Histories of the Catholic Church in the United States abound. Most suffer from an excess of either scholarly detachment or popular triumphalism. American Pilgrimage seeks instead to draw on the best of current scholarship to tell the story of the Church as it understands itself: the Body of Christ, divinely ordained yet marred by sin, charged with the mission of spreading the Gospel and building up the community of the faithful.
In scope, American Pilgrimage narrates the story of the Church from the dramatic efforts at evangelization in the colonial period, to the Catholic urban villages of the immigrant Church, to the struggles to reimagine tradition in the late-20th century. In shape, it follows this story through the Augustinian contours of the ongoing struggle between the City of God and the City of Man—a struggle that takes place between the Church and the world, within the Church itself, and within the soul of every Christian.