On a recent rare rainy day here in South Florida, I read the new historical novel “The Bishop’s Curse” by Orlando-based author Raff Ellis. This fascinating book, based upon real people and events, combines an Irish immigrant’s rags-to-riches saga with a unique history of the early Catholic Church in America’s battle for absolute control of its religious and secular assets. This battle is recollected through the sometimes vicious conflict between the Irish laity of an upstate New York parish and its unpopular, ambitious and avaricious priest and an archbishop determined to break the authority of state laws governing church property and finances.
In St. James Parish, this conflict between church and state became unhinged. The year was 1860, and while the nation teetered on the brink of the Civil War, another sort of rebellion had broken out in the little town of Carthage, NY.
For the mid-19th Century Irish Catholic church members of St. James Parish, this rebellion against their priest and bishop was a life-changing event that many believed endangered their immortal souls, and that some believed became mortal victims of the Bishop’s curse.
This unique and engaging book is a must-read for fans of Irish-American history and high drama. Raff Ellis, an accomplished historian and talented storyteller, brings back to life a remarkably colorful slice of Irish-American history. I couldn’t put this book down until I’d read it cover to cover.
Video of The Bishop’s Curse.
About the Author, Raff Ellis.