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Brennan Pursell


Brennan Pursell, Ph.D. had his first encounter with the Catholic faith as a graduate student at Harvard University. He was studying the history of the Protestant Reformation, and intrigued by what he was reading about the Catholic Church, he began attending Mass at St. Paul’s Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.   In 1994, during a trip to Germany, he was formally received into the Catholic Church at the Benedictine monastery of Metten. That same summer, he met his future wife, a Bavarian pianist, and the couple married in 1997.  

In 2001, Brennan joined the faculty of DeSales University, a Catholic liberal arts college in eastern Pennsylvania, where he teaches a wide range of courses on European history. His first book, The Winter King: Frederick V of the Palatinate and the Coming of the Thirty Years War was published in 2003. Brennan, who is fluent in German, began working on Benedict of Bavaria shortly after the papal conclave of 2005. He immersed himself in the early life of Joseph Ratzinger, visiting all the towns where he lived, the schools where he studied, and the churches where he worshipped. Drawing upon a host of sources that are virtually unknown outside Germany, including interviews and encounters with the people who knew Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict of Bavaria is the first book to demonstrate the authentic influence Bavarian culture had on the development of Pope Benedict’s life and thought.

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