Dunstan Ramsey spends a large amount of his life chasing after the stories of obscure saints in Europe. For a man who is not even a Catholic, and who has an abhorrence of religion from his childhood experiences of Calvinism, the devotion of a life to this pursuit seems odd. But Dunstan has several particular reasons for his interest in hagiography (the lives of saints).
When Dunstan was in the first World War, he was saved, he believes, by a vision of the Virgin Mary. He was heralded as a hero, because he had performed a heroic act in which he almost certainly should have died. He did lose a leg, and had withered arm his whole life afterwards, but he did survive; and he did not attribute this to luck, but to divine intervention. That this didn't create in Dunstan a profound conversion to a faith is also somewhat odd -- he remains a kind of believer, but a questing, questioning one, rather than a churchgoer.
But before his war experience, Dunstan identified the woman who lived...
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