Holy relics are disappearing from sacred spots around the world, and the Vatican will do whatever it takes to stop enterprising thieves from stealing what is left of the scattered and miniscule splinters of the True Cross the Catholic Church has in its possession.
Dr. Ottavia Salina, a brilliant paleographer, toils at her classified workspace deep within Vatican City, analyzing and restoring some of the world’s most valuable religious artifacts until she is called upon by the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church and commissioned with a mysterious new assignment: she is to decipher the strange tattoos — seven Greek letters and seven crosses — found on an Ethiopian man’s corpse.
Next to what was left of the body were three pieces of wood—suspected by Vatican scholars to be fragments of the Vera Cruz, actual splinters from the Cross on which Christ was crucified.
With the help of the captain of the Pope’s infamous Swiss Guard and a renown archaeologist from Alexandria, Dr. Salina is able to uncover a shocking truth: for hundreds of years, a secret brotherhood which refers to itself as the Staurofilakes, and headed by a mysterious figure called Cato, has been hiding the True Cross and means to gather all remaining fragments for themselves. The markings on the Ethiopian corpse, they soon discover, correspond with each of the Seven Deadly Sins, and are part of the complicated, possibly deadly, initiation ritual used to deem candidates worthy of membership into the brotherhood.
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