‘The Betrothed’: cultural encounters in Pope Francis’s favorite Italian novel, April 29 

Rev. Joseph Simmons, S.J.

Rev. Joseph Simmons, S.J., assistant professor of theology in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, will analyze themes of cultural encounter in light of Pope Francis’ own theological vision, and convey why the book “The Betrothed” is worthy of a new generation of readers’ attention, during an online lecture on Monday, April 29, at 10 a.m.

The discussion is part of a series run by Georgetown University, “Cultural Encounters: Books that Have Made a Difference.”

“The Betrothed” (1827) is Alessandro Manzoni’s 19th-century Italian classic about star-crossed lovers and a cowardly priest. It was re-translated into English in 2022, resulting in a new English-speaking audience. Part of that interest can be attributed to Pope Francis, who has repeatedly read the book and cited it in interviews, papal audiences and homilies. 

Why should a 19th-century Italian novel about 17th-century war, famine and plague be of interest to a 21st-century American reader? Because it treats timeless themes of cultural encounter: rich and poor, sacred and profane, outsiders and insiders, and saints and sinners. 

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