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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Several years ago, the prison of Toulon was the scene of a horrible crime. In a moment of anger and spite, a convict stabbed his guard. The culprit was condemned to death, and the execution was to take place in two days, when the prison chaplain came to bring the culprit the consolations of religion and to speak to him about the eternity that was about to open before him. But the unfortunate man belonged to one of those faithless families who, on principle, have an implacable hatred of religion. Having learned the name of the Lord only to curse and blaspheme Him, the convict greeted the priest with coarse insults and obscene words. Nothing repelled Mr. Marin, the chaplain, whose untiring zeal had been so often put to the test by rebellious and hardened convicts. Gentle words, hope in a God full of goodness, happiness of heaven, punishments of hell, eternity of torments, everything was used, but in vain, to bring down this indomitable obstinate man, who only answered with cries of rage and terrible roars.
The priest finally withdrew and, turning his gaze towards the Refuge of sinners, he addressed Mary and entrusted her with the cause of the galley slave, which had become his own. He asked the fervent souls of the city to pray, for there was no time to lose: already the machine was rising, and they were counting only by minutes until the moment of execution. Monsieur Marin presented himself a second time to the convict, cross and rosary in hand. They wanted to prevent him from doing so, telling him that it was useless, that the unfortunate man had only redoubled his imprecations against God and religion, and that in order to reduce him to silence, they had been forced to gag him and chain him. But the holy priest, who knew that everything could be expected from the power and mercy of Mary, had the doors opened, and full of confidence in the One he had invoked, he advanced towards the unfortunate man, who was foaming with rage and despair. The convict responded with a horrible curse to the words of peace and blessing addressed to him. Without letting himself be discouraged, the chaplain approaches, and taking advantage of the situation of the chained prisoner, he throws around his neck the rosary which he had in his hands, and tries to wrap him in these bonds of mercy.
O miracle of grace! O impenetrable prodigy of love and mercy! the lion is overcome, the enemy falls defeated! No sooner had the rosary touched him than he asked for forgiveness. O Mary, this was one more proof of your power over the Heart of God. Such a villain who hated his Creator seemed unworthy of mercy, and his conversion seemed hopeless. But is there anything impossible for Her whom God has clothed with His power? She obtained for this wretch a complete reconciliation with what he had so blasphemed; peace returned to his soul; he was transformed. When the galley slaves contemplated this nature, at first so intractable, so perverse, and now so gentle, so resigned, they did not return from their astonishment, and paid homage to the One who made such great sinners into such great penitents.