The Rescue of Two Fugitives
Many singular occurrences in the life of devout persons afford indisputable proof of the operation of Divine Providence. St. Jerome relates the following remarkable incident in the life of a hermit, which he heard from the lips of the hermit in question, whose name was Malchus. This man asked and obtained permission from his superior to visit his aged mother, who lay at the point of death. On the way to the place where she lived, he was attacked by robbers, taken prisoner, and sold to an Arab as a slave. Luckily for him he had a fellow-slave who was also a Christian and a good, pious man. The two slaves were cruelly treated and had hard, toilsome work laid upon them. They therefore were desirous of regaining their liberty by flight. One day, a favorable opportunity having presented itself, they took advantage of it to make their escape, and actually succeeded in reaching the desert without their absence being perceived. They had already gone a considerable distance, when, looking back, they noticed a cloud of dust a long way off, which rapidly drew nearer; presently they were able to descry two armed men on dromedaries, who were gaining on them fast. It was evident that their master was coming in pursuit of them with his servant; in terror they looked around, to see if there was no place at hand where they could conceal themselves. Somewhat farther they caught sight of a cleft in a rock, which appeared to be the entrance to a cavern. Thither they fled with the utmost speed. As the passage beneath the rock seemed very long, they were afraid to venture far, and therefore crouched in a corner near the entrance. A few minutes later their pursuers reached the cavern, and, halting before it, with loud shouts and terrible threats called on the fugitives to come out. As no answer came, the master sent his servant into the cavern, to drive out the two men at the sword’s point. The servant penetrated a long way into the cavern, making a great noise as he went. Suddenly a lioness sprang upon him out of the background, killed him, and dragged him away to her den. The Arab waiting outside grew impatient at the non-appearance of his servant, and, dismounting from his dromedary, entered the cavern himself, uttering oaths and curses. The lioness sprang upon him also, killing him with a single blow of her paw. The two fugitives hidden in the cleft trembled with fear, thinking they would be the next victims. But matters took an unexpected turn. The lioness apparently thought her den was not a sufficiently safe spot for her young, for she carried one cub after another out of the cavern in her mouth, and then disappeared altogether. When evening came the monk and his companion ventured out of their hiding-place, and to their great delight found the two dromedaries lying close by, patiently waiting for their master’s return. With them was also an ample supply of very acceptable meats. With tears of gratitude to almighty God for their wonderful deliverance, the fugitives mounted the dromedaries and in a day or two reached a Roman camp, where they were kindly received and entertained. There they took leave of each other, and departed to their respective homes. In cases such as this we may quote the words of David: “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful in our eyes.”
Louis IX and the Miraculous Host
The faith of a Christian is a firm conviction. During the reign of Louis IX, king of France, while Mass was being celebrated in one of the churches of Paris, Our Lord appeared in the sacred Host in the form of a little child. The people ran in crowds to the church, actuated by curiosity to behold this marvel. Someone went to the saintly King Louis to inform him of what had taken place. But the king did not leave his room. On being asked why he remained away, he answered: “God works this miracle for the sake of unbelievers, not for the faithful. I do not need to be convinced of the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Had I happened to be present when this miracle took place, I should have closed my eyes, so as not to lose the merit of faith.” Hence it will be seen how steadfastly this holy monarch believed in the truth of all that the Church teaches.
The Man who Believed Nothing, and yet Believed what No One Else Believed
A priest was returning with several other persons from a pilgrimage by train. A stranger entered and took a vacant place in the railway carriage occupied by the party of pilgrims. When he saw who were his traveling companions, and noticed the rosaries in their hands, he could not refrain from making some contemptuous remarks concerning their credulity, as he termed their faith, ending by saying in a boastful manner: “As for me, I believe in nothing.” “Pardon me, sir,” the priest rejoined, “you believe a great deal. In one respect you believe more than any of us do.” The gentleman expressed the wish to be told what was meant; how, he asked, did he believe what they did not? For some time he had to wait for an answer; but as he would not be refused, and declared that he should not take offense, whatever was said, the priest at length replied: “My dear sir, you believe that you are a very clever fellow. I can assure you that none of us believe that.” All the people present laughed heartily; the unfortunate man colored painfully and changed coaches at the next depot.