Bernardo and the Virgin

Trade Paper – $19.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2427-1

Trade Cloth – $26.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2240-6
Format Unavailable
Publication Date
June 2005
Page Count
464 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Bernardo and the Virgin

Silvio Sirias
In 1980, with the Sandinistas newly in power, tailor and pig farmer Bernardo Martinez witnesses an extraordinary thing: an otherworldly glow about the statue of the Virgin Mary in the church where he works as sacristan. Soon the Holy Virgin appears. She tells Bernardo to forget his money problems and fear of ridicule and spread her message of peace and faith to his neighbors. Though a work of fiction, Bernardo and the Virgin is based on actual events in Bernardo Martinez's life. The visitation of the Virgin Mary at Cuapa, Nicaragua, remains one of the few such events accepted by the Roman Catholic Church in the last sixty years.

Silvio Sirias' sweeping novel tells many stories: that of a humble man touched by the transcendent; that same man as a devout boy denied the priesthood because of poverty; and those in his orbit, past and present. It is also the stormy epic of Nicaragua through the long Somoza years to the Sandinista revolution. Sirias' beautiful language mixes English with Spanish and details of dusty village life with wondrous images of Catholic mysticism. His portrayal of the rich recent past of Central America resonates with the experiences of both the natives and the thriving communities of Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and others putting down roots in the United States.

About the Author
Silvio Sirias was born in Los Angeles and he grew up there and in Nicaragua. His other works include writing Julia Alvarez: A Critical Literary Companion (Greenwood, 2002), editing Salomón de la Selva's Tropical Town and Other Poems (Arte Público Press, 1999), and co-editing Conversations with Rudolfo Anaya (University Press of Mississippi, 1998). Sirias is currently an associate professor at Florida State University-Panama.

"By demonstrating the magic in everyday rural Nicaragua, this tale of religious mysticism is elevated from the unattainable buried headline—'villagers see image of Virgin Mary'—to a story of faith, politics, love, and loss which we all can understand."

Rain Taxi Review of Books

"The details of Bernardo's Nicaragua are wholly entertaining and enticing, with images of Catholic mysticism juxtaposed against the particulars of life in the dusty village of Cuapa. Sirias's prose is lovely."

San Antonio Express-News

"Bernardo and the Virgin is a gargantuan book, full of beauty and wonder. . . . This book is a page-turner, as we begin to get engrossed in the life of humble Bernardo and his world. . . . Bernardo and the Virgin will join the ranks of other memorable books [by writers such as] Francisco Goldman, Jaime Manrique, and Mayra Montero. . . . It is adventure of the first order."

—Virgil Suárez, author of Havana Thursdays