Letters of Maria Celeste:
11 March 1631
Most Illustrious and Beloved Lord Father
Your letter brought me deep distress for many reasons, Sire, and primarily because it bears the news of Uncle Michelangelo's death, for which I feel so sorry, not only over the loss of him, but also anticipating the burden that consequently must fall on you, which I truly fear will not be the lightest to bear among your other considerable worries, or, to say it better, tribulations.
But, since blessed God lavishes upon you His gifts of long life and great ability, Sire, far more generously than He favored your brother or sisters, it is only fitting that you expend the one and bend the other to the absolute power of His Divine Majesty, who is our Master. Thus if you had some expedient for Vincenzio [her cousin], then, by his earning an income, your difficulties and expenses would be lightened, Sire, while at the same time his opportunities for venting his grief could be curtailed.
Please, my lord father, since you were born and kept in this world for the benefit of so many, endeavor to put your own son first ahead of all these others; I speak of finding a means to ease his way. Because, as for the rest of your dealings with him, I know that no recommendations are needed, but on this particular matter I speak for your ears only, Sire, compelled by my own yearning to hear that you are at peace and joined in union with our Vincenzio and his wife, and that you all live together in tranquility. I have no doubt that this will come to pass, if you will do him this additional kindness, so strongly desired by him, as I know from the many times I have talked to him about it.
I am further disturbed over my inability to help you as I would like in the matter of taking custody here of La Virginia, for whom I feel such fondness, considering all the sweet relief and diversion she has been to you, Sire. However I know that our superiors have declared themselves totally opposed to our admitting young girls, either as nuns or as charges, because the extreme poverty of our Convent, with which you are well acquainted, Sire, makes it a struggle to sustain those of us who are already here, without the addition of new mouths to feed. This being the most likely response, and also the general rule regarding relatives and outsiders, I could not dare to propose such a thing to Madonna or the other elders. Be assured that I suffer great anguish in disappointing you on this score, but in the end I see no alternative.
It also upsets me greatly to learn that you find yourself in poor health; and if I were allowed, how willingly I would take your burdens on my shoulders. But since that is impossible, I shall not fail to pray, for you more than for myself. Thus may it please the Lord to hear my prayer. My health is good enough for me to observe Lent, with the hope of seeing it through to the end, so that you must abandon all thoughts of sending me any more treats for Carnival, Sire. I thank you for those you have already sent, and to close I offer you loving greetings with all my heart together with Suor Arcangela and our friends.
From San Matteo, the 11th day of March 1630.*
Most affectionate daughter,
If you have no one to whom you can give your leftover meat, Sire, I will be very happy to have it, as I so appreciated it last time. Thus, if you were to have the opportunity, you could send me more of it sometime.
*On the Florentione calendar the new yead began on 25 March
©1995 Al Van Helden