Letters of Maria Celeste:
22 March 1629
Most Beloved Lord Father
We are truly perfectly pleased with the bride, as she is cordial and gracious; but above all else what makes us most happy is the recognition of the love she bears you, Sire, because we can readily see that she will be eager to perform all those services for you that we would undertake if we were permitted to. Not that we will ever stop doing our part on your behalf, by which I mean that we will continually commend you to the Lord God, because we are overwhelmingly committed to you, not only as daughters, but as the abandoned orphans we would be, Sire, if not for you. Oh, if only I were capable of expressing to you my innermost thoughts! Then I could be certain that you would not doubt whether I loved you every bit as tenderly as ever a daughter loved a father: but I do not know how to convey these feelings to you in other words, if not by telling you that I love you more than myself: since, after God, the being I acknowledge most highly is you, and I perceive your good deeds toward me to be innumerable, so that I know I stand ever obliged and most willing, should the need arise, to risk my life in any sort of torment for your sake, except that which would offend His Divine Majesty.
Please, Sire, pardon me if I drive you to boredom by going on at such length, since sometimes I am transported by emotion. I did not set out to write you of these notions, but only to ask you if you could return the clock Saturday evening, as the sacristan who calls us to Matins would very much like to have it; but if you cannot, on account of the short time it has been in your hands, Sire, do not concern yourself: for it will be better to keep us waiting a little longer, if that is what you need to have it running properly again.
I would also like to know if you would be interested in making an exchange with us, namely to take back the guitar you gave us several years ago, and give us each a new breviary; as the ones we have had since the time we became nuns are all torn, these being the instruments we use every day; while the guitar is forever gathering dust and runs the risk of damage, so that I feel compelled, to avoid being rude, to send it away from here sometime soon.
If you like, Sire, give me some suggestions as to what I might send you: and as for the breviaries, we do not care whether they are gilded, but just that they contain all the newly added Saints, and that they be clearly printed, because they will serve us in our old age, should we reach that point.
I had wanted to make you some rosemary flower jam, Sire, but I am waiting for you to return one of my glass jars, because I have nothing to hold the jam; and so, if by chance you have a few empty bottles or vials lying about that are in your way, I would love to have them for the apothecary shop. And here, to close, I send you my love together with Suor Arcangela and everyone else in the room. May Our Lord keep you in His grace.
The 22nd day of March 1628.*
Most affectionate daughter,
*On the Florentine calendar the new year began on 25 March.
©1995 Al Van Helden