The Thirteenth Apostle
Translated by Andrew Brown
When his friend Andrei is mysteriously killed on a train on his way back from Rome, Father Nil, a Benedictine who teaches the Gospel of St John to novices, decides to conduct his own investigation. The dead priest possessed proof of the existence of a thirteenth apostle and an epistle stating that Jesus was nothing more than an inspired prophet, not the Son of God – two things that would spell great danger for the Church. Father Nil then discovers a previously unpublished account of the origins of Christianity. It tells of the Nazoreans – a community excluded from the official Church by Peter and Paul – who appear to have thrived until the seventh century, playing an important role in the birth of Islam.
While he pushes ahead with his investigation, the Pope’s advisors, rival factions and secret societies are trying, by any means, to lay their hands on the priest’s findings. From the Mossad to Fatah, everyone seems to have a very good reason to keep the thirteenth apostle a secret…
He presents a picture of endemic corruption within institutional Catholicism that stretches from a murderous St Peter at the very start of its history down to a villainous Cardinal Catzinger in the 21st century.
Religious scholar and novelist Michel Benoît was born in Madagascar in 1940 (then a French colony). In 1962, having studied Biochemistry under Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod and obtained a PhD in Pharmacology, he entered the Benedectine order as an unordained monk, remaining there for twenty-two years. Because of his ideological non-conformity, he eventually quit the Catholic Church and decided to devote himself to research and writing.