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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
In the year 527, during the reign of the son of Clovis, there was a school in Bourges which was very popular with the children of the city, rich and poor. A Jewish craftsman had a ten-year-old son who went to school every day with his little friends from the neighborhood. He learned everything he was taught as best he could. After reading, writing and counting, he would play in the street with his friends. He had noticed that many of them had the habit of entering the church where they went to pray and greet an image of the Blessed Virgin, which is still revered today under the name of Our Lady of Bourges. The young Jew imitated them; he ingenuously honored the One he intended to call the Mother of God. His father, always taciturn and busy, hardly spoke to him when he returned home, and the child never had the opportunity to give him an account of what he was doing. Thus, without baptism, he had become little by little half a Christian.
When Easter came, all the Christian children who had made their first communion dressed in their best clothes and went to the Holy Table with joyful hearts. The Jew’s child, seeing them so happy, joined them. He heard Holy Mass on his knees and followed his young comrades to the Holy Table where he received the Divine Eucharist with them. Before leaving the church, he went with all the other children to pray before the venerated image of Our Lady, which he knew well.
His absence that day was longer than usual, so when he returned home, his father asked him where he was coming from so late. At that moment, the wicked man was busy heating a large oven in which a very hot fire was burning.
The poor child told his father, with great naivety and without believing himself to be reprehensible in any way, how he often went to church with his young friends to greet Our Lady, and how he had just received communion with the others. Immediately the father, carried away with anger, seized his son, threw him into the oven, and to activate the fire, which was already so hot, he threw in two bundles of dry wood. All this was done in the twinkling of an eye. The Jew’s wife arrived in the meantime; from the end of the street she had seen her son coming home; she asked her father, who kept a gloomy silence. Accustomed to the bad temper of this man, the poor mother, full of anxiety, searched in vain for her son throughout the house; not finding him anywhere, she went to the oven, which was so hot that it could not be approached. The two bundles of wood that the Jew had thrown into the oven collapsed, half devoured by the flame, and the poor mother thought she saw her beloved child at the bottom of the furnace. Seized with terror at this sight, she uttered cries so heartbreaking that the neighbors ran to her in fright. O prodigy of mercy, O ineffable goodness of Mary! All those present saw the child full of life in the midst of the flames that surrounded him. Immediately the blaze that was blocking the opening of the oven was cleared away and the child emerged safe and sound without having suffered anything. “I was preserved, he said, by this Lady who is on the altar and who came to shelter me from the flames.” The crowd, delighted at the sight of this prodigy, understood that the child was pointing to Our Lady of Bourges who had come to save this innocent man, the living tabernacle of Jesus Christ whom he had received at the church of Our Lady.
(Memoir on the church of Notre-Dame de Bourges)