Rorate Caeli

A newly found Canto

This "find"  comes from our friends at the The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny:

The following manuscript was sent to me by a friend. He said it was found recently in the cellar of what was once a monastery and now is a Walmart. Its authenticity is certainly open to question.  As experts have already pointed out, the terza rima scheme has been abandoned, and it is in the wrong vernacular.  But there has been no authoritative judgment as yet on its provenance or authenticity.  Its authorship remains a mystery.

Canto XXXV

The heat was now unbearable and yet
My guide seemed cool and unperturbed.
I asked him as politely as I could:

“Will we see the one I asked about,
The one who should not be here but
I have heard he is but know not how?”

“Do not assume you know such things,
For that knowledge and its reasons
Lie hidden to us but known to One.”

He gestured with his hand and pointed
To one who walked over and over
Through two doors whose entrances

Were marked by the words YES and NO,
And each time he walked through NO
A devil struck him in his rear portion.

“Can he stop”, I asked, “so I can ask him
If he is indeed the one I seek”?
My guide nodded and held his hands

Towards the devils who snorted and farted
But stopped their role in this contrapasso
To allow me to approach the one whom

I now noticed was wearing a miter upside
Down.  “Are you he, then,” I asked him,
“Who made what is called the Gran Rifiuto “?

He panted, for he was out of breath with
His running YES and NO and back again.
He struggled to speak and blurted out:

“I heard you were looking for me and
I think I know why, but thinking in
This place can be torture for us.”

“ Can you tell me,” I began,”how it is possible
That you are here when you are celebrated
In the world above as a Saint of Holy Church?”

Aime! Contradictions are the meat of this
Place of woe and fire and filth and mire, where
YES means NO means YES means NO.

But I am here because I thought I could lay aside
The burden I had been given by Him above
Out of fear and fatigue and selfishness.

The cry of Malabranca was my doom,
My downfall the plotting of Caetani,
My place of hellish pain the Kingdom of Naples.

What you call me above in the place of the Living
Has nothing to do with who I am in this place
Where I endlessly am punished with SIC et NON.”

“But I am confused”, I answered, “for were you not
Declared a Saint by the Church in some decree
Somewhere by some Pope who judged you well?”

“ I see your problem but it could not exist when
I was declared a Saint as a part of political vengeance,
For this was before the thunderstorm in Rome

That began the march to papa monarchus absolutus
When the Pope became the Church and
The Church became the Pope and all authority

In heaven and earth and hell passed to him who sits
On the throne of Peter whose power and authority
Will reign forever and ever and ever Amen.

That is why I do not have the hope that I will
Leave this place of stench and torture and pain
Anytime soon but there is a small hope, there is”.

“What is this?” I exclaimed so forcefully that
My guide motioned me to calm down and
To remember where we were and why we came.

“ Did not I read that terrible notice when I
Entered this place of abomination and pain:
Abandon hope all ye how enter here?

Can there be hope in hell?  Is this not the
Greatest of all contradictions making free will
A joke played on us all by the One who made us?

Still panting, he replied:  “Look at that man
Over there who is dressed as if he is saying
Mass and whose eyes are locked in awful gaze.”

I looked and saw this man whose vestments
Were melting from the heat and burning his
Flesh, whose head was held by demons so that

He could not stop staring at his reflection in
A warped mirror where his reflection was twisted
Into faces laughing at him and taunting him.

One demon was assigned to torture him
In a special way by striking him on his face
With what looked like a small stole with thorns.

The words on his missal jumped around and kept
Changing so that what came out of his mouth
Was a garbled cry of frustration and pain.

“Why does he have hope”, I asked, “where does
It come from?”  Between pants the mitered one responded:
“Now that papa monarchus has extended his

Authority even to these places of ignis and dolor
His friends can play the get out of hell card
And he will be welcomed into the Empyrean Heav’n.

And even I, even I in my piteous state of terrible
Ambiguity of SIC et NON et CUR et QUOMODO,
You who see me here where I should not be

According to the nineteenth of May, even I
Have hope in what I have heard from those
Just come down to this place from above.”

I looked at my guide and he was looking down
And would not look at me, silent, hard, dark,
Turned away, would not speak, pained, dark.

“And on what is your hope based, what hope
 do you have in this place created by God
for those whose NO to his love is eternal?”

“All I can tell you is what I have heard:
That the fires of this place are about to be
Extinguished by a great wet blanket that bears
A name emblazoned on it:  MISERICORDIA”