The Remonstrations- Day 12

Original Diary Entry

Thursday, the twelfth day. Three priests appeared to {interrogate her further} […] The Padre Predicatore and the Prioress again appeared about the 21st hour (4:00 PM), at whose sight I froze from head to toe. “My child,” he began, “you see how many times I have visited you for the good of your body (person) and the salvation of your soul. I went to the Signor Cardinale and told him of your obstinacy […] If you do not convert through my efforts, the pope has ordered the Cardinal himself to come and baptize you. Willing or unwilling, you will be a Catholic. Breathless […] I told them I would die the way I was born, whatever they did. Hearing this, the preacher became like a viperous lion. He told the Prioress to fetch what he had given her. She left and soon brought back a big cross. The preacher put it on my bed, yelling like a dog. Then crying and making loud noises, he again took the water and sprayed it on the bed, my face, the back, my head, saying: “Now is the hour for you to convert. Tonight, you will dream of the C[ross]. This is why I have put it on your bed.” The Prioress said, “If you are moved to convert, as you should be, I will be sleeping here (in the room) beneath you. It is enough to knock with your shoe on the floor, at any hour, and I will embrace you like my child. […] Here is a cross to hold with you till you become a Catholic, just as I am.” Hearing this, my heart burst with tears. I began to shout: never will you leave me with this piece of wood, which I turned upside down. […] If you love me as a daughter, do not do me this disservice. […] she took the cross away. The preacher renewed spraying water over the bed and my face, calling out, as he did so, the names of many saints. […] After three hours of this, they went away in malora. I was trembling, more dead than alive. I thought the earth would open and swallow me up; I was afraid; and the light had gone out. I took my shoe to call the Prioress, but some “unknown force” inspired me to desist.

(Stow, 42-44)

Audio Transcription

NARRATOR: It had been another morning of sermons and preaching. Now, at 4pm, the Prioress and the Padre Predicatore enter your room. Your breath stops in your throat, your limbs lock up and a swooping feeling fills your stomach.1

Footsteps as they approach you

PADRE PREDICATORE: My child, you see how many times I have visited you for the good of your person and the salvation of your soul. I went to the Signor Cardinale and told him of your obstinacy. He instructed me to tell you that this is the twelfth day, and he is certain of your conversion. If you do not convert through my efforts, the pope has ordered the Cardinal himself to come and baptize you. Willing or unwilling, you will be a Catholic.

NARRATOR: Your head is spinning and you struggle to breath. You will not be converted- you cannot. To lose your home, your family, your soul…

I will die the way I was born, you tell him, whatever they might do. At your words, his mouth twists and he glares at you.2

PADRE PREDICATORE: Prioress, bring in what I gave you!

Footsteps, the light sounds of something dragging on the floor

NARRATOR: You watch as the Prioress enters, bringing with her a huge cross. The Padre takes it from her, laying it on your bed.

PADRE PREDICATORE: (At the same time as the narration) The Jews have had no sceptre since the time of Herod, no Temple from the time of the signs of Christ, and no redemption. The real enemies of Christ are: passions, sins, all defeated by grace. Christ came for all, not for Jews alone!3

NARRATOR: He sprays water all over you once again – on your hair, your back, your arms. You can feel it running down your skin, covering you as he yells into your face.

The sounds of water hitting you and falling on the wooden floor

PADRE PREDICATORE: Now is the hour for you to convert. Tonight you will dream of the Cross. This is why I have put it on your bed!

PRIORESS: If you are moved to convert, as you should be, Anna, I will be sleeping in the room just below you. Knock with your shoe on the floor, at any hour, and I will embrace you like my child. I loved you from the very first. Do not leave me disconsolate. Here is a cross to hold with you until you become a Catholic, just as I am.

NARRATOR: She presses the cross into your hand, and you immediately turn it upside down. You shout that she will not leave this with you and that if she truly loved you, she would not do this. She takes the cross from you, but the preacher begins spraying you once more. You can hear him calling out the names of saints as the water drips down your face. You want it off, you want it nowhere near you, but it is everywhere.

PADRE PREDICATORE: Saint Anthony, Saint Augustine, Saint Aldo, Saint Odo, Saint Simon!4 Tonight the saints I have named will appear to you. They will have you summon the Prioress, and you will profess to her your freely willed conversion!

NARRATOR: Three hours later, you are alone in the room. You collapse onto the chair, refusing to touch the bed. Try as you might, you can’t stop your arms from shaking, and everything feels heavy. It hurts to breathe, to move, and though you try to find some way to hold on, you are swallowed in darkness- unable to feel. Even tears are lost to you. All you can think about is when they will come back; what they might do.5 Lifting a trembling hand, you move to call the Prioress.

The scrape of the chair as you fall into it. Shaky, uneven breaths turn to silence, and then to gentle birdsong.

You dreamt of your Nonno, your grandfather. Something had stopped your hand, had given you strength you couldn’t find, and you wake to the sweetest song you had ever heard, sung by the bird sitting just on your window ledge.

Notes

1 An adrenaline response based on her description of ‘freezing’ in the source text.

2 He turns viperous in the source text.

3 Stow, 175-6.

4 There is no indication what saints’ names Anna would have heard. I have chosen random names so that any listeners familiar with Catholic saints would experience the confusion and nonsensical feeling of the words, as Anna would have.

5 This is an adaptation of her description of utter despair.

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