The Miracles of Dorothea of Andrine

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Novella (17,500 words)
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Publication date: November 18, 2014
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Please forgive the extremes of my despair. As you peruse my account of what has transpired over the past hours, Your Eminence will see these are not mere histrionics.

When I arrived at Forges-les-Eaux, I wore the dress of an impoverished holy man, not the insignia of my office. The laity here are pious, and a local innkeeper immediately offered me a room free of charge, as a gift to the greater glory of God. I thanked him sincerely, for the road had wearied me, and went up to sleep.

Shortly before vespers, the innkeeper’s daughter knocked at the door. I roused myself and let her in, expecting her to perform cleaning duties or to offer me bread and scraps as a monk’s dinner. Instead, she displayed a silver dish and prostrated herself before me. “Child?” I do not experience many temptations to misconduct, but the devil drew my attention at once to the strawberry-blonde hair escaping the back of her cap. I believe Monsieur Delauney’s story had primed me to seek an occasion of sin. I stumbled back from her lovely form.

“Please, Father. Allow me to assist with your Vespers devotion.”

“I hardly need assistance to say the prayers that are my duty, my dear.”

“Blessed Dorothea taught that the beauty of a woman can always assist in the contemplation of the holy.” She loosened her bodice, and the merchant’s story sprang afresh to my mind.

Wicked thoughts lay thick upon me. Already, I craned my neck for a better view of the imminent display of her bare bosoms.

“I would collect your holy seed and keep it for my own purification later,” she said, dropping the garment and lifting the silver dish. I would have cursed her as a harlot, except for the sweet and utter innocence that radiated from her face. Observing her, great sorrow pierced my heart at how the late Reverend Mother and her corrupted sisters had spread their twisted doctrine among good, gentle, and god-fearing people.

I turned away and asked protection for all of our souls. When the Holy Ghost gave me strength to do so, I dismissed her. She departed upon my request, but in a state of great consternation and contrition. She expressed concern that I would not be able to say Vespers without a companion, and offered the names of a variety of women who could serve in her stead, in each case commending them as great examples of religious devotion and loveliness. With difficulty, I convinced her that my spiritual exercises required me to offer my devotions in utmost privacy, but this statement only increased her fascination with me. Before she left the room, she begged to be allowed to return later in the evening to lick up any holy remnants of my Office from the floorboards.

The images this young woman conjured through her entreaties disturbed me mightily, and after she departed at long last, I was forced to spend the remainder of the evening in strenuous prayer. I resolved to mortify my flesh for good measure, and partook of no food or water from that moment until the present. By the time night fell, I knew God had given me the duty of stopping the activity of this blasphemous cult.

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