NATCHEZ – St. Mary Basilica in Natchez comes alive in a new novel by parishioner G. Mark LaFrancis of Natchez.
A Song of Hope: A Spiritual Suspense Novel places the church in the center of a fast-paced, uplifting tale set in Natchez. “It is a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy who discovers himself, Christianity and redemption,” said LaFrancis, author of ten books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. “Although a mid-teen is the chief character, this novel isn’t solely a young person’s book. Adults have come to embrace it as well.”
LaFrancis and his family have strong bonds with St. Mary Basilica. He and his wife Eileen Maher are lectors and have volunteered in various ways with the church and the Knights of Columbus. Both of their now-adult children received their First Communions and Confirmations at St. Mary, as well as graduating from Cathedral School. Their son Mark was an altar server, and their daughter Mary sang in the youth choir.
“St. Mary Basilica parishioners welcomed us with open arms when we first arrived in Natchez in 1994. This book is a tribute to them while introducing the basilica to a group of readers who might not have experienced the church’s magnificence,” LaFrancis said.
The book includes many references to the incredible statuary, stained glass and art work for which St. Mary is known.
Here is one passage: “Jesse rubbed his eyes. Before him was a most magnificent sight: an expanse some sixty feet wide and one-hundred-fifty feet long. The ceiling, some two hundred feet from the floor, was like the sky, a canopy of blue with gold trim, and painted stars. But this was no flat ceiling; it was a series of wide arches supported by eight great cream-colored columns. Intricately carved designs decorated the arches.”
Woven throughout the story are songs – “Amazing Grace” and “Here I Am, Lord” – that are important to Jesse because their lyrics inspire and intrigue him even though he has no religious training. Both hymns become like musical glue binding the tale.
A portion of the proceeds from book sales will benefit the Catholic Youth Organization in Natchez. The hard-cover book is available for $12.95 each, plus shipping, on LaFrancis’ web: gmarklafrancis.com or for $14.95 on Amazon.com.