The Penitent Pigeon
A SHORT STORY
Ss. Pelagia & Nonnus. Antioch, Late 400s
“Bishop Nonnus! Look what I found!”
Nonnus, thrown off his stride, broke off speaking in mid-sentence, and looked around. He was sitting on the portico of the basilica of St. Julian the Martyr along with several other bishops whom he had been addressing. The street was bustling — Antioch was always bustling — and at first he didn’t sight the source of the voice.
Then he spotted a young boy of seven or eight break away from the crowd and run toward him, holding aloft a crudely made wicker basket. A flustered woman, unable to move as quickly as the boy, tried vainly to restrain the lad. “Damae! Come back! Don’t bother the father….”
But the boy was too far ahead of her, and heedless of his mother’s entreaties. He skidded to a halt in front of Nonnus. “Look, Bishop Nonnus!”
Nonnus was conscious of the disapproving looks the other bishops cast in the boy’s direction.
“I’m sorry, Bishop,” the boy’s mother said, panting and disheveled, as she drew up to the portico. She gripped her son by the collar of his tunic. “Don’t bother the bishop, Damae!” she scolded. “Can’t you see that he’s busy?”
Nonnus smiled tolerantly. “It’s all right. The boy’s excited. What do you have in the basket, lad?”
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