Catholic popes have been powerful spiritual leaders for nearly two millennia, but their influence is not confined exclusively to Church matters. Many popes have played a central role in the history of Europe and the wider world, not only shouldering the spiritual burdens of their office but also contending with the political crises of their times. In an acclaimed series of BBC radio broadcasts, Eamon Duffy enthralled listeners with vivid stories of the ten popes he judges 'the most influential in history'. With this book, readers may now also enjoy Duffy's portraits of ten exceptional men who shook the world. The book begins with St. Peter, the Rock upon whom the Catholic Church was built, and follows with Leo the Great (fifth century), Gregory the Great (sixth century), Gregory VII (eleventh century), Innocent III (thirteenth century), Paul III (sixteenth century), and Pius IX (nineteenth century). Among twentieth-century popes, Duffy examines the lives and contributions of Pius XII, who was elected on the eve of the Second World War, the kindly John XXIII, who captured the world's imagination, and John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in 450 years. Each of these ten, Duffy shows, was an extraordinary individual who helped shape the world we know today.