Books about Popes – Past and Present

popeWhile you are waiting for the selection of the new pope check out these fact and fiction books about the popes and the history of the Vatican:


The Popes: Histories and Secrets by English Papi

Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy by John Julius Norwich
A comprehensive history of the papacy describes the defining relevance of papal authority to the Church, chronicling the unexpectedly violent and colorful historical events that have indelibly shaped the Pope’s authority and station.

Papal Sin by Gary Wills
An exploration of the papacy challenges the culture of deceit that surrounds the Vatican in modern times, which prevents the church from facing its own history.

Pontiff by Gordon Thomas
This book focuses on the period from 1978 (the year which saw the death of Pope Paul VI, the election and death 33 days later of John Paul 1, and the election of John Paul II) through to the assassination attempt of 1981, in which John Paul II survived four bullet wounds.

Mistress of the Vatican: the true story of Olimpia Maidalchini: the secret female pope by Eleanor Herman
Traces the story of a seventeenth-century mistress who significantly influenced the Catholic church and international policy in Rome during the reign of her lover and brother-in-law, Pope Innocent X.

Lives of the Popes: the pontiffs from St. Peter to John Paul II

All the Pope’s Men by John Allen
A guide to the inner workings of the Vatican reveals the beliefs and bureaucracies behind its decision-making processes, offering insight into the career path of the Roman Curia and challenging myths about the institution’s agendas.


Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
Berated for being intelligent and scholarly, Joan dons her dead brother’s clothes, assumes a man’s identity, and gains respect and authority as well as the title of pope.

White Smoke by Andrew Greeley
As the cardinals of the Church gather in Rome for the election of a new pope, Bishop John Blackwood Ryan, reporter Dennis Mulloy, and CNN correspondent and Mulloy’s ex-wife Patricia investigate a Vatican banking scandal and an assassin out to destroy the next pope.

The Secret Cardinal by Tom Grace
Called in by the Vatican to examine the workings of the Vatican Library, former Navy SEAL Nolan Kilkenny soon discovers that Pope Leo has another mission in mind–to rescue a “secret” cardinal, a Chinese bishop imprisoned by the Chinese for some thirty years.

The Confessor by Daniel Silva
In the wake of a Munich writer’s assassination, Mossad agent Gabriel Allon and Vatican priest Pietro embark on dangerous journeys that reveal long-buried secrets affecting the fates of millions of people.


Shoes of the Fisherman
Based on the novel by Morris L. West. The Shoes of the Fisherman describes the election and career of a Slavic Pope, a Russian cardinal who is also the youngest in the conclave. This was 15 years before the election of the relatively young Pole Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II.

(information from BookBrowse and Novelist)

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