Letters of Maria Celeste:
19 March 1633
Most Illustrious and Beloved Lord Father
Signor Mario, with his usual kindness, sent me your letters yesterday morning. I have forwarded the two enclosed ones to their intended recipients; and I thank you for your advice about the error I had committed in my letter to her ladyship the Ambassadress, from whom I have the most courteous letter in response to mine; and among other things she tells me that she encourages you, Sire, to come and go with greater freedom in their house, indeed with the same assurance as you would enter your own, and she shows herself very concerned about your comfort and satisfaction. I am writing to them again to ask her for a favor that you will see, Sire: if it seems proper to propose this to her, I will be only too happy to do so; if not, I will conform to your wish. But truly, whether by the help of her ladyship the Ambassadress, or from you, Sire, I would dearly love to obtain this good deed, since I would like to have a gift from you upon your return, which event I surely hope will not have to be delayed much longer. I imagine there must be an abundance of good artwork available where you are, and so I would like you to bring me a small picture, about the size of the enclosed paper, in the form of a diptych that would stand open like a little prayer book, with two figures, one of which I should want to be an Ecce Homo [Jesus crucified] and the other a Madonna; but I would want each to be executed as piously and devoutly as possible. There is no need for any adornment other than a simple frame, as I intend to keep this always near me.
I believe without doubt that Signor Rondinelli must be writing to you, Sire, wherefore you would do well in your response to acknowledge the thoughtfulness he has shown us from time to time during this season of Lent, and especially because yesterday he was here to dine and he wished the two of us to join him, so that we might pass the half-way point of Lent happily, mostly for love of Suor Arcangela, who by the grace of God is finding her arm improved. The fact is, Sire, with Suor Oretta having been stricken several days ago by a catarrh in the small of her back, and thus unable to exert herself, I have had to assume most of the responsibilities of the Provider's office, and between this and my other duties, I am reduced to writing at midnight and assailing my sleep, so that I fear I may say something inappropriate. I take delight, however, in hearing that you guard your health, Sire, and I pray blessed God to keep you well. I send you regards from all our friends and also in the name of Doctor Ronconi, who often asks after you with great concern.
From San Matteo, the 19th day of March 1632.*
Most affectionate daughter,
*On the Florentine calendar the new year began on 25 March.
©1995 Al Van Helden