The Miracles of Santo Fico, by D.L. Smith is a book of revelations that begins with a busload of English tourists forced to make a pit stop in the off-track, po-dunk village of Santo Fico, where even the plaza fountain water supply has dried up. There they find an inn whose owner, a widow with two daughters, serves them a delicious lunch while her one-time, in-the-distant-past boyfriend cons them into visiting the church to see a well-kept–secret painting by an unknown “great artist”, for a small donation – half of which he intends to pocket himself. The fresco of St. Francis blessing the fig tree, however, is real and amazing. The plan is successful, but then comes the earthquake.
In 356 pages, Smith draws us into a tale of twisted lives lost by following their good intentions as they work and worry under the hot, Italian summer sun in dusty, dry Santo Fico. And the first miracle of revelation comes with a busload of parched English tourists who appreciate beauty where they find it, or in this case, where they are led to it. No one thinks to question the veracity of their guide’s story as they drink in the truth of a beautifully illustrated Saint Francis blessing and blessed in the shade of a fruitful fig tree.
The story unfolds as they hunt for long-lost water pipes, hidden romance is revealed, lost memories are restored, a bad girl is saved, a liar is redeemed, a priest realizes his failure at school was the miracle that led him to life serving lost souls in Santo Fico, and a blind girl sees the light of day for the first time, “Mama, “ Nina said, softly blinking, “is that the sun?”
Seriously, I think some talented screenwriter out there should read this book and bring out the facts on screen that truth and beauty dwell with us – even as our twisted paths of life seem to lead toward hell, and yet miraculously lead us to salvation. Who among writers can deny a real believe in miracles of salvation?
Smith, D.L. (2003). The Miracles of Santo Fico.