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Publisher's Summary

In ancient Rome, a woman flees for her life. Her enemies are those she once called "brother". Hidden beneath her blue cloak are secrets men will kill for - forgeries that prove the newly self-appointed bishops are not followers of the way, but pretenders who have seized power and will stop at nothing to shape this new religion to their own ends. Now, Julia - a woman who had once walked with Mary Magdalene and taught alongside Paul must preserve the legacy of the apostles in the face of terrifying danger.  

Two thousand years later, classical archaeologists Valentina Vella and Erika Simone are tasked with advising the newly-elected pope on the historical legacy of women in the early Christian period. The women stumble across an ancient parchment buried deep in the Vatican archives, a document that has clearly been altered. They find themselves on the trail of a woman who may have been the first woman bishop in the Catholic faith. To reveal Julia's legacy will put them in the crosshairs of a venomous Vatican battle for power and supremacy; to stay silent would make them complicit in an ancient heresy and would betray the teachings Julia sacrificed her life to defend.  

The Mystery of Julia Episcopa weaves seamlessly between modern-day Rome and the politics of the Catholic church and the times and life of a first-century Roman noblewoman who rose to be a dominant force in the early Christian movement.  

"Three women connected by two intertwined stories of treacherous political intrigues, ancient cover-ups, and savage vengeance."

©2018 John Rigoli (P)2018 John Rigoli

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

You won't want to stop listening

I love these kinds of stories. I can't wait for book two!

The reader is taken on a journey back to the first century. We take a peek into the life of a wealthy Italian girl, Julia. As this new sect, who call themselves Christians, begins to emerge.

In the present day, two archeologist/historians find themselves on a mission to discover the identity of a bishop from the first century named Julius or could it be Julia? A woman?

Authors Rigoli and Cummings have done their homework and brought forth a rich tale packed with intrigue. The main focus is on the life of Julia Episcopa and the people who come and go. I didn't want it to end.

Cassandra Campbell's performance adds to the entire experience. I enjoyed her Italian accent. Female/male characters are easily distinguished, but this particular performance wasn't about giving each character a distinct voice, but rather a particular attitude. I had no trouble following the action or dialogue. Ms Campbell has a lovely voice that is clear and I enjoyed her storytelling.

Thank you a fantastic listening experience.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Early church revisionism!

Before I started reading this book, I thought it would be like The DaVinci Code, and it both was and wasn't. A very well written story about the early church and how early Catholic leaders gathered power through control and revision of original works from the disciples. It ends with a massive cliffhanger that leaves you wishing you had the next book in your hands. A solid 4.5 star review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

INTRIGUING MYSTERY OF ANCIENT ROME

This is a fascinating story, told from two perspectives, about archaeologists discovering evidence of what may very well be the first female Roman Catholic Bishop (Julia Episcopa) back in the first century. This could lead to dangerous consequences if the truth his exposed. Archaeologists Valentina and Erika will take you on a wild ride between Ancient and Modern-Day Rome. Very well written, and I loved the narration also! I definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone :)
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Dense story

Narration is good without overdoing the accents. Large cast of characters in both past and present timelines leads to a very dense story. Unfortunately this causes the pacing to suffer and it takes a long time for the story to really get going while all the characters and the plot lines for both timelines are introduced.

This reads a lot like one of those seasons-long mini series. Feels a bit longer than it really is, which is my reason for taking away stars. Additionally, the time lines aren't entirely linear, jumping around, especially in the past. Partly, I suspect, to allow the book to open the past story line with a rather cinematic escape from Vesuvius scene. I suspect if I'd had the print book and not the audio, I would've done a fair bit of skipping ahead or skimming to get to the good bits.

If you're into epic stories, this is the book for you. I tended to forget what was happening during the present because of the lengthy forays into the past, which is why I deducted stars. It's a good book, but not one I'll want to go back and listen to again once I finally got through it. Both story lines are good, but its wandering pace is rather Downton Abbey in feel as the lives of all the characters are explored. Great if you prefer immersion into their lives, not so much if you're more interested in the premise of the plot and its resolution.

There are a few anachronisms. Female slaves/servants sending notes and their male counterparts reading them? I can suspend disbelief, but that was pushing it. Still, the plot line hangs together and is plausible overall.

Again, it's a good, solid book. Just a bit too much work to wade through for my personal taste. If you love Ben Hur or the other big epic drama books of the 1960s/1970s, this is your read. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Mixed Feelings

I ogt this ARC via audiobook boom and this is my voluntary review. This story switches between telling Julia's story and the story of two researchers who are tasked with getting information from the Vatican library. The story unfolds that although they try to hide the fact but there were women bishops at the formation of the early church. One bishop does not want the information to come out. The way the story is told switching between past and present and the way it ends generated mixed feelings for me. The narrator did a good job and there were no technical glitches.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An Intriguing Early Christianity Tale

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

It is an unusual story of a female bishop at the very early start of the Vatican doctrine. It is also a mystery and a search for an ancient truth. I found it unusual and well-written except... except for the fact that some of the Italian words were misspelled or at least mispronounced as I was listening to the audiobook. One example that stuck in my mind was the word "tesora". It should have been "tesoro" regardless of the genre. That is a word that doesn't change in Italian grammar. You'd think that between the authors and the editor, someone would have taken it upon themselves to check at least the correct spelling of foreign words... That is one of my gripes. The second is the fact that the narrator chooses to give the Italian characters an "accent". Well, if the story evolves completely in Italy and the characters are Italian, why would they have an accent? If anything it would be the French and American ones to have one. That is one of the things I could never understand and it goes against my grain. It would have been fine if the Italian characters were, let's say, in the US and the story evolved here. But Italian characters in Italy would not have an accent, that's for sure...
OK, I got that out of my system. It might not interfere with the listening experience of those who are not as familiar with a foreign language, so I'll leave that up to you. The story however is truly intriguing and unusual and it will take you to the time of Christian persecution and the beginning of the Catholic fate, so different from what is today. That aspect is truly fascinating.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A Discovery that will ROCK the Vatican!

Julia Episcopa is a mysterious woman whom many will continue to silence centuries past her death. She holds the secret that demonstrates proof of the true teachings of Paul, Magdalene, Peter and other apostles that greedy, ambitious men have manipulated enabling them to take control and change religion to suit their own needs and desires.

Julia is a strong female lead character who is wise beyond her years. Raising two girls, tolerating a husband who places his own ambitions ahead of her and their family, she discovers friendship and later truth in the teachings of Paul and Peter. Saving a scribe from certain death, she helps to protect the writings until she is murdered for her belief and ability to destroy a male-dominated role in the church. Two women in the 21st Century discover a new bishop and realize it is a woman! They move to expose Julia’s secrets and her very existence much to the horror of the Vatican and men who share the same ambitions to “keep women in their place” even today. From the discovery to the reveal, John Rigoli and Diane Cummings keep the listeners spellbound. There is more action in this mystery than in a James Bond movie!

Each character is well-developed, well-rounded and believable. The dialogue is steady and realistic. The shift between the two time periods – Julia’s and present day is smooth and effortless to follow.

Cassandra Campbell performed the audiobook splendidly! Her performance was strong, she projected the emotions in such a way that the reader felt the passion, anger, fear or compassion Julia was experiencing. I could listen to Ms. Campbell for hours! Her voice is hypnotic!

This was an unexpectedly moving mystery. I hope to hear more of the Vatican Chronicles! I cannot recommend this audiobook enough – truly an awesome listen. Not a dull moment!

There were no issues with the production or quality of the audiobook, Verity Audio did an amazing job.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Female Bishop in a corrupt Church.

This was a very interesting story about an archeologist who discovers a possible female Bishop in the first century.
Of course, there are corrupt church officials that have the power to ruin Valentina,s career.
The story goes back and forth between Valentina, the researcher, to Julia Episcope who is the First century Bishop.
Great story full of well built characters and many twists and turns. I received this Audio book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you!!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful