||His Holiness Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) became Pope in 1878 and was eager to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world. He argued that science and religion could co-exist and was particularly inspired by the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas. In real life, of course, he had no involvement with Sherlock Holmes!
Ann Margaret Lewis was born and raised in Waterford, Michigan. She received her Bachelor's degree in English Literature at Michigan State University. She began her writing career writing children's books and went on to publish Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Alien Species and other science fiction/fantasy, historical fiction, and mystery titles, including Murder in the Vatican:The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes (see below). In this she expands on brief mentions of the Vatican in the original Holmes stories to give her own interpretation of what might have happened.
She is a classically trained soprano and President of the Catholic Writers Guild. She now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband Joseph Lewis and their son.
The Vatican Cameos (2010)
The Vatican Cameos is one of three stories in Murder in the Vatican that involve Pope Leo XIII and Sherlock Holmes, with even Father Brown thrown in! In it Holmes is sent by Queen Victoria to help the Pope recover a rare collection of ancient Roman cameos that has vanished en route to her. The wily Pope had sent these as a gift to the queen, hoping that this would make it easier for English Catholics to be able to build their new much-needed cathedral in London. Holmes travels to Rome to locate the stolen cameos, but soon finds himself involved in a murder.
Introduced and concluded by Dr. Watson, almost all the story is told by the amiable if old and angina-struck Pope Leo XIII himself who, in the absence of Dr Watson, agrees to take Watson's place and act as Holmes' assistant even if "I would be a poor substitute for your friend .... I promise to curtail the theological and philosophical pontificating if the Pope can be forgiven for doing that on occasion?"
In fact the Pope does more than keep a remarkably detailed account of everything that is said and done, but even joins in with gusto, avoiding further deaths by letting the villain " walk away" - having privately arranged with a halberdier to cut him down.
"You lied! You gave me your solemn word as Pope!" snarls the injured man. "You said I could walk away."
"And you did, my son," I said. "About eight paces. But I certainly was not going to allow more than that."
In gratitude for services rendered, the Pope then makes Holmes "a Knight of the Order of Pius IX" and confers his apostolic blessing, telling him that if he ever needs assistance of any sort, "You need only send Us a wire or letter and We will do all We can to help. This promise is from Us and any who succeed Us." This, we are told, came in useful for Holmes later on when he had to go into hiding after Moriarty's attempt on his life.
It is, of course, all a load of nonsense, but quite entertaining in a gentle sort of way, with an interesting portrayal of the Pope as a (comparatively) humble and self-deprecating individual, who can give Holmes a good run for his money when he explains to him how Holmes had been able to come to certain deductions about himself: "I am considered far too thin, an indication I eat little. The snuff box on the desk is a sign of my occasional use of snuff. The well-worn condition of my Aquinas texts show that I use them frequently, and the documents in Latin on the desk demonstrate my expertise in Latin. The images of Our Lady and the rosary on my desk suggest my devotion to her. My collection of science texts signifies an interest in that field of study, and my chess set in the corner with a configuration of the finished game which I won," I winked slyly, "reveals my love of chess."
At this Holmes could not help but smile: "You have beaten me at my own game, your Holiness."
The author has her own website.
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