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Raoul a young novice monk was tasked to look after the aging priest Edgardo Mortara near the end of his life in a small village in Belgium Raoul was shocked to discover that Edgardo was once a Jew who had turned his back on the Jewish religion and his parentsEdgardo was abducted by the order of Pope Pius IX in 1858 When he was only six years of age he was dragged from the arms of his parents in the back streets of Bologna to the rose gardens of the Vatican The Pope thought it was justified to take the boy under his wing when the church found that he was secretly baptized by his father's maid who wanted to save his soul when she thought he was dying There is world outcry Christians and Jews from Sydney to San Francisco unite to petition the Pontiff to return the boy to his parents However Pius IX refuses to return the boy to his family risking his political power for the love of a son he calls his ownEdgardo was given many privileges as the Pope's son at a time when the Jews were in ghettos and starving He never tried to return to his parents who were all but destroyed in their constant attempts to get him back into the Jewish faithRaoul eventually realised that Father Mortara had not done much with his life in spite of the privileges he had as a child Instead he ended up as a sad character beset with guilt and self justification instead of reconciling himself to his beliefs Raoul himself gradually becameaware that he must now choose between a life of passive stability or a life where he goes out into the world and affects changesAlmost 90% of the story of Edgardo Mortara's life and events are based on fact This truly sad and perhaps unforgivable act of the Catholic Church should be seen against a backdrop of pre unified Italy in the 1850s a country overrun with Austrian soldiers religious fanaticism and fierce anti semitism at a time when the Pope was one of the most powerful princes in EuropeRaoul a young novice monk was tasked to look after the aging priest Edgardo Mortara near the end of his life in a small village in Belgium Raoul was shocked to discover that Edgardo was once a Jew who had turned his back on the Jewish religion and his parentsEdgardo was abducted by the order of Pope Pius IX in 1858 When he was only six years of age he was dragged from the arms of his parents in the back streets of Bologna to the rose gardens of the Vatican The Pope thought it was justified to take the boy under his wing when the church found that he was secretly baptized by his father's maid who wanted to save his soul when she thought he was dying There is world outcry Christians and Jews from Sydney to San Francisco unite to petition the Pontiff to return the boy to his parents However Pius IX refuses to return the boy to his family risking his political power for the love of a son he calls his ownEdgardo was given many privileges as the Pope's son at a time when the Jews were in ghettos and starving He never tried to return to his parents who were all but destroyed in their constant attempts to get him back into the Jewish faithRaoul eventually realised that Father Mortara had not done much with his life in spite of the privileges he had as a child Instead he ended up as a sad character beset with guilt and self justification instead of reconciling himself to his beliefs Raoul himself gradually becameaware that he must now choose between a life of passive stability or a life where he goes out into the world and affects changesAlmost 90% of the story of Edgardo Mortara's life and events are based on fact This truly sad and perhaps unforgivable act of the Catholic Church should be seen against a backdrop of pre unified Italy in the 1850s a country overrun with Austrian soldiers religious fanaticism and fierce anti semitism at a time when the Pope was one of the most powerful princes in EuropeRaoul a young novice monk was tasked to look after the aging priest Edgardo Mortara near the end of his life in a small village in Belgium Raoul was shocked to discover that Edgardo was once a Jew who had turned his back on the Jewish religion and his parentsEdgardo was abducted by the order of Pope Pius IX in 1858 When he was only six years of age he was dragged from the arms of his parents in the back streets of Bologna to the rose gardens of the Vatican The Pope thought it was justified to take the boy under his wing when the church found that he was secretly baptized by his father's maid who wanted to save his soul when she thought he was dying There is world outcry Christians and Jews from Sydney to San Francisco unite to petition the Pontiff to return the boy to his parents However Pius IX refuses to return the boy to his family risking his political power for the love of a son he calls his ownEdgardo was given many privileges as the Pope's son at a time when the Jews were in ghettos and starving He never tried to return to his parents who were all but destroyed in their constant attempts to get him back into the Jewish faithRaoul eventually realised that Father Mortara had not done much with his life in spite of the privileges he had as a child Instead he ended up as a sad character beset with guilt and self justification instead of reconciling himself to his beliefs Raoul himself gradually becameaware that he must now choose between a life of passive stability or a life where he goes out into the world and affects changesAlmost 90% of the story of Edgardo Mortara's life and events are based on fact This truly sad and perhaps unforgivable act of the Catholic Church should be seen against a backdrop of pre unified Italy in the 1850s a country overrun with Austrian soldiers religious fanaticism and fierce anti semitism at a time when the Pope was one of the most powerful princes in Europe


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  1. says:

    The book covers the little known story of a Jewish boy Edgardo from his childhood to the end of his life across the 19th and 20th centuries As a young boy he is forcibly removed from his parents and taken to Rome where he is adopted by the popeHis story alternates with that of a novice monk Rahoul in the wake of the 2nd World War Rahoul questions his spiritual commitment to the church and the now elderly Edgardo gently guides him through this process The characters are well drawn and readers can easily empathise with Rahoul's dilemmaThere are absorbing descriptions of the intricacies of Catholic rituals hierarcies wealth and corruption bringing the period aliveWe begin to understand the ramifications of the boy's abduction and how this affected the delicate balance of power across the region The book describes how the church loses its influence and territory leading to unrest in Europe and gives some historical context to how modern day Vatican City has become what it is todayThis is a well written and thoroughly researched book which would appeal to readers with an interest in historical novels as well as those who love an absorbing storyI look forward to reading from Rick Friend