by Ellis Peters
This is actually one of my favorite Cadfael books, and I’m not sure that I can exactly describe why. I won’t try to describe the entire story, but towards the beginning of the book, a monk, Brother Humilis, comes to stay at the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. While not an old man, he fought in the Crusades and was terribly injured there. And though he was somewhat recovered, he is still dying, slowly. Traveling with him is another brother, Brother Fidelis. Though mute, Fidelis shows his devotion to Humilis through his constant, tender service.
There is just something so very beautiful about this friendship, about the care that Fidelis gives, and the gracious and humble way in which Humilis receives it. This man who was once a great and famous soldier, now reduced to a shadow of his former self, who laid aside even his name (for Humilis was not his name in the world) and accepted the burdens he was given–this man is a profound example of one who is willing to receive, even with thankfulness and praise, God’s will. And Fidelis–simple, quiet, constant service, the every-day laying aside of himself to give to one he loves.
The other stories that are woven throughout this book are thoughtful as well, exploring love and loss and lust and courage and sacrifice and forgiveness. I have a bit more to say about this, but cannot do so without spoilers, so the rest will be below the line. :-)