THE PASSAGE OF BROTHERS
TO THE NEXT LIFE
5.1 Those who suffered for the faith
5.2 The happy deaths of the brothers
5.3 Various visions during the deaths of brothers
5.4 Revelations made about the deaths of brothers
5.5 Purgatorial pains of the brothers because of various attachments
5.6 The plots of the devil to ensnare brothers
5.7 Different things that help the deceased
5.8 The evil end of apostates
5.9 Those who were famous for miracles after their deaths
5.1 Those who suffered for the faith
5.1.1 The Order of Preachers was founded by Blessed Dominic at Toulouse, especially to combat heresies and errors. For about forty years the brothers struggled against heresies and tyrants who defended heretics, working in hunger and thirst, in cold, nakedness and many tribulations. Finally Pope Gregory IX gave the brothers a formal commission to query and convert the heretics and their patrons throughout southern France. (118) This mission exposed the brothers to many dangers.
In Toulouse the prince and his supporters issued many threats against the brothers and finally made a public decree that no one should have anything to do with them, not even to sell or give them anything. They also put guards at the doors of the brothers' house so that no supplies could be brought to them. All the brothers said they were ready to suffer martyrdom for the faith and obedience to the Roman Church and were eagerly waiting for this, when the prince expelled them all from the city. So they left, glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for their faith in Christ (cf. Acts 5:41); they went out in procession, two by two, loudly singing the Creed and then the Salve Regina.
Likewise, for the sake of the faith the brothers' house in Narbonne was broken into and their holy books torn up by irreverent mobs. In many other places the brothers were taken prisoner and robbed, so that they could not make their rounds without an armed guard.
In the year 1242 on the vigil of the Ascension of our Lord, (119) William, Bernard of Rochefort, and Garcias of Aure, all Papal inquisitors, were put to death at Avignon in the diocese of Toulouse. Their companions, the Franciscans Stephen and Raymond Carbonne, along with Raymond, archdeacon of Toulouse, the monk Clusinus, prior of Avignon, and three other assistants were all put to death by the heretics for their faith in Christ and obedience to the Roman Church. They died singing the Te Deum.
On the night they suffered, a woman of the same diocese but in another town shouted out during childbirth: "I see the sky opened and a ladder being let down to earth, while much blood is being shed on earth." As she looked at the brightness of the ladder and admired the redness of those going up it, she gave birth without noticing the pain. Some shepherds keeping watch in the same region saw the same appearance.
Likewise, as the illustrious king James of Arragon (120) that same night was keeping vigil on the frontier of the Muslims, he saw a great light coming from the sky, and he said to his soldiers, "Be sure that God has done something great this night."
Similarly in our convent at Barcelona that night many brothers saw the sky open and a light come down, lighting up the whole sky.
5.1.2 A citizen of Carcassonne who heard of the brothers' death turned to them in prayer and immediately recovered from a serious illness which had kept him down for two years.
The daughter of the Marshall of Mirepoix commended herself to these martyrs and was immediately freed from a very serious illness. A William of Murello, who suffered from a high fever, came to the grave of these martyrs of Christ and was immediately cured; such cures happened to many at their graves.
When the heretic Arnand Rufus of Filière heard of the death of the archdeacon Raymond, who had frequently disturbed him about his faith, the same day he said to a crowd of friends, "I am going to Avignon to see if Raymond, that talkative village writer, could really die." When he came and saw the holy archdeacon lying in his blood, he kicked him and said, "Lie there, talkative village man; speak now if you can." Immediately Arnand's was struck with an incurable wound in the same leg.
Shortly before their suffering, a religious brother in the convent of Bordeaux saw at the feet of a crucifix a picture of three brothers killed by many armed men. Wondering about the meaning of that, he told me the story, since I happened to be there at the time.
In the house of Prouille, Sister Blanche had such a bad infection in her jaw that she could not eat or talk. The night before the feast of the martyr Saint Vincent, (121) while the sisters were keeping watch around her, they asked if she would like to have some cloth from Brother William, who was killed at Avignon for his faith in Christ, to place on her jaw. She nodded in agreement, and the cloth was brought with great reverence and devotion and placed on her jaw. Immediately she spoke, saying, "I am cured by the merits of Brother William, the martyr of Christ."
A few days before their martyrdom, the Franciscan brother, Raymond Carbonne, saw in a dream a golden crown shining with nine jewels coming down in a great light over the house where they to die. Admiring this, he said, "Oh, how miserable are the men of this earth who see us crowned in this way for the faith we profess and yet do not convert to the Catholic faith." When he woke up, he told the prior of Prouille and all his companions the whole story. When Brother William heard it, he said, "You can be sure that we will soon be killed for our faith in Jesus Christ."
A brother in the convent of Bordeaux, while praying, saw God hanging on the cross and blood flowing plentifully from his right side, while the Blessed Virgin was collecting the blood in a golden chalice. He also saw three brothers whom the Blessed Virgin sprinkled with the blood that she collected. When he saw this, he also was eager to be sprinkled, but then the vision disappeared. Not long afterwards, he heard that the same brothers he had seen sprinkled in the vision had been killed by heretics for their faith in Christ.
The day before the brothers were killed by the wicked men, that is, on the vigil of the Ascension, a devout woman came up to the prior, Brother Columbus, and said, "Sir, this morning while the brothers were celebrating Mass, I dozed a little in the church and saw the Jesus on the cross that is in the middle of the church lower his right arm which was dripping with blood. As I looked on in amazement, he called me and said, "Go and tell the prior to put the relics in such a place." The next day, when the bodies of the brothers were brought, the bishop and the prior and brothers agreed that the place indicated by the woman, which was to the right of the crucifix in the church of the brothers, was the best place to bury them.
Since the Papacy was vacant at that time, (122) when they heard of the crime, all the cardinals of the holy Roman Church wrote to the prior provincial and brothers of Provence this letter: "You know, dearest sons, how your Order was founded by the most holy Father Dominic in the region of Toulouse for the defense of the faith, the planting of good morals, the consolation and edification of the faithful, the uprooting of heresy and the thorns and thistles of vice. That the unbelievers might not find fault with your holiness, you have renounced all possessions and other worldly things, and taken on the yoke of voluntary poverty. As you turned your minds more and more to the Old and New Testaments, you obtained from God the heavenly gift of learned speech. But we have sadly learned that some people, like madmen raging at their spiritual doctors, have committed a horrible crime against the servants of God, the inquisitors, and their companions and assistants. Yet they could not have benefited them so much by receiving them civilly as they did by persecuting them with the sword, since by this way they became martyrs of Jesus Christ. Not only the reason for which they died, but the time, kind and manner of death and all the circumstances point to this."
5.1.3 In the year 1252, on Easter Saturday, Brother Peter, prior of the Preaching Brothers at Como in Italy, was sent by the Pope as an inquisitor against heresy. (123) He was martyred by wicked people for his piety of faith and obedience to the Roman Church; that took place in the territory of Milan, as is more fully described in the letter of his canonization.
This blessed man was a native of Verona in Italy, and almost all his relatives were heretics. Around the age of eight, when he was coming home from school for the summer, he was asked by his uncle what he had read. He answered, "I believe in God the almighty, Creator of heaven and earth," etc. His uncle argued against him, saying, "Do not say creator, since the creator of the visible world is not God, but the devil." Though a boy, he insisted on believing and saying it as he had read it. Then his uncle tried to prove by citations, as the heretics do, that the devil created the world, and even resorted to threats to tell him what he should believe and hold. But it was a wonder that all his arguments could not convince the boy, clearly showing what a future defender of the truth he would be.
The uncle was angry with the boy, went to his father and advised him to withdraw the boy from school, telling him the whole story of what had transpired and how he had failed to convince him. He added, "I am very afraid that with the passage of time, if he becomes very learned, he will convert to that harlot Church of Rome and refute and destroy our faith." He was foretelling the truth, although with a bad motive. But because the matter was in the hands of God, the father would not agree to withdraw the boy, believing and hoping that after he was educated he could, through the leaders of his sect, bring him to his own way and convert him to any belief he wanted. The boy was a virgin and endowed with a sharp intellect when he entered the Order of Preachers under Blessed Dominic, and dedicated himself totally to preaching and the refutation of heresy.
A brother who frequently used to accompany him in preaching, asked him to teach him a prayer. He answered, "This is the prayer which touches and delights me the most: When I elevate the body of the Lord or see it elevated by other priests, I ask the Lord not to permit me to die any other way than for my faith in Christ; and I have always been saying this prayer."
Once when he was disputing with a heretic who was very smart and well spoken, he noticed his cleverness and did not want to protract the disputation, but by mutual agreement set another day to answer these questions and others that might be proposed. When he left, Peter sent to neighbouring convents asking for brothers experienced in disputations with heretics to come on the appointed day, but none of them showed up. So on the appointed day the heretic came with a multitude of followers, stood in the middle and, like Goliath, called for a one to one debating contest. Saint Peter came with one companion, and when the heretic sharply and subtly propounded his errors and said, "Answer me, if you can," Peter asked for time to think about his reply. This was granted, and he went aside for a while into a chapel that was nearby. Prostrating before the altar with many tears he asked the Lord to defend his cause and either to pour the light of the true faith into that heretic or to deprive him of his power speech which he used against God. He then got up from prayer, went back and, standing in the middle, asked his opponent to repeat his position. The heretic then became completely mute and could not say a single word. So the heretics left the place greatly shamed, while the faithful praised God. This story Blessed Peter himself told to two discrete brothers.
Once, before an audience of many bishops and religious and most of the people in the town, Blessed Peter was examining a heretical bishop who had been arrested. It was a hot afternoon after a day of preaching and examination, and the heretic was with Blessed Peter on the large wooden platform that the people of Milan had built out of devotion to Peter for his preaching. The heretic said, "Peter, you pervert, if you are as holy as these stupid people say you are, why do you allow them to be beaten by the sun? Could you not ask the Lord to bring a cloud to shade this stupid mob, so that they may not die from the heat?" Peter answered, "If you are willing to promise that you will give up your heresy and convert to our faith, I will ask the Lord and he will do what you say." At that, many of the heretic's supporters shouted, "Promise, promise!", believing that Blessed Peter would not do what he had promised, especially since the sky was clear, without the faintest cloud in sight. On the other hand, many bishops and Catholics were worried about the obligation on Blessed Peter, afraid that the faith might be put to shame. Nevertheless, the heretic agreed, and Blessed Peter confidently said, "That the true God may show that he is the Creator of everything visible and invisible, and may console the faithful and confute the heretics, I ask him to sent a cloud to shade this people." And that is what immediately happened; when he made the sign of the cross, a cloud came and shaded the people like an umbrella for a good hour.
Once after Blessed Peter was involved in some disputations and arguments with the heretics, his mind began to become agitated about certain articles of the faith. When he realized that this was a temptation of the Evil One, he turned to prayer, prostrating before the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary and very devoutly invoking her through her Son kindly to take that temptation away for him. As he prayed, he began to dream and heard a voice telling him, "I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail" (Luke 22:32). He then got up and noticed that his doubt had completely vanished; and never again, as he himself stated, did he feel such a temptation again.
A year before his passion, Blessed Peter, with Brother Gerard of Trent, was passing near a castle of heretics called Gath, and he told his brother: "This castle will be destroyed in a religious campaign, and the bodies of Nosarius and Desiderius, two heretical bishops who are buried there, will be burned to ashes in its tower." That is exactly what later happened subsequent to the preaching of some brothers against heretics. Thus the Holy Spirit was at work in his prediction.
Blessed Peter was preaching on Palm Sunday at Milan before a gathering of about ten thousand people, when he publicly said, "I know for sure that the heretics are plotting my death, and that there is a bounty on my head. But let them do what they want, because I will be of greater harm to them when I am dead than while I am alive." Within a month he was killed by them, and what he predicted is being verified more and more each day.
In the monastery of Ripoli, near Florence, a trustworthy and devout sister was at prayer on the day that Blessed Peter was martyred near Milan for his faith in Christ, and she saw Blessed Mary in glory, sitting on a throne with two brothers from the Order of Preachers sitting on either side of her. While she was admiring this scene, she saw them all taken up to heaven. When she asked who they were, she heard a voice telling her, "Brother Peter of Verona is ascending to the presence of the Lord like sweet-smelling incense." After a few days she heard that he was martyred on the very day that she had this vision. So with great devotion to him, she prayed earnestly to him to help free her from an health problem that had bothered her for a long time; immediately she received full recovery.
This vision refers also to Blessed Peter's companion, Brother Dominic, who was wounded along with him and died a short time later. He is believed to have gone straight to heaven with him.
A youth from Florence who was affected by the heresy one day went with some other youths to the church of the Preaching Brothers in Florence and stopped to look at a tableau depicting Peter's martyrdom with the killer striking him with a sword. He commented, "I wish I had been there, because I would have struck harder." At this he was struck dumb. When his companions asked him what was the matter and he did not answer, they brought him home. Then, slipping away from his companions, he went into a church and on his knees asked Blessed Peter to spare him, promising him from his heart, since he could not speak, that if he freed him he would confess his sins and renounce all heresy. Immediately he was freed and came to the church of the brothers, confessed his sins, renounced his heresy, and gave the confessor permission to publicize this event. As the brother was preaching about this, the youth stood up before the crowd of men and women and gave his own testimony.
A brother in the convent of Lyons was lying sick with an abscess in his neck; the doctors had given up on the case and he was near death, when he very devoutly asked the Master of the Order, who was then present, to bring him the relics of Blessed Peter. He firmly hoped to be cured because of his merits. When he was blessed with them, immediately he felt himself getting better, and he was completely healed.
A woman in Flanders had three times given birth to a dead male child. Because of this her husband loved her less, and even began to hate her and was thinking of divorcing her or not sleeping any more with her, when she conceived for a fourth time. Then, with full trust in Blessed Peter, she made a vow that if by his merits her child lived, she would do all she could to have him enter his Order or, if it were a girl, to enter the nuns' monastery. But she gave birth to a dead son as before, and when the bystanders wanted to hide this from her, she knew from their whispering that the child was dead, although she could hardly believe it because of her confidence in the merits of Blessed Peter. After insisting that the child be brought to her, she began praying with all her heart that Blessed Peter would raise her son. The amazing thing is that, as soon as she finished her prayer, the child revived. When he was brought for baptism, after they had agreed to name him John, the priest inadvertently named him Peter, thus confirming her devotion to Blessed Peter.
A boy who suffered from epilepsy was carried to the altar of Blessed Peter by his parents. They commended him to Blessed Peter, and he was completely cured.
Another boy, who had a fever for a year and a half, one day had a severe attack of it, and his parents commended him to Blessed Peter. As soon as they did so, the boy got up and said he was cured; he then asked to visit the tomb of Blessed Peter, and he was allowed to go.
Another boy had been seriously ill for so long that his father and mother had no hope for his recovery and only hoped he would die. But while the relics of Blessed Peter were devoutly brought in procession to the house of the brothers, the boy asked to be brought to the route of the procession, saying, "I have hope that Blessed Peter will deliver me." His parents brought him there, and after they had commended him to Blessed Peter he was cured as the procession went by.
Another boy had a swelling in the neck and a very large goitre. When he drank some water in which the vessel containing Blessed Peter's relics was washed, he then began vomiting the debris of his infection and in three days was fully recovered.
A girl who was swept away by a flood, and was under water as long as it would take to celebrate two private Masses, was pulled out dead. There were four proofs that she was really dead: the length of time she was in the water, the rigidity of her body, its coldness and its black colour. Yet she was brought to the church of the Preaching Brothers at Sens by some women who commended her to Blessed Peter. There she was brought back to life and full health. Many of the woman who were there were prepared to swear to the truth of this incident.
There was an abbot in the diocese of Poitiers who suffered so much from fever that he thought he was about to die. A friend of his, a brother of the Order of Preachers, visited him and told him that if he commended himself to God and to Blessed Peter who was recently killed for the faith of Christ in Lombardy, but was not yet canonized, (124) he would be freed from his fever. The abbot took these words to heart and devoutly had a candle lit on an altar in the church. Immediately he was delivered completely from his fever and recovered full health.
In Chalons, in France, a religious woman suffered so badly from epilepsy that she might go into a fit five, six or eight times in one day in front of everyone. Once she heard in a sermon that God had worked many miracles through Blessed Peter; so she went to the church of the Preaching Brothers, humbly prostrated before the altar of Blessed Peter and prayed earnestly, in these words: "O Blessed Peter, glorious martyr, please pray specially to the Lord for me, since you endured a most bitter death for faith in him. May he heal me from my sickness through your merits, according to what he knows what will be best for my soul." She had hardly finished her prayer when she felt in her body a good sensation that she had never experienced before, the sign of full health. So she exclaimed to someone who was there, "I believe that I am fully cured of my sickness through the merits of Blessed Peter, the glorious Martyr!" And that was the fact; thereafter she never had a recurrence of her illness or any sign of it, as she devoutly and humbly told her long-standing confessor, the prior of the convent of Chalons, who was amazed at her sudden cure.
Many other people who suffered from the same illness in that city were fully healed by the merits of Blessed Peter.
In the town of Arras, next to the convent of the Preaching Brothers there was a lumber yard with a quantity of wood worth a thousand Paris pounds. The stack of wood caught fire and a huge flame went up. The wind was driving the fire towards the church and house of the brothers, so much so that even the cross which was on top of the church caught fire. The brothers thought that their house could not escape being burned down. But one lay brother brought the relics of Blessed Peter Martyr to a dormitory window as a shield against the flames. As soon as he put them there, a strong opposite wind sent the flames away from that side, so that the house escaped all damage except for the cross, that burned before the relics were brought out.
The lay brother himself told me this, while many brothers who saw it also testified to the fact.
While some students were returning from Maguelonne (125) to Montpellier, one of them while jumping suffered a hernia rupture in his groin. He threw himself down by the roadside from pain, with his legs up and his head bent down, as he tried to push back his intestines, which had fallen into his scrotum. He was able to do so with the help of his companions, and this reduced the pain somewhat. But ask they went on, the paid became so great that he fell again and lay there almost dead. His companions were alarmed and looked for an animal to carry him home. But the patient remembered hearing in a sermon on the feast of Blessed Peter Martyr that a woman suffering from a cancerous wound put over it some earth that had soaked the blood of this martyr and was instantly cured. So he said, "Lord God, I have none of that earth but, since you gave such power to that earth through the merits of Blessed Peter, you can do the same to this earth." So, making the sign of the cross on the ground where he was, he called on Blessed Peter, put it on his wound and was from that moment perfectly cured. He and his companions went to the altar of Blessed Peter to give thanks and then told this story to the brothers under oath.
A lay brother at Cologne had a large tumour in his throat for almost two years; it deformed him greatly and the doctors considered it dangerous. In such a situation, he promised Blessed Peter Martyr to say one Our Father every day in his honour if he got that tumour to vanish and deliver him from this danger. As soon as he made this vow, the tumour began to reduce and it vanished entirely. All the brothers of that house thanked God and Blessed Peter, since all the remedies that the doctors had attempted were unable to help him.
A clergyman of Trier suffered from an extreme headache that almost drove him insane. When he commended himself to Blessed Peter Martyr he was amazingly cured that instant.
In the kingdom of Bohemia there was a woman who was so listless that nothing could get her moving. When her friends commended her to Blessed Peter Martyr in the presence of the prior and four of the brothers, immediately she woke up as if from sleep. She confessed to the prior that she saw a very dirty person who was choking her, but a holy man in the habit of the Preachers chased him away and thus restored her to health.
The wife of a nobleman in the same kingdom was seriously sick and commended herself to Blessed Peter, the new martyr. He then appeared to her in a vision, sprinkled her with holy water and she was fully cured.
In the town of Compostella, where the venerable body of Blessed James lies, a youth named Benedict became so sick that all who saw him thought he was about to die. His legs were inflated like wineskins, his stomach swollen like a pregnant woman, and his face so horribly bloated that the monstrous sight of him frightened people, especially as his eyes protruded and his whole body seemed blown up like a tube. He could hardly move even with a cane when, in May 1251, before Vespers, he hobbled to the house of a devout man who used to shave our brothers, and in front of many people asked her for an alms. The woman was shaken by both pity and amazement and commented, "You need a grave more than food, but listen to my advice. Go to the house of the Preachers, confess your sins and devoutly pray to Blessed Peter, the new martyr. I am sure that if you pray well, you will right away be restored to health." The devout woman insisted that she really believed in what she said, since in her own needs she had often experienced the power of Blessed Peter. The sick man took some buttered bread from the woman and promised to do what she said. But he did not do so that day.
The next morning he came to the house of the brothers and the outer door was locked. So he lay down near the gate and slept. While he slept a venerable Friar Preacher appeared to him in a dream, covered him with his cappa and led him by his right hand to the church. The youth then woke up, not at the outer gate, but inside, on the steps to the door of the church, which is not far from the outer gate. He found himself perfectly healthy and strong-hearted. So dramatically changed from a swollen, immobile invalid to a healthy, agile youth, he ran through the town to the woman's house in front of everyone who saw him near dead the day before. He told her, "I did what you said. See what Blessed Peter did for me by his merits." The woman examined his leg, which was perfectly cured, but still red in testimony of such a great miracle, and declared to her husband, to all present who saw him sick the day before, and to everyone around the church of Blessed James: "A miracle! See the miracle of our God. Yesterday he was swollen, could not hear, could not speak, could not walk, and was almost dead, but now he is in perfect shape, praising God." Some of our brothers saw this youth both sick and after he became well; so did more than fifteen men of that town.
In the city of Majorca a youth called Dominic had suffered from an every-third-day fever for about a year, and also from dropsy which left his whole body so swollen that he could not go anywhere, even around the house, without a cane. As the sickness became worse and his throat became swollen, he could no longer speak or take any food or drink; so the doctor judged he was as good as dead. Afraid because of what the doctor said, the youth's wife told him, "Entrust yourself to the new martyr, Blessed Peter, promising that for the rest of your life you will fast on the vigil of his feast day." At this, the sick man indicated to his wife by sign language to bring a candle as tall as he was to the alter of the martyr. When she did this, he opened his mouth, spit out a great deal of bloody puss and began to speak. He was thus cured not only of the disease in his throat, but also of his dropsy and every-third-day fever. So he thanked God and Blessed Peter, his martyr.
A woman in the town of Metz had given birth to seven boys, some of them born dead, and others half alive who lived only a short while after receiving baptism. It so happened that a brother that she knew was coming from a provincial chapter, carrying with him the relics of Blessed Peter Martyr, sent by the prior provincial to his convent. While his friends and acquaintances were rejoicing at his return, that woman was weeping very bitterly. When the brother asked her the reason for such weeping, she picked up spirits to say, "I am pregnant, but am sadly awaiting another unfortunate delivery, just as has happened to my other seven children, as you know." He replied, "Do not fear, but trust in the goodness of God and the merits of Blessed Peter, the new martyr of our Order. Commend yourself and your delivery to him, promising that if it is a boy you will call him Peter and will present him every year with an offering at the altar of the blessed martyr, and that you will go to church on his feast day, hearing his Office and the sermon. Be sure that he will deliver you from danger and preserve the life of the child you are bearing in your womb." When she heard this, she was thoroughly exhilarated and firmly believed the brother's words without hesitation. With her sadness turned to joy, she said, "And all that you said, I vow that I will do." When the time came for her delivery, it was easy for her; she had a vigorous male child, and at his baptism she had him named Peter. He is now a very fine boy. This case became so well known in the city of Metz that from then on women in labour began to call on Blessed Peter of the Order of Preachers, and many felt they were helped by doing so.
Brother John of Poland told that he had an every-third-day fever at Bologna at the time he was supposed to preach the sermon to the students on the feast of Blessed Peter Martyr. The night before he was fearfully expecting the natural rise in temperature, and was very worried about missing the sermon he was assigned to preach. But then he turned his heart to ask the most holy martyr to pray for him. He devoutly went to his altar and prayed that by his merits he might be able to preach about the saint's glory. It so happened that the fever stopped that night and never disturbed him again.
5.2 The happy deaths of the brothers
5.2.1 The first and last abbot of our Order and later prior at Paris for a long time, the venerable father, Brother Matthew, told that when Brother Reginald, formerly dean of St. Aignan at Orléans, was near death, he came up to him and asked if he would allow himself to be anointed, since the struggle of death and with the demons was near. Blessed Reginald replied, "I am not afraid of that struggle, but am gladly seeking and looking forward to it. The Mother of mercy anointed me at Rome; I trust in her and desire very much to go to her. But, lest I seem to despise the anointing of the Church, I do agree and ask to be anointed." After he was anointed before the brothers gathered in prayer, he slept in the Lord.
5.2.2 Master Jordan, of blessed memory, in his booklet wrote the following: When Brother Evrard, Archdeacon of Langres, a man of many talents, a hard worker and good counsellor, entered the Order, just as he was so famous in the world, so in the Order he was an example to many by the poverty he accepted. As he travelled with me to Lombardy to see Master Dominic, he fell sick near Lausanne, where he was once elected bishop but refused the office. As he saw the doctors whispering sadly, he said to me, "Why are they hiding from me my exit from this life? I am not afraid to die. Death should only be hidden from those who find it bitter to think of death. But no one should be afraid of his earthly house being destroyed, if he has the consolation of expecting in exchange an eternal house not of human making in heaven." So He quickly finished this troublesome life with a happy death. (126) As a sign to me of how happy his death was, instead of feeling troubled, as I thought I would be, at the loss of such a good companion who was so useful to the Order, I was suddenly filled with joy and devotion; my conviction that he had gone to a state of joy prevented me from shedding the least tear.
5.2.3 Brother Conrad, a religious man and an excellent lecturer in the Order, whose conversion is told in the life of Blessed Dominic, (127) foretold the time and place of his death. As he was struggling with constant fever at Magdeburg, the brother who was taking care of him said, "Brother, Christ is calling you. When he comes with his angels to visit you, let us know." Conrad nodded his head in agreement. On the vigil of Blessed Catherine, before the prior and the brothers, he began singing with his beautiful voice, "Sing a new song to the Lord. Halleluia!" (Psalm 149:1). He could say nothing else, and shut his eyes as if dead. When the brothers were saying the seven penitential Psalms, he suddenly opened his eyes and said to the brothers, "The Lord be with you." They answered, "And also with you." He continued, "May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace." They answered "Amen". When the prior spoke to him and he did not answer, the community began the gradual Psalms; when they came to the words, "This is my resting place forever" (Psalm 132:14), he lifted his arm and pointed his finger to heaven, and with a smile and happy face breathed his last. Then the prior said to his server with tears, "Brother Robert, he surely has satisfied your request." Then he said to the others, "Brothers, let us prostrate, for I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is really here." When they did so, many experienced an unbelievable and undescribable sweetness and devotion. And those who dressed the corpse testified that they sensed a wonderful and delightful smell that stayed on their hands for many days.
5.2.4 Brother Peter of Guerche, subprior of Dinan in Brittany, for many years had the custom of remaining at prayer after Matins. One morning he went back to bed and heard a voice telling him, "Get up; do not spare the body; there is no time for you to spare it." He got up, secretly told this to his confessor and went with tears to the altar. That very day he became ill and after a few days had a holy death. In that land many take him as a saint of God because of the great holiness he had while he was alive.
5.2.5 A brother of the convent of Tours, who was for a long time a cantor in the Order, suddenly fell sick and went into delirium without receiving the sacraments of the Church. As the prior was very troubled about that neglect, he called the community and had them pray for the sick brother and led them to him carrying candles and Holy Communion. When the brother saw the community present, he was visited interiorly by the Lord and came to his senses; he devoutly made his confession to the prior and received his last anointing and the Eucharist. Then, as he felt he was nearing death, he intoned before the community the responsory Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna. They sang this with its verses and shortly afterwards he died in peace.
5.2.6 Brother Walter of Rheims, a very pleasing man, eloquent and very zealous for souls, had spent many useful years in preaching when at last he came to the end of his life in the convent of Metz. After receiving the sacraments of the Church and heard the brothers exhorting him to confidence, he replied, "Brothers, have no fear for me; I am dying in the true Faith, with sure hope and perfect charity." He shortly afterwards passed to Christ. The brothers who were present told this story to others.
5.2.7 Brother William, once an official of the chancery of Sens, after being assigned to the convent of Orléans, asked the brothers not to talk to him about his sins or the pains of hell or any other thing that might make him afraid, but only about the joys and happiness of heaven. As the brothers were weeping, since he was a very useful and revered person in the Order and loved by all, he said, "Why are you crying, brothers? If I am going to glory, you should be glad for me and for yourselves, since all is gained. If I go to purgatory and burn there for a while, I have merited it. As for hell, be sure that I will not go there." Meanwhile, a brother came from outside who had not heard what he said, and asked him, "Brother William, how are you?" Very well." Then the brother began to exhort him to be patient and to go to confession. But the dying brother calmly said, "If I have put it off to this moment, I am too late." Shortly afterwards, with wonderful hope and consolation, he slept in the Lord.
5.2.8 In the same province, in the convent of Dijon, Brother William of Châlon-sur-Saone, a very devout youth, was nearing death. As the brother infirmarian took his pulse and found it low, he told him, "Be glad, good man, because you are going to God." The brother was then excited with wonderful joy and began singing loudly before the brothers All glory, praise and honour, to you Redeemer King and the following three verses. Seeing his wonderful and unusual devotion, some brothers brought him a crucifix. He sat up and began kissing it with great reverence, and again began singing loudly O crux, ave, spes unica; his voice was so sweet that it almost seemed to be the voice of an angel. Afterwards, without saying anything else, he slept in the Lord.
5.2.9 Brother Nicholas, a lecturer of the Preaching Brothers at Bruges, in Flanders, was very sick at home and was approaching death with a very happy face, when a brother tearfully asked him to tell him what inner consolation he had received from the Lord. The brother could not keep quiet because of his joy: "Yes, I have really received a consolation, because the very Lord Jesus promised to be present at my death." "And I ask you, by the same Lord, to let me know by your finger or a nod when you see him present." "I will gladly do so, if the Lord permits me." After Terce was celebrated and his sickness became worse, the clapper was sounded and the brothers hurried to the infirmary. As the brothers were praying and interceding for him, the dying brother pointed with his finger to a certain place and, with his eyes filled with tears, began singing very sweetly the antiphon In Galilee you will see Jesus, as he told you. Halleluia. When that was finished, he breathed his last.
Those who were present told me this story with great joy.
5.2.10 In the convent at Paris there was a very devout and fervent novice who became sick and, after receiving the sacraments, could no longer speak. His brothers then poured a bit of chicken broth into his mouth from a pitcher with a spout. He then opened his eyes and said, "What a wonderful place the Lord has prepared for his children." When Brother Henry of Germany, who was present, heard that, he had some more chicken broth poured into his mouth, and he opened his eyes again and said, "As soon as I lie down, I go quietly to sleep" (Psalm 4:9). The third time they poured the broth, he spoke a third time: "But those who are tottering for their crookedness, the Lord will turn them away with the evildoers. Peace upon Israel!" (Psalm 125:5). He then rested in peace. Brother Henry ran to the Psalter Commentary and found that, in that verse, the word "peace" means every good in our heavenly home.
5.2.11 In the same convent there was a brother from Lombardy named James, who was so intent on his moral and intellectual formation that he reached great perfection; in his heart and speech all centred on Jesus crucified, and he said that the greatest unhappiness was not to love such a Lord. Since he was pleasing to God, he was allowed to suffer a miserable temptation, in the form of a serious illness that showed his weakness.
Whereas before he seemed ready to die for Christ, he became so impatient that nothing could please him. He could not stand the food or his bed, and the name of our Lord Christ which had been so sweet to him he could not endure to hear mentioned. He even said that the Lord had deceived him, for after serving him he crushed him with such a violent sickness that he had no control over his body or spirit.
After the brothers prayed for him for some time, he gradually began to grow patient and endure his suffering silently. Finally he became so patient that he began to eat what he previously refused to touch and said that everything was very good for him. Yet the long sickness had wasted his body so much that he could not turn in bed unless the brothers rolled him. Everyone was amazed how his soul could remain in such a wasted body. Therefore Jesus did not forget his poor one, but kindly covered him with the oil of gladness; the bones that were humbled began to rejoice, so much that he looked forward to death with desire and was filled with unspeakable joy whenever anyone spoke to him about it. When Master Jordan, of holy memory, arrived and learned of him, he went to see him immediately and, sitting on the bed where he lay, said to him, "Do not be afraid, dearest brother, because you will soon go to Christ." At that, with the help of God, he suddenly sat up, put his arm on the shoulder of the Master and exclaimed, "Good Jesus, bring my soul out of prison, so that it may praise your name." He then fell back on the bed and slept in the Lord.
So if we see any who are impatient in their sickness, let us not judge them or be indignant. If God sometimes shows anger, it may be part of his plan; he is the one who gives wind its power, and his mercy is eternal.
5.2.12 A novice was in his last agony in the convent of Strassburg in Germany and the brothers had already commended his soul to its Creator, when suddenly he opened his eyes and said, "Listen very dear brothers, I see myself like someone who went to the market and bought an expensive load of goods for a small price; see, I am now receiving the kingdom of heaven, and I do not know how I ever merited it." With this, he rested in peace.
5.2.13 Brother Conrad, once prior of Constance in Germany, was wonderfully patient in his last illness, even though it was very painful. With a smile he often repeated slowly and with devout pleasure the words: "My love is mine and I am his... before the day-breeze rises, before the shadows flee" (Song of Songs, 2:16-17).
Sixteen days before his death he told the brothers, "You can be sure that I will die from this sickness on the feast of our Lady." That is what happened, since he died during First Vespers of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and was buried the next day. The last Mass he said and the last sermon he preached were also in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
Shortly before he died, as the brothers were gathered around him, he said, "You can be sure, my brothers, that I am dying faithfully, lovingly, trustingly and happily." He explained: "I am dying faithfully, because I am going with faith in Jesus Christ and with the sacraments of the Church; lovingly, because since I entered the Order I hope I have persevered in the love of God, and I have always tried hard to do what I thought pleased him most; trustingly, because I know that I am going to the Lord; happily, because I am going from exile to my homeland, from death to eternal joy."
When he received the body of the Lord, he stretched out his hands and said, "This is my God and I glorify him; this is God my Saviour. My soul, receive him joyfully, since he is a sweet friend, a wise counsellor, and a strong protector." Then he asked Brother Ralph, who was then acting provincial, to absolve him from all faults and give him the bitterness of death as penance for all his sins; he added, "I believe that you can do this." When this was done, he said, "Now I am all right." Lastly he said, "Save your own servant, who trusts in you, my God" (Psalms 86:2) and the prayer Fidelium Deus for the dead. Afterwards he quietly rested in the Lord.
5.2.14 Brother Benedict of Pont, a religious and humble man who was very dedicated to preaching and often shed tears from devotion, had for a long time devotedly preached in Spain, France, Aquitania and overseas in Syria. When he was sent from the convent of Clermont on a preaching mission and had celebrated Mass and preached in a certain church, he called his companion and the chaplain of that church and asked him to anoint him as quickly as possible, since he was now sick and would die. When this was done after much insistence on his part, he asked his companion quickly to bring him his book and read to him the meditations of Blessed Bernard, so that his devotion might be roused. As his companion was reading the chapter, "O soul, sealed with the image of God" and the sick brother was shedding many tears, in a short time his holy soul went to the Lord whom he had thirsted for. He was pleasing to God; so God speedily brought him to himself.
5.2.15 In the convent of Montpellier a young brother, who was an excellent cantor, was nearing death. The venerable man and holy brother Columbus, who was prior then, gave him holy anointing and asked him to sing the beautiful antiphon of Blessed John the Evangelist: "Lord, receive me, so that I may be with my brothers, as you have come to invite me. Open for me the gate of life and lead me to your heavenly banquet. For you are the Son of the living God; at the command of your Father you saved the world; we thank you forever." After singing that most beautifully before the brothers, who were all in tears, at the last words he rested in Christ.
5.2.16 In the convent of Avignon of the same province there was a prior, Brother Nicholas, who was a very pleasing preacher. As he was nearing death, he said to the religious men standing around him, "Tomorrow, on the feast of Blessed Michael, it will have been thirteen years since I entered the Order of Preachers. I trust in the Lord that tomorrow I will enter the Order of the angels." On that very day he died and was honourably buried by a cardinal and many bishops.
5.3 Various visions during the deaths of brothers
5.3.1 In the convent of Montpellier two brothers, Peter and Benedict, were seriously sick. According to the custom of the Order, the prior visited them frequently, and one day he said to the first, "How are you, dearest brother Peter?" He answered, "Very well, because I am sure of going to the Lord. As a sign that I am, Brother Benedict will migrate on the same day."
Then the prior asked Brother Benedict how he was, and he replied, "Very well," and added, "Yesterday I was thinking how good it is "to be dissolved and to be with Christ" (Phil. 1:23) and, as I was very eagerly longing for this and calling on the Blessed Virgin to help me, suddenly my spirit was lifted to such devotion that I have not been able to wish or think of anything but Christ."
A few days later, when Brother Peter died and the brothers were singing Psalms as they carried his body to the church, Brother Benedict asked his attendant who had died. Hearing that it was Brother Peter, he shouted, "Carry me as well, brothers, because I am supposed to go to the Lord the same day as he." As soon as the community came back, he died and was carried to the grave along with the companion that the Lord had given him. The one who wrote this was present at their burial and heard all this from the mouth of the prior.
5.3.2 In the same convent there were two brothers who were twins, born on the same day, who began school on the same day, entered the Faculty of Arts at Paris on the same day, entered the Order of Preachers on the same day, and migrated to the Lord on the same day. One of them, Brother Peter, had made a general confession, was anointed and received the body of Christ very devoutly, when the said to Brother Pontius, the prior, "Father, where to you want to send me?" Seeing that he was dying, the prior replied, "To the Lord Jesus Christ." "And whom will you give me as a companion?" "The Lord Jesus Christ, whom you received in the sacrament." Then the brother, exhilarated in heart and face, asked for the kiss of peace usually given to brothers about to travel. Shortly after this was given, he flew off to perpetual peace.
5.3.3 As the other twin, Arnold, was near death, the community, according to custom, gathered around him and commended his soul to the Lord. Another brother, Vincent, who lay sick in the same infirmary, had a vision of a very beautiful procession of the blessed, including Blessed Dominic shining in glory, gathering around the sick brother. As Brother Arnold migrated to the Lord, all those blessed, led by Blessed Dominic, left, but one of them said to Brother Vincent, "Be ready, because you will also come with us to the Lord." He told this to the brothers, and within a few days died.
5.3.4 In the same province, in the convent of Arles, there were two sick brothers: William and John. As Brother William was being visited by the prior and the brothers, he said, "I know that I will die from this sickness, but not alone. I will die on the vigil of the Assumption of Blessed Mary, and Brother John the next day." When the brothers asked him how he knew this, he answered, "I had a vision of myself being carried in a boat across a river by some brothers in white, when Brother John ran up and said, 'Wait for me, dearest brother, because I am going with you.'" So what Brother William predicted took place that very week.
5.3.5 In the same convent there were two other brothers who had laboured for many years, preaching. As they happened to be staying at a house of the Franciscans, they told each other and the Franciscan brothers the day they would die, and asked to be buried together. After a few days they fell ill. They died and were buried at the Franciscan house in Gap (128) on the feast of Blessed Lawrence, as the Lord had revealed to them.
5.3.6 Brother Giles of Spain, (129) a man of absolute integrity, wrote to Brother Humbert, the Master of the Order, who had been his very dear companion in the novitiate at Paris, giving the following stories:
18.104.22.168 Brother Peter was a medical doctor in the convent of Santarem, who was very kind; he willingly dispensed advice and help to the sick that flocked to him and did the best he could to relieve the pains of the brothers. One day after dinner when he was lying in the infirmary with two other sick brothers, one of them saw him lifted above his bed and move gradually up to the ceiling; he stayed there a long time and then gradually descended. After None, Brother Peter came to me, the third brother, and revealed to me in confession some of the things that he saw. I advised him not to tell anyone else, since vain glory easily sneaks into the hearts of people dedicated to contemplation, especially if an unusual vision is publicized. After going to confession, he left me.
Then Brother Martin called me and said, "Brother Giles, did Brother Peter tell you how he went to heaven in a rapture?" "How did you know this?" "I saw him with my own eyes being lifted up from his bed all the way to the ceiling of this hall." Then I told him also not to reveal this to anyone else.
One night while Brother Peter was praying before the altar, the devil, in the shape of a brother, suddenly dragged him by the leg and struck him in the shin. He was brought in great pain to the infirmary and an abscess developed on the spot that was struck. He soon died with great devotion, having had a foretaste of indescribable joy, and went to the still more indescribable joy of heaven itself. The lay brother who saw him lifted up, himself died a few days later. The brothers who were present at his death saw his face shine so brightly that the whole place and the book from which the prior was reading the commendation also were covered with light.
22.214.171.124 When the subprior of the same convent was dying, the prior, who died earlier in the same year, came to a brother who was resting in the dormitory and called him with a loud voice, "Get up, brothers, why are you sleeping? Go now to the subprior who is dying." We then heard the sound of the clapper as the brother woke us up, and ran to the infirmary, saying the Creed, and found that what we heard was true. This goes to show that our holy deceased brothers look after the living.
126.96.36.199 In the same convent a lay brother, name Martin, appeared to be in his last agony, and I said to the brothers gathered around, "Turn the brother to the east, so that his spirit may be directed to the Lord." Brother Martin replied, "I am not dying now, but will go to the Lord after eight days." So eight days later, the night of Christmas eve, as we were singing the invitatory "Christ is born to us", the clapper sounded and we ran and found him migrating to Christ, as he had foretold.
188.8.131.52 In the same convent, Dominic, a lay brother suffering from dropsy, asked me to have him carried to another quiet place. We did what he asked and, while we were at the conference that takes place twice a week in our house, a very beautiful and decent lady with a veil on her head and a shining dress came and sat on the edge of his bed, spoke sweetly to him and after a while left. When a brother came later to visit him, he found him shocked and saying, "What a shame that women enter the cloister of the preachers and, what is worse, do so without the brothers observing it!" The brother then ran fast through the house asking the brothers about this; he and I then came back to him and heard about the same vision.
The next night, which was the vigil of the virgin Saint Agatha, the sick brother began shouting loudly that he wanted to depart. As he was shouting and the brothers were gathered around praying, he died. So we concluded that Blessed Agatha was the woman who came to him, so that this virgin who suffered much for Christ might present this greatly suffering brother to Christ the Lord. I know myself that he was a virgin.
184.108.40.206 Another lay brother in the same convent was seriously sick and called for a certain brother. When he came he said, "If you had come more quickly, you could have heard my mother and sister, who you know are dead." These women had led a very holy life and were of great help to the Order. The sick brother continued, "A while ago they came to me and I said to them, 'How can you appear visibly to me when you are dead?' They answered, 'We obtained permission from the Lord through the Blessed Virgin to visit you. Be ready, because you will die tomorrow and many demons will appear to you. But do not be afraid; we will come to help you with many Preaching Brothers. When you see the Lord Jesus Christ, think of nothing else but of committing yourself completely to him.'" The next morning, as he had foretold, he died, although it seemed naturally incredible that he should. As his spirit was being released, the very motion of his body showed that his spirit was entering the Lord's presence.
220.127.116.11 Brother Ferdinand, formerly a church cantor in Lisbon and a highly esteemed person, had spent four holy and praiseworthy years at the convent of Santarem when he came to his end. He called for me, since I was related to him; I came, more concerned about the salvation of his soul than about his bodily health, and asked him how he was. He answered, "The gates of hell are closed to me; I will not go down there," and said nothing more. So when he died, his prior was weeping, while I was laughing. The brothers were saying, "Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger" (Psalm 6:2), while I was saying, "Praise the Lord from the heavens" (Psalm 148:1). No wonder I was happy, since I saw a man give up so much wealth and pleasure and in a short time win the grace of having the beginning of eternal life at the hour of his death. For a sign of eternal reward is peace of mind at death.
18.104.22.168 In the same convent there was a brother (130) who formerly was the chaplain of the bishop of Lisbon and who took the habit of our Order together with the bishop. When almighty God wanted to call him out of the world, he gave him a constant fever. On the vigil of the Ascension, while I was making my usual visit to the sick, he began calling me loudly, "Brother Giles, tomorrow I will die." He then lifted his eyes and hands to heaven and said, "I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, because I will leave the world on the day of your Ascension, a feast I always enjoyed more than any other." I thought this should not happen in the natural course of things, since he was strong and was getting out of bed to do necessary things; so I told him that even after seven days he would not have died. But he firmly insisted on what he had said. The next day he devoutly received the sacraments and, as the brothers were praying around him, he ascended to Christ as he had predicted.
22.214.171.124 Brother Peter of Ferrand had been trained in holiness in the Order from a young age and wrote a life of Blessed Dominic our Father; for many years he taught in various places in Spain. When he became sick at Zamora, a devout brother had a vision of him standing on top of a high mountain, with his face shining like the sun, and two very splendid young men standing on either side of him. Since I was there, the following day that brother told me about the vision he had seen and I understood that Brother Peter would soon die.
Then I came to him, sat on the bed in which he was lying, and said, "Brother Peter, you are now going home to Paradise. Greet for me Blessed Mary and Blessed Dominic." He was completely thrilled at this and said, "These are the things, Brother Giles, these are the things to talk to me about, because it is good to be there." When I saw him about to die, I said, "Dearest Brother, I ask you to help me after your death." He stretched his hands to heaven like someone sure of his reward and said, "I promise you that, with Christ, I will help you."
He then told me that he saw the Blessed Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist standing next to him, each placing a crown on his head, and said to me, "I leave this vision to your love; only I ask you to tell me what it means." Since I fully knew his life and his conscience, I said, "One is due to your virginity, the other to your preaching and teaching. Since you are a virgin and a teacher, you have acquired these crowns by the help of the Blessed Virgin and the disciple of Christ."
Then he asked me to call the brothers to him. When they were gathered, he said, "Brothers, there is no other Order which God so loves; hold onto it." He also said, "Some big person hates Zion, but do not be afraid, brothers, because he cannot harm you.' When he had thus spoken before them all, he slept in the Lord.
5.3.7 Brother Raymond of Lausanne, a holy man who had lived long in the Order, told that in the convent of Lyons there was a very religious brother named John. In his last agony, while the prior and Brother Raymond were present, he said, "What are you doing here, bloody monster?" When the prior asked, "Where is it?", he said "That is the demon wearing skins of an ugly old woman but, thanks be to God, I am not afraid of him, because the true faith will save me." After a while he slept in the Lord.
5.3.8 The same brother reported that in the convent of Le Puy en Velai in Provence, another brother, a priest by the name of William, had been given the last anointing and was then laid on ashes, when he woke up as if from a deep sleep, lifted his right arm, wiped his eyes and said before the whole assembled community, "Be glad, brothers, because there is joy in heaven and you all will be in that joy. See, the whole garden is full of angels waiting for me." He then turned to the prior and said, "Did you see the angel that gave me a kiss of peace?" When the prior asked whether he wanted to say anything to him, he answered, "From now on I am not under your jurisdiction; the Lord will pay you back for me." He said this, because the prior was sometimes hard on him during his illness. Then he departed in the Lord.
Brother Raymond heard this and wrote it down. Therefore superiors and infirmarians should be very careful not to make things difficult for the sick, since holy angels are visiting them and consoling them by their ministration.
5.3.9 In Provence there was a brother named Vigoreux, who had served the Lord for many years in the Augustinian Canon Regulars of La Couronne (131) who don't eat meat. Learning of the Order of Preachers, which had greater appeal to him, he obtained permission to enter it. There he spent fifteen years making progress in religion, studying assiduously, preaching fervently, hearing confessions willingly and with prudence, while he was pleasing to the brothers, humble to God, and devoted to his superiors.
At last he became seriously sick in the convent of Bordeaux and made a general confession to his prior provincial. The next day the doctors said that his pulse and urine had improved; so the prior told him before two brothers and the doctor, "Have no fear, dearest brother, because the doctors say that you will escape from this illness." He answered, "I neither believe nor want that." Then the prior told the others to leave and put him under oath through Christ to tell him why he said that. He said, "Yesterday, when you left after hearing my confession, and I was asking the Lord pardon for the sins that I told you, Christ himself appeared to me and said, 'Your prior heard your confession and I absolve you from all your sins. Do not be sad that he did not serve you very well, because soon my angels will serve you as you like.'" A few days later the brother died, and the prior provincial who heard this related the whole story to the Master of the Order.
5.3.10 When the most Christian king of the French, Louis, was getting ready to sail at Aigues Mortes, the best port of his kingdom, (132) many brothers who were going to travel with him came to the nearby convent of Montpellier. Among them was Brother Peter the Norman, who became gravely ill. After making a general confession and receiving sacrament of anointing, he had himself laid on ashes, as is the custom for the dying, when he called for the prior, to whom he had confessed, to come urgently. When he came, the sick brother asked if there was anyone else present, since his great weakness prevented him from seeing. When he heard that they were alone, he said, "Dearest Father, I want to tell you what the Lord showed me to console me and the brothers; you can repeat it after my death. Just now, while you were celebrating None in choir, I saw heaven opened and the mystery of the Trinity revealed, and I was given assurance of my salvation." A short while afterwards the brother died, and we believe that he passed through the gate of heaven. The subprior wrote down and reported this story.
5.3.11 Brother Julian, of sweet memory, who was prior of the brothers at Bordeaux, was about to travel to the General Chapter in England, (133) when he predicted his death to many good people, saying goodbye to them as if for the last time. He fell sick in the convent of Beauvais, in France, and was near death, when a religious person who was praying in the church of the brothers at Bordeaux, which is twelve days' journey from Beauvais, had a vision of him being lifted up from the ground in a cloud of light. When he asked him where he was going and why he was alone, he answered, "I am going to the Lord; do not worry that I am alone, because in a short while I will bring the whole community along." The person who saw this reported this vision to the subprior of the house, a very religious man, and with great weeping announced the death of the prior. He noted the day and the hour and found out later that at that very time the prior had migrated to the Lord. Subsequent events proved the vision true, since that summer a lecturer and eleven brothers died in the convent of Bordeaux.
5.3.12 Brother Peter of Digne, in the convent of Marseille, was a very pure youth and very pleasing. One religious person reported having a vision of him dressed in white, with a burning candle in his hands, and leading a long procession of saints. This brother told a close friend, "My dearest brother, I really believe that I will soon die; so remember me." In fact, he very soon finished his race, because his soul was pleasing to God.
5.3.13 A brother in England, during his last agony, saw a band of demons in front of him, and afterwards a choir of saints in shining dress, who were walking two by two in procession and over each two a crown was suspended. The sick brother gradually became more conscious and explained the vision: The demons were in black, while those in white were the brothers to came to his aid. The crown over every two indicated that not only preachers but also their companions in preaching get a crown. He had often been worried whether he himself would receive the reward of preaching, since he never preached, but eagerly accompanied many other brothers on their preaching missions. He then experienced a rapture of spirit and afterwards told the brothers that he saw himself assumed into heaven where he saw a very beautiful text of the Gospel according to Luke. He added, "Now I am going to listen to it." At this, he rested in the Lord.
5.3.14 Brother Walter, of the convent at Norwich in England, was a youth endowed with an elegant appearance, knowledge, eloquence and an excellent character. He had been given the last anointing and the brothers were devoutly chanting the penitential Psalms and the litany around him, when he said, "Brothers, at the beginning of this Office, the Lord visited me and showed me a very wonderful place where I listened to the words of Christ the Lord and his dearest Mother and then heard the very beautiful song of the virgins, which gave me consolation." Later he added, "Nothing can frighten me any more, because I am supported by the truth faith and have commended myself entirely to Blessed Mary." After saying goodbye to the brothers, he began to murmur the name of the Blessed Virgin. Then, as the brothers stood around praying, he seemed to be going into a deep slumber when he slept in the Lord.
5.3.15 Brother Walter, a man of great simplicity and piety, who lived in the convent of Cork in Ireland, predicted his death to a brother of the same convent. The next day he fell sick, and when a brother asked him how he was, he answered, "I am now well, because the fear of death which I had before has completely gone away, since the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me and consoled me, telling me that I would come to him on Tuesday." He said that on Sunday. The next day, after midnight, he began saying very devoutly the Mass for the dead in his bed. After singing the Preface, he was quiet for the time it would take to say the Canon; then he said aloud: "Per omnia saecula saeculorum". After singing the Our Father, his spirit departed around dawn of Tuesday, as he had been promised. The prior of that convent related this story in his own handwriting.
5.3.16 As Brother Henry, of the convent of Warsaw in Poland, was nearing his end, he devoutly received the sacraments of the Eucharist and the last anointing. Then, as he was looking at a crucifix placed before him, he began singing the end of the antiphon: "Confidently and happily I come to you; may you also gladly receive the disciple of Him who hung on you." When the brother who wrote this account asked him what he saw, he said, "I see the Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles." When asked whether he would join their company, he answered, "All the brothers who have served their Order will be given a place in the Order of Apostles." He later repeated the same thing and, looking at the cross, began to smile and clap his hands, showing the joy of his spirit in his face, eyes and hands. After a while he told all the brothers who were praying there, "Now the heretical demons have come to subvert my faith; but I believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one true God." Without saying anything else, he returned his spirit to his Creator.
5.3.17 Brother Raymond of Lausanne, a religious and trustworthy man who was mentioned above, told that when he was infirmarian at Bologna, another brother, named Boniface, asked to be anointed. Raymond neglected to call the community, and went to bed. When he came back to the infirmary after Matins, Brother Boniface said, "Brother, what have you done? If I had received the body of the Lord last evening, I would be in the palace that I saw, where Master Reginald, Brother Robert and other holy brothers who have died are living. They came to me and welcomed me into their company with great joy and sat me down. As I was enjoying their company, Christ the Lord came into the palace and told me, 'You must leave here, because you did not yet receive me.' So I am sure that if I had been given communion and anointing last night, as I asked, I would have remained with our holy saints and fathers in that very happy palace.
5.3.18 (134) In the province of Germany Brother Heidenrich and Brother Ulrich, of the house of Freiberg an der Mulde, one Lent went to a place known as the mountain of thorns. There, because of the huge crowd, they heard confession both before and after the celebration of None; they worked so hard at this saving task that both of them became seriously ill and could not be brought back home. But the Lord's mercy allowed them gradually to recover.
On the vigil of Easter Brother Heidenrich, who could hardly speak, said to Brother Ulrich, "Oh, Brother Ulrich, would it not be nice to have a partridge tomorrow to revive us?"He thought he could not eat anything else because of his illness. "Where could we get partridges at this time of the year?" Brother Heidenrich replied with a weak voice, "Why, the Lord can easily give us one." On the same vigil day, Brother Ulrich sent a servant with a message to a soldier in a nearby town. While the servant was returning and entered a valley near the Mold river, he heard the wings of partridges taking off. He ran down to the lake where they were and found one still sitting there. He picked it up and tucked it in his cloak, not knowing that it was a partridge. When he came to the brother who sent him, he said, "See, I caught a beautiful bird." When he brought it out, the brothers saw it was a partridge. Brother Heidenrich said to Brother Ulrich, "Did I not tell you that the Lord can easily provide us with a partridge?" So they ate it that Easter and thanked God.
Later this Brother Ulrich fell very ill in the house at Freiberg, where he was prior. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him, put her hand on the place where he was suffering most and reduced the pain. Then she told him, "You will suffer more serious pains before your death, and afterwards you will not suffer again." So before his death he suffered so much that his eyes almost popped out from the extreme pain.
Before this brother died, Brother Nicholas, who was sick in the same infirmary, saw many very beautiful virgins standing around the bed of Brother Ulrich. As Brother Nicholas was admiring their beauty, he said to them, "In the name of the Lord, you girls are really beautiful. Where do you come from?" One of them answered, "We are from the land of the angels."
5.3.19 (135) In the convent of Metz, there was a brother who denied himself much and was completely unassuming. He was very dedicated to preaching, both in French and in German, going by preference to small villages and among the poor. He happily used to go to the forest to collect wood to build houses and was faithful in doing other community tasks as well, so that he could say with the Apostle: "I have worked harder than all the others" (1 Cor 15:10). In choir he stood up straight, away from the seat and not leaning on any support. He overflowed with love of the Blessed Virgin, devotedly sung her praises, in every sermon preached about her, and at the end of each sermon told a miracle story about her"to make a good bone," as he used to say in his language.
At last he came to Toul where he became seriously ill. A good priest, who used to accommodate the brothers there at the bishop's instructions and expense, wanted to take him into his house. But he refused and humbly went rather to the hospice of the poor. While some were surprised at that and others indignant, he said, "It is very fitting for a poor brother to mix, live and die with the poor." The brothers of the hospice devoutly received him and prepared a decent place for him. For a short while during that sickness he became very sadmost likely thinking of his sinsthat he let out awful groans, deep sighs and anxious cries.
About midnight, as he was nearing death and the brother who was nursing him stood by, his heart was suddenly filled with so much joy, as he sang and clapped his hands, that he seemed anxious but unable to break his bonds with the body. In a soft voice he spoke as if to the Blessed Virgin appearing to him: "You did well to come, dearest Lady." Not once, but often he said, "Why can I not come to see you, Lady?" Again he said, "Lady, I am your chaplain and your poor preacher." He repeated this often in a whisper and after a while began to sing loudly, "Saint Theophilus, (136) you brought back the despairing apostate and restored him to grace." He sang this several times, and the brother who attended him and never read or heard it before, learned it from him. Afterwards the began singing loudly, "The choirs of angels sing joyfully to the glorious Virgin."
The brother-nurse, who was afraid that people would hear him singing so loudly and might not be impressed, asked him, "Brother is it good to make everyone hear you like that?" "My dearest brother, do not think I am doing this out of hypocrisy; a hypocrite is bad on the inside but good on the outside and is abominable to God. I am not like that, but cannot hold back from praising the glorious Virgin." As death came closer and he was almost silent, the brother-nurse said Matins alone before him; when he came to the last verse of the Psalter, "Let everything that breaths praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:5), he raised his head a little, lifted his hand to tell the brother to be quiet, repeated the words "Let everything that breaths praise Yah," and departed to Christ.
5.3.20 Brother Ulrich, of the house of Friesach, always spent his time in prayer, since he did not have the grace of preaching. One day he experienced such a strong rapture of love for the Lord that he could not rest anywhere; absorbed in love, he began to grow weak, thin and pale. At last he became so run down that the brothers anointed him. When they left him, only the subprior stayed with the sick brother, who closed his eyes and lay there without motion, but was very beaming in his face. The subprior observed with wonder this brightness of his face for a long while. Then the brother opened his eyes and looked around. The subprior said to him, "Dear brother, how are you?" He refused to say anything about his experience, but the subprior insisted, "I absolutely wish you to tell me."
For the good of obedience, the brother did not dare keep quiet and told what he had been shown: "My spirit was caught up and brought to a very beautiful place. As I was admiring the place and wondering what I should do, Blessed Paul came along with Blessed Dominic, with a cross in his hand. Blessed Paul said, 'Are you here alone?' 'Yes, sir.' 'Come and follow us.' I followed them and saw a city whose walls and gates were made of the brightest gems, with twelve gates of precious pearls; I also saw the souls of some people I knew while they were alive being brought into the city through those gates. I said to Blessed Paul, 'What is this glowing city?' 'It is the heavenly Jerusalem.' 'O sir, may I also enter it?' 'Not now, but tomorrow, as soon as the bell is rung for Terce, you shall enter.'"
Brother Ulrich asked the subprior to say nothing about this among the brothers until he saw whether it came true. In the morning Brother Ulrich asked that the infirmary be swept and cleaned, because visitors were coming. After Prime, the brothers who first finished their private Masses came first and, then the others, to see the brother whom they had anointed the day before. Pretty soon all the brothers who were in the house were gathered around the sick brother. He then signalled to the brothers, pointing with his right hand, and said, "Make way there for a visitor, because our Lord Jesus Christ is coming." Then he pointed with his other hand and said, "Make space there for a visitor, because our Lady, the Blessed Virgin, is coming." After this he stretched out his right hand and commanded the brothers to give way to John the Baptist, Peter, Paul and many others that he named; then, pointing with his left hand, he asked them to make room, "because Blessed Agnes, Catherine, Lucia, Cecilia and others are coming." He kept moving one hand and then the other and murmuring the names of saints who were coming. As the brothers were either reverently standing there or prostrating in devotion, the bell for Terce rang and his very blessed soul migrated to heaven, led by those who had gathered to be present at his death.
5.4 Revelations made about the deaths of brothers
5.4.1 In the convent of Lyons there was a brother named Gui, very religious, who formerly was prior of an old monastery of monks that he greatly reformed through his holiness and attention. He led a fruitful life in our Order and, during his last agony, an older and religious brother had a vision of a dead brother lying in the middle of the choir with a crowd of brothers in white standing around him in very great light. He also saw a very beautiful and well equipped cloister, and was told, "This man built this cloister." When he awoke and remembered that Brother Gui had rebuilt that cloister and had equipped it with spiritual and temporal goods, he took this vision as referring to him, and thought that he would soon die. Then he heard a voice saying, "Your dream was true, because he dwells in Zion and rests in Jerusalem." Shortly afterwards Brother Gui died.
5.4.2 The same brother another time had a vision that he was standing on the shore of a very fast river and saw a boat bouncing in the middle, while two brothers on the boat were very dangerously being tossed around. Someone else shouted, "Oh, oh, rescue those brothers who are perishing!" Then he heard a reply, "Do no fear; they will be saved, because they have the flower." He then saw that each of them had a flower of heavenly colour in his hand. The waves then calmed down and they suddenly went away in a rapture. After a few days two young brothers in the convent died. As they were dying they suffered very serious temptations, but because they had entrusted their strength and the flower of their youth to the Lord, they escaped those heavy waves of temptation.
5.4.3 When Brother Paul, a good man and very pleasing preacher, was sick and dying at Venice, a brother who was then lecturing there, a very devout man, was sleeping after Matins and in a dream saw a Mass being sung in choir. When the Halleluia was intoned, two angels came down and hurried to the infirmary. When the brother woke up, he told some older brothers about the vision and said, "I believe that Brother Paul will soon die." In fact, that day, while the Halleluia was being sung in the morning Mass, the brother departed, and the vision was fulfilled.
5.4.4 Brother Jordan told about two young very fervent brothers who were very good friends. When one of them died, he appeared to his friend looking more splendid than the sun and said, "Brother, just as we have heard and frequently talked about, so I have seen in the city of our God" (cf. Psalm 48:9). With these words the vision disappeared. (137)
5.4.5 In Germany an abbess of the Cistercian Order said personally and through her sisters many prayers for a deceased brother preacher, named Albert, who had often urged them to lead a good life. One morning, while half asleep, she saw an altar prepared before him so that he could preach to the people, but he was standing in the air. She shouted for fear, "Oh, Brother Albert is falling, because he has nothing to hold him up!" A venerable bystander then told her, "That brother is confirmed and can no longer fall." Thus consoled, she listened to what he was preaching, and he said, "In the beginning was the word," etc., up to the words "full of grace and truth" (John 1). He then added, "I saw this with my own eyes."
5.4.6 Brother Herman of Germany one night in a dream saw a mighty dragon chasing him all the way to Aldenberg, which is a monastery of nuns whose prioress was the daughter of Saint Elizabeth. (138) A few days later he was sent there to preach, and he predicted to many that he would die there, even though he was going in full health and happiness. When he arrived there, he said the morning Mass and in the evening died. At that very hour some pilgrims who were passing in front to that monastery saw a huge and splendid golden cross over the roof of the church. Attracted by its beauty, they went up to the monastery to have a closer look, but then they saw it no longer. Amazed at this prodigy, they told what they had seen to the prioress.
5.4.7 When a certain brother was preaching in the monastery of Saint Agnes of Madranich in Germany, a simple nun said to the abbess, "Ask which brother just died in the house of the Brothers Preachers." When the abbess asked the brother, he said, "None." But the nun said, "No, one of them has just died; I saw in a vision a wealthy man giving money in alms to many preachers who came to him. When a certain novice of that house suddenly came to him, the man said to him, 'Brother, you almost came too late, but because you came, you will have your alms, but you will have to wait a while.'" When the brother returned to the convent, he found laid out a noble man who had been carried to the house; in his last illness he had gone to confession and received the habit of the Order outside, and had commanded that he should be taken right away to the convent. But the brother had known nothing about this.
5.4.8 In the convent of Todi in Tuscany there was a very religious prior who earnestly asked the prior provincial, when he came, to relieve him of his office, but got nowhere. As the provincial was leaving, the prior knelt down before him on the road and said, "Since you do not wish to relieve me of office, I am asking the Lord to do so himself in his mercy." When he went back to the convent, he immediately fell gravely ill. The brothers sent an urgent message to the provincial to come back, because their prior was dying. That night in a dream the provincial saw himself preaching at the funeral of a brother on the passage: "Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham's embrace" (Luke 16:22). Amazed at the sudden illness of the prior and thinking about his vision, he returned to Todi and preached to the brothers and the people at his funeral on that theme, since it was within the week of the Sunday when it was read.
5.4.9 In the convent of Montpellier a brother named William was seriously ill. He called the prior, told him that he would soon die and, in a general confession, asked that before he was taken up into the air, he would strengthen him in faith and be present at his death. The prior devoutly and lovingly promised to do so. After the prior had gone to bed, he heard a sound at his cell and a voice saying, "Get up, get up! Brother William is departing." He then rushed with the brothers to Brother William and found him in his last agony. As he had asked, the prior commended his soul to the Lord. When the brothers finished the litany, he died. It was never found out who woke the prior up, except the good Spirit of God.
5.4.10 Brother William, once a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, after his death appeared to Brother Benedict, then subprior of the brothers. Next to him was a very splendid man who had a golden crown on his head. When the subprior asked the deceased about the man was standing next to him, he answered, "See, he is adorned with one stole, and is sure of the rest."
5.4.11 Brother Yves of Brettany, once prior provincial in the Holy Land, a humble, gracious and devout man, once was praying after Matins in the church of the brothers. When he raised his eyes towards the lamp of the choir, he saw a shadow, like a brother standing in a dirty, black habit. When asked who he was, he answered, I am the brother that just died and was your very close friend." When brother Yves asked him how he was, he answered, "Not well at all, because I must remain in very harsh punishment for fifteen years." When asked why he must remain so long enduring such a harsh punishment, after such a religious, devout and fervent life, he answered, "Do not ask me why; it was the judgement of God, which is very fair. I only ask you to help me."
After willingly promising to do all he could, Brother Yves offered Mass for the brother. As he was holding the consecrated host in his hands, he began to say, "Lord Jesus Christ, if the Sultan of Babylonia or Aleppo were holding a slave in chains, and a chamberlain, who had waited on him as he got up and as he went to bed for twenty years, asked to have this captive given to him, the Sultan would not easily refuse. Lord, you are not more severe than a Muslim sultan; I am your chamberlain and have devoutly waited on you for many years. You are holding my dear brother like a captive slave. Because of my service to you, I am asking you to give him to me in your mercy." He spent a long time repeating the same words, and after many tears finished the Mass.
The next night as he was praying after Matins, he saw the brother standing before him in a bright and shining habit. Asked who he was, he replied, "I am the brother who appeared to you yesterday." "And how are you?" "I am well, by the grace of God. You asked the Lord and he gave me to you; I am now free from Purgatory and am going to the fellowship of the blessed spirits." And he immediately disappeared.
5.4.12 A religious and trustworthy man, the Franciscan Brother William of Melitona, a Master of Theology at Paris, told our brothers that one night he saw in a dream a crystal flask of the best wine placed before him. As he was admiring it, he suddenly saw the flask break and the wine pour away. When he told this story to the brothers and to the Masters Alexander and John of Rupella, they interpreted it to mean that a master in theology would soon die.
After a few days, Brother Guerric of St. Quentin, a master of theology of the Order of Preachers, died. As Brother William had said, he was truly a crystal flask because of his wonderful wisdom, deep humility and shining teaching. Brother William was full of grief at his death, since he loved him very tenderly. The next night the Virgin Mary appeared in indescribable glory to him while he was in the chapter room. In another part of the room he saw Brother Guerric with his capuce over his eyes, as he used to wear it out of humility. The Blessed Virgin called him, saying, "Come to me, Brother Guerric, and write the names of the elect in the book of life." When Brother William woke up he was consoled at the death of his companion and told the whole story to his brothers.
5.4.13 Brother Nicholas of Giovinazzo, prior provincial of the Roman province, saw in a vision Brother Raoul of Rome, a religious and fervent man who had died long before. He said, "Brother Nicholas, the Blessed Virgin commands you to be ready, because a glorious crown has been prepared for you." He told this to his dear brothers, and after a few days died with great devotion.
5.4.14 When Brother Roland, once a lecturer of theology at Paris, became ill at Bologna, the teacher of the brothers saw in a night dream Blessed Dominic writing to three brothers: to Roland, Ralph and Lambert. (139) Another time he saw Brother Roland sitting in a very beautiful and decorated room. He told this story to two other brothers before any of the three had died. A few days later each of them ended his life with a holy death: first Brother Roland, then Brother Ralph, once chaplain of the church of Blessed Nicholas, and lastly Brother Lambert, who was a prior and a prudent and devout man.
At the same time Brother John Vincent had a dream of a disputation about the love of God being held in the school at Bologna. When Brother Ralph was asked to give the reply, he answered that he would give a very good reply in the heavenly homeland.
The infirmarian also saw in a dream the beds of Prior Lambert and Brother Ralph tied together with a red silk rope; it then lifted the beds with the brothers to heaven. He later learned that at the very time he had this vision the brothers were carried up to the Lord. Those who had these visions are the ones who gave these reports.
5.5 Purgatorial pains of the brothers because of various attachments
5.5.1 Two brothers in the convent of Cologne, one a novice, the other a preacher, died on the same day. Two days afterwards the novice appeared to the infirmarian, as the latter reported; he was looking happy and said that he was quickly purified because of the fervour of his life.
A month laster the preacher appeared to the same infirmarian; he looked glorious, with a very beautiful medal hanging from his neck, precious jewels on his habit and a golden crown on his head. The infirmarian asked him why the novice was purified so quickly, while he took longer, and what was the meaning of his adornments. He answered, "Because I was too familiar with lay people and spent time joking with them I had to stay longer in purgatory, but I have achieved greater glory. The medal is for a right intention of pleasing God; the jewels are souls I converted; the crown is for the undescribable glory I received from the Lord.
5.5.2 In Derby, in the province of England, a very devout young brother had travelled to a town where he stayed at a house of the Franciscans. There he became ill and was near death, with three of our brothers and two Franciscans gathered around him, when he put his hand over his eyes and smiled brightly. When the subprior of our brothers asked why, he said, "Because just now Saint Edmund, our king and martyr, came and the whole house is full of angels." He then smiled even more and said, "Our Lady has come; let us greet her." After they sang the Salve Regina, with the versicle and prayer, the sick brother said, "The Blessed Virgin is very pleased with this greeting and is smiling happily."
Then the brother turned his eyes to the door and his face paled as he said, "Now the Lord Jesus Christ has come to judge me." He then went into agony like someone charged to court; all his limbs which were quiet before now shook and, as the subprior testified, he sweated so much that they could never wipe his forehead sufficiently. Like someone afraid before a judge, he would argue, sometimes saying "It is true," other times "It is not true;" sometimes he would call on the Blessed Virgin not to leave him, as he went back to reply to the accusations. Once he said, "O good Jesus, spare me; don't let me be damned for these small sins." The subprior then said, "Dearest brother, why should small sins make you worry about damnation?" "Oh, but that is what I am afraid of," he said with a deep sigh. The subprior then told him that even if an angel from heaven tried to tell him otherwise, the Saviour is merciful. The sick brother then was consoled and replied with a smile, "Yes, he really is merciful." He died shortly afterwards, on the feast of Pentecost, 1257.
5.5.3 When Brother Richard, a teacher in England, was nearing death, he said, "Brothers, pray for me, because soon terrible spectres will appear to me." He then began turning his eyes from one side to the other with signs of great fear in his face and movements. Finally he came back to himself and said, "Blessed be God! I have been saved at the intercession of our brothers and of the Franciscans, whom I have always loved." As he was praising God, he gave up his spirit.
5.5.4 As Brother Alan, prior of the Preaching Brothers in York, in England, reached his last moments, he began to look terrified and shouted, "Cursed be the hour that I became a religious!" Then he was silent. After a while his face became calm and he said, "No, no! Blessed be the hour when I entered the Order, and blessed be the most glorious Mother of Christ, whom I have always loved." He then became silent again. The brothers who were around and heard him were praying for him with tears.
After two hours, he said to the infirmarian, "Call my brothers, because God has heard their prayer." When they came in, he said, "You were disturbed by what I first said; the reason for it was this: Some terrible demons appeared to me, wanting to carry away my soul. Out of my wits for fear, I cursed my profession day. I tell you, brothers, that if there were molten copper in burning sulphur stretching from here to the end of the earth, and I were given the option of crossing that fire or seeing those demons again, I would much rather go through the fire. But after a while the Queen of heaven and Mother of mercy came and chased away the demons. When I saw here, my hope came back, I laughed for joy and blessed our Lady for the hour that I entered the Order and this hour when she rescued me." Shortly afterwards he rested in peace.
5.5.5 In England a rich and corrupt rector of a church was gravely ill and, fearing death, took the habit of the Preaching Brothers. After a while he recovered and threw off the habit. As he went back to his many sins, he was corrected by our kind heavenly Father by a vision. As he was sleeping in the early hours of the morning, he saw Christ in the air, sitting in judgement; all the priest's sins were written on his forehead, while hell was gaping underneath to receive him. As he turned his eyes in horror and shouted to Christ, he saw his face looking so terrible that it was worse than looking at hell. Then someone appeared in the habit of the preaching brothers, saying to Christ, "Lord, what do you want from this man?" "Either he pays the price for his sins or he goes to hell."
When the priest woke up, he began thinking of his sins, confessed them with many tears to Brother Martin, a lecturer at Northampton, and put his habit back on. After a month he became sick again. As the brother who was his confessor saw that he was disturbed by his sins at the approach of death, he said, "Do not be afraid, dearest brother, but boldly rely on the mercy of God. Whatever good I did in the Order I give to you, as long as you have firm hope." When the sick priest heard this, he was consoled; he thanked God, received the sacraments with much devotion, and departed.
After his death Brother Martin had a vision of this rector. He was being stripped of very dirty clothes and dressed in shining ones. This brother, his confessor, then asked him to obtain from Christ similar shining clothes for himself. He replied, "Dearest father, these are enough for me and for you." He said this because when the confessor made over his own good deeds to him, they were not diminished by being given out, but rather increased.
5.5.6 Brother Dominic, prior of Santerem in Spain, asked the brothers going to the provincial chapter to get him absolved from his office. When the brothers tried to persuade him otherwise, he said, "I am sure that if the diffinitors do not absolve me, the Lord, who is the supreme prior, will absolve me before you come back from the chapter." That is what happened, for he died before their return.
Shortly before he died, he told a brother sitting by his side, "Where is that lady who was just here?" The brother answered, "You know well, Prior, that women do not enter our rooms." "I mean that woman who was carrying the child Jesus in her hands; I wonder why you did not see her, since she was right in front of your eyes." After that he made the sign of the cross many times and, with his hands folded and eyes lifted to heaven, he gave his spirit to the Blessed Virgin whom he saw.
After his death he visibly appeared to a brother in prayer, as that brother told. When the brother asked him in amazement, "Are you not Brother Dominic who died?", he answered, "I am dead to the world, but living to God. I ask you to tell the brothers not to let lay people enter while the brothers are dying. I have suffered in purgatory because, while dying, I saw my lay relatives and was moved by worldly compassion as they were weeping.
5.5.7 In the same convent there was a brother named Ferdinand, who died tired out by a long illness and many pains. After death his face shone with a bright light, as the brothers who prepared him for burial testify. Later he appeared to one of them in his sleep and, asked if he were not dead, he answered, "I am bodily dead, but my soul lives."
The brother then asked, "What about Brother Diego?"He had recently died in that community. "On Good Friday he will enter heaven." "Tell me, why is he being punished?" "Because of vain glory, which he had in singing." When asked about the rest of the brothers, he answered, "They are well, because brothers who die in the Order are not lost, because the Blessed Virgin assists them in their death." "How can we know whether what you say is true?" "Let this be a sign, that on next Palm Sunday you will not ring the bell or make the customary procession." When that feast came around, the bishop suddenly put an interdict on the town, and what was predicted came true. So we understood that was heard was not imaginary, but the truth.
Brother Giles of Spain wrote the above stories.
5.5.8 A brother, who had been too curious about buildings, died while another brother of his convent was out on a preaching mission. This brother said to his companion, "Today old Brother X has died at Bologna." "How do you know?" "In a dream I saw him going through the cloister crawling on his hands and feet and measuring the walls with a staff. Two demons were on either side of him, flogging him severely." When they returned to the convent, they found that on that very day the brother had died. When the brothers heard this story, they prayed earnestly for him, and after a while another brother had a revelation that the old brother had been set free through Blessed Nicholas and Blessed Dominic, to whom he had been very devoted.
5.5.9 The venerable and religious father bishop of Lisbon, a brother of our Order, told this story about a brother who had been very careful and possessive about the supply of manuscripts. He appeared to a friend of his looking scorched. Asked why he was burning like that, he said, "Woe to me for those manuscripts, which are so burning me!" When the brother asked him about his own conscience, since he was too scrupulous, he was told, "Consult prudent brothers and accept their judgement."
5.5.10 When Brother Gillard, subprior of the brothers at Orthez, (140) went to the provincial chapter, he had a stroke at Toulouse and became paralysed and deaf. When the prior provincial told him, "Brother, this happened to you because you provoked your prior so much by your sins of the tongue; you are now being punished in your tongue," he submissively nodded his head and began to kiss the hand of the prior and to draw it frequently over his neck and lips. The prior pitied him, especially since he could not go to confession; so he called the brothers to the chapter room and enjoined them to pray for him. The same day, although the brother was burning with fever, recovered his speech fully, made a devout general confession, received Communion, and was anointed. On the third day he departed.
The same day he appeared in a dream to a good man and close friend of his in Orthez, which is four days away from Toulouse. He appeared preaching in a church, dressed in the dalmatic of a deacon, with his face shining and his neck like solid gold. His friend was astounded at the extraordinary brightness and said, "Are you not Brother Gillard?" "I am, and I am informing you that I died at Toulouse." "How did your face become so bright?" "From the pure confession that I made." "Why is your neck like gold?" - "It is a sign of my preaching and the zeal I had for souls."
Then he pulled his friend to his side and showed him through the opening of the dalmatic the skin of his torso which was scorched all over. Amazed, his friend asked what was the cause of this. "The excessive anxiety and distraction I had in building new sites are burning me like this." "How can we help you?" "If the brothers pray earnestly for me, I will quickly be set free." This friend told this story under oath to the prior provincial; he immediately sent letters to the different convents where that brother had been so distracted, commanding them to do double suffrages for him, so that his suffering might not be prolonged.
5.5.11 Brother John of Balistar, a preacher who preached many eloquent sermons, died in the convent of Limoges. On the eight day he appeared in great glory to a good man and close friend of his, that reported this story. He told him that he had spent seven days in purgatory, especially for ingratitude, silly talk and concern for bodily comfort. Asked about the pain he suffered, he said that nothing could be compared with it. Asked about his friend's own salvation, he said that he had received no revelation about it, but if he persevered he would be saved; he added that venial sins which are considered small in life are found to result in severe punishment. Asked how he got out of purgatory, he answered that the Lord sent angels who led him out and sang as they led him to the Lord; the higher they went up, the more his joy increased.
5.5.12 Brother Peter, who was fervent and zealous for his Order, having brought in many good brothers, died in the convent of Toulouse. In his last illness he promised a brother who was very devoted to him that, if God permitted, he would come and let him know his state, so that if it was good he could rejoice with him, if it was less than good he could help him. After a few months he appeared to him in a dream, saying that on the feast of the Ascension of the Lord he was freed from purgatory. Asked about some other brothers they knew, he said that Brother G., who was subprior at Toulouse and had died at Limoges during the octave of Easter, was still in purgatory.
5.5.13 A very religious brother and good preacher appeared in a dream a few days after his death to a brother who was very dear to him. The brother was frightened and asked him how he was. He answered that he was very fine and in a very fine place. Asked why he looked so terrified as he was dying, often looking away from the brothers and turning his neck, he answered, "Have you not read the passage, "The terrified will be purged?" (141) And he immediately disappeared.
5.5.14 A very contemplative brother told the story that he saw in a vision the body of a deceased brother in the cloister, and its head rolled onto the edge of a fountain that was nearby. When he asked what this meant, he heard, "I am the brother who just died, and am suffering very much because I used to look for other flasks of wine unmixed with water, so that I could sleep. But pray for me, because that is why you are seeing this vision."
The foregoing stories are examples attachment to relatives, vain glory over their singing, too much curiosity about building, love and possessiveness for books, eagerness for money, drinking too eagerly, putting off confession, irreverence to superiors, distraction by worldly concerns, ingratitude for benefits, too much concern for bodily comfort, stupid conversation, any excess, even in matters that seem useful, and other things that may seem light to us but are punished severely at death and afterwards. So it is important to avoid them or, if one fails, to cut and burn here below, so that we may be spared in eternity.
5.6 The plots of the devil to ensnare brothers
5.6.1 Brother Raymond of Lausanne (142) wrote to the Master of the Order that in the convent of Lyons there was a very religious brother named Peter. In his last agony, while the prior and Brother Raymond were present, he said, "What are you doing here, bloody monster?" When the prior asked, "Where is it?", he said, "That is the demon wearing skins of an ugly old woman but, thanks be to God, I am not afraid of him, because the true faith will save me." After a while he slept in the Lord.
5.6.2 A novice was sick at Naples, and the devil, appearing to him in the form of an angel of light, persuaded him not to talk to anyone any more. Yet he was conscious of a sin that he had never confessed. Since he refused to say the hours of the Office and would not say anything to anyone, his brothers realized that he was seduced by the devil. So they brought to him Brother Nicholas of Giovinazzo, a holy and learned man, who showed the sick brother by reasons and examples that his silence was the result of the devil's deception, who set that trap for him so that he could drag him along to hell. At last, by arguments and the prayers of the brothers, he was rescued from the jaws of the devil and spoke, acknowledging the devil's deception he had detected. He then made a holy confession and shortly afterwards died.
5.6.3 Another novice was dying in the convent of Bologna. After devoutly receiving the appropriate sacraments, two demons appeared to him in the form of good angels and said, "You are so heavy that we cannot receive you into our kingdom, but if you follow our advice, we will come after a few days and take you to the same glory that we have." As he agreed, they commanded him to observe strict silence and not to speak again. When he promised to do so, they left him, but reminded him of a mortal sin that he had forgotten ever to confess.
A good brother who was his friend visited him and, understanding that his obtuse silence came from a plot of the evil spirits, used reasons and the examples of the saints to show him how demons look for weak spots in the faithful and try to deceive them under the guise of holiness, especially at the end. Inspired by this exhortation, the sick brother called for Brother Erich of Brachio, a holy man, confessed that sin to him; he received another general absolution from the prior, and told the whole story of the devil's deception to many brothers. One of those present related this story.
5.6.4 In the convent of Avignon in Provence there was a brother named Bertrand, a preacher and devoted cantor. In bed one night in the winter, he began singing the antiphon "Crucified, he rose from the dead," (143) and suddenly heard a voice, "Watch out, brother, because you will not see the time when that is sung." He told this to a good brother who told it to me.
Afterwards he was sent to the city of Orange, where he was born, and became seriously ill. He had himself carried to the house of the Franciscans. There, in danger of death, he told his confessor who was standing by, "For God's sake, take those cakes of cheese off me; they are pressing me down hard." He had been begging and received much cheese those days for the needs of the brothers. After saying this several times, to the wonderment of those present, since there was no cheese there, the confessor finally understood the matter and said, "Do not be afraid, dearest brother; I, by the authority of God and of the Order, absolve you if you have offended him in any way while begging for cheese." The brother immediately became quiet and then began wiping his face with his hand, as if chasing away flies. His companion asked him, "Why are you doing that, brother?" "I am seeing demons." Then the brother who was there brought him a cross and said, "Protect yourself with this." The sick brother held it firmly, made the sign of the cross with it and began weeping and kissing it, saying, "You are the staff of guidance, the staff of the kingdom," and similar expressions.
After the cross was put in a suitable place, he told the brother again, "I see Blessed Augustine;" he had a special devotion to him and every day said his memorial prayer. The companion replied, "He is a great saint and father and is well able to help you." After that he began to sing the Salve Regina as best he could and, while singing it, migrated to the Lord. He was buried with great devotion by the Franciscan brothers and three of our brothers, who told us all this.
5.6.5 In the convent of Marseille a young brother was sick. He was almost dead and, attended by the brothers, spent in agony the whole night of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Suddenly he stretched out his arms and shouted, "Look, I see the cross of the Lord in heaven, whose feast you are celebrating today on earth." In amazement, the prior offered him the little cross that had been placed before him as is done for the dying, and said, "Son, here is the image of God's cross." "I do not see the one you are talking about, but see the true cross of Christ in heaven." When the cross was again offered to him, he gave the same answer a third and a fourth time, rebuking those present, saying, "Don't you see it, all red?"
Later, with a sigh he said to the prior, "See how the enemy wanted to deceive me. He came with a large band of demons who tried to take me as their servant. I refused, and declared myself a servant and disciple of Christ, but he said, 'But you are my servant, because yesterday, when alone, you drank wine against the advice of the doctors and without permission.'" Then the prior, Brother Peter of Cazes, a very religious man who told me this story, said to the sick brother, "Son, confess this with sorrow and you will cause the devil much confusion." He did so with tears. Then, praising and blessing the Lord and proclaiming the joys of Mary, he slept in the Lord.
5.6.6 In the same convent Brother William de Locis, an old man who had worked hard in the Order from its beginning, was dying. A good brother who assisted him told me that the night he died he often looked at the wall next to him with terror on his face. Perhaps the bloody beast had come that, according to legend, waited for Martin on the arm of his cross. When the attending brother asked him if he was seeing something evil, he nodded his head to say yes. Then the brother said a prayer and sprinkled holy water on that wall. This made the sick brother happy, and he humbly bowed his head in gratitude. When the attending brother saw him afraid, he encouraged him to trust in God's mercy, Christ's passion, the help of Blessed Mary and the like. Then the sick man began to cry and a little later died devoutly. The preceding Sunday he had devoutly preached long about the verse of the Psalm (122:1), "I rejoiced at what was told to me. We will enter the house of the Lord!" (144)
5.7 Different things that help the deceased
5.7.1 Brother Bertrand, a holy man who was the companion of Blessed Dominic and first prior provincial of Provence, said Mass almost every day for forgiveness of sins. Noticing this, Brother Benedict, a good and prudent man in the convent of Montpellier, asked him why he rarely celebrated Mass for the dead but frequently for forgiveness of sins. He answered, "Because the dead that the Church prays for are secure and it is certain that they will be saved. But we sinners face many dangers and can swing one way or the other." Brother Benedict replied, "Tell me, dearest prior, if two beggars were equally poor, but one of them was healthy and the other completely disabled, whom would you help first?" "The one who could help himself least." "That is the case of the dead, who have no mouth to make a confession, no ears to hear, no eyes to weep, no hands to do anything, no feet to go anywhere, but only wait for our help. But sinners, besides being aided by our prayers, have all these means to help themselves."
The prior was still not convinced; so the next night a terrible looking dead man appeared to him, pressing him down with a wooden coffin; he woke him up him more than ten times that night, frightening and disturbing him. So at dawn the prior called Brother Benedict, devoutly went to the altar and with tears celebrated Mass for the dead. I heard this story from the mouth of Brother Benedict.
5.7.2 A brother who was sent to a certain town to preach went up during an evening break to the penthouse. In the opposite house some lost youths had gathered for the wake of someone who had died and were spending their time in obscene amusement. When the brother heard this, he began to weep much out of pity for the youths lost in their crazy activities.
When he went to bed, he had a vision of someone coming to him and saying, "I have come on behalf of the souls in purgatory; they are sending this message to those who are now enjoying their abandoned possessions: 'Pity me, pity me, my friends, since I have been struck by the hand of God' (Job 19:21)." He added, "Brother, you must use these words in your sermon tomorrow to condemn the wicked amusement that you saw and persuade people to come to the aid of their deceased friends." The next day, after the burial, the brother did not fail to give this message to the people. His sermon made such an impact that they were moved, from the least to the greatest, to such sorrow and tears that they were inspired to do all they could to help their deceased neighbours and abandon the wicked amusements they had engaged in.
5.7.3 Brother Raoul of Rome, a man of very great holiness, said in a talk to the brothers that one of the things that he most feared was to die with debts to the deceased.
5.7.4 A brother died without having said his suffrages for the dead, and a long time later appeared in a dream to a brother close to him looking sad and completely scorched. Asked why he had not been completely cleansed over all that time, he answered, "That is because I received no help from anyone's prayers. The benefit of all their prayers for me went to other souls to whom I was indebted. Thus I seek and am waiting for God's mercy and yours."
5.7.5 In the convent of Clermont the prior was strolling in the cloister one night saying the Psalms, when a lay brother who had recently died in the convent held his hand and said, "Prior, tell the brothers that they are doing wrong by not saying their suffrages for me." The prior recognized the voice and felt his hand, but saw no one. Frightened, he called the brothers to the chapter room and told them what he had heard, and found that many of them had not paid their debt to that brother. So he warned them not to delay helping their suffering brother.
5.7.6 A brother from Lombardy, who was a great preacher and very zealous for the Order, was feeling overburdened and in need of recreation; so, without permission, he went swimming in the river, while his companion waited on the bank. Although he was a good swimmer, he drowned in shallow water.
A brother who loved him very tenderly put all his effort into praying for him. As he often sacrificed himself praying with many tears for him, one night the deceased appeared to him in a dream, wearing a dirty cappa and a torn capuce-scapular. Asked how he was, he said, "I am not damned, but am gravely tortured in fire." He showed him his arms, which without permission he had used to enjoy himself swimming, and they were burned to the bones. His friend said, "Brother, can I help you in any way?" "Yes, you can pray, celebrate Mass, and get the other brothers to say their obligatory suffrages and add other voluntary ones." The brother then revealed this vision to his special friends and the brothers and had them pray earnestly for the deceased.
Another night the deceased appeared in a beautiful habit and, asked how he was, he answered that he was much better but was still waiting for the final reward. And he told him many things about purgatory and paradise.
5.7.7 Brother Matthew was a lecturer, a devoted preacher and very religious, both among the brothers in Paris where he studied and in his own province of Spain. Nine days after his death he appeared to a brother who was praying. When asked how he was, he replied, "I am well, because I am now purified and am going to Christ." The brother was terrified and asked, "Why did you spend so long in purgatory?" "That is because of the negligence of the brothers; if they had said their suffrages immediately, I would have flown to heaven by the third day.
5.8 The evil end of apostates
Thus far we have talked about the sometimes happy, sometimes painful death of the brothers. It remains to consider the miserable end of those who did not love our brotherhood and stay with us, but left their home as apostates.
5.8.1 An older man in the Order who was learned, eloquent and very much a friend of big men, was much attached to a brother in his family. He descended to such a miserable state that he left the Order, intending to practice alchemy to enrich his brother. He went to Sardinia because he heard that there were good mines there and he could hide better on that island, since the brothers had no house there.
After spending more than a year in such a risky fraudulent life, he fell sick and was dying. Since he could not find any brother, he told two priests who were wandering with him, "My dearest friends, see, I am dying outside the holy Order which I left, miserable and fleshly as I am. But I have my habit in my suitcase; please put it on me as quickly as possible, so that I may at least be buried in it." As they were about to do so, suddenly so many maggots burst out of his body that the priests were terrified and had to flee, as the worms began to crawl on them too. Even after the brother died, they could not bury him properly because of the amount of maggots.
5.8.2 Another man of noble birth from the same province left the Order because his friends had opposed his being there. He came to such a miserable state that he supported himself as best he could by robbery and theft. Then he took up a job with an excommunicated loan shark and lived with him for a long time, keeping his accounts and teaching his son. At last he died miserably in the midst of those excommunicated people.
5.8.3 Another one, who had been chained by his brothers because of his sins, fled the discipline of the Order and got permission from the Pope to enter the monastery of Blessed Victor at Marseille. The monks were very happy to receive him, because he was a good preacher; when he travelled, the abbot brought him along as a great master.
But within a few years he stirred up a huge controversy between the abbot and the monks and between the monastery and the Archbishop of Aix. The monastery spent many thousands on this case without achieving anything. Finally the abbot and the monks expelled that scoffer from their community and compelled him to stay outside the whole province.
5.8.4 Another apostate from our Order was received into the monastery of Maison Dieu. (145) He inflicted it with much strife and piled up debts. At last he had to be ignominiously expelled.
5.8.5 Another one in France had the office of inquisitor of heretics. He was so famous that almost all of France trembled to see him; he was held in the greatest reverence, even by powerful people. Because he was proud and did not want to follow the advice of his superiors, trusting more in his popularity, the brothers at Paris kept him for a long time in chains.
At last his friends obtained permission from the Pope for him to be set loose and allowed to enter another order. First he tried the Trinitarians, and then entered the Victorians, but he was expelled from each of these because of his bad conduct. Finally he entered the monastery of Clairvaux; there he was at first held in honour, but when his miserable conduct was discovered, which God did not allow to hide long, he was deprived of all privileges. Not long afterwards, having lost everyone's respect, he died with great shame and sorrow.
5.8.6 Another one, who taught the Sentences at Paris, apostatized because of some restrictions placed on him. He went to the Papal court and got permission to enter the Premonstratensians, because he could not get permission to enter any order in his own province where he had caused scandal. On Easter Sunday he was stricken with a horrible epileptic fit; unable fully to recover, he again fell paralysed at Paris, where he had aspired to be a regent master. There he miserably died.
5.8.7 Another one in France, who had a very pleasing personality and was well talented, apostatised over some quarrel. When he changed his mind and asked for mercy, his provincial allowed him to return to another convent, since he had good reason not to send him back to the convent from which he departed. The man proudly refused this offer and went away. After a short time, while he was crossing the sea channel near La Rochelle, he was suddenly drowned.
5.8.8 Another one who was very noble and from a family of counts entered the order and stayed there for a while. Then, alleging that the Order was unable to support him, he got permission from the Pope to transfer to a community of canons regular. He did so, and was elected their superior. The election was challenged and he had to go to the Papal court to contest his case. After long litigation he won, but on his way back died, just after obtaining his title.
5.8.9 Another one was very learned in natural science, very good at singing, reading, writing, preaching and dictating, fine looking and popular. For their own best reasons, his superiors put a limit on his public lectures, which he so enjoyed. He then went through a bishop who was related to him and got permission from the Pope to transfer to an abbey of canons regular, where he intended to be promoted to the office of abbot, by the help of that bishop.
On the anniversary day that he put off the habit of our Order and took on another, some men were practising archery in the courtyard of that abbey, while he was present and looking on. One of them happened to shoot an arrow which bounced against a wall, came back and hit him in the eye, causing a serious wound. He was carried to Paris for treatment, but nothing could cure the wound, and he quickly died in pain and anguish.
5.8.10 Another, who was very learned in natural science, pleasing and liked by all, for some light reason left the Order and became a Benedictine monk. He was given a noble priory in a town of Lombardy that paid allegiance to Lord Conrad, son of Lord Frederick, the former emperor. He became very close to Lord Conrad because of his intelligence and smooth manners, and became an important person in his court. There he gave himself over to worldly vanities, and kept dogs and birds which he used in his frequent hunting outings. One day when he was going to Salerno, he sent word to a family to prepare to receive him. When he did come and sat down to table, at the very beginning of the meal he leaned his head against the wall and suddenly died.
5.8.11 In France there was another elderly venerable person, well educated, a good preacher, who was known in the court of the king, the university of Paris and in all the circles of big people. For many years he had lectured with very good results, but because of something he said, his superiors told him to cut down on his lectures. Yet, in reverence to him, he was told that he could stay anywhere he liked in the infirmary or guest house and that, because of his age and weakness, he was dispensed from the common labour of the convent. But the devil persuaded him to be impatient at this restriction; so he took his case to the Papal court, which was then at Lyons. (146) Through some big friends he had there, he obtained permission to transfer to another order. He came back with the decree and changed his habit.
Yet it was God's revenge on him that this man, who was everywhere received as an angel of God while he wore the habit of the Order, could not find any order willing to receive him, neither the Cistercians nor the Benedictines. Moreover, he could hardly find a place to rest his head. Even his nephew, who through his influence had been made canon of a rich church and had always treated him with reverence while he was in the Order, did not want to see him or give him anything. So, going from place to place like a miserable refugee, he at last came to a place near the convent of Arras, where he once had lived. There he fell seriously sick. He called for the brothers, who were only two leagues away, but before they could come he died.
Yet God's mercy, which draws people to repentance through the merits of others who repent, also turned to this man at the end. For, before a priest, the Lady of the town and many others, he accused himself of grave sin, gave extravagant praise to the Order, and judged himself unworthy of such a habit. After going to confession and devoutly receiving the sacraments, he departed to the Lord.
5.9 Those who were famous for miracles after their deaths
5.9.1 To the praise and glory of Jesus Christ, we repeat what the brothers of Spain wrote to us about Brother Pelagius of Spain. After working faithfully, fervently and humbly for a long time in the office of preaching and hearing confessions, at last, in the convent of Coimbra in Portugal, he rested in the Lord, as the brothers stood around him praying.
Later, when another brother died and his grave was being dug next to that of Pelagius, a little cloud with a wonderful smell came from his grave and covered the grave digger and the brothers who were there with a sweet residue. The grave digger had a daughter who was very sick and could not get out of bed. When he got home, he commended her to Brother Pelagius and she immediately was able to get up and fetch water from the river.
Also, when the brothers of that convent were making a bell, they were far short of the necessary copper because of a workman's mistake. After praying for some time, a brother took some earth from the tomb of Brother Pelagius, threw it into the furnace, and immediately it released copper. After the bell was cast, 126 pounds of copper were left over. From this the brothers paid back the amount they had borrowed, whereas before the casting the workman estimated that a third of the necessary copper was missing.
Also, a man, whose wife had great pain in her sides and stomach, put an undershirt that belonged to Brother Pelagius on the place of the pain and it was instantly cured. The man experienced the same miracle in his own case as well.
Also, at Coimbra a royal shield bearer had a very bad fever. Some of his friends placed on his neck some earth from the grave of Brother Pelagius and the fever went away.
Also, a brother of the same convent once was burning with fever. He threw himself onto the grave of Brother Pelagius and the fever never bothered him again.
Also, there was someone who had many mortal sins and could not confess them because of his hardness of heart, although he wished he could do so. He came to the grave of Brother Pelagius and humbly asked him to obtain for him from the Lord the ability to confess his sins with real contrition. He then came to such a state of contrition that his tears and wailing almost prevented him from confessing, as the confessor attested.
Also, there was a blind man who sometimes had confessed to Brother Pelagius. When he heard of the miracles after his death, he commended himself humbly to him and immediately received his sight.
Also, five possessed men were cured at different times by invoking him, and they came to his grave to thank God and his saint.
Also, what is more wonderful is that two Muslim women at Coimbra had very high fevers. They took some earth from the tomb of Brother Pelagius and by God's mercy were immediately cured.
5.9.2 Brother Peter Gonzalez, (147) honourably buried in the church of Tuy, is another member of the province of Spain to whose intercession many miracles are credited. The venerable bishop of that city counts more than 180 miracles examined by prudent and trustworthy people, attested to by witnesses under oath, signed by his seal and sent to the General Chapter celebrated at Toulouse in 1258. Among these miracles five lepers were cleansed, eleven possessed men delivered, and very many blind, deaf, dumb, hunchbacks and people suffering from abscesses, goitres and fevers were cured.
A man was struck by a thorn branch and two thorns stuck so deeply in his eyes that they could not be extracted and he could not see at all. He invoked the help of Brother Peter Gonzalez and immediately the two thorns fell out of his eyes onto his lap and he was perfectly cured.
A nursing woman was unable to give milk to her child for six weeks; so she gave him to another woman, and was very sad because she was poor and could not pay. She went to pray at the grave of Brother Peter, and on her return found herself full of milk; so she was able to nurse her child herself.
Some sailors who were in danger called on Brother Peter Gonzalez. He immediately appeared to them, saying, "Here I am." He reassured them and guided them to their port.
A woman was crossing a river in a little boat. On the way she jerked from fear and fell in, with her small child on her shoulder. Five times she went under and came up. But because she, as well as her husband standing on the bank, called on Brother Peter, she escaped from danger with her child.
One man testified under oath that he had been afflicted with fever for six months and was so swollen that he could hardly walk even with a cane, when Brother Peter appeared to him and said, "Come to my grave and you will be cured." He did and was immediately cured.
5.9.3 The venerable Brother Columbus, once prior of Montpellier, was a man with the simplicity of a dove and the prudence of a snake, and finished his days well. He was buried in the atrium of Blessed Mary at Freius in Provence. At his tomb two paralytics were able to stand and many sick people were completely cured. His tomb is a shrine for the clergy and the people there.
5.9.4 Brother Maurice, a fervent preacher of the convent of Toulouse, died in the house of the Franciscans at Albi and was honourably buried there. Brother Pontius, a religious and trustworthy Franciscan, told our brothers that more than fifty sick or feverish people were cured of their illnesses by lying on the tomb of brother Maurice, as he himself observed by watching secretly.
5.9.5 Brother William of Syssac, once prior provincial of Provence, was religious, trustworthy and full of kindness, who slept in the Lord at Bordeaux and was buried there. Some religious women who knew him well grieved much at his death, but then saw lights coming down over his grave. They were greatly consoled at that and told the story to the brothers.
Master Peter, who was rector of the students at Bordeaux, had great confidence in the holiness of Brother William, whom he knew very well. When he heard about the death of this man of God, since he had a toothache, he went to his grave the next day, rubbed his jaw with earth from the grave and was immediately cured of his toothache. He told this story to his many students.
5.9.6 Brother Dominic of Valerica, of the convent of Orthez, was sent to preach at Bazas, (148) in Gascogne. After long hard work at preaching, hearing confessions and the discipline of regular life, he slept in the Lord in a hospice for the poor attached to the convent; being a poor man, he was buried by the poor. At his grave many were cured of various illnesses.
The sister in charge of the hospice, who had kept his shoes, gave them away to a poor pilgrim, I think without permission of the prior of the house. That night the brother appeared to her in a dream, asking for his shoes. The same night he appeared to the pilgrim, telling him to bring back the shoes immediately to the hospice, and he did so. The brothers used blades to cut them into minute pieces and give to the sick as a blessing, and many were cured.
A man who had been sick in bed at the hospice for a long time finally recovered. He then came down again with a fever and went back to the prior, asking for mercy. He told him, "Go to the grave of the brother who was just buried over there and, if you have faith, you will be cured." He went and was immediately cured.
A priest, too, of the Order of Hospitalers was troubled by a very sore jaw. He came to the grave of this Brother Dominic, kissed it with devotion, and fully recovered.
5.9.7 Brother Bernard of Canco, was noted for his admirable life and fervent preaching. Called "the hammer of the heretics and consoler of the faithful", even while he was alive the Lord worked many miracles through him and led many souls to the faith and true love. He died very devoutly at Agen.
The night following his death he appeared in shining clothes to a brother praying in the church at Toulouse and said, "Let us go to the church of Blessed Mary." The brother followed him to that church's golden door, where he heard him devoutly say, "The poor will eat and be content; those who seek the Lord will praise him. May your hearts live forever" (Psalm 22:27). When they entered the church he saw him in shiningly bright white priestly vestments being lifted up on high. When the brother woke up, he felt greatly consoled. After the celebration of Terce he heard that he had died at the time of his vision. He also heard that many were cured at his grave.
5.9.8 When Brother Walter of Germany slept in the Lord in our house at Basel, a teacher of the brothers at Strassburg heard in a dream choirs of angels singing the responsory "With a wonderful fragrance". Realizing that they were bringing some soul to heaven, he asked some passers-by who it was, and he was told it was Brother Walter. After he told this to the brothers in the morning, a messenger came from Basel announcing the death of that brother.
As a woman in Strassburg was giving birth, she asked the Lord to help her through the merits of Brother Walter. She then went to sleep and, while sleeping, gave birth to her child, as she herself reported to the brothers.
5.9.9 Brother Volkand, of holy memory, succeeded Brother William as prior at Basel. When his bones were later removed from the grave, a cross was found engraved on one of his ribs where he often used to make the sign of the cross. The cross was so well made that there was no doubt that it was the work of a heavenly artist.
5.9.10 The young Brother Conrad of Germany, as a child, had consecrated his body to chastity. During the first year of his priesthood he told his uncle, Brother Albert, that the Blessed Virgin had told him that he would soon die. He died as he had foretold, and was buried in the house of the nuns, because some wicked men had expelled the brothers from their convent. One of the nuns went devoutly and confidently to his grave and asked the Lord for health through the merits of this brother. She was immediately cured of a serious illness that had afflicted her constantly for five years.
5.9.11 Brother Conrad, the one-time prior of Constance who was pleasant to everyone, as mentioned above, was buried in the church of the brothers at Freiburg im Breisgau. When the brothers dug up his body to transfer it elsewhere, a very sweet scent came from his body that not only affected them outwardly, but also stirred them to great devotion. The scent stayed for a long time on the hands of those who touched his body. One brother whose arms were paralysed and whose finger was spastic for half a year touched a finger of Brother Conrad's relics and immediately was restored to perfect health. Brother Conrad also worked many miracles while alive, as many persons have testified.
5.9.12 In the convent of Toulouse, Brother Bernard of Trasversa in Gascogne was a truly obedient and very devoted preacher. He died in the town of Urgel (149) and was buried in the cloister. At his grave the Lord has worked many miracles:
A possessed girl was completely cleansed of demons. Twelve blind men at different times were given sight; three deaf people, seven cripples, four hunchbacks, and more than thirty others suffering from various illness were completely cured by God when they asked his intercession. The venerable canons of that church as well as the sick who experienced these benefits have testified to these cures.
Once a sick girl was thought to have died and the attendants had already closed her eyes, when her father exclaimed with tears, "Blessed Bernard, bring my daughter back; I commend her to you." Immediately the girl opened her eyes and came back to life.
A priest who was suffering badly from an every-third-day fever devoutly commended himself to Brother Bernard, and was immediately healed.
Another man who had that kind of fever for two years invoked the help of this brother and was immediately cured.
5.9.13 Two youths who called on Brother Isnard, once prior of Pavia, were miraculously delivered by God from prison, and the guards who chased them could not catch them. They deposited their fetters at his grave in thanksgiving.
A man whose son was paralysed on one side and could not speak, called on Brother Isnard while putting his hand on the affected side, and the boy was immediately healed and could speak again.
A nun of the monastery of Josaphat clubbed a pig with a stick so vigorously that she thought it was dead. Sorry for her impatience and afraid of being punished, she tearfully called on Brother Isnard to help her by his merits. He then and there obtained life for the pig from the God who saves both men and animals.
A sister of the Order of Humiliati vowed to say the Psalter three times in honour of Brother Isnard if, by his merits, she were healed of a weakness of her entire body which had kept her in bed for a year. She was immediately healed.
At Pavia a man had suffered from a hernia for fifteen years, with his intestines falling into his scrotum and causing him the most intense pain. He called on Brother Isnard and was perfectly cured.
A possessed girl was brought to his grave and was immediately cleansed of demons.
Our merciful Saviour has worked and continues to work many other miracles or cures through this brother.
5.9.14 In the convent of Valenciennes in the province of France, there was a brother named John of Scalin. He was weak in body, patient in illness, exalted in contemplation, humble of heart, and a devoted preacher. He told a brother who was close to him a secret that he had a dream that he was in a very bright house filled with wonderful and pleasing people, and heard sung there the very beautiful responsory: "He is the one who despised life in the world and reached the heavenly kingdom. He prayed to the Most High and was numbered among the saints." A few days later this brother finished his life with a holy death.
A lay brother in the same convent suffered intolerable pain from a disease in his private parts which prevented him from sitting. Frustrated with the doctors who could not help him, he went to the grave of Brother John and, with confidence in the intercession of this brother, asked God in his kindness to help him. He was then completely cured and never again was disturbed by this weakness. The brother who was cured told this true story to the writer of these accounts.
5.9.15 In the convent of Lyons there was a brother named Chabert, who was very zealous for souls. He preached almost continuously for over twenty years around the mountains of Savoy. At last he came to a town called Aiguebelle, where he had celebrated his first Mass and where he did much good by preaching, and felt himself getting ill. He said, "Prepare the altar for Mass, because in this town where I celebrated my first Mass I believe I shall celebrate my last Mass." After the Mass he devoutly had himself given the last anointing; he inspired the many who gathered around him with his holy words and deep faith, and shortly afterwards slept in the Lord. A great crowd of people gathered for his burial and many are said to have been healed from various illnesses. The church of canons regular where he was buried was extended, thanks to the many offerings made there.
5.9.16 Brother Dominic of Segovia, who was prior provincial first in Lombardy and then in Spain, was very devoted, prudent and zealous for the Order and for souls. He ended his life happily in the presence of the bishop of Segovia.
He was being brought to the grave in the presence of this bishop and a large crowd of priests and lay people, when a man with a paralysed arm touched the stretcher and was immediately cured. When a woman who was lying at home paralysed heard that, the next day she sent her tunic and had it placed on his grave. After it was brought back, she put it on, calling on the name of Christ, and by the merits of this blessed man was completely cured and got up to praise God.
Many also were touched with dust from his grave and were healed of fevers and various illnesses.
118. The Pope's letter was issued on 28 April 1236.
119. 29 May.
120. James I (1213-1276).
121. 22 January.
122. From 21 August 1241 to 24 June 1243.
123. He was sent by Innocent IV on 13 June 1251.
124. The canonization was on 25 March 1253.
125. Near Montpellier.
126. Around July 1221.
127. The life written by Constantine of Orvieto. Brother Conrad entered the Order in 1220.
128. In the region of Narbonne in France.
129. See above, book 4, ch. 3, # 1.
130. His name was Martin.
131. Near Angoulème.
132. Louis IX left Paris on 12 June 1247 for this port.
133. It was celebrated at London in 1250.
134. This section is from the Appendix, number 8.
135. This and the following section are from the Appendix, number 10 & 11.
136. Devotion to St. Theophilus was very popular in the Middle Ages; it was primarily devotion to Mary as patron of desperate causes.
137. This should refer to Jordan's friend, Henry of Germany.
138. Her name was Gertrude.
139. These three died around the end of 1258.
140. This convent was established in 1253; so the events described here took place in 1254 or 1258, when provincial chapters were held under Brother Gerald, who was provincial from 1251 to 1259.
141. Latin mistranslation of Job 41:17b.
142. This passage repeats 5.3.7.
143. An antiphon of the Holy Cross for Paschal time.
144. JK: "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'We will enter the house of Yahweh!'."
145. In the region of Puy.
146. On 2 December 1244 Innocent IV arrived at Lyons and stayed there until 19 April 1251.
147. He was first a canon and then a deacon in the church of Tuy. A worldly man, he fell off his horse and was mocked by those who saw him fall. He then resolved to mock the world by entering the Order of Preachers. He worked for a time in Portugal, but died in Tuy on Easter Sunday 1240, before a convent was established there. He was considered patron of sailors.
148. In the region of Bordeaux.
149. In Catalonia.