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July 11, 2006



Fr. Augustine is the most wonderful preacher I have ever heard in my entire life. He used to be with the Dominican community here and taught at the University of Oregon. Bar none, he was the single most incredible homilist I have ever encountered.

michael hugo

I put it on my reading list. Thanks, Amy.

Tim Ferguson

I'm reading the book now (I had the privilege, years ago, of reading a draft copy of the concluding chapter, while Fr. Augustine spent the summer at the parish I worked at) and finding it an treasure trove of fascination. There's so much depth to the faith lives of these people that all-too-often have been dismissed as ignorant masses. Their involvement of the faith is not primarily superstitious (though, in truth, there is some element of that), but fundamentally rooted in a real grasp of the truths of the faith - something I'm in awe of. They know who Jesus is. They know what the Church is. They know what salvation means - and they lived that way.

Fr. Augustine's book is a bit less tragic than Eamon Duffy's book, because it doesn't end with a chapter showing how it was all demolished by the fiat of the king. Still, it's a bit melancholy, because one leaves the book wondering - what happened? where did it all go? is it even possible to rebuild something like this?


Every generation has to build and rebuild it. We just have a little farther to go than most.

But really, if the kids learn the right things, and the adults are evangelized with the right things, a lot of the rebuilding will automatically follow.

F. C. Bauerschmidt

This book has been on my shelf (OK, actually, on the floor of my office -- shelves are for sissies) for several months, but now you've inspired me to read it.

Ferde Rombola

Thanks, Amy, for outstanding review of Fr. Thompson's book. It's on the list.

BTW, Rome was hot, hot, hot, but an incredible experience. Did everything we wanted to do and more: two Masses at St. John Lateran on June 24th (my birthday); stumbled on Santa Maria sulla Minerva and the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena at the altar. Visited all four Basilicas and many other churches. Saying the Creed during Mass at St. Peter's (the Altar of the Chair of Peter) was unforgettable. Can't say the same about the food. I cook better than the Romans do.


Tim Ferguson has a great point. I remember learning about the fine civilization in northern Italy years ago and I cannot but wonder where it went.

Anyway, I just ordered the hardcover - ka-ching!


Don't miss his first book, Revival Preachers and Politics in Thirteenth-Century Italy (1992). It's a much more conventional scholarly monograph than Cities of God, and works less hard to be accessible to non-scholarly audiences. But it's first-rate scholarship, both sober and imaginative, on one of the most interesting outbreaks of medieval Christian "revivalism," the "Alleluia year" of 1233.

Sandra Miesel

Another famous scholar of religion in late medieval-Renaissance Italy is Richard Trexler. Alas, the man is vehemently anti-religious to the extent of campaigning for style rules in academic journals that would forbid capitalizing the word "God" or using masculine pronouns to refer to the Deity. One wonders why he chose religion as his academic concern.


Thanks for the recommendation Amy (and you too Augustinianus). On my list too.

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