How a poor boy became a Bishop, a Cardinal, and a Saint
Peter Damian lost both Father and Mother shortly after his birth. One of his brothers adopted him but treated him with unnatural harshness, forcing him to work hard and giving him poor food and scanty clothing.
One day Peter found a silver piece which represented to him a small fortune. A friend told him that he could conscientiously use it for himself as the owner could not be found.
The only difficulty Peter had was to choose what it was he most needed, for he was in sore need of many things.
While turning the matter over in his young mind it struck him that he could do a still better thing, viz, have a Mass said for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially for the souls of his dear parents. At the cost of a great sacrifice he put his thought into effect and had the Mass offered.
The Holy Souls repaid his sacrifice most generously. From that day forward a complete change became noticeable in his fortunes.
His eldest brother called at the house where he lived and, horrified at the brutal hardships the little fellow was subjected to, arranged that he be handed over to his own care. He clad him and fed him as his own child, educated and cared for him most affectionately. Blessing followed blessing. Peter’s wonderful talents became known and he was called to the priesthood, sometime after he was raised to the episcopacy and finally created Cardinal. Miracles attested his great sanctity so that after death he was canonised and made Doctor of the Church.
These wonderful graces came to him after that one Mass said for the Holy Souls.
An adventure in the Appenines
A group of priests were called to Rome to treat a grave business matter. They were bearers of important documents and a large sum of money was entrusted to them for the Holy Father. Aware that the Appenines, over which they had to pass, were infested by daring bandits, they chose a trusty driver. There was no tunnel through the mountains nor train in those days.
They placed themselves under the protection of the Holy Souls and decided to say profundis De profundis every hour for them.
When right in the heart of the mountains, the driver gave the alarm and, at the same time, lashed the horses into a furious gallop. Looking around, the priests saw fierce bandits at each side of the road with fixed rifles ready to fire. They were amazed that no shot rang out. They were completely at the mercy of the bandits.
After an hour’s headlong flight the driver stopped and, looking at the Priests, said: “I cannot understand how we escaped. These desperadoes never spare anyone.”
The Fathers were convinced that they owed their safety to the Holy Souls, a fact that was afterwards confirmed beyond doubt.
When their business was concluded in Rome, one of their number was detained in the Eternal City, where he was appointed chaplain to a Prison. Not long after, one of the fiercest brigands in Italy was captured, condemned to death for a long series of murders and awaited execution in the prison. Anxious to gain his confidence, the Chaplain told him of several adventures he himself had had and, finally, of his recent escape in the Appenines.
The criminal manifested the greatest interest in the story. When it was ended, he exclaimed: “I was the leader of that band. We thought that you had money and we determined to rob and murder you. An invisible force prevented each and all of us from firing, as we assuredly would have done had we been able.”
The chaplain then told him of how they had placed themselves under the protection of the Holy Souls and that they ascribed their deliverance to their protection.
The bandit found no difficulty in believing it. In fact, it made his conversion more easy. He died full of repentance.
How Pius IX cured a bad memory
The venerable Pontiff Pius IX appointed a holy and prudent religious Bishop of a diocese. The priest, alarmed at the responsibility put on him, begged earnestly to be excused.
His protests were in vain. The Holy Father knew his merits.
Overcome with apprehension the humble religious solicited an audience with the Pope, who received him most graciously. Once more he pleaded earnestly to be excused, but the Pope was immovable.
As a last recourse, Padre Tomaso told the Holy Father that he had a very bad memory which would naturally prove to be a grave impediment to the high office put on him.
Pius IX answered with a smile: “Your diocese is very small in comparison with the Universal Church, which I carry on my shoulders. Your cares will be very light in comparison with mine.
I, too, suffered from a grave defect of my memory but I promised to say a fervent prayer daily for the Holy Souls, who, in return, have obtained for me an excellent memory. Do you likewise, dear Father, and you will have cause to rejoice.”
– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland