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Letters of Maria Celeste:

3 September 1633

Most Beloved Lord Father

Hearing the discussion of your going into the countryside brings me pleasure for your sake, Sire, knowing as I do how much the rural lifestyle both suits and delights you, though I am sorry for us, seeing that your return will be further delayed: but may it all turn out as you wish, for as long as the grace of blessed God keeps you healthy and happy, all the other problems are tolerable, rather they become gentle and enjoyable with the hope I cherish that on account of these mortifications sent to you and to us by the Lord God, in His supreme wisdom, you stand ready to draw great good from them through His mercy.

The disgrace of the wine was a blow for you, Sire, and I am prepared to call it an even worse one for us, because, had you come upon well conditioned casks, we would never have come to drink a drop of their contents, and even from the one you left newly tapped we took very little, since it quickly grew too fiery to suit us, and that little of the white, after waiting too long for you, Sire, became vinegar: there are six flasks in the house left over from the wine we sold, and this is good enough for the servants: the remainder from the first cask was discarded because that wine had gone completely sour, and I did not want them to drink it: until your new vintage is ready they will need to buy wine by the flask, and I will implore Signor Rondinelli to direct Geppo where to go to find the variety most appropriate for them.

The little mule has been provided with three loads of extremely good straw, for which we paid seven lire and four crazie each; fodder this year was simply unavailable, not to mention that it does not satisfy the dear creature.

A long time ago I sent the boy to retrieve the clock, but the Maestro would not give it to him, saying that he wanted to wait until you came back, Sire; yesterday I sent word again to tell him to return it in any case, and he said that first he needed to look it over again, and so he will, and if per chance he should still not release it, I will order the boy to stop in with Signor Rondinelli.

Lord Father, I must inform you that I am a blockhead, indeed the biggest one in this part of Italy, because seeing how you wrote of sending me seven "Buffalo eggs" I believed them truly to be eggs, and planned to make a huge omelet, convinced that such eggs would be very grand indeed, and in so doing I made a merry time for Suor Luisa, who laughed long and hard at my foolishness. Tomorrow morning, which will be Sunday, the boy will go to San Casciano to pick up the packages, as you ordered, Sire; meanwhile I offer my thanks for all the things that you say are in them.

When you return here, Sire, you will not find Signor Donato Gherardini, rector of Santa Margherita and brother of our Suor Lisabetta, because he died two days ago, and as yet we do not know who will succeed him. Suor Polissena Vinta had wanted to know if, among the several well-known relief efforts being undertaken where you are, any help has been forthcoming from Signor Cavalier Emilio Piccolomini, the son of Captain Carlo who was married to the niece of our same Suor Polissena; who, in order to be able to commend this man to the Lord in her prayers, wants to discover several facts through your help, Sire, since many things that are said of him are simply incredible; nor can one believe them to be aught but lies and fables spawned by rumor.

I made sure that the two letters you enclosed were forwarded immediately to

their rightful recipients; more I cannot tell you if not that, when I receive your letters, I no sooner read them than I begin looking for another courier to come bearing still more of them, and especially now that I await certain words from Rome.

The Mother Abbess, Signor Rondinelli, and all the others return your regards doubled, Sire, and from Blessed God I pray that you receive an abundance of Heavenly grace.

Your most affectionate daughter,
S. Maria Celeste

1995 Al Van Helden
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