Gus took me directly to the cathedral that Archbishop Theodorus presided over. I walked to the central office and knocked on the closed door.
“Come in, please.”
“I need to speak with Archbishop Theodorus please.”
The nun looked over the top of her reading glasses before laying down the papers she was reading.
“I am sorry but you must request an audience with the Archbishop if you wish to see him. I can check his calendar and see when the next time he is available and schedule you to see him.”
I leaned over the desk, placing my hand in the center of her papers only inches away from her.
“Tell the Archbishop that Baroness Bristiolli is waiting in his office, and she is not pleased.”
I sat down in the chair in front of her desk and waited as she picked up the phone. She spoke to him in Italian, no doubt believing that I would not understand. It was difficult to contain myself as she told him who was sitting in her office.
“You need to come immediately,” she whispered. She hung up the phone and began to apologize. I did not answer her or accept her apology, instead I waited in silence for Theodorus to make his entrance.
After a short period of time, the door flew open and smashed into the wall. The Archbishop stood in the doorway startled at the sight of me. He was expecting Annabel, not her granddaughter.
I rose and offered him my hand. He graciously shook it, still in shock at my unannounced appearance.
“We have much to discuss Theodorus. Why don’t you give me a tour of the cathedral while we talk?”
I walked into the open area of the cathedral and waited for him to follow.
“I know you were expecting to see Annabel so I must apologize. I must assume you are not aware my grandmother passed away four days ago. I am the heiress of the Bristiolli estate now, and I have questions which you will answer.”
“I am very sorry about Annabel. She was a fine woman and devoted Catholic. We shall include her in the prayers at this evening's mass. I do not understand why you came all this way to question me. Wouldn’t it have been easier to pick up the phone?”
“Would you really have answered if I called? The nun in your office was not going to let me see you until I told her who I was. A man of God shouldn’t lie Theodorus; you could put your soul in peril.”
“Annabel said you did not embrace her faith. Why should I help someone who cares so little for God?”
“You mistake my disdain for a lack of faith. I have faith Archbishop. I have faith that you will help me or all the donations made by the Bristiolli family will come to an abrupt halt. I know the answers I seek are within the walls of this cathedral as well as the monastery in Benevento, and you will lead me to them.”
“You would blackmail a man of God to obtain what you desire?”
“Let me make this perfectly clear to you Theodorus. I will do anything necessary to free my mother from that mirror’s grasp!”
The Archbishop froze where he stood unable to speak. I had seen the same fear only a few days before in the eyes of my Aunt.
What power did the mirror have to hold sway over an Archbishop?
“I cannot speak to you about this. I will give you the address of a man who can be of assistance. You may have access to all the records kept in the hall beneath the cathedral. This is all I can do to help you Baroness Bristiolli. If I am caught, I will be excommunicated.”
He motioned to one of the passing priests to come to him.
“Baroness Bristiolli wishes to view the sealed records of her family. Would you please escort her to the family vault and grant her access to the records room?”
The young priest nodded in agreement. Archbishop Theodorus turned to face me and laid his hand on my shoulder.
“I shall come to check on you in a few hours. Anything you may need Father Alto will gladly bring you.”
The young priest asked me to accompany him. I followed him down a series of corridors that led to what appeared to be a crypt.
“If you need anything, just pull this rope. It will ring the bell upstairs in the priest’s main hall. I will come as quickly as I can. I will unlock the door to the records room on my way out. It is the fourth door on the left.”
As quickly as he could, Father Alto left the room. The vault appeared to create the same type of nervousness in the priest as it had in Archbishop Theodorus. What was it about my family that they feared so much?I lit the torches hanging in the sconces on either side of the vault. There were several crypts carved into the wall with names inscribed on the brass plates. I ran my hand across the plates. Each of them was dated with the time of their death. I read them while leaning in closer to see them more clearly.
The first plaque read: Pope Significant the 1st, Born September 10th 1623 Died October 31st 1674. The second plaque read: Bishop Germanus Died October 31st, 1674. I paused as I read the third plaque. I knew the name. He was the Bishop who went to see Josephina and never returned.
It was the last plaque that frightened me the most. It read simply; Bertrand Denallio.