The full title of this work is as follows: "Crises in the History of the Papacy: A Study of Twenty Famous Popes whose Careers and whose Influence Were Important in the
Development of the Church and in the History of the World."
Quoted from the author's "Preface."
"PROBABLY no religious institution in the world has had so remarkable a history, and assuredly none has attracted so large and varied a literature, as the Papacy. The successive dynasties of the priests of ancient Egypt were, by comparison, parochial in their power and ephemeral in their duration. The priests of Buddha, rising to an autocracy in the isolation of
Thibet or mingling with the crowd in the more genial atmosphere of China or cherishing severe mysticisms in Japan, offer no analogy to the Papacy's consistent growth and homogeneous dominion. The religious leaders of the Jews, scattered through the world, yet
hardened in their type by centuries of persecution, may surpass it in conservative antiquity, but they do not remotely approach it in power and in historical importance. It influences the history of Europe more conspicuously than emperors have ever done, stretches a more than imperial power over lands beyond the most fevered dreams of Alexander or Caesar, and may well seem to have made "Eternal Rome" something more than the idle boast of a patriot."
"Yet this conservative endurance has not been favoured by such a stability of environment as has sheltered the lamas of Thibet or the secular priests of the old Chinese religion. The Papacy has lived through fifteen centuries of portentous change, though it seemed in each phase to have connected itself indissolubly with the dominant institutions and ideas of that phase. The Popes have witnessed, and have survived, three mighty transformations of the face of Europe. They had hardly issued from their early obscurity and lodged themselves in the fabric of the old Roman civilization when this fell into ruins; but they held firmly, amidst
the ruins, the sceptre they had inherited. One by one the stately institutions of the older world—the schools, the law-courts, the guilds of craftsmen, the military system, the municipal forms and commercial routes — disappeared in the flood of barbarism which poured over Europe, but this institution, which seemed the least firmly established, was hardly shaken and was quickly accepted by the strange new world. A new polity was created, partly under the direction of the Popes, and it was so entirely saturated by their influence that religion gave it its most characteristic name. Then Christendom, as it was called, passed in turn through a critical development, culminating in the Reformation; and the Papacy begot a Counter-Reformation and secured millions beyond the seas to replace the millions it had lost. The third and last convulsion began with the work of Voltaire and Rousseau and Mirabeau, and has grievously shaken the political theory with which the Papacy was allied and the older religious views which it had stereotyped. Yet today it has some 35,000,000 followers in the three greatest Protestant countries, the lands of Luther, of Henry VIII., and of the Puritan Fathers."