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The Devil's Advocate
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“A superior novel, intricately worked out at several levels of human and spiritual quest . . . beautiful and impassioned.”—Commonweal “A reading experience of real emotional intensity.”—The New York Times “A unique cloak-and-dagger drama of the human soul.”—Saturday Review The Devil's Advocate, Morris West's best-selling novel, is a deft exploration of the meaning of faith. In an impoverished village in southern Italy, the life and death of Giacamo Nerone has inspired talk of sainthood. Father Blaise Meredith, a dying English priest, is sent from the Vatican to investigate—and to try to untangle the web of facts, rumors, and outright lies that surround Nerone's life and death. With spiritual frailty as a backdrop, The Devil's Advocate reminds us how the power of goodness ultimately prevails over despair.
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Set just after the end of WWII, this an amazing story of human character and the life of a possible saint.
Monsignor Blaise Meredith has been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. Eugenio Cardinal Marotta assigns him to a final errand: the investigation the beatification of a peasant from Gemelo Minora, Giacomo Nerone. The beatification is a political hot potato, and was requested by Aurelio Bishop of Valenta from the province of Calabria.
Meredith, although being an Englishman, has spent his whole life in Rome, investigating the comings and goings of saints. Because of this, he has lost his faith and this last assignment is meant to help him find God before he dies.
Arriving at Calabria, where he befriends Aurelio Bishop of Valenta. For the first time, Meredith opens up to another human being, and the Bishop thinks there may be hope for Meredith, yet.
As he arrives to Gemeli del Monti, he's lodge at the villa of Condessa Anne Louise de Sanctis, the Gemeli Majora's patronna. Even though, Giacomo Nerone lived in Gemeli Minora, it's Gemeli Majora who's benefited from the prospects of a saint.
Soon, Meredith realizes that the persons touched by the beato, are hiding secrets from him. It's his re-humanization who will be able to uncover their mysteries.
Giacomo Nerone was a deserter from the British army, tortured by the image of killing a whole family by a grenade. Injured by a bullet, he arrives one night into the hut of Nina Sanduzzi, a peasant. She calls Doctor Aldo Meyer, and between them they save his life. Nina falls in love with him, and they become lovers. But Nerone, with Dr, Myers's aid, then becomes the leader of the town, organizing a system of saving grain and supplies so the peasants can survive the harsh winter. Nina begets him a son,Paolo, but because Nina had rubella during the pregnancy, the son is born blind.
By this time Giacomo has moved away from Nina's house, assuming that as the allied forces advance, he would be putting her and the child in danger. When the baby is born, Giacomo has to meet with Il Lupo, the head of the communist party, and Giacomo is given an ultimatum, either flee, join the party, or die. Giacomo goes back to Nina and by prayer cures his newborn son from blindness--the rubella had caused the baby to be born with cataracts.
As the communists take the town, Giacomo seeks refuge with the Contessa, but she demands his son, and to sleep with her. Giacomo refuses, and he's arrested next morning and sentenced to death. His letters reveal his conversion back to the Church: "I was born in the Faith, I lost it; I was let back to it by the hand of God."
This is an amazing book that deals with human nature, both in and out of the Church. It treats the themes of celibacy, homosexuality, love, the disconnect of The Church from its flock, in a candid way. The book is a pleasure to read, and I strongly recommend it to anyone that has ever doubted anything.
I close this review with a quote: "Christ had made bishops and a Pope--but never a cardinal. Even the name held more than a hint of illusion--cardo, a hinge--as if they were hinges on which the gates of Heaven were hung. Hinges they might be, but the hinges were useless metal , unless anchored firmly into the living fabric of The Church, whore stones were the poor, the humble, the ignorant, the sinning, and the loving, the forgotten of the princes, but never the forgotten of God."
S.J.Tagliareni author of Hitler's priest