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Complete Memoirs of Casanova

Switzerland
CHAPTER XIII
I Resolve to Become a Monk--I go to Confession--Delay of a Fortnight--Giustiniani, the
Apostle Capuchin--I Alter my Mind; My Reasons--My Pranks at the Inn--I Dine With the
Abbot
The cool way in which the abbot told these cock-and-bull stories gave me an inclination
to laughter, which the holiness of the place and the laws of politeness had much difficulty
in restraining. All the same I listened with such an attentive air that his reverence was
delighted with me and asked where I was staying.
"Nowhere," said I; "I came from Zurich on foot, and my first visit was to your church."
I do not know whether I pronounced these words with an air of compunction, but the
abbot joined his hands and lifted them to heaven, as if to thank God for touching my heart
and bringing me there to lay down the burden of my sins. I have no doubt that these were
his thoughts, as I have always had the look of a great sinner.
The abbot said it was near noon and that he hoped I would do him the honour of dining
with him, and I accepted with pleasure, for I had had nothing to eat and I knew that there
is usually good cheer in such places. I did not know where I was and I did not care to ask,
being willing to leave him under the impression that I was a pilgrim come to expiate my
sins.
On our way from the church the abbot told me that his monks were fasting, but that we
should eat meat in virtue of a dispensation he had received from Benedict XIV., which
allowed him to eat meat all the year round with his guests. I replied that I would join him
all the more willingly as the Holy Father had given me a similar dispensation. This
seemed to excite his curiosity about myself, and when we got to his room, which did not
look the cell of a penitent, he hastened to shew me the brief, which he had framed and
glazed and hung up opposite the table so that the curious and scrupulous might have it in
full view.
As the table was only laid for two, a servant in full livery came in and brought another
cover; and the humble abbot then told me that he usually had his chancellor with him at
dinner, "for," said he, "I have a chancery, since as abbot of Our Lady of Einsiedel I am a
prince of the Holy Roman Empire."
This was a relief to me, as I now knew where I was, and I no longer ran the risk of
shewing my ignorance in the course of conversation.
This monastery (of which I had heard before) was the Loretto of the Mountains, and was
famous for the number of pilgrims who resorted to it.
 
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