Rome, 1221. On the death of Dominic Guzman, founder of the Order of Dominican Friars, a list of three names is locked away with the depositions attesting to Dominic's beatification, and a copy is sealed in an icon of the Virgin Mary that is eventually carried to New France.
This list is the thread that binds the fates of ordinary people caught up in the grand sweep of historical events. The Madonna List traces the lives of two nineteenth-century men across three continents, where each finds himself intertwined with a woman who has been visited by the Virgin Mary.
Bernad Birous is an ambitious and arrogant young Genoan of the merchant class who desires to use the power of the Church to serve his worldly aims, and who comes to believe that he is the chosen of God. Martin Goyette is a young artist from the rural parishes of Lower Canada who becomes enmeshed in the doomed Lower Canada Rebellion of 1838. Their very different lives are drawn together in a penal colony in New South Wales (Australia), where fortune, ambition, and faith determine their fates. A web of mystery, violence, love, betrayal, and tragedy finally leaves one man standing and one broken when the shattering secret of The Madonna List is revealed.