Whoever said that Christians had to be meek and mild hadn’t met Father Kir – parish priest and French resistance hero, immortalised by the Kir Royale. And they probably weren’t thinking of Archbishop Damaskinos who, when threatened with the firing squad by the Nazis, replied, ‘Please respect our traditions – in Greece we hang our Archbishops.’
Wherever fascism has taken root, it has met with resistance. From taking a bullet for a frightened schoolgirl in Alabama to riding on the bonnet of a tank during the liberation of France, each of the hard-drinking, chain-smoking clerics featured in Priests de la Résistance were willing to give their lives for a world they believed in – even as their superiors beckoned them to safety.
In this spellbinding new collection, the Reverend Fergus Butler-Gallie, bestselling author of A Field Guide to the English Clergy, presents fifteen men and women who dared to stand up to fascism, proving that some hearts will never be conquered.
‘A fascinating and entirely benign book, imbued with a surprisingly muscular Christianity and full of stories you may not know but which need to be heard’
– Spectator BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'[T]his winter’s best title is Fergus Butler-Gallie’s work on wartime heroics by the clergy’
– Patrick Kidd, The Times
‘A timely and uplifting book… An hugely enjoyable if slightly eccentric account of clerical heroism in the face of evil… [Butler-Gallie] achieves an inspiring effect through the sheer cumulative impact of so many brave decisions.’
– Julian Coman, Observer
‘Here the Reverend Butler-Gallie wittily profiles 15 “loose cannons” who stood up against fascism’.
– Strong Words
‘Butler-Gallie serves them and their stories well with background information, a fluent narrative style, and a fine eye for the quirky and telling personal or historical detail.’
– Church Times
'As entertaining as it is erudite, this enthralling anthology presents a cornucopia of quirky, courageous Fascist-fighting clerics.'
‘A field guide to 20th-century priests, monks and nuns from all over the world who were prepared to die for their faith and to die saving others... He proves it true that comedy and tragedy run side by side, and that some of the most unlikely people turn out to be saints and martyrs... Bracing and lively.’
– The Times
‘Deserves a wide readership. It could be argued that it took allegiance to a higher power than secular Messiahs to support resistance to the most hateful regimes of the 20th Century.’
– Church of England Newspaper
‘The history of Christianity during World War II is not pretty, as many leading Church figures collaborated with the Nazis and gave succour to anti-Semitism. A handful of religious people stood tall and met the challenge – the little-known men and women vividly described in these fascinating pages opposed both fascism and religious authority to fight the true good fight. If only there had been more like them!’
– Matthew Cobb, author of The Resistance
Praise for A Field Guide to the English Clergy:
‘A group biography of ecclesiastical nuttiness… All gloriously mad.' The Times, Books of the Year 2018
‘Eye-popping tales of lunacy, debauchery and depravity…Butler-Gallie knows whereof he writes, being a curate himself, and he has done a splendid job presenting a smorgasbord of most peculiar parsons.' Sebastian Shakespeare,Daily Mail
‘We have…always kept a special haven for oddballs in the Church of England, as Fergus Butler-Gallie demonstrates in this entertaining compendium…Their foibles cover all bases from absentmindedness to epic drunkenness…I'm glad I read this one. It's a lot of fun.' The Times
‘Entertainingly erudite…But it is also a surprisingly profound work…For all its mischief, Butler-Gallie's work of lightly worn erudition is a paean to a great English institution, finely tuned to the temper of its representatives, good, bad and indifferent. We should treasure it more.' Literary Review
‘A humorous compendium of some of the oddball clergy who have served the Church over the centuries...These thumbnail portraits reveal a very broad church indeed.' New Statesman
‘The Church of England has produced some real oddballs in its time, and this is an entertaining gallop through several centuries' worth of them…Butler-Gallie has done his homework, digging out some rare gems…This is the story not just of eccentrics, but also of a leisured age that is no more.' Harry Mount, Spectator
‘Wonderfully entertaining…A hilarious yet thoughtful reminder that the Christian faith wasn't always thought incompatible with a sense of humour or a healthy bolshiness.' Sunday Times
‘It may have the makings of a modern classic…Butler-Gallie chronicles not just Anglican follies, but also human weaknesses which we all share and with which we can perhaps sympathise.' The Catholic Herald
‘This is a ridiculously enjoyable book: funny, compassionate, and wonderfully well-written.' Tom Holland
‘A delightful, sympathetic, humorous and earthed cocktail of quirky English clergy.' The Rt Revd David Wilbourne