A touching but rather embarrassing story has reached the ears of this Cat; the other day I was at the quayside in Streonaeshalch, tucking into a herring snack (with mackerel chaser) that had been kindly donated to this particular member of the feline species by one of the fishwives, when the hissing of a familiar but distant voice reached my ears. I looked around, and finally discerned the shape of Feaxede the Fox, who was furtively lurking in a nearby alleyway, trying to avoid too much public attention.
He told me a tale that had reached his ears during the course of his perambulations. It was about a devout elderly woman who by force of piety and habit graced the pews of a church somewhere in an Iberian principality. Within the chapel was an alabaster statue of the Madonna, which at one time had been a splendid piece of craftsmanship, but in recent times - through persistent neglect from the priests and the stewards of the congregation - had become chipped, scuffed and decrepit. What had been finely-chiselled features on the face of the Virgin Mary and Child had become a misshapen apology of the human form. Those responsible for the running of the fabric of the chapel hadn't regarded the statue as their first priority, so for some years it sat apologetically on its plinth, sadly appealing to its past glories.
The elderly woman decided that enough was enough; since the bishop, the deacons, priests and the stewards of the church weren't going to attend to the statue, she would embark on her own special project to restore the image to its former splendour. With some help from equally pious friends, she managed to take the Madonna and Child to her home, where she undertook her project to restore it to its pristine condition.
After several months of devoted work, she returned the statue to its original place in the chapel, covered with a veil. A special service was called for the re-consecration of the image, and with due pomp and ceremony, the local bishop performed the unveiling. The story goes on to relate that when the cover was removed, a loud gasp went through the members of the congregation when they saw the newly-reconstructed version. Sadly, those intakes of breath didn't all proceed from admiration: the face of the Madonna had a distinct resemblance to the physiognomy of Edweird the Milliner, and the Child's face looked remarkably like that of Dagwald Caedmeron. Some of the congregation regarded this as a miracle, and duly gave the statue veneration. However, some regarded it as the Abomination of Desolation, and called for its immediate removal from the sacred precincts of the chapel, as the poor old woman evidently hadn't a clue as to what she had been doing. This Cat thinks she knew exactly what she'd been doing, and there was a deeper significance behind this reconstruction. When I've worked out what it is, I'll let you know...
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