From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#1
April 11th 1792

Maddalena had never been in trouble before but when she had come home from the church. She had been in trouble. It didn’t matter, her Uncle’s angry word, her Aunt’s reproaching tongue. She felt so much lighter. She was walking on air and the man who had brought her such feelings was Father…. Oh! (she realized as her Uncle and Aunt were barking at her in the background) She realized they had not been formally introduced. A fact she would rectify tomorrow.

After having explained where she was and why, her Uncle and Aunt had calmed down, if only a little. She would still be punished though for sneaking out. She was to go to her room and take a tray there for supper. She accepted her punishment with a kiss to her Uncle and then her Aunt’s cheek before hurrying to her room. She had a plan and it would do that she was confined to her room.

In the morning she woke with joy in her heart. She still felt the loss of her brother but she was comforted in the fact that she would be going to the church to continue the Novena for him. She rose from her bed and began the day's activities: Dressing, having breakfast with her family and then back to her room to allow Angelina to do her hair, for once. Part of her( feeling quite guilt ridden over it but not enough to cause her shame, just yet) wanted to look nice. For him.

Collecting her work from her dresser, she tucked into her sleeve and left with a tow of guards this time. The gondola ride this time was crowded and quiet. The guards would leave her by the door as she entered the church. She found an attendant and described Agustin in appearance and asked to speak to him and then she waited.

Taking from her sleeve,a gift she had brought him. An embroidered handkerchief she had spent the rest of the day yesterday and most of the night sewing. Lilies of the Valley decorated the left hand corner and she traced her thumb over the raised design while she waited.
word count: 371
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Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#2
Agustin expected to see the young lady who started the novena yesterday – God’s servant Maddalena Bona. He remembered her names, as well as her brother’s, since he hadn’t done any other novena since hers. So, after the Mass he spent some more time in the church. But the church San Giorgio Maggiore had many chapels and it was easy for someone not accustomed yet with it to get lost. Therefore, when a young Benedictine novice told him, all blushing, that a young lady was waiting for him in a certain chapel, he hurried to meet her.

His hands and forearms weren’t looking as neatly as yesterday morning. Immediately after finishing the prayers with her, he had gone to Rialto, to see Thurenza, and he had happened to be there when a fire broke out in Rialto, and he helped out to his best. Pumping the fire engine didn’t leave his hands as soft as they had been before, and a few scratches were there too, from the moments when handling the buckets in a chain.

”Good morning!” he greeted the young lady. ”How are you feeling today?”

This time he didn’t give his blessing as first words, instead of another greeting, as he knew they had prayers to make anyway, and the blessing to follow the holy water. She didn’t remind him about another novena of the past. Praying for a deceased brother made a difference in his mind, plus that Michela and Maddalena had nothing to compare them one with the other. Actually, who could compare anyone with Michela?

@Ducky
word count: 268

Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#3
The church was quiet as she waited and she did not mind the silence. Instead she admired the church for its beauty and the way it meant to celebrate God even in the most simplest of designs. The solidarity of stone reminded her of the strength of God, meant to bare the most horrid of weight but never yielding, as God never would yield and never abandon her. It made her happy and gave her peace.

She felt so full of his love and free this morning that standing her alone, she felt the urge to sing. There was a hidden talent in that little body of hers but she refrained from presenting it. It did not seem right to sing when she was still in mourning, even as the desire filled her to the brink. She hummed as she waited, it was the most she was willing to do. A gentle soothing note of her voice rising and falling as she waited.

Her head raised at the sound of his voice and a brilliant smile lifted her lips. “Good Morning Father” As she spoke, she turned her body towards him. She was still dressed in her mourning blacks but at least today she was put together. Her hair in a delicate and beautiful updo with several spirals of dark hair that curled over the creamy skin of her shoulder and resting close to the swell of her tiny breasts beneath the dress.

“I awoke with a song in my heart, Father. I feel so much freer than yesterday, though my heart aches for my brother still, the pain is not so great.” She mused with a small smile.

She held up the handkerchief with the Lilies of the Valley embroidery upon them “I made this for you. Lilies of the Valley. They are my favorite flower. They remind me of bells when they sway in the wind and perhaps they do have a sound, meant for angels and beyond our mortal comprehension. Though I confess I still try to imagine the sound whenever I see them swaying.” She smiled as held out the gift towards him but then noticed the state of his hands.

“Father! Are you alright? What happened?” She cried as she reached out with one hand towards his hands were clearly showed signs of distress.

@Elena
word count: 390
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Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#4
Agustin heard her humming, and given that he could recognize in her notes a religious song, he enjoyed it. The fact that she confessed that she awoke with a song in her heart meant that starting the novena was the wise thing to do. He looked at her and he was pleased, taking her more elaborate hairdressing and fashion as a good sign of healing the grief.


”The grief will remain in your heart for a while, just… fading a bit more every day, until when the nice memories will remain, almost without pain. God and Virgin Mary are there to help you carry your pain,” he said. ”When you feel like singing, do it. Your brother might hear you. The saints and angels might hear you. Giving glory to God is not a sin, by contrary, it is encouraged.”

She was pretty and with a beautiful voice, still Agustin noticed these equally how he would have noticed that a flower had six or eight petals. His attention wasn’t for this kind of details. Then he received from her a handkerchief with beautiful embroideries. Indeed, it was a masterpiece of patience, first and foremost, and it was very nice. But should he receive such a present from her? Wouldn’t it be… somehow wrong? He wondered.

”It is beautiful, thank you very much. Are you sure, though, that you want ME to have it, and not the statue of the Holy Virgin?” he attempted. ”Exactly because it is so beautiful, I feel that She might deserve it more than I do.”

Then she noticed his hands, bearing the signs of having helped during the fire in Rialto.

”There had been a fire in Rialto yesterday, and I contributed to putting it out. I was first among those passing buckets of water from hand to hand, then one of the men working the fire engine,” he said. ”Everything is all right,” he reassured her.

@Ducky
word count: 325

Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#5
”The grief will remain in your heart for a while, just… fading a bit more every day, until when the nice memories will remain, almost without pain. God and Virgin Mary are there to help you carry your pain,”

She gave him a somber smile and a nod of her head. There was truth and comfort in his words. “Yes, I believe you are right. Thank you Father”

”When you feel like singing, do it. Your brother might hear you. The saints and angels might hear you. Giving glory to God is not a sin, by contrary, it is encouraged.”

She She flushed at his next words. Could she rightly say that her grief was waning and that was caused her to sing? She couldn’t. She wasn’t sure it was true. It was him, or so she thought. That made her feel like she could sing again, something she hadn’t done in some time. Was she really giving glory to God by singing because she felt Joy in her heart due to her attraction to the good Father? How embarrassing!

Though at the prospect of her brother hearing her song, she couldn’t help but feel some hope in that. Yet the thought of her brother did bring in a new wave of sadness and grief to fill her. She would never see his face again. She would never feel his arms around her or his words to comfort or encourage her. Her eyes misted with tears as the wave of pain clutched at her once so joyful heart and she blinked them away as she presented him with the gift.

She watched his face as he admired the gift, the detail in the embroidery and then he was suggesting it should be a gift for the Holy Virgin. Her brows furrowed together in confusion. Was he just being kind and did not really like it or was it wrong to give it to him that he would suggest such a thing? In either case, she frowned “Oh, If you think so...I..I...guess you may be right but I… made it for you. How little you think of yourself Father. When I was drowning in my grief yesterday, drowning in my own sorrow without any comfort at all, your hand reached out and pulled me from the depth. For the first time since arriving in Venice, I did not feel alone. I was praying to God yesterday for a sign and then… you were there. I…” She stopped, unable to say more. That she had made it for him as a show of thanks. To know that not only had God not abandoned her but had answered her prayer to be shown she was not alone not only because he was always there for her, but there were others who might be there for her.

”There had been a fire in Rialto yesterday, and I contributed to putting it out. I was first among those passing buckets of water from hand to hand, then one of the men working the fire engine,” he said. ”Everything is all right,”

As he explained about the fires and he was all right, she reached for his hands. It was inappropriate yes but her first instinct was to do so, her second being to kiss his hands to help the wounds. That was what her mother used to do. She remembered that about her. To kiss her boo-boo’s and make them better. She had the sense NOT to lean over and kiss his hands but she delicately took his hands into hers. Gently her thumb traced around the outline of some of the scratches. Although she resisted instinct, she went for the second instinct to come to mind, she raised one of her hands to her lips, kissing her fingertips and touched them against his scratches. “I am glad you are unharmed and will include my thanks of so in my prayers tonight. Were there any casualties? Is there anything I can contribute to help with such a tragedy?” She asked as she finished ‘kissing’ his boo-boo’s better and raised her eyes to meet his.

@Elena
word count: 701
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Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#6
Agustin was trying to find the best words for comforting a grieving sister. He was there for her, doing his duty in God’s service. He was oblivious to the fact that the young lady felt attracted to him. His suggestion that the handkerchief could have been a gift to the Holy Virgin had been heartfelt and sincere; in his mind, it was too beautifully embroidered to belong to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t like it, and when she said that she made it for him, he blushed. It was a surprise, but he couldn’t say he didn’t enjoy the attention.

”In this case, thank you very much. It is very beautiful. And yes, I think I have been taught that I shouldn’t be important. Only God to enlighten me to help people, He is important. And I am deeply grateful for your words of appreciation, even if I think it is not my merit. I live to serve. I am glad that I succeeded not to make you feel alone anymore.”

It wasn’t about a woman’s attention bestowed on him, which might have been considered inappropriate by eventual curious eyes. He hadn’t thought about it that way, so he didn’t see those implications. His heart was too full of Michela to notice any other woman in the same way. Of course, if it would have come from Michela, it would have been different, a proof of love. But he had Michela’s colours in his room, the cherished deep red scarf. For him, now, it was merely about someone appreciating him enough to offer him a little gift made of their hands.

As he told her about the fire in Rialto, she reached for his hands, a little scratched and calloused after the pumping. He didn’t admit that he had been nearly fainting at the pump, having considered himself stronger than he actually was. That was an embarrassing detail to keep for himself. Her touch felt familiar. Not the sudden warmth he had felt in the beginning when meeting Michela’s hands, neither the comforting gentleness felt afterwards, when he gave her the letters, neither Thurenza’s healing touch. Maybe closer to Ilaria’s, how the two young women were of approximately the same age. Her next gesture was a bit more eye-opening. He was not stupid, so even if his nature was to be distracted and oblivious, this had a limit. This time he understood something, just that he wasn’t sure what to do with the information. He preferred to focus on replying to her questions.

”I am not sure about the casualties. I hope not. People hurt, yes, but not dead, I think. If you go by Rialto markets, you can see for yourself the effects. I think that you help the merchants if you have something you need to buy from them,” he added thoughtfully.

He didn’t know how to react. He looked at her – not with lust, not with hate, not with indifference, just with confusion. He would have needed Michela or Thurenza to advise him how one can step aside without hurting an innocent young woman’s feelings, that she perhaps wasn’t even aware of.

@Ducky
word count: 547

Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#7
“Oh but you are important, Padre. So much more than you know. I think it such a crime you do not see your worth and yet, perhaps that is a bane of most of humanity. We cannot see such things. The comfort you have given me is more precious than I have words to say.”

Her words were soft but never were there more sincere words spoken. She was quite certain she was no one special to him. It was his duty, to himself and to God to comfort those in pain be it physical or mental but his kindness shown towards her when she needed it most endeared him to her that even she did not understand in this moment.

She was pleased that he liked the gift though if he had insisted once more that the gift be given to the Virgin Mary, she would of consented without any hurt feelings to flood her, even as the gift was meant for him.

”I am not sure about the casualties. I hope not. People hurt, yes, but not dead, I think. If you go by Rialto markets, you can see for yourself the effects. I think that you help the merchants if you have something you need to buy from them,”

She gave his hands a tender squeeze before releasing them. Giving a sound nod of her head. “I shall endeavor to go to the markets after we have finished today and see what I can do to help. I shall buy out the market, if it will help those affected by such devastation. I cannot imagine surviving such myself.”

He didn’t know how to react. He looked at her – not with lust, not with hate, not with indifference, just with confusion. He would have needed Michela or Thurenza to advise him how one can step aside without hurting an innocent young woman’s feelings, that she perhaps wasn’t even aware of.

He was looking at her with such confusion that it made her frown as her brows pushed together with the wonder of why he looked at her in such a way. Had she said or did something wrong? Her action with his hands had been automatic. A kind tenderness she would've shown her Father or her brother if they had been injured and standing before her. Oh yes, she felt something for the priest that she should not. She knew that even though she couldn’t rightly know the feeling but what had she done to make him stare at her with confusion. “Father, are you alright? Is something wrong? Have I said or done something wrong?”

@Elena
word count: 444
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Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#8
Agustin blushed when she told him that he was important. Vanity was a sin; but he was a Barbaro, and he was vain enough, despite the priestly education, to believe her.

”I am glad to hear this,” he replied. ”Very glad that I could help you. I am here for you any time you need to talk or to pray. I mean, beyond the nine days I am awaiting you at the novena,” he mentioned with a friendly smile.

It was his duty to help, and it mattered a lot to him that his words were considered useful – that he made the smallest difference in someone’s life. He believed her sincerity,

And yes, he liked her gift – both the craftsmanship and the idea that something was made for him. That he mattered. Even his words about how to help the merchants made a difference, as she was willing to go make her shopping in Rialto these days. He replied with encouraging words:

”Anyone can survive if God wants it. There is a saying that God doesn’t give us a cross heavier than we can carry. It seems as heavy as we’d fall under it, but we don’t. It’s just the momentary sensation, probably given by the Devil.”

She must have sensed his confusion, as Maddalena asked him if she had done something wrong. She hadn't, in all honesty. He couldn't actually find a concrete fault -yet- in anything she had said or done. And he didn't know what to say for something which was more of a hunch, a feeling than anything objective. He knew how to heal - if prayers healed - not how to hurt someone.

”If I can find nothing wrong in anything you have said or done, God wouldn’t either,” he replied. ”Everything is all right. Just the world isn’t always all right,” he offered her a little smile. ”I guess this is something you already know.”

How couldn’t she know when she had just lost her brother?

"When have you come to Venice? Have you succeeded to make any friends yet?" he asked her, changing the subject. "I wished you could meet my sister, who is about the same age as you, but unfortunately she isn't in Venice for a while. She is at one of our estates," he said.

He would have wished this, hoping that Maddalena would have been a good influence on Ilaria. Unfortunately, this was impossible after the scandal his sister had got the family into.

@Ducky
word count: 426

Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#9
”I am glad to hear this,” he replied. ”Very glad that I could help you. I am here for you any time you need to talk or to pray. I mean, beyond the nine days I am awaiting you at the novena,” he mentioned with a friendly smile.

“That is good to hear. It is good to have a friend” She lifted her head to return the smile that he gave her.

”Anyone can survive if God wants it. There is a saying that God doesn’t give us a cross heavier than we can carry. It seems as heavy as we’d fall under it, but we don’t. It’s just the momentary sensation, probably given by the Devil.”

“I’ve heard that said before and I am inclined to believe it.” She mused although she could not remember a time when she felt to burdened to be able to bear it. Well except for her brothers passing but that feeling was quickly fading under Agustin tender care.

”If I can find nothing wrong in anything you have said or done, God wouldn’t either,” he replied. ”Everything is all right. Just the world isn’t always all right,” he offered her a little smile. ”I guess this is something you already know.”

She breathed a sigh of relief when he said he could find nothing wrong in what she said or did. She was not a young woman who wished to cause harm or ill to any person. It simply was not in her nature. In fact, so desirous of affection and friendship, she often refrained from doing or saying anything that would affect it negatively.

When he spoke of how things in the world weren’t always right. She cast her eyes downward and could only nod in confirmation that was something she already knew.

"When have you come to Venice? Have you succeeded to make any friends yet?" he asked her, changing the subject. "I wished you could meet my sister, who is about the same age as you, but unfortunately she isn't in Venice for a while. She is at one of our estates," he said.

She was glad of the subject change. She did not wish to linger on the ills of the world. Especially when one person could do so little to correct it. “I came in March.” She offered, raising her head to meet his gaze again. She hummed in a small laugh an shook her head “No, I have not met many people as of yet. My Uncle has been quite protective of me since my arrival.” She paused, not sure if she should say what came next and when she did speak, it was in a hushed whisper “Perhaps a little more protective then he should. I have either guards or my aunt accompanying me everywhere and it is hard to approach people when you bring an entourage with you.”

She reached out once more to touch his hand “You are so kind. She sounds like a lovely woman. I am sorry I will not get to meet her but it should not be your charge to find me friendly companionship Father. Unless of course, you are trying to get rid of me” She teased.

Her fingers on his hand tightened in a squeeze as she teased him. An while she did not want such ease conversation to end. Not when she felt so eased around him. She had come for a purpose. “Shall we begin what we came to do today, Father?” She asked quietly.

@Elena
word count: 599
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Re: From your lips she drew the Hallelujah

#10
Agustin replied kindly:

"You always have a friend in me."

He considered that a priest should be helping the people who come to him, and be friendly and welcoming, offering solace and counselling those in need of spiritual and not so spiritual help.

It turned out that she had been here for a couple of months, but she had been sheltered and she didn't know many people.

"Better be protective than have anything happen to you," he comforted her, not sure which was the optimal solution. "And don't worry, I would never want to get rid of you. Just that making more friends would mean for you being happier."

She gently reminded him that they had something to do - not that he could have forgotten. He just tried to make sure she was all right, in a spiritual space ready to benefit of the force of the prayer. They kneeled and started praying together the second day of the novena:

"Merciful God, we beseech you, by the pain which your Holy Mother saw you suffer and agonise on the cross, that the holy souls in purgatory be freed from those pains; especially for the soul of your servant Pier Luigi, for whom we are praying and offering in This novena. Bring those who are submerged in their sins to a true knowledge of their guilt and grant what we ask of you in this novena, for your greater honour and glory."
- THE END -
word count: 245
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