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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Reverend Father Anthony of the Mother of God, General of the Trinitarians, worked generously for the re-establishment of his Order in France, which is so happy and proud to count Saint John of Matha among its children. The following fact honors his charity and shows once again how effective is the recourse to Mary to obtain the conversion of poor sinners.
Cardinal Antonelli, longtime Prime Minister of Pius IX, was the object of hatred by certain revolutionaries who, in their perfidious plots, had sworn to his death. The unfortunate man assigned to thrust a homicidal dagger into the heart of the cardinal, waited for him one evening in a corner of the Vatican to carry out his criminal plan. The minister of Pius IX was returning from a conference with His Holiness, when the brigand swooped down on him and was about to pierce him with his murderous weapon; but the cardinal, protected by Heaven, pushed aside the fatal steel and called for help… The assassin was rushed in and seized, and was handed over to justice and sentenced to death.
Several men of God visited this unhappy man in his dungeon, in order to bring to his guilty soul the consolations of the faith; but he seemed to laugh at remorse and rejected with a frightening insensitivity their pious and pressing requests. Father Antoine, general of the Trinitarians, learning of the little success of the zealous priests who had offered the condemned man the help of their ministry, went to him, tried to stir up this hardened heart by painting the frightful torments that God’s justice was preparing for him, if he did not throw himself into the arms of mercy; but nothing shook him, nothing moved him… However, the sun has disappeared from the horizon and the night comes to add, by its darkness so dreadful for the guilty, an even darker tint to this sad picture… The holy religious does not want to leave the prison; he hopes against hope and does not cease to pray the Lord to have mercy on this unfortunate man… Suddenly he had an idea: to show the condemned man a medallion that he always wore on his chest, a wonderful painting representing the Virgin Mary, her heart pierced by a sword and holding the sweet Child Jesus in her arms. “Ah!” said the assassin, looking at this pious object with a smile full of rage, “if I had thrust my dagger into Antonelli’s heart as it is thrust into the heart of your Madonna, I would die a hero, while I die a villain!”
The day dawns; the unfortunate man, accompanied by the venerable Father is led to the place of torment; but before reaching it, they both enter a small chapel which is placed there as the last stop of life before reaching eternity. The religious implores Mary once again and beseeches her with tears to take pity on this soul redeemed by the blood of her divine Son… He then approaches the patient, presents him once more with the image of the Mother of Sorrows: “At least,” he says to him in a voice trembling with emotion, “look at Her well before you die.” The unhappy man takes the medallion, contemplates it, then cries out with transport: “Holy Virgin Mary, You have broken the ice of my heart, You have overcome my guilty resistance… O my Father, help me to be reconciled with my Judge before appearing before Him…” The converted sinner confesses with the signs of the deepest repentance, receives the Holy Bread of the eternal journey, and then bravely climbs the scaffold… But before delivering his head to the executioner: “Father,” he says to the holy religious, “let me see once more the image of Our Lady, let me give Her a last kiss!” After this act of lively faith and touching piety, the condemned man handed himself over to the executor of human justice, who did his work. Fortunately for the poor patient, charity had also nobly done its own, changing the instrument of his torture into that of his deliverance, and the cruel death into a precursor of a blessed eternity!…