Inside the pope’s bedroom, Vatican secrecy and the lives of married priests

March 3, 2015 4:07 AM

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This was ambitious. I’m not a Catholic; in fact, I’m not a practicing Christian of any kind (though a decade of researching this novel has nudged me closer to becoming one). What I saw, in the question of Jesus’ physical appearance, was an entry-point into the greater mystery of what’s really knowable about Jesus. If we put aside traditional pieties as well as conspiracy theories, what are we left with? A man who is as much a historical construct as our artistic imagery of him? Or is it possible that my fictional priest knew something I didn’t? That it wasn’t his spiritual journey I was storyboarding, but my own?

In retrospect, my interest in searching for a reality beneath outward appearances has an obvious source. My previous novel, “The Rule of Four,” had become a media phenomenon in 2004. My coauthor and I had spent the six years after college writing it, during most of which I’d lived in rural southwe...

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