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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Forty One

       Last updated: Thursday, September 8, 2005 00:15 EDT



Personae Consecratae


    The last leg of their trip, Mary Ward assured Athanasius Kircher, had been very pleasant. She knew that soon enough he would be debriefing her about the first part of it, all of which would be included in a “Jesuit relation” and sent off to Father Vitelleschi.

    “What have you heard from Cardinal Mazzare?” she asked.

    “The cardinal has, with papal approval, as well as with Father General Vitelleschi’s support, authorized the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary to operate throughout the USE; to use the Jesuit rule; and not be bound by oaths of stability; nor to be enclosed.”

    Mary Ward bowed her head.

    “To be a parallel order, not an associated order. I am sure that you are aware that the Jesuit rule forbids us to undertake the spiritual direction of women’s orders.”

    “Of course.”

    “Which will not mean, of course,” Father Kircher continued, “that we will not be available for consultation informally, as has been the case in the past.”

    Mary Ward smiled.

    “But you must find your confessors among ordinary diocesan priests. That is a recommendation, by the way; not a command, but it would seem preferable. Representatives of almost any other religious order are likely to start pressing for enclosure. Parish priests, by contrast, tend to be somewhat more realistic. Not often scholars, perhaps, but more practical. Grounded in the needs of their flocks.”


    “I have,” Kircher said, “some people whom I would like for you to meet.” He thought about Noelle Murphy, who on her occasional reappearances from Franconia was still proclaiming at every opportunity that she was “not one hundred percent sure about this,” while, he thought, giving more of her time to it than any of the older women. He was not one hundred percent sure about this, himself. Miss Ward was a woman of-very strong personality. So was Bernadette Adducci. So were all of the Grantville women with whom he had been meeting in regard to the organization of a religious order, of whom there were now five. The Spanish teacher at the high school-one of them, Guadelupe di Castro, her name was-had been coming to the meetings that he had recently held with the other four. She said that she had concluded that the need for the high school to have two people teaching modern Spanish in a world where no one spoke it was pretty small. That there must be something else for her to do.



    “The ultimate question,” Mary Ward said, “is whether you wish to found your own order, to become a part of ours, or of some other that already exists. Although I do not believe that any one of you has a vocation to a life of enclosure and contemplation. At the moment, to the best of my knowledge, the English Ladies are the only approved active order for women. The Sisters of Charity are not, will not be, quite the same. And they are, at present, only French.”

    She smiled. The former name of Grantville’s Catholic parish was becoming something of an in joke. She wondered how long it would be before Vincent de Paul himself found out. He had a reputation for being utterly oblivious to anything but his causes.

    A stocky woman, sitting at the back of the room, stood up. She had not come to any of these meetings before.

    Mary Ward and Bernadette Adducci motioned for her to speak. Simultaneously.

    Father Kircher smiled; then frowned. Two very strong-minded women.

    “I’m not here to think about being a religious. Don’t have a vocation now, never did. Besides, I’m too busy. I teach the CNA and LPN courses at the Tech Center. My name’s Garnet Szymanski, by the way, Miss Ward. I don’t think we’ve met before. But I heard people talking about this-saying the same thing, that you’re the only act in town. And it isn’t true.”

    She walked forward and laid a book on the table. “This belonged to my grandmother. That’s why it’s in Polish. Which I can’t read, by the way, but I know more or less what it says. Gran didn’t die until nineteen eighty-four; I was thirty-two years old by then. She was born in Cracow, and she had an older sister who stayed there. Joined a religious order, lived through both the world wars, into the Soviet occupation. She died in nineteen sixty three.” She paused. “Tough old bird,” she added.

    “But, anyway. The book is about Gran’s sister’s religious order. This lady, her name was Zofia Majciejowski. Or Zofia Czeska; she was a widow. She did just about what you have done, Miss Ward, except that she didn’t try to make it a Papal Institute. And it lasted. Educating girls, especially poor girls, orphans. Preparing them for life. There’s a time line here. See. She started it in 1621. Got it approved by the bishop of Cracow in 1627. Confirmed by the nuncio in Poland in 1633. Approved by the king of Poland the same year. Under the bishop; spiritual guidance provided by the Jesuits.” Garnet swallowed.

    “She’s alive, you know. Unless something awful has happened that we don’t know about. There’s not a lot of news from Poland, here in Grantville, so I’m not sure if all these things have gone off on schedule. But I hope she’s still alive. In our world, up-time, I mean, she didn’t die until 1650. So there’s at least one more around. She even picked a name a lot like yours. The Virgins of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. More approvals. By the pope in 1658 for the constitution, the statutes. Again in 1660 by another bishop of Cracow. It’s, sort of, something that’s just in the air.”

    Father Kircher nodded. “This is true,” he said. “In France, Father Nicholas Caussin, formerly the king’s confessor before he came out on the wrong end in the efforts to bring about a reconcilation between the monarch and the queen mother, is working on a life of the Blessed Isabelle. Neither married nor cloistered. Living a life of Christian piety while active in the world. A devout princess of the thirteenth century, true. But it will be read by many, we think-Father Caussin is a Jesuit-as a challenge to the efforts of both the ecclesiastical and civil authorities in their efforts to restrict women’s freedom to follow their consciences. As was done to the Ursulines. As was done to the Visitandines. We are not quite sure how Cardinal Richelieu will receive it. If the Father General grants permission for it to be published. We are not sure about that, either. It may be deemed too sensitive, given the present political situation. Still...”

    The meeting went on. And on.




    The doorbell rang. Annalise ran to answer it. A young man stood there, his arm around the shoulders of a young woman. A little older than herself; pregnant. Otherwise a near mirror image. She stepped back, a little startled.

    “Annalise Richter?” the man asked.

    “Yes, that’s me.”

    “Your grandmother sent us to Grantville. She said that we could marry here. Thea is Catholic, I’m Calvinist. It’s a problem at home. My name is Nicholas Moser.”

    “Yes, you can get married here. Maybe in either church, depending. Certainly at city hall. Henry can tell you how. Do you have a place to stay? Won’t you come in?”

    The girl shook her head. “Not, that is, I mean, I think I had better say something first. I’m your cousin. Dorothea. My father had your mother murdered; tried to have all of your family killed. But they’ve probably hanged him by now.”

    “Oh,” Annalise said. “Oh,” again. She held on to the doorknob hard.

    “In that case, I guess you had better come in. It sounds like you’ve had a hard time of it.”



    “I don’t see,” Noelle said, “why we should just teach school. Gina teaches school already, anyhow. Aside from the fact that we don’t know Latin...”

    “I do,” Guadelupe said.

    “You do? Why aren’t you teaching that, instead of Spanish?”

    “Because I speak Latin with a Spanish accent. None of the Germans whom they have hired to teach Latin like it. I am from Bolivia, you know. I was only to be in Grantville for a two year exchange, then go back home. Besides, the down-timer academics, whom they have hired to teach Latin, will not believe that I have a Ph.D. Some things they will believe about up-time, but not that a woman could have an advanced degree. But I do. There, in Bolivia, I teach, I taught, in a women’s college. Not a high school.”

    “Why not start a women’s college? The five of us.”


    “Why not? A full-fledged Catholic women’s college? If they’re making Lutheran ones, why not one for us? We wouldn’t even have to put it in Grantville, if we didn’t want to. Would Wuerzburg be better? There are more Catholics down in Franconia than there are up here in Thuringia. A lot of parents might be happier if they could keep their daughters closer to home. Not send them here. We’re as good a faculty as they’re going to find. I’m low man, or woman, on the totem pole, and even I have an associate’s degree in accounting. Two master’s degrees. Andrea was just about to get her B.A. Honest, guys. We could do it. If we just had enough guts.”



    The proposal ended up on Mazzare’s desk. Which was inevitable. The buck stopped there, these days.

    He looked at it. Wuerzburg. Franconia. Secular clothing, no habits, just an identifying badge.

    Down-timers in Grantville; up-timers in Wuerzburg. Girls’ school in Grantville; women’s college in Wuerzburg.

    Mary Ward and Bernadette Adducci. Both serving the church. Not in the same house. Not in the same city. Not even in the same organization. The idea started looking better and better.

    He had a feeling that in this world, Catholic women’s religious orders were going to develop on different lines than had been the case up-time. Rather rapidly .



    The letter came by regular mail, addressed to Miss Mary Ward, in care of the parish. She read it. Looked at the telephone in the rectory office with some trepidation. Was a woman who had spoken before the college of cardinals to be intimidated by a mere machine? She picked up the receiver and poked the numbers in order.

    “Miss Adducci. May I speak with you? Privately.”

    “Why yes, of course. I will come right over.”

    “No, not here. I am at the rectory. Too many people. Is here any place private at your office? Truly so?”

    “If you don’t mind sitting in an interrogation room.”

    “Interrogation room?”

    “Where we question prisoners.”

    “Ah.” In spite of the time she had spent under investigation by the inquisition, Mary Ward had never experienced even the terratio verborum, the first level of interrogation in which the executioner merely explained what each instrument of torture was and how it functioned. One at a time. In detail. She had heard that for many prisoners, however, that by itself was quite sufficient to impel them to confess their crimes. Holding a meeting in an interrogation room?

    Bernadette realized. Miss Ward had spent a long time under surveillance by the inquisition. “Just a plain room, painted white, with green chairs and tables. Nothing more.”

    “Oh. Oh, well, yes, then. Thank you.”



    “You have a nephew named Tony Adducci, who is in Basel?”

    Whatever Bernadette had expected, it wasn’t that.

    “Why, yes.”

    “Can you contact him? On this radio?”

    “I could, I guess.” Bernadette was a little doubtful. “I wouldn’t ask Ed Piazza for permission to use it, though. Not unless it was a real family emergency. Not just casually.”

    “This isn’t casual, I think.” Mary Ward paused. No one had told her not to mention that they had traveled for some time in the company of the other three women. She had decided for herself that it would be more discreet not to mention it. Had directed her sisters not to mention it. Now, though....

    “You are acquainted with a Mrs. Simpson? The wife of the admiral?”

    “Mary Simpson. Yes. Where? Do you know where she is?”

    Mary Ward handed over a letter. “When she wrote this to me, she was in Neuburg. But about to leave.”

    “In Neuburg. Where you were? What on earth? Was Ronnie Dreeson there? Why didn’t they come home?”

    Mary Ward paused. “Their task, I think, was not yet complete. It is best, perhaps, if you read the letter.” She handed it across the corner of the table.

    Bernadette read through it. “Yeah,” she said. “This probably does rate asking Ed for permission. I think he’s back from Magdeburg. Let me give him a call and see if we can use the radio if it comes up this evening. See if somebody can raise up my nephew Tony in Basel. Just to let Diane get prepared for visitors.”

    She looked at it again.

    “I absolutely do not believe that Mary just dropped this little bombshell into the regular mail, COD. Well, all the mail we get these days is COD.”

    “It arrived,” Mary Ward pointed out. “How else could she reach us? And it had not been tampered with. Trust me, I would know. Even if it had been opened by an expert, I would know. A lot of my mail has been opened before it reached me, these last few years.”

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