The Priest's Madonna Review
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In the little village of Rennes-le-Chateau, France, lies a secret—a secret that could damage the authority of the Catholic Church and weaken its spiritual foundation. Three people know of this secret, and a fourth suspects that a book—filled with visions about the child that Jesus and Mary Magdalene supposedly conceived before his crucifixion—lies hidden somewhere in the Catholic Church at Rennes-le-Chateau.

A young priest, Berenger Sauniere, and his friend, Marie Denarnaud, search the church and grounds for the mysterious book, but they mostly stumble through it until Mme. Laporte, a descendant from the line of Jesus and Mary, tells Marie about a child who was buried in a chamber with the book. Now all they need to do is find the child’s final resting place so they start digging in the graveyard.

The hunt draws Marie and Berenger closer in body and spirit—but further from their faith. Marie questions everything about the Catholic Church, and Berenger struggles with his fleshly weaknesses and wonders why God has stopped speaking to him. These two characters are based on actual historical figures. Berenger was an 18th century priest who came into a great deal of unexplainable wealth—some thought he’d found a buried treasure, others thought he was blackmailing the Catholic Church because he had found a book that proved that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had conceived a child. Marie was his housekeeper and rumored to be his lover.

From the moment I opened The Priest’s Madonna, I knew I was going to love it. Marie is so much like me, in that I question man’s interpretation of the Bible and religion. But that doesn’t mean we don’t believe in the existence of God—though some people would have you think questioning the Bible equals non-belief. And while I don’t believe Jesus sired a child during his short life on earth, I find it fascinating that others do.

Inspired, innovative, spiritual, and fascinating are just a few of the words that describe The Priest’s Madonna. Amy Hassinger weaves a haunting story of a tormented priest and a forbidden love that could cause him to break his vows and put him in danger of excommunication from his beloved church. Ms. Hassinger gets to the heart of her characters, bringing them to life, drawing out their deepest emotions until you feel as if you’re living among them with all their beauty and earthly flaws. Throw in suspense and mystery, and this is one fantastic read.

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