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Fictitious Priests

If you like to read novels about priests, Doris Donnelly of John Carroll University has six suggestions.

My book group has read four of the six in recent years.  I’d say (and I think my fellow readers in the group  would agree) that three of them get an A+: The Power and the Glory, The Diary of a Country Priest, and Death Comes for the ArchbishopThe Sparrow, the only one about a Jesuit, is an interesting but uneven science fiction tale.   The Innocence of Father Brown is a good suggestion for our group. As for The Thorn Birds — nah, I don’t think so.

Image by cdrummbks under Creative Commons license.
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Jim Manney
Jim Manneyhttps://www.jimmanneybooks.com/
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. “The Kapillan of Malta” is out of print but can still be purchased at Amazon Marketplace. It is a wonderful story of a WWII -era priest who leads his flock to safety in caves during the ongoing bombardment of the tiny island by Germany and Italy.

  2. Thanks Tim — and how could I forget “The Edge of Sadness” by Edwin O’Connor? Another Loyola Classic, a wonderful story of a priest who recovers his sobriety and his vocation.

  3. Don’t forget a couple of books in the Loyola Classics series: “The Devil’s Advocate” and (one of my favorites) “Cosmas, Or the Love of God.” (The latter is a would-be monk. Close enough.)

  4. Three other novels about priests come to mind. “Black Robe” by Brian Moore, “Silence” by Shusaku Endo, and “North of Hope” by Jon Hassler. The first two are about Jesuits in seventeenth century mission lands: Canada and Japan. They are brilliant reflections on the meaning of faith. “North of Hope” is about a priest’s complicated life in in contemporary northern Minnesota.

  5. “The Keys of the Kingdom” should be on that list, for sure. “The Thorn Birds” wasn’t about a priest, per se, so I agree shouldn’t be on the list. What about “The Cardinal?”


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