[How Nasciano spoke to King Lisuarte and convinced him that what he said was true.]
[Saint Benedict of Nursia, depicted by Fra Angelico in a fresco made between 1437-1446, at the Museo di San Marco, Florence.]
Upon entering the camp, he asked where King Lisuarte’s tents were, and he went to them without pausing to rest. When the King saw Nasciano, he immediately recognized him and was very surprised because, given his great age, he did not believe he could have left his hermitage. And he also surmised that a man like him, so ill and of such a holy life, had only come for some great purpose. He went to receive him, and when he arrived, he knelt and said:
“Father Nasciano, friend and servant of God, give me your blessing.”
The hermit raised his hand and said:
“May the Lord whom I serve and whom everyone is obliged to serve, protect you and give you such wisdom that instead of holding dear the perishable things of this world, ye may disdain them and do such work by which your soul may possess and achieve the glory and repose for which it was created, if by your own fault ye do not lose it.”
Then he gave him a blessing, raised him up by the hands, and knelt to kiss them, but the King embraced him and would not let him. He took him by the hand and had him sit beside him. He ordered that he immediately be brought something to eat, which was done, and after he had eaten, he went with him to a private area of the tent and asked him why he had come, saying how very amazed he was that he had been able to travel there so far from his dwelling given his age and retreat from the world.
The hermit answered:
“My lord, everything ye have said may rightly be believed, for truly, given the great age both of my body and of my will, I am not in a state to do more than leave my cell to go to the altar. But it falls upon those who wish to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and who wish to follow his holy teachings and footsteps, that at no time due to their age or labor and fatigue may they weaken even a moment, remembering how God is the true Creator of all things, and nothing may compel Him except His holy pity and mercy, and Who wished to come to give us paradise, which had been closed to us in this world where, after so many injuries and insults from dishonorable men, He received cruel suffering and death. And what can we do, for all our efforts to serve him, that could reach the height of his shoelace, as his great friend and servant [Saint John the Baptist] said?
“And considering this, leaving behind the fear of danger to my small life, thinking that better here than where I was I could follow His service, I decided with great labor to my person and great will in my desire to make this trip, in which He was pleased to guide me to you, my lord, to receive my message, placing aside all wrath and passion, and above all the vile pride that is the enemy of all virtue and conscience, so that following His service, all the things are forgotten in this world that seem to be worth so much and that in the other more real world are abhorred.
“And coming to the point, my Lord, I say that when I was in that hermitage where fate guided you through thick forest and high mountain and where ye spoke with me about everything involving that very handsome and high-born childe Esplandian, I learned about this great confrontation and cruel war where I now find you, and the reason and cause behind it. And I know very well that what ye wish, my good lord, is to have your daughter marry the Emperor of Rome, and from it so much evil in harm has come, but this cannot be done, and not only for what the greater and lesser men of your kingdom have told you many times, that the Princess is your legitimate heir and successor after the end of your days. This was and is a very legitimate reason for which very rightly and in good conscience the wedding must be averted, but there is another reason that is hidden from you and others and is made manifest to me, which is an even more mighty reason according to human and divine law to avert it: your daughter is joined in matrimony with the husband that our Lord Jesus Christ considered good, and it is in His service that she is wed.”
When he heard this, the King thought that as this good man was now very elderly, his mind and discretion were troubled, or that someone had instructed him very well in what to say. And he answered:
“Nasciano, my good friend, my daughter Oriana never had a husband nor has one now, except the Emperor to whom I gave her, because with him, although she would be separated from my kingdom, she would be placed in much greater honor and much higher estate. And God is witness that my intention was never to disinherit her and make my other daughter the heir, as some say; instead I believed that, if my kingdom were united through love with the Empire of Rome, the holy Catholic faith could be greatly extolled. If I had known or imagined that this would have resulted in such enormity, with very little urging I would have changed my wish and will and taken other counsel. But since my intention was just and good, I believe that neither what has happened nor what shall come can be considered my responsibility.”
The good man told him:
“My lord, that is why I tell you that what is hidden from you is manifest to me. And leaving aside what ye told me about your sincere and noble will, which can and must be believed given your great discretion and the high honor in which God has placed you, I want you to know from me what would be very hard to find out from anyone else. And I speak of that day in which by your orders I arrived at the tents in the forest where the Queen and her daughter Oriana were with many ladies and damsels, and ye with many knights, when I brought with me that blessed child Esplandian, who had led a lioness on a leash, and to whom the Lord has promised much, as ye have heard, my good lord.
“The Queen and Oriana told me all the secrets of their consciences so that in the name of He who created them and must save them I might give them the penance that the health of their souls required. I learned from your daughter Oriana about the day that Amadis of Gaul rescued her from Arcalaus the Sorcerer and four other knights who were carrying her away as a prisoner. At the same time ye were tricked by the damsel who brought you from London using the boon that ye had promised her, and ye were taken prisoner and were in great danger of losing your life and your entire kingdom, from which his brother Sir Galaor freed you at great danger to his own life.
“For the great service that Amadis did for her as well as what his brother did for you, as reward she promised to marry that noble knight, who has rescued so many people in peril and is the height and example for all the knights in the world, both in his lineage as in his courage and all the other good qualities that a knight should have. From what followed, by the grace and will of God, was engendered Esplandian, whom He wished to make so exalted and outstanding over all others alive, for we can truly say that in many great epochs in the past and that are yet to come, no one has known of a mortal person who was raised with such a wonderful miracle. Regarding what the great wisdom of Urganda the Unrecognized has made publicly known, ye know far better than I, my lord.
“And so we can say that although it took place fortuitously, it seems in fact that it was none other than a mystery of our Lord, whom it pleased to have it occur. And since it pleases Him, it should not give sorrow to you, my good lord. Instead, considering it to be His will, and considering the nobility and great valor of this knight, ye should deem it good to take him, as well as all his great lineage, as your servant and son, ordering, as ye can, that your honor be protected in the present danger, and in what is to come it may take such form that people of good conscience will determine it as service to the Lord in whose service we are born into this world, and to you, for after Him ye are his minister in temporal affairs.
“And now, great King Lisuarte, I wish to see if the great discretion that God has wished to embellish you with is well employed in your elevated and high estate, where more by his infinite goodness then by your merit He has placed you. And since He has given you more than ye deserve, you will not deem it much to do some of what His holy doctrines teach you.”
When the King heard this, he was stunned, and he said:
“Oh, Father Nasciano! Is it true that my daughter is married to Amadis?”
“It is certainly true,” he said. “He is the husband of your daughter, and the childe Esplandian is your grandson.”
“Oh, holy Mary, help me!” the King said. “How dangerous it was to keep that secret from me for so long, for if I had known it or suspected it, so many unfortunate men would not have been lost and killed who did not deserve it. And I would wish that ye, my good friend, had let me know about it in time that this could have been prevented.”
“That could not be,” the good man said, “because what is said in confession must not be revealed, and it has been told to you now with the permission of the Princess, whom I have just seen and who was pleased to have it revealed. And I have faith that if the present situation can be made right, it would be in the service to the Savior of the world, so He will forgive the past with small penance since the deed rather than the intention seems to have caused harm.”
The King spent some time thinking in silence. He recalled Amadis’s great courage and how he deserved to be lord of great lands, which he was, and to be married to someone who was a great lady in the world, as well as the great love he had for his daughter Oriana, and how he would be using virtue and good conscience to make her his heir, which by right was hers. And he thought of the love he had always had for Sir Galaor and the services that he and all his lineage had done for him, and how many times, after God, he was rescued by them when only death and the destruction of all of his estate awaited him.
And above all he thought about his grandson, that very handsome childe Esplandian, in whom he had so much hope that if God were to protect him and he became a knight, according to what Urganda had written, he would have no equal in the world. And he also thought about how in that same letter it was written that this childe would bring peace between himself and Amadis. And he also remembered that the Emperor was dead, and if with him and his family he were to have gained honor, he would gain much more with the family of Amadis, as he had seen many times through experience, and with it, in addition to bringing about peace both for himself and for his kingdom, his honor would grow such that no one in the world would be his equal. And after he had finished thinking about all this, he said:
“Father Nasciano, friend of God, although my heart and will were subject to pride and I did not wish to receive anything else but death or to give it to many other men until my honor was satisfied, your holy words have possessed such virtue that I have decided to retract my wishes in such a way that if peace and accord do not come into effect, ye shall be witness before God that it is not my fault or blame. For that reason, do not fail to speak with Amadis, but do not share with him anything of my intent. Find out what he wishes in this situation, and then tell me. And if his intention conforms with mine, I shall be able to give such an order so that the present and future troubles will be prevented in such a way that the advantage in honor of both sides will be fulfilled.”
Nasciano knelt before him weeping from the great pleasure he felt, and said:
“Oh blessed King, may the Lord who came to save us thank you for what ye have told me, because I cannot.”
The King raised him up and told him:
“Father, what I have told you I have decided without any hidden intention.”
“Then I ought to leave now,” the good man said, “and before the truce is over, I must labor so that this in which our Lord will be served is brought to its conclusion.”