Bessina was attending the mass too, decently dressed and <a href='http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/cla ... ?s=612x612' rel='nofollow noopener' target='_blank'>properly veiled</a>, in <a href='http://mementomori1792.jcink.net/index. ... wtopic=858' rel='nofollow noopener' target='_blank'>Stephane&#8217;s company</a>. The strangest image, wasn&#8217;t it? One couldn&#8217;t see too often a prostitute in church, even if, in theory, according to the local rules, they could attend, only staying in the narthex, as entering the nave was forbidden to them. Demi-monde courtesans could skip this rule, most often, but common whores couldn&#8217;t, except the confession&#8230; but which of them was crazy enough to confess? One who truly believed, wouldn&#8217;t have slipped on the path of sin, one would say, even if the statement might be questionable in particular cases, as prostitution meant, often, forcing young, defenseless girls into it before they could understand it could have been different.

However, great holidays had this opportunity more than everyday masses, given that all brothels were closed, fearing less God&#8217;s wrath and more the religious fanatics&#8217; (including the Inquisition and all priests). Madames were smart enough to not wager war against the Church, and so keep the Church as much out of their business as possible. Ultimately, this was the oldest profession in the world, mentioned in the Holy Scriptures as well&#8230;

Of course she remembered, from her young years in a Friulan village, that boys and girls used to meet in church and to look at each other during the religious service, with or without a shy smile, and that prayers were the most intimate things to be shared between a boy and a girl before sharing a kiss. Still, this belonged somehow to her remote past&#8230; until Stephane boldly invited her to accompany him, on Easter, to San Giorgio Maggiore, where he was going with the whole crew. She had accepted, mostly intrigued by the fact that he was not ashamed to be seen in public with her. But he was weird, in his naivety. He seemed way younger than his years. He must have been about the same age with Rino, but what a difference between their ways of thinking! Was it, in Stephane&#8217;s mind, almost like introducing a girl to the family? She wondered, amused by the fact (which, out of diplomacy, she wouldn&#8217;t remind him) that she had been closely acquainted with most of the crew, captain included, long time before meeting him&#8230;

Indeed, nobody had minded her presence among them, and most likely nobody except &#8221;Colomba&#8217;s&#8221; crew had recognized her behind the veil, also a gift from Stephane. "Spend Christmas with your family, but Easter with whomever you want," the Friulans used to say. Tonight she could feel differently. She could feel as if she had never left the village, as if she was still a part of the decent people&#8217;s community. She had listened to the readings as well as she could (which meant still looking, from time to time, around, admiring other women&#8217;s clothing, or throwing furtive glances at her companion, so thoroughly deep in prayer and singing with the others at the prescribed moments). She had dared to renew her baptismal vows too, a thing she hadn&#8217;t done for several years, then she had prayed silently for getting a tavern to run. She would definitely not open a brothel when she would have the possibility to start her own business, and the tavern girls would be respectable, how the ones in her parents&#8217; inn had been.

To her surprise, after taking the light so gentlemanly offered by Stephane, reminding her of her last years at home, the mass continued much more. There were several young deacons awaiting ordination. Bessina was amused to see, and she couldn&#8217;t help thinking that, at his style, Stephane himself, instead of a sailor, should have been a deacon or a priest&#8230; Well, better not, though, as they had to take chastity vows, and she enjoyed his tender lovemaking, something a prostitute usually didn&#8217;t get.

The ordination was a ceremony she had never seen before, and she found it fascinating, with the only regret that so many young, handsome men were getting closed to the world forever.
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Beppin had renewed his baptismal vows too, washing out his sins with the holy water. He had the still burning candle in his hand, praying fervently for God's help and all the saints'. There were many other reasons to pray for, besides the usual prosperity and protection for his ship, and he hoped that the solemnity of tonight's extended mass, officiated by the Patriarch, would help him. Fernand's friend, the young priest to be ordained tonight, seemed to have a warm voice. They had liked his way of reading the Holy Scriptures. One less priest to fall asleep at his religious services, they sought with a smile. Now he was obviously trembling under emotions, but it was an unique day in his life, and nervousness was in human nature.

Georges, Maffeo, Nane and Jean-Pierre were listening to the Mass with more attention than usual, especially after the ceremony passed to the ordination part, unknown until now to all of them. Elouan and Barthemy had been those who volunteered to remain aboard the ship tonight, with the promise that they would get shore leave tomorrow. Beppin had been glad that they didn't have to draw straws to choose who remained. Fantin and Rino, who had been here too, next to Fernand and Margareta, had taken her back to the ship during the Easter readings, as she had got tired. It was expected for someone still weak and barely healing. Everyone was glad that she was recovering and that she was able to come get light and the Easter blessing.

Somewhere nearby, Stephane was accompanied by a woman whom all of them had recognized as being one of the prostitutes of "Il Convento Dolce". If Nane and a few others were smirking, Beppin wasn't sure how to feel. On one side, it was easy to understand the need for affection and stability in one's life, especially if the family was also in a landlocked corner of the world, not to be seen for years. Sooner or later, depending on personality and life circumstances, most people would get it, and they might solve it in various ways.

Falling in love was one, followed either by getting married, or by having another kind of an agreement with that woman, how he had with Liao. Having an apprentice to teach and to care for was another. Finding a place like home somewhere in a port, like they had found the "Drunken Duck", was another pillar of stability in their lives.

On the other side, the one without a sin to throw first the stone, as Beppin's girl was a courtesan, still between them he didn&#8217;t doubt there were true feelings. So he abstained from any judgment, until the possibility that Stephane would be heart broken some day and in need of comfort. So, he smiled at them when their gazes met, bowed his head a little in a greeting, and that was all.

Tonight meant also reasons to remember the Easter holidays from his childhood and teen years. Dressing up in springtime finery and going to church with the family, getting together for the Easter dinner, adorned with bright red painted eggs that were dyed the Holy Thursday, was no more for a roving sailor like him. It was just a dream and a memory from past years, when his godfather, the Governor of Kefallonia, Lothario's father, used to invite them for Easter dinner.

However, when one didn&#8217;t have family anymore, there were friends to replace them with. The Easter Vigil was better when shared with his Venetian and French crewmates. And aboard the ship, their new home, there was the possibility of mixing French, Venetian and Greek traditions for everyone to feel the holiday closer to their souls and, at the same time, unique, a bit different than what they had experienced before.

Margareta's sister had baked for them a big <a href='http://yourfoodtube.com/wp-content/uplo ... -Bread.jpg' rel='nofollow noopener' target='_blank'>dove-shaped yeast cake</a> studded with candied orange peel, then topped with almonds and a sprinkling of sugar to form a crisp, nutty crust. The cake, traditionally served at Easter, was named Colomba. For them, the crew of a ship with the same name, it had a special significance. He looked forward to breaking it in as many pieces as crewmates at the table &#8211; yes, Margareta included, because, even if she wasn't yet healthy enough to work, she was already a part of the crew.
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Nobody stepped forward to say anything against the candidates.

The Patriarch preached about how the work of Christ the teacher, priest and shepherd continued through the ministerial priesthood, highlighting that priests were joined with the Patriarch and other bishops in the task of exercising the priestly office in service to the People of God and reminding those to be ordained that they were to model their lives on the Good Shepherd “who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and save what was lost.”

Agustin listened with attention, trying to learn and to remember.

"State your resolve to exercise faithfully your ministry as priests, in all the three main aspects of priesthood: teacher, proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed, sanctifier, as a minister of the sacraments, and servant of all, especially the poor, while being at the same time a leader and builder of the Christian community. Remember that you don't cease being followers of Christ by embracing his priesthood! Therefore, my dear sons, chosen as you are by the judgment of our brethren to be consecrated as our helpers, keep yourselves blameless in a life of chastity and sanctity. Be well aware of the sacredness of your duties. Be holy as you deal with holy things. When you celebrate the mystery of the Lord's death, see to it that by mortifying your bodies you rid yourselves of all vice and concupiscence. Let the doctrine you expound be spiritual medicine for the people of God. Let the fragrance of your lives be the delight of Christ's Church, that by your preaching and example you help to build up the edifice which is the family of God. May it never come about that we, for promoting you to so great an office, or you, for taking it on yourselves, should deserve the Lord's condemnation; but rather may we merit a reward from Him. So let it be by His grace."

One by one, Agustin and the others renewed their promises. He was aware what was expected from him and he hoped to be at the height of his calling. His voice didn't tremble when he made the five promises expected from him, clearly and sincerely:

"I promise to discharge the office of priesthood in the presbyteral rank as worthy fellow workers with the Order of Bishops. I promise to exercise the ministry of the Word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith. I promise to celebrate faithfully and reverently the mysteries of Christ handed down by the Church, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people. I promise to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to their care by observing the command to pray without ceasing. I promise to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice and to consecrate themselves to God for the salvation of all."

As the first in the row, it was him to lead in going before the Patriarch, kneeling in front of him and placing his hands between those of the Patriarch for the promise of obedience. The representative of the Holy See had the hands cool and welcoming. Agustin's own hands felt held in embrace, not locked in chains.

“Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?”

"I do," Agustin looked at him before bowing his head and kissing the Patriarch's ring.

He knew very well what was to follow, as he had experienced the same type of rite before, both at Final Vows and Diaconate Ordination: they laid prostrate, as the lowest people in the church, as the congregation sang the Litany of the Saints, asking saint upon saint to pray for them, bless, sanctify and consecrate them in order that God may look favorably upon those to be ordained. A prayer followed, asking that the Holy Spirit may be poured upon them. While these prayers were being prayed, the faithful joined their prayers for the candidates to those of the Patriarch, who concluded with a prayer he said alone.

Then, in silence, the Patriarch of Venice laid his hands on each man to be ordained a priest, the ancient sign of the passing on of ministry found in the book of Acts. Afterwards, Agustin and the others returned to their former place and kneeled. The Patriarch held his right hand outstretched over them. Next the priests came forward, one by one, laying both their hands on the head of each candidate, then, forming a semicircle beginning at the gospel side, they stood behind the candidates and held their right hand outstretched over them just like the Patriarch. It was a tender sign that they wished to share their priesthood with the newcomers, because “they all have a common and similar spirit.”

Giuseppe's touch seemed encouraging and calming. Their road had been with asperities, but now they were again, together, the older friend vouching for the younger and receiving him friendly.

After the hand-laying, the Patriarch said the prayer of consecration, alluding to Aaron and the seventy elders called by Moses as Old Testament figures that prefigure the presbyters to work as coworkers of the bishop.

"My brethren, let us implore God the Father almighty to multiply His heavenly gifts in these servants of His whom He has chosen for the office of the priesthood. May they fulfill by His grace the office they receive by His goodness; through Christ our Lord. Hear us, we pray, O Lord God, and pour out on these servants of yours the blessing of the Holy Spirit and the power of priestly grace. And now as we present them for consecration in your benign presence, may you sustain them forever by the bounty of your gifts."

After speaking of the various forms of ministry exercised within the Church, the prayers stated that the priests were those who assist the apostles in making Christ present in the Church, asking for the spirit of holiness for the new priests so that they may help to sanctify God’s people.

Agustin listened with piety, hoping indeed to be at the height of the ministry given to him, prudent, shining in virtues and able to give a good account of the stewardship entrusted to him. All the faithful joined silently their prayers to those of the Patriarch, knowing that once this prayer got concluded, the men being ordained were priests.

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word count: 1175

Sitting almost in the last row, Ria was squished tightly between her Grandma on her left, and her mother-in-law on her right. She felt like she was herding little children, trying to keep them still. Throughout the service, they were trying to get at one another, commenting the service, the church, muttering, gossiping. It took all of Ria's patience, and more of her strength just to keep them separated. She knew, the two women would have differing opinions on near everything and she fervently wished they could have decided on attending Easter Mass at three different churches, rather than going altogether.

But no, her Mamas had insisted that for this occasion, this grande invitation to witness the ordination of over twenty priests, the chance to see the Patriarch of Venice himself, and the glory it meant to receive Papal blessings (well - through the bishops and cardinals, since the Pope was not here, but it was close enough!) they all had to go together and they all had to sit together.

The two elder women finally quieted down during the sermons and Ria's shoulders sagged with relief when the onslaught of "Tell her that" from one side, and "Respond to her with this" from the other finally ceased.
Ria was exhausted. It was near midnight, and while she had not opened the Shop on this holy day - in fact, the whole Easter Weekend would not see her working openly - she had been up since dawn cleaning, and helping her mother-in-law preparing their home for the festive days. Decorations were put up, Candles made to the ready, and baskets prepared to be filled with items to be blessed. Her mother had been baking bread, curing strips of meats, and boiled eggs to fill several baskets with.
Customs demanded that by Easter Sunday, they would each have their own basket for it to be blessed, as well as several others given out to poor, sick, or homeless people in need.

To Ria's left, her Grandmother sagged against her - she had fallen asleep halfway through the first lecture. The youngest of the three widows could feel her shoulder going numb under the weight, but she didn't dare move. She almost wished, she could be as careless as the old woman and fall asleep right then and there. However, pride, decency and respect kept her awake and if Mama realised, that Grandma was asleep, the bickering would be starting anew and Ria wished to avoid that at all costs.

Her gaze wandered over the many heads, filling the church with a thick crowd before her. She could barely make out the priests and it was only thanks to the church' acoustics that she could clearly make out the spoken words ahead. Her eyes lost their focus on the blessings on the fore - and made out faces, and figures closer to where she was sitting. She recognised few people. Some may have at one time been customers for her shop, others she may have seen in passing. None stood out as what she might call friend. Until her eyes unexpectedly found Bessina. She was sitting far in front of Ria and her Mamas, and the seamstress did not expect the prostitute to see her. Nonetheless, she was comforted by the thought of having at least one familiar person in the same room as her that did not wish to tear her in seven different directions.

She looked toward the row of priests once more - one particularly charismatic individual received his blessings and spoke his oath. Her mother in law sighed and placed her hand over her heart. "Ah, mi cuore! Such a man, given to god, lost to women." The nearly sixty year old woman whispered painfully - and embarrassingly loudly. Ria drew in a sharp breath and shot a brief prayer upward, pleading that no one had noticed.
word count: 650

Giuseppe was there with Agustin as well, as the Easter Mass began. How could he not? It was after all the resurrection of Christ, and the chill evening air was high on anticipation for that reason alone. The clergy had come together in great numbers to share this event, and Giuseppe found his place in the chorus line before it was time for the Patriarch to commence. He then listened in silence while the man spoke his part, allowing himself to focus on the ancient tales which together formed the foundation behind this joyous holiday.

Once the priests were assumed to sing a hymn, or preach a prayer unto His glory, Giuseppe raised his voice with the rest of them, and he sang with his heart, while the Easter fire cast the shadows and light of dancing flames.

Soon enough it was time he bid farewell to the red-blazing dancer. Slowly the congregation made their way inside, pausing before each candle lit so as to give the moment its proper weight. These sacred rituals uplifted him even as a spectator, and he relished in the little details while he waited - easily feeling as emotionally disharmonious at the candidates themselves when the mind touched upon the rituals ahead.

He couldn&#8217;t help relive the moment as if it was his own ordination all over again. With Agustin among the candidates the fear of failure, however improbable he considered the idea, painted a dreadful image in his mind, and he shuddered.
Could he - the orphan Giuseppe Alessandri; the boy whose name reflected an older man&#8217;s compassion, rather than their shared heritage - could he bear the taste of success, knowing that a thoroughly great man like Agustin was somehow not good enough to become fully ordained? It surely would hold no pleasure to be more privileged than his friend, when all he wanted was for both of their wishes to be fulfilled. The priest sharpened upon that sense of companionship and, yes, love, as he reached a hand out to touch his head. Their petty squabbles had ceased to be important, as all that mattered was this moment itself - not its preceding history.

He allowed the patriarch&#8217;s voice to resonantly carry him away, and lowered his head humbly in a prayer for all those who were receiving their sanctification tonight. But, the Lord forgive his heart should a slight favoritism be considered inappropriate.
word count: 406

Now the newly ordained priests went to kneel before the Patriarch, one by one. Like before, Agustin was the first one. The Patriarch took his stole, until now worn on the left shoulder, drawing it over the right shoulder, and arranging it in the form of a cross over the chest, in the manner worn by a priest, saying: "Take the yoke of the Lord, for His yoke is sweet and His burden light." Next, Agustin got invested with the chasuble, leaving it folded and pinned at the back but hanging down in front. Another priest assisted him. Hearing the Patriarch's words: "Take the vestment of priesthood which signifies charity; for God is able to advance you in charity and in perfection."

Agustin replied with a trembling voice "Thanks be to God,", as for him this was the ultimate moment of emotion. This was the proper vestment for a priest and bishop to wear for the celebration of the Eucharist, entrusted to a priest because only he and a bishop may validly celebrate the Mass. Agustin would wear this whenever he presided at Mass from now on. He felt at the same time glad and scared, as he listened further to the Patriarch's prayer for them:

"O God, the source of all holiness, whose consecration is ever effective, whose blessing is ever fulfilled, pour out on these servants of yours, whom we now raise to the dignity of the priesthood, the gift of your blessing. Let them meditate on your law day and night, so that they may believe what they have read, and teach what they have believed, and practice what they have taught. May justice, constancy, mercy, courage, and all the other virtues be reflected in their every way of acting. May they inspire others by their example, and hearten them by their admonitions. May they keep pure and spotless the gift of their high calling. For the worship of your people may they change bread and wine into the body and blood of your Son by a holy consecration. May they through persevering charity mature unto the perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ, and rise on the day of the just and eternal judgment of God with a good conscience, true faith, and the full gifts of the Holy Spirit."

An hymn to God was sung by the Patriarch and backed up by the choir. After the first verse, the Patriarch removed his gloves, but left the episcopal ring back on his finger while the <a href='https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gremiale' rel='nofollow noopener' target='_blank'>gremiale</a> was placed over his knees. Agustin came forward, kneeling and receiving the oil of catechumens on both of his hands held together, palms upward. "May it please you, O Lord, to consecrate and sanctify these hands by this anointing and our blessing."

Agustin bowed his head, praying, fully aware that he had received now the same anointing with the Holy Spirit, symbolizing his distinctive participation in Christ’s priesthood by the sacrifice he would offer with his hands. He had learnt already that presiding at the sacrifice of the Mass couldn't simply be a set of rituals; priests had to live sacrificially and be really merciful, as proclaiming God’s mercy in the confessional couldn't simply be a formula either. First the inside of his trembling hands received the holy anointing, tracing a cross from the thumb of the right hand to the index finger of the left, and from the thumb of the left hand to the index finger of the right, and next the entire palms.

Having made the sign of the cross over the hands of the ordained, the Patriarch continued: "That whatever they bless may be blessed, and whatever they consecrate may be consecrated in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Then the Patriarch joined together Agustin's hands. The new priest, keeping his hands joined, went to the side of the altar, where Giuseppe was the one having the honour to bind the consecrated hands together with the white linen Agustin had carried together with the candle, leaving the fingers free. Agustin smiled to his friend, whispering "Thank you".

It wasn't thanks for doing his duty of binding, but for being by his side all this time, and renewing their friendship which had a breaking moment a few months ago, fortunately now overpassed.

After each of the ordained went back to his place, the Patriarch cleaned his fingers with a piece of bread, offered by one of the deacons who still had to study and serve some more. Then he was ready to give the newly ordained the power to celebrate the Mass, symbolized in the bread and the wine, symbols of the priest’s duty to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist at Mass and to follow the example of Christ crucified. The Holy Gifts were given to the Patriarch, who called first Agustin, then the others, offering them a chalice containing wine and water and a paten upon it with a host and saying:

"Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Masses for the living and the dead, in the name of the Lord. Receive from the Holy People of God the gifts to be offered to God. Know what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross."

Agustin knew what he had to do. He touched with the fore and middle fingers both the paten and the cur of the chalice.

The Patriarch was again seated before the middle of the altar. All the newly ordained came to the altar, kneeling, two by two, before the Patriarch. They presented him with a lighted candle, kissing his hand and returning to their places. From now on, they were allowed to pray the Mass along with the Patriarch, saying all prayers aloud, even those usually said in a low voice. Was it what Agustin had wanted his whole life? He thought so.

They received the kiss of peace from the Patriarch and all of the priests present, to seal their admittance to the rank of coworkers with the Patriarch and the other members of the local clergy who assist the Patriarch in his diocese. The other priests welcome the newly ordained as a fellow coworker in their shared ministry.At Holy Communion the ordained, before receiving the sacred host, said "Amen" and kissed the Patriarch's ring. After receiving communion, which felt sweeter than usual, but also difficult to swallow due to the emotions, Agustin and the others went to the epistle side of the altar to partake of some wine, not from the chalice which the bishop has consecrated, but from another containing ordinary wine. One of the assisting priests held a chalice and a purificator in readiness for this purpose.

After taking the ablution and washing his hands, the Patriarch sang, together with the choir, who continued his verses: "No longer do I call you servants, but my friends, for you have known all things I have wrought in your midst. Receive the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, within you. It is He whom the Father will send to you. You are my friends if you do the things that I command you. Receive the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, within you. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. It is He whom the Father will send to you.' Then he returned to the middle of the altar and turned to Agustin and the others, who knew this was the right time to recite loudly the Creed. Afterwards, the newly ordained priests knelt again before him one by one, receiving the Patriarch's hands on his head and the blessing: "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."

The Patriarch unfolded the chasuble, which the ordained had worn folded on his shoulders until now; and as he let the chasuble drop at the back he said: "The Lord clothes you with the robe of innocence."

Agustin felt, indeed, as if through this act of faith his innocence was restored, and that he was going to be a wholesome priest, understanding but right. Padre Agustin Barbaro. It sounded a little strange, even in his mind, however it was something he'd get used to.

The promise of obedience was repeated, and the Patriarch, still holding the newly ordained's hands within his own, kissed him on the right cheek, saying: "The peace of the Lord be always with you."

Agustin responded "Amen". He was fully aware that he had lived his most important dream of his life.

"My dear sons, as the office you are undertaking is hazardous enough, I admonish you, before you begin to celebrate Mass, to learn carefully from other experienced priests the ritual of the whole Mass--the consecration, the breaking of the host, and the communion. May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come upon you, that you may be blessed in the priestly order, and may offer for the sins and transgressions of the people appeasing sacrifices to almighty God, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever."

It felt such an honour for Agustin to be able to celebrate the Mass together with the Patriarch and the other priests! He looked into Giuseppe's eyes, to take him witness to his greatest joy. It was, now, exactly how they had wished during the seminary years. Then, he looked into the crowd, his eyes meeting Michela's. She was there for him, and he had done everything possible for her to be proud of him. Ultimately, this was what mattered, wasn't it?

After the Patriarch gave the usual pontifical blessing, he had a final word for the newly ordained:

"My dear sons, ponder well the order you have taken and the burden laid on your shoulders. Strive to lead a holy and devout life, and to please almighty God, that you may obtain His grace. May He in His kindness deign to bestow it on you. Now that you have been ordained to the priesthood, may I ask you, after you have offered your first Mass, to give your first blessings as priests, then to celebrate three other Masses, namely, one in honor of the Holy Spirit, a second in honor of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, and a third for the faithful departed. I ask you also to pray to almighty God for me."

"I will, Holy Father!" Agustin replied resolutly.

As the Mass got concluded, he exchanged signs of peace and Easter greetings with many people, but he looked especially for his friends and family in the crowd. The task was a little daunting. Ilaria was there, specially returned to assist at his ordination, jumping to be among the first to congratulate him, then others came too. Now he could offer them the priestly blessing.

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Thurenza was patient and let others who were more familiar with Padre Barbaro have their congratulations and greetings. When it looked like a break in those more intimately known to Augustin she made her way to offer her tribute to his celebration. He’d note that she was wearing the traditional head scarf of a widow, and dressed more appropriately than he might have witnessed her in before. Not that she had ever vagrantly been inappropriate, but, she was eccentric at times.
He offering her peace and Easter greetings and she clasping his hands.
“And now I can rightly address you as Padre. No mistaking it this time, eh?”
Offering him a dazzling smile and it sparkled in her dark eyes. With all the rumors floating about Thurenza in the dregs of gossip one would think that the very church would rumble at her presence over the threshold. Or that lightening would come from on high and strike her blasphemous soul. But the Christian god was ever hopeful that those sheep so far removed from his steeple would return to flock and seek his forgiveness, so he never struck out those who might offer him more praise.
“You did so well, your brothers should be very proud to have created a most deserving pupil from you. And I can see how happy it truly makes you.”
She had no wrapped gift, no material token in hand for him, but she was certain what she did have to offer him was worth all the trouble to ferret it out and secure it.
“I know that material things are not always accepted or able to be kept by the flock, but shared with the parish. And I do not want my gift shared in such a way. It was hard for me to not spoil my good friend so. But when you have need of new vestments I have procured for you the finest tailor in Venezia and you shall not have thread bare cloth unless you will it to be so. You need only to present yourself for fitting and they are to be made, at any time and in any number you have need.”
And she gave him a serious face as if awaiting him to protest such a gift.

</div><div class="sb">

<a href='index.php?showuser=87' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Agustin Barbaro</a>

</div><div class="tt">it was hard to breathe<br><span class="st">She was dark at the top of the stairs, and she called down to me</span></div></div></div><div class="dmc"><a href="http://rpg-directory.com/member.php?act ... comments/1" title="Eisande of RPGD">•</a> <a href="http://candylandcouture.b1.jcink.com/in ... wuser=5743" title="Queen Mirena of CC">•</a> <a href="http://cttw.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showuser=5515" title="Queen Mirena of CTTW">•</a> <a href="http://shine.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showuser=17698" title="Lady Claire of Shine">•</a> <a href="http://athousandfireflies.jcink.net/ind ... wuser=1616" title="Queen Mirena of ATF">•</a></div>[/dohtml]
word count: 685

Agustin smiled warmly at Thurenza&#8217;s greetings. He had seen her before, in the crowd, when he gave her Christ&#8217;s light, but now she was next to him, clasping his hands and joking at the memory of their first encounter.

&#8221;Yes, you can, and you are welcome. Thank you very much for having come here tonight. It means a lot for me.&#8221;

Indeed, almost all his few friends were here, and it mattered a lot to Agustin. While the family (his mother and sister) had taken care to be seen, to congratulate him, then to conveniently vanish before other people could greet them and ask about their lives, given the scandal of Ilaria&#8217;s wedding cancellation, they were the ones to stay and share the most beautiful moment of his life with him. He was grateful to this, and he knew that the ones who weren&#8217;t there, weren&#8217;t in the city.

Now he was blushing at her praises. And his blush accentuated at hearing about her gift.

&#8221;Thank you very much, Thurenza. It is a very magnanimous gift and be sure I will cherish, but not abuse it.&#8221;

He hugged her as warmly as he had hugged Ilaria before, as in his heart, Thurenza was closer of a sister now than Ilaria, his blood sibling, who had distanced herself, was. And her gift &#8211; not that he was seeking or hoping for any, and not that his mother and sister had ever thought about one &#8211; was well thought and very rich. He could see how someone else in his place could have abused it and played with a widow&#8217;s money in a way he would never do.

&#8221;I would like to introduce you to someone whom I have told already about you,&#8221; he said, looking for Michela in the crowd. &#8221;You know that I keep praising your knowledge and your apothecary to everyone who might ever need your services.&#8221;

In this case, it was a little more besides all these. He had told Thurenza about Michela and Michela about Thurenza and his other new friends. It was also a proof of trust and openness from his part, to have the two ladies introduced to each other.

<a href='index.php?showuser=63' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-4'>@Crymson</a> <a href='index.php?showuser=83' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-6'>@Morrighan</a>
word count: 421

Michela felt a bit like a fish on land when she came to Church today. Had it not been for Alessandro getting married so she had to introduce him to the Priest and the fact that it was Father Agustin who was being ordained as a Priest today, Michela would by far have preferred to stay at home in bed - preferably with Lucien.

But a promise was a promise - and now she was here, watching the ceremonies and trying to come up with some way to talk to the priest and what to say to him. She was glad Lucien was here - and perhaps her squish on his arm was a bit more on the loving side when she saw so many strangers around them.

“I promise to make it up to you when we come home…” she whispered to him, giving him a gentle wink as to insinuate exactly what she would make up to him for.

During the ceremony she watched Agustin with a smile on her face. She was happy that he had gotten the promotion he had wanted - even if it meant he would have to live in celibacy all his life.

“Could you have done that?” she asked the two men she was with. “Lived in celibacy all your lives? I know I couldn’t…. I would be a very naughty Nun.”

Finally it looked like the ceremonies neared the end, and she rose from her seat and turned to Alessandro and Lucien. “I will go and try to get to talk to the Priest,” she smiled. “I hope you will wait for me until I return, as I don’t wish to go home unescorted.

Making her way through the crowd was no easy task. She was a small woman, and the church was stuffed to the limits with people who all wished to congratulate the priest. She wished she had brought with her a hat pin so she could make people move aside a bit faster - though she suspected it would lead to some rather unconventional curse words let loose in the church.

A gentleman saw her struggles to get by and was kind enough to make way for her the last meter over to the priest, and she practically flopped into his arms as she gave him a congratulation hug. It was more from exhaustion from making her way through the crowd than from joy over seeing him again.

“The next time you get promoted like this will be the death of me,” she said as she hugged him. “Congratulations, Father. I am proud of you.”

As she regained her balance, she noticed he was not alone. He was standing with a beautiful lady who seemed to know him rather well - and he said something about someone he wished for her to meet. Michela instinctively focused her gaze towards Thurenza, as if she already knew who he wanted to introduce her to.

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word count: 580

The mass did not really interest him much; it never did, really. The songs were beautiful and so was the church and Alessandro spent more time looking at that, than the priests and padres. Honestly though, he wasn’t sure if there really was something to believe in for him anymore. It was only very recently that he dared venture outside his home again and while he had been with Michela and Lucien on the way here, he constantly glanced over his shoulders and felt paranoid. What if Umberto was here? What if someone was here, who saw what happened that day… and thought he was a thief who had not been tried and sentenced properly? What if he was dragged away again… and what about Vittoria? She was not with him today. His thoughts were so many other places than in the church, and yet he was here for a reason – to meet the priest who might wed him and Vittoria.

He noticed that Lucien didn’t seem to want to be here either – but Lucien had been rather distant lately and barely seemed to notice or care for Alessandro anymore. A part of him wanted to ask what troubled Lucien so much, but another part of him thought he had enough to trouble him with. His mind was not yet at ease and when the ceremony was over, Michela asked them both if they could have done what the priest was doing.

“I never even considered it, Michela.” Alessandro said sincerely; why would he want to live in celibacy when life had so much to offer? If only he could enjoy it again. He hoped that the wedding would help that though; that after that, everything would be better. But the nights were still dark. And he had changed; before, he always hated the darkness. Now he both hated it and loved it.

Lucien threw Michela a look at the question and seemed as if he yearned to pull her closer to answer the question, but they were in a church and he would behave, “I wouldn’t want to live in celibacy near you. I don’t know if I could.” Lucien then replied, but not many moments later, Michela rose from her seat and said she had to go and talk to the priest and she hoped they’d wait for her return. Alessandro looked bewildered when she suddenly left. She had been one of the two women who came to his side when he was at his lowest. And he came here today because of her and because she was here too. So when she left, he suddenly felt afraid. Sure Lucien could protect him, but he would somehow feel safer with Michela.

“I’ll go with her. We’ll meet you outside?” Alessandro told Lucien and without waiting for an answer, he fought his way through the crowd too. He had already lost her and being surrounded by people almost made him panic now. He used to love it. He used to love being places where there were many people, but in his mind he constantly thought he saw the dark hair and menacing blue eyes of Umberto near and he wanted to escape.

He reached her only just before she had reached the priest she was aiming for and for a short moment, he was reminded of the prank she played with the priests. This had to be one of those she talked about; Alessandro looked at him, he was definitely handsome. And a part of him wanted to think naughty thoughts about him now, but he was here because he would marry Vittoria and besides, naughty thoughts had been far from his mind lately.

Alessandro touched Michela’s arm to let her know she was here. There was also another lady present and he gave her a small smile, but seemed to inch closer to Michela. Suddenly meeting strangers was not something he enjoyed. Instead he looked at Michela, “So this is the priest you mentioned to me? Alessandro da Verona, pleased to meet you!" He said, looking at the priest, "Michela… says you’re a good friend.” He had to stop himself from saying too much and told himself to keep his face straight. The story she told was vivid in his mind now. Perhaps this was a good thing after all.

<a href='index.php?showuser=25' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-3'>@Elena</a> <a href='index.php?showuser=83' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-6'>@Morrighan</a> <a href='index.php?showuser=63' rel='nofollow' alt='profile link' class='user-tagged mgroup-4'>@Crymson</a>
word count: 785
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