The War of the Seven Heavens
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He was grateful to God, grateful that the wind whipped his back. The cold Tuscan winter’s wind smacked the back of his hood. The cold crept through the threads of the burlap as he looked to the moon for answers.
“Grazie Dio mio.” he said through cold cracked lips. His eyes returned to their pensive thoughts, back down to the ground. His thoughts returned to his sins, his past.
“Oh my God. Were it to be
only you and me
what a perfect world this would be!”
It began a month earlier. Michaele was scrubbing the floors of the Sacristy as he did every Thursday afternoon. Service in the name of God made him happy. Scrubbing the floors of the vestment room was one such thing. He deeply wanted to be a scholar, but he also wanted to work with the sick. His thoughts turned to his younger brother who had died a horrid death at the hands of leprosy, even though the family was a very wealthy one. Alfonso, his father, had made his fortune building and outfitting trader ships. Among the Genoans, the Venitos were known to be a great family, one with power, wealth, and piety. Michaele’s appointment to the monastery had secured the latter. Pietro had been learning his father’s craft by beginning with learning the science of sail-making, he would later learn the more difficult portions, ship building and engineering. Giovanni was enjoying a career as a Cavalry Officer in the Genovese army. Which left Michaele to enter the service of the Church.
He’d always been fascinated by the priests, but the stained glass of the Grand Cathedral, along with the art on the walls and built in to the building itself really made his imagination fly. The priest always looked grand in his great flowing robes.
The third son, he would follow after Giovanni to the family’s pew. He always looked up at the grand scenes. Adam loving Eden, Christ being nailed to the cross, the Ascension. As he sat listening to the benedictions, his mind would wander to those scenes. He would picture himself there. As an animal in Eden, a beggar in the crowd at Golgotha, a bird flying by… a human?
He smiled at his bird-like surprise seeing a human flying. He wondered what the birds thought seeing a man “flying”.
Interrupted by a smart smack on the back of his head.
“Attencione..” his father grunted, menacingly. How he hated his father’s nose. Pock marked, and mean looking.
The boy looked down to the ground sorry he had let his mind wander during the Benediction. How rude could a boy be, especially one who “claimed” to love God.
Now he smiled as he scrubbed. Even the stench of the floor did not dampen his mood this day. “Today is a good day in love with my God.” He thought. He had taken off his shoes because it was much easier to scrub without them on. He was making good progress, when he heard low hurried murmurs from the hallway. It was the Abbot lecturing another monk. Michaele then stood, put his shoes on, and made his way slowly to the hallway. The murmurs died down as his shoes clacked his approach. The orange sunlight peered through the windows, blinding him, as Michaele turned the corner. Brother Antonio was the object of the harangue. He was looking at the floor, tears flowing with not a sound coming out. Michaele then looked to the Abbot who motioned for him to go quickly with his eyes. Michaele bowed his head slightly, cast his eyes to the safety of the floor, and went… quickly.
Almost a week passed, and Michaele had noticed Brother Antonio was nowhere to be found. Since he was to help with the Sacristy today, Michaele asked the Abbot if he was feeling well. At the mention of the name the Abbot’s demeanor changed.
“Brother, I want you to forget his name. The man has committed a… terrible… sin.” He spoke with long pauses, and great breaths, as if the moral failure was his own to bear. “I have punished him, but God will punish him much further. Michaele…” he smiled and laughed while he grasped his face, “such a good boy Michaele…”
Then Michaele felt… something… not quite right. The Abbot was touching…!!!!
Michaele, shocked at the feeling, ashamed immediately, angry immediately.
“Padre! Your vows! My vows!”
“Come Michaele…” he laughed softly, “You think we all are sinless? God will forgive.”
Michaele turned and started to walk out, intent on confession of his part in this sin, but he paused at the door. His eyes slowly moved to the right where his family’s contribution to the Sacristy, the Family Crest with swords crossed behind it, hung. The Abbot was starting for the door,
“Michaele… my son…”
Michaele’s face felt hot as coals. He had been embarrassed by a man of God, in the HOUSE of God! He grabbed the sword on the left, pulled it up, and swung around. As he did, the sword plunged right into the gut of the oncoming Abbot. Michaele screamed. The fat Abbot fell to the floor with a solid thud.
Michaele cried for help, for absolution, for… God. He knelt, crying by the Abbot who was bleeding out, and his water filled eyes looked up to the crucifix,
The rush of footfalls came, and each stopped dead in their tracks, then rushed forward to help or grab Michaele.
Now his head hurt. There was no sunlight here, and the stench of death and decay made Michaele want to join the ones shackled to the far wall. He supposed he would immediately be put to death for murdering the Abbot when the upper door creaked open.
He could hear short quick feet, and a slow long legged stride. He looked to find a young priest staring at him with suspicion and contempt.
“There is no need for an inquisition Father, I am a murderer.”
As the priest was about to speak, another voice did in his stead, “I know Brother,”
The priest closed his mouth, looked to his side, bowed, and retreated a few steps in submission. The Archbishop of Genoa turned the corner, staring at Michaele. His flowing white robes were stark contrast to this dismal and dark place. He looked, to Michaele, like an angel.
“Eminence” he said awestruck, immediately bowing his head to the filthy stone floor.
The Archbishop turned to the priest, “Father Milano, I will speak with the Brother alone.”
“but… but Eminence… he is a murderer! He just said so!” The priest exclaimed in protest.
“God will protect,” his look turned to the brother crying on the floor, “and God will punish… or forgive. Go.”
“Yes your Eminence”, and the short quick steps shuffled up, up, and were gone.