Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who's Who: Marius Ambrose

When Anthony and Miss Eells stumble upon an all-too-familiar mansion in New Stockholm, Wisconsin, they discover its former owner, Marius Ambrose, disappeared mysteriously in the mid-1930s [The Mansion in the Mist; 105].

Who was Ambrose? It’s hard to say. Where did he go? No one’s ever figured that part out. However, an eerie painting confirms a shocking truth: Ambrose and the Grand Autarch are one in the same! Described as a “tall, gloomy-looking man with a long and ridged nose and red-rimmed eyes below arched black eyebrows” [106], as the spiritual leader of the nether dimension Autarch cult, Ambrose demands (and expects) loyalty from his subjects and has no qualms with using his power to punish them into submission.

As far as we can tell, the origin of the character’s name appears to have been inspired (at least in part) from Marius Ambrosius Capello, the 7th bishop of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium. The bishop was highly regarded and beloved by Antwerp’s poor, and his tomb was created by noted artist Artus Quellinus the Younger. 

As for the church, although the first stage of construction began in 1352 and ended in 1521, further work on the Gothic cathedral has long been postponed. Inside, in addition to Capello’s marble tomb, are a number of significant works by Peter Paul Rubens.  How this Capello guy ever got on Bellairs' radar is a bit beyond us, though the story of a church under construction for centuries and paintings by Rubens both figure into his first book, Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, so...well...we'll take that for what little worth it probably is.

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