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Letters of Maria Celeste:

17 September 1633

Most Beloved Lord Father

I was thinking of playing a wonderful joke on you, Sire, which was to have our Geppo arrive unexpectedly on that distant doorstep; but, from what I understand, Signor Geri has foiled my plan by warning you all about it. I have had this wish ever since you got to Siena. Recently I resolved at last to carry it out, and yesterday by my good fortune a proclamation went into effect including the freeing of roadways all around the region, for so I am advised by Signor Rondinelli, who also told me he did not give away this fact in his letter, Sire, because the ruling had not yet been made public when he wrote to you. I believe that you will be happy to see the boy, to have trustworthy news of us, with an equally detailed report of the house, and we on the other hand shall be especially pleased to hear of your welfare from someone who will actually have seen you. Meanwhile you can take some time to determine your needs, be they linens or other items, and let him know, since I now have the means to send them safely.

As for the wine casks, the main subject of your letter to which I must respond, I will speak of them with Luca our worker before this evening, and implore him to go see them and take care of whatever may need to be done, because he strikes me as quite well informed in these matters.

The saffron seems perfection itself to Suor Luisa and me, and quite a bargain at two lire per ounce, owing of course to your kindness; and we have never before had any of such good quality, even at 4 giuli and 50 soldi: The linen at 20 crazie per pound is a good value, although I do not believe it pays to buy it at that price for making plain cloths for the house; I gave a bundle to La Piera, telling her to spin it very fine; we will see how it turns out: that other for 4 giuli is indeed splendid, and several nuns here say they have paid up to half a scudo per pound for this type; if you could send us a little bit more of it, Sire, we will make some beautiful wimples.

Her ladyship Maria Tedaldi was here last week with her widowed daughter, and she told me that now more than ever she longed for your return, Sire, finding herself in need of your help in the matter of remarrying that young woman, having the aim and desire to betroth her to a certain member of the Talenti family with whom she has no better contact than through you, Sire, and if via a letter you thought you might be able to give her some assistance, she would like that a great deal; all this did she press me that I must convey to you, Sire, and thus do I tell you.

I am sending you a large quantity of the golden pills so you can give some away, and the round ones for you to take yourself as you need them. I will be very happy to know if these few cakes I send along conform to your liking, though they have not turned out to my entire satisfaction, perhaps because of my wish to have everything I make for you succeed to the highest possible standards of excellence, which rarely happens for me: the candied citron morsels (which are at the bottom of the box) will perhaps by now be too hard for you, as I made them immediately after you arrived in Siena, hoping to be able to send them much sooner than this: do please save the box because it is not mine.

The list of expenses I enclose this time is much higher than the others; but it was not possible to curtail our spending. At least you will see, Sire, that Geppo does us honor with his good complexion, and has made a great effort to recover from that sickness he had. The seven lire that I have earmarked as alms I gave for love of the Most Holy Madonna the morning of her birth [8 September] to someone who was in dire need, on the condition that she say certain prayers for you, Sire.

If you go off to the villa, as I hope, in the company of Monsignore, you will more easily be able to tolerate the remoteness of your own dear little hovel, so please do try to be cheerful, and if it seems to you that the time evaporates, as I wrote in one of my letters not long ago, so too, and very soon, will vanish these days or weeks in which you must continue to stay on where you are, and then our mutual delight will be all the greater when we see each other again.

I urge you to guarantee the safe delivery of these accompanying letters, for they come from nuns who are our friends, who, together with the Mother Abbess, Suor Arcangela, and Suor Luisa, send you their loving regards; and I pray Our Lord to grant you the fulfillment of your every just desire.

From San Matteo, the 17th day of September 1633.

Most affectionate daughter,
S. Maria Celeste


I had forgotten to tell you that Suor Diamante would like to know if you can find her some material for handkerchiefs of the sort that I enclose herewith: if so, she would like you to do her the service of buying a piece, and advising her of the cost so she can repay you right away: the usual price near here would be one giulio, 10 crazie, or more, depending on the fineness; but now in Florence there is none to be had.

     
1995 Al Van Helden
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