History of the Papacy Podcast
Creator: Stephen Guerra
Where to Find: iTunes http://atozhistorypage.com
Premise: This show will detail the biographies and interesting facts of the Papacy of Rome. It will start in the beginning but will not go straight through to the present day. There will be many side tracks and detours along the way.
Shows Listened To: All.
Things Done Right: The History of the Papacy has a fairly large problem, there is a ton of information missing from Primary and even secondary sources, and so much of the history might be legend, guesswork, both or neither. The Vatican seems to have a group of Popes they care about, and a bunch they would rather sweep under the rug, and then a pile they just could care less of in the grand scheme of things, but you will never find out anything from them, just incase they end up in stack number two. Where this podcast succeeds is he calls this out. Its kind of refreshing to hear a solid podcaster simply say we don’t know anything here. He gives what sources he has, gives whats there- and like a chef closing the kitchen, if there is nothing there- there is nothing there. I do like the analogy of making him a Chef. If there is can of baking soda, 3 olives and a hamhock, he’s making a dinner- and you are going to like it. He’s going to present it as nicely as
he can, and when the fork hits bone, that’s all you got, come back next week. The Papacy has a lot of deep dark corners, and for the most part, its navigated smoothly and without excitement. I mean this as a good thing. Some podcasters tend to get excited about certain parts of their chosen subject and you can tell when they are getting bored in between them. You don’t see this with a general podcast, since you can skip around, but if you are doing a history of the presidents, for example, you can’t just skip Fillmore because no one cares. Stephen does a great job of pulling at least one interesting thing about every Pope he has to go through, Warts, lack of sources and all. The Chef analogy is also a bit of a curse, he will on occasion leave questions unanswered, or parts left open, even though, like a good cook, he will breakout the leftovers (called Sidetrack Episodes) that will fill in almost all the blanks the main podcast leaves. I might be alone in this view, but when I want a ham sandwich, and you keep bringing out Beef Tips, Chicken Pot Pie and main dish after main dish and then 2 weeks later you break out the Ham out of the fridge and start slicing it off for me. It tends to disrupt the flow, I understand it might have come out like that, but if you jump into the podcast now, you might get the sidetracks a bit differently than the main course.
Things Done Wrong: I’m going to be mean here. I have to be. I can’t binge listen to this podcast. I have a voice for TV and a face for radio, I understand that, but sometimes his voice tends to grate on me. I can deal with it for a good while, but I carved out some time to get the entire Council in one sitting, so I wouldn’t miss anything and could get all my questions in and email him any that he might have not answered, but about the third one in, I was just done. Its not his fault, and I am FAR from one that should be talking, but If I’m going to be honest, I have to be. For 20-30 minutes its great, don’t get me wrong.
About the only other issue I have is if I want to learn about Tiberius, or Ivan III or almost any type of anthology series, I can search by them, or at least figure out that if they are on Tiberius, I can come back in a Month and get Nero, With the Papacy Podcast, I get a stack of a group of 6 or 7 popes in one sitting.
Summary: Minor thing, this can be a bit dry, but Guerra does a solid job of making the best of the material he has to deal with. If you want to learn about the history of the Throne of St Peter, this is a great one to listen too. I would recommend at the very least listening to the Papal resignation series on how the Pope is elected. If you have ANY kind of interest in Vatican history, this should be on your regular rotation. It is on mine.
I cannot add much to what David has written but can give my two pennyworth.
I must have been on board with this podcast since inception and love it dearly.
The podcaster is a captive of the chronological format and much is scant on background detail at this stage on the timeline.
Juicy Popes such as the apocryphal Joan and the Borgias are a millennium hence but the subject matter is still fascinating for the church obsessed (guilty as charged).
This is marvellous stuff and I heartily recommend it.