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Roland Merullo’s Vatican Waltz tells the story of an unlikely champion

A devout young woman’s mysterious calling will rock the Catholic Church to its foundation

Roland Merullo’s Vatican Waltz tells the story of an unlikely champion

Vatican Waltz

Roland Merullo
  • Imprint: Crown Trade Group
  • On sale: December 3, 2013
  • Price: $24.00
  • Pages: 304
  • ISBN: 9780307452955
Contact: Catherine Cullen

The question of women in the priesthood is one of the most hotly contested issues facing modern Catholicism. In VATICAN WALTZ (Crown Publishers; December 3, 2013) award-winning author ROLAND MERULLO tackles this controversy head-on to tell the story of a most unlikely champion for change and an unprecedented spiritual journey.

Cynthia Piantedosi is a reserved young woman who, having lost her mother at a very young age, is raised by her Italian father and grandmother in a small city outside Boston. She follows the example of her devout grandmother and builds her life around the Catholic church, where, as she matures, her friendship with the local priest gives her a deep sense of peace. But Cynthia is no ordinary Catholic: from early childhood she experiences what she calls “spells,” visions so intense and visceral she sometimes worries about her sanity. When her beloved grandmother passes away, and the friendly priest is killed in a mysterious accident, these moments of interior prayer intensify and begin to lead her in a very specific direction.

Miraculous events occur in her exterior life, as well. While training as a nurse, Cynthia realizes she can alleviate people’s pain simply by touching them.  This healing touch, combined with the powerful visions, convince her she is being called by God for a special mission: to become the first female Roman Catholic priest. Setting aside her Old World passivity, she embarks on a courageous journey that will take her from the local parish, to the archdiocese of Boston, all the way to the Vatican.

As in his earlier novels, including bestselling Breakfast with Buddha, Merullo reveals a profound understanding of the joys and challenges of an open-minded spiritual path. But here he interweaves admiration for Cynthia’s piety with an insightful commentary on the Catholic Church’s need to embrace the modern world while holding to its ancient traditions. Cynthia’s one-woman crusade asserts that female priests and priests who could marry would strengthen, rather than weaken, the Church and offer parishioners a clergy with a fuller understanding of everyday concerns.

As Cynthia is turned away by one church leader after another, and faces opposition and danger from secret ultra-conservative elements, she embraces her visions with increasing confidence, certain they come not from the devil, as one monsignor suggests, but from God. She comes to believe God is calling her to bring her church back to relevance. But what God actually has in store is much larger than that, and leads to a shocking conclusion that will shake the Catholic hierarchy to its core.

A compelling and timely portrait of intense spirituality and political courage, Vatican Waltz is an ode to the power of unswerving faith in the face of the corruption of entrenched power and narrow mindedness.


Roland Merullo is the acclaimed author of fifteen previous books, including Revere Beach Boulevard, Golfing with God, and Breakfast with Buddha. Merullo’s work has been translated into German, Spanish, Korean, and Croatian, and he has won numerous prizes, including the Massachusetts Book Awards in both fiction and nonfiction. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

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