Everyone has a story to tell—some tragic, some romantic. Some are just plain boring. I assure you, mine is anything but boring. My story was born of pride and selfishness, things I reluctantly, but thankfully, set aside for a life that has filled me with a love I do not deserve—a life that God, in His ever-present mercy and grace, has given me. For as long as I can remember, the good friars of the Franziskanerkirche—the Franciscan church in Überlingen—have looked after my family since my father’s death in every way possible by order of the Pope. We lived without want, without the worry of what the next day would hold for us. We knew the friars would care for us and provide for all our needs if we had any. Perhaps, the Pope and his holy servants cared for us too well—at least they cared for me too well. But I get ahead of myself in telling my story. I need to go back and start at the beginning—not the beginning of my life, or even my father’s death three months after my birth, or even the long years of my mother’s indulgences. I need to begin that one night when I was still all of twenty-eight, the night I betrayed my future for a moment of sin, the night I betrayed my mother’s faith, my father’s illustrious name, and myself. Who am I, you ask? Forgive me. Old age has that habit, I fear. I was born the youngest child of a man the Pope himself had made a Golden Knight of St. Peter and noble friend of Rome. For as long as I can remember, my mother simply, and fondly, called me Josefa, in memory of my father—but the friars who cared for us and the people of Überlingen, those who held me in favor, and then, in such disregard, knew me by the grandiloquent title of Baroness Maria Johanna Ludovika Eleanora von Bandel. That name and title, however, no longer holds any meaning for me…
― Scott R. Rezer,
The Haberdasher’s Wife
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