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Reatherford scowled at them and shook his head. He looked around the Priory, feeding his eyes and imagination with its seclusion. He now could understand their ignorance. Bamako is a village in the countryside of the state, and worst, the Priory was located on its outskirt, away from the noise and business of its little city. It was not unusual for a Priory, for silence has always been their watch word. And being denied of major products of modern technology, it was not disappointing they knew nothing about the happening in the country. The current attack the church has been facing. A group of Relic mongers has in the last three years attacked five churches, stole the Relics and put the dedication process in a tensed halt. It was disturbing. And to curb it, the Pope ordered that Relics be dispatched to the intending church a day to the dedication.
Christopher gasped. “I heard that at the Canonical Summit last year, but I thought it has stopped.”
“Things like that don’t stop, Prior.” Reatherford sighed. “One happened in our neighbouring Diocese a few months ago. The Priest in charge was killed alongside three security men who intercepted the robbery.”
“Holy Mother of God!” Yurik made a quick sign of the cross. “Why are they doing that? What do they want with the Relics?”
“Only God knows.”
“Now I get the reason you insisted ours be delivered a day to the dedication.”
“Yet my fear happened.” Reatherford swallowed hard. “We have to find the Relic. His Lordship will be very disappointed should he find out about this.”
Christopher stared at him, nodded and opened the door. He looked at Raymond’s table and he was not there. The table, however, was well arranged. The scattered papers that were on it earlier were well arranged in different file jackets. He inhaled and made for his office.
“Are they still going to search the Presbytery?” Reatherford pulled out a chair and sat.
“Anything they want to do let them do,” Christopher said. “Relic mongers or whatever they call themselves have this as their last mission.”
Yurik and Reatherford bowed and made for the door.
“If you see Brother Raymond, call him.”
Both nodded and exited.
Samuel paced down the hallway, confused. If Raymond was not in his cell, the next place to see him would be Prior’s office. He would have gone there, except he wouldn’t want the Prior to hear their conversation. It was only a theory, and until he was sure, he was not ready to tender such accusation. He passed Patrick’s cell, overcoming the temptation of knocking at the door. He headed downstairs, determined to check Prior’s office. If he was there, he would call him out and ask his questions, else he would keep searching. As he stepped down the stairs, he heard a door open. He clambered up the stairs. It was Patrick’s door and Raymond was coming out of the cell. For seconds, both stood, staring at each other.
“Brother Samuel.”Raymond snapped out of the mini shock.
Samuel smirked. “Brother Raymond. I was just coming out of your cell.”
“Oh!” Raymond stepped towards him. “I came to give Brother Patrick the books he asked me to get for him. Hope all is well?”
“Yes, everything is fine.” Samuel smiled as he approached him. “Except my wonder on why you did what you did.”
“What did I do, brother? Get books from Prior’s library for Brother Patrick?”
Samuel scoffed and stepped closer. “Tell me, Brother Raymond, what happiness does calumny give you? What in precious Christ’s name do you intend to achieve by accusing an innocent man, a priest of God?”
Raymond sneered at him. His brains rattled, trying to understand what Samuel was aiming at. When his brains failed in that task, he chuckled. “If I know what you are talking about, brother, perhaps I might be able to respond appropriately.” He flashed his teeth.
“I am talking about Father Hysom who you bore false witness against.” Samuel’s face twitched. Fury and irritation kidnapped him. “You told the Prior that you saw him running out of the Priory with Brother Benalis and I wonder if you are saying the truth or just trying to get him out of the Priory.”
“Now, Brother Samuel, this is calumny.” Raymond smiled. “What I did was say what I saw, which is far from what you are doing right now. So if you will excuse me, I have works to do in the office.” He made for the stairs.
“I don’t understand. How is this Holy place,” Samuel’s hand flung up into the air, drawing the picture of the Priory in a vacuum grip. His voice glued Raymond’s feet at a spot. “How in this holy place, brother, is your heart able to ovulate such evil? Have you no genuine faith in what you have sacrificed your life for?”
Raymond turned and smiled at him. “If I have no faith in what I sacrificed my life for, you would be on a stretcher racing down the clinic right now.” He shrugged. “But I have. I have a huge faith in God and that is why I am going to borrow the words of God in Matthew chapter 5 verses 11 and 12.” He shook his head and walked down the stairs. There was no point defending himself. Innocent people don’t do that- they let time and their actions do the defending.
Samuel stood at the long empty hallway chewing on his action. Maybe Raymond indeed was innocent. Maybe he was only being paranoid. He shook his head. If the quietness of the Priory has taught him anything, it was the truthfulness of his instincts. It has never failed him and he was sure it would not fail him this time. Raymond might be saying the truth about seeing Hysom and Benalis, but he sure was lying about something else. And he has to find out what, as that might be a leak to who stole the relic. He sighed and walked down the stairs.
Raymond stepped into the office, gloomy. What Samuel said stirred a big water of worry in him. Samuel has always been his friend. There has never been any ruffled shoulder amongst them, and when he decided to join the farm team, he became his best friend. As he slumped in his seat, he wondered why he would think him capable of lying against a man of God. It was true he has his differences with Hysom, but that would not make him commit the sin of slander in the house of God. Hysom was doing his work as his guide in disciplining him, although his tactics were too rough and evil to him, he understood. He was only doing his work. And he would do same if he was in his position. And that didn’t make him hate Hysom. No! He just didn’t like him. And when his session with him ended, he tried his best to stay away from him. Hysom knew this, and after several complaints and reports to the Prior, he gave up, hoping that one day, he would get over what happened. But he knew that such day would never come. He heaved a heavy sigh and relaxed on his chair.
“Brother Raymond!” Christopher’s voice jolted him. “Brother Raymond?”
He jerked up and hurried into the Prior’s office.
He stood in front of the table and lowered his head. “You called, Prior.”
“Where did you go? Are you done with the database?” Christopher dropped the book in his hand.
“Yes, Prior. I stepped out to have my lunch.” He glanced at the open page of the book. “Catholic Teachings on Relic.”
“Yes.” Christopher put a long bookmark on the page and closed the book. “One needs to remind himself in time like this the reason for the fight.” He stared at Raymond before flashing a shallow smile.
Raymond glanced at the book, catching its title- CATHOLIC DOCTRINES AND DOGMA. He pulled a chair to himself. “If you don’t mind, Prior. I would like to ask you something about the reason for the fight.”
“Go ahead.” Christopher pointed at the seat. “It would be heavenly to take my mind off this saga for some minutes.”
Raymond sat down, and for the first few seconds shook his lips in a struggle to say a word.
“It’s me, talk to me.”
“Forgive me, Prior, but I was wondering what prompted the veneration of the Relic of saints in the Catholic Church. I know that Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome was built on top of Saint Peter’s tomb. But it got to be something much more than just a mere coincidence of the location of the Basilica.” He paused and stared into Christopher’s eyes. “Please tell me, Prior, what and why is the reason for this?”
Christopher scoffed and shook his head. It was obvious outfits was not the only problem Hysom had with him during his Observership, skipping classes also made that list. He smiled as their eyes met. It was his duty to guide straying sheep of the Lord and one stray sheep was sitting right in front of him. All he could do was teach and not judge him. He threw his hands on the desk and looked at him. His mouth opened as he started teaching him the history of Relic veneration in the Catholic Church. With his right hand, he drew his Bible from the right side of the desk and opened to 2Kings 13 and read from verse 20 to 21, recounting the story of the dead man who woke up after his body touched Elisha’s long buried bones. He flipped over to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 9, verses 20 to 22 and recounted the healing of the woman with haemorrhages who simply touched Jesus’ garment. He turned further to Acts of Apostle 19 from verse 11 to 12 where Paul’s handkerchief and apron healed the sick and cast out demons. He looked up from the Bible and smiled, again. “But of course, all these miracles have one major thing in common- faith. Without faith, even the Body and Blood of Christ we receive everyday at the Eucharist is meaningless to us.”
Raymond nodded his head and took a comfy posture on his seat.
Christopher closed the Bible. “So in the Council of Trent, a decree was made which enjoined the Bishops to instruct their flocks to venerate the Holy bodies of the Holy martyrs and it is all documented in…” He opened the Catholic Doctrine and Dogma to where he bookmarked. With his finger he trailed the paragraphs and then stopped. He rotated the book to face Raymond, his finger pointing at the second paragraph of the left page. “Read from here.”
Raymond pulled the book to himself and looked closer at the pages. “The Holy bodies of the Holy Martyrs and of others now living with Christ-whose bodies were the living member of Christ and the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19), and which are by him to be raised to eternal life and to be glorified are to be venerated by the faithful, for through these bodies, many benefits are bestowed by God on men, so that they who…” He looked up at the thrilled Christopher. “Can I borrow this for some time, please?”
“So long as no page leaves its cell.”
He nodded and closed the book. “Thank you, Prior. I will be…”
A chaotic knock on the door froze his word in his mouth.
“Yes, come in.” Christopher said, his mood swinging back to the terrified smile- derided fellow.
The door flung open. Yurik, Reatherford and Randan scurried in. Their faces were, like Christopher’s smile derided face. Without a word, Reatherford placed two pages of typed documents before Christopher and stepped back.
“Mr Randan’s team found that in Father Hysom’s cell,” Yurik said, his hand hidden in the sleeves of his Habit and his lips shaking with fear. “I am afraid; he is the one with the Relic and has gone to sell it.”
….the story continues….
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