The Miracle at Assisi Hill

Fiction - Mystery - Sleuth
347 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2023
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Author Biography

Pat Camalliere is the author of the popular, five-star-rated Cora Tozzi Historical Mystery Series. She lives with her husband in Lemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where her stories are based. She serves on the board of the Lemont Public Library District and volunteers at the Lemont Historical Society, where she directs the society’s archives. She is a member of the Chicago Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and the Society of Midland Authors. She speaks locally on a variety of historical topics and to writers’ groups, and writes a blog that features unique history stories. Visit her at, or email her at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

The Miracle at Assisi Hill by Pat Camalliere invites us to dive into the intricacies of riddles. Cora Tozzi, an archivist with a historical background, visits a convent of Franciscan sisters, Assisi Hill, situated in Lemont, near Chicago. Cora was about to assist Sister Lorita, the Provincial Superior of the order, in writing its history. This important work had been delayed because of Cora's battle with tongue cancer. Now, she finally finds a couple of weeks to spend in the convent while her beloved husband, Cisco, is supposed to vacation in Arizona and play golf. But working on the book is not her sole purpose for staying in the convent - Cora has doubts regarding her faith. She hopes to find answers and meet an old friend, a mysterious Sister Maryam, who hides her own secrets. Soon Cora will find out about Mother Mary Josepha, a local saint-to-be, to unravel an old mystery while Cisco will get very ill. Isolated in the convent as the world is horrified by the emerging pandemic, Cora is desperate to reach a solution as soon as possible.

The main theme of The Miracle at Assisi Hill is compassion. Pat Camalliere developed a plethora of wonderful characters that showed us the true meaning of compassion, kindness, and care for others. Cora speaks her heart, letting us know her innermost thoughts. Pat brilliantly paints a portrait of a workaholic suspecting that the disaster with her husband is somehow her fault. There is also Mother Josepha or Josie, a workaholic of a different kind, who humbly dedicates her life to those less fortunate, or Sister Maryam, a simple girl loving Our Lady all her life to become a part of a great mystery. Pat creates an authentic atmosphere for the religious institution and its surroundings. Also, she demonstrates the finest details of the research work and surprises with many breathtaking twists in the plot. Those of us doubting our faith will find The Miracle at Assisi Hill a helpful and friendly guide free of religious moralizing on our way toward important answers. I believe that aspiring Catholics would get much valuable information regarding the procedures of beatification and canonization. An exceptional writing style and amazingly error-free. I highly recommend The Miracle at Assisi Hill by Pat Camalliere, the fourth in the series, to fans of historical fiction, mysteries, crime, or family dramas.

Jamie Michele

The Miracle at Assisi Hill by Pat Camalliere is a Christian mysticism novel that revolves around a contemporary writer and dilettante historian named Cora Tozzi, who embeds herself in the cloisters of the sprawling Catholic community among the sisters of Assisi Hill. Cora has come after a bout of cancer in the hopes of bringing an uncertain heart back into the folds of faith. She is also there to write a book and soon learns that the literary path initially intended does not cover even a fraction of what the convent, its surroundings and nuns, both past and present, carry within. A 19th-century Servant of God, the late Mother Mary Josepha “Josie” Mrozek, is being championed for canonization at the convent and stories are being collected to present to the Congregation of the Causes of Saint. A nun named Sister Maryam communes with an apparition that Cora sees only as a fog, and as she searches for answers, the story of Mother Josepha and her adopted daughter Katy begins to reveal itself to her.

I loved that the setting of The Miracle at Assisi Hill is at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and that its impact even within the convent is felt. With her husband in the hospital following a stroke and the inability of Cora to get to him due to visitor restrictions, even if getting on a plane was possible, the pieces that click into place feel like they are fated. Blue masks are mandated in the convent about 2/3rds of the way through the story and I viewed the parallels between the covering of mouths and the secrets of Assisi Hill as beautifully nuanced. Cora creates a journal as a means of voicing Josie's history and the transitions between the 1800s and a modern, global catastrophe complement each other well. Cora is, of course, going through a crisis of faith and this is written with compassion by Pat Camalliere and with empathy from the sisters of Assisi. It's refreshing that she is neither being preached to nor made to feel like something is wrong with her. Instead, she is prayed for. “You’re suffering, not only from worry and sorrow but from doubt. You don’t know if God will answer your prayers. But I have faith, so let me pray along with you.” Overall, this is a fantastic novel that is wholly engrossing and Camalliere has just roped in a new fan. Very highly recommended.

Asher Syed

In The Miracle at Assisi Hill by Pat Camalliere, a cancer survivor named Cora Tozzi is unable to reconcile her faith with what she's endured and decides to spend a couple of weeks for some R&R in a convent. In this case, R&R isn't rest and relaxation, but reconnection and research. Cora needs to reconnect to the umbilical cord of faith and research for a book assignment in the works. She finds that the complexes around Assisi Hill are described as more of a small town than a convent and chapels and are the heartbeat of the Catholic body in the area. Her time raises more questions than it answers and Cora takes a leading part in uncovering the story of a nun that has the possibility of rising to sainthood, but is simultaneously pushed into the role of a backseat passenger when her husband's health spirals.

When I started reading The Miracle at Assisi Hill, I first believed that the sole witness to a miracle in the making would be Sister Maryam, the only person that Mother Mary Josepha Mrozek came to in a visible form. Pat Camalliere surprised me with a 'hold my cane' twist that I did not expect at all, and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful moments I've experienced in contemporary literature. Sometimes having faith restored is a miracle in itself. We can only trust that no matter where we stand and no matter what blocks us from the wellness of mind, body and spirit, it is not in our own hands. There is a plan and it will be revealed in God's time, and God's time only. More surprising still is that even when there is no question that Mother Josepha is capable of miracles, Cora doesn't miraculously fall back in line straight away. It would be easy for Camalliere to tie the story up then and there but what makes Camalliere special as an author is that she fleshes out an entire story, she does not simply end it. Cora's heart aches for a different miracle and without it, she's only one healed half of a pairing she needs to make whole.