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Seraphina starts the book by reaveling that she can remember her time spent in her mother's womb, feeling complete listening to the music of her body, and the rude awakening of birth. As Seraphina was too young to understand, she does not specifically recall her mother's death, which occurred after. Seraphina's father, Claude Dombegh, moved the two of them back to Lavondaville to continue his law practice. He also invented a new wife to conceal the identity of his true one.
As a baby, Seraphina was drawn to her father's aloof acquaintance, Orma, who accompanied her and Claude when they went to find out baby Seraphina's patron saint; Seraphina dropped the psalter open to the image of the heretic St. Yirtrudis, whose face was blacked out. Horrified, the priest was quick to decide that Heaven must have intended St. Capiti.
Seraphina later reflects that the message of this incident was clear: the truth could not be told, and must be covered with an acceptable lie. St. Capiti did not make a bad or unfitting substitute saint; St. Capiti is the patroness of scholars, of the workings of the mind so completely separated from those of the body that St. Capiti carries her head on a platter. Seraphina notes that on the advice of the priest, her father had allowed Seraphina's nurse to paste together St. Yirtrudis's pages so that the psalter cannot open to them; the unintended consequences of this was that the heretic's silhouette was visible on St. Capiti's page, her arms like a pair of faded wings.
Seraphina says that later her love of music would lure her from the safety of her father's house. She compares her loneliness to St. Capiti's head, carried before her on a plate, and St. Yirtrudis's outstretched arms as music being the light of life illuminating her from behind.
- Seraphina's place of birth
|Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 | Chapter 28 | Chapter 29 | Chapter 30 | Chapter 31 | Chapter 32 | Chapter 33 | Chapter 34 | Chapter 35 | Chapter 36 | Chapter 37|