Saturday, November 06, 2021

Abyss & Sea 10


In the morning, before Disan's return to Neyat Sor, Baia and Disan discussed various matters of business, then Baia said, "So what is our plan at this point?"

"That seems straightforward enough, at least for the immediate future," said Disan. "Everyone wants us to build ships, so ships we will build. Timber will be a problem. The shipwoods are in excellent shape, but nobody decades ago could plan for a massive increase in shipbuilding this year and next. I'll expand the repair stations into full shipyards, and the Wizan station has an excellent shipwood. Oak planking and pine for masting will likely not be a problem, but I am worried about the supply of hedgerow oak for compass timber."

"How will we be on jute and silk?"

"Hmm," said Disan, "that is a good question. Silk may be tight, but we will be getting Tavran and Talan supplies, and the production of the three kingdoms should cover what we need. Jute might be trickier."

"A strange situation in which jute might be more precious than silk," said Baia.

"A world upside down, as if we needed further proof. The Chipou tribes do a moderate trade in jute; we might be able to draw on them, even if we have to let ourselves be gouged. The Porphyry Mountain will be paying for some of it, anyway." Disan sighed. "At present we just need to lay the basic groundwork. But, as the saying goes, good trunnels need good seasoning."

"Well-prepared now is successful later," said Baia.

"Exactly." Disan sighed again and looked at her affectionately. "Do not stay away for too long," he said; "you will be missed."

They kissed, and then he said with a twinkle in this eye, "After all, I need someone else to help organize this ship construction." And then off he went.

Baia spent another two weeks, largely uneventful, on her Queen's Tour, and then returned to Neyat Sor. She was still in the process of transferring from Court in Visitation to Court in Residence when Sosan came to her with a possible candidate for a Tavran lady in waiting.

"Her name is Asaia, from a minor branch off of the royal family, second cousin once removed of the current princess," said Sosan.

"Excellent; that increases the chances of collecting gossip about the royal family without being too obvious about it," said Baia.

"My thought exactly, Your Highness," said Sosan. "Of course, the Tavran royal family will likely assume that this is the case and will thus try to control what information comes to Asaia herself, but my thought is that, first, they cannot change what she already knows, and, second, it is difficult to control gossip running through a family."

Baia shook her head. "What is it about a crown that makes people peer suspiciously into every corner and shadow, Sosan?"

"When you have a crown, mistakes due to ignorance are more likely to happen and it is more difficult to recover from them."

"In any case, I suppose I am doing the same thing. But even if none of this were true, we are looking not for a spy but for someone more informed about the royal family of Tavra. Since she is Tavran and related to the royal family, as a matter of courtesy we will have to request permission from the Tavran royal house, anyway, so it is not as if these are clandestine activities. Is there any chance that the Tavrans would protest?"

"I think not," said Sosan with a grave smile. "It is important to remember, Your Highness, that a Tavran in our court is a free and easy source of information for them, as well; half of the diplomatic interactions between the great houses of the kingdom consists in these exchanges on the border of espionage. They let us spy a little on them that they may spy a little on us, and thus peace and harmony are maintained."

"That is cynical, Sosan," said Baia.

"It is the nature of diplomacy, Your Highness. And it works well. We just must always remember that this is the way it happens, so that we are not at a disadvantage in it."

They were both thoughtfully silent a moment, then Sosan continued. "In any case, the new cooperation between Tavra and Sorea over this building of a navy will give them additional reason to have new channels of information about our court, and they are likely pondering how best to do this. We must take the initiative so that it is in the form that we request and not the form that they will inevitably at some point request. With that in mind, if Your Highness will give me permission, I will draft a formal letter of request to the Tavran royal court and at the same time make arrangements for the Lady Asaia to visit while we wait for the formal answer."

"That will be excellent," said Baia, little knowing how it would change the course of her life.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Dashed Off XXIII

 "A difference is an Effect, a change of being, an altered existence, an existence which cannot 'begin of itself' any more than any other in Nature..." Shepherd
"A Cause, therefore, is such action of an object, as shall enable it, in conjunction with another, to form a new nature, capable of exhibiting qualities varying from those of either of the objects unconjoined."
"An Effect is the produced quality exhibited to the senses, as the essential property of natures so conjoined."

(1) Every beginning of existence has a cause.
(2) Every regularity has a cause.
(3) Every composite has a cause.

ERCE 68: transition of mind is not precise enough to be an account of necessary connection (Andrew example)

rational integrity, facultative integrity, bodily integrity

When we ask for clarification of what it would mean to imagine the course of nature to change without cause, we always get explanations that clearly involve its causes changing, not being nonexistent.

A free society will make at least some accommodation to citizens who are wrong, even grievously wrong, if they are acting in a manner that would be reasonable if they were right.

If things could begin to exist without a cause, they could begin to exist despite contrary conditions, so that, for example, in an uncolored space a bit of scarlet could begin to exist while the uncolored space continues to be, entirely uncaused. If conditions can be contrary to an effect in any way, the effect cannot occur without at least the removal or suppression of the impeding contrariety, which removal is a cause of its occurring.

The conflation of partisan political positions with ethical positions is a major cause of political corruption.

Sensible qualities are unified with each other by being considered co-effects.

Hume E 4.17 on challenge arguments

God as the precondition for semiosis

actuality, fontality, fecundity

Everything actual is possible; thus everything actual is either necessary or presupposes what else contributes to its being possible; for every nonnecessary actual, there exists what is sufficient for its possibility.

Any religion that addresses itself only to the individual and not also to the family or household is to that extent defective.

In politics, emergencies that bring emergency powers tend to breed other emergencies.

Doyle and the development of the deliberate format of a recurring character in a series of standalone stories (he developed this on the idea that it might be a greater reason for readers to stick to a magazine -- they couldn't lose interest if they missed one issue, it fit well with Sherlock Holmes, who had done well in two books, and the rest is history)

Any account of invention that does not recognize that a thing can be invented more than once is already wrong.

plotted serial
episodic serial
nonserialized character series

reason adequation, division and elimination, contradiction avoidance, retorsive testing

"The proximate matter and the form are one and the same, the one potentially and the other actually." Aristotle

"...a cause is wanted in the universe equivalent to the change from non-existence to existence!" Shepherd

NB that Shepherd takes responding to the Essay on Miracles to be important to the completion fo the account of causation (ERCE 96).

memory as sameness-recognizing capacity

ritual as a way we build our minds toward profound thought

inference from co-effects as a major part of our causal reasoning

inference from effects
inference from co-effects
inference from systemic causal order

Consumerism is by its nature antisystematic; it encourages everything to go in the direction of buffet eclecticism.

If I get a flashing glimpse that seems to be a tree, there are many possible explanations of this; if I get a steady view of a tree, it is likely to be due, somewhere in the causal chain, to a real tree; this is strengthened if testing of some kind gives further reason to think the tree actually there. At each stage, we are reducing possibilities, as if by many layerings of filters.

-- we usually consider inference from sensation to the external world, but should also consider the inference from memory to the external world

union-based causal inferences vs trace-based causal inferences

the periodic table vs. Hume on 'cause and effect are discoverable only by experience'
-- note that this is still a significant challenge even given that the periodic table is itself built on experiences and even if our inferences from it only give us the approximately right -- Hume's claim is that c&e are discovered entirely by experience. (Hume, in other words, cannot rest with just arguing that we cannot determine causes and effects in a total void. But in the Enquiry discussion he bounces between saying we can't do it without the assistance of experience and saying it depends entirely on experience.)

What Hume describes is not causal inference but profile-fitting inference to existential matter of fact. Taken in such a way, much of what he says applies, but profile-fitting inference is at least partly justified by causal inference.

The graininess of sugar in the mouth is prior to and constantly conjoined with the sweetness of sugar, but it would obviously be absurd to think of the graininess itself as the cause of the sweetness.

Agni & fire as a pedagogical symbol for the divine

reason as "taking notice of the whole of our perceptions, and of their mutual relations" (Shepherd, ERCE 3) -- note the painting example at ERCE 8

Some of our sensations function better as sensations than others.

Ps 80:17-18 -- Let your hand [the Spirit] be upon the man of thy right hand, the son of man [the Son] whom thou hast made strong for thyself! Then we will never turn back from thee; give us life [the Spirit] and we will call on thy name [the Son].

"In all abstract reasonings, there is one point of view, which, if we can happily hit, we shall go farther towards illustrating the subject, than by all the eloquence and copious expression in the world." Hume E 7.30

Most of Hume's illustrations of the uniformity among the actions of men (E8.7) are statistical, about large groups (cf. also 8.10,12).
Note that the problems w/ the reasonings of the philosophers (E8.13-14) on necessity of natural causes, in light of things like quantum uncertainty, carry over to the intelligent cases; and that even if this were not so, the reasoning does not rule out chaotically unpredictable cases.
Note that Hume's explanation of the 'false sensation' of liberty at E8.22n would arguably count as a Shepherdian proof by trial.

It's worth noting that Hume censures criticism of philosophical hypotheses on the basis of their dangerous consequences to morality by claiming that his own method of reasoning has dangerous consequences for morality (E8.26).

The authority of scripture and tradition is not purely an authority of historical testimony.

We often come to recognize illusions or sensory defects on the basis of testimony.

The passion of surprise and wonder arising from clever skeptical paradoxes and eliminative positions, being agreeable, gives a sensible tendency to overweight those positions inciting it. And this goes so far that even those who reject them love to partake in discussion about them, arguing about them by a sort of devil's advocacy, in delight at the admiration and wonder of others. What what greediness do many receive such paradoxes and unexpected eliminations! But when this is joined to incentive for rejecting the things with which the paradoxes and eliminations are concerned, all common sense will often fly away, especially where the paradoxes and eliminations are eloquently expressed, despite our common experience of such paradoxes and eliminations as merely sophistical.

It is common among causes that we know that their power to cause exceeds the precise effect they have in any given situation.

Given that we know someone is wise enough to plan X, we can reasonably extrapolate that they are wise enough to plan a wide variety of analogous things, and the same is true for goodness as for wisdom.

No one, from the sight of Zeuxis' pictures, would conclude that he could do nothing but paint those particular pictures, nor would they conclude that he was capable of nothing but painting. And while we could not definitely conclude from them alone that he was an equally brilliant sculptor, we would be less surprised, having seen his paintings, if we were to find some reason, however small, for thinking he was.

We generally find with intelligent beings that, being able to do something incompletely or badly, they could have, if they used more of what goes into it (time, effort, resources, etc.), or had prepared the materials more, done it completely and well. Given a rough draft with a few promising parts, or with elements that could be refined, we recognize that the drafter could do something much better than just a rough draft.

The argument of the Essay of a Particular Providence and a Future State, seems inspired by the Newtonian rejection of feigning hypotheses; and the target is quite clearly Butler.

Given that a human intelligent cause is capable of things far beyond any particular effect, we have reason to think a much more powerful, much more intelligent cause is also capable of more than any effect we know, because this is how we already know power and intelligence to work.

Humes comments in E12.4 seem a direct paraphrase of the rules in Descartes's Discourse.

Thursday, November 04, 2021


 * Elliot Polski, Thomas Aquinas on Grace as a Mysterious Kind of Creature (PDF)

* Lloyd Strickland, Do We Need a Plant Theodicy? (PDF)

* Rudolf Schuessler, The Debate on Probable Opinions in the Scholastic Tradition 

* Meg Wallace, The polysemy of 'part' (PDF)

* Melissa Merritt, Kant and Stoic Affections (PDF)

* Yutang Jin, What Confucianism and for Whom? The Value and Dilemma of Invoking Confucianism in Confucian Political Theories

* Jake Rossen discusses Michelangelo's poem about how awful it was painting the Sistine Chapel

* just the punctuation takes a text and gives you just the punctuation. Here, for instance, is just the punctuation for the first chapter of O Pioneers!:

, , , , . , . - ; , , . , . , , " " . ; , , , , , - . , ' , , . , - , . , . - - , , . , . , . . . , - . ; . , . , , , , " , , ! ! " , . ' , . , . . , , . , . , . : , . , , , . ' ( , ; ) , , . , , , , , . . . " , ! . ? " " , , ! , . " , , . " , ! ' ' , ? ? , . " , , " , , , " . . " , ' . . ' . ' . . , ' . ' ? ? . , . " . , , ; , , - . . " , , ! " , . — — . . . , . - , . - , , , ? , . , " " - . , , . " ' , . . . " , , . , - . , . " . ' , . , , " . ; . . , . , . " , , . " . " , . ' ? ' . ? " " . - . ' ; ' . " ' . , , , . . , . , , . , , , . , ' . . , , , , . , " ' . " - , . , . , , ' . , , . , , ' , , , - . ; - , , , - . - , " " , , , . , , . . , , . , . , , . , . , ; , , . , , , , ' , " . " , ' , " ' , ! . " ' , , . . " , , " , " . " , , ' , . . . , . , . , . , , , . , . " , " , " ' , . " . , . " , . ' ' , " . , . ' , . , , . : , ; , . , , . ; , . , . ' ; , , , , , . . , . " - ? " . " . ' , ' . . " , . " ' , , . ' . . " . , , , , , . , . " , " , , " , ' ' . . " " ? " " , . . . ' . , ' . " " ' ? " . " , ! ? " " . ' . ' ? - , , . " " ? " " , , . ' , . " . . " , . , ' . ? ' . . . , ' ? ' . " . " ' . , ' , . " - , . , , . " , . , . - , . . " . " , - - - ! " . , " , - - - - - ! " . , , , , .

* Philip Jenkins looks at the influence of Bible translations on weird fiction.

* Willem deVries, Hegel today, at Aeon.

* The old name for a number n raised to the eighth power was the zenzizenzizenzic of n.

* Dwight Furrow, The Scandal of Philosophy

* Lauren Moya Ford discusses recent discoveries about Van Gogh's painting process and materials.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Abyss & Sea 9


The manor where the Visitation Court was residing was about a three-hour ride from the small port town of Mir Salal, located on a small but very navigable harbor across the channel from the main Sorean isle. It mostly served as a home port for fishermen and a base for some domestic trade in the kingdom, mostly in timber, although it was also one of only two places in the world (the other being the main isle itself) that was home to the Sorean snail, the source of the empress of all dyes, deep, shimmering, subtly iridescent Sorean black. It was also a popular location for wealthy sailors and shipwrights to retire from sea and yard in their old age, which was more the point of Baia's interest in it. As the Court settled in, Baia decided that she might as well do her visit then rather than later, and headed out with a small guard one morning to see her father.

Esten had been born in Mir Salal; he had shown a talent as a youth in the repair yards which eventually took him to Soromir, where over long years he had risen to become the Master Shipwright of Sorea; but he had always returned, regardless of his fortunes, to Mir Salal. In truth, Baia was looking forward to seeing her father again, although she was dreading The Question, as she thought of it, and when she saw him she felt her whole spirit lifting.

"Ah," he said after they embraced, at which she knew that The Question was coming, "and can I expect any grandchildren soon?"

Baia, having steeled herself to the occasion, shook her head and said, "You will be the first to know, I assure you."

"Well," he said in that tone of not quite judging and not quite approving that some parents master in their old age, "You are young yet. But it would be nice to see grandchildren before I die."

"I would not be at all surprised if you outlasted me," she replied.

He shushed her. "Do not say such ill-omened things. You should not talk about death in public"

"It was you who brought the topic up ," she said with some exasperation.

"And I am an old man. Why do I need to worry about omens? Come, come, let us have lunch!"

They chatted with gossip and small talk as her father's cook served the meal. It took her back to her childhood, as it was one of her favorite foods, although one she rarely had anymore. Soromir was a splendid city, but Mir Salal, being less cosmopolitan, preserved more of the traditional Sorean dishes, among which was fermented sea bass eaten raw, sometimes, as today, with toasted bread spread with a spiced tomalley of shore crab. Such dishes were, of course, the reason that people in Ezrym or Tala joked that the Soreans ate 'rotting, stinking fish', but, properly prepared by being fermented for three years in salt and vinegar according to the traditional method, its deep salt taste sparkled on the Sorean tongue. After their lunch they drank wolfberry tea and turned to more serious discussion.

"I have heard a few things of this Andran fleet that you mention," Esten said. "Strange rumors. A few of the young people here have been enticed away to the Golden Shores. After all, you cannot suddenly start building many ships without the craftsmen to do so. But the details that we hear are very vague and conflicting, and I suspect deliberately obfuscated precisely for us. The money is said to be good, but that, of course, is the Andran way; never develop yourself if you can buy it or steal it from elsewhere." Baia nodded neutrally at this widely shared anti-Andran prejudice. Her father continued. "And there have been strange rumors, as well. A friend of mine stopped by a few weeks back with story about Andran ships sinking in a storm."

"Surely that cannot be right," said Baia. "Andran ships are unsinkable."

"I know it well," said Esten, spreading his hands, "for they stole the secret from us by bribery several generations ago. And yet that was the story." He grew reflective. "It is interesting to try to think of the conditions under which an unsinkable ship would actually sink. Watertight, immune to fire, stable even in severe storm, able to endure hitting a shoal, what could possibly sink one? The sky would have to fall on it. Of course, it is true that they are Andran and so likely cut corners somewhere," he said in a kind of concession, as if Baia herself had raised the point.

They had a few moments of reverie, then Esten said again, "I could understand an Andran being so incompetent as to run a ship aground. How would you sink the unsinkable, though?"

"Probably nothing more than the exaggeration of rumor," said Baia.

"I can hardly believe that, either," said Esten. "Nobody would start a rumor that I hopped to the moon, and if they did, nobody would spread it. And yet here we have a story as completely inexplicable. There must be some reason that people started believing it; exaggerations in rumors never reach the point of insanity. And it is true," he said, again concessively,  "that if any captain could take an unsinkable ship and accidentally sink it, it would be an Andran captain."

Wanting to prevent the discussion from ripening, as it threatened to do, into yet another fruition of the age-old Andran-Sorean rivalry at sea, Baia asked what her father knew about Tavra and its ruling house.

"Not much directly," he said. "I've only been up the Great Canal a few times as part of test runs. Talking about strange rumors! The whole family is surrounded by them. Canthan, I suppose, is still king, although even in my day he was as crazy as if he slept in a bed of mercury. He really liked exotic animals, and would pay astoundingly high amounts for new animals that he had never seen before. I knew a man who had caught an air-serpent once, and selling it to Canthan made him wealthy in and of itself. Last I heard, it was Canthan's daughter who was really pulling all the strings. What was her name?" he asked reflectively.


"Yes, that was it. Some strange things were said about her. Tavern-room talk, mostly, at third- and fourth-hand. I was talking to someone just last year, I forget whom, who claimed she had the power to warp the minds of men."

"Warp the minds of men?"

"Yes, make them do what she wanted. Of course, Canthan in his younger days also had a reputation for being able to persuade people, so perhaps it runs in the family. But he also talked about someone he knew who had angered her, and she somehow drove him mad. Many things like that. She is a young woman yet; it is difficult to imagine what she could ever have done that would give birth to such dark tales. Nobody ever said such things about Canthan. Of course, Canthan was always mad himself, and has apparently only grown worse over time."

"The Tavrans do a good trade in honey and mead," said Baia.

"Of course. Other things, too -- silphium-resin and edible flowers like pansies and nasturtiums and borage and cornflowers always fetch a good price, either fresh or candied."

"Have you ever heard of anyone being poisoned by honey?"

"No," said Esten. Then he paused. "Well, maybe. Now that you mention, I do remember a story about the training of royal guards in Tavra. It is apparently a brutal training, and I remember something about some new recruits being given a honey-ration with their meal, but the bees had been gathering from poppy and oleander -- or maybe it was rhododendron -- and all the guards had hallucinations because of it."

"Did any of them die or grow violent?"

"Not that I recall," he replied. "But who knows what is possible with Tavran plants. They are overflowing with them. There is a tree, a kind of spurge, that grows in Tavra, that is called the death-apple, whose fruit and leaves and everything are very poisonous; they dry the wood out and treat it somehow, and the wood, if properly handled, is excellent, good for cabinets. It is remarkable how even poisonous things can do great good if they are simply respected properly; they just need to be given the right place."

The conversation then turned to other matters, reminiscences and gossip about family, neighbors, and friends. In the late afternoon, Baia returned to the manor, having asked her father to keep his ears open for any rumors about Tavra. 

There was the inevitable business to consider, since to be queen is always to have new tasks begging to be done, so she was quite tired when she began to think about going to bed. She had not quite begun to move in that direction when there was a commotion outside. There were riders riding up to the manor. She went to go see who it could be, just in time to see Disan dismounting his horse. Setting aside all queenly reserve, she ran over and embraced him.

"Well," he said teasingly, "I arrived back in Soromir hoping to see my beautiful queen and discovered that she is out and about and spending the entire treasury."

"I have not spent that much," she said half-indignantly, and he laughed.

"It would not matter, in any case," he said. "The trade with the Chipou tribes has been going extremely well."

"Are you here to join the Visitation?"

"Alas, no," Disan said. "I am still officially in Residence at Neyat Sor, so I will be returning tomorrow. I'll take Sosan back, if you don't mind. A very large number of things need to be organized, and I don't think I trust anyone else to help me get it quite right. You can finish your Tour, as long as you hurry back to me -- and Ker, who is missing you greatly, despite pretending that he is not. But, besides getting Sosan, I could not bear to spend much longer without seeing my queen."

"Well," she said in reply, "I am glad to be your second reason after Sosan."

Baia felt much less tired than she had, and they headed off to discuss what had happened in each other's absence. They had a great deal to discuss.

One Mellow Smile Through the Soft Vapory Air

Sonnet -- November
by William Cullen Bryant

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue Gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.

Monday, November 01, 2021

Abyss & Sea 8


As the Visitation Court settled into its new location, another curious event took place. An old tower on the sea shore, about half an hour's ride from the manor, burned in a fire. The tower was a landmark, one of the oldest buildings in the area, in its earliest form having been built, it is said, by the original Soreans shortly after they had arrived in the Great Realm, and every later renovation or development having preserved significant parts of the original. It seemed to Baia that restoration of such a landmark would be appropriate for a Visitation tour, so she and a small entourage rode out one morning to the tower to assess the damage. 

The tower rose on a small rocky hill a short way from the sea shore. It was a large rectangular structure about three stories high, not at all elegant in itself, having originally been built primarily to house emergency supplies for that part of the coast; but time lends a bit of charm even to homely buildings if they are built well. The roof for it was gone, destroyed in the fire, as were the shutters for its windows. There was smoke-damage on the stone above those windows. As Tevan, one of the guards in her entourage, noted, the strangest thing was that the base of the tower also showed black scars of fire, as did the ground around it.

"That is indeed strange," said Baia. "It burned inside and out."

"Yes, Your Highness," said Tevan. "The building was set on fire by someone deliberately intending to burn it. Fires both inside and outside the building cannot be an accident."

The door to the tower was of oak and iron, and, while blackened with smoke, had not burned. The key, which they had obtained from the local warden, fit the lock but would not turn, apparently damaged in some way by the fire. Baia put her hand on the door. There was a semblance of life in it, and in its making it had been interlaced with chantments that had provided protection from the fire, the same chantments that were used by Soreans to protect their ships from fire and other kinds of damage. The person who had made the door had known what they were doing.

"Do you uphold the pacts and the covenants?" she asked it.

And a voice came from the door, wizened and cracked, "I uphold them, O queen."

"Then open for me."

There was a sort of sighing and gasping from the door, and a scraping and grating, as if the door were having difficulty obeying, but the lock turned, and the door opened. 

The inside of the tower was a sad mess, full of ash and cinder and partly burned timber, which had since been drenched by rain. All the furnishings were gone. The bottom of the second floor had burned through in several ways, and through the holes they could see that the same was true of the third floor, as well. 

Tevan cautiously went far enough up the heavily scarred stairway to see what the second floor looked like, and when came down, he said, "Your Highness, it is difficult to tell, but I believe that fires may have been set on each of the floors; it was not one fire inside, either."

Baia stood in the center of the tower and closed her life. She felt the semblance of life, not from the door, which was a separate entity, but imbued into the tower itself. 

"Do you uphold the pacts and the covenants?" she asked the tower.

A mighty susurration seemed to rise and fall around her like the sea. "I have upheld them and I uphold them, O queen," said the tower. "By those pacts and covenants render justice unto me, O queen."

"Your right to the royal protection under the pacts and the covenants is recognized and granted," she said. "Now tell me who did this."

The sighing flowed and ebbed again. "Three were the strangers who lit the fires," said the tower. "Three, young and beardless, brought the flame. On horses they rode, O queen."

She went to the door and asked it the same question. A sighing rose within the door, and the door said, "Three were the strangers who passed by key, O queen."

Baia had enough experience with inanimate objects under the pacts and the covenants to know that she would not get more; to communicate is not the strength of unliving things, even when they have the semblance of life. If anything, it was a sign of how well constructed the tower had been that she was able to get this much; only the finest crafts and chantments of the finest smiths and masons and carpenters could have done more.

"If they had a key and horses," said Baia to Tevan, "they are likely to be known. Take the key back to the warden and find out who had the key, or whether there are any other keys. I will return to court. Investigate this matter and report when you have solved it, or by tomorrow morning if the trail runs cold."

Most of the rest of Baia's hours were taken up with those unavoidable sundries of little importance that clog up the days to make them simultaneously busy and unproductive. But Tevan's trail did not run cold and by evening he was back at court, dragging three youths and their parents before the queen.

"These three are the ones who did it, without any doubt," said Tevan. "The parents of this one," he said, shaking one of the youths somewhat ungently, "have one of the emergency keys, and they have confessed."

Baia looked with astonishment at the three sulky-looking young men. Beardless, indeed! Sorean men usually shave, unless they are at a long sea-journey, when a beard is considered lucky, but the three were young enough that she could not imagine that they had very much experience shaving. "How old are?"

The three youths said nothing, but one of the parents said, "They are fifteen, Your Highness."

Baia looked at the three young men a long while as they looked everywhere but at her. Finally she said, "What I want to know is why anyone would do such a thing. Why did you do this?"

She had to ask the question again to get a response, but it consisted only in a shrug. Baia felt a flash of anger and had to bite back an immediate response. She looked into the distance and took a deep breath, then after a moment said, "You must have had a reason. What was your reason?"

One of the youths shrugged again and said, "It's just an old tower."

Baia, an only child who had never had children, had very little experience with young people of that age and the impossibility of getting coherent reasons from them about some of their actions. She found an angry bewilderment settling on her at this answer, and she felt her lips set firmly together in a thin line in a way that somehow. and irritatingly, reminded her of her own mother.

"We are bound together and to this realm," she said coldly, "by bonds and responsibilities that are not at our whims, that protect us and in return for which we provide protection. That tower was built by the skill and effort of our ancestors, and serves as a memorial to them, and that would of itself deserve our respect. It has contributed to the saving of lives and the furthering of our prosperity, and that would of itself deserve our respect. But most of all, it was interwoven with the pacts and the covenants to be a common expression of the realm, a protection for it, a treasure to benefit all, and as such it falls under royal protection." She felt herself getting angrier as she spoke, so she paused to take a breath before she continued. "Children," she said with somewhat more vehemence than she intended, "do not fall under royal jurisdiction, as far as your persons go; you are under the jurisdiction of your parents. But you have harmed the realm, and this cannot go unanswered."

She turned her attention to the parents and had Tevan give their names and positions as they shifted uncomfortably under her glare. Since the young men were too young to fall normally under the direct punitive force of the royal law, and to declare them enemies of the kingdom subject to martial penalties would be an overreaction, Baia had no choice but to make the punishment fall on the parents as those who were responsible for the fire under the law. She decreed that the parents of the three malfeasants were to rebuild the tower as new and pay for the complete cost of building a new ship for the Sorean fleets. It was a standard penalty for deliberate harm to a treasure of the realm. It was also a hefty penalty, even divided among three wealthy families, for Sorean ships were the best ships in the world, and the best ships are not easy to build. In combination with their normal expenses, it might well bankrupt them.

After she dismissed them, Baia sat by herself for a very long time, her anger transmuting to melancholy, dissatisfaction, and a strange sense of helplessness in the face of something she did not understand, and could understand less and less the more she considered it. Finally, she set it aside with a sigh, made a mental note to commend Tevan formally for his work, and went to bed.

All Saints

I remembered thy mercy, O Lord, and thy works, which are from the beginning of the world, how thou deliverest them that wait for thee, O Lord, and savest them out of the hands of the nations.


Niklaus von Flue

Born to a wealthy peasant family in Unterwalden in the Swiss Confederacy in 1417, Nicholas enrolled in the army and fought in the Old Zurich War (1440-1446); he also married and became a farmer when he wasn't engaged in his military duties. Popular among his neighbors, he became influential in the politics of his canton. One day when out in the fields caring for his cattle, he sat down to pray and had a vision of a beautifully scented white lily springing from his mouth, which was then eaten by the most beautiful horse he had ever seen, and he interpreted this as a calling to the contemplative life. After arranging things with his family, he began to live the life of a hermit. He continued to have elaborate symbolic visions, and people began to come to him for advice; in fact, pilgrims traveling the Way of St. James would often make Brother Klaus's hermitage one of their stopping points. In 1481, a major dispute arose among the Swiss cantons over whether Freiburg and Soleure should be admitted to the Swiss Confederacy, with some cantons demanding their admission and others resisting. They could not reach agreement. A Swiss parish priest visited Brother Klaus and discussed the matter with him; Klaus dictated a formal agreement that he thought would be acceptable to all parties, in which the new cantons would have a conditional admission. The priest brought Klaus's proposal to the Diet, which was near dissolution amid worries of civil war. Klaus's proposal was accepted unanimously; several cantons wrote him letters of thanks for his intervention. He died in 1487; his wife and children, with whom he had never entirely lost touch during his years as a hermit, were at his deathbed. Regarded as a national hero by Swiss Protestants and Catholics alike, a devotion to him among Swiss Catholics arose immediately after his death. He was beatified in 1669 and canonized by 1947, and is the patron saint of Switzerland. In Switzerland and some other parts of the world, his feast day is September 25, but in most other places it is March 21, the anniversary of his death.

Contardo of Este

Contardo of Este, born in 1217, was the crown prince of the Italian city-state of Ferrara. He renounced his crown, title, and wealth to become a simple man of God, and devoted himself to pilgrimage, which gave him his nickname, The Pilgrim. Nobody knows why he gave everything up for a life of poverty, and indeed, we have only very sketchy information about his life, but he died in Broni, Italy, where he was buried on a hill. Stories of miracles sprang up around that hill, and his body was eventually translated to a church. He was canonized in 1609 by Paul V. His feast day is April 16, and in iconography he is often depicted with a crown and scepter at his feet.

Peter of Verona

The early life of Peter of Verona is not well documented, but he was born in Verona around 1205 and attended the University of Bologna. At the age of fifteen, he met St. Dominic and joined the Order of Preachers. He was well-suited to the Dominicans; he was an excellent preacher. In the course of one of his preaching circuits, he seems to have founded or helped to found the Venerabile Arciconfraternita della Misericordia di Firenze, more commonly known as La Misericordia, a lay fraternity devoted to helping the sick. (It is still around today and is often said to be the oldest private institution devoted to the sick in the world.) He was also important in getting papal recognition for the Servite Order. But preaching was his primary work, and of course, in those days, the Dominicans preached directly against heresy, especially the Cathar heresy. As Peter began to have success in convincing Cathars to return to orthodoxy, he made some enemies among Cathar leaders, and, as it was Italy in the thirteenth century, the Cathars of Milan hired an assassin, Carino of Balsamo. Carino and an associate waylaid Peter and a fellow Dominican near Barlassina, north of Milan; Carino hit Peter in the head with an axe and mortally wounded his companion. While Carino attacked the companion, Peter began to say the creed, and got no farther than "Credo in Deum" when Carino stabbed him with a dagger and he died on the spot, April 6, 1252, and he became ever after known as Peter Martyr. His companion survived the attack, but was mortally wounded and died a few days later. Carino fled to a monastery, where he confessed his sins to Bl. Giacomo Salomoni. Carino himself eventually became a lay Dominician and spent the rest of his life doing penances. Peter Martyr was canonized on March 9, 1253 by Innocent IV, making him the saint up to the point who was canonized most closely to his death. His feast day is April 6. Carino of Balsamo was beatified; his feast day is April 28.

Virginia Centurione Bracelli

Virginia Centurione was born in 1587 in Genoa to an important family; her father eventually became Doge of Genoa. She wanted to become a nun from an early age, but she was forced by her parents to marry Gaspare Grimaldi Bracelli, a rich nobleman. She had two children, but her husband died not long after, and she adamantly refused to marry again. Instead, she devoted her time and money to care of the sick and the needy. This eventually became crucial work when a major plague swept through the region. The little institution she founded for helping the sick expanded to a full hospital. She also assisted in mediating between the contentious Italian noble houses. She was beatified in 1985 by St. John Paul II and canonized in 2003 by the same. Her feast day is December 15.


Fulrad was born in Alsace around 710. At some point he joined the abbey of Saint-Denis, where he was elected the abbot around 750. He was an extremely competent abbot. During his tenure, the abbey lands were increased and he managed to negotiate the return of lands that had been seized by Charles Martel; he also founded a number of satellite monasteries, to which he eventually convinced the pope to assign a 'cloister bishop', a bishop specifically devoted to governing and administering the monasteries. He himself never became a bishop, but he became the chaplain first for Pippin III and then for Charlemagne, thus making him the most influential clergyman in France. He was significant for the work he did in keeping Pippin and Charlemagne on relative good terms with the papacy; this makes him a key player in the rise of the Carlovingian empire, as he is heavily responsible for the papacy throwing its support behind Pippin rather than Childeric. Fulrad died on July 16, 784, and his feast is on July 16.

Ivan of Rila

 Ivan was born in the village of Skrino somewhere near the Osogovo mountain range in Bulgaria in the late ninth century. He became a priest and then a monk, and eventually left for the Rila mountains, somewhere near the modern city of Dupnitsa, in order to live the life of a hermit in the caves there. Rumors of his sanctity and of miracles spread and became the seed of the Rila Monastery, the most important monastery in Bulgaria. The rumors spread so far that Czar Peter I went on pilgrimage to see him and ask his advice; however, on arriving at the foot of the Rila mountains, the Czar realized that there was no way he was going to be able to climb that rugged terrain to reach Ivan's cave; he could get close enough to see him in the distant, but that was all. And Ivan refused to come down and meet the Czar in person; he considered meeting with princes an occasion for vanity and refused to indulge it. So the saint and the Czar bowed to each other from a distance, and the Czar sent a soldier with a gift of food, gold, and silver. Ivan accepted the food, but sent all the gold and silver book with a message that kings need gold and silver to aid their people. St. Ivan Rilski, who is the patron saint of Bulgaria, died in August of 792; his feast day is October 19.

Austregisilus, Sulpitius the Pious, Desiderius, Amandus, Remaclus, Theodard, Lambert

It was the time of the Merovingian kings. We know very little about the early life of Austregisilus (Austrille, Outrille); he was born in the late sixth century and was a courtier in the court of King Gontram. He became a monk in the abbey of Saint-Nizier, in Lyon, and eventually the bishop of Bourges. He ordained and taught a large number of people, among whom were Sulpitius and Amand. Sulpitius was born in Vatan, and after his ordination, Austregisilus eventually made him director of the bishop's school; he was then summoned by Clotaire II to be a military chaplain. It was there that he likely made the friendship of Desiderius who had been raised at the Merovingian court and became Clotaire's treasurer. He became well known for his intensive devotion, which he had been taught by his mother. After the death of Austregisilus, Sulpitius was chosen to be bishop of Bourges. When King Dagobert I increased taxes and his flock complained about the burden, he negotiated with Dagobert to lighten the load. Eventually, Sulpitius retired to a monastery, where he died on January 17, 646. Desiderius, meanwhile, had been requested as the bishop of Cahors in 630, and Dagobert had given his consent. At Cahors, Desiderius became a central hub in the correspondence network among bishops and ardently advocated monastic life; he donated all his family estates to the Church and died around 650. 

St. Amandus, Austregisilus's other well-known student, is thought to have been born in Lower Pitou. Although from a noble family, Amand ran away to become a monk and was disinherited, although this was later rescinded, and at the death of his father, Amand returned to his estates temporarily to solve various problems with the inheritance that had arisen. He found the wealth enticing enough possibly to tempt him away from the monastic life, so he went on pilgrimage to Rome. When he returned, he was made a missionary bishop and preached the pagans of Ghent and Flanders. He had very little success until rumors spread that he had brought a hanged man back to life. When he returned to France, he kept getting in trouble by his attempts to get King Dagobert to reform his life; despite an influential ally in court, St. Acarius, he was exiled for a while. Acarius eventually convinced Dagobert to let Amand return; he founded several monasteries when he did. He also had a mission in Slovakia, which was a complete failure. Toward the very end of his life, he was made bishop of Maastricht for a short time (647-650), but then retired in his seventies order to do a final missionary tour and found more monasteries. He died in his nineties, preaching and administering monasteries to the very end.

One of St. Sulpitius's students was a man named Remaclus (Remacle). He became a priest and then a monk, and was eventually appointed, by St. Eligius, to be run a monastery at Solignac; the next stage of his career was running various monasteries. He became the missionary bishop of Maastricht after St. Amand, in 652. As such, he worked with St. Hadelin to preach to the Belgians and had several students, including St. Trudo, who became a missionary bishop, St. Babolen, who administered monasteries, St. Theodard, and St. Lambert. He eventually retired to a monastery and died in the 670s. Theodard (Diethardt) was his successor as bishop of Maastricht, having previously succeeded him as head of one of Remaclus's monasteries. He was famous for his cheerfulness and geniality. But around 670, he was on a trip back from seeing King Childeric II, to whom he had been appealing for justice in a dispute with various nobles who had seized Church lands; he was stopped in the forest and murdered. His murderers were never caught, but it is universally thought that he was murdered by the nobles for his defense of the Church, and therefore is usually listed as a martyr.

Theodard was succeeded as bishop of Maastricht by his nephew Lambert. We know very little of Lambert's life before this point. He is said to have been baptized by Remaclus and raised in the Merovingian court of King Childeric II. The period after Lambert became bishop of Maastricht was a trying time. Childeric was murdered in 675 and a major power struggle erupted. When one faction, that of Eboin, gained dominance, Lambert was expelled from his see; he was allowed to return when another faction, that of Pepin of Herstal, gained the upper hand. With the help of St. Willibrod, Lambert continued the missionary work of his predecessors, and one of his proteges was St. Hubert (who would succeed him as bishop of Maastricht). But the political situation, while more stable, had not become much better. Lambert is said to have denounced the adulterous relationship between Pepin of Herstal and Alpaida (the mother of Charles Martel). In the aftermath, Lambert was murdered by soldiers, probably attached to the family of Alpaida, as were his two nephews, Peter and Audolet, who died trying to defend their uncle.

This network of saints, of which only the core is given here, forms much of the foundation for the conversions of Neustria, Burgundy, Austrasia, Belgium, and surrounding regions, each one doing his own work, but each putting the gospel of Christ above his own interests, in a network-cascade of gospel and grace. The feast of St. Austregisilus of Bourges is May 20; that of St. Sulpitius the Pious is January 17; that of St. Desiderius of Cahors is May 23; that of St. Amand is Feruary 6; that of St. Remaclus is September 3; that of St. Theodard is September 10; that of St. Lambert is September 17.

The Martyrs of Shanxi

Seven sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were assigned to the diocese of Shanxi in 1898 to assist with hospitals and orphanages. Sister Marie Adolphine was born into a very poor family in 1866 in Ossendrecht, Netherlands, as Anne-Catherine Dierks. She spent some time as a factory worker before joining the Franciscan Missionaries, and in China she worked in the laundry of the orphanage. Sister Marie de Saint Just, was born Anne-Francoise Moreau in 1866 in La Fate, France, to a moderate wealthy farming family and spent her childhood helping to sell produce. She was very close to her family, and after she joined the Missionaries, she underwent a severe depression linked to being separated from them; it grew so severe that she had a crisis of faith and began to worry that she was going insane. But with the help of her sisters, she recovered. Sister Maria Chiara was born Clelia Nanetti in 1872 in Santa Maria Maddalena, Italy, and had disappointed her parents, who wanted her to marry, by running away to the Missionaries. Sister Marie Hermina was born as Imra Grivot in 1866 in Beaune, France, to the daughter of a cooper. She was very sickly much of her life; it interfered greatly with her education, and after she joined the Missionaries, she had to make extraordinary efforts to prove that she was capable of the rigors and hardships that the foreign missionary work she wanted to do would require; in the process, however, she had gained a considerable amount of experience in keeping accounts and caring for the sick. Sister Marie Santa Natalia was born as Jeanne-Marie Kerguin in Belle Isle en Terre, France, in 1864 to a poor family in the backwoods mountains. She was well-known among her sisters for her willingness to work, cheerfully doing even the most menial tasks, and for her love of prayers. Her first few months in China she was hospitalized for typhus and was just starting to return completely to normal. Sister Marie de la Paix was born as Marianna Giuliani in 1875 in Aquila, Italy, where she had had a hard child; her mother was moderately pious but her father was vehemently anti-religious, and he abandoned all seven children after her mother died; they had to be cared for by neighbors and religious sisters. Marianna, with the help of the latter, studied in France and was in charge of organizing the orphanage; she was also well-known among the sisters for her heavenly singing voice. Sister Marie Amandine was born as Pauline Jeuris in 1872 in Herk-la-Ville, Belgium; she was easily recognized by her easy and laughing disposition, and had been a nurse in France before coming to China. Seven women, all very different in background and personality, but united in one destiny, coming together in one place and one time to die for Christ. The Boxer Rebellion spread through Shanxi, including Taiyuanfu, where their hospital and orphanage were located; they were seized and beheaded in July 1900. Their feast day is July 8, although they are also commemorated with all Martyrs of China on September 28.

Tôma Khuông

Born somewhere around 1779 in Vietnam to a Christian noble family, Thomas Khuong eventually became a priest in the vicariate of Central Tonkin. He also became a Dominican tertiary and a member of the Dominican priestly fraternity, which meant that he was a diocesan priest under a bishop but formally affiliated with the Dominicans. Life became quite difficult during the reign of Minh Mệnh, the second emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty. In 1825, the emperor banned all Christian missionaries, condemning Christianity as a European perversion that corrupted minds. Tôma was imprisoned a number of times, but survived the Minh Mệnh persecution. The next emperor was no friendlier to Christians, but the practical need for good relations with France limited the actual damage that he did to the Church. There were fewer restraints on the next emperor after that, Tự Đức, whose long reign began in 1837. Tự Đức, reasoning that France would be too absorbed in major European crises at the time to interfere, cracked down hard on Vietnamese Christians, at one point demanding that they either renounce their faith or be branded on their faces and treated as outlaws. Tự Đức's calculations proved incorrect, as his repeated excesses in handling missionaries ended up infuriating all of the major European powers in the area, leading to increasing European encroachment and domination that could not be resisted because he could no longer play the European powers off each other. But many died in the persecutions, and among them was Father Tôma Khuông. While traveling in December of 1859, he was arrested and was ordered to renounce his faith and tread on a crucifix to show his sincerity. When he refused, he was beheaded. On January 30, 1860, he was executed by beheading. He was canonized in 1988 by St. John Paul II. His personal feast is January 30, but he is also celebrated with all Vietnamese Martyrs on November 24. 

Maria Teresa Goretti

Maria Goretti was born in 1890 in the Kingdom of Italy to a poor family that eventually had to share a residence with another family, the Serenellis, to get by. Her father died when she was young, and as her mother and brothers had to work in the fields to scrape together enough to feed themselves, she looked after her younger siblings. In 1902, she was accosted by the Serenelli boy, Alessandro, who tried to rape her. She refused to yield, telling him that he was committing a sin and would go to hell for it, so he stabbed her seventeen times with an awl. The other Gorettis came upon her bleeding on the floor and rushed her to the hospital, but it was too late, and she died, after forgiving Alessandro and expressing a hope that he might repent of his sin and achieve heaven. Alessandro Serenelli was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned, but as a minor he did not receive the usual life sentence but a thirty-year sentence. He was unrepentant, until after three years in prison he had a dream of Maria in which she gave him a lily and it turned to fire in his hands. After his time was served, he apologized to the Gorettis and became a Capuchin friar, dying in 1970. St. Maria Goretti was beatified in 1947 and canonized in 1950. Her feast is July 6. 

Lidwina of Schiedam

Born in 1380 in Holland to a poor family of laborers, Lidwina at the age of 15 was in an ice skating accident that damaged her ribs. She never fully recovered, and in fact her condition slowly deteriorated over the course of her life, eventually becoming paralyzed and contracting a condition in which she regularly bled and shed skin. Exactly what her full condition was, we don't know, but she is often thought to have suffered from, among other things, multiple sclerosis, which, if so, would make her one of the earliest plausible cases in historical record. She devoted her life to fasting and prayer, and became widely known throughout Holland as a mystic and a healer. Her time of suffering was long. She died in 1433 at the age of fifty-two. Pilgrims almost immediately began visiting her tomb, and her fame spread when Thomas a Kempis wrote and published a summary of a prior hagiography of her. She was formally canonized in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII. Her feast is April 14.

Oliver Plunkett

Oliver Plunkett was born in County Meath, Ireland, in the 1620s. His early adulthood was a tumultuous time, even by Irish standards; the Irish Confederate Wars that began in 1641 as Ireland was drawn into the Wars of the Three Kingdoms were some of the more devastating in its history. Irish Catholics fought English and Scottish Protestant colonists, first the Royalists, then the Parliamentarians and Convenanters, in a series of campaigns that were extremely ruthless on each side. It would end with disaster as the Irish Catholic Confederation, the primary Irish alliance in the war, began falling part just prior to the arrival of Oliver Cromwell, whose New Model Army rolled over the more loosely organized Irish forces in 1649 and instituted a repressive and vehemently anti-Catholic regime against which the Irish carried on an extensive guerilla war. As a candidate for priesthood, Plunkett had gone to Rome in 1647 and was ordained in 1654, at which point he was selected by the Irish bishops to be their representative in Rome. The Cromwell regime made it impractical to return home, so he remained in Rome, doing various bits of lobbying on behalf of the Irish and working for the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. He was appointed by Rome to be the bishop of Armagh in 1669, and arrived back in Ireland the next year. The Restoration government was at that point fairly tolerant of Catholics, so he was able to do extensive work, including establishing a Jesuit college and returning the clergy to some semblance of order. However, the Test Act of 1673, requiring the rejection of transubstantiation by office-holders, initiated a less tolerant period, leading to the closing of the college and to Plunkett going into hiding after refusing a government requirement to register for possible exile. This worked for a few years, but in 1678, Titus Oates manufactured evidence of a large Catholic conspiracy, the Popish Plot. King Charles II was extremely skeptical, but political necessities, and the general tendency in Parliament to believe the story, forced him to open investigations, which inevitably found some scattered evidence of actions against the government among Catholics, which resulted in a spread of denunciations and attacks on Catholics, which snowballed into a large-scale response by the government to quash the Catholic menace. Plunkett was one of the people named and denounced. He was hunted down and arrested in December of 1679. The government attempted to put him on trial for an alleged plot to bring French soldiers into Ireland, but the government's case fell apart quite quickly, so they sent him to London to be tried again. At this second trial, Plunkett was refused the rights to have defending counsel and to call witnesses. He was convicted of high treason for promoting the Catholic religion. A number of people, including a number of Protestants, pled for the king to pardon him, but Charles did not regard himself as being in a sufficiently secure position that he could do so. St. Oliver was hanged, drawn, and quartered on July 1, 1681. He was beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1975. His feast is July 1.

Mariam Baouardy

Mariam Bauardy's parents, who were Melkite Catholics, had lost several children in infancy and she was born on January 5, 1846 in Palestine after they had undertaken a pilgrimage on foot to Bethlehem to pray for a child; she was named after the Virgin Mary in celebration of her parents' answered prayers. They would have another child, a son, a short time later. Her parents, however, died of illness in 1848, and she was raised by her uncle, who moved to Alexandria in Egypt. At the age of thirteen, she was betrothed to a man in Cairo, but she had a vision that she interpreted as a call to religious life. When she told her uncle, he beat her. Another man tried to get her to convert to Islam and marry himself. When she refused, he flew into a rage and slit her throat, dumping her body in an alleyway. But she did not die. As she lay there, throat slit, in the alley, she was discovered by a nun in blue habit, who carried her to a cave, stitched her wound, and cared for her for a month until she was well enough to leave. She never learned the nun's name. Mariam spent some time as a domestic servant; the four-inch wound had affected her vocal chords, but she could still speak well enough to make herself understood. On a trip to Jerusalem, she pledged to join the religious life at the Holy Sepulcher. She attempted to return by boat from Jaffa, but due to extremely bad weather, the boat had to harbor in Beirut. She decided to stay there a while, working as a maid. She did not have good fortune in Beirut; she contracted a condition in which she went temporarily blind and at one point had a fall that stunned her so badly that people at first thought she was dead. She recovered from both, however, and went to Marseilles, where she began to look into various religious orders, eventually becoming a postulant for the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. The sisters eventually rejected her as a suitable candidate, but her time as postulant had connected her to Mother Veronica of the Passion, who had received permission to start a Discalced Carmelite monastery at Pau with the intention of training sisters for missionary work in India, and thus Mariam joined the Carmelites as Mary of Jesus Crucified. In 1870, she went with the first missionary group to Mangalore for a two-year period. Then, in 1875, she returned to Palestine to found a Carmelite monastery in Bethlehem. While working the monastery, she had another bad fall; when her bones healed, they did so badly and she developed bone cancer and died on August 26, 1878; August 26 would become her feast day. She was beatified in 1983 and canonized in 2015.


We know very little about the life of St. Marinus, who lived in the late third and early fourth century, and our earliest written stories about him are from several centuries after his death. According to legends, which may or may not be right, he was a stonemason from the island of Rab in modern-day Croatia, but had to move around due to the persecutions under Diocletian. His name ("of the sea") was in reality very likely a pseudonym. He became a deacon under St. Gaudentius of Rimini, but at some point, at least as one story goes, he was recognized by a mentally unstable woman who tried to use the information to make him her husband. Other stories say that preaching to slaves led him to reflect on the evils of the world. Whatever the reason, he fled to Monte Titano in about 301, where he built a chapel and monastery and lived as a hermit. His reputation for piety spread, and eventually came to the ears of the people who actually owned Monte Titano, who hadn't known at first that he had taken up residence. However, they were impressed enough by Marinus himself that they gifted it to him, and over the years, Marinus worked to keep the community free from outside entanglements. A community built up around the monastery The legend says that he died in 366 with his last words being, "I leave you free from both men." Nobody knows for sure what he meant, but it has traditionally been taken by the citizens of San Marino, the community he founded, to mean that he had deliberately arranged things so that they would be under the civil authority neither of the Emperor nor of the Pope, and, whether it is true or not, it has led to the people of San Marino having a firm conviction of the importance of their independence, which they retain to this day. Saint Marinus's feast day is September 3, which the Republic of San Marino also celebrates as the Feast of San Marino and the Republic.

Nunzio Sulprizio

Nunzio Sulprizio was born in 1817 in Pescara in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. His father died when he was quite young, and his stepfather was a harsh man; when his mother also died a few years later, he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother, a poorly educated but very devout woman. It was a good relationship, but his grandmother died too, just a few years later, and he was sent to live with his maternal uncle, another very harsh man. He lived under what were often very bad conditions -- his uncle's preferred method of discipline was not feeding him -- as he learned the trade of blacksmith. In 1831 he became severely sick after being overworked. He was eventually hospitalized, and spent a long period in pain in the hospital, pushing through the pain with the help of the rosary. His paternal uncle, a soldier who had been often away, visited him in the hospital, the first time that they had actually met; his paternal uncle connected him to another soldier, Colonel Felice Wolchinger, who took a liking to the young man and began to make sure that he was properly cared for. He improved for a brief period, but in 1835, Nunzio had to have a leg amputated due to gangrene arising from the conditions of his illness, but it was probably too late; his illness only worsened and he died on May 5, 1836, at the age of 19. He was beatified in 1963 by Pius VI and canonized in 2018 by Francis; his feast day is May 5.


2020 All Saints Post
André de Soveral, Domingos Carvalho, and the Martyrs of Cunhau, Henry of Uppsala and Eric IX the Holy, Adelaide of Burgundy, Junípero Serra y Ferrer, Maria Restituta Kafka, Venantius Fortunatus, Radegund, Junian of Maire, and Gregory of Tours, Magdalene of Nagasaki, Jeanne-Antide Thouret, Louis IX, Peter Nolasco, Tarasios of Constantinople, Albert Chmielowski

2019 All Saints Post, Part III
Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Gregory II and Gregory III, Katarina Ulfsdotter, Marko Stjepan Krizin, István Pongrácz, Melchior Grodziecki, Amandus and Bavo of Ghent, Zhang Huailu, Colette of Corbie, Alphonsus Rodriguez, Marie-Margeuerite d'Youville, Anthony of the Caves, Teresa of Calcutta

2019 All Saints Post, Part II
Bartolomeu dos Mártires, Manuel Moralez, Apollonius the Apologist, Henry II the Exuberant and Cunigunde of Luxembourg, Ramon Nonat, Francis Xavier Cabrini, Juliana of Liège, Aelia Pulcheria, John Henry Newman, Anna Schäffer, Ivo of Chartres, Paul I of Constantinople

2019 All Saints Post, Part I
Matteo Correa Magallanes, Nicholas Owen, Knud IV and Knud Lavard, Mariana de Jesús de Paredes, Joseph Vaz, Zdislava Berka, Caterina Fieschi Adorno, Pietro I Orseolo, Ðaminh Hà Trọng Mậu, Jeanne-Françoise Frémiot de Chantal, Stephen Min Kŭk-ka, Rabanus Maurus Magnentius

2018 All Saints Post
Gianna Beretta Molla, Margaret of Scotland, Yu Tae-chol Peter, Justa and Rufina of Seville, Giuseppe Moscati, Kazimierz Jagiellończyk, Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghaţţas, Salomone Leclerq, Arnulf of Metz, Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Frumentius of Tyre, Jeanne Jugan, Joseph Zhang Dapeng, Maroun and Abraham of Harran, Magnus Erlendsson, Callixtus I, Hippolytus, Urban I, Pontian, Anterus, Fabian, Jean de Brébeuf

2017 All Saints Post
John Ogilvie, Leo IV, Andrew Stratelates and the 2593 Martyrs, Theodore the Studite, The Martyrs of Gorkum, Margaret Ward and John Roche, Mesrop Mashtots, José María Robles Hurtado, Genevieve of Paris, Pedro Calungsod, Isaac of Nineveh, George Preca, Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa, Anthony of Padua

2016 All Saints Post
Theodore of Tarsus, Nilus the Younger, Anne Line, Mark Ji Tianxiang, Maria Elisabetta Hesselbad, Sergius of Radonezh, Anna Pak Agi, Jeanne de Valois, Vigilius of Trent, Claudian, Magorian, Sisinnius, Martyrius, Alexander, Euphrasia Eluvathingal, José Sanchez del Rio, Andrew Kaggwa, Roberto Bellarmino

2015 All Saints Post
Margaret Clitherow, Kaleb Elasbaan of Axum, Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin, Gertrude of Nivelles, Pius V, Clare and Agnes of Assisi, Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Scholastica, Vinh Sơn Phạm Hiếu Liêm, Thorlak Thorhallson, John Damascene

2014 All Saints Post
Marie Guyart, Alphonsa Muttathupadathu, John Neumann, Hildegard von Bingen, Pedro de San José Betancurt, Benedict the Moor

2013 All Saints Post
María Guadalupe García Zavala, Antonio Primaldi, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse and Augustine Zhao Rong, Josephine Margaret Bakhita, John Chrysostom

2012 All Saints Post
Jadwiga of Poland, Kateri Tekakwitha, André Bessette, Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga

2011 All Saints Post
Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro, Celestine V, Olga of Kiev, Cyril of Jerusalem, Joseph Mukasa and Charles Lwanga

2010 All Saints Post
Moses the Black of Ethiopia, Micae Hồ Đình Hy, Katherine Mary Drexel, Robert Southwell, Lojze Grozde, Andrew Kim Tae Gon

Sunday, October 31, 2021



On a dark and stormy night when a gale was rising high,
I was walking in the forest and thought I heard a cry;
muffled by the distance to a sound like mournful sigh,
it rose above the wind, then wavered, faltered, died,
so light upon the ear I almost could have thought
it was a trick of sound by storm and gale-wind wrought. 

What could that whisper be? Sense and query fought,
but puzzle over-balanced, so sense I heeded not:
I rushed into the darkness of the wind and rain and cold.
The lightning flashed and glamored on a castle ruined of old
and there, like sheep who stray from the devil's fallen fold,
there walked in shadowed night the terrors, bale and bold,
who turned the rain to ice with malice in their breath --
their eyes looked chill upon me, and I met my freezing death.

Fortnightly Book, October 31

 The next fortnightly book is Willa Cather's O Pioneers! While technically her second novel, Cather always saw O Pioneers!, published in 1913, as the first novel in which she really wrote a novel as such, rather than, as she generally thought of Alexander's Bridge, a sort of exercise in writing. Cather usually erased the traces of her writing process, but we know from various forms of evidence that O Pioneers! originally began its life as two distinct short stories that Cather one day realized would integrate well together, and with this insight suddenly the book just began falling into place; because of this, she at one point described it to a friend as a book that was not plotted but designed itself. The book is dedicated to Sarah Orne Jewett, an author from Maine whose writings about landscape and small communities in Maine made Cather recognize that something analogous could be done for Nebraska.

The title comes from a poem by Whitman, of course, and Cather places her own Whitmanesque poem at the beginning of the text:

Prairie Spring
by Willa Cather

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.

I happen to have the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of the work, but I notice that the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition is available online as well.