by Randall Sullivan
In a tiny, dilapidated trailer in northeastern Oregon, a young woman saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in an ordinary landscape painting hanging on her bedroom wall. After being met with skepticism from the local parish, the matter was officially placed "under investigation" by the Catholic diocese. Investigative journalist Randall Sullivan wanted to know how, exactly, one might conduct the official inquiry into such an incident, so he set off to interview theologians, historians, and postulators from the Sacred Congregation of the Causes for Saints. These men, dubbed "miracle detectives" by the author, were charged by the Vatican with testing the miraculous and judging the holy.
Sullivan traveled from the Vatican in Rome to the tiny village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where six visionaries had been receiving apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Sullivan's quest turns personal and takes him to Scottsdale, Arizona, site of America's largest and most controversial instances of Virgin Mary sightings, culminating an eight-year investigation of predictions of apocalyptic events, false claims of revelation, and the search for a genuine theophany-that is, the ultimate interface between man and God.