Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: City of Saints

City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II's Kraków by George Weigel, October 27, 2015. 33 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books.
In this beautifully illustrated spiritual travelogue, New York Times bestselling author George Weigel leads readers through the historic streets of Kraków, Poland, introducing one of the world’s great cities through the life of one of the most influential Catholic leaders of all time.

“To follow Karol Wojtyła through Kraków is to follow an itinerary of sanctity while learning the story of a city.” Weigel writes. “Thus, in what follows, the story of Karol Wojtyła, St. John Paul II, and the story of Kraków are interwoven in a chronological pilgrimage through the life of a saint that reveals, at the same time, the dramatic history and majestic culture of a city where a boy grew into a man, priest, a bishop—and an apostle to the world.”

With stunning photographs by Stephen Weigel and notes on the city’s remarkable fabric by Carrie Gress, City of Saints offers an in-depth look at a man and a city that made an indelible impression on the life and thought of the Catholic Church and the 21st century world. 
First Sentence:
When eighteen-year-old Karol Józef Wojtyła, newly arrived in Kraków from provincial Wadowice, walked across the Dębniki Bridge and into Kraków's Old Town in the fall of 1938 to register for his first classes in Polish language and literature at the Jagiellonian University, he may already have felt a sense of kinship with the ancient city that had been Poland's cultural capital for centuries. 

This book was just incredible! Not only did it bring the history of Poland and their struggle to retain their independence alive it also made me want to visit it even more than before.

I'm not even sure where to begin when it comes to City of Saints. This book was more than I could have hoped for. While I have not read George Weigel's other book on Pope St. John Paul II, I can honestly say that he brought, in this book, a new dimension to my knowledge of JPII and his life in Poland and then as Pope.

If you've been following my reading this year, then you know that I have been obsessed with reading about history this year (and not historical fiction). I thought this book did a great job of showcasing the monumental struggle that Poland has underwent for hundreds of years- from the partition to following to both the Communist and Nazi regimes. This book packs a punch because it does not neglect to take into consideration that deep well of faith that helped them.

While City of Saints had some dark moments, which one expected, it was such a great read. Even though I immensely enjoyed reading about the history of Poland, it was hearing about Poland through the life of Pope St. John Paul II that really made this book such a great read. I loved that he was influenced by his country and never forgot all that he lived through while growing up there. When you take those two aspects of the book and pair them with George Weigel's writing, that is the chief reason that I enjoyed it as much as I did.

Even though City of Saints is jammed pack with information, the writing just pulls you in as it takes you on a tour of Poland both spiritually and culturally. For the past five years I have been want to visit there and now, well now, I need to make that happen one day. There are too many places to name here that I need to see with my own eyes.

Nerdy Moment: There's a pronunciation guide in the back of the book!! While I, of course, did not discover it till I was two-hundred pages in it was so nice to be able to flip to the guide to verify that I was mentally pronouncing names of places and people correctly (go me)!!!

Final Verdict: City of Saints- History and faith!! This book is beautiful and so well written!!!

City of Saints earns
A copy of this book was received for consideration for review. All thoughts are my own.

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