A dying English priest is dispatched from Rome as a canonical inquisitor in order to investigate the cult of sainthood that has grown around Giacomo Nerone in the desolate town of Calabria in Southern Italy. Reprint. NYT.
Monsignor Blaise Meredith: The devil's advocate who's sent to investigate the beatificatiion of Giacomo Nerone. Has terminal cancer and struggles with his faith.
Dr. Aldo Meyrer: Jewish doctor, belongs to the Communist Party and is responsible for Nerone's death. Love triangle with Nina Sanduzzi and Neroni.
Giacomo Nerone: English deserter that moves to Gemelo Minora and falls in love with Nina Sanduzzi, with whom he fathers a son, Paolo Sanduzzi
Eugenio Cardinal Marotte: Roman cardinal in charge of overseeing the investigation of the beatification of Giacomo Neroni. Assigns it to Meredith, because he feels it will help him resolve Meredith's religious crisis.
Maria Rossi: The books open with her labor and how Dr. Meyer is unable to prevent her death and that of her unborn son, because the parents refuse a C-Section because they prefer to pray to their saints
Rosa Benzoni: Common wife of father Anselmo. Takes care of him when he gets very drunk.
Aurelio Bishop Valenta: Bishop in charge of Calabria, where Giacomo Neroni lived. He becomes good friends with Meredith and helps him both to do his job in Neroni's investigation, and as a friend, to help Meredith solve his religious crisis.
Nicholas Black: An English painter who has been disgraced and is a closet homosexual. Is in complicity with the Contessa to get Paolo Sanduzzi, sdon of Nerone and Nina to become his lover
Paolo Sanduzzi: Son of Giacomo Nerone and Nina Sanduzzi. Lusted by both the Contessa and Mr. Black.
Countess Anne Louise de Sanctis: Patrona of the town. A widow who is in need of male companionship and love. Was rejected by Giacomo Neroni and hates Nina Sanduzzi and helped kill Nerone. Is using Mr. Black to gain access to Paolo Sanduzzi.
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