Same Sex Unions in Church History

The earliest church, in Rome and in the Slavic countries, recognised some forms of same sex union in liturgical rites of  ”adelphopoein” .  It is not entirely clear precisely what was the precise meaning of these rites.  They were clearly not directly comparable to modern marriage – but nor were the forms of heterosexual unions at the time.  Some claim that they were no more than a formalised friendship under the name of  ”brotherhood” – but many Roman lovers called themselves “brothers”.  Some of the couples united under this rite were certainly homosexual lovers, but it is possible not all were.  What is certain, is that the Church under the Roman Empire, for many years recognised and blessed liturgically some form of union for same sex couples.  As late as the sixteenth century, there is a clear written report of a Portuguese male couple having been married in a church in Rome.

This recognition also extended to death.  From  the earliest church until at least the nineteenth century, there are examples of same sex couples, both male and female, being buried in shared graves, in a manner exactly comparable to the common practice of married couples sharing a grave – and often with the parallel made clear in the inscriptions.

The modern Church likes to claim that in condemning same sex relationships, and resisting gay marriage and gay clergy, it is maintaining a long church tradition.  It is not.  To persist in this claim, in the light of increasing evidence from modern scholars, is simply to promote a highly selective  and hence dishonest reading of history.

Continue reading Same Sex Unions in Church History

Openly Gay Bishop Consecrated in 1098

With all the current fuss about the decision of the US Episcopal Church to consecrate openly gay bishops, and the Catholic Church’s declared hostility to gay priests and to gay marriage or even civil unions, we forget that in the older history of the church, it is not gay priests and bishops that are new, or gay marriage, but the opposition to them.  Many medieval and classical scholars have produced abundant evidence of clearly homosexual clergy, bishops, and even saints, and of church recognition of same sex unions.gay bishops

Gay Bishops in Church History

One story is particularly striking.  At the close of the 11th Century, Archbishop Ralph of Tours persuaded the King of France to install as Bishop of Orleans a certain John  – who was widely known as Ralph’s gay lover, as he had previously been of Ralph’s brother and predecessor as Bishop of Orleans, of the king himself, and of several other prominent men.   This was strongly opposed by prominent churchmen, on the grounds that John was too young and would be too easily influenced by Ralph.  (Note, please, that the opposition was not based on the grounds of sexuality, or even of promiscuity).  Ivo of Chartres tried to get Pope Urban II to intervene.  Now, Urban had strong personal reasons, based in ecclesiastical and national politics, to oppose Ralph.  Yet he declined to do so. In spite of well-founded opposition, John was consecrated Bishop of Orleans on March 1, 1098, when he joined two of his own lovers, and numerous  others, in the ranks of openly homosexual Catholic Bishops. Continue reading Openly Gay Bishop Consecrated in 1098

 SS Symeon of Emessa & John: Hermits, Saints & Lovers

The information for this pair of same sex lovers is sparse, but the story important.  I quote directly from the LGBT Catholic Handbook Calendar of gay & lesbian saints :

“The story itself is about a same-sex relationship. Symeon..and John…. meet on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They become friends and “would no longer part from each other”. In fact they abandon their families and go together to dedicate their lives to God. In the monastery they first join, they are tonsured by the abbot who blesses them together(Krueger 139-141, 142). This seems to refer to some early monastic version of theadelphopoiia ceremony.”

Twenty nine years later, they part and their stories diverge. Simeon wants to leave John, as he had ealrier left his wife, and becomes know as a “fool for Christ”.  But:

The extent of the relationship is revealed at this point. John is not keen for Symeon to leave. He says to Symeon “..Please, for the Lord’s sake, do not leave wretched me….Rather for the sake of Him who joined us, do not wish to be parted from your brother. You know that, after God, I have no one except you, my brother, but I renounced all and was bound to you, and now you wish to leave me in the desert, as in an open sea. Remember that day when we drew lost and went down to the Lord Nikon, that we agreed not to be separated from one another. Remember that fearful day when we were clothed in the holy habit, and we two were as one soul, so that all were astonished at our love. Don’t forget the words of the great monk…Please don’t lest I die and God demands an account of my soul from You.”

Halsall states clearly that this was not a sexual relationship, but it is clearly an emotionally intimate, same sex relationship.  At a time when “marriage” did not carry the same meaning that it has today;  when many religious married couples, even outside holy orders, were encouraged to remain celibate;  and given that they had entered a omnastery before living together as  hermits, this is unremarkable. Continue reading  SS Symeon of Emessa & John: Hermits, Saints & Lovers

Give me Back That Old Time Religion

Gary Macy, a historical theologian, has an article at National Catholic Reporter prompted by the Vatican “Visitation” to US women religious. Macy reminds us in this article that this very concept would have been unthinkable until fairly recently in church history.  Quoting just one example, he notes that

“The abbess (of Las Huelgas near Burgos in Spain) had the power to appoint parish priests for the countryside subject to the convent of Las Huelgas, some 64 villages. No bishop or delegate from the Holy See could perform a visitation of the churches or altars or curates or clerics or benefices under the care of the abbess. The abbess of Las Huelgas was even able to convene synods in her diocese and to make synodal constitutions and laws for both her religious and lay subjects.”

Trappings of the modern church?

Previously, Macy has written about women’s active role in the priesthood of the early church. (Treasures from the Storeroom: Medieval Religions and the Eucharist) .While agreeing that this role was not the same as that of modern ordained priests, nor was that of their male peers in their own time. (I am grateful to The Wild Reed, once again, for drawing my attention to these two articles)

Exploring these ideas a little further, I came across another piece in the NCR which caught my attention: Under the Heading “A Map to the Future Church” , Tom Roberts writes about the ideas of Sr Christine Schenk on ways in which to renew the church.  Reading these, I was struck once again by how so much of the obvious way forward (dispense with compulsory celibacy, ordain women, accept homosexuality as natural, invigorate the laity and accept their participation in decision making and the appointment of bishops) are not radical new ideas at all, but simply return to the best traditions of the church.  (I do NOT say the “early” church, which brings suggestions of the first centuries of a small band struggling against a hostile Empire.  The practices to which I refer were part of the mainstream church for twelve centuries – for over half of Church history.)

All of this confirmed what I have long suspected.  Somewhat to my astonishment, I find that I am at heart a deeply conservative, traditional Catholic:  but not of that sham “tradition” which  emerged in the 19th century, and falsely claims to represent the historical “truth”.

My readers will know of my conviction that LGBT Catholics should be more aware of their respected place in Church history.  To find a more viable future for the church, so should we all better understand the truth of our past.

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“Not-a lesbian”, “Not a Saint”, Benedetta Carlini,Visionary Nun (1590 – 1661 )

 

Earlier this week, the Catholic Church marked the feast day of SS Martha and  Mary. In my post here, and in the comments thread for Kittredge Cherry’s corresponding post atJesus in Love Blog, there was some attention given to the nature of their relationship. Were they literally “just” sisters? Was the word a euphemism for a different kind of relationship? Is it fair to call them “lesbians”?  Does it matter?

I believe that the very attempt to force people into sexual categories is a trap. This is what has created the myth in the first place of a normative heterosexual identity within an opposite sex, monogamous marriage. The truth is that in nature and in human societies the world over and in all periods of history, relationships and forms of sexual expression are bewildering in their diversity. Trying to apply modern words to historic patters is particularly dangerous, as the attempt risks burying the past in the baggage carried by those words. This was clearly illustrated for me when I read this morning about Bernadetta Carlini, an Italian visionary whose description as a “lesbian nun” clouds more than it illustrates – even though the one thing that is not contested in her story is that it featured regular sex with a woman (sometimes described as the earliest recorded instance of lesbianism in modern history).

Much of Bernadetta’s story will be familiar to anyone who read volumes of hagiography during childhood in a Catholic school (as I did), or later. Near miraculous circumstances surrounding her birth, dedication by her mother to a life in the convent, a childhood of great “holiness”, eminence in the convent where she became  abbess, acknowledged for herintense spirituality (proven by the marks she bore of the stigmata )- that kind of thing.  It is the end of the story that is markedly different from the routine, and should cause us to sit up and ask some awkward questions: questions about the words we use, how do we define “lesbian” for earlier cultures, how do we recognize sanctity?

The thoughts I share with you here are prompted by a short essay by E. Ann Matter, “Discourses of Desire: Sexuality and Christian Women’s Visionary Narratives”, in “Que(e)rying Religion “(ed Gay Comstock), which in turn was prompted by recent studies by Judith Brown, who refers to Bernadetta as a lesbian nun in Renaissance Italy.”  Matter takes issue with the use of the word “lesbian” in this context, arguing that the undisputed sexual activity with a woman appears to be “lesbian” to modern eyes, but in the context of her life, had completely different connotations. To get directly to the  the crucial points, I shall say no more of her early life, until she started to win renown for her mystical visions and stigmata.

To a sceptical modern mind, such claims would be treated with great suspicion, but recall that in earlier times, they would have been taken entirely seriously. If not exactly commonplace, they were certainly not unheard of – they featured in the lives of many of the saints.

She became famed for her spiritual authority as a great visionary, claiming to be in regular communication with several angels (identified by name), and even with Jesus Christ himself. Within her community and the town of Pescia, her claims were not only taken seriously, they revered her for them. Paolo Ricordati,  her confessor, encouraged her in developing them.  It was that development that led to the dramatic climax, which we must interpret.

It is a standard metaphor of women’s dedication to the religious life that in their commitment to lifelong celibacy, they become “brides of Christ”. Benedetta interpreted this literally, and instructed her convent in 1619 to prepare a great wedding feast for her – which they did.   This wedding marked the highpoint of her spiritual fame. Inevitably, it attracted the attention of the church authorities, who conducted an extensive round of investigations, very largely depending on the witness of a young nun, Bartolomea Crivelli, who was an attendant on Benedetta. On the strength of this first round of investigations, including 14 different visits to the convent. the church declared Benedetta a true visionary.

Two years later, a second round of investigations which followed Benedetta’s “death and resurrection” in 1621, produced a dramatically different outcome. (Her resurrection had supposedly been prophesied by one of her angel visitors.) This time, Bartolomea gave more details on the precise nature of the mystical encounters with Christ – and the investigators didn’t like it.  The story was that when Benedetta was visited by her mystical “bridegroom”, Christ himself (or by Splenditello, one of his angels who regularly visited in her visions), she did what any good bride would do – she gave herself to him sexually. But to do this in embodied form, she needed a human stand -in. Bartolomea testified that she had been that stand-in.  She had regularly had sex with Benedetta, in the place of the mystical bridegroom.

From there, as you can imagine, it was downhill all the way. Had Bartolomea never spoken of the sexual encounters, we can easily imagine what might have been a clear path to recognized sainthood: visions, stigmata and spiritual leadership are strong claims, and (alleged) resurrection after death would surely have been the clincher – but there was this crucial problem of her “immodest acts”. This was a time, remember, when “sodomy” was still a capital offence, and frequently resulted in burning those found guilty of it. The conclusion was that Benedetta’s “visions” had been faked. Even so it took two years before the investigation could reach a final verdict, that she had been “misled” by the devil. She was sentenced to imprisonment in the convent until her ultimate death, many years later.

What are we to make of this? I do not have all the evidence, nor the tools for a proper evaluation, and shall not attempt to pass any verdict on the historical “truth”  behind the story. However, I do want to make some general observations, that I think are worth pondering.

First, although the story in its entirety is extraordinary to modern ears, to medieval or Renaissance Christians it would have been entirely credible, right up to the point of the actual bodily intercourse. Many of the great mystics described relationships with God in terms of deep, loving personal relationships with Jesus, and men and women alike routinely described the intensity of these in frankly erotic terms. In the church, we accept the real possibility of intensely mystical experiences, and do not dispute the testimony of other great mystics. Conversely, many queer Christians in the modern world know from their own experience that they too, have the possibility of intensely spiritual encounters with God in their own lovemaking.   If we are prepared to accept the possibility of intense mystical experiences as real encounters with God, why should we not take seriously the possibility of the story being literally true, exactly as first told?

On the other hand, we also know that many claims of “miraculous” events really have been fraudulent.  We also need to take seriously the possibility that the whole thing really was a giant fake.

Finally, we need to consider the role of the Church investigators. In two separate investigations, involving several visits and innumerable inerrogations of many witnesses, they were willing to accept any number of remarkable claims:  that she represented spiritual leadership, that she was a genuine visionary, that her wounds were authentically the stigmata of Christ, that she was visited regularly by a series of angels and by Christ himself, and (most remarkably) that she had experienced death and resurrection. All of that, the investigators were prepared to believe – up until the moment they learnt of the sexual relationship with Bartolomea.

Was Benedetta lesbian? To my mind, clearly not -at least, not in the modern sense, not on the basis of the “facts” as presented. The nature of the relationship was not based on loving partnership, but entirely on the one person acting as a stand-in for (male)  Christ.  Unless, that is, Barolomea was inventing the supernatural visits as a cover for a more conventional relationship. It was however, a “queer” relationship, as lying totally outside conventional expectations  for a woman, either as dutiful wife or as quiet sister in a convent cloister.

Was she a saint? Clearly not, in the official histories. Should we regard her as a popular saint for our community, suitable for canonization by queer popular acclamation? That depends on your view of the “Truth” – was it faked, or did she really experience mystical union with Christ?

We cannot know. But however we decide, I believe there is something important to take away and remember in this story:  that on the basis of the evidence from two extensive investigations, there is a strong possibility that she would have become a recognized saint – except for the simple fact that she had sex with a woman. That small detail was enough, in the eyes of the Church, to counteract all the evidence in support of her claim- even though that sexual expression was part of a mystical union. Sadly, this is typical of so much of how some in the Church today react to the “homosexuals” in its ranks:  no matter what the evidence of piety, devotion to God, or action for good in the world – as soon as they recognize the “homosexual”, all else is ignored. Only that one feature of our lives is recognized,  labelled (in the Catholic Church at least) as “gratuitous self-indulgence” – and condemned out of hand.

And so it is that I suggest we should reflect on the story, and remember the life,  of not-a-lesbian, not-a -saint, Benedetta Carlini.

See Also :

Finding God in Gay Lovemaking

A Church for Saints and Sinners

The Guardian Newspaper has drawn attention to an article which it claims shows that the Holy See is warming to Oscar Wilde.  This is a little over the top – what the newspaper did, was to praise a review of a book about Wilde:

“Despite the Catholic Church’s condemnation of practising homosexuality, the newspaper has now run a glowing review of a new book about the famously doomed lover of Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde was “one of the personalities of the 19th century who most lucidly analysed the modern world in its disturbing as well as its positive aspects”, wrote author Andrea Monda in a piece about Italian author Paolo Gulisano’s The Portrait of Oscar Wilde.

In an article headlined “When Oscar Wilde met Pius IX”, Monda wrote that Wilde was not “just a non-conformist who loved to shock the conservative society of Victorian England”; rather he was “a man who behind a mask of amorality asked himself what was just and what was mistaken, what was true and what was false”.

“Wilde was a man of great, intense feelings, who behind the lightness of his writing, behind a mask of frivolity or cynicism, hid a deep knowledge of the mysterious value of life,” he said.”

Nevertheless, it is true that both in the review and in publishing an earier collection of aphorisms, the Vatican has commented a pprovingly on the wisdom behind many of Wilde’s wittty remarks: in particular, that the Catholic Church is a  place “for saints and sinners alone” – and not for respectable people or conformists.

“The Holy See started its unlikely love affair with the Irish playwright and author two years ago when it published a collection of his quips in the book Provocations: Aphorisms for an Anti-conformist Christianity. Wilde’s famous comments “I can resist everything except temptation”, and “the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it” were included in the book, edited by Father Leonardo Sapienza.

Wilde was baptised into the Catholic Church shortly before he died. L’Osservatore Romano said that the “existential path” which the author trod “can also be seen as a long and difficult path toward that Promised Land which gives us the reason for existence, a path which led him to his conversion to Catholicism, a religion which, as he remarked in one of his more acute and paradoxical aphorisms, was ‘for saints and sinners alone – for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do’.”

This is profoundly true.  The heart of the Gospel is precisely that it is about to reaching out to all  – saints and sinners alike – and not to the rich and respectable, unless they discard those riches and respectability.  Indeed, many of our most revered saints today were at one time or another either clear “sinners”, or viewed with great suspicion or outright hostility by the Vatican establishment.

In a useful comment on the article, Martin Pendergast, well-known in the UK for his outstadning work behind the Soho Masses and the RC Caucus of the LGCM, notes the many reasons why this should not be a surprise, arguing along lines similar to those used by Mark Jordan in “The Silence of Sodom.”

“Why should anyone be surprised at the Vatican’s official newspaper lauding Oscar Wilde? Its marbled halls are strewn with the finely sculpted, muscular youths of Michelangelo’s erotic fantasies. The erupting sexuality in the Sistine Chapel’s frescos are likewise testament to Wilde’s assertion that the Catholic church is “for saints and sinners alone” and that “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.”

What might have attracted Oscar Wilde to Catholicism? At one level it might have been the camp ultramontanism of 18th and 19th century liturgy and music. This attracted so many converts of the era, lingering into the early 20th century, with leading figures of the Oxford Movement and later Anglo-Catholic revivals turning to Rome. Cardinal Newman, his beloved Ambrose St John, the hymn-writing Father Faber, and Robert Hugh Benson, were all aesthetes to varying degrees. Was there something in the harshness of Victorian society that encouraged them to seek out alternative values in the Catholic church of those times?

…..

Wilde’s sexual life, which today might be described as exhibiting patterns of sexual addiction, gave him deep insight into what was good, and beautiful, and true, in himself and those whom he loved, from Constance Lloyd to Alfred Douglas. The Vatican newspaper is not romanticising Wilde but noting his real insights into the human condition, its vulnerability and its immense creativity. Wilde’s De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol are as valuable spiritual and theological classics as Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, or the latter’s passionate letters on the death of Ambrose St John.”

Saint or Sinner:  which are you?

For the full Guardian article, read it here;

For Martin’s commentary, read it here.

Related posts:

Oscar Wilde, Queer Martyr (Queer Saints, Sinners and Martyrs)

Oscar Wilde: Gay martyr with complex faith journey recalled in new art




The Road from Emmaus: Gay & Lesbian Prophetic Role

As an example of powerful Biblical interpretation which combines the different approaches approved by the Pontifical Biblical Commission of which I wrote yesterday, I would now like to present to you a powerful reflection by Michael B Kelly.  This was originally presented as a keynote address to the Australian lesbian and gay Catholic group “Acceptance” back in 1997. An edited text is reprinted in his book, “Seduced by Grace: Contemporary spirituality, Gay experience and Christian faith“.Seduced by Grace_ Michael Bernard Kelly

Michael’s interpretation is notable for the way in which he places the familiar story of Emmaus firmly within the broader context of Luke’s Gospel, and specifically its narrative of the Resurrection.

In this, he is well within both the canonical tradition of looking at the Bible as a whole, as well as the literary/narrative approach.  He stresses the psychological context of the disciples in the immmediate aftermath of the Crucifixion, but also the social context:  the male leaders as religious insiders locked in fear of the authorities, but also unwilling to believe the reports of the women, who were outsiders.  He also notes Luke’s background as an educated Greek, writing in Greek, for a Gentile audience, to whom same sex relationships would have appeared commonplace and morally neutral.  This puts him firmly within the cultural anthropology approach, but also prepares the way for his great pastoral insight:  as nothing is stated in the text about the sexual orientation of the disciples on the road, we may legitimately imagine them as gay men or lesbians.  By placing his interpretation bang in the middle of the contextual approach, he transforms a familiar story into a profoundly fresh metaphor for our prophetic role in the church. Continue reading The Road from Emmaus: Gay & Lesbian Prophetic Role

Catholic Magisterium and Me

In one his comments on my Catholic Teaching page, Ignatius / Benedict writes that

“I think you’ll be happy in the Anglican denomination where this sort of reasoning evades the Truth.”

I’m sorry to disappoint you, IB, but you will not get rid of me that easily.  I am a cradle Catholic, “gebore en gerore” (born and bred, as expressed in Afrikaans), and could no more renounce my faith than I could my language – or my orientation.

One year I accompanied my then partner to Christmas Midnight Mass in the cathedral parish of St Mary’s, Johannesburg, a place rich in sympbolism and significance at that time of anti -apartheid struggle – and came away empty.   My present partner here in the UK is also a high church Anglican, and I have frequently accompanied him to services – which again I find shallow and empty.  Only in the Catholic Mass do I find true richness.

What draws me to the Catholic Church, beyond mere habit and familiarity, is precisely that it is not just “Catholic” (i.e. institutional), but also “catholic” (literally, universal).  The Gospels are clearly inclusive, and so, in principle, is the Catholic Church – inclusive across geographic boundaries, across language and ethnicity, and across two millenia of history.

An important part of that is the Magisterium.  2000 years of scholarship and of spirituality must surely include within it much great wisdom, which must be respected and treasured.  I am particularly grateful for those giffts from which I have personally benefited: the wisdom in Ignatian spirituality, the teaching apostolate of the Dominicans and the missionary zeal of so many.   I take the value of the Magisterium very seriously indeed, as teaching authority.  I also take pride in the history of the church in its struggle against oppression, in South Africa and elsewhere.  The Catholic Church took the first steps to defy the apartheid laws and admit people to its schools without regard to ethnic background; spoke out in pastoral letters against the sheer iniquity of apartheid laws;  gave succour and support to political detainees and their families; intervened as peacemakers in vicious ethnic violence in the killing fields of Natal before the 1994 election; and worked as peace monitors and electoral educators in the build up to that historic election. I am proud to say that I myself was a part of the work of the church Peace & Justice activities at the time, which is why I am so disappointed that the Church’s insistence on siding with the oppressed does not extend to sympathy and understanding for those sexual minorities whose  oppression arises from the Church’s own actions. Continue reading Catholic Magisterium and Me

On “Catholic Teaching”: Housekeeping notes.

On my Catholic Teaching page yesterday, Ignatius Benedict posted a comment which drew a response from me, leading to further exchanges from each of us.  Ignatius Benedict has his own blog In the Roman Catacombs, which I respect but often disagree with, and we clearly have very different views on church and authority, so I suggested that on that matter we should now agree to differ and close that particular discussion.

However, reflecting on his comments, and those posted by Conway on the same page earlier, I realised that this page is one that I have neglected for too long.  The reasons I think are understandable. In setting up this site 6 months ago, I built a structure that intially represented ambition and intention rather than achievement, reflected in pages that were set up as templates without content.  As time has passed, I have tried to build up the content on three fronts simultaneously:  a series of regular front page postings reflecting mostly personal opinions and reflections, prompted by events in the news or in my life, or ideas as they occur to me ;  a series of information pages which attempt to build up information on faith and sexuality from a range of perspectives (church, history, scripture, and so on); and an expanding set of books pages.

These inner inforamtion pages are the most difficult for me:   I am very conscious that I ahve no particular expertise or training in these fields, and so I depend on sharing information that I have gleaned from others.   Also, inevitably I find it easier and more useful for me personally to time my time on the topics in which I am personally most interested, and about which I feel most confident.  So these pages ahve been more neglected than others, and Church Teaching most of all.

Excuses though are not good enough.  I personally have limited interest in the detail of Church teaching, but others do.  I will henceforth make a greater effort to research and report on the official teaching.  Be warned, though, that in doing so there will be some surprises.  For as I noted in response to James, the official teaching, once you go beond the simple headlines coming out of the Vatican, are not nearly as clearcut and simple as one would think.

In the meantime, until I have been able to flesh out my thinking in more organised fashion, you may like to check out the interchange in the comments boxes, which has now become quite an extended exchange – and by all means, go ahead and make your own contributions.

The Monastic Tradition: All a Big Mistake

Possibly in response to a orevious post, a reader (my friend Rob Alexander) has sent me this by email.

Thank you, Rob.

Monastery Life

A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand.

monks 01
He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript. So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up! In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

monks 02The head monk, says, “We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.”
*****


He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery
where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn’t been opened for hundreds of years.

monks 03

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot.

*****


So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing.

monks 04“We missed the R!  We missed the R! We missed the R!”


His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.

The young monk asks the old abbot, “What’s wrong, father?” With A choking voice, the old abbot replies,
“The word was…

monks 05

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