Religion: Le Bestseller

Frail, dark-haired Henri Petiot returned from Rome to Paris last week with a new papal award, and just in time to launch the most prodigious project of his prodigious career—a brand-new, 150-volume encyclopedia of the Roman Catholic faith. Few have heard of Henri Petiot, ex-schoolteacher. But under his pen name of Daniel-Rops, who in France has not? "Le Bestseller," they call him, and they read his books into record-breaking editions, go to his lectures by the hundreds, buy his magazines by the thousands.

Broken into small (average: 128 pages), low-priced (less than $1) segments, the first four volumes of The Encyclopedia of...

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