Chapter 3 Alchemist Gift
Alchemist Gift continued: The following Sunday, the day of the burning, was crisp and cloudy. The clouds were bilious and silver-gray and filled the heavens; small patches of blue sky and rays of golden sunlight occasioned shown through. Unseen in the distance, veils of rain gently trailed from the clouds. In some places the first of the rain drops were big and scattered and they pocked the tawny dust. In other places a fine mist barely wetted the pathways leaving behind a fragile crust.
Father Eduardo Silva said mass that morning. The church, Our Lady of Divine Mercy, was completed in 1146. Its high vaulted ceiling seemed to be gently held on high by the delicate gilded tracery that knotted into itself forming the capitals of the smooth marble columns. The tracery exploded into a fantasy of sweeping arcs and impossible curves that lead to the next column and to the next, from the front of the church all the way to the altar. High narrow windows, each a station of the cross, told of the sad and painful journey our savior took his last day on earth. The stain glass artists crudely captured the grotesque and the sublime. At a certain time of the morning the sun shone through these brilliant shards and fell upon the faithful in colors of amber, scarlet and cerulean.
The mass was coming to its end. The scent of myrrh hung in a swirling haze above the church goers and lazily wafted throughout the nave into the alcoves and apse and up to the choir loft. Father Eduardo, clad in his heavily brocaded green and gold vestments faced the parishioners under the large cross with its painted wooden Jesus frozen in the ecstatic pain of eternal crucifixion. As the last of the faithful returned to their seats after taking communion, Father Eduardo held the gleaming golden chalice above his head, then lowered it, wiped it clean with a linen handkerchief, then folded the handkerchief and laid it over the chalice and placed the chalice on the marble altar. With the last sweeping sign of the cross the priest uttered “Dominus vobiscum” and his flock rejoined with “et cum spiritu tuo”. The altar boys snuffed out the six ivory colored candles and the tendrils of blue smoke drifted into eternity; the doors were opened and sunlight flooded into the vestibule and unrolled like a golden carpet on the center aisle. The richest and oldest families sat in the first three pews closest to the altar and exited first. They were given the greatest respect via subtle nods and hushed awe by the not so rich down to the poorest who stood just inside the front of the church.
A dozen or so be-ragged beggars, some missing a hand or a leg occupied the outer borders of the church steps. The piteous collection of unfortunates looked lively and applied their trade as the church emptied. A few coppers were dropped but today the beggars were all but ignored. The macabre thoughts of the burning occupied every ones’ minds. Some shuddered with inexplicable excitement and anticipation, others with fear of what they were going to see or worse what they might hear when they closed or averted their eyes.
The square was ready. The six stakes were arranged in a semi-circle. The open end of the circle faced the dais that was erected for the occasion in front of the fountain. Signor Mezzi’s wood was stacked neatly around each stake in a conical fashion. Lengths of coarse rope were secured chest high on the stakes.
The dais was appointed with a red carpet bordered with gold fringe. In the center of the dais was a gilded platform with a high-backed arm-chair upholstered in plush burgundy colored velvet that was reserved for the Countessa Rosalba. On the dais, in front of contessa’s chair, was a row of much shorter high-backed chair without arms. Bishop DiMars had already taken his seat, his hands resting comfortably on his fat little belly as he twiddled his thumbs, a calming habit he formed as a young man. The bishop smiled inwardly as he watched the crowd slowly swell. The other chairs were for Mayor Renaldi, Monsignor Perti, and the parish priest Father Eduardo Silva.
The bishop was not alone for very long. Monsignor Petri climbed the three stairs and crossed the dais. He bowed to the bishop, kissed the bishop’s ring and sat in the chair next to him. The two men had known each other for a very long time. Friends from childhood and ordained together, their familiarity lead to a casual demeanor that, at times, had to be checked in public. Petri who was much less political and ambitious than his contemporary DiMars enjoyed his simple station. DiMars who was ambitious and political had his eye on the red togs of the cardinal since ordination. The bishop, taking advantage of the counts absence gladly signed the orders of execution on the six hapless women. Being quite devout, he felt each heretic he brought to judgment put him a step closer to God and his own goal of becoming a cardinal.
To read the Alchemist Gift book from the beginning go to the Category, Alchemist Gift Book, and start reading at the blog: Alchemist Gift 01-05-13.
The Alchemist Gift is a book about the lives of people in the Renaissance and the alchemy that brought them together with its repercussions on our modern-day hero, Roland.
I am sharing my writing process with you. I will share a few paragraphs of the book with each blog. I am still writing the book. I’d like to know how you like what you are reading. Please use the comments section to share. If you make suggestions in your comments,I may incorporate your ideas into the book. We hope you will enjoy the process as much as I do, follow the saga and share it with your friends and colleagues.
copyright 2013 Mark D. Giglio, www.theartofgiglio.com
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