Examining the History of the Papacy
August 29, 2018
The announcement comes approximately a year after his colleague, Professor Joëlle Rollo-Koster, approached Dr. Ventresca with her idea for a comprehensive new history of the papacy that brings together the best and most recent scholarship in the field.
Leading experts from around the world will be invited to write original essays, covering various themes on the long history of the institution of the Papacy, which stretches back to the early days of Christianity.
“In short, the essays will examine the fundamental features of the Papacy and its place in world history, from origins to the present,” Dr. Ventresca says. “Given how long and complex this history is, spanning centuries and crossing cultures and continents, it goes without saying that no one scholar truly can claim to be an expert in every aspect of the Papacy’s history. Hence the logic and the appeal of an edited volume featuring expert contributors.”
The approach will be both chronological and thematic. Presently, Professor Rollo-Koster and Dr. Ventresca are looking at a four-year timeline for the completion of the four-volume history.
“What makes this such an exciting opportunity is the chance to work with and learn from other scholars in the field of Papal history,” Dr. Ventresca says. He adds he’s excited about the intended audience of the history, which will include not only other scholars but students and the general public.
“One of the defining features of these comprehensive histories by Cambridge University Press is that they package the insights of leading scholars into a series of widely accessible essays,” Dr. Ventresca explains.
Dr. Ventresca has spent most of his career writing about the Papacy, focusing on its role as a political and diplomatic actor in major events in World History, including World War II, the Holocaust and the Cold War.
In 2013, Harvard University Press published his book, Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII, about the controversial wartime Pope whose response to the Holocaust continues to generate academic and popular debate. “That book opened the door to research and teaching that focused more generally on the Papacy as an institution; on structural as well as biographical history we might say,” Dr. Ventresca explains.
Dr. Ventresca, who graduated from King’s in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in history, was elected as a Member of the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2014. A member of the Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust Committee for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., he has been a panelist at the Museum on several occasions. Dr. Ventresca appeared in the 2018 CNN series Pope: The most powerful man in history.
At King’s, he teaches History 1404E (The Totalitarian Age), History 1812G (Revolutions in World History), and History 3809F (History, Ethics and Public Policy). Dr. Ventresca also co-teaches in the King’s Scholar program, Western Thought and Civilization.