Historical setting: 589 C.E. In the Vosges Mountains
Ana continues her story, “I wrapped a swelling ankle for a young monk and he set about befriending me, Christian-to-Christian he would say, and we talked about our faith in God. But you know how those conversations can turn. Pretty soon he was telling me of his childhood and his calling to follow Jesus into the wilderness. He considered it a testament to his moral character. I didn’t remind him that even the disciples Jesus picked out for himself weren’t really that upstanding.”
I laugh, but wonder how she knows this. She must be doing a close reading of the gospels on her own.
“Ana,” I ask her, “How did an apprentice to a pagan healer learn so many things of the disciples and also the doctrines of the church?”
“Of course I learned from our reading lessons, but then, when you were gone for those years Daniel often took me with him when he and Count Bertigan had work to do at the King’s castle. King Chilperic had a library of books – the gospels, and other writings, Augustine and those bishops from Alexandria and the far away places.”
“Really? No wonder Gregory of Tours and King Chilperic debated the need for Trinity. He was reading books. So go on. What were you telling me of the band of monks from the island of St. Patrick?”
Ana continues, “I told that young monk with the swelling ankle way too many things. I told him I had been stolen by pirates from my home, and when I escaped they raped me and beat me so that I would, as they said, ‘never be a proper wife to any man.’ I thought it was a threat that my body would never heal from the rape, but I easily recovered physically and I was soon relieved from the fear that I would birth a baby pirate. What I didn’t know about then was that the pirates had put me under an evil curse of fear. It was a terror of the phallus, and a fear that even my own physical obligation to receive the phallus had been skewed from love to fear. I realized they were right. I was cursed with their evil, never to be a wife or a mother of a loving family. Now I can’t even imagine lying with a man without the faces of the pirates coming to my mind. Their horrible laughs and lust haunt me even in my night terrors.”