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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Father Auriemma tells the story of a poor shepherdess who had a very tender affection for the Blessed Virgin: all her pleasure was to retire to a small chapel of Our Lady, situated on the mountain, and, while her flocks grazed all around, she remained there for hours in sweet conversation with her good Mother. The image of the Blessed Virgin was in relief and without any ornament; the shepherdess made a mantle for it from the cleanest cloth she could find; at another time she gathered flowers from the fields and made a garland of them, and then, going up to the altar of the chapel, she put the garland on the head of the statue. “My Mother, she then said to Mary, I would like to place on Your forehead a crown of gold and precious stones; but, because I am only a poor shepherdess, I can only give You a crown of flowers; at least accept it as a pledge of my love.” It was with similar tributes that this young girl strove to honor her Lady. The Blessed Virgin knew how to reward her for her visits and her affection. The shepherdess fell ill and was at her last extremity, when it happened that two religious, passing through this place and tired of the journey, sat down under a tree to rest. One fell asleep and the other remained awake, but both had the same vision. They saw a group of young virgins, all perfectly beautiful, one of whom, standing among the others, surpassed all her companions in beauty and majesty. One of the religious addressed this one and asked her who she was and where she was going? She replied, “I am the Mother of God, and I am going with these virgins of My retinue to visit a poor dying shepherdess who during her life often visited Me.” Having said this, the vision disappeared. Let us also go to the shepherdess, said the religious. They set out on their way and God guided them to her home. They found her lying on a bit of straw; they greeted her, she returned their greeting and said to them, “Brothers, pray to God that He may show you in what company I am.” Whereupon they knelt down, and the Lord having opened their eyes, they saw Mary, with a crown in Her hand, standing at the bedside of the dying woman. Suddenly the Mother of God and the virgins in Her retinue sang a hymn. At this heavenly song the soul of the shepherdess broke its bonds, Mary received her in Her arms, placed the crown on her head and took her to Heaven.