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A letter from Adam Marsh

Sender

Translated letter: 

To the illustrious lady A., countess of leicester, Brother Adam [sends] greetings in the Lord.

The diligence of your serenity knows well how difficult it is to find a single priest who would be serve the needs of the lord count and you and your family.  For such a one is known to be required who would be devoted to the sacrament in divine things, vigorous in ecclesiastical services, honorable in customs and circumspect in actions.  Even more churches would altogether avoid, I do not doubt, the ministry of such men as plagues  such as, alas, you commonly see caught up in domestic cohabitation, through whom the majesty of God is provoked and the society of men violated.  Indeed foolishness then spreads immensely when a fool is ordained out of reverence for the order.  Because of this only one counsel could avail in this matter; namely that He be supplicated to intervene who does not judge according to the face, but sees into the heart, with the power to raise the sons of Abraham from stones.  In this, however, and in other things touching your state, if anything could be of aid from my humble self, as the Lord might give, I shall willingly strive.

Spare me, I beg, since I do not know if I have not answered your letters and commands as the matter required; though not as I wished, but as I could.  Be well in Christ.  Such a long emptiness of words about the matter of brother John leads to disgust.  It will be salutary, I think, if for the rest the effect of the aforementioned thing is not put off, as much as pertains to him. Again, be well forever.  It will be counseled in the Lord that you confer diligently with master Ralph and master Wydo [Wydone], and other prudent God-fearing men about taking on a suitable priest into your home, since, as was said before, the thing might be dangerous and difficult.  About your departure towards the kingdom of England, take care that it not be done altogether without great deliberation and prudent forethought, and circumspect delay should not be harmful in this business.

Original letter: 

llustri dominae A., Comitissae Leycestriae, Frater Ada salutem in Domino.

Melius novit vestrae serenitatis industria, quam sit difficile unicum invenire sacerdotem, qualis domino comiti vobisque, et familiae vestrae, foret necessarius. Tantum enim talis requirendus esse cognoscitur, qui sit in Sacramento divinis devotus, et strenuus in officiis ecclesiasticis, in moribus honestus et circumspectus in agendis. Plus autem omnino carendum fore non dubito penitus ecclesias talium hominum ministerio, quam hujusmodi pestes, quales, proh dolor! communiter aspicitis, in domesticum suscipere contubernium, per quos et Dei Majestas provocatur, et violatur societas hominum. Nempe tunc in immensum fatuitas pervagatur, cum propter reverentiam ordinis stultus ordinatur. Propter hoc non nisi unum in hac parte consilium valere poterit: videlicet ut Is suppliciter interpelletur, qui non judicat secundum faciem, sed intuetur cor, potens de lapidibus suscitare filios Abrahamae. In hoc autem et in aliis statum vestrum contingentibus, si quid apud modicitatem meam esse poterit adjutorii, prout Dominus dederit, libenter laborabo.

Parcite mihi, rogo, quoniam ignoro si non quantum res expostulavit et litteris et mandatis vestris responderim; etsi non ut volui, tamen ut valui. Valete in Christo. Taedium ingerit de facto fratris Johannis tam longa vocum vanitas. Salutare erit, puto, si de caetero quantum ad illum pertinet totiens praelocutae rei non differatur effectus. Iterum et in aeternum valete. Consultum erit in Domino ut diligenter conferatis cum magistro Radulfo et magistro Wydone, aliisque viris prudentibus et timoratis, de sacerdote idoneo in domum vestram assumendo, cum, sicut praetactum est, res sit periculosa et difficilis. De profectione vestra erga regnum Angliae, cavendum est omnino ne fiat sine magna deliberatione et provisione discreta, et non debet esse molesta in hoc negotio circumspecta dilatio.

 

 

Historical context: 

The letter was sent while Eleanor was in Gascony and alludes to difficulties about finding a suitable priest and some problem or scandal involving a brother John.  The Ralph is presumably Ralph of Canterbury.

Printed source: 

Adae de Marisco Epistolae, ed. J. S. Brewer (London:  Longman, 1858), Monumenta Franciscana, 2.296-97, ep.160.