November 19, 2020
And here we have it—a story of constant love! Ennasuite relates the tale of Paulina and her beloved, a lady and gentleman in the service of the Marquis and Marchioness of Mantua. Thwarted in their desire to marry by their master and mistress, who warn them that they will live in poverty if they do, the gentleman and then Paulina both take monastic vows, converting their love for each other into love for God. Their love for God is just as constant as their love for each other. Ennasuite remarks at the story’s end, “So devout and so holy were they, one cannot doubt that He whose law has its end in charity would tell them at their lives’ end, even as he told Mary Magdalen, that their sins were forgiven, for they had loved much.”
The tale leads our storytellers to discuss the connection between human and divine love, and it gives Parlamente the opportunity to share her description of perfect lovers. Renja Salminen notes that this description is the most frequently quoted paragraph in the whole Heptameron.
Check out this online exhibit at the library of the University of Virginia to see a copy of an edition of the Heptameron published in 1560 in Paris that is signed by the ambassador to France of Queen Elizabeth I of England, some more information about the Heptameron, and a full transcription (in the original French) of this story. Many thanks to Mary McKinley for this reference!