Historical setting: 589 C.E. In the Vosges Mountains
Were we monks working side-by-side at the benches in a monastery we would ink the approved words copying manuscripts in silence and we would never know one another’s hopes or fears. Here we can talk freely to each other while the Rule of Columbanus is copied, not to serve any rich patron, but simply for a utilitarian need. We are using scraps and sanded off practice pages, so maybe a few extra errors caused by conversation are not a serious problem.
But I’m curious about Ana’s access to the king’s library, and I do mean to find us a different topic for conversation, “So, Ana, how was it Daniel was allowed to take you, a woman and a commoner, along with him to the castle library?”
Ana tells me, “While Chilperic lived Count Bertigan was called to the king’s castle to report the accounts. Not only did Daniel always go along, the Count took a whole entourage of young riders in order to impress the king.”
“I can imagine the count doing that.”
“Of course, and since Daniel had always included me with his nephews and nieces in riding lessons I was also included in the full processions of horses and riders.”
“While the king met with the counts and their secretaries, the sons of the counts and royals were instructed in letters, and the daughters learned needlework. The needlework lessons required rich thread and silks for which I had no sponsor so Daniel suggested I wait in the library. It was such a wonder! The king had all of the gospels and some of the epistles. He had the ancient scriptures, everything! And there were some books said to be by the early fathers of the Church. That is where I read the work of Augustine.”
My comment, “So that’s how you got yourself doused in the roots of doctrine. I doubt churchmen in these times even know the difference between doctrine and gospel.”
“Daniel did mention the dangers of reading those books. He said it set the king arguing doctrine with the bishop and we know that ended badly for the king.”
“Maybe so. I don’t follow the politics of nobility very closely but that was the rumor at Ligugè.” I mean to offer that as “maybe.” My opinion is the politics too easily trump the love of God, even when it is the bishop serving up the political meat.