(John C. Vidmar)
Education: University of Edinburgh, Scotland, M.A.; University of St. Thomas, Rome, Italy, S.T.D.
Office—Providence College, 549 River Ave., Providence, RI 02918-0001.
Writer, theologian, Dominican friar, educator, and historian. Providence College, RI, special lecturer, 2004-05, associate professor of theology, 2005—. Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC, former associate professor and academic dean; Ohio Dominican University, Columbus, former instructor.
The Catholic Church through the Ages: A History, Paulist Press (New York, NY), 2005.
English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585-1954, Sussex Academic Press (Portland, OR), 2005.
(With Nancy de Flon) 101 Questions and Answers on "The Da Vinci Code" and the Catholic Tradition, Paulist Press (Mahwah, NJ), 2006.
Praying with the Dominicans: To Praise, to Bless, to Preach, foreword by Maureen Sullivan, Paulist Press (Mahwah, NJ), 2008.
Writer, historian, and theologian John Vidmar is an associate professor of theology at Providence College in Rhode Island. A Dominican friar, Vidmar is deeply involved in religious issues and theological education. In addition to his educational duties, Vidmar also serves as archivist for the Dominican Province encompassing Providence and surrounding areas. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology (S.T.D.) from the University of St. Thomas, or the Angelicum, in Rome, Italy. He specializes in church history and associated topics of research.
In The Catholic Church through the Ages: A History, Vidmar presents a one-volume history that "aims to produce an outline of the history of the Church that combines substance with readability," commented Thomas Bokenkotter, writing in the Catholic Historical Review. Throughout the book, the author "displays a fine talent for clearly and succinctly summing up a period, and he excels in his characterizations of leading figures," Bokenkotter continued. He looks at Catholic Church history in six broad ages, and largely approaches material by topic rather than chronologically. He does not avoid controversies but strives to offer a fair assessment of all issues. Reviewer Michael Monshou, writing on the Homiletic & Pastoral Review Web site, concluded, "Father Vidmar's work is a masterpiece of pedagogy, an example of fine scholarship, and an important voice in the Church's own reporting of what the author calls her ‘family story.’"
Vidmar explores the multifaceted works of a group of religious historians in English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585-1954. In this book, Vidmar asserts that many historians of the English Reformation have been unable to focus on the true cause behind the Reformation. Many of the period's prominent historians looked for its origins in political, social, or materialistic causes; Vidmar believes that they have overlooked the most obvious and most powerful cause of them all: religion. Throughout the book, "Vidmar weaves his way through forgotten historians and their works. Almost immediately, he draws the reader's attention to a division within the Catholic historiographical tradition, a division often as acrimonious as the confessional divide," observed Thomas M. McCoog in Church History. He considers how many historians approached and interpreted events such as the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth in 1570; the Church's mid-sixteenth century insistence on an oath of loyalty; the status of Jesuits and those who were opposed to them; the treatment of the Pope by historians; and more. "The book abounds with interesting facts and cogent short summaries. It is the work of a scholar and a judicious student," concluded Catholic Historical Review critic Francis Edwards.
Vidmar, in collaboration with Nancy de Flon, addresses some of the controversies that attended the publication of one of the more popular books of the last decade. In 101 Questions and Answers on "The Da Vinci Code" and the Catholic Tradition, the authors address many misconceptions, fictional creations, and outrageous stories presented by author Dan Brown in his novel, The Da Vinci Code. The book's stories of secret societies, occult knowledge, hidden treasures, and well-guarded dark secrets of Catholic Church history were perfectly acceptable as part of a rousing adventure story. However, concern arose when many church leaders began to realize that many readers of Brown's book were convinced that these fanciful legends were true. In a profile on the Providence College Web site, Vidmar noted that "many Christians and lay people without academic training do take Brown seriously." In their book, Vidmar and de Flon approach what they consider "erroneous passages in the novel" and use them as "jumping-off points to explore the richness of Catholic tradition from the perspective of a professional historian."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Catholic Historical Review, January, 2007, Thomas Bokenkotter, review of The Catholic Churchthrough the Ages: A History, p. 104; January, 2007, Francis Edwards, review of English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585-1954, p. 114.
Church History, June, 2006, Thomas M. McCoog, review of English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585-1954, p. 441.
English Historical Review, April, 2007, Christopher Haigh, review of English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585-1954, p. 541.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2005, review of English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation, 1585-1954.
Dominicanfriars.org,http://www.dominicanfriars.org/ (January 31, 2008), Peter Totleben, review of Praying with the Dominicans: To Praise, to Bless, to Preach; (May 28, 2008), author profile.
Homiletic & Pastoral Review Online,http://www.ignatius.com/magazines/hprweb/ (May 28, 2008), Michael Monshau, review of The Catholic Church through the Ages.
Providence College Web site,http://www.providence.edu/ (May 12, 2006), "Providence College Theologian Uses Scholarship to Counter The Da Vinci Code"; (May 28, 2008), author profile.