Audi filia et

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... He chastises the queen of Cyprus with words stirring her conscience, because she is not preserving her chastity as a widow.

The same [pope] to the queen <of Cyprus>.[1] "Hearken, O daughter, and incline your ear"[2] to our paternal warnings, watch the road on which you are walking,[3] indeed consider diligently the impasse which you are said to have entered, pay close attention, so that you are able to wisely understand how unwisely, as it is said, you have neglected your reputation, how dangerously you have disdained your own salvation and how imprudently, having overstepped the bounds of modesty, you have spurned the excellence of your nobility. Hear what the murmur, indeed the clamour, of the crowd not only whispers but even cries out about you, and perhaps you will be moved by sadness, and you will penitently return to the path of virtue.

Does it not occur to the queen that her exalted name, painfully, comes into such great dishonour, and that it is tormented by the tongues of those who slander, or indeed, how sad to say, speak about true and evident things, as it is said? What do you think is said, when it is heard that royal clarity is darkened by the stains of such a reprehensible life?[4] Behold, you are said to chase after illicit things in the field of licentiousness. Behold, although the observance of chastity is a special duty, particularly for illustrious women, you do not observe it, as it is asserted, but by the dishonourable and entirely undignified acts of numerous scandals you dishonourably devote yourself to the dishonour of your excellence and the damnation of your soul? O daughter, how can you thus abandon your modesty? Do you think such things can be hidden? Do you not consider that they cannot be hidden for long? Surely you know that even if men sometimes hide such things for a short time, they will eventually become apparent. Do you at least know that God requires this? Do you believe that he is the searcher of hearts and aware of our secrets?[5] And that nothing is hidden for him, nothing kept secret from him?[6] When others remain quiet, would the worm of conscience gnaw more gently, or would the conscience of a witness accuse more mildly? And how miserable is he who scorns this witness!

Therefore we grieve, daughter, undoubtedly do we grieve at your plight, and if you also grieve we empathize with you, because you have rushed into such destruction of your reputation that you squander your soul in such profound danger. See therefore and consider, correct and direct your path in the sight of the Lord, strive to turn yourself towards the pursuit of a better life, so that you restore the loss of your reputation and are united in the fullness of the Lord your God. But if perhaps you are driven by vehement impulses and cannot keep the torments of the flesh in check, marry rather than be burned,[7] so that you may take care of the salvation of your soul, that you may provide for your country, and that the notorious infamies which destroy the renown of your name may be cleared away. Certainly you should know that if you obey our warnings concerning the correction of the aforementioned things, which are perhaps excesses (although we do not believe this), we do not propose to tolerate such things, but rather we desire to intervene in another way on the side of apostolic authority.

  1. The margin reads: To the queen of Cyprus on the same matters.
  2. Psalms 44:11. References are to the Douay-Rheims translation of the Latin Vulgate.
  3. Reminiscent of Psalms 31:8.
  4. A pun on "claritas", which means both "clearness" and "fame".
  5. Reminiscent of Wisdom 1:6; the same phrase is also found in canon law, for example the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX (Liber Extra, lib. III tit. IX cap. I).
  6. Reminiscent of Luke 12:2.
  7. 1 Corinthians 7:9.