Olivia’s Candle

Olivia’s Candle


Book 2

In the Holy Land, Christianity’s most stunning find in over two thousand years bursts into the worldwide news. Three new gospels have been found, exhaustively vetted by theologians, and the conclusive evidence is that the gospels were written…by women! Faced with the undeniable truth that Jesus of Nazareth had women disciples, The Vatican opens its doors to females into the priesthood. From the raucous alleys of New Orleans, one homeless young girl rises from near death to become the most likely choice to rise through the ranks, and arrive at the precipice of power, the papacy itself. However, she has a dark secret, and if discovered, could cost her everything. Enemies emerge in the hierarchy of the Church, and will stop at nothing to snuff out the flame of Olivia’s Candle! From the bowels of New Orleans, to New England, to Venice, and to the gates of St. Peter’s Basilica, a race against time is on, and is full of intrigue, danger, and suspense. From the first page, you’ll be pulled in to the sheer magnitude of the story, and won’t be able to put it down. Come, follow the flame…of Olivia’s adventures as she reaches for the impossible.

Prologue

December 31

“Are you ready?” the Pope asked, standing behind a large window in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The muscles in Olivia’s face tightened. She willed herself to appear relaxed. As ready as I’ll ever be. “Yes.”

“Then come. Stand beside me. I want to personally introduce you to the world.” He reached out his hand and guided her to the window. His touch was warm, gentle. “You’re tense. I can feel it.”

Olivia forced a smile. Of course I am. “Just a little nervous.”

For an instant, a hint of apprehension flashed in his eyes. “Look out the window, Olivia.

Everyone wants to see you. Try to smile. And wave. Remember, they’re all here for you.”

Olivia slowly cast her gaze over the Piazza of St. Peter in the Vatican. More than one million anxious faces stared back. A hush fell over the crowd. The Roman Catholic leader of the world, Pope John Mark XII, put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed gently.

“I remember when I first appeared in this window twenty years ago,” he said. “I believe I had the same look on my face that you do now. A little shock and awe at the same time, yes?”
“Exactly. I’m so humbled, I don’t know what to say.”

“Just thank God that you’re here. Thank Him for this momentous occasion.”

I have thanked the Lord and still can’t believe this is happening to me.

Pope John Mark reached for the microphone attached to the base of the window by a slender stem. He pulled it closer while gazing out over the multitudes of people below. “Good morning,” he said, in a conversational tone. The crowd cheered with delight. “Together we have celebrated the faith of our fathers and tried to live our lives in conformity with the teachings of Christ.

Six years ago we announced the miraculous discovery of a long lost set of ancient scrolls found in Nazareth which chronicled the lives of three women who were disciples of Christ. Like the twelve male disciples, these women answered the call and went into the world to preach the good news of salvation and redemption. For nearly two thousand years, our tradition of ordaining only males to the priesthood remained steadfast. Without first-hand knowledge that Christ himself blessed the discipleship of women, we assumed He intended for the priesthood to be led exclusively by men. However, based upon the undeniable truth of the lost scrolls, we have ordained many women. Their dedication and sacrifices, as well as the heroic contributions from the women who’ve been ordained since, relieved the chronic shortage of priests worldwide and led to a resurgence of membership in our Holy religion. The acceptance and implementation of women into the priesthood has been good for the world. Would you agree?” The crowd went wild with enthusiasm. “Today, I stand before you to announce another major event in the history of our Holy Church.”

A hush fell over the crowd. The Pope let the silence linger while he scanned the faces of the people. “Moments ago,” he continued, “I appointed a new member to the College of Cardinals. She stands beside me now.” With his hand in the middle of her back, the Pope pushed Olivia forward, closer to the window. “To you, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, formally, “and to the world, I present the first true princess of the church. I give you, Cardinal Olivia Couvier.”

Stunned silence fell over the piazza. As the reality of the pontiff’s words sank in, the shock turned to unbridled excitement. The roar of their wild cheers was deafening. Tears streamed down Olivia’s face. Her emotions swung like a pendulum from awe and disbelief, to pure joy and ecstasy. To be in the Vatican at the dawn of a new millennium, to be a world leader of women, was all she dreamed of since joining the Order of the Daughters of Christ in New Orleans over twenty years ago when she was only fifteen.

Suddenly, a sharp pain gripped her chest. Her breath hung in her throat trapping the words she was trying to speak. Long suppressed, surreal images flashed through her mind of the day, decades ago, when she lay freezing and deathly sick at the doorstep of the Daughters’ convent. The wonderful sisters of the order took her in, fed and cared for her and offered her solace. And they kept her terrible secret safe. Now, standing before the world at the pinnacle of success, she wondered what price she would have to pay to keep it that way.

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