Letters of Maria Celeste:
15 October 1633
Most Beloved Lord Father
The wine from San Miniato has still not arrived, and so I wrote three days ago to Signor Geri, who responded that he would try to learn from Signor Aggiunti the cause of this delay. I have not heard anything more as yet, because this week I have missed the opportunity to send Geppo to Florence, as he was, and still is, at San Casciano with Master Giulio Ninci, who fell ill many days ago, and because there was no one to care for him, Master Alessandro sought me out to ask if I would grant them our boy's help for a while, which request I knew not how to deny. When the Canon sends someone to collect the money for the wine, I will carry out your orders, Sire.
Signor Gherardini was here recently to visit his relative, Suor Elisabetta, and had me called as well to give me news of you, Sire. He shows himself to be enormously fond of you; and he told me that ever since he spoke to you peace has entered his heart, which formerly had been ruled by uncertainty and anxiety over your trials. May it please Blessed God that the final decree regarding your return does not postpone it longer than we hope, so that you may enjoy, in addition the comfort of your own home, the conversation of this impressively accomplished young man.
But meanwhile I take endless pleasure in hearing how ardently Monsignor Archbishop perseveres in loving you and favoring you. Nor do I suspect in the slightest that you are crossed out, as you say, de libro viventium [from the book of the living,] certainly not throughout most of the world, and not even in your own country: on the contrary it seems to me from what I hear that while you may have been eclipsed or erased very briefly, now you are restored and renewed, which is a thing that stupefies me, because I am well aware that ordinarily: Nemo Propheta acceptus in patria sua [No prophet is accepted in his own country] (I fear that my wanting to use the Latin phrase has perhaps made me utter some barbarism). And surely, Sire, here at the convent you are also beloved and esteemed more than ever; for all this may the Lord God be praised, as He is the principal source of these graces, which I consider my own reward, and thus I have no other desire but to show gratitude for them, so that His Divine Majesty may continue to concede other graces to you, Sire, and to us as well, but above all your health and eternal blessing. Suor Luisa is confined to bet with a slight fever, yet the pains have abated appreciably, and we hope that she will be freed of them completely with the help of good medicaments, which, if they are not as sweet to the taste as the wine you are drinking, under these circumstances they are more useful and necessary. The moment I saw the six wheels of cheese, I allocated half of them to you, Sire, but I did not write as much to you because I wanted this to be a matter of action more than words: and truly the taste is something scrumptious, and I am eating a little more than I should.
I sent the letter to Tordo [a craftsman who made telescope lenses for Galileo] via our steward, who learned from the man's wife that he is in the hospital taking the wood cure, thus it is no wonder you have not heard a response from him. [The purification treatment by wood-drawn water typically took thirty or forty days.]
I have always wanted to know how to make those Sienese cakes that everyone raves about; now that All Saints' Day is approaching, you will have the occasion, Sire, to let me see them, I do not say "taste" them so as not to sound gluttonous: you are further obliged (because of the promise you made me) to send me some of that strong reddish linen yarn which I would like to use to start preparing some little Christmas gift for Galileino, whom I adore because Signor Geri tells me that, beyond being the namesake, the boy also has the spirit of his grandfather.
Suor Polissena received an answer to the letter you helped direct to her niece, Sire, and she also got a scudo, for which she thanks you in the enclosed: she prays for your eternal blessing, and sends you her regards, as do Madonna and our usual friends.
Signor Rondinelli has not shown his face here for a fortnight, because, from what I hear, he is drowning in a little wine which he had put in two kegs that are turning bad and giving him great grief.
I told La Piera to do some digging in the garden, so that she would be able to sow, or, to be more precise, set the broad beans.
A worker just arrived from Signor Niccolò Cini, who writes me four lines right on the same letter you wrote to him, Sire, informing me of the value of this wine, which was 19 lire per mule load and 2 lire for the carrying, 59 lire in all, and I remitted that amount. I have also written a short note to His Honor to thank him.
Nothing else weighs on me at the moment to tell you; rather I recall something I want to ask you, which is that I really must know whether Doctor Ronconi ever wrote back to you, for if he has not, I want to scold him about that the very next time I see him. May the Lord God be with you always.
From San Matteo in Arcetri, the 15th day of October 1633.
Most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden