Letters of Maria Celeste:
23 October 1623
Most Illustrious and Beloved Lord Father
If I wanted to thank you with words, Sire, for these recent presents you sent us, I could not imagine how to begin to fully express our debt, and what is more, I believe that such a display of gratitude would not even please you, for, as kind and good as you are, you would prefer true thankfulness of the spirit from us over any demonstration of speeches or ceremonies. We will therefore serve you better if we apply what we do best, and by that I mean prayer, in seeking to recognize and make recompense for this and all the other innumerable, and even far greater gifts that we have received from you.
I had asked you for six yards of material, expecting to work some narrow stuff inside out and upside down, and not this expensive bolt of flannel, so large and beautiful, which will be more than enough for making the winter undergarments.
I leave you to imagine what delight I derive from reading the continuous stream of letters you send me; when I see how affectionately you share these with me, Sire, and how you enjoy making me aware of all the favors bestowed upon you by the great lords, this alone is enough to fill me to the brim with happiness. No wonder the news that you must leave so soon seems a bit harsh to me, as it means being deprived of you, and I worry that this separation will be a long one, if I am not mistaken. And you can believe me, Sire, because I always speak the truth, that, other than you, I have no one else in this world who can console me; yet it is for this very reason that I do not grieve over your departure, any more than I would grieve over your good fortune; on the contrary, I will cheer myself, and pray and continue to pray all the while for Our Lord to grant you the soundness of body and mind to undertake this journey most prosperously, so that with the greatest contentment you can later return to us, and live happily here for many more years: may all this that I hope for you come to pass with the help of God.
I want to offer you a good word on behalf of our poor brother, although I may be speaking out of turn, yet I beseech you to forgive him his mistake this time, blaming his youth as the real cause for his committing such a blunder, which, being his first, merits pardon: I therefore entreat you once again to take him with you to Rome, and there, where you will not lack for opportunities, you can give your son the guidance that your paternal duty and all your natural goodness and loving tenderness seek to provide him.
Because I fear I may be prattling on, I will stop writing now, though I will never stop striving to remain in your good graces. And I must remind you that you still owe us the visit you have been promising for so long. Suor Arcangela and the others in the room send you a thousand regards.
From San Matteo, the 23rd day of October.
Most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden