3/29/10

Historia Calamitatum

The three day walk from Vannes to Nantes brought Peter a renewed energy. His mind was fresh again. As he settled into a friend’s house on the edge of town, he recollected all the things that he had considered during his journey; and the time that he spent as Abbot of St. Gildas de Rhuys had given him much to contemplate. Peter always began things with a question, even when he was merely thinking to himself, a habit he retained from his days as the most sought-after academic in Paris. His first question was: Where did I go wrong this time?

The answer came to him immediately and like a slap in the face.

“Oh, Peter,” he answered himself aloud, “even after all that’s happened, you still let your pride take the reins... it’s no wonder those obstreperous brothers tried to poison you! What did you always tell your students? Gradual change leads to turning points... suddenness leads to conflict. It was my own obstinance, not theirs, that led to my failure!”

The next day, around the first of June, 1130, he began a letter. It was to his old friend Philintus in Troyes. Philintus had come to visit him in Vannes once and spent the entire time unburdening himself upon poor Peter, indicting God and man for all the unpleasantness that had been his lot in life.

“My dear, Philintus, you think you’ve had it rough?” he laughed. “Let me tell you the story of my misfortunes...”

This letter would be reproduced and distributed countless times. And along with additional letters discovered centuries later, it would become the source for one of the most incredible love stories of all time, a romance between two brilliant minds that began physical and ended divine – that of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil.

3 comments:

Karinann said...

Loved this one! What can I say I'm a sucker for a good love story.
Wishing you and your family a Blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter!

Mark Kerstetter said...

That so-called letter is one of the most fascinating memoirs ever written.

cyurkanin said...

Karinann: Thanks, I get wrapped up in the tragedies spmetimes here and wanted to tell a few love stories too, although this one is kind of shakespearian too!

Mark: It really is, isn't it? You couldn't make it up!