How the saintly hermit Nasciano, who had raised the handsome childe Esplandian, learned about the rupture between the Kings and decided to make peace between them, and what he did to bring that about.
[The chapel of Santa Maria del Grau in Fonollosa, Spain, built in the 12th or 13th century. Photo by Maria Rosa Ferre.]
This story tells how the saintly Nasciano, who had raised Esplandian, as the third part of this story recounts, had been in his hermitage in a great forest, as ye have heard, for more than forty years. Because the place was very rough and remote, rarely did anyone visit, and he always kept provisions to last a long time. It is not known whether by the grace of God or by any news that might have reached him, he learned that those Kings and great lords were in a dangerous confrontation both to themselves and to all those in their service, which caused his heart great pain and suffering.
And because at this time he was ill and could barely stand and walk, he constantly prayed to God to give him health and strength so he could be the remedy to those who shared His holy law, because, as he had heard the confession of Oriana and from her was made fully aware of the secret involving Amadis and that Esplandian was his son, he well understood the great danger that having her marry another man would entail.
And for that reason he thought that since Oriana was where she need not fear her father’s wrath, it would be proper, although he was very old and feeble, to begin to travel to Firm Island, because with her permission, for it could be done in no other way, he could tell King Lisuarte the truth about things he did not know, and to strive to create peace and concord and bring about the marriage between her and Amadis.
With that thought and desire, when he felt a little better, he took with him two men from the village where his sister lived, who was the mother of Sarguil, Esplandian’s companion. He rode on his donkey, although he was very weak, and with short days of travel and a great deal of effort he arrived at Firm Island after King Perion and all his men had already left for the battle, which gave him great sorrow.
When he had arrived, he sent word to Oriana that he had come. When she learned this, she was very happy for two reasons. First, because the saintly hermit had raised and given, after God, life to her son Esplandian; and second, because she could be counseled by him as her soul and conscience required. She immediately ordered the damsel of Denmark to go to him and bring him to where she was, which she did. When Oriana saw him come through the door, she went to him and knelt before him, began to weep bitterly and told him:
“Oh saintly man, give your blessing to this unfortunate and very sinful woman, who to the ill fate of herself and many others was born into this world.”
Tears came to the eyes of the hermit because of the pity he had for her, and he raised his hand to bless her and said:
“May the Lord who is restorative and powerful in all things bless you and be the protection and aid in everything you need.”
Then he took her by the hands, raised her up, and told her:
“My good lady and beloved child, with great fatigue and labor I have come to speak to you, and when ye please, order me to be heard because I cannot wait, for neither the manner of my life nor my faith permits me to do so.”
Oriana, who was still weeping, took him by the hand without a word in response, for her great sobbing did not let her speak, and brought him to her chamber and ordered them to be left alone, and so it was done. When the hermit saw that he could say what he wished without reserve, he told her:
“My good lady, as I was in that hermitage where for such a long time I have sought to have our Lord God take mercy on my soul, setting aside all the things of the world so I would not suffer any obstacle to my purpose, I came to know that your father the King and the Emperor of Rome had come with many men to do battle with Amadis of Gaul. He and his father, with other princes and knights of high estate, had also raised many men to fight. What from this shall follow anyone could know: that for certain, given the large number of men and the great determination with which they seek to challenge each other, nothing can result from this except a great loss of life and the great offense to our Lord God.
“And because the cause, as I have heard, is the marriage by which your father wishes to unite you and the Emperor of Rome, my lady, I decided to make this trip to see you, as the one who knows the great secret of your conscience is in this matter and the great danger to your person and reputation if the wishes of your father the King were to be carried out. And, my good child, because I knew of this from your confession, I did not have license to put into practice the remedy for the great harm that can come from this. Now that I see the present situation, it would be a greater sin to be quiet than to speak. I come so that ye, my beloved child, may consider it well for your father to know what has happened and that he can give you to no other husband than the one you have, for not knowing this, thinking that what he wishes could justly be done, his tenacity may be such that he carries out his purpose to the great destruction of his army and the other. In the end it may be made public, just as the Gospel says: nothing can be so hidden that it can never be known.”
Oriana, who found her spirit a little more reposed, took him by the hands and kissed them many times against his wishes, and told him:
“Oh very holy man and servant of God, I place and put all my troubles and anguish at your wishes and volition so ye may do what serves my soul best, and may the Lord whom ye serve and Whom I have so deeply offended be pleased by His holy pity to guide you, not as I deserve, being such a sinner, but as He in his infinite goodness so often does with those who have erred if they ask for his mercy with all their heart, as I do now.”
The good man answered, pleased:
“My beloved child, since as ye say the Lord never fails anyone in their great needs if they call upon Him with a genuine heart and contrition, have great faith. It befalls me as he who can and must act with propriety to put into practice that remedy at your service and to protect your honor with the security that your soul’s conscience requires. And because great harm and evil could come from delay, my good lady, it is best that ye immediately give me permission to depart so that my labors, if they can, will reap the fruit that I desire.”
Oriana told him:
“My lord Nasciano, I commend you to pray for that childe whom, after God, ye gave life, and if ye return here, strive to bring him with you. May you go with God and may He guide you so that your good desire will be fulfilled in His holy service.”
And so the saintly hermit said farewell, and with great fatigue in his spirit and great hope to fulfill his goodwill, took the road on which he knew the troops had traveled. But because he was so old, as this story recounts, he could only travel on his donkey, and his journey was so slow that he did not arrive until after the two battles had already been fought, as has been recounted. As the armies, with a truce, were burying their dead and caring for their wounded, this very saintly man arrived at King Lisuarte’s camp. When he saw so many dead men and so many others with a variety of injuries, for which great mourning was being made everywhere, he was horrified and raised his hands to the heavens, weeping with great pity, and said:
“Oh Lord of the world, I pray to Thee that by Thy holy pity and the passion Thou underwent for us sinners, looking not on our great errors and sins, give me grace so I may prevent the great evil and harm that Thy servants are prepared to do.”