Historical setting: Bragda, Galleacia, 563 C.E.
Mountains and valleys make long rides of short views. The huge central edifice for Christian worship and bishop business is the largest building in the city spread in this valley, but it is nearly an hour’s ride zig-zagging down the hill from the inn onto these old city’s streets. We tie the horses and are greeted at the grand doors by a doorkeeper, the monk with the visitor’s list. It is that very list of the bishop’s visitors that we came to find.
“I was here once before on a mission to bring a gospel. Do you keep these records? Maybe I can find my name here on a past list.”
The welcomer answers, “We have heaps and mountains of records all the way back. Every bishop thinks history needs those things, though all the stacks could be better used to warm this place on a chilly night. If you can tell me the year and month I’ll pull the record.”
“I’m not sure of the date. I was called here as a messenger, as they were dealing with the heresy of Priscillianism.”
“Oh, of course! That would have been the Council of Bragda just two years back. Eight bishops came with all their soldiers, messengers and servants, eight full processions from all four corners of the winds.”
The monk is animated telling the story of his moment here in glory right at this visitor’s desk. Nic is taking it all in offering a near all-knowing smile — an ah-ha for the righteousness of the stories I had been telling him. The problem is, my recollection of coming here had no processions of famous bishops. There was nothing at all like an invited “Council of Bishops.” There was only a rumor that years before some ancient saints considered the issue. When I was here these glorious stories were not of recent bishops, but of the great and bygone saints: St. Ambrose, St. Martin of Tours, and even the bishop assigned to this see late in the Fourth Century who went off to the East to write important papers with St. Augustine. That was the long past memory of bishops when I was here. And no one was calling it Bragda then. The only Council I was hearing stories of was in Zaragosa in 380, not in 561.
Nic interrupted my thoughts, “See Laz? Take a look at the visitor’s lists from the time of the Council. I’ll bet we’ll find your name.”
(Continues Tuesday, September 8)