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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
It was in London, one evening in the winter of 1883; a beggar named Jane, wearing miserable rags, was crossing the streets, looking for bread and shelter. Suddenly she saw something glinting in the mud which she picked up: it was a Rosary whose silver chain and cross shone in the darkness. “I’ll go and sell this, thought Jane, and with the money I’ll buy two pence’s worth of bread, and go and sleep at Mother Grand’s at a penny a night.”
Quickly she looked for a silversmith’s store; she saw one small and dimly lit. She entered it. A woman dressed in mourning, with a calm and gentle face, said to her in a steady voice: “What do you want? – Would you like to buy this?” Jane answered brusquely, holding out the Rosary. The woman took it reverently, and glancing at the beggar:
“My daughter, she said, do you know what this is?
– It is silver, I know it well.
– I’m not asking you that: do you know what these beads are, strung at equal distances? Do you know what this man lying on the cross at the end of the chain is?
– Do I know? replied Jane.
– Poor child, said the pious woman, you don’t know that this man is the Son of God who died on the cross to save us! You don’t know that the ten grains of the cross represent His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection! You ignore that on each of these grains is repeated the word that the Angel brought from heaven to the Virgin His Mother, to announce the Incarnation of the Word!
– No one has ever spoken to me about this.
– You do not know Jesus, our good Savior! Mary, the Mother of all men, the help of poor sinners, the consolation of the afflicted! Don’t you know that Jesus, the blessed Son of Mary, saved us from hell and opened paradise for us?
– I didn’t know that, said Jane, I’m a poor reprobate!
– God forbid!” cried the shopkeeper.
Then looking more closely at the beggar, her heart was moved by so much misery, and she said to her:
“Do you have parents? A home?
– Nothing; my father died under a bush, far from here, in Comberland; they put my mother in the Work-House; she died there too. How I came to London, I don’t know; what I do know is that I would like to be at the bottom of the Thames, for I would not be cold or hungry.
– My child! said the merchant, do you want me to take you to a house where you will no longer be cold or hungry, and where you will be taught to serve the good Lord and praise the Blessed Virgin Mary?
– No more cold and hunger, repeated Jane, but it will be in heaven!
– No, replied the merchant, but this is the way to it.”
In the following September, one of the girls taken in at the Good Shepherd house in London, received baptism. It was Jane. Her joy and fervor touched the whole assembly. Her godmother was the good and pious merchant who had been the instrument of God’s mercy for her.
When the beggar girl picked up the silver rosary in the streets of London, she saw it as a valuable object that would give her bread and shelter for the night. Later, instructed by the Good Shepherd nuns, she saw the rosary in a different light: the simplest Rosary became more precious to her than all the jewels, because it provided her, not with the bread of the body, but with the bread of the soul; not with the corporeal and earthly life, but with the spiritual and heavenly life; it gave her the hope, not of a temporary happiness, but of an ineffable and endless bliss. Thus the Rosary, considered with the eyes of faith, becomes dearer to us than gold and silver, since it provides us, not with perishable goods, but with eternal treasures.