Lumen Fidei is the first encyclical of Pope Francis after being elected to the papacy in 2013. Lumen Fidei covers the virtue of faith, and follows the encyclicals written by Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, on the virtues of hope and charity. Francis claims, “There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.”
Lumen Fidei is divided into four chapters that discuss the history of faith in the Church from the time of Abraham, the relationship of faith and reason, the role of the Church in sharing faith and building up society, and concludes with a presentation of Mary as a model of faith.
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Pope Francis was born Jorge Bergoglio in 1936. A Jesuit, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and served many different posts before becoming archbishop in his native Buenos Aires in 1998. He was appointed cardinal by John Paul II in 2001. He became the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church in 2013, following the retirement of Benedict XVI, and chose the papal name of Francis after St. Francis of Assisi.
Pope Francis is known for the simplicity and informality with which he conducts his leadership of the Church, and was named “Person of the Year” in 2013 by Time magazine. His life and teachings emphasize humility, love for the poor, and interfaith connection. He has written several books in Spanish, including On Heaven and Earth, which was translated into English.