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John Bessac was eighteen years of age and had already had experiences that other lads his age only dreamed of.

He had played on the hillsides above the Dordogne River in Montvalant. He had studied and mastered languages at the University of Cahors. Not only that but he had made a voyage to Morocco to save hostages from Hammuda ibn Ali, the Monarch of Morocco.

Then he spent a year in Cadiz, Spain, understanding the ramifications of disease and surgery at the largest hospital in Europe.

All were not pleasant experiences in Cadiz. He lost his brother Rufus due to some strange malady. And John had burned his face and hands saving another lad from a laboratory fire.

However, he did have the opportunity to read several medical theses, “Don Quixote” and also some of Alain-Rene Le Sage’s humorous short stories.

Yes, John Bessac had led a full life by the age of eighteen.

Now it was time for him to take his vows of priesthood.

But John had seen too much. He was full of life and spirit, very fond of his amusements and had a deep desire to continue visiting various parts of the world. How was he to keep these desires buried if he were to enter the life of a priest?

The only counsel he could trust to help him make his case were his two remaining brothers; Baptiste and Bertrand. The bond between the three was strong. Many nights were spent with them as John discussed his problem.

Finally Baptiste and Bertrand agreed to speak to their father about John’s dilemma.

No effort was spared by the brothers to convince John’s father to abandon his plans for John. And it almost worked if it were not for John’s Uncle Louis. Louis was an unyielding arch-catholic and had established close friendships high in the church.

The Right Reverend Bishop of the Diocese wrote a pressing letter to John’s father insisting that John take the vows immediately. That settled the matter for John, whether he agreed with the plan or not.

On St. Martin‘s Day a feast would take place in Montvalant.

Saint Martin Croissants

Immediately after high mass John would be given the vows by the Bishop during a solemn ceremony. The Bishop had laid out his plans well.

The speech prior to the ceremony would discuss the generous nature of St. Martin, the saint of the day, while also picturing him as an equestrian knight.

St. Martin Dividing His Cloak For a Naked and Cold Beggar

The Bishop thought “Maybe that will plant the seed of a more exciting calling to John.”

Life sequestered away in some forlorn abbey did not appear to be one of John’s goals.