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Rome in America

Transnational Catholic Ideology from the Risorgimento to Fascism

By Peter R. D'Agostino

416 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5515-7
    Published: April 2004
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6341-1
    Published: December 2005

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Awards & distinctions

2002 Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize, American Society of Church History

A Chicago Tribune Best Book of 2004

For years, historians have argued that Catholicism in the United States stood decisively apart from papal politics in European society. The Church in America, historians insist, forged an "American Catholicism," a national faith responsive to domestic concerns, disengaged from the disruptive ideological conflicts of the Old World. Drawing on previously unexamined documents from Italian state collections and newly opened Vatican archives, Peter D'Agostino paints a starkly different portrait. In his narrative, Catholicism in the United States emerges as a powerful outpost within an international church that struggled for three generations to vindicate the temporal claims of the papacy within European society.

Even as they assimilated into American society, Catholics of all ethnicities participated in a vital, international culture of myths, rituals, and symbols that glorified papal Rome and demonized its liberal, Protestant, and Jewish opponents. From the 1848 attack on the Papal States that culminated in the creation of the Kingdom of Italy to the Lateran Treaties in 1929 between Fascist Italy and the Vatican that established Vatican City, American Catholics consistently rose up to support their Holy Father. At every turn American liberals, Protestants, and Jews resisted Catholics, whose support for the papacy revealed social boundaries that separated them from their American neighbors.

About the Author

Peter R. D'Agostino (1962-2005) was associate professor of history and Catholic studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Rome in America was awarded the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize by the American Society of Church History.
For more information about Peter R. D'Agostino, visit the Author Page.


"An important book. . . . Highly recommended . . . for graduate students and scholars."--The Catholic Historical Review

"A masterful accomplishment, both in its scholarship and its reader-friendly prose style."--Theological Studies

"A well-rendered, and expansive, history of Catholicism in America."--Chicago Tribune

"Rome in America is a major contribution to church history, an even-handed account of early 20th Century papal diplomacy and why it so badly failed. Peter D'Agostino has written an erudite book, marshaling a range of archival sources. . . . This is not revisionist history . . . so much as getting history down in the first place."--Chicago Tribune

"Provides an elaborately rich context for understanding modern Catholicism even as it undermines the canonical interpretation of American Catholic history. . . . Groundbreaking, provocative, wide-ranging, and nicely written. . . . Challenges future historians to rethink the history of American Catholicism in an appropriately international context."--American Historical Review

"Elegantly written and well-researched. . . . D'Agostino's book challenges notions of exceptionalism that have informed histories of the American Catholic Church and raises new questions about the relationship between religion and ethnicity in modern America."--Journal of American Ethnic History