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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
In 1834 there lived in Angoulême a former cuirassier who, not having the strength to bear certain punishments of which the subject is unknown, resolved to free himself from them by taking his own life.
Uncertain for a few moments about the kind of death he should choose, he decided on poison, thinking that he could more easily hide his crime from the public, and soon his horrible project was carried out. He was not long in feeling the effects of it: cruel pains warned him of the sad success of his guilty action. Immediately he went to the hospital and asked that he be allowed to spend the night there. The cause of my death will not be known, he said to himself, and my memory will not remain faded. But the Superior declared that she could not receive him without a bill from the administration. The unfortunate man, forced to withdraw, no longer knew what to do. In this perplexity, he felt his arm being squeezed, and heard a voice saying to him: “Go to Saint Peter’s and confess to Father Mathurin.” Shaken by this warning, he did not offer the slightest resistance, went to the church designated by the voice, and sent to beg Father Mathurin to come and confess him. The latter, overwhelmed with fatigue, told him to come at another time: it was then Lent, it was three o’clock in the evening, and the good priest had not yet broken his fast. However, the unfortunate man made new requests and assured him that later it would not be time. So the priest went to the confessional, and the penitent told him that he had just been poisoned. At this declaration, the confessor showed him the obligation he had to allow him to divulge the secret. The soldier, touched by grace, grants him this permission, and as the fire that burns in his entrails, the acute pains that he feels throw him into a quite desperate state, the charitable priest pulls him out of the confessional, takes him out of the church and hurries to drag him to the hospice. His driver immediately asked for a counter-poison; but while it was being prepared, the priest touched the patient’s pulse and found none: a livid complexion, cloudy eyes, everything announced a forthcoming death. At this sight, his heart pierced with pain, but full of confidence in divine mercy, the fervent priest threw himself on his knees and recited the litanies of the Blessed Virgin. At the first invocation, he felt the pulse of the dying man return, and soon afterwards he heard a few words being spoken. “O my good Father,” he said to her in a very weak voice, “Father, pray, pray again.” Then he sighed and said again, “Holy Mary, pray for me!” Soon his consciousness returned entirely to him.
Father Mathurin, in the enthusiasm of such a marvelous change, asked him if he had not retained some practices of piety. “No, Father, for a long time I have not prayed.” But, after thinking for a moment, he uncovered his chest and showed a scapular: “Here is the only sign of piety that I have kept. – Ah, my friend,” cried the priest, “I am no longer surprised at the miracle that has just taken place; it is Mary who has protected you, it is to Her that you owe your life.” However, the doctor, arrives, and, after hearing the necessary details of the patient’s position, he assures that a superior power alone could have prolonged his life beyond two hours after taking the poison, one of the most active known. Five hours had passed since that fatal moment! The counter-poison became useless. The doctor proposed to draw up a report to attest the truth of the prodigy; but the humble priest, fearing that the miracle might be attributed to the fervor of his prayers, did not consider it appropriate to make the fact public.
It was told to me by persons worthy of faith. May it give you a new confidence in Mary.
(Month of Mary, by Father Michaud).