Letters of Maria Celeste:
3 October 1633
Most Beloved Lord Father
Saturday I wrote to you, Sire, and Sunday, thanks to Signor Gherardini [a young admirer, and later biographer, of Galileo, who was related to Suor Elisabetta], your letter was delivered to me, through which, learning of the hope you hold out for your return, I am consoled, as every hour seems a thousand years to me while I await that promised day when I shall see you again; and hearing that you continue to enjoy your well-being only doubles my desire to experience the manifold happiness and satisfaction that will come from watching you return to your own home and moreover in good health.
I would surely not want you to doubt my devotion, for at no time do I ever leave off commending you with all my soul to blessed God, because you fill my heart, Sire, and nothing matters more to me than your spiritual and physical well-being. And to give you some tangible proof of this concern, I tell you that I succeeded in obtaining permission to view your sentence, the reading of which, though on the one hand it grieved me wretchedly, on the other hand it thrilled me to have seen it and found in it a means of being able to do you good, Sire, in some very small way; that is by taking upon myself the obligation you have to recite one time each week the seven psalms, and I have already begun to fulfill this requirement and to do so with great relish, first because I believe that prayer accompanied by the claim of obedience to Holy Church is effective, and then, too, to relieve
you of this care. Therefore had I been able to substitute myself in the rest of your punishment, most willingly would I elect a prison even more confining than this one in which I dwell, if by so doing I could set you at liberty. Now we have come this far, and the many favors we have already received give us hope of having still others bestowed on us, provided that our faith is accompanied by good works, for, as you know better than I, Sire, fides sine operibus mortua est [faith without work is lifeless].
My dear Suor Luisa continues to fare badly, and because of the pains and spasm that afflict her right side, from the shoulder to the hip, she can hardly bear to stay in bed, but sits up on a chair day and night: the doctor told me the last time he came to visit her that he suspected she had an ulcer in her kidney, and that if this were her problem it would be incurable; the worst thing of all for me is to see her suffer without being able to help her at all, because my remedies bring her no solace.
Yesterday they put the funnels in the six barrels of rose wine, and all that remains now is to refill the cask. Signor Rondinelli was there, just as he also attended the harvesting of the grapes, and told me that the must was fermenting vigorously so that he hoped it would turn out well, though there is not a lot of it; I do not yet know exactly how much. This is all that for now in great haste I am able to tell you. I send you loving regards on behalf of our usual friends, and pray the Lord to bless you.
From San Matteo in Arcetri, the 3rd day of October 1633.
Most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden