Two men clad in a monsignor’s signature black and scarlet glided slowly across the Piazza di Circo Neoniani, past the Swiss Guard and the Italian gendarmes, murmuring devoutly and certainly not turning their heads to scout for Gestapo soldiers. “Mind now, me boy, walk slowly … none of that parade ground strut! Keep your head bowed, and pray all the time. If you don’t know any prayers, keep your lips moving anyway!” Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty had lent his spare cassock, and now was lending his urgent advice to Major Sam Derry of the British Royal Artillery, thrice-escaped prisoner of war and now another O’Flaherty conspirator.

Meet the man known as the “Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican.”