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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Exclusive Representation of the Nativity Scene.
In the time of St. Dominic, there lived in Florence a person whose conduct was a public scandal. This lost sheep named Benoîte, in the midst of her greatest disorders, had never let a day pass without making some prayer in honor of Mary; and this was the source of her salvation. God, who had a merciful view of this poor sinner, allowed St. Dominic to come and preach in Florence. A feeling of curiosity led Benoîte to go and listen to him. While she was hearing the word of life, grace acted so strongly on her heart that she returned to herself; she went to the preacher immediately after the instruction, confessed to him with a deep sorrow for her faults and the firm resolution not to fall into them again. At the same time she shed abundant tears. She received absolution and was reconciled with God. But alas! soon opportunity and the force of habit triumphed over her resolutions; she returned to her first errors.
St. Dominic learned of this: he went to seek out this unfaithful and ungrateful soul and persuaded her to go to confession again. This time the conversion was solid. A terrible vision served to strengthen her. Benoîte saw herself in hell where she heard the screams of those whose loss she had caused. It seemed to her that long pages of her sins were written before her eyes. Full of fear and out of her mind, she called Mary to help her; she saw, at the same moment, this good Mother who was opposed to her being locked up in the awful dungeons of hell. Then she hears a voice saying to her: “Benoîte, thank your Protector, and never forget that it is to this Mother of mercy that you are indebted for the time you are given to expiate your abominable sins.
The vision disappeared; but this book which had been made to see the converted sinner was unceasingly before her eyes, and did not leave her any rest; unceasingly she prayed to be delivered from this torment. “O my loving Liberator!” she often said to Mary, “since You have obtained for me enough life to mourn my sins, make this blessing complete: let me see them erased.”
One day when she had just repeated this prayer, interrupting it with sobs, Mary assured her that her request was granted, but on condition that she would always have present in her mind the mercy which the Lord had used towards her. Benoîte, full of consolation, was faithful to the lesson of her powerful protector; she persevered in virtue and crowned a penitent life with a holy death.