Samuel was what is generally referred to as a simple soul. Kind hearted and a few cards short of a full deck, he had been adopted by Father Moneta from a very young age. His exact age was unknown as Samuel couldn’t recall his birth day, he couldn’t even recall much of his earliest years or his parents, assuming they’d even been present post-partum.
The then-already-old priest had spotted the child during one of his afternoon walks in Rome. The child was rummaging through some garbage piles when that peculiar sense of urgency and significance – a compulsion to act which the priest had early on ascribed to the Holy Spirit – drove him to speak to then-infant Samuel. The scrawny youth could not have been a day over 5.
As the priest queried him on his situation’s details he felt the Holy Ghost’s compelling argument grow within him and so decided with nary a thought to rescue the child from his deplorable circumstances.
Fast-forward twenty years into the future and Samuel had become the song Father Moneta would never have. Sweet, dumb Samuel acted as the ancient priest’s assistant with loving devotion, his child-like innocence a perennial source of wonder for the old man.
Not too long after Samuel’s unofficial adoption, Father Moneta was appointed to an obscure section of the Vatican’s vaunted secret archives and he had brought the child along. It was during the first days of his appointment to the vault that the reason for his holy compulsion toward Samuel that unassuming day in Rome became clear.
Father Moneta expected the child, simple-minded as he was, to hve only a few questions that would be easily fended with blanket responses – not unlike those employed by the church to handle questions posed by the flock. The wonders found in the innermost sections of the archives were numerous and astounding, after all. What he received instead were revelations.
Samuel liked to sit within the innermost vault of the Vatican’s secret archives. He felt safe and warm inside, being amongst the ancient things of God.
He liked the old man. He had taken him from the streets and washed him, fed him, hugged him. It had felt good to know love.
The first time he had been to the inner sanctum to help the old man, Samuel had felt something strange when he saw the bones laid on gilded slabs, like tables. He had then asked the old man plainly, “What are those bones? Why are their heads funny?”
“Those are the bones of angels, Samuel,” the priest had replied beatifically. “they are the skeletons of angels of God that once lived among men in very old times, before God sent the flood.”
“When Noah saved all the animals?” the child brightened up, smiling.
“That is correct,” Father Moneta smiled in kind.
Samuel considered this answer for a minute, his foggy mind working at the strange feeling and what it might mean in relation to the bones, his expression scowling in concentration. His mind teemed with recognition and with significance, teetering on the edge of comprehension which, all too often, never quite came to him.
“I have seen angels of God before,” the child finally quipped, a satisfied expression now transforming his face as he busied himself with dusting one artefact or another.
“You may have, in pictures and movies,” said the old priest.
“No,” replied the child with mild exasperation. “They tell me stories of heaven where the stars are shining and the clouds are giants of the rainbow.”
The priest grew quiet, as if he, too, had difficulty thinking. It wasn’t like the child to lie or be fanciful. He asked, his expression serious, “When do you see the angels, Samuel?”
“At night… they wake me up when it’s really dark and take me in a light that feels funny.”
Ever since that day the old man had been asking him about the angels every few days, about what they did and what stories they told him. He would then write in his big book that smelled of leather for hours, which he would then put away in a safe.
He had asked Samuel if he could one day meet the angels, but they had not said yes or no. They had just smiled with their funny mouths that had neither lips nor teeth, their large, dark-orb eyes unblinking in their elongated heads.
Samuel liked them. They made him feel special, like h was important, so he liked being with the bones of the angel of god in the inner sanctum because it reminded him of the alive angels.