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Books by John Thavis

The Vatican Prophecies

Apocalyptic prophecies and miraculous apparitions are headline-grabbing events that often put the Catholic Church’s concept of “rational faith” at odds with the passion of its more zealous followers. To some, these claims teeter on the edge of absurdity. Others see them as evidence of a private connection with God. For the Vatican, the issue is much more nuanced, as each supposed miraculous event could have serious theological and political consequences. In response, the Vatican has developed a highly secretive and complex evaluation system to judge the authenticity of supernatural phenomena.

In THE VATICAN PROPHECIES: Investigating Supernatural Signs, Apparitions, and Miracles in the Modern Age, John Thavis once again takes us behind the scenes at the Vatican to explain how miracles and other “supernatural” events are investigated and verified, revealing deep internal debates on apparitions, the power of religious relics, private revelations, exorcisms, and more. Enlightening and accessible to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the book illustrates the Church’s struggle to balance the tension between traditional beliefs and contemporary skepticism.

THE VATICAN PROPHECIES also sheds light on a relatively hidden aspect of Pope Francis, who is quietly steering the church in new directions on miracles, apparitions and demonic possession.


“The process by which these supernatural events are authenticated is expertly told by John Thavis, one of the world’s leading Vaticanologists. In fact, that a book on so secretive and complex a topic is so deeply researched, beautifully written, and artfully told is something of a small miracle itself.”
—James Martin, S.J., author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

“Thavis’s second book is a lively, far-reaching exploration of the paranormal aspects of the Catholic faith, investigating both the role that such phenomena play in the lives of parishioners and the official stance of the institutional church.... [The Vatican Prophecies] is an engaging introduction… for lay readers.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“This engaging overview of contemporary supernatural occurrences is filled with stories and case studies. Catholics and those interested in Christian history will appreciate this exploration of the efforts to balance modern rationalism with traditional devotional practices.”
—Library Journal


“One reason I wrote this book is that journalists tend to focus exclusively on the Vatican’s power and its institutional impact. I wanted to chronicle the human side of the Vatican -- warts and all -- that makes it such a fascinating place.”

- John Thavis, Author

The Vatican Diaries

The Vatican is typically viewed as a monolithic power structure that pursues a global agenda with a unified sense of mission. John Thavis, who covered the Vatican beat for 30 years, knows that the reality is far different. It’s a place where Curia cardinals fight private wars, where leaks are common, where sex scandals simmer and where, increasingly, popes are embarrassed by their own missteps and the incompetence of their top aides.

The Vatican Diaries pulls back the curtain on this surreal world. In ten chapters, it takes readers behind the scenes to meet the people who make things happen or screw things up. On several notorious issues -- a religious order headed by a pedophile priest, a papal butler who smuggles documents to a reporter, the pope’s rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop -- the book answers the question: “What were they thinking?”

The book’s cast of characters includes little-known figures who are part of the daily Vatican drama: an archeologist battling a cardinal’s parking lot, a Vatican spokesman waging an uphill battle for transparency, a papal preacher whose gaffes upstage the pope, a Jesuit who pulls every string to make Pius XII a saint. A final chapter, “The Real Benedict,” describes journalists’ frustrating and failed attempts to pin a persona on the enigmatic German pope.

This mosaic of true stories brings the Vatican to life. What emerges is a portrait of an institution brought repeatedly to the brink of crisis as it struggles to come to terms with the modern world.

Released in February 2013, it became an immediate New York Times best-seller. A revised paperback edition, published in February 2014, covers the election of Pope Francis and his papal agenda.

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