On September 12, 2016, we entered into a contract with eLectio Publishing for our new book The Hidden Saint: The 16th Century Church in Crisis. The motto of eLecio Publishing is First century principles, A twenty-first century approach. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with both its Chief Operating Officer, Christopher Dixon, and my literary agent, Natalie Hanemann, discussing the agreement. As the motto suggests, this is a Christian publisher who initially intended to publish world-wide solely through electronic media. After about a decade in business, they realized that paper format books were not going the way of the usual old technology. Changing course, eLectio decided to publish their author’s manuscripts so that they could be read either as an ebook in digital format or in a print version. They now publish over fifty books a year and distribute them world-wide. The release date for The Hidden Saint is scheduled for March 7, 2017.
We are excited that the true story of the Roman Catholic Church and the problems it faced in the 16th century can now be told from an Italian perspective. The Church faced four major challenges: a Muslim invasion; dissent over forcible conversions in the Americas; clashes with the new Protestant movement; and immoral behavior from members of the clergy. The Council of Trent countered these threats by laying out the fundamental beliefs of the Catholic Church and listing punishments up to and including excommunication for inappropriate behavior.
Roberto Vecchi narrates the story as the bodyguard to Carlo Borromeo, nephew to Pope Pius IV, and son of the Count of Arona. Carlo wishes to follow a religious career and has been assigned responsibility for implementing the decisions of the council. Roberto prefers a comfortable future to labors in an apathetic church, assuming he lives long enough to have a future. Roberto’s devastating skill with a sword causes him to find a ready partner in Ernesto Mancini of the Orsini clan only to be restrained from dueling by Carlo with the threat of excommunication.
Our story takes place primarily in Rome and Milan, but we find an unwilling Roberto off to the famous Colegio de San Gregorio in Spain which had such a great influence on the encomenderos of Latin America, and to Lepanto where the deciding sea battle takes place between the Catholic Fleet and the Muslim Fleet. When the restraining influence of Carlos over Roberto begins to lose its power, the lovely maid, Celia Bartolini, enters the scene and reminds Roberto that his soul is not the only thing he might lose should he unsheathe his sword.
Watch for the release of this historical fiction novel about another critical time in the life of the Catholic Church and how it affected not only its followers, but the entire Christian community.