Saturday, September 6, 1650, midday
Weather: pleasant temperatures and clear conditions, with a moderate breeze
Once again, the morning proved to be quite brisk, and Andrej found himself a bit chilled in the huge stone edifice of the church. He woke, found himself served a hot broth for breakfast, with boiled potatoes and leeks, with milk heated until it was scalding for warm. He found that by wrapping his hands around the stoneware vessel holding the milk, he was quite resusitated from a long and frigid night, short on sleep.
In time, Andrej finds himself going through the ritual of being dressed, as the guests are allowed into the church, separately grouped. A great drape has been extended across the width of the church nearer to the nave than the principle door, so that at least three quarters of those present will not be able to see the ceremony, but only hear it. Both groom and bride will walk up the long aisle, so these people will see both enter, and will not see them again until the ceremony is completed. And as such, it is they who are let in first, to watch the parade of nobles and landholders who will come after them, coming up the aisle in their turn before the bride and groom.
The church warms as the gathering grows, literally in their thousands, and a low mumble transcends through all the rooms and vaults of the church, even to the point that Andrej can feel the thrumming through his very feet. As pound after pound of vestment is weighed upon his shoulder, he is reminded of tales about purgatory, where the prideful are forced to walk for a long age in lead cloaks, until such a time as their souls may be burned clean. He is dressed, and wigged, and dusted with perfume and with powder, and blessed by the Prefect who was meant to perform the ceremony, and blessed by the Prior whose title declares him the stand-in for the Patriarch of the Church, who cannot be here because he is fighting wars in Courland, and sprinkled with holy water and fed three holy wafers and three long sips of wine from the communion chalice, gold and encrusted with a hundred blue turquoise and a three dozen minute diamonds. The prefect asks for the seventh time if Andrej understands the ceremony - showing his doubt of Andrej's ability to carry this forth, and giving hint of being ready to step in should Andrej fail - and upon receiving it steps back with a bow and allows matters to proceed unabated.
At last, the cathedral guests are ready, and the groom is ready, and Andrej makes his approach to the altar, where he will stand awaiting for the groom, and then the bride, to march towards him.
The curtain is parted so that Andrej can see Eberhardt come from the far right corner and begin the long, hundred-and-fifty foot halting march down the length of the church, stepping first with the right, then bringing his left to match it, and stepping forth with the right again. He is adorned in an ermine cloak and rich yellow velvet jacket, with a black pearl-encrusted doublet and skirt. He looks completely comfortable, the great white feather upon his enormous beret keeping time with his feet, his arms ready and strong at his sides, as though breasting a great storm but unperturbed by it. A steady rain of comments upon his person and position sprinkles from the guests nearest to Andrej. Eberhardt takes no notice, and does not even look at Andrej until the very last moment, when he gives the very least hint of a smile.
There are a hundred musicians, and a great trumpet of music sends a wave of standing guests through the whole of the cathedral, as the great doors open and let the sun in, and from the far left walks Serafina. She is completely covered, naturally, but her dress and veil are a dazzling brilliant white, catching the sunlight then eclipsing it as she crosses in front of the door. Eberhardt turns to look as the music changes and she begins her way up the aisle, a cloud of wondrous white linen and silk flowing outwards from her delicate, comparatively tiny self, evident only in the narrow waist she presents as she paces her way forward. The crowd first expresses suprise, and then is inordinately hushed, so that the music plays clear and unchallenged throughout her sojourn ... and Andrej himself cannot help but feel a pain in his own heart to look at her.
He recovers, however, as Serafina moves to stand next to Eberhardt, and he manages the first matters of the ceremony with little trouble; the guests are seated, the greeting is given, the assembly invited to repent of their sins, and the Gloria is sung.
Andrej speaks the Opening Prayer, and the First Reading is given from the Song of Solomon. The choir of a hundred and fifty rise to sing the responsorial psalm, and the second reading follows, as from Corinthians as specified. The assembly stands for the Gospel, which then Andrej reads.
Then this is followed by the Homily, which Andrej proceeds to give ...