11 September 2011

ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SIXTH

There was in Lombardy a woman leading a solitary life, who was very devoted to our Lady.  When she heard that a new Order of Preachers had arisen, she longed with all her heart to see some of them.  Now it happened that brother Paul and his companion were passing through that part of the world, preaching.  They visited her and, in the usual manner of the brethren, they addressed her with the words of God.  She then asked them who they were and what Order they belonged to.  They said they belong to the Order of Preachers.  But when she noticed how young and good looking they were, and how fine their habit was, she despised them, reckoning that people like that touring round the world could not last long in chastity.  So the next night the blessed Virgin appeared to come and stand over her, looking annoyed.  "Yesterday," she said, "you offended me seriously.  Do you not think that I am able to look after my young men who are my servants, even while they run around the world for the salvation of souls?  But to make you quite certain that I have undertaken a special responsibility for them, look, I will show you the men you despised yesterday."  Lifting up her cloak, she showed her a great crowd of the friars, including those whom the the anchoress had previously despised.  So the anchoress was duly contrite and ever after loved the friars with all her heart, and published this story throughout the Order.