Historical setting: 589 C.E. King Guntram’s castle in Châlons
I am graciously received by this king. As a messenger from Father Columbanus I am accustomed to greetings of disgruntlement from bishops. But here the king wishes to hear from me and he has lots of questions about Father Columbanus and the community at Annegray. Ana and I are assigned a posh guest room in the castle and I’m invited to dine at the king’s table in the great hall. Ana is seated with the royal ladies. And here we are also assigned a chamber servant who waits only on us — such luxury.
A night as a guest in a king’s castle is an adjustment for us, having spent so many nights on the raw earth, or sleeping in the hay above the horses, or even worrying over the cost of pillows at an inn. Ana has never seen anything so elegant in all her few years.
The king invited us to stay overnight because he wants me to meet in the morning with some of his advisors regarding his projects for new churches and monasteries within Burgundy.
This new morning Ana is glad to spend her time in the library.
At the meeting with King Guntram he is at the head of a long table with advisors all around. His first question is directed to me. “What am I hearing of rumors that the bishops surrounding Annegray are displeased with Father Columbanus?”
“Your Majesty, the good father has addressed these complaints individually to the bishops. I’ve been delivering these messages.”
“So what is the source of the rub?”
“I believe the issues are the differences between the Benedictine Rule and the Celtic Monastic Rule. It’s about tonsure and calendar.”
“Do you have personal knowledge of this conflict?”
“In a way, I am aware, Your Majesty, Ana and I live very near the community of monks in a cottage which is associated with the ruin of the fort. But I’m not serving any bishop, and at this time I have no holy orders. I was there as a layman.”
“Good. So you have an unbiased opinion.”
“Maybe not unbiased, because I have great regard for the Celtic Father and his following.”
“As do I.” Answers the king.
“And I also, Your Majesty.” Answers the young priest seated nearer the king at the table. And all around the table each man approves of the holy father regardless of having ever met him. Well, Father Felix has been there and knows of the Celtic Rule.