Wistfully beautiful . . . one woman’s heart-rending journey toward faith . . . a priest’s quest to find a relic. Celtic Crossing opens our eyes to the possibility of miracles and what it truly means to have faith.
—John Jude Palencar, master American artist for Game of Thrones – A Song of Ice and Fire calendar, The Inheritance Cycle, The Lord of the Rings, and others
A vast tapestry of inter-woven stories that link the past with the present, the saint with the sinner, the living with the dead, Celtic Crossing invites the reader on a quest to find the true Cross. To read this novel is to embark on a pilgrimage that takes us to an unexpected and holy place.
—Suzanne M. Wolfe, award-winning novelist, author of A Murder by Any Name, The Confessions of X, and Unveiling
Len Mattano’s brilliantly researched story transports the reader between ancient and modern places and times. Despite betrayal, loss and fear, his characters fight to preserve their faith, even when overwhelmed by the helplessness and desperation that comes when a child is diagnosed with cancer. While humanity struggles to understand why a loving God allows such things, Mattano’s messengers offer God’s miraculous gifts of faith, hope, love, belonging and the wisdom that the path home lies through him.
—Kathleen Ruddy, CEO, St. Baldrick's Foundation | Conquer Childhood Cancers
Celtic Crossing, Len Mattano’s first novel, is a fascinating and captivating read, with marvelous historical and literary detail. The carefully interwoven plots riveted my interest and maintained a rapidly engaging pace throughout. The novel is simultaneously a tale of a disabling family tragedy and an urgent quest for a life-altering, missing relic dating back to the very foundation of Christianity. In tracing the mysterious path of the cherished relic from the Crucifixion to medieval Ireland and the Vatican, Mattano weaves a story of faith under challenge, new-found love, faith redeemed, and ultimately the resiliency and healing power of the human soul. For a refreshing touch of spiritual reawakening, reward yourself with Celtic Crossing.
—Raymond J. Hutchinson, MS, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Michigan
I loved the book! Very well written...clearly it had been researched thoroughly. I very much enjoyed the back-and-forth of past and present and would recommend this book without reservation. Well done, Len!
—Gregory P. Bontrager, President & Chief Operating Officer, American Cancer Society (retired)
Len Mattano’s breakout novel is exhilarating for those who enjoy suspense tales and are searching for a genuinely inspiring story. Celtic Crossing weaves together the Christian messages of hope and healing with a cast of endearing, believable characters drawn together on quest to help a sick child at a time of crisis. As the story unfolds, those involved are forced to confront their individual struggles, their belief in the reality of God, and their relationship with God. Like many in today’s world, Len’s characters discover the unending love that God has for each of us and all of us. This is a story that will cause sleepless nights as readers turn just one more page—over and over—being drawn with the characters into their own spiritual journeys.
—Rev. Thomas F. X. Hoar, SSE, PhD, President and CEO, St. Edmund's Retreat, Enders Island, Mystic CT
Celtic Crossing is a happy surprise! Here I was expecting another medical novel by a distinguished doctor, but instead found a multi-layered plot involving the Irish and their interaction in ancient, medieval and modern Europe which evokes the comment: "Move over Andrew Greeley! Here is a novelist with your talents and multi-layer plotting, the sort of which you would be proud." It was not only a pleasant read but a delightful (and painless) way to learn church history in the process.
—Paul L. Maier, PhD, Professor of Ancient History (Em.), Western Michigan University; bestselling novelist, author of A Skeleton in God's Closet and others
Publishers Weekly | 09.12.2019
Mattano makes a moving debut with this story set in contemporary Ireland that weaves together ecclesiastical lessons and stories from the New Testament. Father Kevin Schaeffer is a Jesuit academic from Boston hoping to capitalize on the success of his first book, and possibly a second, to relieve him of the academic life. While he is on sabbatical in Ireland, [Aideen] Callaghan, a grandmother whose grandson is dying from leukemia, brings to Schaeffer’s attention a mystery he cannot resist: the existence of a cross known to heal generations of the Callaghan family of the cancers they seem cursed to be afflicted with. His research, rooted within his strong faith in God and belief in [Aideen’s] story, becomes an attempt to locate the cross and save Michael’s life and draws Schaeffer deep into the past. He digs into the lives of Mary from Magdala; Mary, the mother of Jesus; and eventually the stories of Irish patron Saints Patrick and Brigid, guardians of the holy healing relic, while tracking the historical and geographical movement of the cross. Featuring a passionate sleuth and God-graced relic, Mattano’s scripture-heavy tale will be of interest to faith readers who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code but prefer lower stakes.
Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, New York City | 01.26.2020
This week our Book Review focuses on a novel, Celtic Crossing, by Len Mattano. The theme is the search for a sacred relic to be used in an effort to cure a young boy who is dying. This relic was used throughout history to cure various diseases, but it disappeard in the 1800's. Desperation causes the lead character, Aideen Callaghan, to search for this relic. The book is beautifully written and easily can capture your attention.
The Schanachie | Padraic Pearse Center Bookbuzz | October 2020
In Celtic Crossing, A Novel, author Len Mattano explores the realm of healing and holy relics. Jesuit priest, Father Kevin Schaeffer, is on sabbatical in Ireland when he hears of a boy dying of leukemia. The boy's [grand]mother asks his help in finding a family cross that has healed her family's misfortunes for generations. His journey takes him through the stories of Saints Patrick and Brigid while tracking the lives of both Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Evangelization & Culture | The Journal of the Word on Fire Institute | Summer 2021
As if he didn't already have enough on his plate as a hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Len Mattano has done well with his debut novel, Celtic Crossing. This novel of faith and suspense spirits us through generations across the Irish landscape (and beyond). It is a story of hope and uncertainty, faith and mystery. We hope Dr. Mattano will write several more. Tod Worner, MD, Managing Editor
Catholic Reads | 11.15.2021
"We all die." This simple, unavoidable reality anchors the action of Celtic Crossing. How do we react in the face of grief? Do we turn to God or away from God? How do our actions—seemingly so personal—affect those around us? On this literary pilgrimage, the reader reflects on the human struggle with pain. Using his personal knowledge of oncology, author Len Mattano takes his readers not through a soap opera or an unbelievable historical mystery full of conspiracies and espionage, but through a reflection of human drama brought to life by meticulous research of the past both in the novel and by the author himself. How did the apostles react to Jesus’ death and resurrection? How do disciples live out the faith when facing the challenges of the world? Some people make choices that lead them further from God, others lean more into their faith. As the characters make good or bad choices, God remains present and unchanged. The relic of the true cross is a tangible sign of salvation in the novel, but faith in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection is shown to surpass the need for tangible items: “Christ is not confined to the wood of the cross.” I found this novel truly inspirational, and it’s one of the rare books I look forward to talking about with others. Thanks to discussion questions in the book and an image gallery online, Celtic Crossing would serve as a good book for discussion groups. Lisa Theus, PhD, Historical Fiction Editor [Click here for the full review.]
Goodreads | 08.30.2019
I loved this story. The author walks you through centuries of time with real people and events and then weaves a fictional tale filled with twists and turns that keeps you wanting more. Many times I was surprised by some turn of events that I didn’t see coming. For me that is one of the most important things in keeping my interest in a book. The characters are real with real emotions. The author does a great job in developing these characters. His description of places and historical events make you feel like you are there. This is a must read. Nancy Gargano
Celtic Crossing is a beautiful story of hope, loss, and finding faith. A child's grandmother in 2010 elicits an American priest's help in finding the relic of the true Cross in hopes of healing her grandson of leukemia. This lovely story moves back and forth in time and place tracing the journey of the relic and the people who kept it safe. The chapters are short but span centuries and continents, taking the reader on a journey from the days of the Apostles to the present and from the Holy Land to France, Rome and Ireland. Dr. Mattano has clearly done his research; his writing brings these times and places alive. There are passages here that will surprise and delight you. The faith journeys of the characters are compelling. I found this book hard to put down. Noelle Divozzo
Books-A-Million | 09.03.2019
I love this book: It's such a beautiful story! I carry Len's characters in my heart like true friends. Waiting for the next one. Lee
Amazon | 09.17.2019
Faith, hope, love, loss, connection: I was fortunate to get a pre-release copy of Celtic Crossing. This intriguing novel is a heartfelt yet intricate mystery of both the faith and history of the Catholic Church. The narrative follows those in contemporary times driven by hope, loss, and love to search for a miraculous artifact by tracking its path over the centuries. The historical course comes alive as the reader peers into the lives of early saints and their struggles to build the nascent church and preserve one of its widening diaspora of precious relics. Sam
Both educational and entertaining: I loved that Celtic Crossing was a tale enmeshed in history, mystery, and religion. I loved that the novel was simultaneously thought-provoking and moving. Len's landscape is as expansive as his characters are multi-faceted. The visuals he incorporated allowed me to immerse myself into his tale because I knew the answer to "Where am I?" so I could envision myself within the novel's pages as both participant and observer. I know Len is a scientist and a researcher, but he is also an artist; Len skillfully applies the writer's tools to create a novel that I did not want to end. Celtic Crossing must be read and re-read. Veronica M.
Quietly powerful: A beautiful story to keep in your heart. I loved this book. More!
Paraclete Press | 09.17.2019
Celtic Crossing is a beautiful story artfully blending history with a modern day quest seeking an end to the suffering of a child afflicted with cancer. It is written with detail and tenderness as only one who truly understands can express. Sharon Boyce
Facebook | 09.17.2019
As a first personal testimony, this is a book you will not want to pass up. You are drawn into each character's life, response, and delivery from their personal challenges. Uplifting, sure, but better than that, a challenge to the reader to self-examine your depth in faith and power in both the seen and unseen spiritual images in our life. Illness in a child brings us to our knees. This book will leave you with a strength that both soothes the heart and soul. Thank you, Dr. Mattano for this gift from your heart. Marsha Engelhardt
Amazon | 09.18.2019
Well done: Mattano's exhaustive research, attention to detail, and colorful vocabulary were a wonder to enjoy. It was delightful to watch the characters' faith grow and know that peace can be found in adversity. The personal knowledge of pediatric oncology made this especially meaningful to me. I'm sure others will appreciate this peek into the lives of the amazing families experiencing this tragedy. Jean V.M.
Amazon | 09.22.2019
A beautifully written story of hope and despair, of faith and a journey, of history and present day: Dr Mattano has captured the heartbreak of those who find themselves facing life threatening medical situations of those closest and dearest to them. He has woven a story of faith from centuries ago to a story of faith from the present day. This is a beautiful story and so well written that it was hard to put down. I was disappointed when I finished the book because I wanted it to keep going. I think there is more to this story, maybe another book? Nancy Gargano
Amazon | 09.24.2019
Faith, family and medicine: This is a beautifully written novel. A rich story written across generations. This novel immerses you in a first hand look at a challenge to faith and the profound sense of hope that can endure throughout the toughest journey/tragedy a family can take. Hard to put down once you start. Len Mattano’s first novel is a true image of compassion and understanding. His experience shines in this novel. The writing is elegant and you feel very much a part of this story. It is deeply moving. This one will stay on my shelf to share and be read again. Victoria A. Rakowski
Amazon | 10.14.2019
An artfully woven tale through time and place: Celtic Crossing is a cross generational story following a family's journey of tragedy and faith. The story of struggle under gut-wrenching circumstances is a tapestry of adventure through time and place, current and historic. An excellent read. Denis S.
Paraclete Press | 11.01.2019
Something for everyone: Celtic Crossing is about one woman's tenacious quest to save her grandson who is dying of leukemia. This book has something for everyone, the power of family through multi-generations, an exploration of faith and religion (including disillusionment with God), art, history, mystery, and suspense. Len Mattano's writing style is eloquent and engaging with remarkable attention to detail to ensure historical accuracy. This book would make a wonderful gift, to yourself and others. Elaine Catlin
Paraclete Press | 03.30.2020
Superb: This is such a skillfully and beautifully written book that is difficult to believe it is fiction. The author does an excellent job of conveying medical situations in-depth yet understandably. He does an excellent job of weaving the story through the present and the past without creating any confusion. The characters were well-developed and the plot was believable. I learned much about faith, religion, Celtic history, medicine—so many things. Amazing first book!!!! And I look forward to more, much more, from this gifted author. Treva Whichard
Goodreads | 04.21.2020
This was a Christmas gift from my sister. Even though this is fiction, the author weaves the story using referenced works of art, architecture, literature and music to engross you in his story. I found myself exploring my own beliefs and faith while reading this novel. It also made me want to explore more of my Celtic/Gaelic heritage. Good read. Lucy
Amazon | 05.20.2020
Captivating story: This story keep me up reading until the wee hours of the morning! History, mystery , romance and hope all rolled into one! A must read! I can't wait to read another book by this author. Judy
Goodreads | 06.12.2020
Great reading. A good mix of history and fiction. I loved the plot, the style and the whole book atmosphere. Can't wait for the next chapter. Remy
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Paraclete Press | 06.24.2020
Reflections of a Kenyan biochemist [Basel, CH]: On reading the Celtic Crossing excerpt I chose to approach the novel systematically and with great rigour. I first read through it twice then returned to take detailed notes, reflecting, and identified several key themes as I could already see parallels that are critical to my understanding my own humanness. In the midst of the profound examples of suffering, sorrow, forgiveness, service and prayer I took great delight in the descriptions of the dwellings, smell of smoked mutton, Assam tea and toast. I will be utilizing Celtic Crossing to strengthen my Examen/SJ by reflecting on Aideen's, Kyle's and Fr. Kevin's journeys under the themes that I identified for myself. Examining and challenging my daily responses will enable me to grow while continuing to exhibit the better qualities of humankind. I am so glad that you wrote Celtic Crossing! Catherine
Goodreads | 12.31.2020
First of all, there are phrases in this book that really are beautiful, and the imagery is beautiful. From a spiritual perspective, this book is a poignant reminder that earthly life is temporal, and that our outlook should be of the eternal. That is the greatest value of this book, and that is no small thing. Chapters flash between the present and a couple periods in the past, so there are a lot of characters. Too many for me to keep track of, which is a rare problem for me. There is a list of characters, which I found too late; I wish it had been at the beginning. That's probably the major complaint I had. Because it is a historic fiction, it blends fiction with real people, places, and events. I also appreciate that the author noted the real from the fiction at the end. Mariam
Goodreads | 10.24.2021
I was very impressed by this first novel – the writing is quite lyrical and thoughtful. It seems like this should be a thriller in trying to find the parts of the cross that will cure the family members, but it's not – it's more of a journey of the various characters. I was interested to find out how much of this book is based on real people and story. I liked the explanations of the various parts of the timeline, from the time of Jesus' resurrection to the modern day story, with the parts in Italy and Ireland, although I did find some of the mini-stories a bit confusing, as well as mixing up the character[s]. But overall, I liked this book. Nancy Noble
Amazon | 04.13.2022
An exciting and well-written book with history and drama: Mattano weaves a very rich book with history, Latin, suspense and love. The writing invited me to become part of the book as I visualized the different scenes in the Vatican and Ireland. Not having all the answers at the end of the book left me wanting more from the author as he develops further his main characters and story lines. John Spitzer
Amazon | 08.07.2022
Engrossing & inspiring: You don't have to be Irish or Christian to love this tale of adventure and discovery. Well narrated; shows for the experience rather than tells. Insightful, inspiring, and meaningful as well! Author Dan
Amazon, Goodreads | 12.05.2023
Part 1 of a must read trilogy: Loved it. A very well written book of historical fiction that deftly interweaves two mysteries, one medical and one religious. This book is part one of a trilogy [and] I can hardly wait for the next. What is even more impressive the author is not a professional writer. His previous forty published works can be found only in medical journals. Bruce Bostrom