Novelist discusses miracles

According to author Richard Vetere, a miracle needs to be spontaneous, a person must be praying for the miracle, and the miracle must be inexplicable.

Vetere, author of the novel “The Third Miracle,” spoke about his novel and about miracles in general on Tuesday, Oct. 25. Vetere is known as a poet, playwright, a television and film writer and now an author. He is regarded as an expert in the field.

In Vetere’s novel, Father Frank Moore is assigned the duty of investigating if a woman named Helen Stevenson is a saint. Under normal circumstances, a person cannot be canonized a saint until after their death. It takes approximately 150 years for the Church to determine sainthood. Vetere’s novel ignores this time restraint.

The novel focuses on how people deal with faith in their own ways and Moore is a representation of that.

Miracles cannot be attributed until after a saint’s death and Moore is aware that he might die merely trying to get the information from witnesses to verify that Stevenson is a saint.

Vetere explained that the priest, who is the “postulator,” acts as a spiritual detective whose assignment is to determine a woman’s possible sainthood.

Vetere explained one of the three miracles in the book regarding a young girl named Maria. The girl was diagnosed with lupus and later visited with Stevenson. Maria was the first one to see tears of blood from a particular statue and her hands got blood on them. Moore talked to her doctor the next day and was shocked to learn that the patient no longer displayed any signs of lupus.

Vetere was inspired to write the book while teaching screenwriting at St. John’s in 1985.

“I saw the whole plot when I was at the library reading [about the spiritual detective],” he said.

He had looked up the article “The Ordinary Process of Canonization,” which listed the criteria required in order to become a saint.

Although Vetere had come up with the idea for his novel in 1985, the book was not published until 10 years later.

“In the 90’s, nobody was interested in Catholicism,” he said. “When the millennium came, everyone was interested in miracles and Catholicism.”

The book was adapted for the screen in a 1999 film starring Ed Harris and Ann Heche.

Vetere has since kept busy by lecturing on film writing at Queens College, working on a novel about Rome, and working on a new television series for 20th Century Fox.