Ch 14: A Complete Change
One day Mirano, Mertha and Hanana went to the head priest and told him that as Isabella was their classmate and was also amenable to their advice, so if they were permitted to talk to her they might be able to bring her back to the Christian fold. This last chance of persuasion might be given them and they had ninety-nine per cent hope that they would succeed. Holy father, they said : Isabella is a piece of our heart and we will not spare any effort to
persuade her. So let us go to the monastery and talk to her.
Head priest: Let that accursed girl go to hell. She has become very hard-hearted and Lord Jesus Christ has cut her off. I am afraid she may not lead astray even you.
Mirano; Well, there is no harm in making a last effort of persuasion. If she comes round, well and good, otherwise you may give her whatever punishment you like.
Head priest: Very well, I give you permission to go to the monastery on condition that you should talk in the presence of two monks so that the accursed may not misguide you, and you may not be influenced by her apostasy. Now go and tomorrow evening you may go to the monastery. I am writing to the monk for it today.
After getting permission Mirano, Mertha and Hanana returned pleased and began to make preparations to leave their homes for ever, as the plan they had conceived was such that they would also have to leave their homes along with Isabella. Anyway they prepared for their permanent departure with great care and precaution and before the time of their leaving for the monastery they informed Ziad b. Umar and Umar Lahmi asking for their help in that enterprise.
After all preparations had been made the three friends came out of their houses and met at an appointed place and at the time given by the head priest they started for the monastery. The head priest had written to the manager of the monastery that these friends of Isabella were going to make a last effort to reconvert Isabella at a specified time and they should be allowed to enter the monastery and given necessary help. Maybe by persuasion of her friends Isabella might see the light. So when these girls reached the monastery the monks and nuns welcomed them cordially and thought that to give guidance to Isabella Jesus Christ had sent his Virgin Mother in the form of these girls and that the help of all saints was with them. Entering the monastery the three girls sat down before the statue of Virgin Mary and a group of monks surrounded them.
A nun (to Mirano): Blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ may be with you and God may give you success in your mission. You know that some devil has misguided this unlucky girl, Isabella. How good and learned was the girl! May God destroy the devil, what pious people he has seduced!
Another nun: Virgin Mary’s shadow be over you. By the Deliverer, you will certainly succeed in your mission. Your beautiful faces assure your success. If Lord Jesus Christ’s grace again supports Isabella it will be a great feat of yours. The news has spread all over Cordova and all Christians have been humbled.
Third nun: By God, just last night I saw girls of your features in my dream who were sitting in the lap of Virgin Mary and on the other side Lord Jesus Christ was indicating by gestures that the honour of the church will be established through these girls. When the monks heard of this dream they cried: It is these girls.
Chief monk: Isabella is locked up in the underground chamber and her hands and feet are chained. The accursed girl is so hard-hearted that the severer the punishment, the more she applauds Islam and in this condition she does not hesitate even to preach to us. Now when do you propose to go to her?
Mirano: Our idea is to talk to her calmly and explain to her the truth of Christian creed, but on condition that except one or two monks none others should be with us. Now that the sun is about to set, after three hours of the night you may bring her here so that we may induce her to pray and practise austerities. Possibly there will be no need thereafter to persuade her and by the blessing of Virgin Mary (pointing to the statue) her heart will be opened for the crucified God.
Chief monk: Whatever you order we are ready to carry out. I am directing all the monks not to interfere in your prayers and keep away from you.
Mirano : Thank you very much, but first let us meet Isabella in the underground chamber and after some usual talk exclusively on personal matters bring her here. (Pointing to the statue of Virgin Mary) Look, the Mother of our Lord is quite ready to take Isabella in her arms and it is hoped that Isabella will not refuse to go to her arms.
Thereafter the monk and the three girls went towards the underground chamber, the lock was opened and all were lost in darkness.
Hanana: Oho ! How dark !
Monk: I am lighting the lamp. You just go a little ahead, but be careful not to stumble for many skeletons are scattered all over here.
The monk lighted the lamp. When Isabella saw her three friends she was overjoyed. While Mirano, Mertha and Hanana had not yet seen her, Isabella loudly called the Muslim salutation of peace.
Monk: O unlucky accursed girl! Just yesterday you got so much beating for it, yet you do not take lesson and reform yourself.
All the girls suddenly laughed on hearing the call of Muslim salutation of peace, but when they came nearer their eyes became wet on seeing Isabella bound in chains.
Mirano: How do you do, Isabella? How is life here? Did you realise what is the punishment of rejecting the truth?
Isabella (smiling): You are right, sister, for the sake of truth people have even gone to the gallows.
Mirano: We have not come here to discuss with you but to adopt your creed.
On this all the girls laughed loudly and the two monks also could not suppress their laughter.
Mirano: Isabella, after all how long you will continue to remain in the grip of satan? Just see how the Christians all over Cordova are perturbed on your apostasy!
Isabella: There is no other way of protection from satan except by accepting Islam. It is only this strong fort from the cover of which man can successfully confront all satanic powers. It is a vain thought that only by becoming a Christian one can save oneself from the grip of satan. You have read the Bible and should know that even holy Disciples could not escape satan’s grip and even Jesus Christ called some of his Disciples satan. When these Disciples who, according to you, were trained under the direct supervision of Jesus Christ, could not escape from satan’s strong hold, how can Christians of today save themselves from satan? But the Quran says that satan cannot even touch the devoted servants of Allah.
Mirano: You have again started the same discussion in which you have been defeated by the priests (laughing) and by God’s grace we have emerged successful. So you should stop this religious discussion and just look to your tortures. O Isabella! It is God’s punishment to you that now, being the daughter of the head priest of Cordova, you sleep on the bed of thorns and your hands and feet are chained. For God’s sake, take pity on yourself.
Isabella: If truth could be given up to avoid troubles, then early Christian martyrs would not have tasted martyrdom. If troubles come only on untruth, then most of the Christians who were the pride of the church would be counted to be on the wrong. In fact, your talk has tortured me more than what I suffer on the bed of thorns and grip of chains. Did you come here to give me torture over torture?
Mirano (to the monk): Isabella can never be defeated by discussion. Her only remedy is that tonight we include her in our prayer and devotion before the idol of Virgin Mary. You will see that this very night she will be completely transformed and her heart will be turned towards crucified Christ.
Monk : May Lord Jesus accomplish this, but apparently Isabella’s turning to the truth seems to be very difficult.
Mirano: It is the rule that one who is more hard-hearted will come to the faith more with reality. Just see how unbending the enemy of the Lord Saint Paul was and what tortures the believers suffered at his hands, but this very Saint Paul became the pillar of Christianity and was the greatest recipient of Lord’s grace.
Monk: You are right. May Lord Christ may do the same for Isabella and she also joins our fold !
Mirano: Well, now we should go from hers and prepare for the prayer in the same large room. (To the monk 🙂 See, after three hours of the night you should bring Isabella to our room and also depute a nun to be with us to keep a watch over Isabella.
Monk: Very well. Isabella will be brought to you at the appointed time.
Mirano: Can you or any other monk also take the trouble of remaining with us for the night ?
Monk: Most surely. But you know that all the night we are engaged in prayer and remembrance of God.
Mirano: Well, just as you like, and there is no need either. But at the time of the morning talk as arranged, you will be with us.
Monk: In the morning not only myself but other monks also will listen to your talk.
Mertha: If Lord Jesus wills, the object will be gained during the night and there will be no need of any talk.
Mertha said this in a tone that, except the monk, all others understood its implication.
Thereafter Mertha, Hanana and Mirano along with the monk came out of the underground chamber and reached the large room of the monastery. The monk locked the underground chamber. After dinner and toilet Mirano, Mertha and Hanana took another round of the monastery and talked to monks and nuns who began preparations for the night vigil. These girls returned to their room. The purpose of the round of the monastery and talk to monks and nuns was to find out a nun who was the greatest devotee and they found out a nun of this type and also the time of the night when she used to engage herself in prayer. Now three hours of the night were about to pass and these girls were talking quietly. At last the door of the large room opened and the same chief monk entered when the girls stood up to pay him respect as he was chief of the monks. The monk informed the girls that Isabella was being taken out of the underground chamber and brought to them as arranged and soon a nun would also be sent to them.
Mirano: Please send here the nun who is most devoted to prayer in the night and is also saintly. Is there any such nun in the monastery?
Monk: All the nuns that are here are devotees and practise all kinds of austerities for the sake of Lord Jesus, but there is one among them whose name is Arkia who is the most pious devotee, recipient of Divine revelations and performer of miracles. About her family it is enough to say that she is a Princess of France and has given up her riches and royalty for the sake of Virgin Mary.
Mirano: So our object is gained. We needed such a nun who could influence Isabella with her spirituality. Does she also perform miracles?
Monk: Her miracles are known far and wide. Have you never heard about it ? You may just take this that she drinks the cup of poison and is not at all affected. Once a very dangerous and poisonous snake entered the monastery and fell at the feet of Arkia. This I saw myself.
Mirano: God’s name be glorified! The work is done. Now, you please go and send Isabella to us.