The devil tempts me to eat, but I must resist. For three months I have eaten no meat, and little else but a preparation of herbs each day, and some fruit, and water. This is all I can allow myself to accept into my body, and of course the holy Eucharist, which I receive gladly knowing it is the strength and virtue of Jesus Christ that my body and spirit need as sustenance, much more than bread and meat.
It’s dark now, and the gibbous moon swells in the night sky, bloated, water-logged, a grotesque Venetian mask. Swirling all around it are a vagabond troupe of stars, little Harlequins, Pulcinellas and Columbinas, dancing wildly in mad constellations, taunting, ever more and more complex.
I know I grow weaker each day. Yet I must, I must be strong. Here in the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is where I saw the vision of St. Catherine of Siena rise above me with a crown of thorns upon her head, her veil as white and clean as lily petals. Here she spoke to me, and told me to defy those who would force me to eat, and who tell me that my actions are misguided, for they do not understand me as she does. Here my mind is rested, and my will strengthened. I pray to God to provide me with the fortitude to continue my fast.
The frescoes are moving now, animated by some power beyond my own feeble comprehension. The commotion of life and death, of anguish and exaltation, crowds gathering to witness tortures and miracles. I can hear them all now, squabbling, whispering. Do they see me kneeling here?
Papa introduced yet another suitor today. From Livorno, the son of a Spanish merchant, wealthy, and dare I say reckoned to be quite handsome. But I refuse! I refuse them all! To think of myself as a merchant’s wife, trapped in some flamboyant home dripping with gilt and flourishes, trussed up in expensive silks and jewels, the thought sickens me. Truly, the whole of my internal viscera revolts to consider such a wretched fate. I swear no man shall possess me, not in this world, from now until I am with Jesus Christ in paradise, no man shall touch me.
This evening I couldn’t eat at all. The table was laid with fish, cheese, bread, grapes and figs, and a magnificent pie that smelled like a thousand different musical notes all combined into one intoxicating olfactory sinfonia. But as I sat down the sight of it suddenly repulsed me, and I could not bring myself to put even a little into my mouth, not one single grape, it repelled me so.
There, my silhouette, caught in the shine of polished metal, curved out of shape. It seems to be not my body but another woman’s, as if it were my double trapped in the reflection, looking out at me. Her plain dress hangs limply over protruding bones, the face gaunt and sickly, the chest that of a young girl’s. Yet looking down at myself I can see my breasts swelling abhorrently, fleshy and voluptuous, repugnant.
I have not bled for three months. And the less I eat, the more my stomach turns on me, inflicting pain with every small morsel swallowed. I can see their dark forms invading me, foreign, harmful, destroying me from the inside. I refuse them all. They shall not take me.Share...