When I returned home I continued to be haunted by the events at the conference; so I did what any academic would do under such circumstances. I went to the library and began wading through books.
For days I researched fruitlessly, poring over tome after tome in a futile attempt to find traces of this Blessed Catharine of Hanique. I did find three small bits of evidence in an author named Daniel Livingston Montgomery. The first was a fragment from a Latin poem (author, unidentified; date, unidentified; provenance, the margin of an unidentified manuscript) that mentioned the phrase, radix Hanicae. The second was the identification of Catharine of Hanique's feast-day as May 9. The third was the attribution to her of the following statement:
En mathématique on ne doit regarder que le principe, en morale que la conséquence. L'une est une vérité simple, l' autre une vérité complexe.
But, as I am sure you can see, it was all nothing. The passage is not from Catharine of Hanique at all; it is from Chateaubriand. The ninth of May is the holiday of St. Catharine of Bologna, and no liturgical calendar, whether Roman, Ruthenian, Coptic, or Syrian, gives any day at all for Catharine of Hanique. I know nothing further about the Latin phrase; even assuming it is not mere fiction, I have no real context within which to place it. Three minor bits of evidence, three dead ends.
I did, however, make an interesting discovery in passing: none of the liturgical calendars I had consulted mentioned the feast-day of any St. Catharine of Boulagnon, either. The day I had usually heard given was the solemnity of another St. Catharine entirely, St. Catharine of Alexandria.
Sitting back, I puzzled over this new and unexpected problem. Who was this Catharine who kept stealing what belonged to other Catharines? And how had such an obvious error such as that of her feast-day gone unnoticed for so long?
I pondered the question for a quarter of an hour, then decided to take a walk in the quad. I passed the spiky, nondescript bushes outside by the steps, then walked past a statue -- as it happens, it was a statue of Catharine of Bologna, with the motto inscribed below it, "He has favored". I wandered around on the manicured grass for a bit, ignoring the "Do not walk on grass" signs, then returned to my office to ponder the question further. Alas, I had almost no time to think, because I was interrupted by the arrival of two of the Dean's thugs. I recognized them as a professor of biology and a professor of mathematics.
"Well, Dan," said the professor of mathematics, "it's time for your appointment."
"I am busy," I replied.
"Now, Dan," said the professor of biology, "let's not do this the hard way."
Sighing, I rose, and, flanked by the Dean's minions, walked to the Dean's office.
When I entered, the short, arid-looking man who was the Dean rose and said, "Good morning, Dan. I trust you are feeling well today."
to be continued