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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
In the happy days of our fathers, a thousand features of Mary’s protection against the attacks of Satan were known. Generations preserved the memory of it, and the marvelous stories, passing from the mouths of mothers to the hearts of little children, were colored by the attraction of the past, the maternal memory and charmed the awakening of their imagination.
Thus, in Flanders, the miraculous story of a picture maker devoted to Our Lady was told. His brush was devoted to reproducing the features of his Patroness, and the Queen of Angels would not have disdained the skies of gold and azure, populated with Patriarchs and Saints, illuminated with sparkling stars, in the middle of which the painter liked to make Her sit. One day the artist was asked to decorate with frescoes the vault of a large church of Notre-Dame. The field was vast. All that the imagination had ever dreamed for the glory of the Mistress of his thoughts would find a place here. What a joy to make this beloved image shine above the slender columns, the resplendent canopies, this forest of pillars, this world of sculptures! How he was going to make Mary’s virginal mantle float on the unevenly contoured arches, whose undulations would imitate the whims of the zephyr playing in the folds of azure and gold! Kneeling on the flagstones of the great nave, the pious faithful will believe to see, in a celestial apparition, the divine Mary pushing aside the clouds, and descending in the middle of the waves of light to listen to their vows. The pious hopes of the painter of the Virgin were soon converted into reality.
He had completed the image of Our Lady holding Her Son in Her arms, and presenting Him to the earth as the only pledge of salvation and happiness. Never had a figure breathed under his brush with such charm, grace and majesty. She was indeed the most tender Mother, the merciful Consoler of all miseries, but she was at the same time the proud Dominatrix of the infernal powers. To complete this last idea and make it almost meaningful, the pious painter had represented at Her feet the hideous image of Satan, whose head She was crushing.
But the devil, displeased to see himself so well represented, meditated his revenge. One day when the artist was abandoning himself to the inspirations of his genius, spreading life and color on this world that he was creating at his will, the ancient enemy of men shook the scaffold on which he was mounted. Suddenly, the enormous frame collapsed with a crash, the planks falling from the height of the vaults onto the pavement of the nave made all the echoes of the cathedral resound. One runs to this noise. Through the cloud of dust that rose above the debris, one could see the painter of Mary suspended at the top of the vault, held by the powerful arm of the image of Our Lady, who had come forward to help him at the moment when he was about to fall. The faithful Virgin did not let go of Her protégé until a means of rescue had been organized to reach him. Then the marvelous arm resumed its immobility, and the image of Mary continued to smile under the features that the artist had lent Her.