Historical setting: 589 C.E. a cottage Between Annegray and Luxeuil
No sooner were the monks on their way down the hill than a group of people, several children, some women, an old man and a younger man, trudged up the hill through the snow and stopped at our door.
“Good morning Friends, have you lost your way?”
Man answers man. “We were walking home in the snow when we came upon these fresh tracks that led us up this hill. We thought it would be a shorter way home except the tracks seem to stop here.”
“You must be neighbors to us then?”
“Our house is in the forest near the bogs. It’s a good hour’s walk to the church following the creek. But maybe it’s shorter crossing over the hills. Do you know of a path?”
“I know of very little beyond our door.” I notice, “That child seems to have a very wet boot. Did he slip into the creek?”
The man answers, “I told him his foot won’t freeze up if he just keeps on walking.”
“You should all come in by the fire, get his foot warm and let his boot dry a bit before you go on your way.”
There is no argument or hurry among them; they come in. I suggest the children go on into Ana’s room by the warming fire there where this little one can dry his sock and boot. And I know Ana would welcome a visit from children.
Colleen is especially pleased to learn we have a family of neighbors. She scurries around to prepare a soup from the broth in the cooking pot after the monks left.
These neighbors are dressed in the furs of the forests not in the fleeces of farmers, so they seem to me to be hunters. They said they’d been to church so I assumed they’d been at Annegray for the Christmas; but that was wrong. Now we learn there is a Christian church in the hills hidden in the wood not far from Annegray, but apparently I never noticed it for all the trees.[footnote] I’m sure Brother Servant and Father Columbanus know of it as they often wander the forests for their solitude.
“Has that church a priest?” I ask.
“Yes of course, but not one of those dreary monks all walled up with their wrath ready to curse the ways of the wood and murder our trees.”
[footnote] Bloggers notes, and sources. It is the opinion of this blogger that the firm lines drawn between one religion and another are kept by edicts and edits which is how we know history; while the reality of the lives of people would probably reflect fuzzier lines between one religion and another. Irish scholar Alexander O’Hara documented the notes of an 18th Century archeological find of statuettes of Diana and Mercury at this secular church overlooking Annegray. The reference to these tangible artifacts is documented but the purpose for them can only be guessed at. O’Hara, Alexander, Columbanus ad Locum: The Establishment of the Monastic Foundations Perita 26 (2015) © Medieval Academy of Ireland & Brepols Publishers