The Blessings of Mary
Taken from
Irish Ursulines, 1920 with IMPRIMATUR


The Conversion of a Hardened Sinner

A landowner at Bourbon-Lancy led so wicked a life that he was considered as one of those who are the disgrace of the parish in which they live. This man at length fell sick, and was pronounced by his physicians to be past recovery. The pastor of the parish received notice of this, and began to devise means for getting access to him in order to bring him to think of his salvation before it should be too late. He succeeded in getting admittance to the sick room, but the unhappy man showed himself insensible to everything that could be urged concerning the necessity of making his peace with God. He only replied by insolent expressions, regretting that he had not foreseen his sickness that he might have avoided it by committing suicide. Meanwhile it was easy to see that he had but a few hours to live. He dismissed his pastor with these words: "Go away. I forbid you to come any more to molest me." The pastor retired, his heart overwhelmed with grief to think how soon a reprobate was about to be lost.

We shall conclude the narrative in the Priest's own words: "I had proceeded a few hundred paces, and was about three-quarters of a mile beyond the house, entirely absorbed in thinking of the scene which I had just witnessed, when it came into my mind that the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Confraternity under the name of the 'Refuge of Sinners.' I addressed myself to this good Mother, as to my last refuge. It was midnight. I hastened to recite, almost in the middle of the fields, when all was calm around me, with all the fervour of which I was capable, the prayers of the Confraternity, the 'Memorare,' and several times, 'Mary, Refuge of Sinners, pray for us.' I terminated my invocations with the following: 'O Mary! if what one of your most devoted servants said of you is true, if it is true that you are the refuge of sinners, ah, I implore you, show it to me at this moment by saving that wretched man, ready to fall into the frightful gulf of Hell; the more unworthy he is, the greater will be your kindness and mercy towards him, the greater reason I shall have to bless you. O Mary! deign to come to the aid of your unworthy servant by rescuing him from the frightful position in which he is placed.'

"At that very instant I felt myself impelled to retrace my steps, and I had hardly gone back a little distance when I heard a man on horseback approaching me, riding full gallop. When he came near I asked him where he was going. He replied: 'To Bourbon to seek the Priest.' 'What for?' 'To hear the confession of M._____.' 'Stop, then, I am the Priest. So he has made up his mind?' 'Yes, it is he who asks for you.' I hastened to return. On my arrival I found the man completely changed. He stretched out his arms to me, saying, 'Reverend Father, I am at your service. Hear my confession and help me, I beg of you. I am the greatest sinner you have ever seen.' His wife, who was a good Catholic, expressed her joy at this happy change. I heard his confession, administered to him the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, and said for him the prayers of recommendation for a departing soul. He died a few moments after. Those present could never forget the event. I attribute it all to the Mother of Mercy."


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