Fulbert was bitterly angry. Abelard sent Heloise away to a convent to escape the resulting opprobrium, whilst Fulbert, believing that Abelard had abandoned her, had him castrated. Heloise was forced to become a nun against her will; Abelard developed a somewhat irascible life as a monk and teacher. Their affair was brought to an end in a miserable manner.
Later there was correspondence between them, expressing a great depth of both love and pain, and eventual resignation to the will of God. As Heloise wrote, "You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you." After death, their mortal remains were united in the same grave; it became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for lovers and the lovelorn.
It's a heart-rending and somewhat disastrous story from a very different culture to our own. It exemplifies the power of romantic love for good or ill, and the way in which it can reshape the entire lives of those caught up within it. It brings into focus the pain of love when separation occurs. It reminds us that when love is deep and true, it persists through circumstances and over years, even when the lovers try to move on. Above all, it gives us a glimpse of the quality - and the suffering - of authentic love. That's the sort of love which still keeps couples together today, through struggles and hardships as well as joys; the sort of love to aspire to even amidst the froth and commercialism of St Valentine's Day.