Letters of Maria Celeste:
21 July 1630
Most Beloved Lord Father
The very moment I was thinking of writing you a list of lamentations upon your long absence, or delay in visiting me, Sire, your loving tenderness is made manifest to me, locking my lips against complaint. I suppose I only accuse myself of being too shy and distrustful, whenever I suspect that the love you demonstrate to those in your presence, Sire, could diminish and degrade that which you bear us who are absent. I see very well that such thoughts display a vile and cowardly spirit, because with generosity I would have to persuade myself that, just as I could never cede to another in the matter of loving you, thus must you love us your daughters more than anyone else you might meet face to face; but I believe that my apprehension springs from my own lack of merit; and this explanation will have to suffice for now.
We are sorry to learn of your illness, and truly, Sire, this was the inevitable outcome of your having traveled about in the hot weather that oppresses us: I was rather astonished to hear how you were going to Florence every day. I beg you therefore to take a few days of rest, and not rush yourself here for a visit, because your health is even more dear to us than the sight of you.
Meanwhile please see if by chance you have a rosary you could bring me, for I would like to send one to my Lady Ortensia, as I have not written to her in a very long time, just as I have also been remiss in not writing sooner to you, Sire, on account of still feeling oppressed by an extreme lassitude, such that drained me of the will even to move my pen, so to speak. But now that the heat has let up somewhat, I am feeling very well, by the grace of the Lord God, to whom I pray unceasingly for your health and well-being, Sire, as yours matters no less to me than my own.
We thank you for the wine and the fruits which we were even more delighted than usual to receive, and although we have been saving these few pieces of marzipan (12 in number) for when you came here, we are sending them now, so that they do not grow stale: the little cookies are for La Virginia. I close by sending you loving greetings from all of us including the Mother Abbess.From San Matteo, the 21st day of July 1630.
Your most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden