The Blessings of Mary
Taken from A GARLAND FOR OUR LADY
Irish Ursulines, 1920 with IMPRIMATUR
The Lighted Candle
There lived in Paris a poor old couple who dwelt in a miserable garret, for which they had to pay twenty francs a year. They often lay down to sleep hungry, and many a time for their breakfast, they had only an old crust of bread, which had to be first soaked in water, before they could eat it. They were ashamed to make known their poverty, for in former years, they had been in good circumstances; but little by little, through no fault of their own, they had gone down in the world. Finally, they sold all their goods, until nothing was left to them.
It was Saturday, and they had not a single penny, or even a piece of bread. The wife was sickly, the husband lay ill in bed; the day passed in the most fearful anxiety, night came, and no food had passed their lips. So, sadly, they sat down together and wept, and prayed. Sunday was still worse, and, in the evening, the fearful pangs of hunger forced the woman to leave her husband's side, and go out into the streets.
She meant to beg; but, as often as she tried to do so, shame closed her mouth, and she returned home, more exhausted and discouraged than when she went out. They had tasted no food for two days, and tears of anxiety and distress rolled down their pale, sunken cheeks. "We shall die, my poor wife," said the old man, "God has forsaken us." His wife made no reply; but, after some time, she lifted her head, and said, as if with a sudden inspiration, "We will invoke the Blessed Virgin, she is the Consoler of the Afflicted, and the Refuge of the Sorrowful; she will help us. I have still a little bit of candle, which we will burn before her picture. I feel confident she will send us help." No sooner said than done. They found the candle, lighted it, and placed it before a small picture of Mary, which was still in their possession, because none would buy it. Then the two old people knelt down, and prayed with many tears.
Now there was living in another part of the same house a needlewoman, whose child was ill. When she got up in the night to tend her little invalid, she noticed that the two old people still had a light. She knew them slightly, and whenever she met either of them, she would salute them.
"Perhaps something is the matter," she said to herself, and without more ado she dressed herself, took a lantern and went to look after the old couple When she opened the door, a pitiful sight met her gaze! There lay the unhappy pair, pale and trembling, before Mary's picture, having fallen on the ground through sheer exhaustion. She went up to them and kindly asked what was the matter. Am in many tears they told her, and the good woman disappeared again quicker than she had come. She went to her little room, got some bread, broth, and whatever else in the way of food she could lay her hands on, and then returned to the old folks, whom she warmly embraced and consoled.
The following day this kind neighbor told the parish priest and the superior of Saint Vincent's Society, who both went at once to the house and reproached the poor people gently for having so long concealed their distress. The help was lasting, and a few days later the old couple came in for a little fortune, left them by a distant relative. In after years, how often would they relate that they owed their deliverance to the Mother of God, and that but for the little candle, or rather for their great confidence in Mary, which inspired the happy thought of lighting it, their neighbor would not have come to their aid, and they would have succumbed under their privations.
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