DEPARTURE OF THE BRETHREN FROM OUT OF THIS WORLD
I. Of Such as Suffered Death for the Faith II. Happy Deaths of the Brethren. III. Visions at the Hour of Death IV. Revelations of Their Departure. V. Punishments for Undue Affections. VI. Deceits Practised by the Devil. VII. Suffrages for the Departed. VIII. Miracles After Death.
OF SUCH AS SUFFERED DEATH FOR THE FAITH
THE Order of Preachers having been specially founded by St Dominic in Toulouse for the main end of combating heresy and schism, after the brethren had now for nearly forty years waged incessant war against the like, and manfully battled with tyrants who befriended the teachers of heresy, suffering untold hardships in their ministry, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, at last Pope Gregory IX (1) entrusted the office of the Inquisition to them for the suppression of heresy and its abettors, in consequence of which they were exposed to very many and grave dangers.
We have an instance of this in Toulouse itself, where, after continual threats from the Count and his minions, all intercourse with our brethren, as well as selling to them or bestowing gifts upon them, was rigidly forbidden by public proclamation. The next step was to put sentries at the convent doors to stop all communication and supplies; then when all the brethren made their confession and were ready to shed their blood for the faith and their allegiance to the holy Roman Church, nay, were eagerly expecting death, they were banished the city. 'They went forth from the council rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to surer ignominy for the name of Jesus ' (Acts v 41), and advancing two by two processionally, passed out of the city walls singing triumphantly the Creed and Salve Regina.
On the same account the convent of Narbonne was sacked, and the sacred books torn to shreds by the hands of impious men. In many other places our brethren were cruelly treated and despoiled of their property, so that the Inquisitors were unable to go about without an armed escort.
The Martyrs of Avignonnet. -- On the night of our Lord's Ascension(2) in the year 1242, Brother William Arnauld, Bernard de Rochefort, and Garcias d'Aure, of the Order of Preachers, Inquisitors in that country, with their companions Stephen and Raymund Carbonne of the Friars Minor, Raymund, the Archdeacon of Toulouse, the prior of Avignonnet, and three others, were all put to the sword for the faith of Christ and obedience to the Church of Rome, while joyfully singing the Te Deum.
On the night of their martyrdom a woman in a neighbouring town of the diocese cried out, when in the pangs of childbirth: 'Lo, I see the heavens open and a ladder let down to earth where much blood has just now been spilt'; and while she was regarding the splendour which shone round the ladder and the men ascending thereby, she was unconsciously delivered without pain. The same vision was granted as well to a band of poor shepherds who were tending their flocks some way off.
While King James(3) of Arragon was lying that night encamped before the Saracens he beheld a great sheet of fire flash from heaven down to earth, and had the bugle sounded for all to stand to arms, for, as he observed, 'God is accomplishing some mighty mystery to-night.'
Many of our brethren in Barcelona,(4) while watching in prayer that night, saw the whole sky ablaze, while great globes of fire shot across the heavens.
A citizen of Carcassonne on learning the tidings of their death dedicated himself to their protection, and at once recovered from a long-standing disease. In the same way the daughter of the constable of Mirepoix on commending herself to them got rid of a severe illness.
William of Muret, being laid up with a slow fever, had himself carried to their graves to pray there, and was at once restored to health, and the same thing happened to many more who flocked to the scene of their martyrdom.
A heretic called Arnald de Filière on learning of the death of Raymund, the venerable Archdeacon who used often to reprove him for his want of faith, said in the presence of his friends: 'I am going over to Avignonnet to see whether that knight of the quill, that talkative fool, has actually gone to his account.' He went, and stooping over the holy prelate as he lay in a pool of blood, spurned the corpse with a kick, saying derisively: 'Sleep in peace now, you lying clown.' God struck him instantly with an incurable sore on his leg.
When I was staying in our convent at Bordeaux,(5) only a few days before their martyrdom, a fellow religious came to tell me that he had witnessed in vision three of our brethren butchered as they knelt before the crucifix, and their corpses ill-treated by an armed mob.
Sister Blanche of Prouille suffered so much from the protrusion of a bone in the jaw that she could neither eat nor speak. On the eve of St Vincent the Martyr(6) the infirmarian, who was sitting by her side, asked her if she would care to have it bandaged with a napkin belonging to Brother William, who had lately died for the faith of Christ. She nodded assent, and it was no sooner applied than she began to exclaim: 'See, I have been cured by the holy martyr's merits.'
Brother Raymund of Carbonne, the Minorite already mentioned, saw in sleep, some days before his martyrdom, a golden diadem adorned with nine brilliant pearls come down from the skies in a halo of light, and remain suspended over the house in which they were afterwards slain. Full of admiration at the sight he broke forth thus: 'Alas for the people of this unhappy country, who seeing us about to be crowned for the faith which we uphold, do not hasten to embrace the Catholic faith.' On awaking he mentioned his dream to the prior of Prouille and to his fellow captives, whereupon Brother William de Rochefort, the prior of our brethren, cried out in the spirit of prophecy: 'Learn from this, my brethren, that we shall all speedily be put to death for the faith of Jesus Christ.'
A brother of the convent of Bordeaux tells us that being once rapt in prayer he saw our Saviour hanging on the cross, while on his right hand stood the blessed Virgin, who caught his blood in a chalice, with which she presently sprinkled three of our brethren. A great longing to share their happiness came over him at the sight, but the vision suddenly ceased: and soon after this he learnt that those three friars whom he had thus seen sprinkled with Christ's blood had shed theirs in return in confessing the true faith.
On the day before their martyrdom, the vigil of the Ascension, a devout woman came to the convent at Toulouse and spoke thus to Brother Columba, the prior: 'Father, happening to fall asleep in your church while mass was going on, I seemed to see one of the arms of Christ upon the rood become detached, and blood began to ooze from the entire body. As I looked on in fear, the figure beckoned me to draw near, and the dead lips opening said these words: "Bid the prior have his brethren's remains buried yonder," pointing to the chapel close by.' Following this holy injunction their blessed remains were laid by the bishop and our brethren in St Andrew's chapel, on their removal from Avignonnet. Nor could a more fitting spot have been chosen, for they lie inside their brethren's church, and on the right of the crucifix.
At that time the holy Roman Church(7) was widowed of her chief pastor, but on the tidings of their death reaching the ears of the cardinals met for the conclave, they drew up this letter addressed to the Prior Provincial and brethren of the Toulouse Province.
'You know, dearest brethren, that your Order was founded by your holy father St Dominic in the country of Toulouse for the defence of the faith, the planting of true piety, the comfort and edification of the faithful, and the uprooting of heresy and vice. You have renounced this world's riches that the lustre of your holiness may shine untarnished in the eyes of unbelievers, you have gladly taken upon you the yoke of voluntary poverty, and by untiring energy in keeping God's law you have won from on high that your tongues should shed heavenly wisdom. With mingled feelings of compassion and sorrow we have learnt how wicked men have, like maniacs at large, turned on their souls' physicians and done a deed of infamy on God's servants the Inquisitors, their companions and servants. But in smiting them thus with the sword they have only done them the best service possible, for, as we believe, when we consider the cause, the time, the manner and other circumstances of their death, they have only thereby raised them to the dignity of martyrs for Jesus Christ.'
St Peter of Verona. -- On the Saturday after the octave of Easter, in the year 1252, Brother Peter of Verona, the prior of Como, in Italy, an inquisitor on behalf of the Holy See, was martyred by impious men within the territory of Milan, as is declared in full in the bull of his canonisation. He was, as we have said, a native of Verona, and most of his relations were Manichean heretics. Returning one day from school when he was but seven years old, his uncle asked him what lesson he had been learning, so the child in all simplicity repeated the words -- 'I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.' 'Nay, nay,' rejoined the uncle, ' you must not say "Creator of heaven and earth," for it was not God but the devil who created this visible world.' Notwithstanding his tender years, Peter steadfastly refused to alter the written form of the Creed, or to profess anything besides what he had read. His uncle then tried to prove his heretical doctrine by a number of authorities, and to convince him that he ought also to believe in the devil's creative power, but strange to tell, the child turned the texts so cunningly against him, that the man had no reply whatever to make. In this instance he gave tokens of that invisible courage and skill wherewith he was afterwards to defend the Church against the assaults of heresy. The enraged uncle went to the child's father, and telling him all that had happened tried to stop him from sending Peter to school, 'for,' said he, 'I fear that ripening years and experience will only conduce to make him the champion of the Church of Rome, and that he will confound and destroy our creed.' But, by God's providence, the father would not hear of such a thing, feeling sure that his own persuasion would get the boy to follow in his way of thinking, especially when the influence of their pastor was brought to bear upon the more mature mind. Gifted with a lofty and penetrating genius, and while yet in the spring of youth and innocence, Peter betook himself to the Order of Preachers in Bologna and, after taking the habit from St Dominic's hands, gave himself up altogether to preaching and combating heresy.
The companion of his journeys having asked him to teach him some short prayer, he made this reply: 'Listen, brother, to the dearest prayer of my heart, and the one which moves my spirit most. When I hold the uplifted body of Christ in my hands, or when I gaze upon it elevated in other hands, at the altar, I earnestly pray him to grant me that I may never die otherwise than as a martyr for the faith, and this has always been my constant request.'
While disputing one day with a heretic of great ability and eloquence, who sought to baffle him with his intricate quibbles and sophisms, he asked for an adjournment of the debate, and a day was mutually agreed upon for his reply. After this he invited all the brethren of the neighbouring convents who were skilled in controversy to come prepared to the conference on the appointed day; but not one answered his appeal. When the time was come the heretic arrived with all his followers, and stepping forth haughtily, like a second Goliath, challenged the Catholic party to meet him. Brother Peter presented himself with a single companion, and the heretic, after again setting forth his errors with his best cunning and skill, bade him defiance, saying: 'Answer me now, if you can, or if you know how.' Brother Peter asked time for a moment's reflection, and retiring to a neighbouring oratory, threw himself before the altar, beseeching our Lord to uphold his own cause by shedding the light of faith on his adversary's intelligence and depriving him of that gift of speech which he abused by turning it against the truth. He rose, and returning to the midst of the vast assembly bade the heretic propound his arguments once more. The vain-glorious tongue faltered and grew mute, and while the heretics retired in confusion, the faithful gave hearty thanks to God. It was Brother Peter himself, who, with all humility, communicated this fact to two discreet brethren.
On another occasion, in the presence of a vast throng of bishops and people, he was disputing with an heretical bishop who had fallen into their hands. As the day wore on and the sun's intense rays kept pouring fiercely upon them, as they stood on a raised platform erected by the Milanese, the heretic interposed an instant: 'Perverse Peter, if you are really the saint this silly crowd makes you out to be, why do you let them and us be scorched with this terrific heat, and not rather ask the Lord to send at once a cloud that we may not get a sunstroke!' To this St Peter rejoined readily: 'If you sincerely pledge yourself to abandon your errors and be converted to the true faith, I will beg it of our Lord, and he will this moment send us what you ask.' On hearing the pledge given, the heretics who stood by shouted to their champion to make the promise, believing that the brother would not stand by his word, especially as there was no sign of a cloud visible in the sky; while on the other hand the bishops and Catholics began to fear lest this hasty promise might bring confusion on their cause. However, as the heretic declined to bind himself by any such engagement, St Peter replied: 'To prove to you that God is the Creator of all things visible and invisible and for the comfort of the faithful and your confusion, I now beseech him to interpose a cloud between the people and this blazing sun.' The words were scarcely uttered before a cloud gathered, which overhung the multitude like a vast tent surmounted by a cross.
On another day, feeling some doubts rise in his mind about the mysteries of our holy religion, and feeling sure that they were nothing else than the devil's deceits, he prostrated himself before the altar of the blessed Virgin and earnestly prayed her, for her dear Son's sake, to deliver him mercifully from them. As he knelt, reverently pressing his suit, a voice resounded in the air: 'I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith may not fail.' After this he got up to find that all his doubts had passed away, and he never again felt the like.
Just a year before his death, while passing by the castle of Goache with his companion, Brother Gerard of Trent, he looked at the heretical stronghold and uttered this prediction: 'Yonder castle will soon be destroyed in the cause of the faith, and the heretic bishops, Nolarus and Desidarius, who lie buried within its walls, will be burned to ashes'; all of which came to pass through the influence of the Inquisitors, and thereby gave testimony to the Spirit of Truth who foretold it by his mouth.
In a sermon preached at Milan, before nearly ten thousand hearers, he cried aloud: 'I know full well that the heretics are plotting to take my life, and that the reward has already been paid down; but let them do their good pleasure, for I shall do them more harm by my death than ever I have done in my life-time.' A month later he fell beneath their swords, which confirmed his prediction, and his other words are being verified daily still more.
On the day of his martyrdom, a devout and trustworthy sister of the convent of Ripoli, near Florence, being absorbed in prayer, as she afterwards solemnly bore witness, saw the blessed Virgin Mary seated on a majestic throne, having two of our brethren by her side. While she was yet looking at the strange sight they began to ascend to heaven, and she heard a voice say: 'This is Peter of Verona, who has mounted like fragrant incense to the throne of God.' She only learnt of his martyrdom some days later, and it occurred precisely at the same hour. Conceiving in her heart great feelings of devotion towards him she sought and obtained the cure of a severe malady under which she had long suffered. We need not be at all surprised at the presence of St Peter's companion on the occasion of this vision, for Brother Dominic, his companion, was mortally wounded by his side at the same time, and dying a little later was taken up with him to paradise.
A young Florentine, who had lapsed into heresy, came with some friends one day to see our brethren's church in Florence. Coming across a painting which represented St Peter's martyrdom, and seeing the murderer depicted as a soldier (9) with a brandished sword, he said: 'If I had been there in his place I would have struck home more surely still with my blade.' The words were no sooner uttered than he was struck dumb. His companions were thunderstruck with surprise, and tried to get him to make some sign of explanation, but all in vain. They next seized hold of him to drag him home, but he broke from them, rushed into a neighbouring church, and threw himself on his knees before the altar. There, with deep contrition, he begged the saint's pardon, and promised to confess his sins and abjure his errors if he were only healed. In answer to his prayer his tongue was loosed again, so he returned instantly to our church, fulfilled his promise, and told the whole adventure to his confessor. Furthermore, happening to hear his confessor tell the story, by his permission, in a public sermon to a large concourse of people, the young man stood up and gave public testimony to the fact.
A brother of the Order was given up by the doctors in Lyons,(10) and lay in a dying state owing to cancer in his throat. On the Master General coming to see him, the brother earnestly entreated him to bring him some of the holy martyr's relics, in hopes of obtaining a cure through his merits. He had no sooner applied the relics than he was completely restored to health.
A woman in Flanders who had given birth to three stillborn children in succession, and had met with much harsh treatment from her husband in consequence, for he went so far as to threaten to put her away, being near her confinement a fourth time, put her whole trust in St Peter Martyr, and vowed that if the child lived she would do her best to make a Friar Preacher of him if it were a son, or if a daughter she would dedicate her to God in some monastery. When her time came she gave birth to another still-born babe, but when the nurses wanted to take it away from her sight she begged them to give it back to her, and began most piteously to implore the holy martyr's help. Her prayer was not even finished before she found the boy alive in her arms. When he was carried to the font, the sponsors agreed to have him called John, which name he kept ever after out of devotion to the holy martyr.
A child, who was subject to falling sickness, on being brought by the parents to the saint's altar, and put under his protection, was restored to perfect health. A boy, who for over a year and a half had been suffering from recurring fevers, was dedicated to St Peter Martyr by his parents. The little sufferer sat up at once in bed, declaring himself cured, and asked them to take him to the holy martyr's altar that he might express his hearty gratitude. Another child, who had lain so long in the last extremity that his parents wished for death to put him out of his misery, while St Peter's relics were being carried past the door in solemn procession to the convent close by, asked his parents to carry him as well in the procession, that he might do honour to the saint. He did this from an inward assurance that his cure would be granted. His parents consented, and on their recommending him to the saint's care he was thoroughly restored to health. A little girl fell into a rapid stream and remained under water about as long as it would take to say two masses. The stiff limbs, the cold and livid corpse, and the length of her submersion, all bore witness to her untimely end. Four pious women carried her to our church at Sens,(11) where the brethren commended her to St Peter of Verona; they laid her down before her altar, and soon she awoke up full of life and spirits, as was sworn to by many eye-witnesses.
An infant whose breathing was impeded by an ulcer in the throat had some water given it to drink which had previously been used in washing out the urn containing some of his relics. The swelling subsided directly, and after a few days not a trace of it could be seen. A priest of the diocese of Poitiers was brought to death's door by a fever. One of our brethren, a kinsman of his, having gone to visit him, advised him to put his whole trust in God and Brother Peter of Verona, who had a short while before been put to death for the faith of Christ, but who was not yet canonised,(12) and that all would go well with him. The sufferer not only consented, but had a great wax candle burnt in his honour, and got up at once perfectly cured.
A woman of Chalons-sur-Marne,(13) who was subject to falling sickness, and had as many as six or eight attacks a day, on hearing his miracles spoken of from the pulpit, went in all haste to our brethren's church. Kneeling as a suppliant before the altar, she addressed this prayer to him: 'O blessed Peter, glorious martyr of Christ, since thou hast undergone so cruel a death, deign to ask our Lord mercifully on my behalf to deliver me from my present infirmity, as he shall judge to be best for the welfare of my soul.' The prayer was scarcely off her lips before she felt a new vigour run through her, indicating a complete recovery, and presently she got up, and hurrying out of doors, spread the good news, crying out in transports of delight: 'I am cured, I am cured, through the merits of the glorious martyr, Peter of Verona.' There could be no doubt as to her cure, for not a trace of her malady was ever seen again. She next hurried off to the prior of Chalons, who was her confessor, and he was delighted at so speedy a cure; after this many more persons in the town were healed of the same sickness in like manner.
Some timber merchants at Arras(14) having stacked their plants and shingles, worth near a thousand crowns, close by the side of our convent, the whole mass suddenly caught fire. The flames rose high and spread rapidly in the direction of the church. The wooden cross on top of the church was already burnt, and there did not seem to be the slightest chance of saving the building, when Brother Bartholomew, a lay-brother, bethought him of placing St Peter Martyr's relics in one of the dormitory windows as a shield against the fiery tide. The wind suddenly changed, and with it the flames were borne in the opposite direction, so that all was saved, excepting the wooden cross, which was destroyed before the arrival of the relics. The brother told this incident to the present writer, and in proof of his statement appealed to others who had witnessed the prodigy.
Some students of Maguelonne, while on their way to Montpellier,(15) were whiling away the tediousness of the journey by athletic exercises, when one of them injured himself internally in jumping. The poor lad lay head downwards on a steep bank in hopes of experiencing some relief in his great agony. Feeling somewhat eased he tried to continue his journey, but soon his sufferings recommenced with greater intensity, so that he had to lie down by the roadside. Calling to mind how, on St Peter Martyr's feast, he had heard the story told of a woman being cured of cancer by applying to her breast a few grains of earth stained with his blood, he began very earnestly, and with tears, to pray as follows: 'Lord God, I have none of that holy earth at this moment, but do thou vouchsafe, through his merits, to bestow the same virtue on this which is at hand.' Then invoking the holy martyr's help, he made the sign of the cross over a handful of earth, and on applying it to the seat of his pain, all his sufferings ceased and he was quite cured.
A lay-brother in Cologne, who for two years had been disfigured by a large wen which at one time even put his life in danger, vowed to the saint to say an Our Father every day in his Honour if he were rid of it. When he finished this petition the wen gradually subsided, and left no trace behind. All the brethren thanked God and his servant for the benefit which every effort of human skill had failed to bring about.
A priest at Trèves,(16) who was nearly driven mad from headaches, was cured by merely putting himself under the holy martyr's care. A woman of Bohemia fell into a trance, out of which she could not be roused. The prior of Prague, with four companions, went to see her, when one of her friends made a solemn promise in her name to St Peter Martyr, the nature of which did not transpire. Soon after the woman awoke as if recovering from a deep sleep, made her confession to the prior, and then said to the company present: 'I saw a dark figure of some one who wanted to destroy me, but a saint in the habit of a Friar Preacher came and put him to flight, and as he touched me I regained consciousness.
A fellow countrywoman of the last, who was nearing her end, after a long illness, put herself under his care: in a little while she fancied she saw him sprinkle her with holy water, and got up in all her former health and vigour.
Brother John of Poland acquaints us with the fact that when he was laid up with a quartan ague in Bologna, he was bidden to preach the saint's panegyric on his feast. Fearing he might not be equal to the task he went to the saint's altar and prayed to him to help him in making his great merits known. The fever left him at once and never returned.
A young man called Benedict fell dangerously ill in the city of Compostella,(17) where the body of St James the Apostle rests. His body and limbs were so swollen as to strike the beholder more with horror than pity; his eyes protruded from his head, and he could with extreme difficulty move along with the help of a stick. In this sad plight one May Day before vespers, in the year 1259, he came to the wife of a barber and piteously begged an alms. The kind-hearted woman said: 'Friend, you seem to be more in want of a coffin than of food, but take my advice, go and confess your sins at the friars' convent, recommend your hard fate to St Peter, who has been lately martyred, and if you pray earnestly you may count on a speedy cure.' She had an assurance that it would come true, having herself often experienced his help, and on his part the afflicted youth promised to fulfil her instructions to the letter. He went to our church in the morning, but finding it locked leant against the door and fell fast asleep. As he slept there appeared before him a venerable friar who threw his cloak over his shoulders and brought him inside. At this he awoke to find himself no longer a pitiful object lying on the porch steps outside, but hale and well in body and merry at heart, a good way inside the building. Off he ran to his friendly adviser and joyfully greeted her in the street among her gossips: 'I have taken your advice,' he cried, 'and see what St Peter has done for me.' The astonished good-wife looked at his arms, which were yet livid in colour in testimony of the miracle, and after calling her husband, she roused the neighbourhood by her shouts. 'Look here,' she cried, 'here is a miracle indeed. Yesterday this brave fellow was so swollen that he could hardly talk or crawl, and looked as if every step would be his last, and just look at him now praising God in perfect health.' Many of our brethren and over five hundred people of Compostella knew him very well both before and after the miracle.
A young Portuguese named Dominic, who resided in Majorca, had an ague and dropsy combined, and could not stir out of his chamber without help. He got worse and worse, the swelling reached his throat, he was past speech, past eating or drinking, and was given up completely by the doctors. Still his wife did not lose heart: 'Recommend yourself to St Peter Martyr,' was her advice, 'and make a vow to fast every year on the vigil of his feast.' The sufferer nodded an assent, and gave her to understand that she was to offer a wax candle as long as himself at the saint's altar. This was no sooner done than he began to vomit up the evil humours, and presently magnifying God and his servant with a loud voice, declared himself cured of his ague and dropsy.
A woman of Metz(18) had successively given birth to seven children who were all either still-born or died soon after baptism. Just then one of our brethren, who was a relative of hers, happened to be returning from the Provincial Chapter having with him some of St Peter's relics sent by the provincial to the convent in that city. Now while his friends were making merry at his return, the poor woman was observed to be weeping bitterly, and in answer to his enquiries she thus unfolded the cause: 'Alas, child-birth is again approaching, and I cannot help grieving when I think that the same misfortune is sure to happen to this child as to the others.' Then the brother comforted her, saying: 'Nay, have no fears on that score, but put your whole trust in God's mercies and the merits of St Peter, a recent martyr in our Order. Recommend yourself and your child to him; promise that if a son be born alive you will have him called Peter in his honour, that every year you will make a suitable offering at his altar, and assist at mass and sermon on his feast, and be quite sure that he will watch over the life of your child.' She very gladly made the promise, and when her time was come she was delivered of a healthy boy to whom she gave the name of Peter, and, as all allowed, no child could be more comely or in better health. The miracle was soon noised abroad, and from that day women in childbirth are in the habit of invoking St Peter of Verona, and seldom without experiencing his timely aid.
HAPPY DEATHS OF THE BRETHREN
THE venerable Brother Matthew(19) of Paris who was the first and last Abbot in our Order, and who was prior for many years in Paris, tells us how he went to Brother Reginald of Orleans, when the latter was on his deathbed, and urged him to receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, as he would soon be engaged in his last struggle with death and Satan.
At this blessed Reginald replied: 'I have no fears for the struggle, nay, I rather look forward to it with impatience, for ever since the Mother of God anointed me with her virginal hands in Rome, I have never ceased to put my whole trust in her, and now joyfully await the hour of my deliverance that I may hasten to see her once more. However, that I may not seem to make little of the Church's anointing, I profess myself willing to receive it, and I humbly ask for it at your hands.' Towards sunset he gently passed away, surrounded by the mournful brethren.
Master Jordan, of blessed memory, vouches for the truth of the following incident in his story of the first foundations of the Order. Brother Everard,(20) who was formerly Archdeacon of Langres, a truly mortified religious, determined in deed and prudent in counsel, having embraced our holy Institute in Paris, became from that time a model of evangelical poverty, and this virtue shone in him with special lustre from the high position he had formerly held in the world. While travelling with Master Jordan to rejoin St Dominic in Lombardy, he fell very ill at Lausanne, the bishopric of which he had formerly declined. We have the rest of the story in Master Jordan's own words:(21) 'Seeing the doctors consult together with grave faces, he called me to his side and addressed to me these words -- "Why do you seek to hide from me the fact that my life is drawing to a close? I am not afraid to die; let them conceal it from the man to whom the thought of death is bitter. Death should have no terrors for him who sees the frail casket break asunder in the hope that the pearl within, that is the soul, may find in heaven, an imperishable home, not made by mortal hand." With these words he very peacefully ended his short but thrice happy course. As a token of his happy passage, so far from feeling downcast or desolate at his loss, as I had expected, on the contrary, I was conscious of an indescribable feeling of joy come over me, as if some inward voice was whispering to me to forbear weeping for him who had already been admitted to everlasting joys.'
That fervent religious and distinguished lector, Brother Conrad, whose conversion is told in St Dominic's life,(22) used often to foretell the hour and place of his own end. When brought at last to death's door by a burning fever at Magdeburg(23) in Germany, Brother Robert, the infirmarian, said to him: 'Dear brother, our Lord is going to take you from us, let us know, then, by some sign, when he comes with his angels to take you.' To this the other agreed. On St Catherine's eve, in the presence of the prior and brethren, he began to sing softly and sweetly the opening words of the psalm: 'Sing unto the Lord a new canticle, Alleluia': then closing his eyes he seemed to die. The brethren then began to recite the seven penitential psalms for the repose of his soul, which being ended, he once more opened his eyes and said this prayer: 'The Lord be with you; and with fly spirit: Let its pray: May the souls of the faithful departed: through the mercy of God, rest in peace': whereat all present solemnly responded 'Amen.' The prior, bending over him, began to whisper words of comfort in his ear, but he did not appear to hear them. The brethren then intoned the Gradual Psalms, and when they came to that verse: 'This is my rest for ever and ever,' he pointed heavenwards, then with a radiant smile he passed away. Overcome by this touching sight, the prior fell on the neck of the brother infirmarian, and cried: 'O Brother Robert, see how well he has fulfilled your behest. Brothers, let us all kneel down, for I feel sure that our Lord Jesus Christ is at this moment in our midst.' They all knelt down, and some were so overcome between fervour and joy that they could hardly understand their own feelings, still less describe them in words. Those who laid the body out declared that they sensed a heavenly perfume which clung to their hands for days after. We are indebted for this narrative to Brother Robert of Turin, the same who attended him in his last sickness.
Brother Peter of Guerche, who was sub-prior of Dinan(24) in Brittany, had been in the habit for many years of staying behind in the church after matins to prolong his prayer. One night, feeling too tired to pray, he went to bed, but shortly afterwards he heard a voice in the stillness of the night, saying: 'Get up, Peter, and spare not your body, for the time is short.' He got up again, and after telling his confessor what he had heard he went to the altar to say mass devoutly. He fell dangerously ill that same day, and in a few hours died holily in the Lord. To this day he is looked on as a saint by the whole countryside on account of the marvellous purity of his life.
Brother Guerin of the convent of Tours(25) falling ill began to wander in his mind before anyone thought of administering the Last Sacraments. The distressed prior summoned the community and bade them pray fervently for the brother, who was then beginning his agony. As they entered the infirmary, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, the dying man revived, and after making his confession received the holy Viaticum. Then feeling the hand of death upon him he intoned softly the response, 'Libera me Domine.' etc. ('Deliver me, O Lord, from everlasting death'), and so passed away very peacefully.
Brother Walter of Rheims, an eloquent preacher, pleasant and genial, after a long and fruitful ministry fell seriously ill at Metz. After he was anointed he addressed these words to the weeping brethren as they knelt around: 'Have no fear, brethren, on my account, for I am dying in the true faith, strengthened with unfailing hope, and worn out with exceeding charity.' Soon afterwards he slept in the Lord, and those present described his happy passage to their absent brethren.
Brother William, who had originally been a court official at Sens, while being anointed in the convent of Orleans,(26) asked the friars to say no more to him about sin and hell, nor to mention anything which could disturb his peace of soul but only to speak about the joys and delights of heaven. Seeing them grieve over his departure he said to them: 'Wherefore do you weep? If I am going to heaven you ought rather to rejoice with me since all is gained, but if hell is to be my lot . . . but no, certain am I that will not be.' Some one who entered the infirmary just then exhorted him to bear his sufferings patiently, and asked him if he had confessed all his sins; the dying man then replied : 'Had I put it off until now I should have been too late'; saying which he gently breathed his last in all confidence.
In the convent of Dijon(27) of the same province a young novice lay dying: it was Brother William of Chalon-sur-Saone, a youth of singular piety and simplicity. The infirmarian after feeling his feeble pulse, and knowing that the end could not be far off, leant over him and whispered in his ear: 'Be of good cheer, brother, for you are now going to God.' A bright smile lit up the pale features at the words, as with feeble voice he began to sing the anthem, 'Glory, praise, and honour be to thee, O Christ, our King and Saviour.' 'When a relic of the true cross was held to his lips, his spirit strengthening his body, he sprang up and clasping it fondly to his heart, with voice more angelic than human he intoned: 'O Crux ave spes unica ' -- ' Hail to thee, O Cross, our only hope.' After this he spake no more, but gently sank into his true rest.
Brother Ulric, the prior of Nuremberg, being brought by a painful sickness to the verge of the grave, the glorious Queen of virgins stood visibly before him, and putting her hand on the suffering part eased his pains, and said to him: 'Brother Ulric, there are yet greater pains in store for thee ere thou canst pass from earth; but take courage, for afterwards pain shall be no more.' Some time before he died his poor body was racked terribly, while his eyes seemed starting from their sockets. His last hour being at length come, Brother Nicholas, who was lying in the same dormitory, saw a troop of beautiful maidens gathering round his companion's bed, and on his asking them in God's name who they were and from whence they came, one of them answered sweetly: 'We are from the land of the angels.'
Brother James of Lombardy, dwelling in our convent in Paris, a religious of great repute both for learning and piety, carried his love of contemplation so far that Christ crucified was at all times on his lips and in his heart. 'I know of no greater evil,' he would say, 'than that of ingratitude in not loving so good a Master.' But whereas he was pleasing in God's eyes, it was necessary that affliction should try him. Struck down helpless under a grievous malady, he came to learn by sad experience the unspeakable weakness of human nature, and he who was ready at one time to shed his blood for Christ's sake was now permitted to fall into a thousand small acts of peevishness. Everything served only to torment him, even his food and bed; the name of Jesus, which once had been so sweet, now became almost unbearable. In his anguish he bitterly complained that he had been mocked by God himself in return for his services, since he was no longer master of his own soul and body. But as the brethren continued making unceasing supplication for him, his spirit of resignation gradually returned, until at last he became utterly detached from this world. Meanwhile he had been slowly wasting away, so that all wondered to see his poor thin body bear up so long. But the Father of lights and God of all consolation had not forgotten his servant, and the bones which had been humbled began to rejoice. He sighed continually for the hour of his delivery, the very thought of which would cause his face to light up with joy. Master Jordan, of blessed memory, on being informed of his pitiful condition went to see him, and sitting down at his bedside offered him these words of comfort: 'Fear nothing, brother, for very soon you will be summoned into the presence of Jesus Christ.' At this comforting speech, helped by the grace of God, in spite of his weakness, he rose upon his bed, and falling on Master Jordan's neck, cried out in tones which bespoke the soul's deep longing: 'O Jesus, deliver my soul from out this prison, that I may praise and magnify thee for ever,' saying which he peacefully expired. Sometimes, therefore, if we see the sick fretful and impatient, let us beware of harsh judgements or feelings of vexation, for without a doubt such is the unfathomable will of him ' who balanceth the storm,' for what may often seem to be the effect of his wrath in reality may be only a token of his boundless mercy.
A lector belonging to our convent of Langres, Nicholas by name, was calmly awaiting his death, when someone asked him whether God had given him any special consolation. In transports of gladness the brother made answer: 'I have indeed had a comfort beyond all others, for our Lord Jesus Christ has promised me to be present at the moment of my death.' At this he who put the question rejoined: 'Then for the love of this same Jesus, let us know by some sign of the hand the moment you behold him.' 'That I will do most readily,' replied Nicholas. Three days later the passing bell summoned the brothers to the infirmary, and while fervent entreaty was being made for him, the dying brother pointed steadily to the foot of the bed, his countenance all aflame with joy, and with his failing breath intoned the gospel words: 'You seek Jesus of Nazareth, he is gone before you into Galilee, as he foretold you, there you shall see him. Alleluia': and presently passed away. Those who stood by during this consoling scene acquainted me with all the foregoing particulars.
While the friars of Strasbourg were saying the last prayers over a dying novice, the young man opened his eyes and exclaimed: 'Ah, dearest brothers, I now feel like a man who has bought costly wares in the market for a mere trifle, for I am going to inherit God's kingdom without knowing how I can ever have merited it.'
A brother of the Order in Metz laboured for many years in preaching to the poor in the outlying districts, and in spreading devotion to the Mother of God. He was a man of great self-denial and humility as well as a good preacher in French and German. Having gone to Toul he was there struck down with a mortal illness. The parish priest, on behalf of the bishop, wanted him in his house, but with his lowliness of spirit he preferred the hospital for the poor, declaring that as he had espoused holy poverty it was only just that he should live and die among the poor. At first he experienced many trials of soul, and fears at the thought of his past sins, and this made him weep and mourn bitterly. As death drew nigh the infirmarian in charge noticed a change come over his features: his eyes sparkled with unusual brilliancy, and he began to clap his hands in token of the great joy which reigned within, as if his soul were eager for its flight but unable to burst its mortal bands. Presently he was heard to murmur: 'O most blessed Lady, thy presence is indeed a most welcome one! Remember that I am thy bedesman and poor preacher.' Then he began to sing softly Mary's praises. The infirmarian of the hospital deeming that his singing at that solemn moment might give scandal, reproved him: 'Do you think, brother, it is decent for you to make yourself heard in this fashion?' To which the sick man replied: 'Think not that thus I am playing the hypocrite, for the hypocrite if fair without is yet foul within and abominable in God's sight: indeed I am nothing of the kind, although my tongue cannot refrain from proclaiming the praises of God's holy Mother.' After this he became unconscious, while the infirmarian resumed reading his breviary aloud: at the words 'let every spirit praise the Lord' the brother gently bowed his head, and repeating the phrase 'let every spirit praise the Lord,' went to his reward.
Brother Conrad, who was at one time prior of Constance,(28) during the course of a long and painful sickness loved to repeat devoutly these words from the Canticles: 'My beloved to me and I to my beloved, until the day dawn and the shadows pass away.' A fortnight before he died he spoke freely about his coming end: 'Learn, brethren,' he said, 'that I shall die on the coming feast of the blessed Virgin Mary'. And his words came true, for he gradually sank from that hour, and expired tranquilly while the brethren were singing the first vespers of our Lady's Nativity, and he was buried on the feast. His last mass had been the votive mass of our Lady, and, his last sermon had been upon her dignity. Shortly before he expired he said to those around him: 'Know this, my brethren, that I die confidently and gladly as one of God's faithful friends, for I have every reason for thinking that I have always been true to my love for him, and since I first joined the Order I have tried to do his good pleasure in all things. I die confidently, for I know that I am going to join him. I die joyfully, since I am about to pass from this place of exile to my true home, and from sorrow to everlasting joys.' As he was about to receive the body of Christ, he exclaimed with outspread arms and burning face: 'This is my God, him shall I glorify, this is my God and my Saviour. O my soul, receive him with transports of delight, for he has been to thee a friend beyond all friends, thy prudent counsellor, and thine allpowerful protector.' He then asked Brother Rodulph, the provincial, to absolve him from all his sins and transgressions of the rule, and to impose his death as a penance. His request being complied with, he returned very grateful thanks and said: 'Now I can die content: " save thy servant, O Lord, who puts his trust in thee." ' After this he said the prayer for all departed souls, and then gave up his own to God.
Brother Bennet of Pont, a truly devout and eloquent man, whose apostolic career had extended all over Spain, France, Aquitaine, and Syria, set out one day from the convent of Clermont(29) to say mass and preach in a neighbouring church. The mass over, he called his companion and the parish priest and bade them give him the last rites as quickly as they could, as death was coming on. When he had received Extreme Unction, he asked his companion to read aloud a favourite chapter from St Bernard's meditations, entitled 'How the soul is made after the likeness of God.' Tears flowed freely as he listened, and his soul, thus melting with devotion, passed away to the presence of God who had hastened to call it to himself since it was acceptable in his eyes.
A young religious of Montpellier, who had a charming voice, being on his deathbed, the holy and aged prior, Brother Columba, after anointing him, asked him to sing the beautiful anthem which commemorates the passing away of St John the Evangelist. The brother hastened to obey and, raising himself up, sang, as if with the voice of an angel, this melody: 'Take me, O Lord, that I may rejoin my brethren, in whose company thou art come to visit me. Open thou to me the gate of life and bring me to the nuptial feast, for thou art the Son of the living God, at whose behest thou hast redeemed the world. To thee we render thanks . . .' here the voice hushed, and the pure soul went to end the strain before the throne of grace: 'to thee we render thanks for ever and ever. Amen.'
Brother Nicholas, the prior of Avignon, a most attractive preacher, said to his brethren on St Michael's eve: 'Tomorrow will be the fourteenth anniversary of my joining the Order of Preachers, and I confidently expect to depart to the company of the angels.' True enough he died on the morrow, and his burial was honoured by the presence of a cardinal and several bishops.
Lastly, Brother Ulric of Friburg, having no special talent for preaching, gave himself up entirely to prayer and contemplation. Such burning transports of divine love filled his soul that he could find rest nowhere. Day by day his body seemed to wear away, until at last, in expectation of his death, the brethren gave him the last rites. On the day before his death, as he lay quite still in the infirmary, the sub-prior saw his countenance brighten marvellously, the closed eyes opened once more, and began to cast searching glances around. 'How do you find yourself now, brother?' enquired the sub-prior, but getting no reply he once more accosted him: 'Brother, in virtue of holy obedience I bid you answer me.' Then sentiments of obedience prevailing over his cherished humility, Brother Ulric spoke these words: 'I was taken up in spirit and brought to a most lovely country, and while I stood lost in wonder, gazing at its beauty, and trying to discover what I could be doing there, St Paul and St Dominic, who had a large crucifix in his hands, came up and asked if I were all alone, and on my declaring that I was, they told me to follow them. I did so, and soon before my eyes rose the vision of the heavenly city, with its walls of massive gold, its towers of shining priceless jasper, and its twelve gates of lustrous pearls. After that I saw the souls of many I have known pass through the gate and enter in. Unable to restrain myself any longer I asked St Paul what that beautiful sight might be, and he told me it was the heavenly Jerusalem. "Then let me enter it as well," I cried, but the apostle replied: "Nay, you may not enter yet, but tomorrow, directly the signal shall be given for tierce, you shall enter." ' After detailing his vision the brother begged of the sub-prior not to make it known to the brethren until he should have witnessed its fulfilment. Next morning he asked the infirmarian to put the room in order, because distinguished guests were coming before long. Prime and the private masses having been said, the brothers hurried to see him. He gave them all a gracious welcome, but presently began to sign for them to stand back: 'Make way, brothers,' he said, 'for Jesus Christ is come to be our guest.' After a short interval he waved them back with the other hand, saying: 'Give place, for the glorious Mother of God now comes.' Once again he cried: 'Nay, stand further back, for here come St John the Baptist, St Dominic our father, and the holy apostles Peter and Paul; and see, here come our sisters as well, Agnes, and Catherine, and Lucy, and Cecilia.' The trembling brethren cast themselves on their knees, blessing God, and as he continued thus greeting each saint who had come to escort him thence, the bell rang for tierce, and the happy soul was caught up by angels to the heavenly mansions.
VISIONS AT THE HOUR OF DEATH
Two of our brethren of Montpellier, Peter and Benedict, were lying very sick at the one time. The prior, coming on his daily round, asked Brother Peter how he felt; to this the brother replied by saying that he felt happy and contented, 'because,' said he, 'I feel a conviction at heart that I am shortly going to God, and to convince you of the truth of what I am saying, learn that Brother Benedict will die on the same day.' The prior then crossed over to where Brother Benedict was lying, and got the same answer. These are his very words: 'While I was thinking yesterday on the happiness of being united with Christ in death, I began to sigh for the hour of my release, and to invoke the aid of the Mother of mercy, and such unspeakable devotion at once filled my soul that I have now no other desire, nay, I cannot think of anything else but of Christ, who is my last end.' Brother Peter died after a couple of days, and while the brethren were carrying the body to the church, as prescribed by the ritual, Brother Benedict caught the sound of distant psalmody and asked the infirmarian to tell him who was dead. Learning that it was Brother Peter, he cried aloud: 'Let them come and fetch me as well, for it is appointed that we should die on the same day.' On the return of the brethren he suddenly expired, and was buried with the companion whom God gave him for his last journey. He who acquainted me with these facts was present at the time, and often heard the prior recount the story.
In the same convent there were two of our brethren who were twin brothers. They had begun their studies together, entered the schools of philosophy in Paris together, joined the Order the same day, and after leading holy lives went to God in the same hour. The first of the two, Brother Peter, after making his confession and being anointed with great sentiments of fervour, said to Brother Pontius the prior: 'Father, whither are you sending me?' 'To our Lord Jesus Christ, brother,' was his answer. 'And whom have you named as my companion?' 'None other than Christ, whom you have just received.' At this the brother asked for the kiss of peace, as is usual with all our brethren before death, and very soon after he went to eternal joys. His brother Arnold being then also at the point of death, all hastened to that quarter of the infirmary, and while the litanies for the dying were being recited, Brother Vincent, who was lying close by, saw an imposing procession of saints gather round his companion's bed, among whom he recognised our holy father St Dominic, in resplendent majesty. As Brother Arnold breathed his last the procession filed out, headed by St Dominic, and as the holy brothers Peter and Arnald passed him they said to him: "Get ready, for you must also bear us company this day.' He acquainted the prior with the fact, and a little after slept in the Lord.
Two of our religious of the convent of Arles,(30) William and John, were lying seriously ill, and on the prior going to visit them Brother 'William addressed these words to him and the other brethren present: 'I know that I shall die of this sickness, but I shall not go alone: I shall die on the vigil of the Assumption, and Brother John will follow me next day.' Now when they wanted to find out how he came by his knowledge of these facts, he thus ended his story: 'It seemed to me as if I were being drawn over a vast expanse of water in a boat by white-robed brethren, when Brother John arrived, all out of breath, on the shore and called after me: "Wait for me, brother, for I must bear you company." ' His words were verified to the letter before the week was ended.
Two more of the same convent who had worked together in their ministry mutually foretold the day of each other's death, and after disclosing it to the Friars Minor, in whose convent they were lodging, begged that they might share one common grave. They were in the prime of life at the time and full of vigour, yet in a few days both fell ill at Gap, and were buried on the feast of St Laurence the Martyr, as our Lord had revealed to them.
The holy Brother Giles of Spain, a man of unquestionable authority and veracity, sent the eight stories which are now to follow in a letter to Brother Humbert, who was then Master General of the Order, and had been his dear fellow companion in the noviceship at Paris.(31)
Brother Peter of Santarcm,(32) in Spain, who in the world had been a medical doctor, was beloved, not merely for his gentle ways, but also for his kindness in treating without fee the poor who flocked to him from all quarters, besides which he was the infirmarian of the convent. One day a lay brother named Martin saw him lifted up in the air so that his head touched the ceiling, and after remaining thus in contemplation for a long space he slowly descended again. After none this Brother Peter came and told me some of the secrets imparted then to him: but I contented myself at the time with cautioning him to say nothing about them to anyone else, for in this way vain-glory often finds its way into contemplative souls, more especially when their visions come to be passed on from mouth to mouth. He had hardly left me before Brother Martin sent for me, and on my hastening to him, enquired whether Brother Peter had informed me of his rapture. 'How do you come to know of it?' I asked. 'Because I saw him with my own eyes raised as high as the ceiling,' was his reply: so I cautioned him also to keep a prudent silence in the matter. Some time later, when Brother Peter was praying before the altar, the devil-under the form of a friar-threw him on the pavement and kicked him so cruelly that it was all we could do to carry him to the infirmary. He died soon after in sentiments of the most profound piety, and after enjoying a foretaste of heavenly comforts in this life, went to drink for evermore at the fountain-head of unspeakable joys. Those who stood by the deathbed saw his countenance send forth rays of light which lit up the whole infirmary, and the book from which the prior was reading the last absolution: and very soon after this Brother Martin, who had witnessed his ecstasy, went to join him beyond the grave. Seeing him about to enter on his agony, I gave orders for him to be turned towards the east, that his soul might fly straight to the Lord: whereat he said to me: 'Brother Giles, I am not going to die just now, but after eight days I hope to depart to Christ.' True enough, just eight days later, that is to say, on Christmas night, while we were singing the Invitatory in choir: 'Christ is born unto its: come, let us adore,' we heard the death signal given, and on hurrying to his side, found him on the point of expiring.
The sub-prior of the same convent being suddenly seized for death, the prior, who had died sometime before, appeared at the bedside of one of the brethren and awoke him by crying aloud: 'Get up, brother, this is no time for sleep; make haste, for the sub-prior is dying.' The brother started up at once, but before he could rouse the sleeping brethren the death signal was heard ringing mysteriously in the corridors. We hurried to the infirmary, saying the Creed as we went, and found the alarm to be only too true: from which we gather that the sainted dead have a care of their living imitators.
A lay-brother of the same convent, named Dominic, who was not far from death through dropsy, asked me to have him removed to a quieter part of the dormitory: his wish was complied with, and we went off to the conference which is usually given twice in the week among us. In the meantime a damsel of great beauty and modesty entered, clad in white and wearing a veil over her brow, and seating herself a little way off began to discourse sweetly with him, about divine things, and then mysteriously withdrew. The infirmarian on his return found the poor brother fairly stupefied with amazement, but he soon found breath to cry out in angry tones: 'What negligence is this that women can slip into our cloisters, and what is worse, with not so much as one seeing them!' The alarmed brother ran to make enquiries, nay, searched the whole house, but all to no purpose, so he brought-me with him to the sick man, and I heard the wonderful story told a second time. On the following evening, the vigil of St Agatha, he called aloud that his hour was come, and died while the brethren were saying the parting commendations for him: from which circumstance we were led to conclude that perchance his gentle visitor was none other than St Agatha. Doubtless she came to present to Jesus Christ one who had been a virgin and martyr like herself; a martyr from his long protracted sufferings, and a virgin as he confessed to me with his dying lips.
Another-lay brother, named Gonsalvo, being nigh to death, beckoned for the infirmarian to approach, and then said: 'O brother, if you had only come in one moment sooner you might have seen my dead mother and sister.' During their life-time they had been generous benefactresses of the Order, besides giving an example of rare piety. 'They stood here before me,' said he, 'only a few minutes ago, and when I asked them how it was that the dead could appear thus visibly in human shape, they said to me: "We have obtained this favour through the intercession of the Mother of God; hold yourself prepared, for you shall die to-morrow. The devils will do their utmost to terrify you, but do not be afraid, for we shall come and help you with a whole host of your departed brethren. When you shall behold Jesus Christ our Lord think of nothing else but of committing yourself entirely to him." ' Such was his account of the apparition, and what served to confirm the prediction was his sudden death next morning, having only time to express his delight at entering into the joys of his Lord.
The venerable Brother Ferdinand, who in his younger days had been one of the singers in Lisbon Cathedral, and was looked up to by all as a person of great authority, after a short but holy sojourn of four years in the convent at Santarem laid him down to die. But before yielding up his spirit he sent for me, for I was his kinsman, and on my enquiring if all were going well with him, he peacefully replied: 'The gates of hell are shut for ever against me, and I shall never enter therein.' These were his last words, and when he was dead the prior burst into tears, but for my own part I could not refrain from giving vent to my joy, nay more, while the brethren were crying in supplication, 'Lord, condemn me not in thy wrath,' I felt myself as it were compelled to intone the Psalm, 'Praise the Lord from the heavens.' What wonder that I should so rejoice then, for I saw before me one who had said farewell to all the world's riches and pleasures, and mounted to such high perfection in a short life as to be able to give a forecast of his everlasting state, since peace of mind on a deathbed after a holy life is the surest token ofa blessed eternity.
There was another brother of Santarem, named Martin, who had taken the habit at the same time as the bishop of Lisbon, whose chaplain he had been: but as God wanted to take him to himself he sent him a slow consuming fever. As I was going round the infirmary on the vigil of theAscension he beckoned for me, and said: 'Brother Giles, I am going to die to-morrow'; after which, with his eyes turned heavenwards, he murmured: 'I thank thee, Lord Jesus, for deigning to call me from earth on the feast of thine Ascension, a day which has always brought greater comforts to my poor soul than any other.' Hearing him say this I could not help remarking to him that I did not see how this could be since he seemed to be so strong, and would probably last a week longer. However, he still maintained the contrary; and sure enough he was anointed next morning and departed to the Lord as he had foretold to me.
Brother Peter Ferrandi,(33) the author of a life of our holy father St Dominic, who had joined the Order in boyhood and became a Doctor of Theology in one of the most famous spanish universities, eventually came to die at Zamora.(34) One of the brethren in the convent there dreamt that he saw him seated on a lofty eminence, his face shining like the sun, and having a student on either side of him. On mentioning his dream to me next day I judged its meaning to be that Brother Peter was shortly going to leave us: so hastening to his side I said: 'Brother, since you are going to heaven soon, please salute the blessed Virgin and St Dominic for me when you get there.' Trembling from emotion and joy he gazed on me and cried: 'O Brother Giles, speak on, and tell me something more about heaven, for it is so delightful to think that we are all going to meet again there.' Just before he departed I bent over him and whispered: 'Dearest brother, I beg you to remember me after death.' Then with uplifted hands, as if going to receive his crown, he murmured feebly: 'I shall never forget you, and know that only this moment I saw the glorious queen of heaven and St John the Evangelist by my side, both of them holding a crown over my head. Tell me then in all charity, what can its meaning be?' Having been his confessor I quickly made answer: 'One of them is the reward of virginity, and the other of learning and preaching, and since you are both a virgin and a doctor it is only fitting that you should receive your double crown from the hands of the Queen of virgins and of the eagle of the Apocalypse.' He then turned his dim eyes towards the brethren and bade them this farewell: 'Be constant, brothers, in love for your Order, for there is none other so beloved of God,' saying which he sank back dead in my arms.
Brother Raymund of Lausanne tells us of a brother William in the convent of Le Puy en Velay,(35) who, after being anointed and laid on a bed of ashes at his own request, fell into a state of stupor; coming to himself, after a short spell, he began to rub his eyes as if lost in wonder, and spoke thus to his brethren: 'Let us be glad, my brethren, since unspeakable joy reigns in heaven, and we shall all of us soon share in it; and see, the whole choir is full of angels who are waiting for me.' Then turning to the prior, who had shown himself harsh and unkind to him during his illness, he continued: 'Did you not see the angel who, even a moment ago, stooped over me and gave me the kiss of peace?' At this the prior, who would not give anybody the kiss of peace, interrupted him by asking if he had nothing special to say about his conscience; to him the brother gently replied: 'From this hour I shall never again be under your jurisdiction, but God will repay you on my behalf,' saying which he calmly slept in Christ. Brother Raymund was an eye-witness, and wrote it down at once. From this example superiors, as well as subjects, must learn to be very gentle with the sick, and take care not to trouble them, since their angels deign to visit them, and wait on them, and comfort them.
Brother Vigoreux of Provence, after serving God for many years in the Order of the Holy Crown,(36) obtained permission to pass to the Order of Preachers. Beloved of his brethren, and ever humble at heart before God, he spent over fifteen years ever climbing the steep paths of perfection, preaching and hearing confessions with unflagging zeal. Eventually he fell ill at Bordeaux, and made a general confession to the Provincial, but as the doctor found his pulse steadier the next morning, the prior said encouragingly: 'There is no fear, brother, for the doctor thinks you may recover.' 'So far as I am concerned,' replied the brother, 'I do not for one moment believe it, nor do I care to get well.' When the others had gone out of the room, the Provincial asked him to say in God's name what reason he had for speaking thus: whereupon, being loath to refuse, the brother continued in this wise: 'Directly you left me yesterday, after hearing my confession, I continued to implore God's pardon, and, happening to look up, I saw our Lord standing close by me, who said, "Your Provincial has heard your confession, but it was I who absolved you. Do not fret over any want of attention, for before long I shall send my angels to wait upon you." ' He died a few days later, and the Provincial with his own hand wrote all these details to the Master of the Order.
When Louis, the most Christian King of France, was about to sail for the Holy Land, (37) a number of our brethren, who were charged to accompany the expedition, met in the convent of Montpellier, one of whom, called Peter of Normandy, fell dangerously ill there, and after confessing his sins received the holy Viaticum and last rites. Being laid on sack-cloth and ashes, according to the custom of the dying, he begged the sub-prior to draw near, and on being assured that no one else was present (for his sight was already gone), be opened his mind to him in these words: 'My dear father, for our mutual comfort I am now going to recount all that God has been pleased to reveal to me, and you can acquaint the brothers with it when I am gone. Only a little while ago, during the time you were saying none in the church, I saw the heavens open, and I was permitted to behold the unveiled mystery of the blessed Trinity, receiving at the same time an assurance of my soul's salvation.' He died with these words on his lips, and without a doubt was admitted speedily into everlasting joys.
Brother Julian, of happy memory, the prior of Bordeaux, when about to start for the General Chapter to be held in London, (38) foretold his coming end to several devout persons, and embraced his brethren as if they were to meet no more on earth. He fell sick on arriving at Beauvais,(39) and when at the point of death appeared to a holy woman in Bordeaux, at least twelve days' journey distant. Just at that moment she chanced to be praying in the friars' church, and saw the prior mount heavenwards, surrounded by a halo of glory. On her enquiring whether he was going all alone, he made answer: 'I am going to our Lord, but not quite alone, for I shall soon bring my entire community after me.' The good woman told the occurrence to the sub-prior, stoutly maintaining the prior's death, and the day and hour being noted it was afterwards proved that he had really passed away at that very moment. Time verified the prior's forewarning, for during that summer a lector and eleven brethren died.
About the same time the convent of Marseilles(40) was blessed with the presence of Brother Peter of Digne, a youth of matchless purity and winning simplicity, respecting whom a devout woman kept telling everybody that she had seen him walking, torch in hand, at the head of a white-robed procession. On this coming to his ears he repeated it to a fellow religious with the remark: 'I take it to be a token of my approaching end, and do not you forget to pray for me when I am gone.' He soon finished his course in the flower of his age, because his soul found favour with God.
A brother of the English Province, when at the point of death, thought he saw a crowd of devils before him who were put to flight on the approach of a white-robed procession of saints. On recovering his senses he mentioned his vision to the brethren, and told them of a crown he had seen prepared for each preacher and his companion: for he had been very downcast at the thought that possibly he would not get the crown of the apostolate as he had little eloquence, but had often accompanied the brethren on their missions. Again he was caught up in spirit, and returning to himself, told the brethren that he had been granted a glimpse of heaven, and had seen an angel bearing a shining copy of St John's gospel; and with the words: 'I must away to hear it,' he expired.
A young religious of very winning ways and appearance, and a rarely gifted preacher, named Brother Walter of Norwich,(41) in England, being brought to the last extremity through sickness, while the brethren were busied in singing the psalms and litanies for the dying, after he had been anointed, addressed these words to them: 'Ah, my brethren, since you began to pray for me our Lord Jesus Christ has deigned to come and cheer me by opening before my eyes the vision of the holy mount, on the summit of which I heard his sacred voice, and his holy mother's, and the choirs of angels singing.' After a short pause he spoke again: 'Nothing can evermore trouble me, for I lean upon the true faith, and I have given myself up entirely into the blessed Virgin's hands.' Then bidding them farewell, he calmly passed away as if sinking into a gentle slumber with the holy name of Mary on his lips.
The speedy end of Brother Walter of Cork,(42) in Ireland, a man of great simplicity and fervour, was revealed to a brother of the same house. On the following day he fell ill, and in reply to the enquiries as to how he felt, he joyfully made answer: 'I feel much easier, for all my fears of death have ceased ever since our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me and promised that he will come again to fetch me on Tuesday next.' It was then Sunday, so when Monday was past he began after midnight to recite the words of the mass for the dead as he lay on his deathbed. After singing the Preface very solemnly, he relapsed into silence for a time as if saying the Canon, after which he intoned the Pater Noster, and died on Tuesday at dawn as Christ had forewarned him. We give this account, word for word, as we received it in writing under the prior's own hand.
Shortly before Brother Henry(43) of Poland died in the convent at Breslau, after the last rites and absolutions were over, he began to sing this anthem, having his eyes fixed on the crucifix: 'O holy cross, to thee I now hasten with confidence and joy, and do thou in like manner be glad now that thou art about to receive the disciple of him who once hung upon thee.' The brother who afterwards told me of the fact then asked him what vision he had before his eyes at the moment, so he answered: 'I see our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles:' 'And will you be admitted into their blessed company?" 'Most certainly, and all our brethren as well who remain true to their Order until death.' He repeated these words several times with a happy smile, clapping his hands in testimony of the joy which then flooded his soul. A moment later he was heard to exclaim: 'Lo, here come the apostate devils to rob me of my faith, but I firmly believe in one God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,' with which words he yielded up the ghost.
Brother Raymund of Lausanne, already mentioned, tells us of an event which came to pass while he was infirmarian in Bologna. A sick brother asked him overnight to get him the last Sacraments, but as he did not consider him to be in any danger he thought it better to defer them until the following day, so he went to bed. After matins he went to the sick man, who began at once to upbraid him quite pitifully: 'O brother, what have you done? if I lead only partaken of our Lord's body yesterday as I desired, I should now have been rejoicing for ever in the heavenly mansions, which I have been privileged to behold in the company of Master Reginald and Brother Robert, and the rest of our brethren. They came out joyfully to meet me, and made me sit down in their midst, and then while we were all conversing together Christ our Lord entered, and addressing me, said: "You must leave this place at once, for you have not yet received me." From this I am led to suppose that if I had only had the holy Viaticum last night I should have been suffered to remain in that beautiful place, and in the company of our sainted brethren.'
REVELATIONS OF THEIR DEPARTURE
BROTHER Guy of Lyons, after bringing about the reformation of a monastery of which he was superior, came over to the Order of Preachers and took the holy habit. After a fruitful career of good works he came to leis last hour, and at that same time a fellow religious had a vision in which he saw one of our brethren laid out in the choir surrounded by white-robed brethren, while around him was a stately cloister.
As he was wondering what the vision meant he heard a voice cry out: 'This is the founder of the cloister.' Calling to mind that Brother Guy was then very ill (the same who had temporally and spiritually restored his former cloister he took this to be a sign of his approaching end. Presently the voice was heard again, saying: 'Thy dream is true, for he shall dwell in Sion, and rest in Jerusalem.' Soon after this it happened the other was called away to Christ.
The same brother seemed to be standing on another occasion by the side of a deep and rapid river, while two of our brethren were being tossed about in a frail barque in midstream, owing to the violence of the current. Filled with alarm at the sight he called out: 'Help, help, make haste or they will be drowned!' But this answer was returned: 'Have no fear for their safety, for they bear their flowers in their hands.' Looking again at them more attentively he saw that each bore in his hand a garland of no earthly gathering, and the tempest subsiding soon after, they were both saved. Not long after that, two young religious of the same convent died, and before their departure were visited with terrible temptations: but having given the flower and vigour of their youth to God's service they were deservedly rescued from those tossing waves.
Brother Paul of Venice, a distinguished and zealous preacher, being brought by severe sickness to his last hour, the lector of the convent dreamt, after matins, that during the celebration of the conventual mass two angels descended at the Alleluia and hastened to the infirmary. He told some of the older brethren of his dream, expressing his conviction that Brother Paul would die before long; and, in fact, while the Alleluia was being sung in the mass that very morning, Brother Paul breathed his last.
Master Jordan of Saxony tells the story of two young and fervent novices who were very much attached to one another. One of them happening to die, appeared to his companion, shining brighter than the sun, and said: 'Brother, I have seen in the city of God those heavenly wonders of which we heard tell, and about which we used often to talk on earth together.' With this he vanished, and the other acquainted Master Jordan with the fact.
The abbess of a Cistercian monastery in Saxony prayed fervently herself and had prayers said for the soul of a Friar Preacher who used occasionally to give the sisters their retreat. Falling asleep one morning she fancied she beheld him seated in mid-air before the altar, as if about to commence his sermon. In her alarm at the sight she began to cry out: 'Alas, Brother Albert will certainly fall, for there is nothing to support him.' Just then a venerable figure by her side rejoined: 'This brother can no longer fall since he is now confirmed in grace.' Being thus assured, she listened to what he was about to say. Then Brother Albert read the opening chapter of St John's gospel: 'In the beginning was the word,' etc., down to 'and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.' As he concluded these words he looked steadily at the abbess and said: 'I have seen all these things with my own eyes.'
Brother Hermann of Saxony dreamt one night that he was being pursued by a huge dragon as far as the Abbey of Aldenberg, whose abbess was St Elizabeth's daughter.(44) Some days later, on being bidden to go there and preach the retreat, he told the brethren that although they then saw him hale and well he would yet die there. On his arrival he said mass, was taken ill directly after, and died towards evening. A throng of pilgrims passing at the time saw an immense cross over the church gable, emitting dazzling rays of light, but on their coming nearer it disappeared at once. They acquainted the abbess with the fact.
While another religious of our Order was preaching in the convent of St Agnes at Madranich, in Germany, one of the sisters whispered to the abbess to ask him which of his brethren had died only a short time before. The brother replied that no one had died of late. But the nun continued: 'Nay, but sure am I that one of your brethren has just passed away, for only a few minutes ago I distinctly saw a person of most dignified aspect, like the master of some household, who gave a penny to each one of a crowd of Friars Preachers. Amongst them I particularly observed a novice, to whom, on his coming forward, the other said, "Brother, you have entered somewhat late, but still you shall have the same reward as the rest, only you must be content to wait a while." ' The preacher, who knew nothing of what had happened in his absence, found on returning home the body of a novice laid out in the choir. He had formerly been a gentleman of rank, and feeling himself suddenly taken ill had taken the habit, dying soon after he reached the convent.
The prior of Todi, in Tuscany, went to the Father Provincial and begged to be released from his charge. His request not being granted, he threw himself on his knees and said: 'Since you refuse to relieve me of my office, I will go to our Lord, and in his mercy he will hear me.' Scarcely had he reached his cell before he fell ill, and the brethren hurried after the Provincial, who had just left, begging him to come back at once as their prior was evidently going to die. During the night the Provincial dreamt that he had to preach at the funeral of one of the brethren, and took for his text the words: 'It came to pass that the poor man died, and was carried by angels to Abraham's bosom.' Struck with the coincidence of his dream and the prior's sickness, he hurried back to find it had come true, for ' the poor man in Christ had died': so on the day of the funeral he preached a touching sermon to the brethren and people from the words: 'And he was carried by angels to Abraham's bosom' -- the text of the previous Sunday's gospel.
Brother William of Montpellier, feeling his end coming on, made his general confession to the prior, and asked him to fortify him with the Sacraments against the last struggle, and assist him in his agony. This the prior did with becoming piety and good will, but having afterwards retired to his cell and gone to rest, a voice cried aloud to him: 'Get up quickly, for Brother William is dying!' The community was summoned, and while the litanies were being said the brother gave up his soul into his Creator's hands. It was commonly thought to have been his guardian angel who so opportunely awoke the prior.
Brother William, a lector in Cambridge University, came after death to Brother Bennet, the sub-prior of the convent in that town, wearing a golden crown and accompanied by a man of most majestic presence. On the sub-prior questioning him as to his state, the companion replied: 'He has already been crowned with one halo, and is certain of receiving the rest.'
As Brother Ivo the Breton, a former Provincial of the Holy Land, and a very gentle and loving soul, stayed behind in the church after matins one night to pray, he happened to look towards the lamp which hung in the choir and saw a friar clad in a dark and filthy habit. 'Who are you?' he asked. Then the friar answered: 'I am the religious who died lately in this place, and in life I was your bosom friend.' 'How does it fare with you now?' 'Alas, my lot is a painful one, for I am given over to the torturer for fifteen years to come.' 'And wherefore is this the case,' enquired Ivo, 'after so long and such a fervent career?' 'Ask no more, for it is a just judgement of God, only I entreat you to help me by your prayers.' On this Brother Ivo promised to do so to the best of his power. Next morning as he offered up the sacred Victim of the most High for the departed soul, taking the consecrated host into his hands he made the following prayer: 'Lord Jesus Christ, if it chanced that the Sultan of Aleppo or of Babylon held in bondage a captive or a slave, and that his chamberlain, after serving him day and night for twenty years, should beg the captive's deliverance as the sole recompense of all his labours, would the Sultan be able to refuse such a request? Thou art not so hard-hearted, Lord, as the Sultan of the Saracens, and I, thy humble servant, have served thee these many long years. Since then thou dost hold in bondage a cherished friend of mine, I beg of thee to let me see him free as the only reward I crave for all my labours.' He kept repeating this prayer over and over again at mass with fervent entreaty and many tears. While rapt in prayer the next night he saw the same brother resplendent in a stainless habit, who said: 'I am come to thank you, for I am the same brother who appeared to you only yesterday.' 'How, then, do you fare now?' 'Excellently, by God's favour; you begged me from our Lord, and he has set me at liberty at your request, for I am now delivered out of purgatory, and am hastening to join the company of the blessed.' After this the brother saw him no more.
A Friar Minor, named William of Melition,(45) who was a Master in Theology, told our brethren at Paris that he once saw a crystal goblet full of the best wine set before him in sleep, but while he was admiring it, it broke and the wine was lost. On mentioning this to Master Alexander and Master John de la Rochelle,(46) they understood it to mean the speedy death of some illustrious doctor in divinity. In fact, only a few hours later a distinguished doctor of the Order of Preachers, Brother Guerric de St Quentin, was called away. Truly may we apply to him the words of Brother William, for he sparkled like a crystal goblet in the excellence of his knowledge, the clearness of his exposition, and the singular purity of his whole life. The good friar being much grieved over the loss of his friend, on the next night the Mother of God appeared before him in the chapter-house accompanied by Brother Guerric, who with his usual humility had his eyes covered with his capuce, and at her word came forward to write down the names of the elect. This vision thoroughly comforted him for the loss of such a friend, and he very gladly hastened to acquaint the brethren with the fact in all its details.
Brother Nicholas Juvenazzo, the Provincial of the Roman Province, saw visibly before him the figure of Brother Raoul of Rome (the devout religious of whom we have already had occasion to speak), who had been dead some time, and who thus accosted him: 'Brother Nicholas, the blessed Virgin sends me to bid you hold yourself ready, for a glorious crown awaits you." The Provincial mentioned the vision to his trustiest friends, and sure enough he died only a few days later in sentiments of the profoundest piety.
During the last illness of Brother Roland of Cremona, who before joining the Order had been a Doctor of Theology in Paris, the lector of the convent seemed one evening to behold St Dominic inscribing in a large volume the names of three of our brethren, viz.: Roland, Ralph, and Lambert.(47) After this he saw Brother Roland seated in the centre of a large hall hung with fine pictures. Only a few days after this the same three slept peacefully in the Lord, first Brother Roland, then Brother Ralph the former chaplain of St Nicholas, and lastly Brother Lambert the prior, a man of consummate wisdom and piety. About the same time it seemed to Brother John of Vicenza as if a discussion were being held in the schools on the subject of divine love, and that Brother Ralph, on being asked to state his opinion, replied that he would shortly give them a perfect solution in heaven. The brother infirinarian thought he saw the three beds as it were tied together with a red silken cord, and in this way they were presently drawn up to heaven. In fact, they all died within the same hour, and were taken up together to Christ: and we learnt these facts from the lips of eye-witnesses.
PUNISHMENTS FOR UNDUE AFFECTIONS
Two of our brethren, a novice and a preacher, died on the same day in the convent at Cologne. Three days later the novice showed himself, all radiant in glory, to the infirmarian, from whom we have the account, and told him he owed his speedy deliverance from purgatory to his first fervour. A month later the preacher also appeared in majesty and glory, having a magnificent chain about his neck, his habit gleaming with precious stones, and a golden crown upon his head. Now when the infirmarian asked him why the novice had been so speedily released from purgatory while he had tarried so long, the preacher replied: 'I was detained longer in purgatory owing to over much familiarity with persons in the world, which occasioned countless distractions; nevertheless I have merited a far higher degree of glory. This collar which you see is the emblem of purity of intention; the jewels represent the souls I drew to God; while the crown denotes the unspeakable glory I have merited from God.'
A young and fervent missioner of the convent of Derby, (48) in England, named Gerard, having been sent to preach in a neighbouring town, fell suddenly ill. When carried to the convent of the Friars Minor he covered his eyes with his hands and began to laugh heartily before two of their brethren and three of ours who were present. The sub-prior asked him to explain the motive for this untimely mirth; then the sick man replied: 'St Edmund, our king and martyr, has just arrived, and the whole house is full of angels.' Again he laughed more heartily than before. 'See,' he cried, 'Christ's most blessed Mother has deigned to visit me: come let us greet her affectionately.' On hearing this the brothers all knelt down and sang the Salve Regina. 'Oh, how pleased the blessed Virgin appears to be with your greeting,' he continued, 'she is smiling upon you at this moment.' Then turning his gaze towards the door of his cell, he grew deadly pale. 'O brothers, brothers, here is Jesus Christ approaching to be my judge.' At this moment he fell into his agony, and began to tremble violently, like one standing at the judgement seat, while the sweat of agony poured down his face more quickly than the sub-prior could wipe it off his brow. From the traces on his features the bystanders gathered that he was being judged: at one moment he was protesting his innocence, at another humbly avowing his guilt, and beseeching the blessed Virgin not to quit his side. 'Merciful Jesus,' he cried, 'pardon me these little faults.' Then the sub-prior thus spoke to him: 'Brother, does God take account of our smaller faults as well as of greater?' 'Alas, he does,' was the answer. 'Then do not lose heart,' continued the sub-prior, 'for our Saviour is likewise merciful, even though an angel from heaven were to preach the contrary.' The troubled face grew calm, and soon the pale lips regained their colour, as he answered with a smile: 'Yes, indeed, the Lord is merciful,' saying which he expired. This happened on Pentecost Day of the year 1257.
An English lector named Richard, being at the point of death, called out: 'Pray earnestly for me, brethren, for soon I shall have to encounter some terrible apparitions.' His eyes then began to roll uneasily, and by the pallor of his features and wild gestures he gave signs of the terrible agony he was passing through. After a while he exclaimed on regaining consciousness: 'Oh, blessed be God, I am saved, thanks to the prayers of my own brethren and of the Friars Minor, whom I have always especially loved.' And so, giving glory to God in this fashion, he gave up his spirit.
Brother Alan, the prior of York,(49) being brought to the last extremity, became palsied with fear at the approach of death, and began to cry out: 'Cursed be the hour in which I became a religious.' After lying quiet a while he then resumed: 'Oh, no! but rather, blessed be the hour in which I entered the Order, and praised for evermore be the glorious Mother of Christ, whom I have always loved tenderly.' Once more he relapsed into silence while the weeping brethren, who knelt by, implored God's pity on his behalf. Two hours later he asked the infirmarian to summon them all together again, for in the meantime some had been called away, and on their return he addressed them in these words: 'Brethren, I have no doubt but that my first words occasioned you much grief, but listen and I will tell you what led me to say them. I fancied I saw a troop of devils standing before me with menacing looks, and eagerly waiting for my soul, so in despair at the sight I cursed the very hour in which I was born. Believe me, brethren, were the choice given me of having to pass through a world-wide furnace or of again being forced to look upon those fiendish countenances, I would unhesitatingly rush through the flames. Happily at that moment the Queen of Heaven graciously appeared, whereat the devils took their flight, and, regaining confidence, I began joyfully to bless heaven for my deliverance, and to praise the hour in which I gave myself to the Order.' He then died very peacefully with these words on his lips, and we give the incident just as it was communicated by eye-witnesses.
The parish priest of a church in England, who was avaricious and guilty of other sinful habits, being terrified at the thought of his approaching end, took the habit of the Friars Preachers, only to throw it off directly he got better. From that hour he kept falling into deeper excesses than ever, when happily he was led to change his life from this vision: As he was asleep one morning he seemed to see Jesus Christ seated on his throne, while on his own brow he felt the hot brand of innumerable sins, and under his feet he saw hell's mouth gaping wide to swallow hire up. In abject terror he fixed his eyes on our Lord's face, but the wrathful expression seemed to him to be even more terrible than the sight of hell. Then someone clad in the habit of the Friars Preachers came to his side, who said: 'Lord, what will become of this man?' To which the angry judge made answer: 'Either let him atone for his crimes or go down into hell.' Starting up in paroxysms of terror, and being unable to drive that awful scene from his memory, he confessed his sins to Brother Martin, the lector of our convent in Northampton,(50) and took the habit once more in transports of devotion. He fell ill again only a month later, and Brother Martin, seeing him sorely troubled at the approach of death, comforted him in this way: 'Do not be afraid, brother,' he said, 'but put unbounded confidence in God's mercy, for I make over to you all the good works which I have ever done in the Order, provided only you persevere in unwavering hope.' The dying man was quite overcome by such tender charity, thanked him from his heart, and passed away soon after in sentiments of true repentance, being fortified with the holy Sacraments. Not long after this, in a dream, Brother Martin saw him change his vile and tattered garments for resplendent robes, and on his entreating the dead man to obtain the same for himself he got this answer: 'Dear brother, these will serve for both of us'. He said this evidently because the other had made over his merits to him, and all his good works, which instead of being lessened are only doubled by such charity.
Brother Dominic, the prior of Santarem in Spain, asked the brethren, who were starting for the Provincial Chapter, to petition that he might be released from office. When all tried to dissuade him he said: 'Certain am I that if the fathers of the chapter refuse to grant my request I shall be delivered from office before your return by our highest Superior, who is none other than God himself.' And so it proved, for he died before their return. A few moments before his end he asked the infirmarian: 'Who was that stately Lady who was here only a few minutes ago?' To whom the astonished brother replied: 'Father, full well do you know that women are not suffered to enter our cloisters.' 'True enough,' continued the dying man, 'but I am speaking of the Lady who stood by me holding the infant Jesus in her arms. Is it possible that you failed to see her? She was here only this moment, before your very eyes.' Then fortifying himself with the sign of the cross, his hands joined devoutly, and with upturned eyes towards heaven, he gave up his soul into the hands of the holy Mother of God who had deigned to come and fetch him away. Shortly after his death he appeared visibly to one of the brethren who was praying devoutly, and who cried out in wonder: 'Are you not dead then, Brother Dominic?' 'I am indeed dead to this world, but I live henceforth in God. I furthermore exhort you to warn our brethren not to allow outsiders to visit the dying, for I have had to suffer a great deal from having permitted my relatives to visit me before my death, and from being too much moved at the sight of their grief.'
Brother Ferdinand, of the same convent, was scarcely dead before his face became all resplendent, as witnesses afterwards solemnly averred. Before long he appeared in a dream to one of the brethren, who asked him in astonishment if he were not really dead. 'So far as the body is concerned I am dead,' he said, 'but my soul lives.' 'And how does it fare with Brother Diego?' This was a brother who had been called away only a short time before: 'He will enter heaven on next Pentecost Sunday, and has drawn this punishment on himself from vanity in singing.' 'How then do the rest of our brethren fare?' 'They are all happy, and none who die in the Order are suffered to perish, for the blessed Virgin is herself their helpmate in their hour of departure.' 'But what sign do you give to show that all you are telling me is true?' 'This shall be the token: no bells will ring on Palm Sunday next, and you will not make the usual procession.' True enough, the town was put under an interdict, and the prophecy was literally fulfilled. Let us then store up these facts as solemn truths and not as idle or empty fiction. The two foregoing narratives are from the pen of Brother Giles of Spain.
A brother, who was too much taken up with architecture, having died, another member of the same community who was preaching a long way off said to his companion: 'Our friend of the measure and compass has died to-day at Bologna.' 'How do you come to know it?' enquired the other. 'I dreamt that I saw him on his knees in the cloister, rule in hand, measuring the walls and pavement, while on either side of him was a devil who beat him soundly with cudgels, telling him that he was no religious, but an architect.' On their returning home they found that he had died that very morning, and after much prayer, it was revealed to one of them that he had been freed from purgatory through the intercession of St Dominic and St Nicholas, to whom he had been very devout in his lifetime.
One of our brethren, the present venerable and holy bishop of Lisbon, tells us of a brother, who during life had been passionately fond of books, appearing after death to a friend enveloped in flames. The cause of this terrible chastisement being demanded, the departed soul returned this answer: 'Alas, it is those very books which are now burning me so unmercifully.' When the man who had put the question enquired still further how he ought to act with regard to his own conscience, for he was very scrupulous, the brother replied: 'Consult a prudent director, and follow his advice without fail.'
Brother Gillard, the sub-prior of Ourtès,(51) came to the Provincial Chapter at Toulouse, and was suddenly struck dumb and paralysed. Then the Provincial said to him: 'This judgement has fallen upon you because you harshly upbraided your prior during the chapter, so you are now punished in your speech for sinning by the tongue.' The sick man on hearing this bowed his head in humble assent, and with suppliant countenance and tearful eyes began to press the prior's hand continually to his heart and lips. Moved to pity at the sight, the prior in chapter told the brethren to pray for him, when, strange to tell, although the fever remained, the sick man recovered his speech in the course of the day, and after humbly confessing his fault and receiving the holy Viaticum he departed to the Lord three days later. On the day of his death he appeared to one of his friends at Ourtès, a three days' journey from Toulouse. He looked just as if he were going to preach, he had on the deacon's dalmatic, his face shone with dazzling light, while his neck looked like a pillar of gold. 'Are you not Brother Gillard?' asked his astonished friend. 'I am indeed,' was the reply, 'and learn that I have died within the hour at Toulouse.' 'Wherefore this splendour upon your countenance?' 'It is owing to the good confession I made.' 'And why is your neck like gold?' 'It is a token of my burning zeal in preaching to win souls.' Upon this he drew him aside and showed him his breast and side through an opening in the dalmatic: they were frightfully scarred and burnt. When the other asked what could be the meaning of this, the brother gave this reply: 'The preoccupation and distractions caused in looking after our new buildings have burnt me so.' 'How then can we help you?' 'If my brethren will only pray for me I shall very soon be released.' His friend told all this upon oath to the Provincial, and he at once wrote to each convent in which the brother had had such employment and distractions, so as not to keep the suffering soul in expectation.
Brother John Archer of Limoges,(52) an eloquent and able preacher, appeared in great glory eight days after his death to a witness worthy of all credit and of high attainments, who acquainted us with the fact, and then proceeded to tell him how he had passed seven days in purgatory for not having always been sufficiently grateful for benefits received, for being over fond of amusement, and for having pampered his body. On being requested to say what his sufferings were like, he declared that no earthly pains could be compared with them. When his interrogator ventured to ask him concerning his own conscience the brother replied: 'It has not been manifested to me, but if you persevere you will be saved. Learn besides that venial sins, of which men make so little in life, have to be afterwards bitterly expiated.' Lastly, when asked to explain the way in which he had been freed from purgatory, he answered: 'The Lord sent his angels to bring me out, and they bore me up to him with sweet music and heavenly melodies, and the higher I mounted the more enchanting my delight became.'
Brother Peter of Toulouse, who was industrious in spreading the Order, during his last sickness promised a brother to whom he was warmly attached to appear to him if God so willed, so that he might share in his joy, or comfort his soul if he were still in torment. Some months later he came one night and informed his friend of his deliverance on Ascension Day. The other, pushing his enquiries further, asked whether any brethren he knew were yet in purgatory. 'There is one,' said the brother, 'it is Brother William, the sub-prior of Toulouse, who died within the Octave of Easter.'
An excellent religious and fervent preacher appeared shortly after death to one who had previously been his fast friend in the Order. When this man asked hiin how he fared, the deceased brother declared that he was then living in heavenly delights. When asked to say why he had shown such signs of fear in his dying moments, the brother hid his face in his hands, shook his head, and replied: 'Have you never read how it has been written that "they who quail shall be purified"?' saying which he went away.
A highly contemplative brother relates that he thought one day he saw in the cloister the corpse of a friar laid out, the head of which appeared to roll off and rest on the brink of a neighbouring well. When he asked the dead man to explain this mystery, the latter replied: 'I am Brother , and am now undergoing torments such as cannot be imagined, for having drunk wine neat to help me to sleep, while all my fellow religious diluted theirs with water. Pray for me, for it is on this account that I have been permitted to appear to you.'
These foregoing examples clearly serve to show how affection for relatives, conceit about singing, too much care about building, over much attachment to books, avarice, want of mortification in drinking, tardiness in confessing, want of respect for superiors, needless anxiety about work and the distractions arising therefrom, ingratitude for past benefits, love of ease, desire of consolations, and frivolity in conversation-in a word, excess of any kind, no matter how useful or harmless it may seem-will meet with rigorous chastisement after death. We must then be on our guard against the like, and whenever the opportunity offers itself let us 'burn and cut here below, that we may be spared in eternity"
DECEITS PRACTISED BY THE DEVIL
IN a letter to the Master of the Order, Brother Raymund of Lausanne tells of a brother belonging to the convent of Lyons, whose name was Peter, calling out in his agony:
'What seek you here, foul beast of prey?' 'What troubles you, brother?' asked the prior, who was standing close by with this Brother Raymund. 'Look there,' cried the sick man: 'there stands a grinning devil under the shape of an old wrinkled crone, but he shall not deceive me, for the true faith will save me.' Very soon after saying these words he fell asleep serenely in the Lord.
The devil appeared to a sick novice at Naples in the form of an angel of light, and persuaded him that he was never to utter another word: and although he remembered presently a mortal sin he had neglected to confess, he kept fast to his purpose. Now the brethren observing that he persistently declined answering any questions put to him, sent for Brother Nicholas di Juvenazzo, who was a holy and prudent man, and well versed in sacred lore, who by dint of arguments and examples convinced him that his silence was only a delusion of the devil, who hoped thereby to entrap his soul and drag him into hell. At last from their entreaties and warnings he consented to speak, and discovered to his horror the treacherous snare which had been set to entrap him, made a good confession, and died shortly after.
In the convent of Avignon, in Provence, there was a devout preacher, who, as he lay awake one winter's night, began to sing softly to himself the antiphon: 'He that has been crucified has risen from the dead.' As he repeated the refrain there came a voice calling to him through the darkness: 'Watch earnestly, brother, for you shall live to see the time when that antiphon shall be sung in the choir.' He communicated this incident very privately to one of the brethren, who afterwards related it to me. Soon after this, being sent to Orange, which was his native place, he fell ill and was carried to the convent of the Friars Minor. Wien nearing his end he turned to his confessor and said: 'For God's sake, father, relieve me of those cheeses which are pressing so heavily upon me,' for be it known, he had only that same morning procured a goodly supply of cheese for our brethren's use. Now as he kept repeating these same words and the attendants could see no signs of any cheese, his confessor, catching the drift of his speech, said: 'Have no fear, brother, for by the authority of God and of the Order, I absolve you if you have transgressed in procuring those provisions.' Quieted by this assurance he lay still for a while, then began to wave his hand before his face as if chasing away troublesome flies. 'What is it that vexes you now? enquired the confessor. 'I am trying to ward off the devils who are now standing straight before me.' The confessor handed him the crucifix and said: 'Take this weapon and defend yourself with it.' The dying man grasped it eagerly, and after making the sign of the cross with it began to kiss it, weeping the while, and cried out: ' Thou art a rod of justice and a sceptre of royalty.' Then placing it by his side, he exclaimed: 'I see St Augustine before me'; this was a saint to whom he had been especially devout, and of whom he had made a daily memento. 'He is indeed a glorious saint and a kind father,' replied the confessor; 'invoke him lovingly, for he is a right able protector in the hour of danger.' Then gathering up what strength was left he broke forth joyfully into the Salve Regina, and while yet singing Mary's anthem, his soul took flight to the bosom of its Lord. He was buried with every mark of devout reverence by the Friars Minor and three of our brethren, who furnished the foregoing details.
A young religious of Marseilles, named Stephen, while lying in his agony, surrounded by the brethren, on the night before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, unexpectedly called out: 'I see Christ's Cross in the sky, the same which you are honouring to-day.' The prior, in wonder at his speech, held to his lips the small crucifix kept for the dying, and said at the same time: 'See here, my child, here is the sign of the holy rood.' 'I can no longer see the cross of which you speak,' rejoined the novice, 'but I distinctly see the true Cross of Christ shining in the heavens above: do you not see it as well?' After a while he continued with a deep sigh: 'Oh, what a terrible assault the devil made on me but now. He came with a crowd of fiends to carry me off as his slave, but I resisted stoutly, and on professing myself Christ's servant and a son of St Dominic, he answered me: "Not so, but you are my slave, for yesterday, while alone, you drank some wine against the doctor's orders." ' Then Brother Peter of Cazes, the prior-of whom I had the story-said to him: 'Confess your fault, my son, with true sorrow, and you will put the tempter to shame.' He did so, and wept bitterly for his fault, and then passed away while praising God and recounting the blessed Virgin's joys.
Another member of the same convent, named Brother William, who was now advanced in years and had laboured in the Order from its first beginning, on the night of his departure began to cast terrified looks at the wall of his cell, as the brother who attended him informed me. Possibly he may then have seen the same cruel beast which appeared to St Martin of old, as if waiting for him, perched on the arm of his crucifix. His attendant asked him if he saw any evil spirit, whereat he bowed his head in mute assent. At this the brother began to sprinkle the wall and the patient with holy water, praying fervently at the same time, at which the sick brother smiled in grateful acknowledgement. Seeing him labouring under the same signs of fear, the infirmarian exhorted him to take courage, by reminding him of God's mercies and Christ's merits and Mary's patronage. Tears flowed from the dying man's eyes at these words, and soon after he died very peacefully and holily with the text of the previous Sunday's sermon on his lips: 'I am rejoiced at what has been said to me; we will go into the house of the Lord' (Ps. cxxi 1 ).
SUFFRAGES FOR THE DEPARTED
BROTHER BERTRAND, who was a man of most holy life and was for a long while St Dominic's companion, and the first Provincial of Provence, used nearly every day to say mass for the conversion of sinners. A discreet and holy religious, named Benedict, of the convent of Montpellier, observing this, asked him why he prayed so often for sinners and so seldom for the dead. 'I do this,' said Brother Bertrand, 'be cause the dead for whom the Church prays unceasingly are already sure of their salvation, whilst poor sinners have not got this assurance, and are hedged round besides with continual perils.' 'Dear Father Prior,' continued Brother Benedict, 'answer me this: supposing there were two beggars in equal distress, one of whom was sound in all his limbs, while the other was a cripple, tell me honestly, which of the two would you help first?' 'I would undoubtedly help him who could no longer help himself.' 'Well, then,' pursued the other, 'such precisely is the state of the dead, for they have no mouths with which to make a confession, no ears with which to hear, no eyes to shed scalding tears, nor feet with which to walk: they can but cry to us to relieve them, axed this is all they expect of us; while sinners on the other hand -- to say nothing of our prayers -- can always help themselves in the ways I have named.' But as he was not yet convinced, that night there appeared before him one from the dead, bearing. a bundle of faggots which nearly crushed him: six times, and more, he awoke the prior, frightening and troubling him. In the morning he sent for Brother Benedict and told him all that had happened, then he went to the altar and said mass with all devotion for the dead. He who writes this account gathered it from Brother Benedict's mouth.
As one of our missionary brethren was going up to his room in a strange town one evening he observed a gathering of young people playing and merry-making at a wake in a house opposite, and being moved to tears at the sight began bitterly to bewail their unseemly and heartless behaviour. Hardly had he retired to rest before he saw a shadowy figure standing at his bedside, which addressed these words to him: 'I am come on behalf of the suffering souls in purgatory, afid this is the message of which I am the bearer to those who have inherited their temporal possessions: " Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my f lends, for the hand of the Lord hath touched me." To-morrow you must address these same words to them in order to put down those execrable amusements which it pained you to witness, and stir up the hearts of thoughtless people to come to the assistance of their departed friends.' Next day the brother took the opportunity of delivering this message from the dead to the relatives met at the funeral, and with such success that all, from the youngest to the oldest, shed tears of contrition, and set themselves at once to help their needy friends, putting an end to all such unseemly merry-making.
Brother Raoul of Rome, who was a man of singularly holy life, told the brethren in one of his chapter addresses that he feared much being cut off before he had fully satisfied all his obligations for the dead. 'It happened once,' he related, 'that one of our brethren died without having finished all his suffrages for the dead, and appeared some years later to a friend, in sleep, looking very sad and with marks as of fire. When the amazed friend asked what might be the reason for this long detention in purgatory, the following reason was assigned: "It is owing to this that no one has thought of coming to my aid; for although other souls have had their rightful suffrages long since, I am doomed for my negligence to wait for God's mercy and your remembrance." '
While the prior of Clermont(53) was saying the psalter in the cloister one Sunday evening, a lay-brother, who had died shortly before, seized him by the hand and said: 'Father Prior, tell our brethren that they are behaving unjustly and cruelly towards me in not saying the prescribed suffrages.' Now although the prior both felt the hand and recognised the voice, still he could see no one; however, he called the brethren together in chapter, and found that several had failed in fulfilling their obligations, and these he solemnly begged and warned to tarry no longer in helping their afflicted brother.
A distinguished preacher in Lombardy who was very zealous in labouring for the Order, feeling in low spirits, went to bathe in a neighbouring stream without permission, while his companion waited for him close by. He got drowned, although he was an excellent swimmer and the place was shallow. His companion, who loved him dearly, gave himself up to continual prayer and penance for his soul, whereupon the other came to him in a dream, clad in a vile and tatteredhabit. Enquiry being made as to hiscondition, the departed brother returned this answer: 'I am not damned, it is true, yet I am none the less horribly tormented by fire,' saying which he stretched out his arms, which seemed to be burnt and charred to the very bones and sockets. 'Can I, then, not come to your assistance?' asked the brother. 'Yes, indeed, you can, by prayer and the holy sacrifice, by getting others to pay me the suffrages I have a right to, and still more by way of alms.' On this being told the brethren, they all set themselves earnestly to pray for the repose of his soul; soon afterwards he appeared again, decked out in a spotless habit, and his countenance beaming with joy. Being again questioned as to his state, he declared that he was in a far happier condition than before, but hourly awaited a still better.
Brother Matthew of Spain, a right skilful professor and preacher, who had excelled in all regular observance, while teaching in the schools at Paris and afterwards in his own province, appeared nine days after death to a former companion. In answer to his enquiries he spoke as follows: 'I am now in good estate, for I am on my way to the presence of Jesus Christ after my term of purgatory.' 'But whence comes it that you have tarried so long?' asked the affrighted brother. 'It is all owing to the negligence of my brethren,' said he, 'for if they had only finished their suffrages for me I should have been liberated on the third day instead."
MIRACLES AFTER DEATH
To the honour and glory of God we shall now proceed to set down the following acts recorded of Brother Pelagius of Spain, who, after a humble but fruitful ministry, slept in the Lord, surrounded by the praying brethren in the convent of Coimbra,(54) in Portugal.
Some time after his decease, while another grave was being got ready near the spot where he was laid, the gravedigger and brethren who stood by were sensible of a fragrance beyond the power of words to describe, which exhaled from his tomb. The grave-digger, on returning home, commended his bed-ridden daughter to his care, and she got up at once in perfect health, and seizing a pitcher, ran and filled it at a neighbouring brook.
Soon after this occurrence the brethren were bent on having a bell cast, but owing to the tin-smith's negligence they found themselves short of the needful copper. One of them seeing how matters stood offered up a short prayer, and then running to Brother Pelagius's grave took a handful of earth and threw it into the furnace, and presently it was turned to copper: and although a third of what was required was wanting on the occasion, they had now not only enough, but one hundred and twenty-six pounds weight over and above.
A woman, who suffered acutely from pains in her side and stomach, was healed by merely applying a hair-shirt of his to the afflicted parts: and the same miracle is reported as having also happened to her husband.
A senator of Coimbra, who was far spent from fever, recovered by hanging round his neck some dust from Brother Pelagius' grave; in like manner one of our brethren of the same city was cured by simply prostrating himself on the grave, and the fever never returned.
A hardened sinner, whose soul was defiled with many grievous sins, yet from his hardness of heart could never bring himself to confess them, although he had a mind to do so, went to the spot where Brother Pelagius was laid, and there earnestly prayed him to obtain for him the grace of sorrow and to make a good confession. Not long after this he went to confession feeling deeply contrite, so much so that his confessor says he could hardly tell his sins, his speech being choked with sobs and moans.
A former penitent of Brother Pelagius, having become blind, on hearing the miracles wrought by him after his decease, commended himself earnestly to his protection and recovered his sight.
Five possessed persons who were delivered by his intercession came at different times to give thanks at his grave.
Lastly, two Moorish women, far spent with fever, at Coimbra, recovered on applying to themselves a few grains of earth gathered from his grave.
Many are the miracles recorded of Brother Peter Gonzalez of Spain,(55) who was buried with every mark of respect in the cathedral of Tuy, in consequence of which the venerable bishop of that city sent under his seal to the General Chapter of Toulouse an account of over one hundred and eighty miracles sworn to by unimpeachable witnesses, and duly investigated by competent authority. Among these may be reckoned five lepers made clean, ten possessed persons restored to their wits, very many blind, deaf, and dumb, throat diseases, ulcers, contracted limbs, and fevers, all of which were healed by invoking him.
One person in particular who had been struck in the face by a wild briar, and had lost his sight from two thorns imbedding themselves so deeply in the pupil of the eye that they could neither be extracted nor seen, after commending himself fervently to Brother Peter's protection found the thorns lying in the palm of his hand and his sight restored.
A woman who could no longer suckle her child, only a few weeks from its birth, and being too poor to hire a nurse, humbly made her want known to him in prayer and was heard.
A company of distressed mariners seeing no hope of ever reaching land, commended their desperate state to his care, whereupon he stood visibly before them saying: 'Here I am!' and calming their fears he brought them safely into port.
A woman, who was crossing a ferry, fell into the water from sheer fright. Five times she rose and sank, but when she and her husband, who was on the bank, invoked Brother Peter's good aid, she was preserved together with her babe from this imminent death.
One witness deposed that after he had kept his room for six months from fever, and could hardly move even with the help of a crutch, Brother Peter appeared before him and said: 'Visit my grave and you will be healed.' He went to the grave and got well directly.
Brother Dominic of Seville, who had been Provincial in Lombardy and afterwards in Spain, was a man of rare prudence and piety, and most zealous for the welfare of the Order and of souls. As he was being carried to his grave in the presence of the Bishop of Seville and of the whole clergy and people, a man who had a withered arm touched the bier and was instantly healed. This coming to the ears of a paralysed woman, she sent her gown to be laid upon his grave: after heartily commending herself to his merits she put the garment on again, and got up strong and well, praising God. Many others were cured as well of all manner of diseases by a few grains of dust from his grave.
Brother Columba, sometime prior of Montpellier, who joined the simplicity of the dove to the wisdom of the serpent, died and was buried in the convent of St Mary at Frejus. Two paralytics and countless sufferers of every description recovered on visiting his grave, which became an object of veneration to both clergy and people.
Brother Maurice of Toulouse happening to die among the Friars Minor of Albi, was buried there with every mark of respectful homage. Before very long more than fifty persons, sick of all kinds of diseases and complaints, recovered by prostrating on the spot where he was laid, as Brother Pontius, the guardian of the friary, testified on oath to our brethren.
Brother William of Syssae, the Provincial of Provence,(56) a holy and tender-hearted man, having died at Bordeaux, some devout women, who were grieving over his departure, saw a shower of brilliant lights fall upon his grave; Master Peter, the rector of the schools at Bordeaux, who had always entertained a very high opinion of his sanctity, went to visit his grave shortly after hearing of his death, and by simply applying a few grains of dust to his jaw was relieved of a painful toothache, as he afterwards declared before all his scholars.
Brother Dominic of Ourtès, having been sent to preach at Bazas, in Gascony, fell asleep in Christ there, in a hospital for the homeless poor, after a fruitful and laborious apostolate, and to this day continual miracles are reported as wrought at his tomb. For instance: a hospital nun having inadvertently given his socks away to a poor fellow on the road, the brother appeared to her during the night in a dream and asked for them: and the same thing happened to the beggar, who was required to return them at once, since thenceforth they belonged to the hospital. This done, the brethren of the hospital cut them up into small bits, which they distributed among the sick, very many of whom recovered through his merit. One who had regained his health after a tedious sickness fell sick a second time, and asked the director of the hospital to admit him again for God's sake. 'You had better go to Brother Dominic's grave outside,' returned the director, 'and if you have only got faith you will recover without delay.' He went to the spot and was forthwith restored to health. In like manner a priest, attached to the hospital, who was in great pain from a tumour on the cheek, was cured by kneeling down and kissing the grave.
Brother Bernard de Campo(57) (near Agen), whose holy life, fervent preaching, and many miracles had earned for him the name of the hammer of heretics and champion of the faithful, after drawing souls innumerable to the true faith, devoutly entered into his rest at Agen. That same night he showed himself in heavenly glory to a brother who was praying fervently in the church, and said to him: 'Come, brother, let us cross over to the church of our Lady.' As the brother followed him up to the church doors, he heard him recite those verses of the psalmist: 'The poor shall eat and be filled, and they that call upon the Lord shall bless him, and their hearts shall live for ever and ever' (Ps. xxi 27). No sooner had they crossed tile porch than he saw his companion mount slowly heavenwards, clad in his priestly robes and feeling great peace of soul at the sight; he learnt three days later that Brother Bernard had been called out of this world on that very day and hour. Many testimonies are forthcoming of miracles wrought at his grave.
Brother Walter of Germany(58) having died in the convent of Basle, one of our brethren, a lector at Strasbourg, during his sleep heard the angelic choirs singing in harmony this response: 'In wondrous fragrance,' etc. Gathering from this that they were escorting some soul from earth to paradise, he asked the name of the happy one, and was told it was Brother Walter. While he was relating his dream to the brethren in the morning, tidings reached them from Basle that Brother Walter was indeed no more.
A lady of Strasbourg, who was suffering acutely in the pains of childbirth, prayed God to help her through the merits of Brother Walter, who was lately deceased; after this she fell into a gentle sleep and was unconsciously delivered, as she told our brethren.
When it was found necessary to take up the remains of Brother Willionard,(59) who had been his predecessor in the priorship at Basle, his thumb was found to be intact, and his breastbone miraculously changed into the form of a cross so well formed that without a doubt it must have been fashioned by no mere human hand. This Brother Willionard had in life been in the habit of making the sign of the cross very frequently upon his breast.
A young friar named Conrad of Germany, who had dedicated himself to God by a vow of virginity from his tenderest years, told his uncle, shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, that the blessed Virgin herself had come to warn him of his speedy end. Dying soon after, he was buried in the sisters' cemetery, for our brethren had then been ruthlessly expelled from their cloister. One of the sisters, who had been incurably ill for over five years, knelt by the spot where he was laid and asked our Lord mercifully to restore her to health out of consideration for his merits: she recovered upon the instant.
The prior of Constance, the same Brother Conrad of whom we have already had occasion to speak, a man of gentle and unassuming ways, died, and was buried in our brethren's church at Freiburg in Breisgau. Necessity requiring that his bones should be taken up and laid elsewhere, all who stood by became aware of a perfume, which was not of this world, exbaling from the grave; it stirred all their hearts to transports of devotion, and clung for days to the hands of those who lifted his precious remains. One of the brothers, whose hand was paralysed for over half a year, recovered its use by simply touching the body. Many offerings are still to be seen, recording his miracles.
Brother Bernard of Gascony, a truly obedient man and a zealous missionary, dying at Urgel was buried in the cloister, where oft-recurring miracles still testify to his singular holiness of life. A girl possessed of an evil spirit was delivered, twelve blind people recovered their sight: three deaf, seven lame, four deformed, and over thirty more afflicted in various ways were completely restored to health by simply invoking him. The venerable canons of that church have given their joint testimony to these facts, and those who have experienced his beneficial aid have borne witness likewise.
A young girl died and was laid out by her relatives, whereupon her father cried out in tones of frantic grief: 'O blessed Bernard, give me back my child and I will dedicate her to thee without fail.' The promise was no sooner uttered than the girl re-opened her eyes and sat up. A priest who suffered from a quartan ague got well by simply putting his case into Friar Bernard's hands, as did also another sufferer of two years' standing.
Two youths, who had been cast into prison, found themselves unaccountably at liberty after heartily commending themselves to Brother Isnard of blessed memory, who was formerly prior at Pavia. Seeing that they were not even being followed, they carried their fetters to his grave and hung them up in devout memory of the benefit received at his hands.
A man whose son was quite paralysed on one side, and who had lost his speech, invoked the blessed Isnard, touching the boy's members at the same time. He was healed and his tongue loosened.
A devout sister of the convent of Josaphat, in Padua, in an unguarded moment dealt a sore blow with a stick upon an obstinate pig, whereat the animal lay wondrous still: in short, it was dead. Then grieving for her hasty act, and dreading the punishment which would surely follow, she called upon the blessed Father Isnard, with many tears, to come to her assistance, and by his merits obtained the animal's return to life from him 'Who saveth both man and beast.'
A sister of the Order of the Umiliati vowed to say three psalters in his honour if only she were cured of a general weakness in all her limbs, which had confined her to bed for over a year; and she recovered without delay.
A native of Pavia, who was suffering from an incurable hernia which caused him intense pain; and a possessed woman, were liberated at the one time at his grave; many more besides were at various times healed of their complaints and ills through God's mercies and the merits of his servant Isnard.
A brother of the convent of Valenciennes,(60) in France, named John de Serlin, a man of deep contemplation and humble spirit, delicate of frame yet patient in all his sufferings, told a companion how he dreamt he was dwelling in a grand palace and in the company of a goodly throng of exalted personages, and had heard this melody sung by voices of ravishing sweetness: 'This is the man who, having trodden under foot all earthly life and gains, has attained onto heavenly kingdoms: he has been clothed with the stole of glory by the tight hand of~the most High, and his place is numbered among the saints.' A few hours after this he happily passed away. Now there was in the same convent a lay brother who lead been tried by a painful malady, and who, finding no relief at the doctor's hands, put his whole trust in the departed brother's merits and, going to his grave, put himself under his brotherly care. Nor was his confidence misplaced, for he was at once relieved of all pain, and sent an account of it to the writer of this book.
Brother Chabert of Lyons, after an untiring apostolate of over twenty years among the heights and fastnesses of Savoy and the neighbouring districts, feeling his end at hand, retired to the town of Aiguebelle, in which he had said his first mass, and where he now wanted to lie. 'Get the altar ready,' he said, 'for where I said my first mass, there it is decreed I shall say my last.' Then after devoutly celebrating the holy mysteries, he had himself anointed, and calmly breathed his last in edifying sentiments of faith and piety. The news of his death being noised abroad, a great crowd of the faithful gathered round his bier as he lay in the church of the Canons Regular, very many of whom were healed of divers diseases by merely putting themselves under his protection.
Dearest brethren, ponder over these things and keep them ever in your minds and hearts, for they have been written for our instruction, that we also may learn to do the same deeds that our fathers accomplished.
May God be glorified ever in his servants, Amen.
1 April 28, 1236, Bull., i, p. 88.
2 May 29.
3 James I, 1213-76.
4 Founded 1219.
5 Founded 1222.
6 The feast is kept January 22.
7 See was vacant from August 21, 1241, till June 24, 1243.
8 This account is by Brother Henry Scacabarazzi, his intimate friend. Peter was created inquisitor by Innocent IV on June 13, 1247 (Bull. Ord., i, p. 192), and canonised 1253 (Bull. Ord., i, p. 228).
9 The heretic who slew St Peter Martyr became a Catholic and joined the Dominican Order as a lay-brother; he led a most exemplary life.
10 Founded 1218.
11 Founded 1224-8.
12 Canonised March 25, 1253.
13 Founded 1219.
14 Founded 1233
15 Founded 1220.
16 Founded 1227.
17 Founded 1219.
18 Founded 1219.
19 St Dominic made him abbot of the Order in 1216 when he himself was planning to go to the East; he died in Paris about 1226 (Anal., i, p. 66, No. 2).
20 Died July, 1221.
21 Cf. Berthier, p. 28.
22 Quetif, i, p. 34. He entered the Order in 1220.
23 Founded 1224.
24 He died 1245; Priory founded 1221.
25 Founded 1221.
26 Founded 1219.
27 Founded 1236.
28 Founded in 1233.
29 In Auvergne, founded 1219.
30 Founded 1225.
31 Novices together in 1225 in Paris.
32 Founded in 1221.
33 Cf. Quetif, i, p. 127.
34 Founded 1219.
35 Founded 1221 .
36 Canons Regular of St Augustine in the Abbey of the Crown near Angoulême.
37 He left Paris June 12, 1247, for Aigues Mortes. Peter therefore died at the end of June.
38 1250.. He is mentioned in the Acta, Reichert, i, p. 54.
39 Founded 1225.
40 Founded 1225.
41 Founded 1226.
42 Founded 1229.
43 Probably Henry, the follower and friend of St Hyacinth, apostle of Poland.
44 i.e., Gertrude, the Prioress of Aldenberg, near Wetzlau (cf. Montalernbert, Vie de Ste Elizabeth, ii, p. 265).
45 Teaching in Paris 1248 (Denifle, Cart., i, p. 244).
46 A disciple of the famous Alexander of Hales (Cart., i, p. 158).
47 They died 1258 or 1259 (cf. Quetif., i, p. 125).
48 Founded 1234.
49 Founded 1227.
50 Founded 1233.
51 Gerard de Frachet presided over the Provincial Chapters of 1254 and 1258; Ourtês Priory was founded in 1253; probably, therefore, this took place in 1258.
52 He founded the Priory of Petrogorain in 1241.
53 Clermont in Auvergne.
54 Founded in 1227.
55 Died Easter Day, 1240, in Tuy; had been a canon before becoming a friar.
56 The third Provincial of Provence; died May 23, 1238, in Bordeaux.
57 Died November 25, 1252.
58 Sixth Prior of Basle. (Sutter, Die Dominikaner-klöster der Schweiz, p. 531.)
59 Seventh Prior of Basle.
60 Founded in 1233.
INDEX PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX