In the year 1629, at Dole, in Franche-Compte, Hugette Roy, a woman of the middle station in life, was confined to bed by inflammation of the lungs, which endangered her life. The physician considering it necessary to bleed her, in his awkwardness cut an artery in the left arm, which speedily reduced her to the last extremity.
The following day, at dawn, she saw enter into her chamber a young girl clad in white, of most modest deportment, who asked her if she was willing to accept her services and to be nursed by her. The sick person, delighted with the offer, answered that nothing could give her greater pleasure; and instantly the stranger lighted the fire, approached Hugette, and placed her gently on the bed, and then continued to watch by her and serve her like the most devoted infirmarian. But, oh wonder! contact with the hands of the unknown one was so beneficial that the dying person found herself greatly relieved, and soon felt entirely cured. Then she would absolutely know who the amiable stranger was, and called her that she might question her ; but she withdrew, saying that she would return in the evening. In the meantime astonishment and curiosity were extreme when the tidings of this sudden cure spread abroad, and nothing was spoken of in Dole but this mysterious event.
When the unknown visitor returned in the evening, she said to Hugette, without trying to disguise herself, " Know, my dear niece, that I am your aunt, Leonarde Collin, who died seventeen years ago, leaving you an inheritance from her little property. Thanks to the Divine bounty, I am saved, and it was the Blessed Virgin, to whom I had great devotion, who obtained for me this happiness. Without her I was lost. When death suddenly struck me, I was in the state of mortal sin, but the merciful Virgin Mary obtained for me perfect contrition, and thus saved me from eternal damnation. Since that time I am in Purgatory, and our Lord permits me to finish my expiation by serving you during fourteen days. At the end of that time I shall be delivered from my pains if, on your part, you have the charity to make three pilgrimages for me to three holy sanctuaries of the Blessed Virgin."
Hugette, astonished, knew not what to think of this language. Not being able to believe the reality of the apparition, and fearing some snare of the evil spirit, she consulted her confessor, Father Antony Roland, a Jesuit, who advised her to threaten the unknown person with the exorcisms of the Church. This menace did not disturb her; she replied tranquilly, that she feared not the prayers of the Church. " They have no power," she added, "but against the demons and the damned ; none whatever against predestined souls, who are in the grace of God as I am." Hugette was not yet convinced. "How," said she to the young girl, "can you be my Aunt Leonarde ? She was old and worn, disagreeable and whimsical, whilst you are young, gentle, and obliging?" "Ah, my dear niece," replied the apparition, "my real body is in the tomb, where it will remain until the resurrection ; this one which you see is one miraculously formed from the air to allow me to speak to you, to serve you, and obtain your suffrages. As regards my irritable disposition, seventeen years of terrible suffering have taught me patience and meekness. Know, also, that in Purgatory we are confirmed in grace, marked with the seal of the elect, and therefore exempt from all vice."
After such explanation, incredulity was impossible. Hugette, at once astounded and grateful, received with joy the services rendered during the fourteen days designated. She alone could see and hear the deceased, who came at certain hours and then disappeared. As soon as her strength permitted, she devoutly made the pilgrimages which were asked of her.
At the end of fourteen days the apparition ceased. Leonarde appeared for the last time to announce her deliverance ; she was then in a state of incomparable glory, brilliant as a star, and her countenance bore an expression of the most perfect beatitude. In her turn, she testified her gratitude to her niece, promised to pray for her and her whole family, and advised her ever to remember, amid the sufferings of this life, the end of our existence, which is the salvation of our soul.
~ From Purgatory by Fr. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.
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