Convent stay helps shape angel novel

  • April 18, 2010
Danielle TrussoniTORONTO - For 132 years, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of La Crosse, Wisconsin, have upheld an unbroken practice of perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

This Catholic tradition is the unlikely inspiration for acclaimed author Danielle Trussoni’s new action-packed thriller and novel-turned-Hollywood movie Angelology.

In researching the book, the best-selling author visited a convent for divine inspiration. Trussoni’s aunt, Druscilla, now in her 90s, was a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration in Wisconsin. Trussoni spent three days at St. Rose Convent, living on the grounds, sharing meals with the Sisters, interviewing them about their lives and their vocation stories. Trussoni also observed their prayer life, much of which was spent in perpetual adoration. In the chapel, her aunt would pray for an hour before the Blessed Sacrament and then would be replaced by another Sister. The prayer would go on every hour with a different nun.

“I learned a lot about my aunt’s life. I learned about how beautiful her rituals are,” Trussoni said, noting that it’s possibly “the longest, single unbroken chain of prayer in the world.”

In the convent’s library, Trussoni discovered books about angels which sparked the inspiration for her first novel.

In Trussoni’s mythical world, the struggle between good and evil plays out between angels, humans and their offspring called the Nephilim, are powerful creatures of half-human, half-angel genealogy.

{sa 0670021474}The novel borrows its premise from a passage in Genesis 6 which refers to the children of angels and humans. In Angelology’s fictional world, these fallen angels were imprisoned by God for procreating with human females and giving birth to the Nephilim.

Centuries later, the society of angelologists was born to uncover the secrets about angels and find an ancient treasure.

Trussoni said she had already envisioned the key locations for the book, which include New York, Paris and Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains. But it was only when she read the books on angels in the convent that she knew the story she wanted to write.

The 464-page thriller follows the adventures of the central character Evangeline, a young Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration who becomes entangled in the secret society’s dangerous quest.

During her stay at the convent, Trussoni said she admired the Sisters’ restraint and discipline in living in community and working together for a “common cause,” which includes community outreach.

In writing the book, Trussoni said she changed her perception about angels. It makes a distinction between “good” and “bad” angels who represent the good and evil forces in the world.

From the stereotypical “Hallmark card” image of cute, fluffy and harmless cherubs, Trussoni came to see angels as “more majestic” after consulting the Bible and books written by medieval experts.

In the novel, the mythical Nephilim can be seen as a “scapegoat for evil.” Her fictional book is, in some ways, providing an imaginative explanation for the manifestation of evil, Trussoni said.

“I think all of us try to explain the evil things that have happened in history and are happening now. So, for me, it’s really my imagination’s way of explaining some of that,” she told The Catholic Register.

As for what’s next for Trussoni (whose first book was the critically acclaimed memoir Falling through the Earth), there’s a sequel to Angelology called Angelopolis and an upcoming Hollywood movie based upon Angelology. Will Smith’s production company will produce the film and Marc Forster, director  of Quantum of Solace (part of the James Bond series), is directing the soon-to-be-completed movie.

On spirituality, Trussoni, 36, said she grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school. Since that time, she’s said she’s embarked upon a process of soul-searching and openness to different spiritual traditions.

“I’m meditating on what spirituality is and how to communicate with something beyond myself,” Trussoni said, “and I think that’s one reason why angels became so fascinating for me.”

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