From “The Betrothed”

“Well, my child, what is this vow of which Renzo speaks?” “It is a vow I made to the Virgin never to marry.” “But did you forget that you were bound by a previous promise? God, my daughter, accepts of offerings from that which is our own. It is the heart he desires, the will; but you cannot offer the will of another to whom you had pledged yourself.” “I have done wrong.” “No, poor child, think not so; I believe the holy Virgin has accepted the intention of your afflicted heart, and has offered it to God for you. But tell me, did you ask the advice of any one about this matter?” “I did not deem it a sin, or I would have confessed it, and the little good one does, one ought not to mention.”

“Have you no other motive for preventing the fulfilment of your promise to Renzo?” “As to that——for myself——what motive?—no other,” replied Lucy, with a hesitation which implied any thing rather than uncertainty; and a blush passed over her pale and lovely countenance. “Do you believe,” resumed the old man, “that God has given the church authority to remit the obligations that man may have contracted to him?” “Yes, I believe it.”

“Learn, then, that the care of souls in this place, being committed to us, we have the most ample powers from the church; and I can, if you ask it, free you from the obligation you have contracted by this vow.” “But is it not a sin to repent of a promise made to the Virgin?” said Lucy, violently agitated by unexpected hope. “Sin, my child,” said the father, “sin, to recur to the church, and to ask her minister to use the authority which he has received from her, and which she receives from God! I bless him that he has given me, unworthythat I am, the power to speak in his name, and to restore to you your vow. If you ask me to absolve you from it, I shall not hesitate to do so; and I even hope you will.” “Then—then—I ask it,” said Lucy, with a modest confidence. The friar beckoned to Renzo, who was watching the progress of the dialogue with the deepest solicitude, to approach, and said aloud to Lucy, “With the authority I hold from the church, I declare you absolved from your vow, and liberate you from all the obligations you may have contracted by it.”