Knock_Apparition_Cloud_cropped

Jacques is telling it…

When the screams have abated, Gélis returns, his body covered in bloody welts. The gaoler drops him in the dust and leers:

‘You’re next.’

Poor Gélis is battered beyond recognition, his face smashed to a pulp, his chin riven in two, and his eyeballs swollen like rotten plums. Half-blind, he gropes for my tunic and whispers hoarsely:

‘Jacques Vallin, is that you?’

‘Yes brother, ’tis I. Oh Gélis! What they have done to you!’

‘Forgive me Jacques. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I always prayed that God would bring me to a good end. Alas, I have chanced upon my destruction. Will you console me brother? I fear am not long for this world…’

I place my right hand upon his head and say softly:

‘You are forgiven of all sin. We worship thee, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. May you receive the consolation of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

At the sign of the cross he expires in the dust. Then the gaoler snatches my chain and tugs me up:

‘Jacques Vallin, your reputation goes before you. A vile and horny devil thou art. We have searched high and low for your wicked soul. Thou art a cunning fox to hide in cloister. Tell me, is it true that you can raise the dead?’

So they say.

He leers:

‘If that is so, then why not raise him? Eh?’

‘He has gone to Paradise. Why bring him him back to Hell?’

‘They say you can raise the Devil also.’

‘I shall raise ten thousand devils for what you did to Gélis.’

‘By the horns of Satan! You think I branded him with irons? Nay, I am just a poor ignoble servant, employed by his eminence. Monsieur Bor is a cruel taskmaster and always gets his way. My heart bleeds when I think of what awaits you. Come, he grows impatient for your flesh.’

He leads me into cloister, but I stop at the sight of a great bonfire roaring in the garth. The timbers of the rood are stacked in a crackling pyre. The progeny of the gods has come to an inglorious end, and all is a conflagration of torrid flame. Behold the nymphs of Nemi, whose ashen limbs are winnowed by the wind! Gone are the happy dryads of the budding grove! Gone are the Princes of Old who strode across the Appian way! Gone are the satyrs of the glades, with their pipes and horny dance! Great Diana is despoiled, split down her laurel crown, her riven face glowing like a gorgon. How could they axe her beauteous body? How could they mutilate Silvanus and maim his loving queen? The holocauste shimmers like some infernal mirage; I spy the maidens of the pines, the poplar, ash and apple, their mangled faces wrought with grief, their bodies flayed with flame. Hail the cinder-wenches of Eleusis! The sprites of myrtle bowers!

The pyre collapses with a terrible groan as plumes of sparks tower above the nave. The work of genius goes up in smoke, and with it the bridge to an ever distant past. The Grecian urns drone like hornets, fire-devils whirling in their necks. Sylphs and fauns dart round the rims, desperate to escape the smelting heat; but their golden crowns melt like butter and their limbs char with soot. Diana shrieks like a mandrake as the flames quicken round her breasts. All the glory of the Goddess is consumed in a crucible of Christian wrath. Such monstrous demolition will incur the summary retribution of the Gods. I cry in anguish:

Apollo hurl your bolts! Bring down the church, and bury them and their iniquities in one mass grave!

The gaoler pummels my stomach with a fierce punch:

Silence dog!

Then he drags me away to the nave…

The western window admits a few pale rays of light which illume a terrifying scene. Monsieur Bor stands mid-aisle where his attendants stoke a red-hot brazier. His grim face is deathly pale, with a goatee beard, meticulously trimmed to a sharp point. He has the high brow of a scholar, his scalp crowned with a thick black tonsure. He glares with wolfish eyes and a leer of triumph comes to his lips…

Beside him is a long table with several lighted candles where the bishop sits with his notary. The choir monks glower by the pulpitum, their ashen faces smeared with tears. For the church is in ruins: the magnificent carvings have been hammered from the walls; the chapel icons are slashed to ribbons; the green-man has been prized from the font, and the ornate pews of bestiaries hacked to pieces.

The conversi crowd in the alcoves, crossing themselves as I pass. My instinct is to run, but all the exits are guarded by soldiers. There comes the tinkling of bells as a grim friar paces down the aisle, swinging a golden censer. The scent of myrrh makes me tremble, swoon and wretch: the stench of hell and all her devils.

The silence is complete and profound. I am taken to the brazier and shackled to a stout iron chair. I sit upright, legs apart, bound at the ankles and wrists. The inquisitor draws near and asks softly:

‘Are you the Cathar known as Jacques Vallin?’

‘Who accuses me?’

‘The names of your accusers shall be kept hidden from you. I will repeat the question: are you the Cathar known as Jacques Vallin, also known as Brother Lazarus?’

‘I am. But don’t get too close. I’ve been bitten by a demon dog.’

‘Did he turn your eyes red?’

‘Most certainly, he did.’

‘Methinks your blue eyes were just a trick: a potion applied to the pupils. Speak.

‘Nay. I was cured by the Virgin.’

‘The Virgin does not deal in transient cures.’

‘How do you know? Have you spoken with Her?’

‘I need not consult heaven.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because this so called miracle, like all your cures, was the work of the Devil.’

‘How do you know? Have you spoken with Him?

Silence! You impudent cur! Your miracles are nothing but pompous tricks. You perform them only to exalt yourself and corrupt the faithful.’

‘No. My miracles are works of mercy. I perform them not to exalt myself, but to show compassion for the sinful suffering of humanity.’

Bor paces round my chair:

‘You would have us believe that your only desire is to imitate The Christ; when in actual fact, your whole intention is to destroy His bride, the Catholic Church.’

‘My miracles are signs of God’s providence. Deny them, and you deny Him.’

The monks watch on, astonished at my brazen disregard for papal authority. But courage is furthest from my mind. I know my body is about to suffer unspeakable pain; yet such is my conviction that I am not of the body, that my tongue wags with vain blasphemies. He grins and quips:

‘I am told you are a prodigy.’

‘I am told you are a devil.’

‘Your sacrilegious gibes will incur the wrath of God.’

‘As far as I can tell, God is not here.’

‘Are you willing to be converted from the errors of heresy, and to return to the true Catholic faith of the Holy Roman Church of our Lord Jesus Christ?’

‘No, I am not.’

‘You come before us bearing horns; your eyes fiery, your body the shape betwixt man and goat; your hands pricked with sharp claws, and your scaly feet like those of a goose. Methinks this appearance accords with your essence, powers and energies. For such as you are, so also do you appear. The devil has marked his own.’

‘Indeed: you are dressed in black.’

‘Do not insult my Holy garb. You are the seed of the Janus: a conjoined twin who summons the dead. A warlock who defiled this church with pagan gods and goddesses.

‘Alas, my father is not a well man.’

‘Indeed. And neither are you. As for your crimes, I am the sure and only remedy.’

‘And I for yours.’

He grins:

‘I am the emissary of Christ.’

‘Nay, you are the emissary of Satan. You are only interested in fleecing the poor and tithing lambs on behalf of the bishop.’

He bawls:

Silence!

His rage echoes like thunder round the vaulted aisles, shattering the peace of centuries; Odo flinches as the sound circles the galleries and rebounds in the chapels. The cadence fades in the transept then Bor says softly:

‘Will you confess your crimes willingly.’

‘If you will confess yours.’

He paces round the chair:

‘You wish to play games with me? You will surely go to hell.’

‘The Inquisition is the only Hell on earth, and the holy Fathers are the judges and executioners in it.’

‘Who taught you this?’

‘My mother.’

‘Then I will put her to the question, also.’

‘You cannot get your filthy hands on her. She is gone with the hares.’

‘You are steeped in the black arts.’

‘My faith was given to me by the One True God.’

‘The Cathar faith is impious and blasphemous in the highest degree; its precepts contain propositions that are false, erroneous, scandalous, offensive to the ears of the pious, and atrociously injurious to the Holy Office. The doctrines of your faith destroy the true notions of moral good and evil. You convert the Pulpit of the Holy Ghost into an arena of subversion and disobedience.’

‘And you turn His church into a torture chamber.’

‘Consecrated ground is the only safe place to question a devil like you…’

‘I fear Satan holds you in state of enchantment.’

‘Cease this fencing, and I shall spare the irons.’

‘Forgive me Monsieur, but I cannot help myself.’

‘Why, are you possessed?’

‘Yes. There’s a devil inside me.’

‘When did this devil first enter?’

‘The moment I was born.’

‘What is his name? Speak.

Pelican.

‘What oath were you forced to render him?’

‘To destroy Mother Church.’

‘How did you make this oath, and what were its conditions?’

‘I pissed on the Host and swore to kill the grand inquisitor.’

‘You mock my Holy Office.’

‘Naturally.’

‘That is very foolish thing to do. Why do it?’

‘Because the devil hates to be mocked.’

His right eye twitches, then he says:

‘You hold Mother Church as a den of malignants?’

‘I do.’

‘As Parfait of a heretical sect, you have preached diabolical lies, and led the faithful into eternal damnation.’

‘Nay, salvation.

‘You think your followers shall triumph over death and hell?’

‘Certainly.’

‘Alas, you have led them into a dark dungeon of error, where the bright beams of the Saviour’s love cannot shine. Without baptism your souls are damned.’

‘That is a bold presumption. As if baptism could avail anything. Shall I draw up the Jordan into my mouth and be saved?’

‘’Tis dangerous to mess with me.’

‘Baptism is useless.’

‘A lie. The sacrament of Baptism, which is performed with water, in the name of the undivided Trinity, is profitable for salvation, both for children and adults alike.’

‘Why is it profitable?’

‘’Tis profitable, because, if after receiving baptism, any soul falls into sin, it may always be repaired by true penitence.’

‘Is it profitable for me?’

‘Nay. You are a limb of the Devil; a son of perdition and the first born of Satan; a true enemy of the cross and persecutor of the church; a defender of heretics; a servant of perdition and abjurer of the Faith; a vessel of depravity and sin; and what is more, you remain impenitent.’

‘Were you baptised Monsieur?’

‘Any more of your jests, and I will apply the irons. Were you baptised Jacques Vallin?’

‘No. The priest refused to do it.’

‘Do you know why?’

‘Because of my horns.’

‘No. Because you are possessed.

‘Is that why he denied me the Host?’

‘A priest must never give the Host to possessed persons lest that Most Holy Thing be profaned by contact with demons.’

‘That filthy wafer is only fit for rats.’

Blasphemy!

‘Forgive me Monsieur, but I cannot help myself. My familiar oft’ wags my tongue.’

Pelican?

‘No. ’Tis another spirit.’

‘Give me his name.’

‘I cannot reveal his name. ’Tis beyond my power to silence him. ’Tis he who despises you, not I.’

‘Do you take me for a fool?’

‘No Monsieur. He has infested my soul; he torments me with whispers night and day. He is completely outside my control. You are right in what you say: the priest refused to baptise me, because I am possessed.’

‘So, you were Catharized instead?’

‘Yes, I was baptised in fire.’

‘You defend this error by the words which John spoke with reference to the Lord our Saviour; He shall baptise you in the Holy Ghost and fire. Interesting. I have heard from one who was initiated into your mysteries that Cathars are baptised in secret, surrounded by many burning lights. Is this the fire you speak of?’

‘Yes, Monsieur.’

‘Then give me the name of the Archicatharus who baptised you.’

‘His name is Sol.’

‘He made a child of Satan, not God.’

‘So they say, Monsieur.’

‘Where does Sol abide?’

‘He lives many leagues from here.’

‘Reveal the location of his ostal. Speak.

‘He dwells on high above the mountains. But when night comes, he goes deep beneath the earth.’

‘Your confession is not to your praise. You speak in riddles that reveal nothing but your own cowardice before God. Do you think that protecting your sect will buy you favours in heaven? You have been misinformed. Your benedictions are maledictions. Reveal the identity of your Archicatharus, or I will be forced to use the irons…’

‘You like to use them?’

‘No. But I am the appointed agent of God’s justice. His Divine mercy will not suffer the least stain of heresy to be found in you on the day of judgement. So I must purge every spot of filth. Then the Lord may commit your soul to eternity as precious gold needing no final purification.[i] Answer the question. Who is your Archicatharus?’

‘I cannot remember who. I only know his name: Sol.’

‘Then where were you baptised? In his mountain ostal?’

‘I cannot remember where. I was very young.’

‘Then when were you baptised?’

‘When I was seven.’

‘And who else in your village?’

‘A toad.’

Ah! I knew it. Your familiar?’

‘No. But he was dressed in red velvet, with a hood of the same, and a necklace of silver bells.’

‘What magic did you perform with this toad?’

‘I anointed myself.’

‘How so?’

‘By pressing its belly against a stone, I obtained a green and stinking slime, which I rubbed upon my cock.’

Maleficent.

‘Very. Now I have a whole legion of toads, the feeding of which is given in charge to my neophyte witches, who pasture them in the bogs.’

He looks astonished and his cheeks draw pale. The brethren scowl in terror; but the sight of their pathetic faces sends me into fits of laughter. Bor smoulders:

‘Your attempts to subvert my Office will not be tolerated.’

‘But Monsieur, I was telling the truth. Are you not pleased with my crimes?’

‘Your confession is a tapestry of lies. A toad in a velvet cowl? I don’t believe it.’

‘Why not Monsieur? My croaking toads cause all kinds of injuries. Shall I confess them in detail? It would please you greatly to hear… My witches go forth when the trees and fields are in flower to collect serpents, lizards and snails; they cut them in small pieces, together with the toads of my flock, and mix the whole in a cauldron, with the bones and brains of the dead; and boiling this up, with the salve of my toads, they prepare fatal powders which they spread about the crops of Mother Church, to blight the buds of the trees, and void the ears of corn.’[ii]

‘Enough of your fabrications!’

‘I can make them blacker, if you wish.’

‘Oh, there’s no need to lie. A witness has already confessed what you said at the grotto. With your wicked mouth, you asserted horribly and impiously, that all the Sacraments of the Roman Church of Jesus Christ our Lord are null and void. You mocked the building of Churches, the payment of tithes and oblations; you scorned marriage, monastic institutions, and all the duties of priests and ecclesiastics. By your impious lips, you denied that Christ assumed a true human body. You decreed that the confession of sins, which is made to priests of the Roman Church, is of no avail; and that neither the Pope, nor any one else of the Roman Church, can absolve any one from sin. But you impudently assert, that Parfait’s like yourself, have the power to absolve all sins by the imposition of hands…’

‘I do. Though I regret to say, your sins cannot be absolved, neither by me nor any other Parfait. As for Christ’s incarnation, Christ could not have assumed a human body. Truly, it was impossible for God to be incarnate; because he never humbled himself so much, as to be put in the womb of woman. If you think about this, you will realise that the Lord did not take a real human body at all, nor human flesh. Nor did he really arise with it, nor do other things relating to our salvation; nor sit down at the right hand of the Father with it, but only with the likeness of it. These are the tenets of my faith.’

‘Yet like a false apostle, you have endeavoured to conceal this faith by evasion and subterfuge, supplanting heresies of your own invention. The inhabitants of these hills have been poisoned by your Cathar faith. And now people come from far and wide to heed your wicked words. ’Tis bad enough that you pray on gypsies, who live wild and scattered lives, who are wretched, and deeply sunk in ignorance. But worse than this, you corrupt the faithful. All the evidence proves that you are grievously injurious to Mother Church and her morals. What is most pernicious of all, is that you preach the Gnostic faith: for you hold all that is wrought in the world as work of Satan. Speak.

‘I do. All matter is an evil substance created by His hands.’

‘You are in error. ’Tis a rule of the Roman faith, that there is but one God, nor any other beside the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing. The universe was created out of nothing by God’s absolute causality; it depends on God for its existence and would dissolve into chaos without Him. Why do you deny it?’

‘My conscience cannot accept it. God created the invisible world. But this visible world was created by the Devil.’

‘Incorrect. God is the Creator not only of the visible world but also the invisible world. In ipso condita sunt universa in coelis et in terra, visibilia et invisibilia, sive throni sive dominationes sive principatus sive potestates. [For in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers]. Speak.’

‘Monsieur, I am confused. Do you mean to say that God created the Devil also?’

‘He did. God is the absolute cause of all things.’

‘You torture in the name of God and sanction your crimes by virtue of Divine Providence. If God’s absolute causality is your guiding principal, then methinks you serve Satan instead.’

You know nothing of God. God is omnipotent, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intellect and will, and in every perfection.[iii] In God there is no change nor shadow of alteration.[iv]’

‘Yet this temporal world is full of death and pain. How do you explain that, Monsieur?’

‘God coexists with matter and time, as He coexists with all creatures, but He does not exist in time, so as to be subject to temporal relations or change. His self-existence is timeless.’[v]

‘Those are fine words for a man who shoves red-hot pokers between the legs of young girls.’

‘Do not presume to judge me.’

‘You are a monster. A man of perverse unnatural lusts, who delights in the slow torture of women.’

‘That is a blatant slur on my character and office! I will hear no more of it! ’Tis well known that whilst a witch is rapt in the Devil’s ecstasy she has no feeling whatsoever, and may be beaten or burned without effect. A witch is full of deceit, and by the Devil’s power will suffer many tortures to conceal her pact. Of course, most men are not likely to know it, until God in His own good time reveals it.’

‘I do not think you believe in God, because if you did, you would not do what you do.’

‘A blasphemous perversion of the truth. By which you turn the doctrine of God into a lie. Your words are very artfully introduced, but in actuality are a smoke-screen to deceive and mislead the faithful. The girls you defend were the Devil’s daughters who delighted in the destruction of God’s children. The entire Cathar proposition is a sham: a deliberate sophistication, employed with the single aim of destroying Mother Church.’

‘I think you are making a very fine job of that yourself.’

Silence!

He nods to his assistant who draws a red-hot iron from the fire. I watch the glowing tip as it hovers between my eyes. A searing pain flares in my brain. A loud scream echoes in the vault; yet only when the iron is removed do I recognise the scream as mine. Bor turns to me and says:

‘These are the pains of sin.’

I reel under a crown of fire and gasp:

‘All sin is due to God.’

‘No. All sin is due to the devil.’

‘God allows the devil to exist?’

‘He does.’

I leer and look him in the eye:

‘That implies a moral imperfection – which an all powerful God would not allow. Unless you mean to tell me that evil is part of God’s plan…’

‘You err in your Cathar philosophy.’

‘You err in your torture of the faithful.’

‘I am only concerned with your eternal salvation.’

‘You have the power to redeem my soul?’

‘Most certainly. Mother Church can bless or she can curse. She can bind or loose. She can commend thee to the protection of God Almighty and His holy angels, or deliver thee to Satan.’

‘Forgive me Monsieur, but only the Blessed Virgin can bestow Light and peace on her true and faithful children; only She can send out the impenitent beyond the consecrated sphere of her spiritual powers and graces.’

‘You contradict me at every opportunity—even when I brand your flesh. You are strong: any other man would have fainted by the kiss of that iron.’

‘Pelican sustains him!’ declares the bishop, half rising to his feet.

‘Aye, Pelican sustains me. He gives me strength to fight the evils of this world. For this world is full of malignant demons who persecute the good and deceive the faithful!’

Bor presses his hands together and says:

‘Your Aniticatharus has mislead you, Jacques Vallin. You misunderstand the finer points of theology. The Devil and other demons were good in nature when first created by God. They were angels. But they made themselves evil by their own rebellious conduct. The Devil tempted man to sin. Therefore, sin in both angels and man, is not due to God, but to an abuse of creaturely freedom.’

‘Would it be an abuse of my creaturely freedom to brand you with that iron?’

‘’Twould indeed, because I am not a heretic. Besides, you cannot do it because you are in chains. Unless the Devil can unlock them?’

‘Monsieur, why mock the Devil? Do you find him preposterous?’

‘I mock, because the devil hates to be mocked.’

‘Touché. Tell me Monsieur, were you good in nature when first created by God?’

‘I don’t know Jacques. Were you?’

‘Yes, I was an angel with feathery wings.’

‘An angel?’

‘Yes. Although my wings are now invisible.’

‘Can you fly?’

‘Of course.’

‘Show me.’

‘Before this day is out, I shall ascend into the vault.’

‘You are a fool if you think you can escape that iron chair.’

‘Saint Francis of Assisi was oft’ suspended above the earth, sometimes to a height of three or four cubits. And Ezekiel was transported from Chaldæa to Jerusalem, flying through the air by the hand of an angel.’

‘Do you think yourself wise, Jacques?’

‘Oh yes, very. But let me make it clear: non istam mihi adscisco sapientiam. [I do not attribute this wisdom to myself].

‘Then who do you attribute it to?’

‘Christ. ’Twas He who delivered me here.’

Another iron is applied. I wail in agony as it sizzles in my groin. I look up, half-blind with tears, so that the pillars bend and the aisles buckle. The brethren waver like phantoms in a glass. Odo cries out:

‘Enough! This is hallowed ground! Why must you hurt him so? If he has sinned, he has been poorly instructed in his youth. Hurt him no more! Need I remind you, that today is Ascension Day? Yet you have cancelled mass; you have swept aside that mystery which marks the end of our Lord’s earthly life, to pursue your own earthly interrogations!’

Bor spins on his heels and seethes with an accusing finger:

Silence prior! You have no power or authority over me!’

‘But Monsieur, why must we be forced to watch? Do you intend to question us all? I beg you, let us go. We have done nothing. The brethren have seen enough.’

‘You will remain here,’ replies Bor. ‘Only when I am satisfied that no other rank tares exist amongst this field of wheat, shall I let you go…’

The dwarves begin to sob; Henri cowers behind the pulpitum whilst Lucas and Nicaise hide behind their hands. The inquisitor turns to me and purrs:

‘The iron has kissed you twice. But such soft kisses are these, compared to Satan’s raging fire. ’Tis futile to persist in heresy. I have all day to bring you to the fold. So I will ask again. Do you concede that there is one God who created the world out of nothing?’

‘I cannot, with a safe conscience, accept it.’

‘Then consider the angels; they are pure spirits. So how could they have been created from a pre-existant substratum? That would be impossible. Therefore, they were created out of nothing. Speak.

‘Monsieur, I am ignorant of these things.’

‘If you will concede that the angels were created out of nothing, I will spare you the iron. Admit it.’

‘Admit what Monsieur?’

‘That the angels were created out of nothing.’

‘The ways of God are a mystery to me. But one thing is certain: this fallen world was not made by Him.’

‘Your heresy is abominable as ’tis wicked; nor are you willing to abandon or depart from it; nor to believe with your heart, and confess with your mouth, the faith of the Roman Church. Do you not fear the pyre?’

‘My work on Earth is done. This is a forsaken realm of fallen spirits. I shall be happy to die and join the Christ.’

Simulata sanctitas, vel pietas. [Counterfeit devotion].’

‘No. I serve the Blessed Virgin Mary, who assures me a place in Paradise.’

‘I am heartily sick of your manifold errors. You shall not enter Paradise, because you erroneously believe that Satan is the Demiurgus of the world.’

‘He is.’

‘Nay, God is the Creator, Preserver and Principal of all creaturely actions. Matter coexists with God. Matter is not separate from Him. Yet you hold matter as the seat of all evil.’

‘I do Monsieur. For it seems to me that the laws of Nature are an affront to the will of God.’

‘The laws of Nature are the will of God.’

‘Which god Monsieur? If your god permits creaturely sufferings and pains, then how is He all loving and wise? Is it the will of god that brother Joseph should be born without limbs? Or that Father Janus should suffer a lifelong sentence conjoined to a monstrous twin? Behold my cankered brethren, with their warped faces and twisted spines. Are these monstrosities the will of God?’

‘You exalt your own capacities. The inscrutable workings of Nature and the providence of God are beyond the conceit of your Cathar mind. The consequence of your heretical error is that your universe contains two radically distinct substances – matter and spirit – body and mind. Your Manichean philosophy does not allow for the complexity of God’s creation. Believe me when I tell you, all matter is suffused with a divine darkness which is, in actuality, radiant Light.’

‘Then what of my flesh?’

‘Your distortion is due to sin.’

‘So you are sinless?’

‘Oh no. I may not be deformed like you, but I am tainted by the sin of Adam.’

‘The sin of Adam did not distort you?’

He smiles:

‘Do you imply that I am distorted on the inside? You forget Jacques, I have interrogated thousands of men and women. There is nothing you can put to me that I haven’t heard before. I know what you are thinking, even before you say it…’

‘Then you will know that –’

I – am – innocent… No Jacques. You are guilty. You razed the church of Monselle to the ground and murdered a minorite. Crimes for which you will surely burn.’

‘You cannot prove I did those things. And if you kill a disciple of Christ, you will go to hell yourself.’

The Steward cries:

‘Ask him about Maria!’

Bor holds up his hand, then smiles and asks softly:

‘Is it true you raised a milkmaid from the dead?’

‘No.’

Ah! I knew it! So now we are getting to the truth of the matter. Her resurrection was a trick.’

‘Nay, Christ raised her through me. I was filled with the Holy Ghost and was doing His work; in His name, I cast out devils; in His name, I speak with new tongues; in His name, I take up serpents; in His name, I lay hands upon the sick and the dead…’

Bor sighs:

‘I am mightily sick of your lies. Your perfidious imitations of Christ make a travesty of the gospels. Like a minister of Satan, you strive by deceptions and false pretences to draw the faithful from Mother Church; and like some third rate conjuror, you employ diabolic charms to seduce the ignorant and incur their eternal damnation. Your miracles are naught but tricks and slights of hand.’

‘No Monsieur. I heal by the grace and power of God.’

‘Is that so? Then what of your brethren. Why do you not heal them?’

‘I will, if you would let me.’

‘You cunning devil: you want me to unlock your manacles.’

‘Aye. Let me lay hands on them. Bring me brother Fabien.’

‘I shall do no such thing,’ replies Bor. ‘If any healing power exists within you, ’tis the work of evil spirits.’

‘Did Christ not command us to heal in His name?’

Albert cries out:

‘Let him try! Give him brother Fabien!’

‘Yes!’ cries Odo. ‘We all must know – one way or the other. Lazarus is either a demoniac who works miracles, or he is mad and suffers with mania, or some other mental disease. But Monsieur, I beseech you, let him attempt the cure. Unlock his hands. If his feet remain shackled, what harm can he do?’

Bor turns to the bishop who shrugs and says:

‘Why not Monsieur? Let us see if he can do what he says…’

The brethren wait with baited breath. But Bor wags a finger:

‘There will be no miracles performed today. Is it not clear to all, that this pretender Christ is a warlock? He speaks with conviction but knows nothing of theology. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Is that not so, Jacques?’

‘I know more of the scriptures than you.’

‘Oh? And how is that, when I am a learned scholar?’

‘I feign to tell. You won’t believe me.’

‘Don’t be shy. If you are the better scholar, prove it here and now. I am well versed in the rhetoric of ontological argument, with which I defend the Faith from heretics like you.’

‘Do you know the Psalms?’

‘Naturally. Why, are you going to impress me and recite one?’

‘I can recite them all, if it pleases you.’

‘No, it does not please me. What is your intention? To astound me with your demonic memory?’

‘I know the Vulgate backwards. If you can quote the scriptures verbatim, from Genesis to Apocalypse, then I will accept that you know more of them than I.’

‘Satan is an expert in quoting scriptures. Especially backwards. He misinterprets the gospels and causes the ignorant to stumble.’

‘Since you refuse to quote the scriptures, you must concede that I know more of them than you.’

‘Your diabolic feats of mind do not interest me, Jacques Vallin. And I refuse to get drawn into a contest of wits –’

‘– Because you cannot defend my propositions. I am tired of speaking in the vulgar tongue. Shall we continue in Latin instead?’

‘I am well aware of your preternatural gifts. Prior Odo has told me all about them. How did you come by the gift of tongues?’

‘Books.’

‘Oh, come, come. That explains nothing. How did you learn to read in the first place?’

‘The Cyclops taught me.’

‘And where is this Cyclops?’

‘He is hiding in the book cupboard. He likes it there. But he comes and goes as he likes. What’s the matter Monsieur? Do you think me a lunatic?’

‘How many books have you read?’

‘I have read them all.’

Bor looks perplexed. He turns to Odo and asks:

‘Prior, how many books are there in the armarium?

‘Over eighty, Monsieur.’

‘Jacques Vallin, do you mean to tell us, that in the six months since your arrival as an illiterate churl, you taught yourself Latin, and read over eighty books?’

‘Well, I didn’t read them exactly.’

‘Then what did you do?’

‘I slept on them.’

‘Slept on them?’

‘Aye. I put a book under my pillow each night; and when I awoke in the morning, I understood it.[vi] I have slept on Cicero, Plotinus, Homer and Lucretius; Dante, Aristotle, Aquinas and Saint Paul…’

Bor is baffled:

‘Prior, is this true?’

‘No Monsieur, it can’t be: the amarium is locked at all times, and only I keep the key.’

‘Yet Jacques Vallin claims to have read every single book. How so Jacques?’

‘I picked the lock with a sprig of mistletoe.’

‘Of course you did. Of course you did. Then pray, indulge me. What titles did you read? – I mean sleep on…’

‘All of them. But my favourite was “The Sacred Tenth” – or “How to Tithe The Poor”. I am sure you are familiar with it. But as Aquinas himself wrote: tithes, properly speaking, are neither sacrifices nor offerings, because they are not paid immediately to God, but to the ministers of divine worship.’[vii]

‘Do you imagine there is a bright halo surrounding your person? I do not see it. Perhaps one of its divine rays shall penetrate my corrupt body. What is your intention Jacques? To enlighten us with your celestial knowledge? You quote Aquinas at the drop of a hat. I happen to have good instruction in his dialectic art, and I am well acquainted with his Summa Theologica. Perhaps you can elucidate Question Eleven, Article One: Is heresy a species of unbelief? I mean, you call yourself a Christian, yet as a Cathar, you elect not those articles which are truly taught by Christ, but those which your own mind suggests to you. Therefore, your heresy is a species of unbelief, even though you profess the faith of Christ, because you pervert His doctrines…’

He abruptly stops and bites his lip, as if to recall another point. He surveys the crowd with beady eyes, then continues:

‘But let us not stop there. For the angelic doctor goes even further. What of Article Three: Are heretics to be tolerated? – Pasque-Dieu! Surely not, Jacques! There is not one argument you can put forth to defend your heresy, however much you adorn your words with transcendent learning and pious merit. You condemn Mother Church for taking tithes. But what is this compared to heresy? ‘For ’tis a much heavier offence to corrupt the faith, whereby the life of the soul is sustained, than to tamper with the coinage, which is an aid to temporal life… What Jacques? Did you say something? Speak up. I did not hear your precious pearls of wisdom… Aquinas finds you pertinacious. What must I do? Cut you off from Mother Church by the sentence of excommunication, or leave you to the secular tribunal to be exterminated from the world by fire? … Why are you so proud and obstinate? You seem desirous to be wholly convicted. As if you alone were the gracious guardian of God’s truth! The Cathars are degenerate fools; some think they have put aside the vanities of this world to fight for The Eternal King. But all their precepts are blasphemous lies. What? Will you not speak? Have you no defence? … Alas, despite his vast knowledge, the devil is stunned to silence.’

‘I am stunned by your ignorance. You condemn as blasphemous, a faith which is capable of Christian defence, solely because its precepts are not found in the Bible.’

‘You preach that the Devil created the mundus [world]. If that were so, then chaos would reign; the stars would fall from the heavens; there would be no plants nor animals; the seas would boil and the earth would melt in tracts of molten fire. But when we look around us, we behold a well-ordered, graduated, and articulated whole. The book of Genesis begins by describing how God created all things out of nothing. Yet you insist the world was not made by God, but by Satan. Blasphemy! By denying Genesis, you dethrone God, and in His place put Satan and all his angels…’

‘Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world.”[viii] “You are from beneath: I am from above. You are of this world: I am not of this world.”[ix] … Christ’s words, not mine. Oh! You are a complete blockhead! Is it not obvious? Satan is the prince of this world!’

‘You pervert the words of Christ according to your own false doctrine. Who inspired these errors in you? Give me his name.’

‘I came to these truths by my own understanding. According to Greek philosophy the Demiurgus is not identical with God as the first and supreme source of all things; the Great Artificer of the world is an inferior spirit.

‘Jacques Vallin, you have drunk from the cup of pagan philosophers.’

‘Indeed I have. Do you deny that Plato received a revelation?’

‘Plato is the chief of fools. The Christian God has no place in heathen theology. Plato held that God and the world co-existed eternally; that they remain opposition and are incapable of conciliation. Plato expressed nothing in common words, but in similitude and cunning allegories, by which all pagans are enticed into falsehood.’

‘You call Plato the chief of fools? Mon Dieu! Even Aquinas could not prove that the world had a beginning; he only believed it did because he was a Christian; but as a philosopher, he agreed that the world had no beginning at all.’

‘You are a most deceitful and wicked devil: you blur pagan philosophy with Christian facts.’

Nulla falsa doctrina est, quæ non permiscent aliquid veritatis. [There is no doctrine so false, but that it may be intermixed with some truth]. Is not the Trinity of Plato’s Timaeus the very same as the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost?” ’

‘No Jacques. Besides, I would not suffer myself to compare the Timaeus with Holy scripture and the inspired word of God.’

‘Why not? Are not the Father and the Son the ideal unities of Power and Wisdom? Can we not identify the Holy Ghost with the universal Soul?’

‘The immanent production of the Holy Ghost by Separation cannot be called Creation.[x] Besides, to take these things literally is the height of absurdity. Christ has solved the enigma for us by his incarnation into flesh.’

‘But he did not incarnate into flesh.’

That is heretical.

‘I would rather err with the heathen than think rightly with you! You think you know the Scriptures better than your fingers; and you imagine that your training is deficient in nothing; but you have less knowledge than skill; more vanity than heart; more pomp than virtue. All that you have learned which appertains to the Quadrivium is wasted on a mind so small and twisted that there is no point in speaking with you. What did they teach you at University? No doubt your lecturers were dimwitted asses. Your dialectic art is bloodless and barren; so how can your soul be quickened to yield the fruits of philosophy? You understand nothing, least of all the precepts of ontological argument. But this does not surprise me: for intimations of the Divine are only vouchsafed to the chosen.’

Bor trembles with rage and his face turns blue; he grinds his jaw, clenches his fists, and cricks his neck; his lips curl in fury and his eyes quiver in their sockets. Then he takes a deep breath and says:

‘Let it be noted, that the accused is deliberately taunting me to act in a manner unbefitting for my office. Let it also be noted, that as a theologian, I have listened to his arguments and found them not only wanting, but heretical in every degree. But despite his error, I have shown much good patience and leniency. For ’tis not ignorance of the truth that makes a heretic, but a puffing up of the mind that breeds contumacy and pride; these are the chief causes of strife and schism. After all, who is Jacques Vallin, to draw the line between the word of God and the word of Man?’

‘You are sharply stupid Monsieur. Your God is an oxymoron. On the one hand, He is supreme abstraction, 0n which we can predicate nothing; on the other, He is the fullness of all being, which unites all division and evil.[xi] And I do not see how a loving God can be united with a devil like you!’

Another iron is put to my chest. The brethren flinch in terror as I let out a shrill scream. The iron sizzles in my ribs until I faint, delirious with pain. A pail of water is thrown in my face. I awake to the sight of Bor smouldering with rage, and gasp:

Christ! Eripe mihi hunc dolorem, aut minue saltem. [Rid me of this pain, or at least ease me of it].’

Bor barks in fury:

‘You shall be shown no mercy! Reveal the members of your sect.’

‘I have none. I am not even a Parfait.’

‘Liar. Who came to the grotto?’

‘Strangers.’

‘Give me their names.’

‘I can name the beasts of the field and the fouls of the air,[xii] but the names of men are a mystery to me.’

Stop this fencing!

‘I have told the truth. Shall I perjure myself instead? I am really a girl.’

Oh! You poor creature. And what wicked witch turned you into such a diabolical monster?

‘My flesh is an invention of the Devil.’

Enough! Reveal the names of your sect!’

‘Even if I knew, why would I deliver them into your hands? When you overthrow their altars, break down their homes, burn their groves with fire, and reduce their children to ashes. How many names have you destroyed in the hills? Names of the valiant and holy, who cried out with a loud voice, and cut themselves with knives and lancets, that they might escape your pyre.’

My pyre? Nay. ’Tis the fire of the Lord that has fallen on these hills; it has consumed a holocaust of heresy; it has burnt up mother and child alike; as it shall boil the blood that flows in your veins.’

‘You have unleashed a storm of Death and terror. The Apostles warned of evil Christians who shall come in the last days of Antichrist – whose signs are fulfilled by the priests of Mother Church who sin without shame.’[xiii]

‘Mother Church is only concerned with the salvation of souls.’

Salvation? She cares no more for us than a goat’s tail! Her priests are drunken sluggards who gurgle psalms for want of Latin! Their knowledge of Scripture is so poor, that they can scarce move their lips to say a prayer. No wonder the people are so poorly instructed! The priests are so negligent of their office, that they hardly know the Pater or the Creed. Yet, I have met unlearned shepherds who can repeat the Apostle’s Creed in the vulgar tongue; devout men, who know the Gospels by heart, and say them aloud to their sheep.xiv These are the heretics you burn so diligently. These are the poor you rob of lambs and fleeces.’

He slaps my face:

‘The tithe is for the Lord.’

‘The tithe is for the bishop! But I am sure the priests are glad to preach for tithes on the bishop’s behalf, when they can line their pockets to pay for all their bastard children! Salvation? God forbid! The people learn vices more readily from the priests than they do from the Devil himself. The tithe is for the Lord? Mother Church is greedy and avaricious beyond measure: all she wants are tithes, tithes, and more tithes!

Another iron is applied. Tendrils of pain shoot up my spine and blossom in the vault like black orchids. I cry “Mercy!” three times. The pillars lurch and the nave heaves with torment. I gibber in the iron chair, my chains rattling as I shake from toe to crown. What do you want of me Lord? What? … I spy Lucifer watching on high, his horned shade stalking the triforium gallery. He whispers:

‘Why do you renounce me? Am I such an inferior spirit? I, who created the Mundus out of nothing. I, who made the Word flesh and hung the stars in the Heavens. I, progenitor of Spring, the pink blossoms, and the green swards sprouting in the furrows. Mine are the beasts of the field and the fouls of the air. I put the soul in your heart and the marrow in your bones. Hark the blackbird piping in the thickets: I crafted his wings and gave him his song. Do you count my earthly works as dung? These are the pains of your Cathar folly; the purging of your corrupt philosophy. Suffer them, for thou art dust, and to dust shalt thou return. I see your head is full of wicked schemes; so many fantastic absurdities and specious fallacies. By what philosophic maxim do you restrict my powers? Do you presume to comprehend the Mysteries of the Trinity? Your logic in this respect is still imperfect. Do you think I have forgotten our pact? The inquisitor will roast you like a squealing hog; but not before he’s pulled your fingernails and teeth. Who permits this evil? Not I. Shall I send down an angel to pluck you from your chains? Or must you suffer and die, defeated like the Christ?’

He vanishes in a haze of smoke.

I thrash about, distraught at the refusal of so much iron to yield to my command. Oh to escape my fate, break these shackles, and fly out the belfry! Lilith, where art thou? Save me mother! Can you not feel my pain?

A deadly silence settles on the church, and it seems that all the deceased benefactors of the abbey, throughout its chequered past, are turning in their graves. The inquisitor looms before me, his pale-blue eyes gleaming like glaciers:

‘Let it be known that this Cathar heretic intends to reduce the clergy and monks to the state of labourers by taking away our tithes and possessions.[xv] For the last time, reveal the names of your sect.’

‘They are writ a book.’

Ah! We come to it at last! What book?’

‘The book of Death.’

‘Where is it?’

‘I hid it in the souterraine. The dead keep it.’

He swallows hard and his voice lingers in his throat. Then he mutters:

‘You hid it in the catacombs?’

‘Naturally. But I wouldn’t go down there if I were you…’

‘Why? I’m not afraid of the dead.’

‘Enter the catacombs and you will meet your doom.’

‘You have made a covenant with Death and an agreement with Hell. You are a necromancer, just like the Janus abbot.’

‘Nay, a necromancer like the Christ, who raised Lazarus of Bethania.’

‘Who taught you this sorcery? The Cyclops?’

‘Yes: the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite.’[xvi]

‘How oft’ do you call this monster to your aid?’

‘Every day. But as I said, he comes and goes as he pleases.’

‘What is his name?’

‘He refuses to give it.’

‘Tell him, if he refuses to give it, I will pluck out one of your eyes, and make you a Cyclops just like him. I ask again, what is his name?’

‘His name is Krew.’

‘Krew? And where is he now?’

‘Here.’

‘In church?’

‘You cannot see him?’

‘Of course not.’

‘But you are an expert in demonology.’

‘Do not try my patience. Is the Cyclops here or not?’

‘Yes. He is standing right beside you.’

‘You are ready to receive his suggestions?’

‘I am.’

‘And do his bidding?’

Always.

‘He holds you captive?’

‘Yes. ’Tis impossible to break away from his bewitching spell. His eye is most radiant and beautiful…’

‘Did he teach you the magic by which you perpetrate false miracles?’

‘My miracles are true. Bring me brother Fabien, and I will prove it.’

Silence! You shall make no demands of me. Tell me the trick.’

‘There was no trick.’

‘Liar. How did the Cyclops bewitched your victims into thinking they were cured?’

‘Monsieur, I am very tired. Can we continue this another time?’

He paces round the chair and says:

‘The deceit of your so called miracles is self evident. Your compact with demons has fallen short of complete remission. Do you really expect me to believe that you gave sight to a man who had no eyes at all?’

‘You have eyes but cannot see. When I cured that man, Christ himself appeared in the clouds—as was attested by many witnesses.’

‘This apparition of Christ was no such thing. ’Twas a trick perpetrated by Lucifer, Prince of the Air, and his consorts of the clouds.’

’Twas no trick Monsieur. ’Twas a holy apparition.’

‘You expect me to believe that? This very morn, when I cut open my apple, an image of the Virgin appeared in the core. Did I presume this was a Heavenly sign? An apparition sent from God? Nay. ’Twas just a material defect in the pith, and misconstrued by my eye.’

‘You misconstrue many things. Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen, are eternal…’[xvii]

‘You talk in riddles.’

‘The scriptures are full of them.’

Reveal the trick.

‘There was no trick.’

‘Alas my poor albino, the evidence does not affirm that statement. Just days ago your eyes were blue – but now they are pink again. Ægrotat dæmon, monachus tunc esse volebat; Dæmon convaluit, dæmon ut ante fuit. [The devil was sick, the devil a monk would be; the devil got well, the devil a monk was he].[xviii] Admit it: this cure was but a temporary deception.’

‘No. The more I cured the sick, the more my flesh relapsed. Twas the Virgin’s will…’

‘You know nothing of the Virgin’s will.’

‘’Tis Her will that you witness the power of the Lord. Brother Fabien has an incurable disease. Pity him: he was born with the head of a fish; and his scaly skin weeps with sores day and night. But I will cure him, here and now, before your very eyes – amongst all these witnesses. In the name of Christ, let me touch him. If Fabien is not instantly cured, then you can put me to the stake.’

Odo cries out:

Lazarus! Hold your tongue! You know not what you’re saying!’

Inquisitor Bor is delighted by my ultimatum. The monks are dumbfounded. Albert grips his stick with grim expectation; Bernard gawks in astonishment; Lucas clenches his fists with fevered anticipation; Hique scowls in fear; the conversi shuffle about biting on their nails; whilst Fabien falls to his knees and prays to heaven. Brother Jean steps forwards and implores with outstretched hands:

‘Monsieur! I beg you, stop this madness. ’Tis clear the boy is insane. Like his father, he suffers from murrian of the brains; nothing he says can be trusted. Is it wise to humour a boy who thinks himself possessed? I do not believe in this Cyclops diamon any more than his Pelican or neophyte toads! Lazarus is simply deranged; he lives in a world of mythical dreams! I ask you, in the name of heaven, would a sane man offer himself up to the faggots? We all know his miracles are delusions. There is nothing more to prove here…’

I smile fondly at the infirmarer and say:

‘Brother Jean, you a skilled and tender physician. And by your herbs you remove burns, frostbite, vomits, evacuations and unguents. You know all the effects of disordered humours. But all your cures are based on physical evidence, for which your whole attention is devoted to the body. You understand nothing of what is perceived by the eyes of the soul. I am not mad. My miracles are real. Bring me brother Fabien, and I will prove it…’

Bor thinks for a moment and twirls a finger in his goatee. He watches Fabien praying – the very image of disease and destitution. What an impossible dream: to realign his misshapen skull; to straighten his crippled spine; to heal his flaking plaques with soft new skin!

Bor tuts and shakes his head:

‘You cannot heal him, Jacques Vallin. That monk is beyond all mortal help. Enough of this charade.’

‘Inquisitor Bor does not believe I can heal the flesh, because he lacks faith in Christ. Faith is everything… As god is my witness, I can cure this disease outright. But inquisitor Bor will not allow it. Ask yourselves why. What is he so afraid of? Remember brethren, that when I offered proof of a miracle, Mother Church refused it.’

Bor scowls with contempt. At length he whispers in the bishops ear. They seem to reach some agreement and Tolus nods in approval. Then Bor beckons:

‘Come forth brother Fabien. Let us see this false Christ in action. Jacques Vallin claims he can cure you outright. If he can, I will reconsider the charges. If he cannot, I will release him to the secular authorities to burn at the stake… ’

Bor takes a key from his pocket and unlocks my manacles.

‘Will you loosen my legs a little Monsieur?’

‘What? And have you run away? No, your legs will remain chained. You wanted to lay your hands upon him, not your feet. Well, get on with it Jacques Vallin. Have you not disrupted this trial long enough?’

I summon the monk before me:

‘Brother Fabien, come forth and be healed.’

He shuffles nervously down the aisle and kneels before the chair, tears welling in his eyes. I whisper:

‘Be not afraid brother. This is a great day. Do you believe?’

He pules:

Oh! Yes! I believe! ’Tis Easter Day, just like you promised! Heal me brother Lazarus! Heal me in the name of Christ!

A hush of wonder settles on the crowd. My hands are burning like never before. A deep heat glows in my feet: it runs up my spine, across my chest, and down my arms. Slowly, I reach out and lay hands upon the scaly crown. In that instant we are engulfed in a blinding beam. The Light Stream courses through us like the sun, illuming the nave in effulgent rays of gold. We fuse together, our bodies as one, juddering in spasms so that my chair skits across the tiles. Bor steps back in astonishment; the torturer drops his iron and cowers in the alcoves; the bishop crawls beneath the table, shielding his eyes; and the brethren fall prostrate upon the ground…

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2013.

i. Cassian, Loc.cit., v, ch. xxv. (“A Select Library”, etc.).

ii. Adapted from the confession of Jeannette d’Abadie, a witch of the Basses-Pyrénéés. Toads associated with the Sabbat. ‘History of Witchcraft and Demonology’ by Montague Summers, pp. 158-9.

iii. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, p.617. “God is omnipotent, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intellect and will and in every perfection.” These are the words of The Vatican Council. (Sess. III, cap. i, De Deo, in Denzinger, “Enchiridion”, 1782—old no. 1631). Although written later, I believe they are based on Plotinus, and suit my purposes.

iv. James, 1;17.

v. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, p.617. I have modified the original text which is: “God, it is true, coexists with time, as He coexists with creatures, but He does not exist in time, so as to be subject to temporal relations: His self-existence is timeless.”

vi. Edgar Cayce, the famous healer and prophet, “absorbed” knowledge in the same preternatural way.

vii. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Question LXXXV. “Of Sacrifice”. Article III.—‘Is the offering of sacrifice a special act of virtue?’

viii. John, 18:36.

ix. John, 8:23.

x. Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, ‘The Divine Trinity’, pp. 209 sqq.

xi. Lipsius, ubi infra, p. 212.

xii. Genesis, 2:20.

xiii. 1 Timothy, 4:1.

xiv. So says Etienne de Bourbon.

xv. From the testimony of Reinier and the Inquisition of Toulouse, secition 7. [History of the Crusades against the Albigenses from the French of J.C.L. Simondè de Sismonde, London 1826].

xvi. The Cyclops are generally mentioned as the sons of Uranus and Gæa, but Homer speaks of Polyphemus, the chief of the Cyclops, as the son of Poseidon, and states the Cyclops to be his brothers. [See footnote 5 in Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome, by E.M. Berens].

xvii. 2 Corinthians, 4:13.

xviii. Lines composed in the middle ages.

Image Credit: Knock Cloud Apparition by Froshea on WikiMedia. (cropped). The caption by the photographer states: “This cloud image was captured on the feast day of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady 2016, shortly after 4.00pm. It was positioned above the Apparition chapel lying between that chapel and the new Basilica. In size, it was about the size of eight double decker busses lined up in pairs, two rows of four. Being a non-believer and having received clear prompts to attend at Knock, following a miraculous healing, I was curious about what Our Blessed Lady had in store for me. At the time I took the photograph I didn’t notice the image features, not until I viewed it on my camera review screen on the bus on the way home. I have edited the image by darkening the blue background but nothing further. You can see on the top right what may be an edge of the Basilica tower. The image was lying perpendicular, not vertical. It reminds me of the Divine Mercy image when viewed from a little distance. On the day many cameras were in use as were iPads videoing the rosary procession. Also at the time photographed, the rosary procession was at the bottom of the hill making its way up yo the Apparition Chapel. I am not aware of other capturing the image, hence my putting it here. Maybe some other camera or iPad also captured it?” Date: 17 August 2016.

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2013.