Summary: At Castel Gandolfo, Bishop Aringarosa receives from the cardinals who meet him an “exorbitant” amount of money in large-denomination bonds drawn on the Vatican Bank. His benefactors express concern that they do not know the purposes to which Aringarosa will put the money; Aringarosa retorts that, given the nature of the assingment they have given him, his use of the money is not their concern. Aringraosa leaves to go to Paris.
Analysis: This chapter raises questions that, for the time being, remain unanswered. Who are these cardinals who meet Aringarosa in Castel Gandolfo’s shadows, and what have they asked him to do? He is thanked in advance for his “service to the Church” (p. 190)—a further reminder of the novel’s concern with serving institutions and serving self versus serving God and a beneficial higher purpose—but this service goes unspecified. How much money did Aringarosa receive, and for what end? All we learn is that Aringarosa desired the money be in Vatican bonds so that he and the Church would be involved in whatever events transpire together—he desires “insurance” (p. 189). The cardinals’ final question to Aringraosa is, as the bishop himself notes, simiarly ambiguous: they ask Aringarosa, “Where will you go from here?” as a query “more spiritual than geographical” (p. 190), suggesting that whatever Aringarosa is about to do may not be a blessed pursuit at all, no matter how much Aringarosa might invoke God’s name to justify it.