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Saint Agatha's Breast

For years, the priests of San Redempto, a decrepit monastic order in the heart of Rome, were so busy indulging their private vices they failed to notice that thieves had been systematically plundering the monastery of its treasures. But when someone makes off with six paintings from a ghastly series of martyrdom studies executed by the 17th-century master Nicolas Poussin, the prior reluctantly orders the Rev. Brocard Curtis, the archivist of the order, to find the culprits. That fatal decree invites a maelstrom of violence that may finish off the dirty old monks and doom San Redempto to oblivion.

Saint Agatha’s Breast, the first installment of Robert Stefanotti’s Magnificat trilogy.  First published under pseudonym twenty-five years ago, Robert and Wordbound Media have redesigned and edited the work–with true author attribution–for consideration in this present day.


Magnificat refers to Luke 1:46-55, popularly called Mary’s Song of Praise, specifically the verses: “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.” The humor and clever turns of these books reveal the hypocrisy of those in power that is brought to light by those they so readily scorn.


“Taking inspiration from those overwrought scenes of religious ecstasy beloved of the Baroque painters, T. C. Van Adler has written a morbidly funny debut mystery in ST. AGATHA’S BREAST.”

          • Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times


“There are times when I laughed out loud at some turn of phrase or the incredibly comic situations that murder, mayhem (and religious life) can sometimes effect…[Stefanotti] has a finger on the pulse on much of religious life, those things–mainly dealing with sexuality and human relationships–that many communities are not very willing to engage.”

          • Brian, Dignity Newspaper


“St. Agatha’s Breast isn’t for every taste, but for fans of the cerebral mysteries such as Umberto Eco’s classic The Name of the Rose… will be fascinated with this.”

          • The Portland Oregonian




Robert Stefanotti entered the Carmelites when he was 37, closing his New York City Gallery, saddened by a city decimated by AIDS and leaving behind the International Art World of which he had been a part. He laughs now for naively thinking he was leaving the corrupt world behind. Shortly after his ordination in 1989, he was disabused of this. One housebound old friar normally greeted him as he came back into the Cloister from his days of researching at the Vatican by puckishly asking “have you lost your faith yet?” as they made their way to vespers. Humor had always helped him negotiate life in the past, and so just five years after getting his doctorate in Historical Spirituality at the Gregorian University this series of “morbidly funny” as one critic put it – “operatic” according to another – mysteries took shape.

In 1996 he moved back to New Jersey (being an only child he cared for his father after his mother’s sudden death) where he took a position in chaplaincy at the largest Youth Correctional Facility in New Jersey. There he saw a system and the abuses of power that conjured up The Evil That Boys Do. Shortly afterward he was asked to develop some courses for a new Theology Masters program at what was then a small women’s college in New Jersey, Georgian Court, which served as the inspiration for Demise of the Mystics. 

Fr. Andrew Greeley, a Catholic priest and friend who wrote several racy novels under his own name, strongly advised Stefanotti to use a pen name; as did several academic clerics he knew and worked with. All warned him that not only could he do more good working from within the Church but that he would also assuredly “lose his day job” if he did. They thought, rightly so, that not only the Church but also the world would not be ready to hear about clerical sexual misconduct, being several years before the scandals in Boston were revealed. 

Additional information

Weight 2 lbs
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1 in

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