The day Agatha Christie convinced Saint Paul VI

Few know it, but the one who became the queen of detective stories was a deeply believing woman, and she even managed to get Pope Paul VI to maintain the Tridentine Mass in England

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) is, more than the queen, the empress of mystery books, and when Hercule Poirot’s creator’s links with the realm of faith and religion are evoked, the story known as Pardon Christie.

The liturgical crisis that affected the Catholic Church in the 1970s did not leave the great writer indifferent. Concerned that Latin and Gregorian were being set aside for her, she signed a petition together with other intellectuals and artists, both Catholic and non-Catholic, intended to obtain from Pope Paul VI the maintenance of ancient liturgical traditions.

Posted on Times on July 6, 1971, this surprising appeal was heard in Rome, given that in December of the same year Paul VI granted an indult which maintained the possibility of celebrating the Tridentine Mass in England.

Why did this official text popularly take the name of the famous writer? Simply because, reading the list of signatories, Paul VI would have reacted in a particular way seeing the name of Agatha Christie before making his decision.

When Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple testified in favor of Christianity

Indeed, it would be a shame to reduce Agatha Christie’s relationship to the Christian faith to this one episode. All of her work develops in a world imbued with Christian morality. The hypotheses that she proposes in her books to discover the criminal are impossible without referring to the Christian vision of good and evil or to the weakness of beings, due to the existence of original sin.

The declared and claimed petulance of perhaps his most famous character, the famous detective Hercule Poirot, far from the virtue of humility, however, often leads to thinking the opposite, but it is a red herring that should not confuse the reader. It is precisely in the name of Christian morality that Poirot exasperates the reader despite his genius. And he is perhaps not “a good Catholic”, as he confesses himself The first case of Hercule Poirot?

More than the Belgian detective, of whom we also know that he belongs to a large family and completed his studies in a religious center, it is the delightful Miss Marple who attests Christie’s Christianity on the witness stand.

If Chesterton’s Father Brown acquired his knowledge of human baseness in the confessional, Miss Marple contemplates the universe starting from the intrigues of her village. In her own way, she defends the permanence of human nature. Her recipe is to point out the similarity between an act committed in St. Mary Mead, her country, and the crime she has to clear up.

To her nephew, the writer Raymond West, who affectionately mocks her for this, the lady replies: “Actually, my dear Raymond, human nature is the same everywhere, but in one country we have the opportunity to observe it more closely” .

This conviction declared, vindicated and elevated to the rank of investigative method has nothing to do, in Miss Marple, with a challenge to the supernatural, quite the opposite! The village of St. Mary Mead interests her because she lives there and because it is there that, as in all places, the sometimes devastating effects of original sin are concentrated. However, the lady knows that simply observing reality may not be enough.

“I needed the faith, the true faith of St. Peter”

An example? The most explicit is perhaps found in Miss Marple and the Thirteen Problemsin which she is seen openly confessing that she resorts to prayer: “Even if you young people start laughing, I will confess that, when I am really in trouble, I always pray inside of me, wherever I am, walking down the street or inside a shop, and I always get an answer to my prayer”.

His conviction dates back to childhood, when, in his room, he had written on the bed this advice of Christ that we often overlook: “Ask and you will receive”. Neither The thumbprint of St. Peterthis Anglican incorrigible but with a tendency to High Church he pronounces almost a Catholic act of faith confessing “I needed the faith, the true faith of St. Peter”.

Speaking of the success of her mother’s work, Agatha Christie’s daughter explained: “My mother was a Christian and believed in the struggle between good and evil. She thought that murderers should be arrested and punished, and she wanted more than anything to not see the innocent suffer. It’s true that she wrote stories of murders, but she couldn’t stand violence. And all the stories of her possess a consistent moral aspect”.

As expressed by one of the characters of The Labors of Hercule, for her it was not a cheap Christianity: “Religion, M. Poirot, can be a great help and moral support… but by this I mean the orthodox religion”. It’s all said!

The day Agatha Christie convinced Saint Paul VI