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Paquette la Chantefleurie , a stunning young woman of eighteen, entered the cathedral trembling with nervousness. All her life she had dreamed of serving God in this beautiful place filled with reverence and ambiance. As she took her vows, excitement and expectations of what may lie ahead filled her mind and heart. Little did she know where here life would go or what it would encompass?
Paquette’s desire to serve God was real and deep in her heart. She devoted herself to God and the cathedral. When she went before the mother superior she received her new chosen name. Sister Mary Gudule, it was not a name she would have chosen, but it was part of her commitment to God to remove her past and start a new life. When the attention of a young priest, Romeir Vennebraule, caught her attention, she tried hard to dismiss it and told herself it was only imagination. After all he was a priest and his vows were as strong as her commitment to God and the church. In time she came to realize that his affections were real and what was more disconcerting, she felt the same way towards him.
In the beginning his words to her were only innocent banter and rhetoric, but soon their conversations became more revealing and in time, their affection for each other became more than either of them could put aside. Their affair was kept secret from everyone within the walls of the Cathedral, but soon, with the discovery of a child, all was revealed.
Reluctantly she walked to the door of The Mother Superiors office chambers and softly knocked on the open door frame. “Reverend Mother?”
Mother Egliese Antoinette looked up from her desk, “Come in Sister Gudule”
She timidly approached the desk and bowed. “Reverend Mother, I must confess and tell you of my sin.”
“What sin could you have done to cause you so much distress?”
“Dear Reverend Mother,” she began to sob, I have fallen in love, and have been with a man, and now God has punished me…”
“How is this possible, you have been restricted to the monastery? No men are allowed in except the Cardinal, the Bishop and the Pontiffs that serve the Cathedral. Surely you are not saying…”
“Oh Reverend Mother, I don’t know how it happened, I thought it was only harmless conversation…he is a servant of God and I …I…” she shook her head then buried it in her hands to cover her crying.
Mother Egliese tried hard to show no emotion when Paquette stood before her. “My child, why did you come to this house of God?”
As she looked up at Sister Egliese, a tear began building in her eye, “I came to serve God.”
“And do you believe that this is still your desire?.”
“Oh yes Reverend Mother,” more than ever!” She said looking up at her solemnly.
“There is no shame in loving someone; do you believe God is punishing you for that?
Paquette fell to her knees and buried her head in her hand sobbing heavily. Though her tears she replied “Reverend Mother, I am so ashamed, ashamed I allowed myself to…” Her crying continued. “I am with child!” And she burst out in tears, trembling with emotion as they flowed heavily down her face.
Mother Egliese walked over to her and gently placed her hand on Paquette’s head and spoke softly to her, “A child is not a punishment dear, it is only the consequence of your transgression. This child is a blessing from God, regardless of how it came to be. Come, all things happen for a reason, we must ask God for forgiveness, and pray for his will. We know not what he has in store for you or this child. But I do know that all creatures are Gods and each has it’s purpose. We may not know if this child will come or what his plans for it may be. I need to meditate on this and decide what is best for you and the child.”
Paquette’s sobbing subsided; she cusp her hands around Mother Egliese’s and kissed the back of it, “Dear Reverend Mother, I want to serve God in this place, What am I to do? “ she looked up at Sister Egliese with sorrowful eyes, tears flowing down her cheeks. “What can I do?”
“Patience my child, all things will work out in his time; we will speak about it in the morning. Say nothing of this, go in peace, and return to your room until I call for you.”
“”Yes Reverend Mother,” and she stood, bowed and departed.
brought before the Cardinal
The Reverend Mother, disheartened by their weakness, prayed hard and meditated through the night. The next morning she called in Sister Francis, her senior assistant.
“Yes Reverend Mother?”
“Please go and bring our postulate, Sister Gudule, before me here, before morning meditations; then I need you to remain.”
“As you wish Reverend Mother,” she bowed her head in respect, turned and left.
When the two of them returned, she had Sister Francis close the door. Sister Egliese sat down at her desk, and then Sister Francis and Postulate Gudule sat down.
“Sister Francis, of what we are about to discuss I need your complete candor. Postulate Gudule is with child. I need you to help her and still maintain the dignity and honor of the Cathedral.”
“And the father?”
“It is not important at this time. Take her with you now and have something to eat. I don’t think she has eaten since yesterday morning, Have you?” she turned to Paquette.
“No, Reverend Mother, not since the early morning.”
“Well then, take her to eat. After vespers we will return here and set forth plans on how to handle this.
“As you wish Reverend Mother…”
Plans were set in place to hide her transgressions from the others in the Cathedral. For a time, Paquette’s habit concealed her pregnancy. Finally, The reverend Mother had to inform the Bishop of the circumstances at hand, so she brought Paquette before her. “Time has come my child. I must inform the Bishop so you must reveal the name of the Pontiff, he is also responsible and must be held accountable.’
“But Reverend Mother, He may loose his priesthood.”
“That is not for you and I to decide, we will leave that to the Bishop. Now please, who is the man responsible?
Sister Gudule looked at her, afraid to reveal it, and then finally she replied, ”Pontiff Romeir Vennebraule…”
“Very well, I will speak with the Arch Deacon, you will remain here.”
“As you wish Reverend Mother.”
Mother Egliese walked up to the Arch Deacon’s office, to inform him of the transgression and ask his advice. She approached his office door and tapped lightly, "Excuse me your Grace?"
"Yes Mother Egliese, come in.”
"I have a difficult situation to discuss. One Sir, that may bring shame on the Cathedral and you may find distressing as well.”
“”Please sit down and you can explain. I will decide it’s affect on me and this Cathedral.” So she took a seat and began to explain.
"Your fears and concerns are well warranted. We must never let the Cardinal know!" he cautioned, "it would bring shame on him, this magnificent Cathedral and all it stands for in the community. I will see them in my chambers," he said softly, "And we will decide how best to handle this."
"As you wish, your Grace," she replied and departed to find them and bring them before him.
Afraid she would be tossed out on the streets, banished from the Cathedral and the life she so longed for, Paquette could feel her stomach twitching hard as the approached the Arch Deacon's office. When they arrived the Mother superior again tapped on the door.
The Arch Deacon looked up and took a deep breath, "Come in please."
The three of them entered the office and sat down in the chairs he indicated in front of his desk. He looked at the couple for a moment before speaking. In her face the Bishop could see the Postulate's remorse and fear. He glanced at the young priest, "I think we all know why we are here," he looked back at Paquette then to Romeir, "What have you to say?"
"Please your Grace, I know what I allowed to take place was my fault, but I don't want to leave God's service, and I am concerned for Paquette as well. Her love for God is real as is her desire to be a Nun."
"There are other ways to serve God my son." Then he glanced back to Paquette, "And what of you my child? You must know the predicament you place myself, Mother Superior, and this Cathedral in?"
Tears began falling down her face, "Yes , I never intended for any of this..." and she began sobbing uncontrollably.
"Come my child, stop your crying, just relax and let us sit down the four of us to decide how best to handle all this. Paquette tried to regain control, nodding her head and took one of the chairs before the Arch Deacon's desk. The young priest and the Mother Superior took their seats as well; as the four of them discussed the options they had open, before coming to final conclusions.
"Your relationship must come to a halt," he began, "if you hope to pursue your life in God's service." He paused for a moment, then continued, "We are all children of God, and therefore are human and subject to mistakes; but your mistake will have serious consequences. Now there will be a child brought into this world. One you must decide if you truly want to be in Gods service, that you must surrender.
The other option is that if you love each other that you marry and leave Gods service here at the cathedral; to start your lives together and pursue other avenues of service to God. But if you wish to continue your service to God, you must reaffirm your vowels in celibacy; and in order for temptations to be eased, one of you must leave the church. Since Paquette, you are expecting, you would not be accepted in another parish as a nun so it would be decided you will stay here, at the cathedral. And you Pontiff Vennebraule are to be transferred to another parish on the other side of France. You would not be permitted to communicate with each other, fearing their affair might be made public; she would be disgraced and you will loose your priesthood. So you must decide."
Romeir paused deep in thought then glanced over at Paquette. "If you wish to marry, then I would be honored to be your husband. He chortled "we could marry and find another way to serve God," he smiled warmly to her. "But if you wish to serve God here at the Cathedral, then I will bow and find my place in another parish far away from here and allow this transgression to fade, but I will treasure you in my thoughts fondly with kind memories. I do not hold you to blame for it was my weakness that led you astray. But I must know your heart and where it lies?"
"I don't know how to respond," Paquette began, "except to say that I too am to blame, for it was my desires that overcame me and caused my weakness as well. I do not blame you Romeir, but rather myself, for I allowed this to continue and followed this relationship to manifest to the level it has. But I love God and this cathedral, and I want only what my heart has desired since I was but a young girl standing on the steps longing to take my place as a nun within its great walls. I do not regret our time together, but my wish is to remain here and pursue my vowels of celibacy from this point on. If your Grace," she glanced back longingly to the Arch Deacon, "You will allow it and," She glanced over to her Mother Superior, you Mother Superior, will permit me, I wish to remain here and seek Gods will for me inside this Cathedral."
"If this is your true desire, "Romeir replied as he gently touched her hand. But Paquette pulled her hand away and with a sorrowful look shook her head remorsefully. He nodded his head then turned to Arch Deacon, "Then your Grace, we will follow the paths you have suggested.
"Very well," He replied, "I will make arrangements for you elsewhere, and Mother Superior?” He glanced over to her, “I will leave this young postulate in your care. This expected child must remain concealed within our walls and dealt with the utmost care and secrecy. I want to be kept aware of the progress and her development into a servant of God. Now I leave you to the paths you have chosen, Be at peace and go with God, may he follow you and strengthen you in what ever direction he will open before you.”
Romeir Vennebraule was transferred to another Parrish in the south of France Mother Egliese took Paquette away and over the time of her pregnancy, kept her secret hidden from all but a few. When a baby girl was born, she was taken to the orphanage within the cathedral grounds to be raised. The young child was like her mother in every way. her black shimmering hair, her face of dove set tones and eyes rich with life and warmth.
Sister Gudule wanted so much to hold her daughter, but the Mother Superior knew if she held the child it would only make their separation more difficult, and kept them apart. The reverend mother told her Gypsies had stolen the baby from the orphanage, and there was no trace of them. Then Mother Egliese went to the orphanage to see Sister Quadrille, and gave her strict instructions regarding the child. The child was named Esmeralda. A story of her being left at the door by Gypsies was created to explain her presence. Life in the cathedral, for a time, returned to normal.
After she recovered from childbirth, Sister Gudule returned to the Cathedral, and tried to focus on her new life. The Reverend Mother, kept close to her and did all she could to help her. Sister Gudule’s mind and heart often went to the small child she had given birth too. She longed to hold her and wanted to be with her. But each time she thought about it, she would start to sob softly. Later her heartbreak grew into despise for the Gypsies whom stole her child. The reverend Mother was always close by and helped her through the difficulties.
Mother Egliese knew some of what she was feeling. To the Mother Superior, the children in the orphanage were as her own. Many times she would watch them grow and leave the Cathedral. Some would return. But some she would never see again. Eventually Sister Gudule, overcome by the pain and hatred she concealed inside, coupled with the love of her daughter, left the cathedral and secluded herself form everything and everyone.
In the outskirts of Paris lived a poor family. Their stucco walled house with dirt floors and thatched roof was home for as long as the owner received his portion of their crops and earnings for the small cramped space provided. They had two older children and in time an unexpected child was born. His name was Lequasielle Motonibeque. The child was slow and held the features of other children like him. Soon it was painfully evident to his parents that when he grew older, he would not be able to support his share of the responsibilities. It was decided that he would be taken to an orphanage and left in the care of the nuns. So with a sad heart through the tears of anguish the mother held for her son, she took him into town to be left on the steps of the orphanage, where he might grow and be taught a trade.
The orphanage accepted the child and did their best to raise it, But, as time passed, they came to realize that his mental abilities were limited. Lequasielle grew older. As he became old enough, and approached the age of ten, he was assigned duties that were simple and befitting of what they deemed his capacities were. Lequasielle took pride in his work, and did his best to perform it. Though cleaning the cisterns of the Cathedral and Nunnery were the most undesired job to do. Later, as he grew older, he was assigned to clean the great bells towering high above the Cathedral. He loved that chore and looked forward to it with great anticipation, putting his heart and soul into it. He spent many hours in the tower polishing and talking to the bells. Soon he had given them all names and believed they were speaking to him by the wonderful music they made.
Years passed and a new transfer from another parish came to the cathedral. He was a young man with recent ordination. He entered the vestibule of the private areas belonging to the staff and administrative areas of the Orphanage and church quarters, and knocked lightly on the open door. “Good morning?”
Sister Quadrille, glanced up from her desk, “Good morning father” as she rose from her chair, “how may help you?”
“Sister? Please excuse my intrusion, I have been transferred to this cathedral and I am not sure where I am supposed to be?”
“Oh not at all Father, I am Sister Quadrille, I run this Orphanage, but I can take you where you need to be.
“Thank you sister and I apologize, I am Pontiff Frollo, I come from a small parish in the southern part of France.
Very nice to meet you Father, we were told of your forthcoming arrival. Let me show you to the Bishops chambers,” and she led him into the private areas of the cathedral, and before the Bishop.
“Ah, I see you made it, welcome, we’ve been expecting you,” The Bishop said as Frollo and Sister Quadrille approached his chambers.
“Thank you, your grace; it’s an honor to be here. The kind sister was just helping me. This is a bit different then the parish I came from.”
“She is indeed kind, but I am sure the children of the orphanage might offer other opinions of her.” He laughed, “She is very good at her job and runs a tight school and orphanage.”
“Your Grace,” she responded, “Since you have revealed the other side of me to our new pontiff, I will return to my tormenting of the children, she bowed and started to withdrawal.
“Sister Quadrille,“ The bishop said with an apologetic smile, “you know I have the utmost respect for you and all you have accomplished with our orphanage, I meant no inferences, only that you command respect and discipline from the children and it is well deserved. You serve us well as headmaster of the school and Orphanage.” He turned back to Frollo, “She is a treasure to this Cathedral and to God, we are blessed to have her here.”
“I am sure, she definitely helped me. This house of God is rather large. Without her help I might have been wandering for days,” He smiled.
“Well, lets get you settled in, shall we?” He turned to the Sister, “Please, if you don’t mind, on your way back would you find Mother Egliese and have her join us here?” He turned back to the new pontiff, “We will go inside my chambers and wait for her there.”
They entered the Office and the Bishop took a seat in front of the desk and turned it towards the other. He offered the other to Frollo and sat down. Frollo joined him and he began. “You will find this a rewarding and uplifting place to serve. I will assign you an alter boy and page to serve your needs so as to allow you to tend to your duties. Some one that can keep your chambers clean and care to your errands.”
“But Sir,” Frollo interrupted, “There is no need for that, I can…”
The Bishop interrupted him, “You will have plenty to do with out worrying about those task. I have a boy from the orphanage that may suit your needs well.”
“As you wish, your grace, I see things will be much different than they were at the pervious place I served. “
“Oh yes, and you may well wish you were back there. But I believe you will cherish this place as much as I and find your work a small penance for the opportunity of service it provides.” Then he turned and stood as the Reverend Mother knocked on the Jamb. “Yes Mother Egliese, please come in.”
“Your Grace,” she replied and came in, nodding her head.
“Reverend Mother, this is Pontiff Frollo,” Frollo stood and turned to her,” He has come from a southern parish to serve with us here.”
Shed turned to him and nodded, “Welcome Pontiff, we’re glad you are with us.” Then she turned back to the Bishop.
“Would you please show him to the chambers he will be using, and possibly show him around for me?”
“As you wish Sir, we have your chambers and quarters prepared.” Then she looked back at the Bishop, “I have pending duties, but I will instruct Sister Francis to show him around, she knows her way as well as any of us. “
“Very well, Reverend Mother,” the bishop replied, then turning back to Frollo, “If you have any questions or concerns, Mother Egliese will help you. Let me again welcome you, but now I leave you to her care, as I must attend to my duties.”
Mother Egliese bowed her head to the Bishop, “We will take leave, your Grace, and get him situated.” Turning to Frollo, “Pontiff, if you will come with me, I will show you to your quarters.” And she again nodded her head to the Bishop, turned and walked out.
Frollo nodded his head and thanked the Bishop then hurried to catch her or chance becoming lost again.”
Frollo explored a little more each day and in short time learned all the main areas of the Cathedral. He studied hard and worked diligently, secretly working for his desire to become Cardinal of this great cathedral. When he approached the Arch Bishop for a alter boy, it was quickly decided that Lequasielle would be made available to assist him. At first the Priest was disturbed with his disabilities and questioned his ability to perform duties that were to be assigned. However, The Bishop reminded him to reflect on biblical teachings and reminded him that all are Gods creatures. Frollo recanted his reservations and learned to accept Lequasielle for who he was. In time,
Pontiff Frollo found him to be enjoyable to have around and even entertaining. He found Lequasielle’s mental deficiencies to be a challenge but he learned to use them to help guide the page in performing his assigned task. Often he would assign chores more and more difficult to test the boy’s aptitude and his ability to overcome difficult tasks. But Frollo found him to be stubborn with an inward drive to overcome anything placed in front of him. Frollo admired this quality and soon he came to think of Lequasielle as a son, and student.
To be continued..
Copyright :: All Rights Reserved
Registered :: Thu Jan 13 20:15:00 UTC 2011
Title :: The Cathedral
Category :: Novel
Fingerprint :: a74f6a85361addc06d4c1875411275806794dfca158b21dce0b379297f3b5a5a
MCN :: C4LE6-9JRPD-6KJ16