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Pope writes to Jon Fosse, Nobel prize-winner in literature

Jon Fosse and Pope Francis

Markus Wissmann | neneo | Shutterstock

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 11/27/23

Pope glad that Fosse's "ability to evoke Almighty God's gifts of grace, peace, and love in our often darkened world will surely enrich the lives of those who share the pilgrimage of faith."

Pope Francis wrote a personal letter to Norwegian playwright and novelist Jon Fosse, the recipient of the 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature. Fosse is a convert to Catholicism.

The Holy Father’s note was posted on the web site of the Church in Norway.

In the October 18 letter, the Pope expresses his appreciation “that your gentle testimony of faith and committed literary voice will now reach a wide-ranging audience.”

And in particular, “that your ability to evoke Almighty God’s gifts of grace, peace, and love in our often darkened world will surely enrich the lives of those who share the pilgrimage of faith.”

He concludes with the assurance of his prayers and a blessing.

The bishop of Oslo, Bernt Eidsvig, spoke of the Pope’s letter as a “great – and well-deserved – honor.”

“It shows not only that the [Nobel] prize attracts international attention, but that Fosse’s words reach out across the world, even into the Vatican corridors,” he commented.

Literature-teacher Pope

The Pope was once a literature teacher, and his speeches and writings are nearly always sprinkled with quotes from both famous and obscure writers from around the world.

Earlier this year, he said that literature was something that helped him understand himself:

I have loved many poets and writers in my life, among whom I think especially of Dante, Dostoevsky and others still. I must also thank my students of the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción of Santa Fe (Argentina), with whom I shared my reading when I was a young teacher of literature. The words of those authors helped me to understand myself, the world and my people, but also to understand more profoundly the human heart, my personal life of faith, and my pastoral work, even now in my present ministry. Literature is like a thorn in the heart; it moves us to contemplation and sets us on a journey. Poetry is open, it takes you somewhere else.

BooksPope Francis
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