Historical setting: 589 C.E. An inn by the River Moselle
Ana has learned she was born only a day’s ride from here.
“Ana, don’t you want to go there and see what you remember? The church that gave you to the pagans might have written your baptism in their book. We could go and see.”
The vintner’s wife encourages the venture. “It is only a day away. Surely you want to see your family.”
“No, no. My family is my husband now. I was given over to the church, and the priest gave me to a tribe of pagans before my teacher took me in and that was the only way I came to have any family at all.”
Later when we are alone I ask her again, “Do you want to find your mother?”
“No Laz, they are not people who love me. My mother named me for a rock miners sought. Maybe my father was a miner? I think they really just wanted a hard cold treasure from the earth when they named me Anatase. And now people know me as Ana, and it reminds me of Hannah, the mother of a priest, Samuel. That story was that the dream of having her child had to wait. Yet Hannah’s prayers were answered. [I Samuel 2:1-10] No, Laz, Let’s just go on our way as we’ve been directed.”
The chatty wife of the vintner greets us with the morning.
“So, a new day, a new path, will you follow the River Moselle to Metz, or wander a bit east toward this dear woman’s roots?”
Ana answers, “We have a message to take to the bishop in Metz, so we’ll just go on as we’ve planned. Do you know of that place, Metz?”
“Of course. It isn’t far. I can tell you there is an old Roman basilica. I think it was once a Roman bath. It has little high windows and the aisles under the arches along the sides. I have to say, it is a very dreary place for the nuns.”
“So there is a convent there?” Ana asks with a note of hope that she will find the knowledge of women.
“It’s a few nuns, and they practice medicine I believe. Their abbess is the wife of the Bishop Agilulf, [Footnote:] and both the bishop and the nun are born of aristocracy. They are quite proud.” With this she flicks her fat peasant fingers to frill her words with a dab of classest disdain.
Footnote: Blogger’s note—Most often, comparing sources reveals a variety of spellings for one name, but here is one name for two men of nearly the same decade and geographical area, Agilulf Bishop of Metz, and Agilulf a Thuringian King, whom Jonas, hagiographer of Columbanus called King of Nuestra.
(Continues Tuesday, July 12)