On which ther was first write a crowned A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.
(= on which there was firstly engraved a crowned A, / And afterwards, ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’)
This section is describing the prioress and this couplet is specifically referring to the beads and broach that she held with an A on it. “Amor vincit omnia” is Latin for “Love conquers all”. The phrase is secular (from Virgil’s Eclogues), but had been adopted by the church. It’s very ambivalent, and has caused a lot of spilt ink. What kind of love conquers on? A theologian could distinguish between amor and caritas— the former being more romantic love, the later pious, giving love. If only she’d worn a brooch with a less equivocal expression.
We love you really, Madame Eglentyne!
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