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Our Lady of Purgatory

The forgiveness of an offense relieves suffering souls

The holy doctors Augustine and Gregory reduce the suffrages offered for the dead to four types: Holy Sacrifice, prayer, fasting and almsgiving. More recent theologians add a fifth, which is to forgive an offense received with the same intention; and since this act has something more heroic and supernatural, it is by this very fact of great effectiveness. Let us see the proof in the following miracle.

In a town in Italy, in Bologna, a rich and noble widow had an only son whom she loved dearly and who was for her like the ward of her eyes. This young child used to play a game in the public square with others of his age, a game he loved. One day, a stranger who was passing by disturbed the game with obvious ill will. The child, who was lively and quick-witted by nature, shouted at him to be quiet, and added some rather harsh expressions. The latter was no less irascible: he drew his sword at once, ran at the unfortunate child, hit him, plunged his sword into his chest and threw him to the ground without life. He had no sooner accomplished this crime, than he felt all the horror of it, and, with his bloody sword in his hand, began to run before him, until, seeing an open door, he rushed in. It was precisely the house of his victim! He quickly climbed the stairs, without knowing where he would end up, and arrived in the apartment of the unfortunate widow, whom he did not know. For her, at the sight of this man, of this naked sword covered with blood, she remained completely speechless. It was the affair of a short moment; because at once, hearing the stranger asking her in the name of God for asylum against those who were pursuing him, her piety was softened; she locked him up in a hiding place, promising not to hand him over. She believed that it was an involuntary murder or a simple imprudence, and was totally unaware of the occasion and the victim.

However, the officers of justice had followed him closely; they saw him enter this house and entered it themselves shortly after him, asking for him loudly. They looked for him in all the corners, under all the furniture, but in vain. When they saw this, as they were about to withdraw, one of them said, “This lady must know that the one who was killed is her own son; she would not, therefore, I imagine, want to shield such a murderer from justice.”

At these words, which were at once confirmed by all the others, the poor mother felt her heart pierced with a mortal blow; she fell down fainting. When she came to, it was thought that it would be impossible to save her, as the blow had hit her so hard. But soon a great strength descended upon her, and, entrusting herself to Providence, she adored His eternal decrees, promising to forgive for God’s sake this cruel insult.

Moreover, grace acting more and more on her heart, she resolved to return good for evil, and to do for the murderer of her son what she would have done for her own son. Without delay, she went to find him in his hiding place, did not reproach him, gave him a purse, with a horse she had had prepared, and urged him to escape the consequences of the murder by fleeing.

What was the reward for such a beautiful trait of Christian magnanimity? The pious mother, all in her grief, had retired to her room, in front of an image of Our Lord, and she was praying for her dear deceased, when he appeared to her shining like a sun, with a happy face, holding in his hand the palm of triumph: “Good news, dear mother, he said to her, dry your tears; put an end to your pain. You must not pity me, but envy my fate. The Christian generosity which you had shown yesterday pulled me immediately from purgatory. Oh! that I owe you much more for having given birth to me thus to the eternal life than for having given me the life of the body! Divine justice had condemned me to long years of suffering for my faults; but your forgiveness completed the atonement in an instant, and I am with my God, where I will remain for eternity. Let us therefore rejoice and sing of His benefits.”

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