Wednesday, 4 December, 1284

Cara Maria Grazia,
I write you this account of my time within my prison cell, for a prison it is. Rock hard walls, a window so small that not even my arm might emerge and entreat to the moon as it mocks me from outside. My goaler feeds me bread and water—well the water parades as “soup” but it tastes of nothing but old, moldy cabbage.

Oh how I hate this place! What have I done to be treated thus? The Abbess detests me. She judges my every action, and judges them all poor. I am to suffer in this detention chamber until she is assured that I have learned my lesson. But what is my lesson?

Fie on her! Fie! and Fie I say!

All this because I climbed a tree, or palmed an extra tart from the kitchen? I am not a novitiate, I am not on the path to take a vow as a Bride of Christ. I am here to learn my letters and remain pure of soul and body until such a time as I am of age and a right match can be made. My Father pays the Abbey a goodly sum to keep me fed and cared for. But lo these past months that I have been a “guest” here, my robes have grown loose upon my person.  The meals we are fed (if they can be called “meals”) in the dining hall are meager enough. But now that I am a hostage in the detention chamber and all I am allowed is soup and bread–I shall simply wither away and perish!

I’ve written to my Mother and Lord Father in Lucca, of my plight. But I have received no reply as yet.

I am fixed in my cell until such a time as I apologize to Madonna Annunziata for my behavior and vow to be more well behaved. I do hate to apologize and I hate to lie even more, for I know that no matter what my words say, I will not behave as the suore wish me to. I do miss you and our cozy shared cell, I miss most your warm body beside me in the cold night!

Of my imprisonment, I will allow that I do enjoy not being awoken in the middle of the night for Matins (may God not judge my soul to harshly for writing that! You must think me a heathen Maria Grazia, for you are always so good and devout in your prayers–even in the dark and cold night.)

Maria Grazia, I am so lonely, please endeavor to pass me word. The Novice Aede has a sweet temperament and can be moved to share your words with me, if you are willing to save her some of your supper. She has a particular fondness for cheese.  She will carry a note to me and deliver it to my cell with my rations. Tell me of the world outside these four walls, who says what, and why. I fear I will never see the sun again.

Your truest friend in direst need,
In the detention cell at the Abbey of Santa Giulia

“Before Romeo & Juliet” by Emily Dodi and Linda Secondari, inspired by Shakespeare’s classic.

Read as the tale unfolds. A new chapter was published on Friday August 19! To read the new chapter, click here:

To start at the beginning, click here: