Cover image for The bishop and the beggar girl of St. Germain
The bishop and the beggar girl of St. Germain
Greeley, Andrew M., 1928-2013.
Unabridged edition.
Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, Md. : Recorded Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
6 audio discs (7 hr., 30 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Auxiliary Bishop Blackie Ryan heads for Rome at the request of the Archbishop of Paris to find the missing Friar Jean-Claude, a popular Dominican priest and TV idol, and uncovers secrets that could be embarrassing to the Church.
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Compact disc.
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Audiobook on CD


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XX(1145205.9) Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

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Bishop Blackie has no desire to leave the friendly confines of his Chicago neighborhood to traipse around Paris searching for Jean-Claude, a popular priest who has inexplicably vanished while filming a television show. But when his Archbishop boss says, "See to it," Blackie can hardly refuse. As he sifts through a pile of suspects that includes everyone from church leaders to television executives, Blackie begins to wonder whether the reason no one can find Jean-Claude is because Jean-Claude doesn't want to be found

Author Notes

Roman Catholic priest Andrew M. Greeley was the author of more than 100 non-fiction works of theology, sociology, prayer, and poetry; a professor of sociology; a newspaper columnist; and a successful novelist, writing in several genres, including mystery and science fiction. He was born on February 5, 1928 and was a native of Chicago. Greeley studied at Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and earned an AB from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in 1950, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1952, and a Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1954. He went on to receive a Master of Arts in 1961 and a Ph D in 1962.

Greeley's fiction, which often told stories of crime and scandal in the Roman Catholic church, can be violent and lurid and are considered controversial by many Church leaders. Greeley wrote on such issues as homosexuality in the clergy, pedophilia, and papal politics, and he created the popular mystery series starring Father Blackie Ryan, as well as another featuring the character Nuala McGrail.

Greeley was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Arizona, Bard College (New York State) and the National University of Ireland, Galway. In 1981, he received the F. Sadlier Dinger Award, which is presented each year by educational publisher William H. Sadlier, Inc. in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the ministry of religious education in America.

Greeley died on May 29, 2013 at his Chicago home. He was 85. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Greeley, Catholic priest and best-selling author, returns to the mystery genre and to one of his most popular characters, Bishop Blackie Ryan. In this case, the crime-solving priest is summoned to France by a French archbishop to deal with the sudden and troubling disappearance of a popular priest. It seems that Frere Jean Claude, a simple, humble priest beloved by the French people, has disappeared into thin air. Accompanied by his boss, the cardinal archbishop of Chicago, Sean Cronin, Blackie heads to Paris. While snooping about the Latin Quarter for clues, Blackie meets a beautiful young woman begging for money. He decides to hire her as a translator, and to his delight, she turns out to be just as able and eager a detective as he is. Together, the two battle stubborn French clerics, uncooperative police, and reluctant witnesses and ultimately solve the mystery of the young priest's disappearance. A concise, suspenseful, and lightly comedic novel, Greeley's legions of fans will be salivating for this one--so libraries should stock up. Kathleen Hughes

Publisher's Weekly Review

Full of unexpected turns and twists, Greeley's popular series featuring the wry, resourceful Bishop John Blackwood Ryan continues, with the spiritual sleuth on the hunt for a young, charismatic priest missing in Paris. Blackie, as Ryan is fondly called, is dispatched by Chicago Archbishop Cronin to solve the disappearance of Father Jean-Claude while escorting the church official's sister-in-law Nora Cronin on her vacation to the City of Lights. Distrusted by the church hierarchy for his growing popularity, the telegenic Frenchman vanished without a trace while guiding TV producers through the famed cathedral of Notre-Dame, causing widespread rumors of foul play and unrest among his young followers. Blackie's efforts to gain the cooperation of church officials are thorough (too much so), but Greeley pumps new life into the sometimes sluggish tale with the arrival of the refreshing Celt beggar girl Marie-Bernadette, who acts not only as the bishop's translator but as his savvy interpreter of French culture. A good premise goes to waste here as Greeley appears to run out of steam halfway through this rather slim novel. Lacking much murderous activity, it seeks to satisfy its readers with a sedate blend of modern religious disputes, paired with the usual missing person plot, as well as long, taxing passages discussing French canon history, acts of faith and Gallic arrogance sprinkled with an occasional hint of possible mischief. Unfortunately, even the Greeley faithful may find the mystery's resolution weak and uncharacteristically gimmicky. (July) Forecast: Although this entry may not be as strong as earlier outings in the popular series, it should do little to dampen Blackie enthusiasm, which will be fostered by national advertising plans and a teaser excerpt in Irish Eyes. Greeley fans will take this one in stride and eagerly await the return of their favorite sleuthing bishop. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

With a title straight out of Chaucer, Greeley's tale brings back one of his most popular literary characters: Bishop "Blackie" Ryan, the cleric who specializes in locked-room mysteries. This time, the action takes place in Paris, where a popular priest has disappeared in the vaults below the Cathedral of Notre Dame. His disappearance is both mysterious and filled with consequences: students who loved him blame the antireligious government for complicity in his abduction, while the Catholic Church struggles with the question of miracles suddenly being performed supposedly by the missing priest. Into this maelstrom of theories comes Bishop Blackie, who takes a young beggar girl as his interpreter. Marie-Bernadette and her boyfriend soon become personally involved with the search for the priest. Greeley creates vivid characters, especially Marie-Bernadette, a saucy, casual Catholic who speaks her mind no matter the surroundings. As Blackie delves deeper into the case, he discovers facts that will embarrass just about everyone involved. George Guidall, a master storyteller, brings every character to life and helps to keep the action flowing in a steady if somewhat ponderous manner. Greeley's legion of fans will make this a popular addition to all public library collections. Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Bishop and the Beggar Girl of St. Germain 1 "Blackwood, I need a favor." Sean Cronin, Cardinal Priest of the Holy Roman Church and by the Grace of God and heroic patience of the Apostolic See, Archbishop of Chicago, leaned casually against my doorjamb. I was instantly wary. Cardinals don't need to ask for favors. Something was afoot, something more serious than Sherlock Holmes's "the game." "I cannot recall that there is a marker on the table," I said cautiously. I was appealing to the Chicago School of economics, not that made famous by all the Nobel folk over at The University but by Chicago politicians: its premise was that you can ask for a favor from someone who owes you one for a previous favor (a "marker"). I owed Milord Cronin no favors, not that it mattered. "I want you to go to Paris," he said, ignoring my appeal to proper procedure. "Paris, Illinois?" I asked, blinking my eyes in feigned surprise. "Paris, France!" he said impatiently as he strode to the cabinet where I stored various liquid refreshments. "You've been there, of course." He poured for himself a more than adequate amount of John Jameson's Twelve Year Special Reserve (now at least a quarter century old). In the reform of life imposed on him by his twice-widowedsister-in-law, Nora Cronin, he was permitted one of those a day and two cups of coffee. It was early in the afternoon for him to fill his quota. "As you know, we Ryans travel only in cases of utmost necessity. The journey to Grand Beach, Michigan, represents the outer limit of our travels, save for an occasional venture to the Golden Dome to cheer in vain for the fighting Black Baptists." This was surely the case. We risked going beyond that limit only for reasons of business or love, new or renewed. Neither of these issues impacted on my life. We never, of course, drove to Milwaukee. "You have to visit Paris, the City of Light." "The city where they kill cardinals and bishops in front of your good friend Victor Hugo's cathedral." "That was a long time ago," he noted, removing a stack of computer output from my easy chair and sinking wearily into it. If he wanted me to go to Paris, then I would go to Paris. However, it was necessary that we act out the scenario. "Nonetheless, the French do it periodically." "I owe a lot to Nora," he said. "Patently your health, arguably your life." "So, I want to take her to Paris for her birthday." "A virtuous intent." "And I want you along to add an air of legitimacy to the trip." Aha! So that was the nature of the game! "My abilities as a chaperone are even more modest than my other abilities." "All you have to do is to be around." "Patently, I am quite unnecessary. While arguably your virtue might appear under suspicion to someamong the uninformed, the virtue of your admirable sister-in-law is beyond question." Foster sister and sister-in-law to be precise since Nora had been adopted by the Cronins as a child and later in life married her late foster brother Paul Cronin. 1 "If an auxiliary bishop is in tow, no one will be suspicious." An auxiliary bishop plays a role not unlike that of Harvey Keitel in the film Pulp Fiction: he sweeps up messes. This was a somewhat new extension of that role. "The uninformed trust me less than you." "Nora deserves this trip." He was actually pleading with me, indirectly and circumspectly as befitted his role. "This is a busy time in the parish." All times in the parish are busy. "One of your young guys can take care of it for a week." In fact, any one of them could take care of it better than I could. "Perhaps." "Besides, Blackwood, the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris has an interesting little problem. He hasn't asked for your help, because he doesn't know about you, but he needs your help just the same." "Ah?" This was the bait, the double chocolate malted milk on the table. "It would seem that one of his most talented young priests has disappeared from the face of the earth." "Indeed!" "Into thin air, so to speak." He swilled the whiskey around in its Waterford goblet. "Do you want a drink? It's your whiskey, after all." "What sort of thin air?" "Third-century Gallo-Roman thin air!" "Remarkable!" "Yeah, a famous TV priest, young, good-looking, great preacher, a little too right-wing maybe for your tastes, name of Jean-Claude Chrétien." "The Church in France seriously needs right-wing TV preachers if it is to succeed in its efforts to bring back the Bourbon monarchy. Whether such a preacher will speak to the needs of the twenty-five percent of young people in that country who are unemployed is perhaps an open question." Milord Cronin peered at me over the rim of his drink. "Like I always say, Blackwood, I'm glad you're on my side ... In any event this young man has, or perhaps I should say had, some training in archaeology. He was showing a couple of TV producers through the excavations under Notre-Dame in preparation for a program about the continuity of the Church in France." "Doubtless he intended to make clear that the original Parisi were Celts." "Doubtless, Blackwood. Anyway, he vanished. Turned a corner and when the producers caught up with him, he wasn't there anymore." "Fascinating!" "Arguably," Milord Cronin agreed, stealing my favorite word. "I would be correct if I assumed that there is only one access to these ruins?" "Yep. And people at the cashier's desk whorecognized him from his TV program swore he never left ... . So the assumption is that he jumped into a house they had unearthed in the ruins and returned to the third century." "Arguably where he belonged." "I suppose that there are more rational explanations. However, no one has ever found him." I could think of some obvious ones. However, assuming that the Paris police still worked in the tradition of C. August Dupin and Inspector Maigret, they would have thought of them too. The disappearance could be conveniently accounted for perhaps. But the motive was another matter altogether. Murder? Perhaps. Fleeing from the priesthood? Arguably. Or something more sinister and cynical? The basic principle of disappearance was easy enough. You needed a few forged credentials, some credit cards and bank accounts under a new name, a place to come to earth and stay until the police gave up and stopped looking--either because they figured you were dead or had made up your mind not to be found. If, however, you were a celebrity--like a prominent TV priest--it was much more difficult to come to ground where you would not be known. More difficult, but not impossible so long as you had a loyal team of coconspirators and lots of money. The Church might take the position, especially if there were no ransom demands, that you were dead and that Communists or radicals had killed you. At that point the Church would quietly stop hoping that you'd turn up and begin to hope that you would not. "So"-Sean Cardinal Cronin bounced from my easy chair, neglecting to replace the pile of computer output which represented the parish schedule for the next six months-"when we get there and you're not busy withyour chaperone duties, you can see to it, Blackwood!" He thereupon departed my study with his best maniacal laugh, a crimson guided missile going into orbit. On the whole, as Holmes would say, it was a matter not without some interesting points. "Punk, you really have to go to Paris with Sean and Nora," insisted my sister, Mary Kathleen Ryan Murphy, who was on the phone almost as soon as Milord Cronin left the room. "You owe it to him." "Ah," I said. "I am unaware of what that debt might be." I had already committed myself, more or less, to the venture. Family scenarios however, had to be preserved. "You should stay at the Abbey where Joe and I stayed when we went over with Red Kane and Eileen." Eileen Ryan Kane, a judge in the Federal Appellate Court, was the number two matriarch in our family. "The Abbey," I replied, "is in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin." "No, I mean the one in the Saint Germain district, near the Sour Bean." My virtuous sister is perhaps the finest woman psychiatrist in Chicago, which is to say the finest of any. However, her geography leaves something to be desired. "St-Germain-des-Prés, "I said, "across the Luxembourg Gardens from the Sorbonne." "Whatever"-she dismissed my cavils as irrelevant--"it's an eleventh-century convent." If it were it would be a precious museum. Seventeenth century more likely. "I don't like convents." "Don't be ridiculous, it's darling. Right near the Saint Surplus metro stop." "St-Sulpice," I said. "Whatever ... Well, I've told Nora about it." "Patently." I did not tell her that l'abbaye St-Germain was right around the corner from the Institut Catholique --the Catholic presence near the Latin Quarter after theology had been forced out of the Sorbonne, St. Thomas Aquinas's university. That information was utterly irrelevant. Besides, what did I know? So the matter had been settled. The family had once again made sure that I would act right, despite my proclivities not to do so. In fact, I would accompany Sean Cronin to the ends of the earth. I had no doubt that he could get to the aforementioned outer limits without my help, but he would not be able to return unless I were along for the ride. The phone rang again. Crystal Lane, our resident mystic and youth minister, who answered phones until the Megan (four porter persons with the same name) appeared after school. "Senator Cronin, Bishop Blackie." "Thank you, Crystal." "I'll pray for you while you're away on the trip." That would not be an innovation. Crystal prayed all the time for everyone. Even she knew about the ill-advised journey. Even before I did. "Thank you, Crystal," I said with my heavy West-of-Ireland sigh. "I'm sure I'll need the prayers." "Blackwood, you're a dear," Nora Cronin began. "Patently." "Poor Sean needs time away from Chicago." The word "poor" on the lips of an Irishwoman indicated high praise. "Doubtless." "And so do you." This was simply not true. I never need to be away from Chicago. Even in the winter. "Perhaps." "It's very sweet of you to come. I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time. You know everything about Paris." The Lady Nora thought I was adorable. "It will do as a city," I admitted. They had been lovers long ago, adulterous and sacrilegious lovers. Passions like that never really go away. I would accompany them so that they would be reassured that the passions would not escape from the currents in which they had been controlled for decades. I knew well that nothing like that could ever happen. But they didn't. I had been to the City of Lights despite my pretense that I had not. It had a terrible, blood-soaked history. I knew too much of that history to enjoy my visit. I am not psychic like my friend and colleague Nuala Anne McGrail, but there were too many ghosts-of peasants and queens, of saints and sinners, of innocents and monsters-wandering about. However, the French, with the exception of their politicians, their intellectuals and their clergy, were nice people-just like every other people, though patently not as nice as the Irish. Truth to tell, I liked sparring with the haughty French hierarchs I had encountered. I looked forward with considerable interest to this delightful amusement. There was, of course, the interesting matter of the TV priest who had leaped back into the third century. Fascinating. Copyright (c) 2001 by Andrew M. Greeley Enterprises, Ltd. Excerpted from The Bishop and the Beggar Girl of St. Germain by Andrew M. Greeley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.