Letters of Maria Celeste:
26 February 1633
Most Illustrious and Beloved Lord Father
Your letter written on the 10th of February was delivered to me on the 22nd of the same month, and by now I assume you must have received another letter of mine, Sire, along with one from our Father Confessor, and through these you will have learned some of the details you wanted to know; and seeing that still no letters have come giving us definite news of your arrival in Rome (and you can imagine, Sire, with what eagerness I in particular anticipate those letters), I return to write to you again, so that you may know how anxiously I live, while awaiting word from you, and also to send you the enclosed legal notice, which was delivered to your house, 4 or 5 days ago, by a young man, and accepted by Signor Francesco Rondinelli, who, in giving it to me, advised me that it must be paid, without waiting for some more offensive insult from the creditor, telling me that one could not disobey such an order in any manner, and offering to handle the matter himself. This morning I gave him the 6 scudi, which he did not want to pay to Vincenzio* but chose to deposit the money with the magistrate until you have told him, Sire, what you want him to do. Signor Francesco is indeed a most pleasant and discreet person, and he never stops declaiming his gratefulness to you, Sire, for allowing him the use of your house. I heard from La Piera that he treats her and Giiuseppe with great kindness, even in regard to their food; and I provide for the rest of their needs, Sire, according to your directions. The boy tells me that this Easter he will need shoes and stockings, which I plan to knit for him out of thick, coarse cotton or else from fine wool. La Piera maintains that you have often spoken to her about ordering a bale of linen, on which account I refrained from buying the small amount I would need to begin weaving the thick cloth for your kitchen, as I had meant to do, Sire, and I will not make the purchase unless I hear otherwise from you.
The vines in the garden will take nicely now that the Moon is right, at the hands of Giuseppe's father, who they say is capable enough, and also Signor Rondinelli will lend his help. The lettuce I hear is quite lovely, and I have entrusted Giuseppe to take it to be sold at market before it spoils.
From the sale of 70 bitter oranges came 4 lire, a very respectable price, from what I understand, as that fruit has few uses: Portuguese oranges are selling for 14 crazie* per 100 and you had 200 that were sold. As for that barrel of newly-tapped wine you left, Sire, Signor Rondinelli takes a little for himself every evening, and meanwhile he makes improvements to the wine, which he says is coming along extremely well. What little of the old wine that was left I had decanted into flasks, and told La Piera that she and Giuseppe could drink it when they had finished their small cask, since we of late have had reasonably good wine from the convent, and, being in good health, have hardly taken a drop. I continue to give one giulio** every Saturday to La Brigida, and I truly consider this an act of charity well deserved, as she is so exceedingly needy and such a very good girl.
Suor Luisa, God bless her, fares somewhat better, and is still purging, and having understood from your last letter, Sire, how concerned you were over her illness out of your regard for her, she thanks you with all her heart; and while you declare yourself united with me in loving her, Sire, she on the other hand claims to be the paragon of this emotion, nor do I mind granting her that honor, since her affection stems from the same source as yours, and it is myself; wherefore I take pride in and prize this most delicious contest of love, and the more clearly I perceive the greatness of that love you both bear me, the more bountiful it grows for being mutually exchanged between the very two persons I love and revere above everyone and everything in this life.
Tomorrow will be 13 days since the death of our Suor Virginia Canigiani, who was already gravely ill when I last wrote to you, Sire, and since then a malevolent fever has stricken Suor Maria Grazia del Pace, the eldest of the three nuns who play the organ, and teacher of the Squarcialupi codex, a truly tranquil and good nun; and since the doctor has already given her up for dead, we are all beside ourselves, grieving over our loss. This is everything I need to tell you for the moment, and as soon as I receive your letters (which must surely have arrived at Pisa by now where the Bocchineri gentlemen are) I will write again. Meanwhile I send you the greetings of my heart together with our usual friends, and particularly Suor Arcangela, Signor Rondinelli and Doctor Ronconi, who begs me for news of you every time he comes here. May the Lord God bless you and keep you happy always.
From San Matteo, the 26th day of February 1633.*
Most affectionate daughter,
Signor Rondinelli, having this very moment returned
from Florence, tells me he spoke to the Chancellor of the Advisors and
learned that the 6 scudi must be paid to Vincenzio Landucci and not be
deposited, and this will be done; I submitted to this decision reluctantly,
*On the Florentine calendar the new year began on 25 March.
©1995 Al Van Helden