It was a time of faith. Men believed. To the chosen few, the Christian God spoke directly and laid out His wishes and orders. But He sometimes changed His mind. Or perhaps His messages were not understood.
The year is 1135 in the town of Arles in what will much later become southern France. Looming territorial wars between powerful families threaten to breach town walls. False prophets travel from town to town preaching their heresies to eager crowds. Calls for a Second Crusade to secure the Holy Land will begin to ring out. Amid the noise, the ears of Pons de Baucio, a devout young canon at the Cathedral of Saint-Trophîme, are still attuned to the small voice of his God, which has faithfully guided him all his life.
But when God entrusts Pons with the message that he and his chapter must embrace the vita apostolica by adopting the Rule of St. Augustine—a lifestyle that will involve renouncing wives, mistresses, and families; forsaking personal property; and living communally—the proposal is far from favorably received by Pons’s fellow canons.
Thoroughly researched and rich in detail on actual historical persons, places, and events, A Canon’s Tale is the story of how Pons, though met with challenges and resistance at every turn, labors fervently and relentlessly for the next three decades to carry out his twofold mission: to convince the canons that this is God’s will, and to oversee the construction and artistry of the cloister to make communal living possible. All the while, Pons must wage his own internal war—against the forces of temptation.