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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
In the vicinity of Rome, there was a young man who lived a dissolute and scandalous life, and because of this he became an object of both horror and terror. His excesses, his continual violence, aroused in him determined enemies, who resolved to take his life. The unfortunate man, in the midst of his disorders, had preserved a great compassion for the souls in purgatory, for whom he had masses said from time to time, or gave alms; he even prayed for them with all the fervor of which he was capable, in this sad state of conscience. This unique devotion was to miraculously save his soul and body.
One evening he went to Tivoli, mounted on a good horse, thinking he was escaping the pitfalls he knew were set against him, but it turned out that he was walking right in front of them. Indeed, not ignoring that he had to pass by there, they had placed themselves in ambush armed with bow guns, behind a small wood, and awaited his arrival to kill him. He was rapidly approaching this place, when he saw above his head the limbs of a criminal tied to the branches of an oak tree for the example of the criminals. Moved with pity, he stopped to recite a few prayers, as was his custom, for this poor abandoned soul. But here, as he was praying, an inconceivable marvel struck his eyes, in the last rays of the day: these emaciated, withered, separated limbs joined together, fell to the ground, came to life, and approached the rider in a living form. He remained in his place, nailed by terror. The ghost took the horse’s bridle and said to the young man, “Get off and let me ride for a moment; your salvation is at stake! You will wait for me here; I shall not be long.” Such was his terror, that, without uttering a word, he dismounted and left his horse in the hands of the resurrected corpse, who mounted it and threw it forward.
At the noise they heard, the enemies got ready, raised their bow guns, discharged them, and, seeing the rider fall, fled as quickly as possible, before the blow attracted people and made them discover. They were sure they had finally killed their man. They were wrong. The latter, trembling and beside himself, had not moved when he saw the specter coming back, who stopped and said to him: “You have just heard this discharge of bow guns; it was destined for you: you would have died infallibly: dead as regards the present life, dead as regards the soul. The suffering souls in Purgatory, for whom you have a compassionate devotion, have obtained from God that I come to your aid in this extreme peril. Acknowledge this immense blessing, by continuing to pray for them, but even more so by changing your life and behaving henceforth as befits a Christian.”
This speech finished, the corpse resumed its place, as if an invisible hand were tying it to the branches. As for the young man, there is no need to dwell on the conversion that had taken place in him. A few days later, he decided to bid farewell to the world to do penance in an austere order, where he lived in great perfection.
How true is this word of divine Scripture: The man of mercy ensures the happiness of his soul!