Historical setting: 589 C.E. King Guntram’s castle in Châlons
At the King’s meeting we are discussing the complaints from bishops regarding Father Columbanus.
Apparently Fr. Felix, the Priest of Châlons, is a defender and follower of Columbanus. I can see that if kings chose bishops, Felix would definitely be the bishop who is missing from this city.
The King wants to discuss differences of Celtic and Roman order, “Are there more than just surface differences?” He asks. “Is there something in the depths of the faith, some secret of theology, or immaculate tidbit of wisdom that only holy men could know?”
I shake my head, and glance at Father Felix, who is also not able to think of anything. Yet everyone is looking to me for an answer.
“Your Majesty, the bible is the same, even the language of the bible is the same regardless of variations in spoken dialects. The creed is the same. The rule differs only a little. Father Columbanus requires more hours chanting psalms and confession is private while the Benedictine rule hears personal sins in the gathered group. But the sins are the same.”
“I’ve heard enough then,” and the king abruptly stands and leaves the meeting followed by his entourage, leaving me and the priest and priest’s own following of monks to figure this out.
“I’m not sure what I said that the king found so disturbing.”
Fr. Felix guesses, “You affirmed the king’s notions of those bishops. Guntram wants it to be known he is the temporal king, and things such as hair-styles and calendars are not of heaven but are of earth. It is Guntram who rules the earthly kingdom. I think, Brother Lazarus, the King would have the bishops concern themselves only with the heavenly kingdom and he thinks the bishops are over-reaching to worry over calendars and hair styles.”
“I can affirm that. The bishops do seem to wield an unfettered share of earthly power, at least that is my opinion having been on a journey with messages of rebuttal.”
Fr. Felix observes, “There’s a lot to it. This king spins webs with nuance. He surely didn’t need to hear anymore to know Father Columbanus meets his own political needs very well. Now the king is undoubtedly scheming a power play that only an earthly sovereign can wield.”
The King’s servant has a request from the King that when we return to Annegray we will stop again here because the king wants us to take a message on to Father Columbanus. Apparently the King has a plan.