The Third Secret

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Overview

Explosive in both its pace and its revelations, The Third Secret is a remarkable international thriller. Bestselling author Steve Berry tackles some of the most controversial ideas of our time in a breakneck journey through the history of the Church and the future of religion.

Fatima, Portugal, 1917: The Virgin Mary appears to three peasant children, sharing with them three secrets, two of which are soon revealed to the world. The third secret is sealed away in the Vatican, read...

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Overview

Explosive in both its pace and its revelations, The Third Secret is a remarkable international thriller. Bestselling author Steve Berry tackles some of the most controversial ideas of our time in a breakneck journey through the history of the Church and the future of religion.

Fatima, Portugal, 1917: The Virgin Mary appears to three peasant children, sharing with them three secrets, two of which are soon revealed to the world. The third secret is sealed away in the Vatican, read only by popes, and not disclosed until the year 2000. When revealed, its quizzical tone and anticlimactic nature leave many faithful wondering if the Church has truly unveiled all of the Virgin Mary’s words–or if a message far more important has been left in the shadows.

Vatican City, present day: Papal secretary Father Colin Michener is concerned for the Pope. Night after restless night, Pope Clement XV enters the Vatican’s Riserva, the special archive open only to popes, where the Church’s most clandestine and controversial documents are stored. Though unsure of the details, Michener knows that the Pope’s distress stems from the revelations of Fatima.

Equally concerned, but not out of any sense of compassion, is Alberto Cardinal Valendrea, the Vatican’s Secretary of State,. Valendrea desperately covets the papacy, having narrowly lost out to Clement at the last conclave. Now the Pope’s interest in Fatima threatens to uncover a shocking ancient truth that Valendrea has kept to himself for many years.

When Pope Clement sends Michener to the Romanian highlands, then to a Bosnian holy site, in search of a priest–possibly one of the last people on Earth who knows Mary’s true message–a perilous set of events unfolds. Michener finds himself embroiled in murder, suspicion, suicide, deceit, and his forbidden passion for a beloved woman. In a desperate search for answers, he travels to Pope Clement’s birthplace in Germany, where he learns that the third secret of Fatima may dictate the very fate of the Church–a fate now lying in Michener’s own hands.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
With this suspenseful novel, the author of The Amber Room and The Romanov Prophecy moves from czarist Russia to papal Rome. At its core are the unspoken secrets of the 1917 Fatima prophecies, a topic that continues to reverberate among the faithful and the unfaithful alike.
From the Publisher
Praise for Steve Berry

The Third Secret

“Controversial, shocking, explosive . . . rich in a wealth of Vatican insider knowledge and two thousand years of Virgin Mary visitations. The Third Secret will change our view of the relation between religion and wisdom.”
–KATHERINE NEVILLE, author of The Eight

The Romanov Prophecy

“Perfect for thriller fans and history buffs alike. Fabulous plot twists.”
–DAVID MORRELL, author of The Protector

“Compelling . . . adventure-filled . . . a fast-moving, globe-hopping tale of long-lost treasure and shadowy bad guys.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

The Amber Room

“Sexy, illuminating . . . my kind of thriller.”
–DAN BROWN, author of The Da Vinci Code

“Magnificently engrossing, with wonderful characters and a plot that speeds, twists, and turns. Pure intrigue, pure fun.”
–CLIVE CUSSLER, author of Sacred Stone

Publishers Weekly
Visions of the Virgin Mary, secret documents and politicking in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church-Berry (The Amber Room) combines combustive elements in this well-researched thriller. In 1917, the Virgin Mary revealed herself to three children in Fatima, Portugal, disclosing three secrets to the eldest, Lucia, who shared the first two secrets soon after their revelation but left the last to be disclosed upon her death. This third secret was released to Pope John XXIII in 1960 and made public by Pope John Paul II in 2000... or was it? The novel's stolid protagonist-Msgr. Colin Michener, longtime secretary to Clement XV, the novel's near-future successor to John Paul II-has reason to doubt the accuracy of the public version of the secret. Beleaguered by radically dogmatic cardinals and bishops, the embattled Clement XV also appears distressed by recent knowledge of secret documents regarding the Fatima messages. Before his inexplicable suicide, Clement sends Michener to Romania in search of a Father Tibor, who translated the third secret for Pope John XXIII and may hold the key to its mystery. Also on the case, if a step behind, is the ambitious and traditionalist Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Valendrea, with an eye on the papal throne. Da Vinci Code fans hungry for more may want a taste of this. Agent, Pam Ahearn. 10-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Berry leaves Russia, site of his first two fiction successes (e.g., The Amber Room), for a tale of papal machinations involving a secret the Virgin Mary reputedly imparted in 1917. With a ten-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nearly a century after the miracle of Fatima, an unrevealed secret wreaks havoc in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Fatima, Portugal, 1917. The Virgin Mary, on her third miraculous visitation, imparts a trio of secrets to Lucia, the eldest of the trio of children whom "The Lady" has blessed with the ability to see her. Eighty-plus years later, Monsignor Colin Michener, secretary to Pope Clement XV, notices that the boss has lately been prowling the Vatican secret archive in the dead of night for more information about Fatima. Also noticing is the ambitious and, it's progressively revealed, ruthless Cardinal Valendrea, who, appropriately, has a fawning sidekick in Father Paolo Ambrosi. Michener pieces together additional facts about Lucia. She eventually did disclose the first two of her three secrets but then, falling prematurely into ill health, committed the third to paper and directed that it remain sealed until 1960. At that time, it was translated for Pope John XXIII by young Father Andrej Tibor. Beyond this, the details of the third secret become murky. Sensing a big story is star freelance journalist Katerina Lew, whose affair with maverick priest Father Tom Healy has triggered a disciplinary tribunal at the Vatican (Valendrea takes unseemly pleasure in predicting Healy's removal from the priesthood). Katerina is also the former lover of Michener, who chose the Church over her a long time ago. When Michener decides to visit Tibor, now retired and working with orphans in Romania, Valendrea sends a conflicted Katerina to hook up with him. Michener senses Tibor's guardedness and is unable to learn anything of importance. The suicide of Pope Clement then sends the Vaticaninto turmoil and the story into overdrive as a contentious papal election and the prophesies of St. Malachy figure prominently in its resolution. Berry (The Amber Room, 2003, etc.) sometimes overforeshadows his revelations, but he serves tantalizingly true tidbits about the Church, and his measured, elegant prose is a solid fit with the story. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345504401
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/27/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 246,577
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Berry

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 18,000,000 copies in 51 countries.
 
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s this passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, that led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have traveled across the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, nearly 2,500 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve the first spokesman for National Preservation Week. He was also appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to serve on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board to help promote and support the libraries in their mission to provide information in all forms to scientists, curators, scholars, students, and the public at large. He has received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award and the 2013 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers. His novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award, and his historic preservation work merited the 2013 Silver Bullet from International Thriller Writers.
 
Steve Berry was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,600 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.
 
For more information, visit www.steveberry.org.

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Read an Excerpt

Vatican City
Wednesday, November 8th, The Present
6:15 a.m.

Monsignor Colin Michener heard the sound again and closed the book. Somebody was there. He knew it.

Like before.

He stood from the reading desk and stared around at the array of baroque shelves. The ancient bookcases towered above him and more stood at attention down narrow halls that spanned in both directions. The cavernous room carried an aura, a mystique bred in part by its label. L’ Archivio Segreto Vaticano. The Secret Archives of the Vatican.

He’d always thought that name strange since little contained within the volumes was secret. Most were merely the meticulous record of two millennia of Church organization, the accounts from a time when popes were kings, warriors, politicians, and lovers. All told there were twenty-five miles of shelves which offered much if a searcher knew where to look.

And Michener certainly did.

Re-focusing on the sound, his gaze drifted across the room, past frescos of Constantine, Pepin, and Frederick II, before settling on an iron grille at the far side. The space beyond the grille was dark and quiet. The Riserva was accessed only by direct papal authority, the key to the grille held by the Church’s archivist. Michener had never entered that chamber, though he’d stood dutifully outside while his boss, Pope Clement XV, ventured inside. Even so, he was aware of some of the precious documents that windowless space contained. The last letter of Mary, Queen of Scots, before she was beheaded by Elizabeth I. The petitions of seventy-five English lords asking the pope to annul Henry VIII’s first marriage. Galileo’s signed confession. Napoleon’s Treaty of Tolentino.

He studied the cresting and buttresses of the iron grille, a gilded frieze of foliage and animals hammered into the metal above. The gate itself had stood since the fourteenth century. Nothing in Vatican City was ordinary. Everything carried the distinctive mark of a renowned artist or a legendary craftsman, someone who’d labored for years trying to please both his God and his pope.

He strode across the room, his footfalls echoing through the tepid air, and stopped at the iron gate. A warm breeze swept past him from beyond the grille. The right side of the portal was dominated by a huge hasp. He tested the bolt. Locked and secure.

He turned back, wondering if one of the staff had entered the archives. The duty scriptor had departed when he’d arrived earlier and no one else would be allowed inside while he was there, since the papal secretary needed no babysitter. But there were a multitude of doors that led in and out, and he wondered if the noise he’d heard moments ago was that of ancient hinges being worked open, then gently closed. It was hard to tell. Sound within the great expanse was as confused as the writings.

He stepped to his right, toward one of the long corridors–the Hall of Parchments. Beyond was the Room of Inventories and Indexes. As he walked, overhead bulbs flashed on and off, casting a succession of light pools, and he felt as if he was underground, though he was two stories up.

He ventured only a little way, heard nothing, then turned around.

It was early in the day and mid-week. He’d chosen this time for his research deliberately–less chance of impeding others who’d gained access to the archives, and less chance of attracting the attention of Curial employees. He was on a mission for the Holy Father, his inquiries private, but he was not alone. The last time, a week ago, he’d sensed the same thing.

He re-entered the main hall and stepped back to the reading desk, his attention still on the room. The floor was a zodiacal diagram oriented to the sun, its rays able to penetrate thanks to carefully positioned slits high in the walls. He knew that centuries ago the Gregorian calendar had been calculated at this precise spot. Yet no sunlight leaked in today. Outside was cold and wet, a mid-autumn rainstorm pelting Rome.

The volumes that had held his attention for the past two hours were neatly arranged on the lectern. Many had been composed within the past two decades. Four were much older. Two of the oldest were written in Italian, one was in Spanish, the other in Portuguese. He could read all of them with ease–another reason Clement XV coveted his employment.

The Spanish and Italian accounts were of little value, both re-hashes of the Portuguese work: A Comprehensive and Detailed Study of the Reported Apparitions of the Holy Virgin Mary at Fatima—May 13, 1917 to October 13, 1917.

Pope Benedict XV had ordered the investigation in 1922 as part of the Church’s investigation into what supposedly had occurred in a remote Portuguese valley. The entire manuscript was handwritten, the ink faded to a warm yellow so the words appeared as if they were scripted in gold. The Bishop of Leira had performed a thorough inquiry, spending eight years in all, and the information later became critical in the 1930 acknowledgment by the Vatican that the Virgin’s six earthly appearances at Fatima were worthy of assent. Three appendices, now attached to the original, were generated in the 1950s, 60s, and 90s.

Michener had studied them all with the thoroughness of the lawyer he’d been trained by the Church to be. Seven years at the University of Munich had earned him his degrees, yet he’d never practiced law conventionally. His was a world of ecclesiastical pronouncements and canonical decrees. Precedent spanned two millennia and relied more on an understanding of the times than on any notion of stare decisis. His arduous legal training had become invaluable to his Church service, as the logic of the law had many times become an ally in the confusing mire of divine politics. More importantly, it had just helped him find in this labyrinth of forgotten information what Clement XV wanted.

The sound came again.

A soft squeak, like two limbs rubbing together in a breeze, or a mouse announcing its presence.

He rushed toward the source and glanced both ways.

Nothing.

Fifty feet off to the left, a door led out of the archive. He approached the portal and tested the lock. It yielded. He strained to open the heavy slab of carved oak and the iron hinges squealed ever so slightly.

A sound he recognized.

The hallway beyond was empty, but a gleam on the marble floor caught his attention.

He knelt.

The transparent clumps of moisture came with regularity, the droplets leading off into the corridor, then back through the doorway into the archive. Suspended within some were remnants of mud, leaves, and grass.

He followed the trail with his gaze which stopped at the end of a row of shelves. Rain continued to pound the roof.

He knew the puddles for what they were.

Footprints.

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Foreword

1. How did your own religious beliefs influence the way you read The Third Secret? Can non-Catholics appreciate the novel?

2. Fatima is one of many sites around the world where people believe the Virgin Mary has appeared and imparted a message to humanity. Why do you think there have been, and continue to be, reports of visitations by the Virgin? Is it a spiritual phenomenon or a psychological one?

3. In the course of the novel, all the major characters wrestle with the question of faith. Some lose their faith; others find it anew. How would you define faith? How do Berry’s characters manifest this quality? Is it always a good thing to have faith?

4. What do you think about the message Mary gives to Michener–the “third secret” of the novel’s title? If it were truly the third secret of Fatima, would the church actively suppress it, as it does in the novel? What might the effect of its public revelation be on the church?

5. Given what you know about the church and the religious teachings of Jesus as contained in the New Testament, is Berry’s take on the Virgin’s third secret a plausible one? If not, do you believe the church has fully revealed the true secret? And why did it wait so long to release it?

6. Do you think the portrait Berry paints of a Vatican rife with intrigue is fair or accurate? Is he guilty of using stereotypes and prejudices about the Catholic Church and its leaders?

7. Does the Virgin Mary really appear to Michener, or is his vision a hallucination brought on by the injuries he suffered in the lightning strike? How might the meaning of the novel change depending on how readersanswer this question?

8. Does the Catholic Church need to change in order to thrive in the future? Why is the church seen by so many as being averse to change? Is it an understandable position or something the church needs to improve?

9. Michener is a priest who has never served a parish, he has broken his vows of celibacy, doubts his own faith. Despite his position as papal secretary, he remains an innocent, out of his depth when it comes to the machinations of Cardinal Valendrea. Why do you suppose Berry made his hero such a flawed man?

10. Katerina Lew begins the novel as a self-centered opportunist with a habit of rationalizing her betrayals. Does she really change over the course of the novel, or is her talk of working side by side with Michener in the orphanage just the latest in a long line of self-deceptions?

11. Is Cardinal Valendrea acting for himself or for what he genuinely believes is the good of the church?

12. Imagine that a year has passed since the end of the novel. What effect has the revelation of the third secret had on the church? On the world? Are Michener and Katerina still together? What are they doing?

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Interviews & Essays

With all that’s happened in Rome over the past few weeks, how timely is your new novel, The Third Secret?

Benedict XVI is now pope. In The Third Secret my pope is named Clement XV. Both men are German, in their seventies, a product of the Vatican (having held high office in the curia), elected quickly after a long pontificate as a transitional pope, who face monumental issues of great importance to the Church. I’d say the similarities are remarkable.

And the plot, is it likewise timely?

All of the hot button issues that have been widely discussed over the past few weeks concerning the Church in the modern world and the challenges the new pope will face are in The Third Secret, along with a shocking revelation that literally changes everything.

The prophecies of St. Malachy figure prominently into the plot. Are these as accurate as you make them in the novel?

Absolutely, and Malachy himself is not all that well known. He was an obscure Irish bishop who, in 1139, visited Rome and experienced a vision of the future, a long list of men who would one day rule the Church. He committed his vision to parchment and presented the manuscript to Pope Innocent II, tagging each of his future popes with short, descriptive Latin labels starting with Celestine II in 1143 and ending 111 popes later with the supposed last pontiff. Interestingly, St. Malachy’s predictions ultimately proved applicable about 90% of the time. An example: Leo XIII was the 102nd pope and A Light in the Sky was his attributed motto. Amazingly, the papal arms of Leo showed a comet. The 111th pope Malachy predicted is labeled From the Glory of the Olive, and in The Third Secret that motto fits Clement XV perfectly. Whether or not this label will fit Benedict XVI, who now fills that slot, remains to be seen. Both, though, precede Malachy’s final pope, the 112th, about which he said: In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman who will feed his flock among many tribulations, after which in the seven hilled city the dreadful judge will judge all people.

With all of the similarities between Benedict, Clement, and the plot, do you feel a little like St. Malachy?

Certainly I’m no Malachy. What I did was conceive, research, then write a story that seemed a logical extension to the Church’s many recurring dilemmas. The Third Secret deals with that line between religion and faith. It’s certainly interesting that my pope and the current pope are so similar. Particularly since the idea for The Third Secret was conceived 6 years ago and the manuscript was submitted to Ballantine Books over a year ago. But is that prophecy? I’d like to think it was an educated guess.

The third secret itself refers to the famous visions of the Virgin Mary experienced by three children in the town of Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. What drew you to this subject?

I was born and raised Catholic, attended Catholic school, and was always fascinated by Fatima. I recall a paperback book on Fatima for sale at the church when I was a kid. On the cover was an image of the Virgin Mary and that was my first time reading about Marian visions. Forty years later, when I reached a point where I was writing novels, this subject seemed a natural, particularly considering all of the mystery associated with the third secret.

But hasn’t the Vatican divulged all of the secrets, including the third?

The first two secrets were revealed shortly after the 1917 apparitions. The third was made public in May, 2000 when John Paul II finally released the text. But, interestingly, Sister Lucia, the Fatima seer who penned the secret, made no public statements or confirmations about the release. Also, the actual text was somewhat anti-climatic. The third secret is a complex metaphor that, on first blush, makes little sense. Consequently, many observers (including some high ranking Vatican officials) were quoted in 2000 as believing that there might be more to the message.

How did your personal religious beliefs influence the novel?

Not all that much. But there’s a clear difference between faith and religion, and this plot explores that distinction, while simultaneously solving the greatest mystery of all time.

That’s intriguing. The greatest mystery of all time? Care to elaborate?

You don’t want me to give the book away, do you?

Why has the Virgin Mary become such a popular figure for so many Catholics around the world?

It’s what she represents. Her total innocence. People have been drawn to her for two thousand years.

What challenges did you face in writing a thriller about the Catholic Church that features the internal politics of the Vatican? How did you do your research into what is not exactly the most open and accessible of institutions?

This book was fairly easy to research since there are so many primary and secondary sources. A lot of insiders have written about their Vatican experiences, so if not wholly lifted, the veil of secrecy that perpetually shrouds the Vatican is now more transparent. What I didn’t want to do was implicate an actual person in any supposed religious cover-up. Thankfully, with the public release of the third secret in 2000, I was able to accomplish that by using fictional characters as the bad guys.

Are you worried about harsh reactions from Catholics who might feel you are not being sensitive to their religion and faith?

Hopefully, readers will remember that this is a novel and the primary goal of a novel is to entertain. The plot is from my imagination. I’m certainly not trying to make any social or political statement. I just want the reader to enjoy themselves for a few hours and, if the plot gets them thinking and talking, then so much the better.

Why do you think novels about the Catholic Church are so popular today . . . and especially novels in which the church plays an ambiguous or even a negative role?

Few of man’s institutions can claim to have survived 2000 years, but the Roman Catholic Church has done just that. Of course, the Church’s self-imposed aura, magnified through rigid secrecy and sometimes unbending attitudes, certainly adds to its mystery. Unfortunately, success breeds both admiration and contempt. And the Catholic Church, if nothing else, has been successful.

Tell us about your hero, Colin Michener, a conflicted priest with a troubled past.

As a young priest, Colin loved a woman and he can’t understand why that’s wrong in the eyes of the Church. Now he’s the papal secretary, in a position to actually change things, and when this woman re-appears his troubles start all over again. But that personal dilemma is compounded by Clement XV, who pushes Michener one way, while the Church yanks him in another. Ultimately, it’s finding the complete third secret of Fatima that will resolve this conflict and, in the process, produce a whole new set of problems for Michener. So he has a lot to deal with. I like ordinary people being thrust into extraordinary situations, and Michener certainly finds himself in the center of something extraordinary. Also, his name is special too. James Michener is my favorite writer, so I named this character after him as a tribute.

The novel is set in the near future, after the death of the current pope, John Paul II, when Clement XV is pope. What kind of pope is Clement? And Clement’s rival for power, and the odds-on favorite to succeed him as pope, is Cardinal Valendrea, a staunch traditionalist. Tell us about him.

Clement, like the current Benedict XVI, was supposed to be a transitional pope. An older man placed on the throne of St. Peter simply to keep the chair warm until one of the younger cardinals could muster enough votes to get himself elected. But, like John XXIII, who was also supposed to be a caretaker pope, Clement starts to change everything, and this brings out opponents, especially Cardinal Valendrea, who detests anything that varies from the established order. This conflict exists within the Church today. Liberals and conservatives are battling for theological control and that war is graphically illustrated in this novel, with an added twist from a surprising third player, which makes the conflict that much more interesting.

Does the Catholic Church need to change in order to thrive into the future? If so, what changes does it need to make, and do you believe it will be capable of making them in the post-John Paul II era?

Change is exactly how the Catholic Church has survived for two millennia. That’s the Church’s greatest attribute—and inevitably it always adapts to the evolving world. Granted, the Church can take its time in making that move, but change has always come.

When will The Third Secret be on sale?

May 17, 2005 is the national release date. There will be a hardcover, large print, electronic, and audio editions. And, so far, foreign editions will appear in Germany, Spain (including Catalan), Sweden, Portugal, Australia, Serbia, Brazil, Italy, Greece, Holland, Korea, Bulgaria, and France.

What can you tell us about your next book?

It’s a modern day suspense thriller that will deal with the Knights Templar and a fascinating village in southern France that has long been associated with a great mystery. Need I say more?

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Reading Group Guide

1. How did your own religious beliefs influence the way you read The Third Secret? Can non-Catholics appreciate the novel?

2. Fatima is one of many sites around the world where people believe the Virgin Mary has appeared and imparted a message to humanity. Why do you think there have been, and continue to be, reports of visitations by the Virgin? Is it a spiritual phenomenon or a psychological one?

3. In the course of the novel, all the major characters wrestle with the question of faith. Some lose their faith; others find it anew. How would you define faith? How do Berry’s characters manifest this quality? Is it always a good thing to have faith?

4. What do you think about the message Mary gives to Michener–the “third secret” of the novel’s title? If it were truly the third secret of Fatima, would the church actively suppress it, as it does in the novel? What might the effect of its public revelation be on the church?

5. Given what you know about the church and the religious teachings of Jesus as contained in the New Testament, is Berry’s take on the Virgin’s third secret a plausible one? If not, do you believe the church has fully revealed the true secret? And why did it wait so long to release it?

6. Do you think the portrait Berry paints of a Vatican rife with intrigue is fair or accurate? Is he guilty of using stereotypes and prejudices about the Catholic Church and its leaders?

7. Does the Virgin Mary really appear to Michener, or is his vision a hallucination brought on by the injuries he suffered in the lightning strike? How might the meaning of the novel change depending on how readers answer this question?

8. Does the Catholic Church need to change in order to thrive in the future? Why is the church seen by so many as being averse to change? Is it an understandable position or something the church needs to improve?

9. Michener is a priest who has never served a parish, he has broken his vows of celibacy, doubts his own faith. Despite his position as papal secretary, he remains an innocent, out of his depth when it comes to the machinations of Cardinal Valendrea. Why do you suppose Berry made his hero such a flawed man?

10. Katerina Lew begins the novel as a self-centered opportunist with a habit of rationalizing her betrayals. Does she really change over the course of the novel, or is her talk of working side by side with Michener in the orphanage just the latest in a long line of self-deceptions?

11. Is Cardinal Valendrea acting for himself or for what he genuinely believes is the good of the church?

12. Imagine that a year has passed since the end of the novel. What effect has the revelation of the third secret had on the church? On the world? Are Michener and Katerina still together? What are they doing?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 162 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2011

    interesting, but felt disappointed by the secret

    If anyone feels let down by the secret revealed in this novel, you need to read Miriam's Garden and Miriam's Secret by Mary Reyna. These books are not like The DaVinci Code. They are very original and inspiring. The messages in these mysteries make so much sense.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Although I enjoyed how Berry trashed the Catholic Church to its core, this book was not as believable as his others. It was a great read because of the combination of fiction with history.

    The Third Secret by Steve Berry

    On July 13, 1917, the Virgin appeared to three shepherds at Cova de Iria in Fatima, Portugal. Jacinta and Francisco died three years after the apparitions but Lucia lived until her nineties in a convent. On that day, the Virgin gave the two girls a secret that would be part of the three secrets of Fatima. The first two secrets were revealed shortly after the 1917 apparitions, but the third secret was not made public until the year 2000, when John Paul II finally released the text. Sister Lucia, who was forbidden by the Church to talk about the Third Secret, made no public statements about its release. The Third Secret was anticlimactic--a complete metaphor that makes little sense. Consequently, many observers--including some high ranking Vatican officials--believe there might be more to the message. This is the basis for Steve Berry's novel--The Third Secret.

    The novel opens with Pope Clement XV--Jacob Vakner--the first German pope since Pope Stephen IX, (sometimes counted as Stephen X) Friedrich von Lothringen, 1057-1058, who has succeeded John Paul the II. Clement is affected by something he has read in the Secret Archives of the Vatican. Clement was a pope elected at age 82, and he was meant to be a transitional pope until another one could be selected. After he reads this documents, his behavior starts to be erratic and his health starts to deteriorate.

    Monsignor Colin Michener is the personal secretary of the pope, and a close friend. Pope Clement absolved his indiscretions with a Rumanian woman, Katerina Lew, while he was in his thirties and studying law. He was an orphan in Ireland, where the Catholic Church took the babies from unwed mothers and adopted them out to Americans against the wishes of the single mothers. Now in his sixties, he is given a task: to find father Andrej Tibor, retired priest in his eighties, who translated from Portuguese the Third Secret in 1917. Father Tibor caters to orphans in Zlanta, Rumania.

    There is also a tribunal to excommunicate father Thomas Kealy, who has a big following because he believes the Church should stop the vows of celibacy. He is dating Katerina Lew and she meets Michener in Rome. Alberto Cardinal Valendrea, The Vatican's Secretary of State, is conducting the tribunal. Valendrea was supposed to be elected Pope at the last conclave a year and a half ago, and he is making sure he will be elected pope as soon as Clement dies. He is one of the few people that knows of the Third Secret and he knows it's a threat to the Church. So he has his assistant, father Paolo Ambrosi, follow Michener to Zlanta, Rumania, using Katerina as his spy. Ambrosi and Valendrea kill Andrej Tibor to prevent the contents of the Third secret to be known.

    Meanwhile, Pope clement orders Michener to Medjugorje, Bosnia where another Virgin apparition has happened for the last 20 years and orders him to get the Tenth Secret revealed by the Virgin to the people there.

    Just after this, Clement commits suicide because he had a vision and the Virgin ordered him to atone for his sins by killing himself. Michener is surprised when Maurice Cardinal Ngovi from Nigeria--the Camerlengo and thus in charge of the transition--asks Michener to go to Medjugorje, Bosnia anyway. Katerina is again recruited by Ambrosi to spy on Michener, but this time she does it only because she has fallen in love with Michener.

    The conclave occurs and Ngovi and Valendrea are the two top contender

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    One of the best I've read of his.

    This book held my attention from page one!! Seldom am I rivited to a book like I was to this one. You not only have a well developed set of characters but a mystery set of documents which blew my mind when revealed toward the end. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story with many twists and turns.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    check it out

    great read keeps you guessing all the time

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    Good Read

    As usual Steve Berry has blown my mind. He always makes me think about the "what if". However, I was disappointed that it wasn't part of the Cotton Malone saga. I've read all his books, except one and I'm in the progress of doing that now. Can't wait for him to write another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    I love to read what I call 'Crappy Da Vinci Code Knock-offs' and that's exactly what all of Berrys books are. But you know what, that's ok! His books are always good fun and are real page-turners. No, they aren't exactly high literature. But that isn't what you should be expecting when you pick up this type of book. You should be expcting an engaging story with some interesting historical context. If that is what you're looking for, Steve Berry always delivers.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2006

    A little too political for me

    I realize that this is a work of fiction, but I found the message to be a little too political for my liking. I really enjoyed the Romanov Prophecy and liked the Amber Room, but the Third Secret did not live up to the standards those two books set.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2006

    outstanding

    This book proves that religion has become a business. You put any MAN in power of something as powerful as the catholic church ,You need to remember that he is nothing more than a man with power. This is a great book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Recommend

    It was an interesting book and fun to read. It wasn't as exciting as some of his other books, but it was still good and a fast read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Couldn't put it down

    One of those rare books (for me) that totally engrossed me. But part of that was likely due to the circumstances occurring when I started reading it. The Pope had announced his retirement ad a conclave had been scheduled. The setting for this book is a papal conclave. But the author develops it into a story of treachery and intrigue with many twists and turns. Have recommended the book to several other readers. Feedback has always been similar to mine!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Recommended- Very engrossing read

    Very topical, in light of the Pope's recent resignation; a fascinating imagining of the machinations surrounding Vatican politics, combined with intrigue involvimg a fictional unknown secret of Fatima. Fans of Dan Brown should enjoy this. I didn't realize at first this was one of Steve Berry's earlier books, but found it to be one of his better ones. I much preferred it to his more recent "The Columbus Affair", which I found a bit tedious. "The Third Secret" kept me engrossed to the very end.

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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Third Secret by Steve Berry was not one of my favorite by th

    The Third Secret by Steve Berry was not one of my favorite by this author. I had read a few books by him prior to this one and found them intriguing as well as thought provoking, because of the subjects he chose to focus on. However this book simply fell flat.
    The Third Secret follows Father Collin Michener a secretary to the Pope and his mission to reveal a murder and Vatican cover up of certain events that took place at the Miracle at Fatima. The plot was too much like The Da Vinci Code by centering mostly in Rome and unheard small villages that the characters arrived simply because the author decided they needed to be there. The characters lacked conviction in their reasoning for their actions and beliefs which were both suppose to drive the story forward. The climax had no originality in its execution or resolution.
    Having gone to a Catholic school I found the book very poorly researched. It took on very controversial topics, which were not simply Christian based, without any good conclusions about them other than ‘get with the program Catholicism it’s the twenty first century’. There was not enough history or religion to make this book worth reading or really thinking about after you have finished it. The Third Secret is a quick read that will leave you the second that you have turned the last lack luster page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2012

    Absolutely Ridiculous !

    Don't waste your time. This book was an underhanded treatment of the church, the Vatican and all Christian religious doctrine. Church hierarchy as murderers,etc.God presented as approving recent secular cultural views.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Fun historical fiction

    You have to take it for what it is, fiction that focuses on history and religion. He has great story telling ability.

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  • Posted April 23, 2011

    Good story that falls flat

    The whole story line fell flat on the third secret, plus the rampant lack of belief in the hierarchy of Steve Berry's church. Besides some flaws in his knowlege of some church teachings, his assertation (in the story) that a lot of priests not only don't believe in their oath of celibacy, but that most of them are against it just goes against the reality. Then, the third secret, which I don't think I'm giving too much away if you still want to read this, that goes completely against church teachings, while shocking to think about, is just absolutely ridiculous. I laughed out loud when I read it. I was hoping for a spiritually uplifting ending. It did not happen.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    Definitely Recommend

    Love how the author makes you think about things in a different light.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of his best.

    Steve Berry is one of the most gifted writers I have come across. His books have taken me all through Europe, England, Russia. I have learned alot about different cultures and religions and it keeps me yearning to learn more. There is never a dull moment when reading his books.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Couldn't put it down

    After reading Dan Brown's books, I stumbled onto Steve Berry and have be so pleased. This book was gripping, thrilling and I finished it in 2 days. I look forward to reading the other books by Steve Berry. You won't be sorry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2007

    Good read but do not expect another Da Vinci Code

    This was my second Steve Berry read. My first read was written after this and I saw that it was a more solid and rounded novel. As for The Third Secret, conservative readers will label this as too liberal and liberals will not understand the moral dilemma of the main characters and indeed that of the Catholic Church. Over all Berry does a good job with the historical side and I think that the ending was perfect. While some would say that it is truly non-controversial, others more ingrained in the dogma of structured religions have their world turned up-side-down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2007

    Equally as intriguing as Angels & Demons...

    After reading Dan Brown's Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code, I thought it would be hard to find a book as thought provoking and interesting as these two. However, I was absolutely thrilled with this book, and read all of Steve Berry's other books. If you like Dan Brown, or have read other Steve Berry titles, you MUST read The Third Secret!

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