Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
The Leibowitz of this novel’s title was, the reader is told, a technician engaged in weapons development at the time of the nuclear war which destroyed all civilization in America and in the rest of the world. A natural reaction of the survivors of this holocaust was to turn on all scientists, on all fragments of science, and to destroy them for being in some degree responsible for the devastation that had taken place. Leibowitz, however, though repentant of his past, received permission from the pope to form a new monastic order of Albertus Magnus, whose role would be to save books and manuscripts from the “simpleton” mobs. The order’s formation was successful, but Leibowitz himself was caught in the act of “booklegging” and was martyred by simultaneous strangulation and burning.
Leibowitz himself never appears in the novel, but its three separate parts follow the affairs of his order at roughly six-century intervals into the future. In “Fiat Homo,” relics of the Blessed Leibowitz are discovered by chance in a fallout shelter and are skillfully used by the abbot of his monastery to have the order’s founder elevated to sainthood. In “Fiat Lux,” the books so carefully preserved by Leibowitz’s followers are at last read by a man capable of making some sense of them, as a scientific civilization begins once more to develop and North America takes a few steps toward reunification. In “Fiat Voluntas Tua,” scientific progress makes a...
(The entire section is 540 words.)
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Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
A Canticle for Leibowitz relates that about six hundred years earlier, a nuclear holocaust occurred, and the only organization to survive, at least in North America, was the Catholic Church. When the war began, Isaac Albert Leibowitz was a Jewish electrical engineer in the defense industry. He survived the war, converted to Catholicism, became a priest, and founded a monastery dedicated to the preservation of knowledge. He based the rules of the monastery on the Benedictines and established it near the remains of a highway that ran between Salt Lake City and El Paso. He named the order after Saint Albert the Great, teacher of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the patron saint of scientists. In the first years following the war, the surviving population hunted down and killed the remaining scientists and engineers because they blamed them for the disaster. They also burned all the books they could find. Leibowitz organized “bookleggers,” who smuggled books, and memorizers, who memorized the contents of books. However, he was eventually betrayed by a member of his order, and a mob hanged then burned him. He was later beatified and had become a candidate for sainthood by the time the novel begins.
Part 1, “Fiat Homo” (let there be man), opens with Brother Francis Gerard of Utah, a not-too-bright novice at Leibowitz Abbey, fasting alone in the desert during Lent. He meets a pilgrim, whom the reader eventually learns is Lazarus of the Bible. Lazarus...
(The entire section is 790 words.)
Summary and Analysis
Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapter 1
Brother Francis Gerard: a novice monk at the abbey of Saint Leibowitz
The Pilgrim (also known as Benjamin and Lazarus): a man Francis encounters during his Lenten fast
Brother Francis, a monk who is in Utah, sees a pilgrim with girded loins walking on the road and gradually approaching him. He is in the desert, and it is midday, and very hot. As the pilgrim nears, Francis finds a pile of rocks so he can hide from the possibly dangerous pilgrim, and sees that he is an old man carrying a staff and dressed in burlap around his midsection. The pilgrim sits down on a chilled rock and sings as he eats some cheese and a biscuit. Francis, who is under a vow of silence because it is Lent, emerges from the rocks and is greeted with hostility by the pilgrim. However, the pilgrim soon sees that Francis is just a monk, becomes more gracious, and offers Francis some of his cheese and biscuit. Francis is fasting, so should not eat such food, but he is tempted to eat it. Under the angry and deluded suspicion that the pilgrim is actually Satan, Francis throws holy water on the pilgrim to protect himself from this temptation. He runs away from the pilgrim and starts to gather some rocks to build more of his stony hut. This hut is intended to keep Francis safe from the local wolves.
The pilgrim walks over to Francis, who is sitting by the hut, and blesses him after Francis tells him he can find shelter at Francis’ abbey, which is nearby. The pilgrim leaves after finding a rock that Francis can use to help build his hut as Francis sits reading the book called Libellus Leibowitz in order to guide his meditations during his time of solitary Lenten fasting. As the day proceeds, Francis works on building his hut, and comes across the pilgrim’s rock and sees that the pilgrim has written something on the rock. As he pulls the rock off the rubble heap on which it rests, he sees a hole in the rubble, and starts examining the hole. At first, he finds nothing particularly interesting about the hole, and goes on building his hut during the day. But late that day, he returns, and begins excavating the hole. When he pries out two rocks jammed in the hole, the hole opens up, and he slides down into the hole. There, he sees that he is in a nuclear fallout shelter, which has been covered by an avalanche of rocks for six centuries. He reads the sign that gives information about the...
(The entire section is 706 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 2-3
Leibowitz: a survivor of the nuclear war who founded the Order of Saint Leibowitz
Father Cheroki: a priest at the abbey
Brother Fingo: a monk who works in the abbey as a woodcarver
Francis whispers the litany of the Saints to help protect himself as he advances into the shelter. He slides into a room of the shelter and sees a sign reading, “Inner Hatch Sealed Environment,” and beneath the sign, a warning giving information about the hatch. However, the door to the hatch is blocked by tons of rock. So Francis starts looking around the room and sees a skull with a gold tooth in a corner of the room. Francis is disturbed by this gold tooth as he starts exploring the furnishings of the room, including an old metal desk. He finds it impossible to open the desk’s drawers, but sees a rusty box and manages to pry this box open. He climbs out of the hole to examine whatever is in the box. Francis finds that the box holds some tubes of glass with wire inside them, and a note written on paper inside the box’s lid. The note is signed “I. E. L.,” who says that he has to catch a plane in twenty minutes, and asks Carl, the recipient of the note, to get Em, Francis' wife, “on the alternate list for the shelter.” I. E. L., the note writer, could not get Em on the plane, which is why she needs to get into the shelter. I. E. L. says he doesn’t know if the war has started. Francis reads the note, then takes out some trays from the box to find some notes, papers, and a Memo notebook at the bottom of the box. One of the notes is a short list of groceries, another is a reminder to pick up IRS tax form 1040, and another is a list of numbers. The Memo book is a list of names, places, numbers, and dates, with the dates coming from the late 1940s and early 1950s. One of the folded papers has the words “Racing Form” on it, and the other is a blueprint of a circuit design by I. E. Leibowitz.
Francis assumes that this circuit design is by the Isaac Leibowitz honored by his abbey as the founder of its order and believed to be a saint. This would make the circuit design blueprint a relic of the so-called Saint Leibowitz, and Francis believes that this discovery confirms his fate of becoming a monk of the Order of Leibowitz. As twilight and night descend, Francis anticipates telling his abbey about his discovery, and wonders how the discovery will transform his...
(The entire section is 831 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 4-5
Abbot Arkos: the head of the abbey of the Order of Saint Leibowitz
Abbot Arkos, the head of Francis’s abbey, receives Cheroki in his study. He affirms that Cheroki made the right decision in ordering Francis to return to the abbey. Cheroki has deposited the papers from the box Francis found onto Arkos’s desk, and both Cheroki and Arkos dismiss those papers as having nothing to do with Leibowitz. Cheroki declares his intent to go see Francis, and Arkos tells Cheroki to have Francis come see Arkos afterward. Francis comes into Arkos’s study, mentioning that he was told Arkos meant to see him. Arkos maintains that the material in the box is only junk and harshly questions Francis as to how he found the box. Francis insists that the pilgrim meant for him to discover the box. Arkos punishes Francis for this insistence by slapping him ten times with a ruler, and tells him he is to stay away from the shelter site. Arkos explains that the abbey is filled with the rumor that Francis actually saw Saint Leibowitz. Under further questioning from Arkos, Francis hesitates to confirm just who the pilgrim was but remarks that he was apparently literate. The disgusted and exasperated Arkos orders Francis to leave his study.
Francis returns to the desert to finish his Lenten fast. As he does, he thinks about the pilgrim’s visit and its significance, as well as his decision to join the monastery. At this point, the readers learn that Francis was born in “the Utah,” was sold to a shaman when he was a child, and then ran away from the shaman. He realizes that his abbey education would not be useful in the outside world, which is filled with illiterates and a harsh life based on primitive agriculture, hunting, and gathering.
The Church’s network is the only form of communication that stretches across North America, but the Church is threatened by savage heathens who regularly kill priests, and sometimes eat them as well. The readers here learn that Francis broke his Lenten fast by eating a lizard. On Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, the abbey’s monks carry Francis into his cell as he talks deliriously about the pilgrim. Arkos receives Francis for questioning, and Francis tells him that he isn’t positive that the pilgrim was not Saint Leibowitz. Arkos is severely displeased by this answer, and tells Francis he won’t be allowed to profess his vows this...
(The entire section is 695 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 6-7
Emily: the wife of Leibowitz
Brother Horner: master of the abbey’s copyroom
Brother Sarl: a worker in the abbey’s copyroom
Brother Jeris: an apprentice in the abbey’s copyroom
The readers learn that the abbey continues to bustle with rumors about the pilgrim and the discovered shelter, which has been ordered closed by Arkos. They also learn that Emily Leibowitz, the wife of Leibowitz, disappeared at the start of the “Flame Deluge.” This Deluge was caused by world leaders who were confident that if they deployed their nuclear weapons skillfully enough, they could conquer the world. The result was nuclear holocaust and a radioactive world. Gradually, after most of the earth’s people had died, the survivors decided to kill the professional classes, such as scientists, teachers, and politicians, to punish them for helping create the nuclear holocaust and to keep such a holocaust from happening again. The survivors called themselves Simpletons.
Meanwhile, the professionals who survived the Simpletons’ attacks fled to sanctuaries such as those offered by the Church. Isaac Edward Leibowitz hid with the Cistercian order of the Church, then tried to find his wife Emily’s grave, or herself, in the southwest, became convinced there that she was dead, and joined the Cistercians. He later became a priest and successfully petitioned New Rome, which replaced the old Italian Rome, to found a new religious order intended to protect documents from the ravages of the Simpletons. This order, which wore the same burlap rags as the Simpletons, protected the documents by either “booklegging” books to the southwestern desert and burying the books there or by memorizing religious, literary, scientific, and historical books. The order built a monastery near the cache of books in the desert, but Leibowitz was killed by a mob of Simpletons while trying to bookleg some books.
The effort to memorize books failed, and many of the books buried in the desert were destroyed, but after six centuries, the order is still at work preserving, copying, and studying the books that survived. They carry with them a book as part of their outfit. The scene shifts to Francis, who, a year after being denied the chance to take his vows, returns to Arkos for questioning. When he says only that he thinks the pilgrim was just an old man, without being...
(The entire section is 1091 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 8-9
Monsignor Malfreddo Aguerra: the Church official who advocates canonization of Saint Leibowitz
Monsignor Flaught: the Church official who skeptically examines the case for canonizing Saint Leibowitz
Arkos no longer objects to Francis’s interest in the relics, and Francis is still free to work on the blueprint illumination, which may take decades to complete. Fingo, meanwhile, works in the abbey’s carpentry shop and, in his spare time, works on a wood sculpture of Saint Leibowitz. Francis sees Horner die, and Jeris replaces Horner as master of the abbey’s copyroom. Jeris tells Francis to stop his work on the blueprint illumination, and Francis obediently puts his project aside for the time being.
Monsignor Malfreddo Aguerra, a representative of New Rome, arrives at the abbey to investigate the case for canonizing Leibowitz. Aguerra receives Francis for questioning about his encounter with the pilgrim, who perhaps was Leibowitz. He hands Francis a fat scroll detailing the stories and legends of this encounter, but Francis refutes them by telling the plain story of his encounter. Aguerra tells Francis that he has reopened the shelter and discovered fifteen skeletons and various artifacts inside the inner chamber. Aguerra and his assistants explore the shelter site further, and when Aguerra departs for New Rome, he has Francis show him the lambskin with the blueprint illumination. Aguerra praises Francis’s work and tells him to finish it, and the next day Francis resumes his illumination work.
A few months after Aguerra leaves, the so-called devil’s advocate for the canonization case arrives. This man, Monsignor Flaught, is supposed to critically examine and question the evidence for Leibowitz’s canonization. Flaught harshly questions Francis about his discovery of the shelter and encounter with the pilgrim. After finishing this questioning, Flaught leaves, and years pass by as the abbey continues its work copying documents. But one day a messenger from the Vatican arrives at the abbey to inform the monks that the Pope has recommended canonizing Leibowitz during the coming year. Arkos tells Francis he is being invited to go to New Rome for the canonization of Leibowitz, and Francis is to bring along the blueprint and his copy of the blueprint.
Monsignor Aguerra is assigned to visit the abbey as a Church...
(The entire section is 570 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 10-11
Pope Leo Pappas XXI: the Pope of the Catholic Church, who resides in New Rome
Francis departs on his trip to New Rome and, in the second month of his journey by donkey, encounters a robber on a forested mountain far from civilization. The readers learn here that the Valley of the Misborn lies a few miles to the west and is made up of “sports,” who are genetic monstrosities. The Church decided that these sports were, despite their deformities, human beings who possessed immortal souls, and this judgment caused some to call the sports the “Pope’s nephews” or the “Pope’s children.” The robber comes from this valley, and his two children trail along behind him. The robber searches Francis, then examines Francis’s illuminated blueprint copy and the original blueprint. He decides he wants the illuminated copy, but mistakenly assumes that the original blueprint is actually the one Francis has been copying. Francis takes up the robber’s offer to wrestle for the two blueprints, but Francis quickly loses. However, the robber accepts Francis’s pleas to let him keep the original blueprint, and says he will need to pay two heklos of gold if he wants the illuminated copy back. The robber decides to take the donkey after all, and Francis journeys on by foot, with just the original blueprint.
Later, in the basilica in New Rome for the ceremony to canonize Leibowitz, Francis waits. He is amazed by the grandeur of the basilica and the Church officials before the ceremony of canonization begins. The brief ceremony consists of a plea by Aguerra for Leibowitz to be made a saint, a chanting of the Litany of the Saints by the choir, and Pope Leo Pappas XXI’s granting of Aguerra’s request for canonization.
Afterward, Francis joins some other pilgrims to be received by the Pope in the audience room. After a short wait, the Pope arrives and talks with the pilgrims as Francis waits. When the Pope reaches Francis, Francis kisses the Pope’s Fisherman’s ring, and learns that the Church knows about the theft of the illuminated copy. Francis gives the original blueprint to the Pope and is told by the Pope to see Aguerra and deliver a letter from the Church to the abbey once he returns to Utah. Francis briefly confesses to Aguerra, who gives him a purse with two heklos of gold to buy the illuminated copy back. Francis departs and journeys back to his abbey on foot....
(The entire section is 766 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapters 12-13
Thon Taddeo Pfardentrott: a scholar and cousin of Hannegan II
Monsignor Marcus Apollo: a Church official and nuncio to Hannegan II
Brother Claret: a Church messenger and assistant to Apollo
Brother Kornhoer: a monk at the abbey experimenting with electricity
Abbot Dom Paulo: the head of the abbey of the order of Saint Leibowitz
Hannegan II: the ruler of the Texarkana empire
Brother Armbruster: the librarian of the abbey and its Rector of Memorabilia
Father Gault: an abbey priest and advisor to Dom Paulo
The year is now 3174. Monsignor Marcus Apollo, who is the Vatican’s nuncio to King Hannegan, is convinced that a war is about to begin. He sees Brother Claret among the guests at the reception and calls him over. Monsignor Apollo tells Claret to see him in his office after the reception. He then says that Hannegan’s emissary to Mad Bear’s clan came back to Hannegan alive. This, Apollo believes, means that Hannegan’s agreement with the Vatican, or New Rome, to fight against the nomads and bandit groups in the disputed lands was a fraud. His conversation with Claret stops as Thon Taddeo, Hannegan’s relative and a distinguished scholar, approaches.
Taddeo and Apollo exchange formal greetings, but then Taddeo asks Apollo about a letter from Kornhoer, at the abbey Francis had served, inviting Taddeo to come to the abbey and study documents from the end of “European-American civilization.” Taddeo expresses his hesitation to do so, given the danger from Mad Bear’s clan if he should take such a journey, and asks if an armed guard could take the documents from the abbey to the collegium Taddeo attends instead. Apollo says he cannot help with this request and asks Taddeo to talk with him later in his study. Taddeo leaves.
Apollo later explains to Claret that he didn’t simply refuse to grant the request for two reasons: because Taddeo, as a relative of Hannegan’s, demands respect, and because Taddeo may reveal information about Mad Bear’s clan that Claret can deliver to New Rome. Apollo adds that Claret is going to deliver a report on Hannegan and the possibility of a war to New Rome. The report, Apollo says, is to inform New Rome that Hannegan’s agreement is probably a fraud meant to deceive “the empire of Denver and Laredan Nation” into fighting the Plains nomads....
(The entire section is 1134 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapters 14-15
Hongan Os (Mad Bear): leader of the nomadic tribes of the Plains
The readers learn that the Dark Age of savage nomads, militaristic knights, and illiteracy is beginning to fade away, and the wisdom preserved in the abbey’s Memorabilia is helping bring about a new, better age. Dom Paulo is disturbed from his thoughts about the Memorabilia and the Church’s preservation of old texts by noises in the abbey basement. He goes down to the basement to see Kornhoer and his machine, which includes a variety of axles, pulleys, belts, and wagon wheels covered with copper wire and facing iron blocks also covered with copper wire.
Kornhoer explains to Dom Paulo that this is a dynamo that makes the electrical essence to power a lamp. Kornhoer mentions that Taddeo has helped him develop the technology of the dynamo and the lamp, and he shows Dom Paulo the lamp. Armbruster opposes Kornhoer’s work as being work of the devil. Armbruster also opposes Kornhoer’s proposal that, in order to help Taddeo work in the abbey’s alcove, the crucifix in the alcove should be taken down. Dom Paulo orders Armbruster to remove the crucifix himself, and Dom Paulo departs with anxiety over the dispute between Kornhoer and Armbruster.
The next day, Dom Paulo sits in his study feeling sick. He looks up at a wooden statue of Saint Leibowitz, which he admires for its durability and its curious smile. He thinks about Taddeo’s upcoming visit to the abbey and looks up at the statue again. He begins to have a sense that “the banners of the King of Hell” may be on the march, and immediately after, he becomes very sick from what seems to be a severe ulcer or a heart attack. Some hours later, Gault discovers Dom Paulo slumped over his desk, but Dom Paulo is still alive, muttering “it’s all supremely ridiculous!” as he rises in his chair. Gault informs Dom Paulo that Kornhoer’s test of the lamp was successful, and Dom Paulo begins to get his wits together.
The readers learn that Hongan Os, who is also called Mad Bear because he once single-handedly strangled a bear, is the leader of a group of nomadic people on the Plains. Mad Bear, who despises “grass-eaters,” or grain farmers, has signed a treaty with the Taxarkana empire even though it grows grain. Hannegan II has agreed to arm Mad Bear’s tribes if the tribes will stop stealing Texarkana cattle and cease to do battle...
(The entire section is 723 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapters 16-17
Benjamin stands at the edge of the mesa watching Dom Paulo approach, then scampers down to the bottom of the mesa to await the encounter. When he sees Dom Paulo with the goat, he brusquely rejects Dom Paulo’s offer to return the goat. Dom Paulo apologizes for having gone five years without seeing Benjamin, and Benjamin reminisces about what he claims to be an encounter with Francis six centuries ago. He adds that he buried Francis and comments on Dom Paulo’s sick appearance. The two climb up the mesa to Benjamin’s dwelling, which is a single room walled by rocks. A sign in Hebrew by the door reads, “Tents Mended Here.” After some conversation about the sign, Dom Paulo turns the discussion to Taddeo and the hope of a new Renaissance. Benjamin and Dom Paulo then talk about Benjamin’s Jewish faith, and Dom Paulo thinks about his Church as well. He considers Benjamin waiting for a Messiah to come, and says to Benjamin, “God bless you for a brave fool.”
The two continue to talk about their respective religions, and Dom Paulo then reveals his worries about the fate of the abbey if its function of preserving the Memorabilia becomes obsolete. Benjamin promises to look at the abbey’s lamp and Taddeo. The two take their affectionate leave of each other, and Dom Paulo looks back at Benjamin as he rides back toward the abbey.
A messenger from New Rome comes to Dom Paulo. He reports that there will be war, as Laredo has committed its forces to the Plains and a fight against Mad Bear, even though the State of Chihuahua is threatening Laredo from the south. In response to that threat, Hannegan II plans to send his forces down to the Rio Grande, with approval from Laredo, despite New Rome’s warning to its king, Goraldi, that Hannegan II is plotting against Laredo. When Goraldi told Hannegan II of this warning, in response, Hannegan II arrested Apollo. The messenger goes on to say that Hannegan II plans to eventually conquer the continent. To pursue this goal, Hannegan II had the Laredans put several hundred of their diseased cattle into the Plains tribes’ herds, with the goal of causing famine for those tribes and allowing Hannegan to exert control over them. Then, a tribal leader loyal to Hannegan II will conquer the Denver empire.
One night, a novice manning the abbey’s watchtower sees signs of Taddeo’s party, and the next morning, the party, which includes some nomadic warriors,...
(The entire section is 750 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapters 18-19
Poet: a poet in residence at the abbey
Brother Reader of the abbey stands at the refectory lectern reading from an account of the nuclear war of twelve centuries ago. The account, written by a monk a few decades after Saint Leibowitz died, describes why the war started, what happened during the war, and how Saint Leibowitz was driven to penitence because of the war. The monk describes a prince, or ruler, being tempted by Satan to strike his enemies in order to gain power over them. Rejecting the warnings of his counselors, the prince does this. God punishes the prince, who has made a holocaust of God’s sons, by killing the prince. Soon mankind decides to kill “the wise together with the powerful.” Taddeo hears this account, then asks to examine the abbey’s Memorabilia. Dom Paulo says he can start doing this as soon as he wants.
Kornhoer is in the abbey’s library, preparing to try out his lamp invention. He gives the sign for four monks to power the dynamo by walking on the treadmill, a fifth monk to watch over the dynamo, and a sixth monk to manage the lamp arc. When the monks on the treadmill start turning the turnstile beams, the dynamo starts spinning, and the monk at the dynamo licks two fingers and puts them on the contact points. Contact is made, and when the sixth monk strikes the lamp arc, the lamp is lit with astounding brilliance. At this moment, Taddeo and Dom Paulo are descending down the stairs to the library, and both are awestruck by the light. Taddeo begins examining the lamp’s machinery and declares his suspicion that the abbey has kept the lamp hidden for years. Dom Paulo protests that this is not the case, but Taddeo remains offended by the invention of the lamp.
In the aftermath of the lamp episode, Dom Paulo becomes convinced that Taddeo feels embarrassed by the abbey’s successful invention. However, the lamp, which is now worked by four monks, stays in the library, providing Taddeo and his assistant with the light by which they work. One day, the assistant measures the wear from monks’ sandals on the floor of the refectory in order to help determine how old the abbey is.
Meanwhile, the Poet has told Dom Paulo that the officers in Taddeo’s party are drawing the abbey’s fortifications. Dom Paulo notes to Gault that the Poet dislikes Taddeo, and says the abbey should assume the officers are merely interested in...
(The entire section is 731 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapter 20
The abbey is ready for the banquet to honor Taddeo. The refectory’s tables are set with quality utensils, and the head table will host Dom Paulo, Gault, Taddeo, and four others from Taddeo’s party, although Dom Paulo wonders who will sit at the eighth place. The seven people sit down, and during Dom Paulo’s blessing, Poet takes the eighth place. Poet cracks a joke about the dinner meal, then makes a joke about apologizing for his presence. He continues the joke about apologetics by referring to his intent to give the goat to Taddeo as a scapegoat. When Poet talks about Hannegan II as planning to seize the abbey, an officer in Taddeo’s party takes out his sword. Dom Paulo, who has been growing more and more irritated, tells Poet to leave the table. As Poet leaves, he takes out his glass eyeball and puts it on his wine cup.
Taddeo responds angrily to Poet’s provocation, but he is surprised to learn that Poet’s reference to the officers making drawings of the abbey’s defenses is accurate. Taddeo promises to talk about the drawings with Dom Paulo later.
Dom Paulo and Taddeo soon head up to the lectern. Dom Paulo introduces Taddeo, who begins his talk by praising the abbey for preserving the Memorabilia, and says studying the material contained in it would take many scientists and a long time. He describes pages from a book that discuss space-time and how inexplicable its conclusions are to modern scientists. However, he criticizes the abbey for leaving this and similar texts within its inaccessible library, and he indicates that the Memorabilia should be transferred to another site. But Taddeo soon leaves this subject for a brief discussion of studies of optics and refraction, and a discussion of the work in various scientific fields of some of the members of the collegium. He adds that Maho Manh is studying the origin of the human species, and that Esser Shon is trying to synthesize living matter.
This sparks a question from Armbruster, who makes what seems to be a joke about Esser Shon using sex to make this living matter. Dom Paulo punishes Armbruster by dismissing him from the banquet. Taddeo resumes his comments by proclaiming that soon “Truth” will rule the earth rather than ignorance, and great technologies, such as planes, submarines, and automobiles, will emerge. He adds the prediction, however, that in the interim, ignorance will wreak havoc. Dom Paulo takes this as a...
(The entire section is 743 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapters 21-23
Taddeo is spending his tenth week at the abbey when a messenger brings news that Laredo has demanded that Texarkana remove its troops. The King was poisoned the night he made that demand, and Laredo and Texarkana went to war. Hannegan II, the ruler of Texarkana, has won the war. Additionally, he had Apollo tortured and killed, and the Church responded by putting Texarkana under interdict, a condition in which Texarkana citizens could not receive communion. Taddeo converses about this with Dom Paulo but warns that New Rome should not idly threaten Hannegan II. A chill settles over relations between Taddeo’s party and the abbey.
The abbey’s neighbor village, Sandy Bowitts, asks the abbey if the village can take refuge there if an attack comes. Dom Paulo decides that this will be allowed but that the village men who can bear arms will need to defend the abbey. A stream of people coming out of the Plains brings the abbey stories of the cattle plague, a mutiny in Laredo, an assault by Mad Bear’s warriors on the Laredans, and Mad Bear’s resistance to joining Hannegan II’s cause.
Meanwhile, Taddeo notices that Poet has mysteriously left the abbey, without telling anyone of his plans. Taddeo mentions that he still has Poet’s glass eye, and Dom Paulo explains that Poet believed the eye aided his sight. He goes on to say that Poet put in his eye when he needed to think, and the abbey referred to it as his “conscience.” Taddeo concludes that he will keep it, and says that soon his party will leave the abbey. Taddeo discloses to Dom Paulo that he disagrees with Hannegan II, but publicly supports him because Hannegan II’s prosperity is linked with the prosperity of the collegium. When Dom Paulo objects to this approach, Taddeo charges him with idealistically wanting to detach science from politics, and their conversation ends on this disputed note.
On a Thursday, Taddeo’s party prepares to leave the abbey. Taddeo briefly discusses optics with Kornhoer. He remarks that Kornhoer’s practical mind would fit well with his own theoretical mind and invites Kornhoer to join him at the collegium for a time. Kornhoer resists this invitation, as he believes it is opposed to his religious vocation. Dom Paulo walks down the stairs into the basement, briefly talks to Taddeo, then climbs the stairs to the courtyard and talks with Gault. Apollo’s secretary, Brother Claret, has journeyed to the...
(The entire section is 1069 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 3 (Fiat Voluntas Tua), Chapter 24
Defense Minister: the minister of defense for the government
Dom Jethrah Zerchi: the head of the abbey of the order of Saint Leibowitz
Brother Patrick: a monk and aide to Dom Jethrah Zerchi
Mrs. Grales: a two-headed woman who sells tomatoes to the abbey
Brother Joshua: a former astronaut and monk at the abbey
The readers learn that in 3781, spaceships exist again. However, mankind has the same problems it always has. After a short medley of scattered sentences discussing time and life and death, the last Canticle of Leibowitz is presented. The Canticle’s text is “Lucifer is fallen. Lucifer is fallen. Lucifer is fallen.” The readers learn that the “Lucifer is fallen” phrase is a secret code apparently indicating to government leaders that a nuclear bomb has exploded. Following the Canticle is the transcript of a press conference held by a Defense Minister from an undisclosed country. The Minister dismisses a reporter’s questions about radiation counts in the Northwest that are ten times their normal level. He also denies that his government has set off a nuclear weapon in Asia. In response to a question about the possibility that the Asian Coalition is assembling hydrogen weapons in deep space, the Minister issues another denial.
The readers learn that Dom Jethrah Zerchi is the new abbot of the abbey and that he is a restless, active man. His patience is being tested by the APLAC, a computer that translates languages. However, APLAC frequently fails to translate texts accurately, and Zerchi is sitting on the floor of his study frustrated by his attempts to fix APLAC. He calls for Brother Patrick, his secretary, to come in, and he tells Patrick to get rid of the computer. But he soon decides to keep it just long enough to send a “radiogram” to Rome. He will dictate to APLAC in his Southwest language, and it will translate the dictation into Alleghenian, the language of Cardinal Hoffstraff, the radiogram’s recipient. Zerchi and Patrick fiddle with some dials before the exasperated Zerchi tells Patrick to leave. Zerchi briefly prays to Saint Leibowitz, who is now the patron saint of electricians, for help before turning on APLAC.
He begins dictating the message, which asks Cardinal Hoffstraff for advice regarding the Church’s Quo pereginatur plan. Zerchi says the abbey is ready to put the plan into...
(The entire section is 1137 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 3 (Fiat Voluntas Tua), Chapters 25-26
The Defense Minister is holding another press conference as news of the increases in radiation levels has become common knowledge. A female reporter asks him about two recent nuclear explosions that violated international law, and the Minister claims that only one violation has occurred. This violation, he says, was an explosion at Itu Wan in Asia, which was not his government’s fault. He denies the reporter’s charge that the explosion Joshua and Zerchi have just speculated about occurred, and maintains that the Itu Wan explosion was a test by Asia. He says there will be no war, but his government’s armed forces are ready to be conscripted by the World Court to enforce any ruling it makes against Asia. However, another reporter notes that the Asian coalition has warned it will strike against the government’s space installations if the Court does not act against the government.
Zerchi has watched this press conference via satellite and turns it off feeling anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear war. Joshua comes into Zerchi’s office, and Zerchi says New Rome has responded to Zerchi’s message by saying the abbey should do nothing in regards to the Quo pereginatur plan. But it has also sent a second telegram telling the abbey to dismiss the earlier telegram and reactivate the Quo pereginatur plan. The abbey is to prepare a cadre to leave within three days and begin implementing the plan. Zerchi explains to Joshua that the Quo pereginatur is a plan to allow the Church to continue on other planets if Earth is devastated. The plan includes a starship and a crew to staff it and live on the colony planets. Joshua realizes that he would be part of this crew, which would include many other former starship operators at the abbey. Zerchi reminds Joshua that he said he would be willing to go back into space on the Order of Saint Leibowitz’s request, and that the Order, its priests and monks, and the Memorabilia, which is now on microfilm, would go to Centaurus Colony under the Quo pereginatur plan. Zerchi asks if Joshua is willing to go, could lead the crew, and if he feels ready to become a priest, and gives him three days, perhaps fewer, to give his answers.
Zerchi and Joshua leave the old abbey and cross the six-lane highway, but Zerchi realizes Mrs. Grales is waiting to give the abbey her surplus tomatoes. The two cross back to the woman, whose second head is small, blind, deaf, mute, and...
(The entire section is 1604 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 3 (Fiat Voluntas Tua), Chapters 27-28
Doctor Cors: a doctor who examines victims of the nuclear war
Father Lehy: a priest at the abbey
Zerchi and his guest, Doctor Cors, are sitting in Zerchi’s study listening to the announcer tell listeners that 2,800,000 people are estimated to have died from the Asian coalition’s attack on Texarkana. The announcer says radiation victims who believe they will die soon must go the closest Green Star Relief Station, where a magistrate is ready to give them writs allowing them to be euthanized. If the victims do not do this, and instead kill themselves, their heirs may not receive benefits provided by the radiation relief law, and anyone assisting such suicides may face prosecution for murder. Zerchi angrily turns off the receiver and looks down at the abbey courtyard, which is filled with people who have fled from Texarkana. Zerchi tells Cors the authorities are merely sponsoring suicide with their euthanasia law, but Cors defends the policy as merciful and good.
Cors works with the Green Star Relief Station, but only as part of the Exposure Survey Team, not with the Mercy Cadre that carries out euthanasia. Cors tells Zerchi his team plans to set up two mobile treatment units in the courtyard to treat the people. Zerchi notes that Cors’s team can give radiation victims the permits that the victims will need if they want to be euthanised, but Cors points out that the back of the permits contain a notice of the victims’ rights. This notice must be read to the victim before the victim can be approved for euthanasia. Zerchi tells Cors his team will not give out the permits in his abbey, and Cors says his team can set up at the roadside park two miles away, which most of the victims would need to walk to. Zerchi tells Cors his team can use the courtyard if they promise not to advise victims to go to mercy camps for euthanasia. When Cors objects to this restriction, Zerchi says he cannot permit the team to give out such advice because he knows it is wrong to allow the team to give out the advice. Cors agrees to sign a written promise that he “will not recommend euthanasia to any patient while at this abbey.” Zerchi takes the paper Cors has signed and calls for Patrick, his secretary. Zerchi bemoans that Cors has argued in favor of euthanasia only on the grounds that “pain is the only evil I know about” and “the laws of society are what makes something a...
(The entire section is 1919 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Part 3 (Fiat Voluntas Tua), Chapters 29-30
Father Lehy is receiving Zerchi’s confession of his sin against Cors. As Zerchi confesses, he sees Mrs. Grales waiting for him. He prays for twenty minutes as penance, then moved to the confessional to see Mrs. Grales. She tells him she feels “the Dread One about” and needs to confess. She also forgives God for making her deformed, which Zerchi reluctantly accepts. As she begins to confess, missiles are heard being fired, and Zerchi quickly absolves her and tells her to say ten Ave Marias and ten Pater Noster prayers for penance. The sky grows bright from the exploding missiles, and suddenly Mrs. Grales’s voice changes into a soft, sleepy murmur. It says, “I never meant to … I never meant to … never love … Love … ” The church falls in, and Zerchi finds himself thrown out of the church, and covered with debris from the waist down, with one arm pinned. More missiles are heard, and as Zerchi begins to pick up Communion wafers, he hears Mrs. Grales say, “JesusMaryJoseph! Help!” in the same changed voice. Zerchi feels an itching in his legs, then a raw agony and terror. Sensing that he is near death, he thinks about how the desire for security has led to this nuclear war, and also about man’s evil. Zerchi asks God to let him live long enough to endure his suffering and grabs a skull, which has fallen out of the abbey’s crypts.
Zerchi hears Mrs. Grales sing, “la la la,” and regrets not telling Cors that pain gives meaning to courage, bravery, nobility, and self-sacrifice. He sleeps for awhile, then wakes to see three crows standing in the rubble near him. After throwing a stone to chase them away, he hears Mrs. Grales again. She walks over to him, and repeats his request for her to see if she can find Father Lehy. After looking at her closely, Zerchi says, “Rachel.” Mrs. Grales’s second head is smiling, while her other head is sleeping. She repeats his question, “Listen, is anyone else alive?” He sees that Mrs. Grales is now younger and healthier, although bleeding from one of her arms. Zerchi starts to baptize this second head, but she turns away, then picks up the ciborium and holds it, as well as a single communion wafer. Zerchi takes the wafer from her, and she puts the ciborium down. Zerchi realizes who Rachel is, and he whispers a prayer as he considers that Rachel is linked to Eve and is a creature of primal innocence. Rachel says “Live” to him before she leaves, and...
(The entire section is 743 words.)