Windswept House: A Vatican Novel


The Cold War has ended. With a scope and daring not possible until now, an unlikely international alliance of top-level political, financial, and religious interests sees the way clear at last to its ultimate goal: the establishment of a single global society. Utopia.

These are men with nothing in common but immense power and a towering ambition for still more. With world unity and prosperity as their slogan--and with betrayal, scandal, and murder as their ready weapons--they ...

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The Cold War has ended. With a scope and daring not possible until now, an unlikely international alliance of top-level political, financial, and religious interests sees the way clear at last to its ultimate goal: the establishment of a single global society. Utopia.

These are men with nothing in common but immense power and a towering ambition for still more. With world unity and prosperity as their slogan--and with betrayal, scandal, and murder as their ready weapons--they have the means and the will to capture as their own the perfect global machinery for their plans: the oldest, wiliest, and most stable political chancery in the world--the Vatican.

At the vortex of this lethal struggle stands the embattled Pope, a geopolitical genius whose elimination is the short-term solution to a long-term goal, and two American brothers, Paul and Christian Gladstone, one a lawyer and the other a priest, who appear to be the perfect pawns. One falls prey to the sharp teeth of greed for power. The other will become one of the Slavic Pontiff's closest allies...and will discover the darkest secrets at the very heart of papal Rome.

From America to Europe to Russia, in broad landscapes and clandestine corridors, a rich and varied cast--presidents and politicos, simple saints and savvy sinners, popes and pope-makers--clash with one another amid dramatic and sometimes bloody events that will affect the destiny of every person alive today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"He fetches Christianity onto the stage of history.  Martin enjoys indulging his considerable skills, much to the pleasure of the reader."
--The New York Times

"...a meditation on the troubled state of today's Catholic Church... [Martin's] knowledge of Vatican politics is extraordinary." --Kirkus Reviews

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A Black Mass in the Vatican in 1963 gets Malachi's first novel since Vatican (1985) off to a wicked start. A potentially gripping conflict between two American brothersone a priest, one a lawyer, both heirs to a fortune and to the family manse of Windswept Housefollows. But as Martin, a former Jesuit and veteran Church commentator, develops his complex plot, he begins to dwell to a fault upon the themes he's explored in numerous books, most recently The Keys of This Blood, 1991. Martin's concern is what he sees as the erosion of the Church's moral authority, both from within and without. Here, a Slavic pope who's obviously John Paul II is being maneuvered into approving the Resignation Protocol, which, if enacted, will force him to resign in the name of Church unity. Martin attributes this erosion to a global conspiracy among world powers both East and West, fueled by Satanic influence and by the failure of John XXIII to act upon the Third Prophecy of the Fatima Letter in 1960. The narrative is richly detailed with Church lore, but the sermonizing is incessant, with dialogue often sounding more like editorial commentary than speech. Many think of the current pope as theologically conservative, but Martin, through one of the brothers who have been caught up in the struggle, takes him roundly to task: "You have abandoned your seminarians to heretical teachers... your nuns to a destroying wave of secularizing feminists," and so on. What could have been a smart and shocking thriller winds up instead as an onslaught of ecclesiastical facts and religious opinions occasionally interrupted by plot. The wind that blows through this rambling shack of a novel is, ultimately, angry and hot. Major ad/promo; author tour. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
The author of Vatican (1986), among others, returns with a mammoth meditation on the troubled state of today's Catholic Church.

So troubled, as one of the characters reports to the "slavic Pope" who is the central figure here, that "it's going down." In his opening scenes, surprising for this measured writer, Martin portrays an animal sacrifice straight out of Stephen King, and Lucifer's plan is unveiled: to penetrate the Church hierarchy and eventually the Holy See itself with corrupt priests. They are bent on merging with economic and ethical universalists in the public arena, but their true agenda is the ascension of Satan and the annihilation of humankind. A young American priest, Christian Gladstone, from a place of peace called Windswept House, attempts to reverse these trends in his audiences with the slavic Pope; his twin brother, a lawyer, is embroiled in the impending new world order. They are light and dark, but, curiously, the slavic Pope is gray. He as much as anyone stood against Stalinist forces in Eastern Europe, but at a cost to the private message of faith and redemption the Church always has symbolized. But, while he himself has secularized the Church, his personal faith is deeply traditional. He seeks a revelation from an aged nun who participated in the Marian manifestation at Fatima. Can she tell this weary old man when Jesus will return? Does he have the strength for one last battle, as Lucifer stands poised to become Pope? Slowly, indeed, Martin's passions—and his agony over the dire straits of his faith—build into a deeply felt moral crisis.

Martin is a close associate with Pope John XXIII, and his knowledge of Vatican politics is extraordinary. He pauses just short of the Apocalypse, but should find readers among Catholics and many evangelicals. Too slow-moving, and too specialized, for everyone else.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385492317
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 190,895
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt

History as Prologue: End Signs


Diplomats schooled in harsh times and in the toughest ways of finance, trade and international rivalry are not much given to omens.  Still, today's enterprise brimmed with such promise that the six Foreign Ministers who gathered in Rome on March 25, 1957, felt that everything surrounding them--the rock-solid centrality of Europe's premier city, the cleansing winds, the open skies, the benign smile of the day's climate--was fortune's very cloak of blessing drawn about them as they laid the foundation stone for a new edifice of nations.

As partners in the creation of a new Europe that would sweep away the squabbling nationalism that had so often split this ancient delta, these six men and their governments were one in their faith that they were about to open their lands to a wider economic horizon and a taller political sky than had ever been contemplated.  They were about to sign the treaties of Rome.  They were about to create the European Economic Community.

In recent memory, nothing but death and destruction had been spawned in their capitals.  Only the year before, the Soviets had underscored their expansionist determination in the blood of Hungary's attempted uprising; any day Soviet armor could roll across Europe.  No one expected the U.S.A.  and its Marshall Plan to carry forever the burdens of building the new Europe.  Nor did any European government wish to be clamped between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. in a rivalry that could only deepen in the decades ahead.

As if already accustomed to acting as one in the face of such reality, all six ministers signed on as founders of the EEC.  The three representatives of the Benelux nations, because Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were the very crucible in which the idea of a new Europe had been tried and found true.  Or at least true enough.  The minister representing France, because his country would be the beating heart of the new Europe, as it had always been of the old Europe.  Italy, because his country was the living soul of Europe.  West Germany, because the world would never shunt his country aside again.

So the European Community was born.  There were toasts to the geopolitical visionaries who had made this day possible.  To Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet of France; to Konrad Adenauer of West Germany; to Paul-Henri Spaak of Belgium. And there were congratulations all around.  It wouldn't be long before Denmark, Ireland and England would see the wisdom of the new venture.  And, while they might require some patient help, Greece, Portugal and Spain would join as well. Of course, there was the matter of holding the Soviets at bay.  And there was the matter of finding a new center of gravity.  But no doubt about it: the nascent EEC was the cutting edge of the new Europe that had to come if Europe was to survive.

When all the signing and sealing and toasting were done, the moment came for the distinctively Roman ritual and privilege of diplomats: an audience with the octogenarian Pope in the Apostolic Palace on Vatican Hill.

Seated on his traditional papal throne amid the panoply of Vatican ceremonial in an ornate sala, His Holiness Pius XII received the six ministers and their entourages with smiling countenance.  His welcome was sincere.  His remarks were brief.  His attitude was of a longtime owner and resident of a vast property giving some pointers to newly arrived and intending residents.

Europe, the Holy Father recalled, had had its eras of greatness when a common faith had animated the hearts of its peoples.  Europe, he urged, would have its geopolitical greatness again, refurbished and burnished anew, if it could create a new heart.  Europe, he intimated, could again forge a supernal, common and binding faith.

Inwardly, the ministers winced.  Pius had pointed to the greatest difficulty facing the EEC on the day of its birth.  Beneath his words lay the warning that neither democratic socialism nor capitalist democracy nor the prospect of the good life nor a mystic "Europa" of the humanists could provide the engine to drive their dream.  Practically speaking, their new Europe lacked a glowing center, a superior force or principle to bind it together and drive it forward. Practically speaking, their Europe lacked what this Pope had.  Lacked what he was.

His points made, the Holy Father traced three crosses in the air as the traditional papal blessing.  Some few knelt to receive it.  Some who remained standing bowed their heads.  But it had become impossible for them to associate the Pope with the healing balm of the God he claimed to represent as Vicar, or to recognize that balm as the only cohesive factor that could mend the world's soul; neither could they acknowledge that economic and political treaties were not the glue that binds the hearts and minds of mankind.

And yet, frail as he was, they could only envy this solitary, enthroned dignitary.  For, as Belgium's Paul-Henri Spaak later remarked, he presided over a universal organization.  And he was more than the elected represenive of that organization.  He was the possessor of its power.  He was its center of gravity.

• *

From the window of his study on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father watched the architects of the new Europe climb into their limousines in the square below.

"What do you think, Holiness? Can their new Europe develop strongly enough to stop Moscow?"

Pius turned to his companion--a German Jesuit, a longtime friend and favorite confessor.  "Marxism is still the enemy, Father.  But the Anglo-Saxons have the initiative." On this Pope's lips, Anglo-Saxon meant the Anglo-American establishment.  "Their Europe will go far.  And it will go fast.  But the greatest day for Europe has not yet dawned."

The Jesuit failed to follow the papal vision.  "Which Europe, Holiness? The greatest day for whose Europe?"

"For the Europe born today." The Pope's answer was unhesitating.  "On the day this Holy See is harnessed to the new Europe of the diplomats and politicians--to the Europe centered in Brussels and Paris--on that day the Church's misfortunes will start in earnest." Then, turning again to watch the limousines departing across St.  Peter's Square, "The new Europe will have its little day, Father.  But only a day."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2001


    The first 500 pages of this book just went on and on. Lots of words are used to tell us very little. The last 162 pages finally got to the meat of things, only to have an unsatisfactory ending. I understand that most of this novel is suppose to be true. As a Catholic I am outraged, I'm just not sure exactly who to be mad at. This novel has left me suspicious of everyone and everything in my church

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2001

    Eye opening

    A facinating read that left me in awe.This book will show you a world you never knew existed in politics and religion. You will see the world in a whole new light. Windswept House is a fictional book based on facts, which left me with the utmost respect for this pope and his strength to endure the evil that has entered his domain.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 1999

    Outstanding! A must read!

    Father Malachi Martin revealed in his Art Bell interview that this book was 98% true and only 'disquised' as fiction. This made it more intriguing for me. Hold on to your seat and see how even murders can be covered up if you have enough power

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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