Tag: Pope John Paul II

The Story of My Purity by Francesco Pacifico

Posted October 10, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

The Story of My Purity by Francesco PacificoTitle: The Story of My Purity (Goodreads)
Author: Francesco Pacifico
Translator: Stephen Twilley
Published: Hamish Hamilton, 2010
Pages: 293
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Thirty year old Piero Rosini wants to live a life of purity, wholly dedicated to God with a dream of become a modern day saint. Living in a sexless marriage, Piero spends his days working in a conservative Catholic publishing house. Although this publishing house was not conservative enough; they plan to publish a book that makes the claim that Pope John Paul II was secretly Jewish. He plans to leave and start an ultraconservative publishing house, where he can have more control over the content being released. The Story of My Purity is a novel that explores religion in relationship to faith, freedom and purity.

Living life with the idea of becoming a modern day saint, trying to do everything right and be perfect really sets up the satirical nature of this novel. Saint Augustine of Hippo’s autobiographical book Confessions comes to mind when I think about the difference between Saints and people who try to live a sinless life. I found that this novel really dealt with the idea of spirituality and religion in an interesting way. There is an exploration with the idea of freedom and faith when it comes to organised religion (in this case the Catholic Church).

A little understanding of theology really helps understand The Story of My Purity and the humour behind it. Firstly, when it comes to the seven deadly sins; it is alright to feel envy, greed and so on. The Church’s teaching on the seven deadly sins, is that these are gateways that can lead to trouble, so we should be aware of these feelings and learn to understand them. Although, there have been a lot of misconceptions around the deadly sins, that have led to the concept of Catholic guilt.

For Piero Rosini, he never learned to manage his lust, he went to a priest for help and was told not to think about women. Piero really took this advice on board to the point that he was unable to get an erection to consummate his one marriage. His sexless marriage was a result of him constantly trying to not think about sex, or feel a sexual attraction to his own wife. Although it proves impossible to not have sexual thoughts, and Piero’s life of purity began to unravel with the help of an attraction to his sister-in-law and spam emails.

The satirical nature of this novel comes from the fact people do not understand what the Church says about sex. Pope John Paul II did 129 lectures on the Theology of the Body, going through the Churches views on sex and sexuality. These lectures are about understanding your body, your desires and attraction. The theology should never feel restrictive by religion, rather we should be free and it should correct people’s misassumptions on the Churches teaching. Although the author may not have written this as a satire and this was actually his thoughts on Catholicism.

Unfortunately The Story of My Purity was not a great book, I loved viewing the book as a satire and exploring the theology behind it. However it did take a direction that I did not enjoy and ended up falling on its face. I am fascinated by theology and I feel like this could have been a great novel. The predictability of the book was just too much of a stumbling block for me. I am curious on Francesco Pacifico thoughts on Catholicism; I viewed the book as satire and would hate to think of it as anything else. I have also done a video review on this novel, if you are curious; although I think I talk about all the same ideas.