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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 512-553 Summary

  • Cecilia says these words and others.
  • And Almachius becomes angry, and orders men to lead her home to her house.
  • "In her house," he commands, "Burn her in a bath of red flames."
  • And as he orders, so it is done in deed.
  • For they enclose her in a bath, and night and day fan a great fire under it. (They're trying to boil her to death.)
  • During the long night and the following day, despite all the fire and the bath's heat, Cecilia sits cold, and feels no pain. It doesn't make her sweat a drop.
  • But in that bath, Cecilia must lose her life: for Almachius, with wicked intention, sends his henchman to kill her in this bath.
  • The henchman strikes Cecilia in the neck three times, but he isn't able to split her neck in two and cut her head off.
  • And at that time, there is an law that says that no man is allowed to smite a fourth stroke. So the henchman can't try a fourth time to cut off her head.
  • Half dead, with her neck all cut up, he leaves Cecilia lying, and goes on his way.
  • The Christian folk who are all around Cecilia soak up her blood with sheets.
  • For three days, Cecilia lives in this torment, but never ceases to teach the faith to those she has converted. To them she preaches.
  • To them she gives her furniture and her things, putting them in the care of Pope Urban.
  • She says, "I asked God to have respite for three days, and no more, in order to recommend these souls to you, and in order that I might make of my house here a church permanently."
  • When Cecilia dies after three days, Urban fetches her body privately with his deacons, and buries it at night among his other saints.
  • He calls her house the Church of Saint Cecilia, and makes it holy.
  • In that house, to this day, in a noble manner, men serve Christ and his saints.

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