THE THIRD MIRACLE by Richard Vetere


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 Debut novel by screenwriter Vetere exploring Catholic dogma, the nature of miracles, and the process by which a saint is canonized. Vetere tells an absorbing tale of a priest who secretly acknowledges that he has lost his faith but who is nonetheless called to investigate whether a woman long resident in a convent in New York was in fact a saint. The story turns on God's grace and its mysterious workings, with little hint of melodrama. Father Frank Moore made a splash when he published The God Within, a study of faith. Then Frank's mentor, Father Falcone, became involved in what seemed to be miraculous events and was himself examined for canonization following his death. Frank, sent to investigate, discovered that Father Falcone had lost his faith and drowned himself. Devastated, his own faith shattered, Frank goes into hiding until the materialistic Cardinal Cahill finds and appoints him to consider the possible canonization of Helen Stephenson. Actually, the Cardinal wants Frank to destroy Stephenson, since she also spoke out for the ordination of female priests. But miracles surround her. For ten years, the statue of the Virgin outside the church of St. Stanislaus in Queens has cried tears of blood every October, the month of Stephenson's death. A cult arises, and, as at Lourdes, the sick arrive to be healed by the tears; some are saved at the brink of death. Frank's job, meanwhile, is to probe every aspect of Stephenson's life and look for flaws that would deny sainthood. One such flaw seems to be that Stephenson, a nurse, abandoned her daughter Roxana in order to enter the convent at St. Stanislaus, and Roxanna has never forgiven her. Frank becomes embroiled erotically with Roxanna, but eventually he must face a Vatican team of cardinals and lay out the case for Stephenson. Fascinating portrait of the church's internal workings--but the characters (and drama) take second place to larger questions of faith and doubt.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7867-0413-6
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997