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World War II Art Stolen by the Nazis: The Cross of St. Cecilia

George Clooney’s fascinating new film, “Monuments Men,” explores the Allied Forces mission to retrieve art masterpieces stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

But what if a sacred relic from a saint was also in danger of falling into Nazi hands?

© Ruzanna Arutyunyan |

© Ruzanna Arutyunyan |

Here’s the backstory of the Cross of Saint Cecilia from my recent post as it appears in my romance novella, A Soldier’s Italian Christmas

“A strange tale about a sacred cross that protects its wearer from harm in battle. A gift to the Church from a noble crusader grateful to have been spared during the siege of Constantinople. On his deathbed, he gave it to his wife to take to the Vatican in Rome, but she never completed her journey. She sought refuge in the monastery during a storm but she later died. According to the legend, she gave the cross to the abbot for safekeeping, but he wanted the artifact for himself and poisoned her. He hid the relic in a secret place on the hill, but he was later exiled for his black deeds. No one has ever been to find the exact spot where he hid the cross.”

In Excerpt No. 5, Sister Angelina is being interrogated by the Nazi major seeking the cross. He’s commandeered the monastery for his headquarters. She prays the handsome American, Captain Mack O’Casey, will find her…


*****Spoiler this scene appears later in the novella


“Where is the Cross of St. Cecilia?”

“I don’t know.” He [the major] pushed his knee between her legs, making her squirm, and then ripped her sleeve, exposing her bare shoulder. She backed away from him, crossing her arms over her breasts. He came up behind her, grabbing her around the waist.

Please, Father in heaven, help me. She flinched when she felt the heavy cross in her pocket hit her thigh.

“I don’t believe you.” The major pulled a Luger from his holster and then pointed the pistol at her temple. She heard an unnerving click when he cocked the hammer. “Tell me where Father Tom hid the cross or you’ll meet your God before you take your next breath.”

* * * * *

By the time Mack saw the tall doors leading into the library, he was in such a heightened state of awareness he was as dangerous as a lethal weapon. Every nerve in his body on alert, every muscle wired, every thought primed for battle. He took long strides, his heavy boots making no sound. He focused solely on his mission, having forfeited the right to any emotional attachment.

Until he heard a woman scream.

Then all hell broke loose. Angelina was in the hands of that madman.

Mack checked his rifle, his ammo, keeping his breathing steady. He took a calming breath and focused on the moment, taking no time to wipe the sweat off his face. He’d only seen the inside of the library through the peephole, which meant he’d have a different perspective of the room once he was inside. Every second counted. He had to sweep the room with his eyes, take down whatever threat awaited him, and find the girl. The situation was fluid, uncontrollable, and he had no backup until Sergeant Duffy got back here to bring up the rear.

Even as he calculated his next move, Mack kept an ear open for the sound of her voice, her scream telling him Angelina was still alive. The idea of that bastard hurting her caused such feverish agitation in his soul he had to rely on his training to get the job done. God knows, his mind was reeling with crazy thoughts that could get them both killed if he made a mistake.

Rifle raised, finger on the trigger, Mack kicked open the library doors.

Holy shit.

The sight that greeted him turned his guts inside out.

His beautiful Angelina was a prisoner of the Nazi. She attempted to hold up her torn bodice, her pale, creamy shoulder exposed, her hair hanging to her waist. Death stared her in the face and yet she refused to cower before the German. It scared the hell out of him.

The major pointed his Luger at her head.

© Gary Blakeley |

© Gary Blakeley |


Will Mack save his beautiful Sister Angelina? Check back for Excerpt No. 6 in A Soldier’s Italian Christmas


Also, here’s an extended video excerpt from Chapter One of A Soldier’s Italian Christmas.” I used beautiful photos from to put it together with my voiceover and music by Kevin MacLeod

Cover Design by Ramona Lockwood

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