Monday, September 1, 2008

Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life by Caroline Pigozzi

This behind-the-scenes perspective offers a unique opportunity to experience Pope John Paul II's character and reign, as well as a look at the inner workings of the Vatican. French journalist Caroline Pigozzi discovered a man both awe-inspiring and surprisingly warm and generous.

Passionately prayerful and unimpressed by pomp and celebrity, John Paul II was the most-traveled and perhaps the most popular of the popes to date: a people's pope. Pigozzi reveals the intimate details of his daily life, his sometimes surprising philosophies, his revolutionary desire for accessibility to ordinary people, and his relentless drive to unify the church. This book unveils, in a friendly and richly informative way, a close-up of the man whose "eyes radiated infinite goodness" and whose life touched so many.

My Review:
First off, in the interest of fair play, I must state that I am not Catholic; I know little of Karol Wojtyla, the man described as the People's Pope, the first non-Italian Pontiff since 1522. However, after reading his biography, I have learned much.

The biography contains interesting tidbits such as how the statues of the Pope in Poland have the Holy Father's cassock turned up on the right as a symbol that the wind blows from west to east to denote that he would always remember his Polish roots.

Writing in first person, the author, a journalist for Paris Match, who became a member of the inner circle, shares information gathered from her numerous audiences with the Pope, extensive interviews with him and his closest friends, sermons she witnessed, the times she shared meals with him as an invited guest, the trips to many countries where she tagged along, and the special occasions where her daughters meet him. A bit nervous, they call him "Very Holy Father."

At first, I enjoyed it, but then it seems to bog down with so many facts and details. Perhaps it seems that way to me because I don't venerate the Pope. However, I think that this would be an interesting book for any Catholic to own and read.

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