The 1880 novel Ben-Hur was written by Civil War General Lew Wallace. Wallace wrote the novel to defend Christianity from Darwinist attacks and it became an international best-seller. The novel was the first work of fiction to be blessed by a Pope.
The novel features a story about Judah Ben-Hur, who accidentally injures a Roman commander for which he must endure life-long punishment. Ben-Hur is redeemed in the end of the novel by Jesus, lending reason to the Pope's blessing of the book. Ben-Hur was so popular it was eventually made into a movie by MGM in 1959. The film was the most expensive film made in the 50s.
More interesting facts about popes:
- Only three popes in history were under the age 25 when they were elected.
- The last German pope was Pope Benedict XVI elected in 2005; it had been 950 years since a German pope had been elected.
- Pope Francis was once a bouncer at a bar in Buenos Aires.