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Father Maurice Britt is the 72 year old pastor of a run-down mid-Manhattan parish. His life as a priest and as a man has long been settled in ritual and routine; even his hobby of handicapping the Saturday races (just for the intellectual exercise) has come to be regarded by his parishioners as a lovable eccentricity in an otherwise blemishless and ordinary life. When a troublesome youngster claims to have been vouchsafed a vision of the Virgin Mary and when this is accompanied by the appearance of ""tears"" on a rectory picture of Christ, St. Martin's Parish becomes the subject of newspaper headlines and the substance of Broadway gossip columns, complicating Father Britt's life beyond his imagination. He's quite willing to believe in the authenticity of the ""miracle"" as a vindication of his own life until there appears a spate of such pictures all exhibiting the same startling characteristic. The answer is ironic, simple and chemical: the phenomenon is the result of faulty production. But Father Britt manages to survive a crisis of faith. What might be a simply sentimental story is enlivened by the author's knowledgeable handling of ""show-biz"" talk and his amusing introduction of the Bishop's public relations man who finds it ""very interesting to have a backstage peek at the way the holy water splashes"".

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1961
Publisher: Dodd, Mead