A letter from abbot William of St. Thomas of the Paraclete (1195)
The abbot to the queen.
Whenever the presence of intermediaries offered itself we thought it unworthy if our smallness did not send at least something in writing to our lady whom we love in truth and venerate in the Lord. For you know, lady, and we know, that the force of love has the power to warm with new writings and not grow old by the accident of events. The knot of love is joined with the chains of friendship by the remedy of salutary happiness, especially to the desolate in whom the organs of piety abound, and there is no depravity in good customs. Therefore we offer the office of greeting to your excellency/highness so that from it you may grasp a salutary remedy for tribulation and no detriment to Christian faith which brings contempt to infidels and the negligent.
We know that, though the devil rages, the Lord truly provides for you, that the paternal scourge visited on you is temporal until the virtue of patience tried in contest brings out the proven gold from the dross of lead, and what the devil thought would bring him victory will give you a crown of eternal glory and he will suffer the vengeance due his malice for the injuries inflicted on you. Let the empty glory of this world that is taken away with time not deceive you, my lady, for the Lord is powerful to establish you again in the fullness of power, so that your sublimity may rule over people at the head of nations and hold the throne of glory. You know and well you know that he who covers the sky with clouds can also, when he wishes, take them away and infuse a light of supernal brilliance with stars. So, certainly, when he wishes, he will exalt you, he who observes the prayer of the humble and does not scorn the prayers of those whose sighs reach him, and the most High will not delight in them. “For he kills and brings to life; he brings down to the depths and brings back; the Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts” [1Kgs.2:6-7]. These are the words of the holy spirit.
Do not, therefore, lose confidence that there will be a great reward — “God will give an end even to these”(1) — and your heart will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you. The heart of the King, as Scripture says, is in the hand of God and he will incline it where he wills. For the rest, we greatly rejoice that we perceive you to fear the Lord and his commands, and the most sweet odor of your very holy conversation is spread everywhere, so no enemy tooth can gnaw at you because he can not find any obstacle to honesty and good customs. For your sublimity must know that the love which we have towards you will never grow old in oblivion; we shall never be able to cease from prayer until we feel that we have been heard by the Lord, which we trust will be soon. For the rest, we are very distressed that we have received no [message] or writing from you though we must say, saving your reverence and peace, that we have twice written to you, for whose love and honor we have never feared to expose our body with the greatest effort against the lord King your husband. We ask therefore that what we experience in this case less fittingly will be carried out benevolently lest we seem to be forgotten, for we glory much in the plenitude of your grace.
Abbas ad Reginam. QUOTIENS commeantium praesentia se nobis obtulerit, indignum reputare decrevimus, si dominae nostrae, quam in veritate diligimus et in Domino veneramur, aliquid minime nostra pravitas scriptionis emiserit. Nostis enim, domina, novimus et nos, quod hoc proprium habet vis amoris, ut scriptis recentioribtis ampliiis incalescat, nec aliquo rerum eventu patitur ut senescat. Confertur etiam amicitias vinculis nodus amoris remedio laetitiae salutaris, desolatis his maxime in quibus abundant viscera pietatis, nec inest [etiam] bonis moribus quippiam pravitatis. Excellentiae igitur vestrae salutationis praelibamus officium, ut, eo percepto, percipiatis et vos de tribulatione salutare remedium et nullum christianae fidei detrimentum, quod infidelibus et negligentibus solet inferre contemptum. Novimus autem quod, diabolo saeviente, Domino vero vobis in melius providente, paternum in vos immissum est temporale flagellum, quatenus patientiae virtus in agone probata de plumbi scoria probatissimum efficiat aurum, et unde diabolus se putat obtinere victoriam, vos aeternae gloriae faciat adipisci coronam, et ipse de illata vobis injuria debitam malitiae suae perferat ultionem. Non vos fallat, mi domina, ad tempus sublata mundi hujus inanis gloria, quia potens est Dominus statuere vos iterum in plenitudinem potestatis, ut vestra sublimitas in caput gentium imperet populis et solium gloriae teneat. Nostis et bene nostis quod qui coelum operit nubibus, ipse etiam, illis sublatis, cum vult, infundit lumen claritatis supernae sideribus: ita certe et vos, cum voluerit, exaltabit, quia respiciet in orationem humilium et non spernet preces eorum quorum gemitus ad eum perveniunt, et Altissimus non delectabitur in eis. Ipse enim mortificat et viviificat, deducit ad inferos et reducit; Dominus pauperem facit et ditat, humiliat et sublevat: verba sunt Spiritus sancti. Nolite igitur perdere confidentiam quae magnam habebit remunerationem: dabit Deus his quoque finem, et gaudebit cor vestrum, et gaudium vestrum nemo tollet a vobis. Cor Regis, ut dicit Scriptura, in manu Dei est, et inclinabit illud quocumque voluerit. De caetero , plurimum gaudemus quia vos Dominum et ejus mandata timere percepimus, et vestrae sanctissimae conversationis odor suavissimus ubique dispergitur, ut nec dens vos inimici corrodere possit, cum non inveniat quod honestati et moribus obviet bonis. Noverit autem vestra sublimitas quod amorem quem erga vos habemus nunquam antiquabit oblivio; nunquam cessare ab oratione poterimus, donec a Domino nos exauditos esse senserimus: quod in proximo futurum esse confidimus. De caetero, valde conquerimur quod nihil a parte vestra vel scripto suscipimus (quod tamen salva reverentia et pace vestra dixerimus), cum vobis bis ecce scripserimus, pro cujus amore et honore nostrum corpus exponere labori maximo contra dominum Regem maritum vestrum nunquam timuimus. Rogamus igitur ut quod in hac parte minus congrue factum esse probamus, benevole suppleatur; quia plurimum de gratiae vestrae plenitudine gloriamur, ne in oblivionem abduci videamur.
Another letter of encouragement from the abbot to the queen, cf. 7) above, which includes a gentle reproach that she has neither written nor sent to him.
(1) A note in the HGF identifies this thought with Virgil, Aeneid, 1.203: “forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit,” “perhaps someday it will be good to remember even these.”
HGF19, Epistolae Sancti Guillelmi Abbatis S. Thomae de Paracleto, 10 p.315-16