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


Confidence in Mary

A poor young soldier had received a bullet wound in the chest in General Foster's attack on Goldsborough, North Carolina, and was left for dead on the field. One of the ambulances, which were sent to bear the wounded men to the temporary camp erected after the battle, passed near him.

He was speechless, but not unconscious, and, while trying to staunch the blood, kept saying mentally: "Mother of God, I am in mortal sin; don't let me die without the priest." So it seemed a marvellous and direct answer to prayer when he heard the voices of the men now almost beside him. But they, perceiving that the end was fast approaching, said heartlessly: "Oh, there's no use in minding him; he will be dead before we can get him into the ambulance," and they went on, leaving him to his fate.

The poor fellow heard every word, and prayed the more earnestly to Our Lady not to let him die in his sins. The relief party had already gone a considerable distance when one of the men, more humane than the rest, said to his comrades: "I must go back to that poor fellow; I cannot let a fellow-soldier die like that without making an effort to save him." So he induced some of them to return with him, and when they came to the wounded man he had regained strength and speech enough to cry out: "I will not die, I will not die; for the love of God take me out of this."

Tenderly they raised him, and fixing him as comfortably as circumstances would allow, carried him on a stretcher to the camp where so many of his brother soldiers were struggling in mortal agony. When all the wounded men had been thus gathered together they were brought to the military hospital at Newberne, which was conducted by the Sisters of Mercy. When the doctors had examined and dressed the wounds of the poor soldier who had so fervently implored Our Lady's help, they told the Sisters that there was no possible hope of his recovery; that his death was imminent and might be expected at any moment. He had lapsed into unconsciousness during the operation, so one of the Sisters took her station at his bedside, watching for a lucid interval in which to prepare him to meet his God.

And she did not watch in vain. After a little time she noticed him groping for something on which, when he had found it, he fixed his eyes with such a contented expression that she bent over him to find the cause and speak some words of comfort, and saw him grasping tightly
-----his scapulars.

"Thanks be to the Mother of God, Sister," said he; "she heard my prayer, and did not desert me!"

Then in broken accents he told of his terror lest he should die in the condition in which he had been left on the battleield, and of his oft-repeated prayer
-----"Mother of God, I am in mortal sin, don't let me die without the priest." "And now, Sister," he continued, "will you send me the priest without delay? I know I have not long to live, and it's many a year since I went to confession."

The good chaplain of the hospital hurried to the bedside of the dying man, and the interview was not a short one. With the utmost fervour the soldier made his peace with God, was anointed, and received Holy Viaticum and, after the Sister had helped him to make his thanksgiving, he told her that, although from boyhood he had led a wild and reckless life, he had always preserved some remnant of the love for Our Blessed Mother which his own Irish mother had endeavoured to plant in his heart when he was a child. On enrolling himself in one of the militia companies formed so rapidly in those troubled times, he had procured a pair of scapulars with the first articles of his uniform, thus placing himself under the protection of her who was to protect him so visibly in the end.

His touching prayer to Our Lady, when left among the dead and dying, was prompted, no doubt, by the scapulars to which he clung so fervently; and she "to whom no one ever had recourse without obtaining relief" inspired his soldier companion to go back to him before life was extinct, and strengthened him miraculously until his soul was renewed in the Blood of the Lamb.

After the great efforts consequent on his reception of the Sacraments he seemed to rally for a few hours, but then sank into a state of complete exhaustion, and on the evening of the second day after his arrival at the hospital his soul went forth to meet the merciful Judge, Who, through His Mother's intercession, had granted so rare a grace to a poor sinner.

The above image is a composite of two public domain images: the soldier is by the late Warner Sallman, famous for his pictures of Christ. All rights reserved, except for non-profit use.


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