardini offers a profound meditation on the life, teachings, and person of Jesus Christ, exploring His historical and spiritual impact through a theological and personal lens.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: Based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph

This book offers a precise translation and explanation of St. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises, a series of meditations and practices designed to deepen one's relationship with God through structured contemplation and reflection.

Quo Vadis

Set in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero, this historical novel portrays the clash between the decadent Roman Empire and Christianity, focusing on the love story between a young Christian woman and a Roman soldier.

Lord of the World

This prophetic novel portrays a dystopian future where secularism leads to global despair, focusing on the antichrist's rise to power and the end of times, as foretold in Christian eschatology.

The Betrothed

Often considered one of the greatest novels in Italian literature, this epic tale set in 17th-century Lombardy follows the trials and tribulations of two lovers whose plans to marry are thwarted by a series of unforeseen events and social turmoil.

Spiritual writings of Pierre Favre

This collection presents the spiritual insights and reflections of Pierre Favre, one of the early Jesuits, whose writings contribute to the Jesuit principles of finding God in all things and promoting a life of active contemplation.

The Return of the Prodigal Son

In this inspirational book, Nouwen reflects deeply on Rembrandt's painting "The Return of the Prodigal Son" and the parable it depicts, using the story as a framework to explore themes of divine mercy, forgiveness, and human reconciliation.
Also recommended by:
Hillary Clinton 

Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works

This collection features the poetry and selected prose of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Victorian Jesuit priest whose innovative verse, characterized by sprung rhythm and intricate use of language, captures intense spiritual experiences and natural observations.

The Divine Comedy: The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso

Dante's epic poem takes the reader on an allegorical journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, exploring themes of human sin, redemption, and the quest for divine grace and understanding.

Late Have I Loved Thee: Selected Writings of Saint Augustine on Love

This collection features various writings by Saint Augustine that explore his philosophical and theological thoughts on love, drawn from his extensive works including the "Confessions" and "City of God."

The Garden of Forking Paths

This short story from Borges' collection Ficciones is a metaphysical narrative that explores themes of time, decisions, and realities through the story of a Chinese professor and spy in World War I Europe who discovers a novel written by his ancestor that presents multiple outcomes from the same set of events.
Also recommended by:
Leonardo DiCaprio 

The Diary of a Country Priest

This novel chronicles the struggles and spiritual journey of a young, idealistic priest in a small French village, whose attempts to live a Christ-like life lead to both suffering and profound insights into the human condition.
Also recommended by:
Natalie Portman 

Notes from Underground

In this seminal existentialist novel, Dostoevsky delves into the thoughts and musings of a bitter, isolated man living in St. Petersburg, whose ramblings address his criticisms of society and insights into the human condition.
Also recommended by:
Jordan Peterson  Keanu Reeves 

The Splendor of the Church

his theological work by Henri de Lubac examines the nature and mission of the Church, discussing its spiritual foundations, historical challenges, and the enduring significance of its teachings and sacraments.
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