Europe of the Heart: The Autobiography of Father Dominique Pire [As Told to Hugues Vehenne

By Father Dominique Pire | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Beginnings

WHEN the youthful Rhine first breaks away from Lake Constance and turns towards Schaffhausen, it as yet carries only a light freight of swans and moorhens.Its banks, one German, the other Swiss, are close together.

On the Swiss side slumber the score of houses that make up Gottlieben, the Hamlet of the Good God.It has an inn for solid citizens to stay in, the Hotel du Drachenburg, and opposite is the chateau which formerly sheltered, either at their own wish or under compulsion, a deposed Pope, John XXIII; a reformer destined for the stake, John Huss, and an adventurer en route to an imperial crown, Napoleon III....

The inn is rich in old oak, leaded lights, and wrought iron. Above the windows which pass both the light and all the goings on outside through their bottle-glass filters, chimaera gargoyles spout out the rain like salamanders spitting fire. The roofs are shingled and the rooms are warm little cubbyholes, snug and secluded.

In one of them, panelled with red pine, the Reverend Father Pire, Nobel Prize-winner, is seated before a table of the fine wood of a fruit-tree, light smooth pearwood.With slight gestures he puts in order the pages of his life. Outside there is March sun and silence.If there were a Nobel prize for silence, Gottlieben would win it every time.

-16-

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