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Letters of Maria Celeste:

8 July 1629

Most Beloved Lord Father

The discomfort I have endured ever since I came to live in this house, for want of a cell of my own, I know that you know, Sire, at least in part, and now I shall more clearly explain it to you, telling you that two or three years ago I was compelled by necessity to leave the one small cell we had, for which we paid our novice mistress (according to the custom we nuns observe) thirty-six scudi, and give it over totally to Suor Arcangela, so that (as much as possible) she could distance herself from this same mistress, who, tormented to distraction by her habitual moods, posed a threat, I feared, to Suor Arcangela, who often finds interaction with others unbearable; beyond that, Suor Arcangela's nature being very different from mine and rather eccentric, it pays for me to acquiesce to her in many things, in order to be able to live in the kind of peace and unity befitting the intense love we bear each other. As a result I spend every night in the disturbing company of the mistress (although I get through the nights easily enough with the help of the Lord, who suffers me to undergo these tribulations undoubtedly for my own good) and I pass the days practically a pilgrim, having no place whatsoever where I can retreat for one hour on my own. I do not yearn for large or very beautiful quarters, but only for a little bit of space, exactly like the tiny room that has just become available, now that a nun who desperately needs money wants to sell it; and, thanks to Suor Luisa's having spoken well on my behalf, this nun prefers me over any of the others offering to buy it. But because its price is 35 scudi, while I have only ten, which Suor Luisa [her closest friend] kindly gave me, plus the five I expect from my income, I cannot take possession of the room, and I rather fear I may lose it, Sire, if you do not assist me with the remaining amount, which is 20 scudi. I explain this need to you, Sire, with a daughter's security and without ceremony, so as not to offend that loving tenderness I have experienced so often. I will only repeat that this is of the greatest necessity, on account of my having been reduced to the state in which I find myself, and because, loving me the way that I know you love me, and desiring my happiness, you can well imagine how this step will bring me the greatest satisfaction and pleasure, of a proper and honest sort, as all I seek is a little quiet and solitude. You might tell me, Sire, that to make up the sum I require, I could avail myself of the 30 scudi of yours that the convent is still holding: to which I respond (aside from the fact that I could not lay claim to that money quickly enough in this extreme case, as the nun selling the room faces dire straits) that you promised the Mother Abbess you would not ask her for those funds until such time as the convent enjoyed some relief from the constraint of constant expenditures; given all that, I do not think you will forsake me, Sire, in doing me this great charitable service, which I beg of you for the love of God, numbering myself now among the neediest paupers locked in prison, and not only needy, I say, but also ashamed, since I would not dare to speak so openly of my distress to your face: no less to Vincenzio; but only by resorting to this letter, Sire, can I appeal with every confidence, knowing that you will want and be able to help me. And here to close I send you regards with all my love, and also to Vincenzio and his bride. May the Lord bless you and keep you happy always.

From San Matteo, the 8th day of July 1629.

Most affectionate daughter,
S. M. Celeste

1995 Al Van Helden
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