Good Reads from Pope Francis’ Bookshelf {Lent Book Series}

This post is part of the 2015 {Lent Book Series}.
FullSizeRenderLooking for some Lenten spiritual reading inspired by or recommended by Pope Francis?

First, begin with the Holy Father’s Message for Lent 2015. Every year, the pope releases a message for Lent, and it begins and is based on a Scripture verse. This year, the Scripture verse is James 5:8: “Make your hearts firm.” Pope Francis’ theme is overcoming indifference, whether the Church as a whole, parishes or small communities, or individual Christians.

The Lenten messages are always short (this year’s is under 2,000 words—just a few pages) and reader-friendly. It is well worth taking 10-12 minutes to read and reflect on it.

Once you’ve finished that, now you’re ready for some of the Holy Father’s favorite books to jump-start your Lenten journey, here are some of the more familiar titles among his spiritual and literary favorites.

These are taken from the back-of-book page titled, “Bergoglio’s Bookshelf,” at the end of The Great Reformer, Austen Ivereigh’s recent biography of Pope Francis (click the link for my review of that book).  All are easy for readers to obtain at local Catholic bookstores. Some of the “classics” are available as free or almost-free e-books.

The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of the Little Flower, by St. Therese of Lisieux. Many have read this classic by “The Little Flower,” but it’s worth a careful read any year. Something to ponder as you read or re-read this book: What does it mean that it is one of Pope Francis’ favorite books?


The Lord by Romano Guardini. Perhaps the best-known work of Romano Guardini, an Italian priest and 20th century intellectual giant, it influenced countless priests from the 1940s on, including Pope Francis as a young Jesuit. Another Guardini option is to read the accessible Learning the Virtues: That Lead You to God
a recent Sophia Institute Press re-publication.

If novels are more for you, here are two ideas from Pope Francis’ favorites:
The Betrothed: I Promessi Sposi, Alessandro Manzoni’s 1827 novel that’s the first historical fiction written in Italian. It was a favorite novel of Pope Francis’ grandmother, and he knew of it from a young age. It cover the heroism, holiness, and lack those, in priests and the faithful in 19th century Europe.

Lord of the World by English priest-author Robert Hugh Benson. Lord of the World was written in 1907 as a futuristic end-of-the-world novel. It was a dystopian novel before the genre existed, but with more depth than most of the current crop.

Have you read any of these?  I’ve read Story of a Soul several times, and years ago read Lord of the World after it was suggested by a priest friend, but I don’t remember it at all.  I think I tried to read The Betrothed some years back, but never got any traction on it.  Maybe I need to give it another try.