Donald S. Prudlo

Donald S. Prudlo is Associate Professor of Ancient and Medieval History at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He is also Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. His specialty is saints and sainthood in the Christian tradition, and he is the author of The Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona (Ashgate, 2008) and has recently edited The Origin, Development, and Refinement of Medieval Religious Mendicancies (Brill, 2011).

recent articles

The Tradition Speaks With One Voice on Divorce & Remarriage

The vocation of the Church historian and historical theologian is similar to that of the Catholic philosopher: to serve as a handmaid to theology, the queen of the sciences. Church history is distinct from secular academic history in that—as a subset of theology—it has the ability to incorporate the insights of revelation. In Church history … Read more

What Some Synod Fathers Could Learn from St. Charles Borromeo

The Archdiocese of Milan is one of the most ancient and honored in the Latin Christian world. Named the Ambrosian See, it was the seat of St. Ambrose, and possessor of an ancient and venerable western liturgical rite of its own. Milan, the mighty city on the Lombard plain, has ever been at the crossroads … Read more

The Conversion of the Vikings

God writes straight. My crooked lines, tortured between grace and the depraved human heart…. No matter how crooked I set it down, God writes it straight.  ∼ Brother Antoninus, O.P. (ca. 1949) As Charlemagne lay dying in 814, a new threat was growing in the north. Norse tribes, attracted both by the weakness and the riches of … Read more

The Soul of a Gibbon

In the center of Rome stands the Capitoline Hill: the heart of the ancient city, where the temples of Jupiter, Juno, and Virtus once dominated the skyline. It was the site of the treachery of Tarpeia, and the settlement of the Sabines. It was the one part of the city that did not fall to … Read more

Thank Goodness Fulton Sheen’s Cause Has Been Suspended

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was one of the most dynamic preachers of the Catholic Faith in the twentieth century. Anyone familiar with his work in media knows the power of his influence and example. He was clearly one of the most notable products of the American Catholic revival that began in the 1920s, and the … Read more

Corpus Christi: Punctuation and Continuity

Too often academics are impressed with novelty as it appears in history, preferring to emphasize what they see as discontinuities and divergences, rather than attempting to study development rightly understood. This is for two reasons. The first is that the long shadow of a whiggish progressivism is still upon them. Lurking in the back of … Read more

“Glory of the Preachers”: St. Peter of Verona

At the heart of every religion worth its salt lies the problem of evil. The intractable issue of pain, disorder, suffering, and moral turpitude manifests itself infallibly in every genuine human spiritual longing. This problem is compounded in the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. How can an omnipotent and omniscient God—creator of both … Read more

Are Canonizations Based on Papal Infallibility?

A few days previously Catholic Family News published an interview with Italian professor Roberto de Mattei.  The subject of the interview, which one should certainly read before perusing my own thoughts, is on the subject of the upcoming canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.  In particular, de Mattei discusses his concerns regarding … Read more

The ABCs of Anselm

Between Geneva and Milan lies a stunning valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains, containing the city of Aosta.  This tiny Italian alpine region is one of the crossroads of Europe, bordering Switzerland and France, and containing two of the most important passes from northern countries into Italy.  Today it is a bilingual place, with French and … Read more

Of Chairs and Peter

Most of this site’s well-catechized readers will be quite aware of the apologetical and theological backgrounds to the Petrine office, the real focus of this great feast.  The claims and prerogatives of Rome are a central topic of our faith, and our appreciation of them is honed by our dialogue with fellow Christians who find … Read more

The Tridentine Masterpiece

 “Nam oportet et hæreses esse.” (1 Cor 11:19).  “It is fitting that there be heresies, so that those who are true, may be manifested among you.”  How appropriate is this sentiment of St. Paul’s when we apply it to the Ecumenical Council of Trent. In the annals of difficult ecclesiastical births, none was so trying … Read more

The Black-and-White Pope

A few days ago we all had a shocking surprise as a Latin American, Jesuit archbishop emerged onto the loggia of St. Peter’s to the general joy of the Catholic world.  The rejoicing was widespread, but not universal, with some expressing misgivings.  These are clearly natural reactions, to be expected in any election, sacred or … Read more

The Linchpin of High Scholasticism: Hugh of St. Cher

Humans are given to easy answers, especially when confronted with the dizzying intricacy of the world we inhabit.  It is far simpler to attempt to account for complex causes with simple explanations, or to distill sophisticated historical and theological arguments into easily digested bits.  Too often it seems that people think that St. Dominic swung … Read more

Press Coverage on the Eve of the Conclave

So the date is set.  Tuesday, the 12th of March, the Cardinals will process into the conclave intoning Veni Sancte Spiritus, while the rest of us—personally or digitally—will get the “extra omnes.” Out we go, leaving it up to the Princes of the Church to perform their duty.  Buoyed by our prayers and best wishes, … Read more

Pope Benedict’s Resignation in Historical Context

In shocking news that quickly demonstrated the ongoing relevance of medieval historians, Pope Benedict announced that he will lay down his governance of the Church of Rome at the end of this month.  Such an event has not happened for nearly 600 years when his predecessor, Gregory XII, sacrificed himself in 1415 to bring an … Read more

Victory’s Spoils: The Edict of Milan

G. K. Chesterton was a master at making plain the paradoxical character of Christianity.   He knew that to stray too far to one side or another was to leave the path of orthodoxy far behind.  To stay on that road was exciting, racing past the hulks of discarded heresies.  “The heavenly chariot flies thundering through … Read more

Francis of Assisi: Pattern for Lay Holiness

For over 100 years, there has been a veritable “Francis industry,” going well beyond the plastic kitsch in Assisi gift shop windows (after all, no one can capitalize on poverty like a Minorite!).  For that whole period of time, people have been making and remaking Giovanni Francesco di Pietro Bernardone to fit their own images … Read more

Let’s Raise a Glass to the Bad Popes!

  It may seem odd, on the feast day of the Roman Fact, to discuss the less-than-stellar occupants of the Chair of Peter. I would propose that it is precisely these weak and sometimes sordid men who offer one of the most startling historical and apologetical claims for the indefectibility of the church. Catholics ought … Read more

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