Historical setting: 589 C.E., Laon
We’ve made a long trek to deliver the message to the Bishop of Loan. While kings who are earthly brothers have wars among themselves, I wonder, do bishops who are spiritual brothers make a better peace? I’m discovering competition among these noblemen of the high church office. In their outward display of civility, dissension is cloaked in undercurrents of unrest.
We’ve reached the farthest bishopric for messages, and I find this bishop was probably not one who was complaining. Yet the father particularly wanted his message delivered here to encourage this fellow.
While I go my way to deliver the message, Ana continues her quest asking always to find the midwives and women physicians.
Now Ana has found some devout laywomen here with an interest in medicine especially considering women’s needs. She came here to learn but they are the ones asking her questions. They’re as young as Ana but without the medical training or opportunities for observation that make Ana such a fine physician. One of these young women invites us and the others to her home where they ask questions of Ana long into the night. I can only sit on the side and be amazed by her gifts as a teacher.
While Eve’s, now Ana’s, teaching in ways of nature can be an enigma to Roman Christians because it seems pagan to them, here there is an openness more like Irish Christianity. I think they consider themselves nuns in search of a community. Ana defers that question to me, and I can assure them not all monasteries follow the strict rules of the Rule for Virgins as the nuns in Poitiers follow, or the male specific Benedictine Rule. Before I can even mention the work of Father Columbanus one said they were already aware of the Celtic Rule. So now we learn that these young women are hoping Father Columbanus will consider opening a double monastery, one that has a community of men and another community for women all under one abbot and rule. [Footnote] I will mention that when I return.
After such fine hospitality, this morning we are turning south for a long day’s ride to Reims.
This is the land where three warring kingdoms draw their vague boundaries. It is possible King Guntram of Burgundy, Columbanus’s sponsor has a keen eye on these frayed edges of kingdoms.
[Footnote] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_monastery Retrieved March 12, 2022. It is noted in this article that Father Columbanus did establish a double monastery at Luxeuil.