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The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale Lines 218-287 Summary

  • Valerian goes home and finds Cecilia in his bedroom standing next to an angel.
  • This angel holds two crowns made out of roses and lilies.
  • First to Cecilia, as I understand, he gives one, and afterward gives the other to Valerian, her mate.
  • The angel says, "Always keep these crowns with clean bodies and unsullied thoughts. I have brought them to you from Paradise. They will never decay, nor lose their sweet smell, trust me. No man will be able to see them with his eyes unless he is chaste and hates sin."
  • "And Valerian," continues the Angel, "because you so quickly recognized good counsel, say what you wish and you will have it."
  • Valerian says, "I have a brother whom I love more than anyone else in the world. I pray you that my brother may have the grace to know the truth as I do."
  • The angel says, "God likes your request, and both you and your brother will come to God's happy feast with the palm of martyrdom."
  • With those words, Tiburtius, Valerian's brother, comes into the room. When he smells the sweet smell of the lilies and roses, he begins to wonder within his heart.
  • He says, "I wonder where that sweet smell of roses and lilies could be coming from at this time of the year."
  • "Even if I had the flowers in my hands, this sweet smell might go no deeper into me. The sweet smell that I find in my heart has changed me into another kind of creature."
  • Valerian says, "We have two crowns of clear-shining snow white and rose red, which you are not able to see with your eyes. As you smell them because of my prayer, you will see them, dear brother, if you will believe and know very truth without delay."
  • Tiburtius answers, "Do you say this to me? Truly, or do I hear this in a dream?"
  • Valerian says, "We have been in dreams up until this time, my brother. But now, finally, we live in truth."
  • Tiburtius asks, "How do you know this? In what way?"
  • Valerian says, "I will tell you. The angel of God has taught me the truth, which you will see if you renounce idols and become clean. Otherwise, nothing."
  • Concerning the miracle of these two crowns, Saint Ambrose, the noble doctor, commends them and solemnly says in his preface like this:
  • "To receive the palm of martyrdom, Saint Cecilia, full of God's gifts, left the world and even the bedchamber: take witness of Tiburtius and Valerian's repentance."
  • "For whom God, of his bounty, made two crowns of sweet-smelling flowers, and made his angel bring them."
  • "The maiden has brought these men to happiness above. Certainly, the world has learned what it is worth to love devotion to chastity."
  • Then Cecilia explains clearly to Tiburtius that every idol is in vain, for they are can't speak and deaf, and tells him to forego his idols.

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