Bérenger and Marie are historical figures—Bérenger came to the village as a young priest without much money, and while he was restoring the dilapidated village church, he became mysteriously wealthy. Eventually, he gained enough cash to build a luxurious estate and grounds, including a villa, a conservatory, and a tower on the property. The source of his money remains a secret, though there have been many theories about where it came from, ranging from the plausible to the bizarre. Marie, his confidante, was likely the only one who knew the truth. Interwoven with the story of Marie and Bérenger is the tale of the life of Mary Magdalene and her love for Jesus.
The Priest’s Madonna examines central religious ideas, such as the nature of faith and doubt, the place for skepticism, and the question of where we find the divine in the physical world. It’s a good book for spiritual progressives, as it is engaged largely in asking questions, rather than providing answers.