Day 13- The Release

Original Diary Entry

Friday (the thirteenth day), at 16 hours (11:00 AM) the Father Curate returned. […] I {told him} that from the first, I had set my mind on going back to my parents. This was impossible, he said. The Cardinal has decided I would have to remain for two or three quarantines, until by my [own] will, or even force, I became a Christian. […] After about two hours more of this sermon, he left. At 21 hours (about 4:00 PM), the Curate returned, bringing the sister of the Rasha, that evil fellow, Coen, who began flattering me […] Thanks to your obstinacy and cruelty {she said}, your suffering in the Inferno may begin at any moment. […] She urged me to desert my faith. […] she began to embrace me and kiss me and to say it would break her heart to leave me. Holding me to her, to bring me to her side, and kissing me closely, she beseeched me again […] I was called again by the Monsignor Vice Regent […] I went to him with the Prioress. […] I was deaf, without sensation, no longer able to stand on my feet. Seeing me so distraught and. frightened, he said: “Dear child, do not be upset by my presence. We do nothing here by force. […] From the first day, I sent {you} the best theologians in Rome, true prophets. Yet you held back. What is the source of this cruelty? […] Seeing me so afflicted and tearful, the Monsignor was moved to compassion. “We are required,” he said, “to act out of misericordia. I am in charge of the salvation of your soul, and if I must do justice, I must do what is necessary. […] I will indeed release you.” […] {the Prioress} came back to me with venom in her eyes, like a snake. Her face was black, and she frightened me when she looked at me. She tried to preach to me, even though she knew that I was to be sent home. […] The Prioress then brought me down (to the entrance) […] I went down into the street […] and, a few steps ahead, I saw the Fattori, eager to receive me. One was my uncle Angelo Zevi, who threw himself upon me, crying and embracing me so tenderly and hard that he could not let go. […] They led me to Piazza Colonna, where the Vice Regent was waiting to speak to me before I returned to the Ghet[to]. […] We went in and waited in the antechamber, thinking the Vice Regent would come out. Instead, we were amazed to hear a voice say, “Kannà [Anna, Hannah in Hebrew], come in.” The Fattori wanted to enter with me, but the chamberlain kept them out. “The Monsignor wants only the young woman.” […] {The Vice Regent} said: “My dear Kannà, accept my scusa (my apology). Your unacceptable treatment has taught me. As long as I am Vice Regent, nobody else will suffer this way.” More dead than alive, God inspired me to reply that I was innocent and that I had been seized and maltreated with no justification. Yes, he answered. Pardon me. Go console your parents and relatives, who are awaiting you. I went back to the arms of the Fattori, who were overjoyed to see me. […]

(Stow, 46-51)

Audio Transcription

NARRATOR: They have been here for hours now. It is the thirteenth day, their last chance. Finally, at 4pm, that bastard Coen sister returns to see you.

Footsteps

COEN SISTER: Oh Anna, please, become a Christian, stay in the true Faith with me! It would break my heart to leave you!

The sounds of her kissing you

NARRATOR: Pulling you to her, she kisses your face and presses you to her side. Your skin crawls.1

COEN SISTER: Heart of my soul, become a good Christian, to save your soul in this world and in the next, and to gain the glory of eternal Paradise.2 I was a Jew like you are, but when I saw that this was the true Religion, I desired to save my soul. If you convert, I will visit you daily. You know I love you so, more than if you were my own blood.

Footsteps

NARRATOR: The curate returns, the Prioress stands by, but still, you remain silent, until you are called again to the Vice Regent.

THE VICE REGENT’S ROOM

Footsteps

NARRATOR: You enter the room to find the Vice Regent waiting. It is as if the world around you is out of alignment, sounds filtered through from a long way away. You walk, though your legs shake and it is all you can do to stand.

VICE REGENT: Dear child, do not be upset by my presence. We do nothing here by force. You know, I have come three times, and although hundreds and even thousands have passed through here, I have never honoured them with my own presence. You have had this privilege far more than others, but you have spurned us again and again. From the first day, I sent the best theologians in Rome, true prophets. Yet you held back. What is the source of this cruelty? I wish I could baptize you with my own hands.

NARRATOR: Your body shudders, but you press on. I will never convert, you tell him, I would rather die a thousand times. You cannot compromise my free will. You tell him that you know you were brought here an innocent, and that this has all been unjust. Please, you beg, let me go home, it was so bitter to leave. I have been closed in here for thirteen days.

VICE REGENT: We are required to act out of mercy. I am in charge of the salvation of your soul, and if I must do justice, I must do what is necessary. You say your heart tells you not to become a Christian, that you wish rather to return to your mother and father. You have said that every minute here is like a year. I understand this. But the initiative to send you home must come from me. And I will indeed release you.

Footsteps as the Vice Regent leaves

NARRATOR: He leaves, and you stand alone in the room. His arrogance weighs on you, but home, he said you could go home! However, the Prioress soon returns, her face dark and her eyes like daggers. A shiver runs up your spine.

The Prioress’ footsteps

PRIORESS: This is the hour to save yourself from eternal damnation! Do it now, for later there will be no time, and while you suffer eternal pain, you will recall this precious moment in vain! Either you declare that you convert, or you go home.

NARRATOR: Home. You answer.

PRIORESS: Go miserably, the devil will have your soul!

Footsteps as she leaves

NARRATOR: She leads you to the entrance, and out into the light. Walking down into the street, you see the Fattori– you see your uncle, waiting for you.

Footsteps, the creak of a door opening, the sounds of the outdoors, and then-

ANNA’S UNCLE: Anna, Anna!

The rush of footsteps as he runs to her, and they grab each other in a tight hug. Both are crying with joy and relief

END

Notes

1This is based on her prior reactions to this woman, and Anna’s use of profanity in the source text.

2A section of the convert’s speech has been removed here, but should be noted. The Coen sister’s appeal to the Prioress about her newfound felicity as a Christian reflects a warning as to who is liable to be converted (Stow, 47).

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