The Devil Hates Latin

The Devil Hates Latin

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 By Katharine Galgano

REGINA PRESS has released our first novel recently, to significant popular acclaim. As a special gift for our loyal Regina Magazine readers, here’s a taste of Katharine Galgano’s work. (See customer reviews HERE.)

PROLOGUE

The Cardinal inhaled sharply. The view from the papal apartments over St Peter’s Square revealed a stark late winter’s tableau that was pure magic. Before him lay a painting executed in grays and whites, the work of Italian genius etched against a ferocious sky.

The heavy black snow clouds had been massing over Michelangelo’s famous dome all morning, discouraging all but the hardiest tourists from waiting in the queue which normally snaked around Bernini’s magnificent Colonnade.

In recent weeks there had been huge crowds of tourists there, eager for a glimpse of the new pope. The sudden death of the previous pontiff had spurred the usual hoopla surrounding a papal election, though this time the many billions following on social media had ramped the chaos up to unprecedented levels.

Reporters unfamiliar with Catholicism scrambled to untangle it all — conspiracy theories speculating wildly about the pope’s unexpected demise, leads leaked from chanceries around the world, even astute remarks from san pietrini, the Romans who had maintained the Basilica from time immemorial, and whose accustomed stance was one of dignified silence.

When the white smoke finally rose, the world’s media was utterly wrong-footed. They had speculated approvingly on the potentialities of a cigar-chomping, Harley-riding German liberal with massive funding, or a handsome Filipino with an infectious grin and smooth delivery. Uncertain about how to spin the narrative on a tiny, fierce Cardinal from an African backwater, most media had simply ignored him.

Now, the tall, lanky American Cardinal found himself on his knees, kissing the papal ring of the first black man to sit on the throne of Peter.

The new pope was a reserved man, and no longer young. He was, however, extremely focused, and intent on his purpose. After the briefest of pleasantries, he came immediately to the point.

“You have an exorcist in your diocese of Boston, a Dominican,” he stated flatly. “Would you say he is capable of organizing training for a large number of priests?”

“If you mean Father Corinth,” the Cardinal replied carefully, “he is highly intelligent, and very serious. His ministry has, however, been limited mainly to the cases to which my predecessor directed him, so they have been few.”

The pope nodded.

“Your predecessor was not a believer in the power of exorcism.” Another flat statement of fact.

“I cannot say for certain,” the Cardinal replied diplomatically.

“…but you are.” The pope was unsmiling.

The Cardinal nodded, albeit a bit reluctantly.

“Why is this?”

“I have seen the rise of popular interest in the diabolical in recent years,” the Cardinal sighed. “Consistently, more and more cases of obsession and possession are brought to us from families desperate for help after medical intervention has proven unsuccessful.”

“To what do you attribute this?”

“To be honest,” the Cardinal took a breath, and then plunged ahead. “I believe this is emanating from some of the Western elites,” he finished forthrightly.

“What are your grounds for believing this?”

“An unrelenting focus on sexual depravity in the media, the huge amount of money being spent for legalizing this agenda, and the unrelenting pressure to normalize this and to teach these things in the schools.” The Cardinal was clear and concise. “And, personal experience in my own ministry.”

“What has been your experience?”

“I have heard anecdotally – and usually from their distraught family — about the tastes of the super-rich and famous in America,” the Cardinal said. “And then, there’s been the murders.”

“Murders?”

“We had a very kind man in our archdiocese, a good Catholic man of means. He was responsible for bringing the Latin Mass to the Boston area, under my predecessor. This man was recently murdered in cold blood by his own 22 year old son. The boy approached his mother and father as they were leaving a restaurant after Sunday Mass, and stabbed his father repeatedly to death in full view of his mother and others.”

The Pope inhaled sharply and paused, his eyes fixed on the Cardinal’s.

“And why do you believe this was satanic?” When it came, the pope’s question was delivered calmly.

“The boy was found to have been involved with Satanists, a participant in their Black Masses. And, there was the experience of the exorcist.”

“Father Corinth?”

“Yes, he was asked to bless the house of the deceased on the day of the funeral. As he walked around the perimeter, praying and sprinkling holy water and blessed salt, some women screamed. This caused him to jump quickly aside to avoid being struck by a large black snake which seemed to launch itself from under the eaves, directly at Father Corinth.”

“And how do you know this was diabolic?”

“Well, it’s unlikely that it was a natural phenomenon. There are no large snakes native to the area, and certainly not snakes which climb,” the Cardinal explained. “And, though several people saw the serpent fly through the air, no one saw it hit the ground. It disappeared.”

The pope nodded, and looked away for a moment without speaking. For a moment he seemed lost in thought. The he roused himself and spoke matter of factly.

“This phenomenon which you have observed in your diocese is widespread,” he said sadly. “We have reports of this and far worse. We wish to put the resources of the Holy See to work providing the proper training for priests to combat this.”

The Cardinal nodded.

“The office of exorcism has been neglected for more than 50 years. The few that we have are in their 80’s, brave men and good who have been nevertheless treated by the Curia as pariahs, embarrassing vestiges of the Middle Ages. We need young men to take up this work. Tell me, how did Father Corinth come to be an exorcist?”

The Cardinal sighed.

“He told me that he was a farm boy in the Midwest, and as a teenager became involved in the occult through popular ‘heavy metal’ music. This was before the internet, so the spread of this was more limited. Apparently, though, at university he witnessed horrific sexual violence connected with the occult, and was so thoroughly repulsed that he ran straight into the arms of the Dominicans.”

“Yes, we know of their good work and their growth in America.”

“He worked on the streets of Boston with the homeless after ordination, which is where he started to see the effects of occultism, mixed with drugs and organized crime.”

The pontiff nodded grimly.

“He came to my attention when I asked the religious superiors in my diocese to identify the most prayerful men in their communities. I interviewed them all, and chose three to begin training with a Dominican priest in his 90’s who has been quietly working in this field since before the Council.”

The pope’s expression lightened.

“Is that true, Cardinal?”

“Yes, I am happy to report that it is,” the Cardinal smiled back at the pope. “Father Donovan is now 100 years old, as sharp as a tack. The demons, I am told, hate him.”

The pope smiled broadly.

“And now we have this young man who was trained by a master exorcist. Cardinal, please bring Father Corinth to Rome as soon as possible.”

The meeting was clearly over. The Cardinal rose to take his leave. As he turned, however, the pope spoke again.

“And do give our best regards to Father Donovan,” he said.

The Cardinal bowed his assent, and left the magnificent chamber.

CHAPTER 1

Truth be told, when he saw the strange customer waiting outside his shop, Marco was a bit annoyed. He’d been looking forward to his morning espresso – a necessary indulgence before his often-grueling, nine hour day commenced.

Marco considered himself to be the consummate hairdressing professional. This, in a Rome full of serious hairdressers, was a mark of pride, like his bella figura and amiable demeanor. Marco never lost his temper with a customer, no matter how irritating or demanding or yes, deranged they might be.

This, too, was a matter of necessity. Italians of a certain age visit their hairdresser once a week, a key to maintaining the necessary bella figura. Toiling long hours in a neighborhood of gossiping romani, Marco had worked hard to achieve his reputation of gentility.

But the man waiting outside his shop was a stranger. Marco wondered if he might be a visiting relative, or even a new arrival to the close-knit middle-class neighborhood. As the man approached, he noted the closely-shorn haircut and the foreign cut of the clothes of – a priest?

Marco sighed. He’d been hoping for that twenty minutes with his espresso, but it was unlikely now. There was no rescheduling a priest, even if he was just a stranger without an appointment.

Half an hour later, Marco sat nursing his espresso with a rather bemused expression on his handsome face. The interlude with the strange priest had left him unsettled.

It wasn’t what the man had said, though his American-inflected Italian had been quite good, probably a product of his years studying in Rome.

Don Signore, where are you from?” he’d asked, using the formal honorific. The slight, pale priest settled into Marco’s chair. Marco noted that he was the kind of American –rare these days—who aged well.  The priest was in his forties, with fine lines etched around his blue eyes and sensitive, long-fingered hands.

He’d been friendly enough, not peremptory or arrogant or overly familiar, as priests could be. In fact, there was an unusual quality to this priest – a kind of depth, a seriousness that Marco was unused to. It was almost un-nerving.

“These are your children?” the priest had asked, a typical enough question. But the American had taken note of the pain in Marco’s eyes when he’d attempted to answer jovially in the affirmative.

Not that he’d said anything untoward. But Marco saw that the priest perceived his pain, which was both embarrassing and oddly infuriating. Feeling suddenly defensive, he found himself, to his great annoyance, talking about his divorce. How angry he was, how little control he had. How he was alone at Christmas, because that bitch – sorry Padre, but you know what I mean – refused him access to his own children. All of this, mind you, before his espresso.

What he didn’t say, of course, because it was none of the priest’s business, was that the divorce had come because of his affair with Flaminia, the personal trainer at his gym, who’d left him with an empty wallet and a sexually transmitted disease which he had neglected to mention to any of his subsequent lovers. He declined to mention his online porn habit, or that he was keeping three sets of books at the shop – one for the tax man, one for his greedy ex-wife and the real one, for him alone.

Marco didn’t go into the fact that when his son no longer wanted to see him or even speak with him by phone, he began to hate everyone and everything. That the Devil had bitten deeply into Marco and was steering his life was something that Marco didn’t see.

But the strange priest did. For, unbeknownst to Marco, who sat watching the retreating figure of the priest making his way up the busy street, Father Paul Corinth was not a typical cleric.

Indeed, Father Paul had a highly unusual job. He was the Pope’s exorcist, newly arrived back in Rome. And that morning he was on his way to start his new job, one that he wasn’t at all sure he was capable of handling.

CHAPTER 2

Gina Pirisi looked at her reflection critically in the mirror. Her thick, long hair had once been smooth — a dark, chocolate brown. Today its luxurious Italian length was streaked with permanent chemicals, the frazzled ends bearing a strong resemblance to straw.

Gina’s hair was just one casualty of the days she had been with Marco. Gina often thought that he fancied himself to be living the life of the MTV he watched obsessively, where American mega-stars and Italian crooners took turns singing the virtues of hedonism and passion on flat screen TVs mounted a few inches from the noses of his neighborhood clientele.

He saw women all day long, Marco told Gina in the beginning. But none like her.

Gina had golden skin, fiery hazel eyes and the quick wit of her forebears, romani since forever. Her body was still young and taut, though she’d passed her 30th birthday. Truth be told, it looked more and more like there would be no ecstatic day of the sposa for Gina. Southern Italy’s 40% unemployment rate meant very few young men could think about starting a family. That left the gay ones, and the divorced ones, like Marco.

Gina was a practical girl. She had devoted herself to learning her trade, and by her mid-twenties had won herself a coveted job at an upscale Roman salon, where rich women paid many times the going price of a neighborhood hairstylist to be flattered and cossetted by a sympathetic staff. Working there required talent, hard work, tact and diplomacy, as well as a fierce competitive streak in order to develop ‘a following’. Though she would have never admitted it, her job was exhausting, and demoralizing, and this is probably why she had fallen so easily into Marco’s clutches.

Because she lived so near to his salon, and because they were both hairdressers, it seemed easy to talk with him. He was handsome, in his way, and seemed very experienced in the ways of the salon world. After awhile she would come to him after work, asking his advice about the latest treachery she’d had to endure – offhand slights, whispered innuendo, stolen clients. He would listen, nod sagely and ask her to dinner.

One thing led to another and then another, and before six months had passed Gina was pregnant. This proved to be unacceptable to Marco, already the father of two expensive children.

It was early one Tuesday night when she told him, in his shop. She stopped by while his staff were sweeping up. As the lovers’ voices rose from the back room, the two hairdressers exchanged glances, quickly excused themselves with a jaunty “ciao!” and fled into the Roman dusk.

It wasn’t much of a battle, actually. Marco did not want this child. Gina wanted Marco. The child had to go. The certain knowledge of this dragged the normally ebullient Gina down as she left Marco’s shop that night. He had to meet with his lawyer, again. The discussion, he said, was closed.

Gina stumbled out of the shop, wiped her tears with the back of her hand and ducked into her parents’ place nearby. Mumbling that she didn’t feel well, she went quickly to bed.

She slept fitfully that night and was not quite herself when she greeted Mrs. Dyson White for her usual Wednesday morning appointment at the high-end salon in the centro storico where Gina worked. Gina was Mrs. White’s favorite, as her light hand didn’t irritate Mrs. White’s delicate scalp. And after ten years as a stylist, Gina knew how to soothe imperious ladies.

The fifty-something Mrs. White, however, was sharp as a tack.

“Whatsamatter with you?” she demanded to know as Gina was helping her into the salon’s gown in the dressing room. She was short, buxom and feisty. “You get up on the wrong side of bed?”

Gina’s boss had told her the Whites were very rich. To Gina’s experienced eye, Mrs. White had at first looked like any number of aging divas who frequented the expensive salon, with one exception. Mrs. White was an Italian-American who spoke a horrible Brooklyn version of Italian; also, she wore a crucifix. Apparently Mr. White was some sort of American tycoon who had spent time in jail. Gina wasn’t sure for what, though it was hard to imagine the redoubtable Mrs. White involved with anything criminal.

Throughout the wash and blow-dry, Gina tried her best to fend off Mrs. White’s persistent questions. After all, a professional shop was no place to be discussing one’s personal problems, especially with her boss keeping an eagle eye on this valuable client. In the end, however, she relented, and surreptitiously accepted Mrs. White’s card.

“Call me,” were Mrs. White’s last words before her Italian chauffeur swept her out of the shop. Gina nodded and smiled mechanically, pocketing the card as she watched the back of Mrs. White’s coiffured head slip into the Mercedes Benz.

Gina had heard that pregnancy hormones made women more emotional. Perhaps that is why the rest of the day seemed interminable; all day, she dreaded her commute home. As she stepped out into the gathering evening, she eyed a couple embracing passionately outside the salon. The slender young girl slipped onto the back of her lover’s Vespa, which then nosed out into the chaotic Roman traffic.

Hot tears sprung immediately to her eyes and as she turned determinedly away, Gina almost ran into a woman a few years older than she. The woman was walking a dog – one of the legions of such women throughout Rome and indeed Italy. In Gina’s lifetime, the land of la famiglia had morphed into the land of pet owners, everyone walking at top speed to preserve their bella figura, everyone keeping their options open.

Dejected, Gina hunched her shoulders and strode purposefully on, but despite all her efforts, the tears welled up again and began coursing down her cheeks. Where could she go? To her mother? Valeria was certain to be broken-hearted; she and her father had sacrificed so much to raise Gina and her brother. Now her brother had given up his dream of a university education and was working a crummy job. And Gina was pregnant by a cad.

Her telefonini buzzed, and she slipped the earpiece on without breaking her stride. The number was unfamiliar, but feeling desperate, she answered anyway.

“Gina?” It was Mrs. White, in a business-like, American tone. She got right to the point. “I got your number from your boss. I hope you don’t mind me calling.”

“N-no,” said Gina. It came out in a kind of choked whisper.

“Honey,” the older woman began kindly. “You’ve been doing my hair for two years now, and I know when something’s wrong. Are you pregnant?”

Gina nodded into the phone, the tears falling down her face like rain. To make matters worse, she found herself stopped at the gate of the neighborhood playground. The tiny bambini running around, the mothers chatting — it was too much. She began to sob, oblivious to the stares of the passers-by.

“Honey, I’m sending Carlo to pick you up,” Mrs. White snapped. “Where are you?”

“Oh, no, Mrs. White,” Gina protested through her tears. “That’s not necessary.”

But Mrs. White was a force to be reckoned with, and before long Gina found herself ensconced in the creamy leather interior of the Benz. The driver, Carlo, solicitously handed her a box of Kleenex before he shut the car’s solid door.

Mrs. White was waiting at the door of the underground parking garage to their luxury pre-war apartment building. Within an hour Gina had unburdened herself of her secret, while Mrs. White listened sympathetically.

“So, no chance this Marco will marry you?”

Gina sighed and sipped her tea. It seemed that Marco was unequal to the responsibility of marriage, and barely competent to raise the children he had. When she’d timidly told him that she was pregnant, his reaction had been catastrophic.

“Oh mama mia,” he’d rolled his eyes. “This is impossible.”

He continued to shake his head dolefully as she’d tried to explain how it happened.

“Gina, this is your fault,” he’d said, finally. “You played with fire – now you need to take responsibility.”

He would be generous, he sighed, and pay for the abortion. But she’d better be quick, he warned, as these things get more expensive as time wore on.

“And you have already been way too irresponsible, bella,” he’d said, winningly. One hand caressed her chin as the other ran through his thick, long mane.

“Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” Mrs. White fumed. “This guy’s a real jerk.”

Gina nodded dully. It was true.

“Blaming this on you is the first sign of a true jerk. The second sign is this phony crap about caring for you. He cares about his pocketbook. Period.” Mrs. White was indignant.

Gina nodded again. She could not defend him.

“Gina, tell me something. Do you want a family?”

“Y-yes. N-no. It’s impossible,” Gina stuttered stubbornly. “I must work. Who will care for this baby? My parents work too. Rome is expensive,” she finished helplessly. How could a woman of Mrs. White’s wealth know how hard it was just to have a decent life?

Come to think of it, why did Mrs. White care so much about her? Gina’s eyes narrowed as a thought came to her. She’d heard about people who made money on human trafficking. Healthy white babies were valuable commodities, it seemed. Is that how these people got so rich? Is that why Mr. White had gone to prison in America?

She gazed around at the elegant furnishings and the expansive view of the bend in the Tiber with new eyes. Was this woman about to offer her money for her baby?

She stood up, suddenly full of purpose.

“I need to leave now,” she told the astonished Mrs. White.

“W-why?” Mrs. White gasped.

“Because I am late,” Gina answered decisively. She stood up. Her tears were dry now. “My family will be expecting me.”

Despite Mrs. White’s protests, Gina remained firm, though in the end she reluctantly agreed to let Carlo drive her home.

Unfortunately, Gina’s brother happened to be parking his Vespa outside their apartment building when the Benz pulled up. One eyebrow shot up in surprise as Luca watched his sister emerge from its posh interior, assisted by the burly Carlo, who handed her gently out of the car.

Once inside the building, Luca refused to let her disappear upstairs without an explanation. His wiry body on the alert, his normally affable expression drawn into a mask of worry, Luca stood his ground. When evasions and protests proved fruitless, Gina finally broke down and agreed to explain, but only outside, away from prying ears.

“Oh Jesus,” Luca said, when she finished in tears. He was smoking. They were across the street, hidden behind the huge, filthy recycling containers, invisible to the building residents.

Gina sighed. Her little brother was good and loyal, but clearly not able to help. She was, however, unprepared for his response.

“So why won’t you just have the baby for money?” he said casually, though he was watching her intensely.

What?!” Gina was shocked. “No!”

“Why not?”

“Whaddya mean, why not?” she sputtered furiously. “I’m not a putana! What do you think I am? I’m not selling my baby!”

The two looked at each other in the dim light. Gina was breathing hard. Suddenly, the garbage reek and Luca’s cigarette smoke was making her ill. A wave of nausea swept over her.

“I don’t feel so good,” she whispered, her hand on her belly. She attempted to swallow, but felt something stick in her throat.

“Santa Maria,” Luca breathed, and stabbed out his cigarette on the grimy sidewalk. He regarded his sister soberly. “You hear yourself?”

Gina nodded morosely, wondering how far along she was. Suddenly, she felt tremendously tired, and thought longingly of her bed upstairs in the family nest her parents had created for them in the heart of the Roman metropolis.

“I said,” Luca repeated, “do you hear yourself?”

Gina looked at him uncomprehendingly.

“You just called it ‘my baby,’” He stated flatly. His face was emotionless, but his dark eyes were watching her intently.

Gina shook her head. Yes, she had. She knew what her brother was thinking – if she wouldn’t give her baby up for money, then she had to admit that ‘it’ really was a baby. Her baby. A swell of emotion hit her, along with another wave of weariness. It was all too much to think about. The tears started to course down her cheeks again.

“I got no right,” she whispered weakly, thinking of how her parents would react to the news. “Who’s gonna take care of it?”

In the end, Luca agreed to keep her secret, “but just for a week,” he added darkly. “You can’t screw around with this.”

CHAPTER 3

The young nun swept down the hallway in a state of high excitement. The summons to the Mother Prior’s office had not been unexpected. Rumors had been flying around the Boston convent for about a week of a new establishment, a ‘daughter house’ to be founded in Italy.

This would be the Sisters’ second European venture. The first, in Scotland, had come at the behest of an embattled bishop there, who had gladly made a huge, 19th century church property in a depressed industrial suburb of Glasgow available to the four American Sisters, members of  a newly-established Order dedicated to the ‘support of the family’ just ten years before.

“I’m old enough to remember the Westerns,” he’d announced in his thick Glaswegian accent. The reception for their arrival was crowded with a polyglot of Catholics – Scots of Irish extraction, converts and newly arrived immigrants from Poland and India. The bishop’s old face was creased in a broad smile.

“In the films, when all would seem darkest, the American cavalry would come charging over the hill. Well, I’m here to say that our cavalry has arrived,” he turned a beaming smile on them. “Sisters, welcome to Scotland, with all our hearts we welcome ye.”

The four sisters, all in their early 30s, had since settled happily into their new lives in Scotland. They were there for the poor, after all. For the tired women their own age with alcoholic, unemployed men and intractable teenagers. For the pregnant young girls without hope, headed for the abortion mills to erase the consequences of their ‘mistake.’ For the Catholic families that were simply not forming.

Of course, it wasn’t just the Catholics. Scotland’s native population was actually declining, a fact mostly hidden behind the statistics which showed a 2% growth rate. A little digging would reveal the truth –Scots were dying later, and the shortfall in births was made up by immigration, largely from Eastern Europe and the East.

It seemed as if the Scots had entirely lost interest in the humble joys of married and family life. Middle-aged Scots were divorcing in record numbers. Among the working class young, interest in love and marriage was being replaced by casual sex, incited by internet porn and binge drinking bouts. On the university campuses, homosexuality was all the rage. At all levels of society, easy access to drugs and booze cushioned the impact of lives led on the knife’s edge of a hopelessness.

After two years in Scotland, however, the sisters were optimistic, with no thought of returning to their bursting motherhouse back in Boston. This wasn’t just because there was simply not enough room for them there.

For, unbeknownst to the vast majority of American Catholics, a whole new generation of women were ‘discerning’ their vocations as religious. They were drawn by the traditional life of the Sisters, who lived in community, wore floor-length habits and prayed the Divine Office. Hundreds of young women found their way to the Order’s doorstep every year, and Mother Superior’s major problem was how to find room for them all.

Her solution to the overcrowding was the traditional Catholic one – founding daughter houses in other places. In a decade, they had begun eight houses in America, plus the house in Glasgow. Everywhere, the teams of sisters were kept busy taking in pregnant women and helping them through the birth and early years of their babies’ lives.

“We really can do so much good here,” Sister Mary Grace explained via Skype to her Superior. The Scots, for their part, were flabbergasted at the appearance of these young Sisters. Most had never seen a habited Catholic sister in their entire lives.

“Sometimes it’s like we stepped out of the movies,” said Sister Mary Grace, laughing as she described the Scots staring open-mouthed at the Sisters, always in twos, good-humoredly learning to navigate left-side traffic roundabouts and puzzling Glaswegian dialects.

Everywhere they went, however, they were received with cordiality. A minority of stern old Calvinists and new-style atheists alike were simply too shocked to react to their warm, uncomplicated presence. Most had assumed that the Catholic Church was down for the count, as the media trumpeted parishes closing and empty seminaries. A predatory homosexual Cardinal had been relieved of his See by the Pope just a year before; persistent rumors of similarly-disposed prelates dominating the Scottish Church had frightened off many would-be vocations. The media seized the opportunity to scourge the Church whenever possible, and Scottish Catholics avoided discussing what little faith they had left.

Most congregations in Catholic churches in working class Glasgow were thinning groups of old ladies, determinedly singing the forever-1960s anthems of the post-Vatican II generation. Like their Church of Scotland counterparts, wealthy Catholics in posh neighborhoods kept their churches open as necessary outlets for their social and charitable hobbies.

Most had no idea about the American sisters and their quiet work of saving Scottish babies and their mothers, one at a time. Sometimes, Sister Mary Grace doubted if many of the Irish-Scots Catholics would approve, if they knew.

She sighed; her own wealthy Irish-American family had deeply disapproved of her choice to enter the convent ten years before. But she had never looked back from the day she took her final vows, though her own mother, a prominent divorce lawyer, was not in the church to see her daughter clothed in the simple white habit of her Order.

Her father, divorced from her mother when she was a child, was a mostly-unsuccessful artist remotely of Italian extraction. He stood respectfully, hands folded when not nervously running through his shock of unruly gray hair, in the last pew. As his daughter lay prostrate before the Bishop, dressed in the white, floor-length habit, he, however, remembered the ‘Our Father’ of his childhood, and prayed for the first time in decades. When he glimpsed his daughter’s face immediately after she took the veil, he was shocked at her expression of pure, unadulterated joy.

The years since had flown by as Mary Grace blissfully immersed herself in the ordered life of the convent. Eventually, she became the Novice Mistress, charged with the formation of the young girls who seemed to gather in an ever-increasing flood at the convent doors. And now, the same was beginning to happen in Scotland, though the young girls attracted to her convent were mostly unformed, ‘Catholics in name only’ as the phrase went in America. Nevertheless, the happiness of the sisters was contagious, and curious young Scots girls were taking notice.

Meanwhile, the Sisters in the Boston mother house were moving ahead with their plans to open another daughter house, this time in Italy. Sister Mary Benedicta, the young nun who swept into her Superior’s office halted when she saw the other three sisters seated there.

A smile spread across her intelligent face. This was most certainly “it.”

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