Three virgin pregnancies lead to a schism in the Catholic Church, but it’s nothing a Harvard professor can’t tackle.
Pope Celestine IV isn’t sure what to think when he hears that a Blessed Virgin Mary is once again on Earth—and not just one, but three different teenage Marys in geographically disparate locations, each preparing to have a baby without ever having done the deed. Is it a miracle or some sort of modern science? Celestine calls on his longtime friend Cal Donovan, a prominent scholar of religion and archaeology, to help plumb the miracle. Cal is the answer to the question, “What if being a Harvard professor made you a superhero, and you were also as appealing to women as, say, Shaft?” So he’s more than ready to ditch his romantic getaway with his ladylove to visit two of the Marys (Marias, really) in their hometowns. Because he can’t be literally everywhere at once, he enlists the help of his colleague Joseph Murphy to visit Ireland Mary and share his thoughts on the matter. While Cal confirms the Marys’ virginities and pregnancies, he doesn’t have much insight into the mystery, and he’s preparing to return to his daily routine when the world is shaken by the news that all three Marys have disappeared. The Marys are in fact housed in a large mansion somewhere in the U.S., not exactly against their will but certainly not with their blessing. Not even caretaker Sue Gibney, who’s responsible for the girls’ everyday lives, is clear about the greater plan. When cardinal George Pole tenders his resignation to the Vatican, Celestine senses there’s another change coming, but even Cal can’t save the Catholic Church from a wave of believers focused on this modern apparent miracle—or can he?
This virgin-birth thriller from Cooper (Sign of the Cross, 2018, etc.) is lighter and funnier than you might think, whether intentionally so or not, from the reams of hymen talk to the alma mater the author coincidentally shares with his hero.