This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday, 6 February 2020

The mysteries of the Vatican

The Eccles Detective Agency always tries to maintain the confidentiality of its clients, so that we are unable to reveal the identity of the elderly man who summoned us this week, asking us to solve certain mysteries that were bothering him.

Benedict and cat

Our unknown client "B".

"Eccles," said our client. "I have always relied on your advice. So can you tell me, where's Gänswein? Usually he comes to see me every day, but recently he's disappeared without trace. Also, I've received an anonymous note saying 'If you want to see Georg alive, then stop insisting that you were an author of From the Depths of Our Hearts.' Clearly, they are trying to silence Georg. Can you find him for me?"

"I'll do my best, Holy Father, er, I mean B." I said. Curiously, in passing through the Vatican dungeons earlier, I had seen someone who looked strangely like the missing archbishop. Could it be he?

torture chamber

See if you can spot Gänswein, Viganò, Tschugguel...

"Also, see what you can find out about the mysterious Chinese woman who was slapped by Pope Francis. Someone looking a bit like her has just turned up (with her bodyguard this time) to be reconciled with the Holy Father. Is it the same lady? If so, why has she aged 10 years? What did she want to talk to him about? Could she perhaps be a secret agent in the pay of the New Chinese Communist Catholic Church?"

Chinese lady and Pope

"Could you answer some Dubia for me, please?"

That was going to be a difficult task. The only Chinaman I had ever seen in the Vatican was dear little I-va Ree, the court jester. But I promised to do what I could. There came one final question.

B showed me a particularly ugly-looking postage stamp that he had been given. "And what in Heaven's name is this? Is it a rejected sketch from the British graffiti-artist Banksy? The Vatican is full of beautiful works of art dating back hundreds of years, so why do they put this ugly thing on a stamp? Who is it supposed to be, and why does he have the words "JUST USE IT" on his robe?"

I could see that to solve this mystery I would need to call on my knowledge of morbid psychology, as much as anything else. It did remind me of the first time that the British Christmas stamps had been designed by unskilled children, rather than anyone who knew the first thing about art. Could there be an explanation here?

ugly stamps

Don't give the Vatican ideas!

The investigations continue.


  1. This conspiracy needs to be stamped on straightaway!

  2. Eccles, U saying they turned the monsignor into a cat?! That's one mighty magic sterium!

  3. Confidential File: Chief Inspector Endeavor Eccles

    I spy Georgy Guy
    in high dudgeon
    in lowest dungeon
    Hoist with his own petard
    From Francis favor fallen hard
    Now new Inquisition crew
    Gives the last turn of the screw.

  4. Holmes pondered a while and then cranked the phone.

    "Mr Wells, good evening! Yes, I need to borrow your time machine again. Yes, Rome February 2020…"

    A few hours later (by their reckoning) the cardinal, the detective and Wells had travelled forward in time by more than a century, and were standing in front of St Peter's.

    "I think we should start with the dungeons," remarked Wells. One never knows what one will find in a Romish dungeon".

    "It affords me great amusement," said JHN, "the machinations that outsiders ascribe to us poor papists. Still, these days, one never knows indeed! But I believe you have given me a clue."

    He led Wells and Holmes through a succession of streets, and knocked at an unmarked door. A security guard opened the door, smiled when he recognized the cardinal and beckoned them to enter. The cardinal then led them through various empty corridors and then down several flights of stairs. By then they were well underground. He opened a door and led them into a dimly lit windowless room.

    The room was the size of a large living room. It held an assortment of threadbare mismatched furniture, a pool table, a battered upright piano, and an antiquated CRT television with the sound turned down and displaying a fuzzy image of Thanos. In the corner was a fridge, a sink, a dispenser for hot and cold water and a coffee machine. A crudely lettered sign said WASH YOUR OWN DISHES.

    "At the time of the Amazon synod, I used to come down here from time to time to escape from the madness upstairs. Benedict would meet me here on Friday afternoon, and we would practice Beethoven's Spring Sonata- myself on violin, and Benedict on that old upright. A bit out of tune but serviceable. And now, do you hear that soft snoring? If you go to that armchair which has its back to us, I believe you will find the missing bishop, fallen asleep while watching Endgame."