More submissive, more radiant, more discrete than ever, Magdalena increases the severity of her penances, walking on pieces of broken bottles and tearing her shoulders by whipping herself. Before covering her wounds with the roughest cilice that she can find…
The Archbishop of Seville sends three expert matrons to examine Magdalena. Having very carefully examined her, they decree that it is true that the nun is pregnant, but that it is also a fact that her virginity is unquestionable… Prayers of thanksgiving explode in all the churches and, inside the convent, doubting gossipers are soon reduced to silence and cruel penances.
On Christmas Eve, Magdalena confirms that she will very soon give birth. A little house at the end of the garden is prepared for her, for her guardian angel recommends that she give birth alone, so as to suffer more. Magdalena stays locked up there for three days, during which time, the whole community remains in prayer. The story that she tells when she comes out, is absolutely prodigious.
During Christmas night, at midnight, she gives birth to a magnificent baby, who radiates so much light, that she can see as if it were noon. The icy air of her chamber is suddenly heated and the divine child doesn’t suffer at all from the cold.
Strangely, Magdalena’s hair begins to grow very fast and, from crow black that it was, changes to the brightest blond, its length allowing her to envelop the child in it and keep him warm in the softest of coats.
As proof of the miracle, she cuts a few curls before her hair turns back to normal. The nuns then compete for a few of the miraculous hairs to keep in reliquaries…
The Clarissa reports that, in the morning, she finds herself alone, her beautiful little child gone, but with her breast chapped from suckling him, and all the stigmata of recent delivery still on her body. The matrons come again to check on the reality of these facts and verify that Magdalena’s virginity has not suffered from the event. A solemn Te Deum is then sung in the cathedral and donations flow in like never before.
A few particularly evil-minded people continue to gossip, however… To put a definitive end to the calumnies, an exorcist monk arrives at the convent one morning, while the nun is in ecstasy. He approaches her and plants two long needles in her body, one in a foot, the other in a hand. The nun remains perfectly insensitive to them… When the needles, which have remained in place for quite a while, are withdrawn, a little stream of vermilion blood flows from the wounds…
Despite this proof, the saint has to pass another test. It is now being insinuated that novices are secretly bringing her food. It must be remembered that Magdalena has been submitting herself to an almost absolute fast for a long time. At this epoch, she has taken no food for more than eleven years.
The Abbess then has a vigilant guard mounted by two monks, and she even orders that the shutters of the chamber be nailed shut. After a few days, it is discovered that Magdalena has disappeared. They look for her everywhere, and soon find her in the completely opposite part of the garden, asleep near a fountain. The monks assure that they have not relaxed their surveillance for an instant. The Clarissa then reveals that it is Saint Francis who transported her to this place. No-one is able to give any explanation for this prodigy, and it is concluded that there has been another miracle.
Magdalena now enjoys a much greater prestige than the Abbess, herself. She is consulted for all the big decisions that need to be taken by the community. Her advice is even sought from outside, and soon the young nun and the other Clarissas are better informed of what is happening in town than the Archbishop, himself. As it furnishes the greatest part of the money, the convent is also consulted on the new cathedral’s appearance… In 1523, important works begin. Muslims and Jews are obliged to participate, while wearing a distinctive sign on their chests, so that Christians have time to step out of their path… It is at this epoch that a decisive event will take place.
For twenty-nine years, the Clarissa’s notoriety has grown in proportion to her virtues. For twenty-nine years, she has led an existence which, although full of sometimes astounding events, has contributed, for the essential, to the convent’s enrichment, by gifts from heaven and manna from Christians. Always disposed to sacrifice, lively, intelligent, she literally fascinates the Spanish high clergy. Why not then give her a place in the convent more suited to her merits? The first, for example, that of Abbess, since the current Abbess is practically infirm… Magdalena protests, and mentions her feeble administrative abilities.
“Let them elect Sister Isabella of the Holy Trinity, instead.”
The nuns want her so much that, on 17 February that same year, Magdalena is elected Abbess, in presence of the Order’s Superior, by forty-four votes against the seven given to Isabella of the Holy Trinity.
In the beginning, life in the convent hardly changes. Although the paranormal gifts of the new Abbess sometimes produce difficult scenes. At Confession, the sisters, by hypocrisy or fear of too difficult a penance, usually only accuse themselves of tiny misdemeanours. Magdalena enters into holy furies which engender unspeakable fear in the sisters. Ordered to admit to more blamable actions, the poor things think that the Day of the Last Judgement has arrived. Some burst into tears, others, more fragile, roll on the floor and arch their bodies, before slowly coming back to normal.
To reprimand the scandal that they are causing, the Abbess orders them to crawl on their knees in the refectory and make the sign of the cross with their tongues on the shoes of all the assembled nuns.
To be continued.