I first read The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas about 10 years ago; a friend loaned me her copy when I promised on my life to return it. I bought a copy on Amazon the other day, and spent all afternoon on the couch happily wandering through Galilee and Capri and the Roman countryside in my imagination.
It's the story of Tribune Marcellus Gallio, the Roman solder who wins the robe of Jesus at the crucifixion. He is deeply affected by his part in the crucifixion of an innocent man and sets off on a journey across the Roman Empire to learn more about the man whose death he regrets. I love, love, love historical fiction and I love, love, love this book.
There are so many characters in history that we don't know enough about, and I often find myself wondering about these people who only get a sentence or two in history. I love reading what someone has imagined their lives to be like--and I so enjoy reading all the historical details that make it all come to life. Every once in a while I come across someplace I've been in books like this (the island of Capri!) and wish I could go back with the historical knowledge gained from books and see it with new eyes.
This book was also made into a movie in 1953 (I haven't seen it in years, but just ordered a copy!) that starred Richard Burton and won lots of Academy Awards. It was the first movie to be filmed in cinemascope (I think that's right). It's very much along the lines of Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra--grand scenes, huge cast, wonderful costumes, a little campy, but so fun to watch.
If you're looking for something to read, see if your library has a copy. It's well worth it!