The Third Secret (novel)

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The Third Secret is 2005 novel written by Steve Berry.

Plot introduction[edit]

The story takes us behind the Vatican walls during the reign of a dying pope. Clement XV,[1] a gentle, poetic German, keeps visiting the archives where the Third Secret of Fatima is kept. He is clearly troubled by something, but won't fully confide in his secretary, Father Colin Michener. He sends Michener to Romania with a message for a priest who runs an orphanage under appalling conditions, and gives him other strange errands. Michener is an Irish-American who fell in love and broke his vows of celibacy with reporter Katerina Lew, now involved with another priest who has gone public with his sexual affairs and demanding that the Church allow priests to marry.

All that Michener knows about Clement's problem is that it has to do with the third secret, which was (actually) written in Portuguese by Marian visionary Lucia Santos in the 1940s and (in the novel) translated into Italian for Pope John XXIII by the Romanian priest who now runs the orphanage. It was supposedly revealed to the world in 2000, but (as many suspect in real life) rumor exists that what was revealed was only the first part of a longer message.[2] As Michener gathers information for Clement, it is confirmed that there is a second part, and also that the Romanian priest kept a copy (a "facsimile") of both parts, which he later sent to Clement with a letter saying "Why is the Church lying?" Michener learns that John XXIII started Vatican II partly as a response to what he read in the third secret, but without revealing it in 1960 (as Lucia actually said Mary had asked).

Ambitious Cardinal Alberto d'Andrea and his secretary/lover Paolo Ambrosi carry on Machiavellian conspiracies behind the scenes, including having Katerina spy on Michener during his mysterious travels. d'Andrea is determined to be Pope and bring back pre-Vatican II traditions. Equally determined to keep him from ever assuming the chair is the tough but decent Cardinal Ngovi.

Clement dies without revealing what is really bothering him, and we get an intimate look at the kind of political jostling that takes place as an impending conclave looms. Amid all the dirty campaigning a secret exists that will either usher the church into a new era, or bring down the entire establishment. The actual contents of the third secret are revealed and confirmed in a startling climax.

The book draws on accounts of visitations of Our Lady of Fatima and other important Marian apparitions. The Prophecy of the Popes is quoted in the text. Clement's obsession with the Fatima messages is based partly on that of Pope John Paul I, who as Patriarch of Venice met Lucia Santos and spoke with her for several hours. Deeply moved by the experience, he vowed to comply with Mary's reported request, not the release of the third secret, but the Consecration of Russia. John Paul's attitudes toward birth control and homosexuality may also be reflected in certain aspects of the novel.[3]


  1. ^ In actuality there was a conservative French priest named Michel Collin or Colin who between 1950–1974 proclaimed himself to be "Pope Clement XV" (see Antipope#Collinites) but his claim was not accepted by the Church. That is clearly not the person meant in the book.
  2. ^ For instance, Catholic scholar Antonio Socci in The Secret Still Hidden, entire text on line, found 2010-05-13.
  3. ^ John Paul's vow was written in a letter to theologian Germano Pattaro, quoted in My Heart Is Still in Venice, a biography of John Paul (Krinon, 1990) and referenced in Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. 4.
Preceded by
The Romanov Prophecy
Steve Berry novels
Succeeded by
The Templar Legacy

External links[edit]