Characters

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 858

The teenage female protagonists are young women from different walks of life, different countries, different goals, different ambitions. Each becomes pregnant while still a virgin. A third female character, whose importance grows as the story progresses, is Anne Fitzgerald, once a nun and now a private investigator. Because of her previous intimate connection with the church, she is asked to investigate the appearance of the two young virgins about to give birth. In light of the secret prophecy given the pope by the Lady of Fatima, these girls seem worth investigating. The prophecy says that a girl, a virgin, will bear a divine child; now there are two girls who appear to be virgins, soon to give birth.

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Anne Fitzgerald, in whose voice most of the story is told, is a young woman in her early thirties, once a nun and now a private investigator. Anne thinks she has lost her religious faith. She still believes in God but questions the tenets set forth by the Catholic Church. Hired to interview Kathleen Beavier, the young woman in Newport, Massachusetts, who is near term with a pregnancy that appears to be virginal, Anne wonders why she is chosen for this job. When asked by Cardinal Rooney if she believes in "God the Father, Jesus, the Blessed Mother," she replies, "Yes. In my way." Anne's being licensed to carry a gun seems as important to the Cardinal as her belief in God, and she is hired to go to Newport to interview Kathleen. First, though, the Cardinal sends her to Los Angeles where she confronts the rising polio epidemic that is sweeping the United States. Returning to the East Coast, she asks herself why she is the one to be with Kathleen. Her own virginal condition and her reintroduction to the priest with whom she is in love add to her confusion.

Father Nicholas Rosetti is a priest sent by the pope to ascertain the validity of the claim to virginity of a fourteen-year-old, eight-month pregnant, Irish girl. The pope confides the prophecy made by the Lady of Fatima, that two virgins would give birth, one to a divine child and one to Satan. Rosetti must discover which virgin, the American or the Irish girl, is the mother of the divine child. As he leaves the Vatican, he is attacked mentally by an evil presence, threatening to end his life. The mental attacker reveals that it knows the secret of the holy child and predicts Nicholas's early death. He is ill for five days, and wonders then if he is truly well and sane. His will and belief in God keep him focused on his task. He battles this evil while attempting to discover the truth about the virgin births.

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Kathleen Beavier is a sixteen-year-old American girl, who is pregnant and a virgin. She is one of the two girls being investigated to determine whether her pregnancy is the one prophesied by the Lady of Fatima. Her parents are wealthy enough to own a beach home in Newport, called Sun Cottage. She tries to have an abortion and when that fails, tries to commit suicide. She seems to sense many things but is unable to remember the circumstances under which she became pregnant. Her virginity is confirmed by several doctors, including one who is Jewish. He would not believe in a virgin birth or in Jesus, so his testimony is unimpeachable. She is living in a dream world, unable to distinguish reality from imagination and unable to provide details of a night in January when she went out with a young man from her school. When he dies in a car accident, Kathleen is left to wonder why he had to die.

Colleen Deirdre Galaher, the second pregnant virgin, is a fourteen-year-old Irish girl. Father Rosetti is tempted to break his vows of chastity when he sees her, one of the temptations sent to him by the presence he feels in his mind. Colleen tries to be the "good girl" she knows her mother would want her to be, enduring the taunts of the villagers and staying home to take care of her bedridden mother. Sister Katherine Dominica serves as Colleen's advisor and helper although she does not truly believe Colleen's story.

Justin O'Carroll, a priest, is sent by Cardinal Rooney to stay in the Beavier house. He was a caseworker for the Catholic Charities in South Boston, when Anne had first become acquainted with him. They were attracted to each other but respected their vows as a priest and a nun. He has remained in the priesthood although he is deeply in love with Anne. He is also a hero, trying to save Anne, Colleen's child, Father Rosetti, and himself. The pope sends him to Newport to protect both Anne and Kathleen, and then on to Ireland. He witnesses events in Ireland that give him direction, explaining to him what he must do with the rest of his life.

Pope Pius and Cardinal John Rooney serve as mentors to Anne and Justin. Their wise counsel and support allows Anne to sustain her faith and Justin to become her support.

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