This example is not recorded in any book, but a priest, a companion of mine, related it to me, as having happened to himself. Whilst this priest was hearing confessions in a certain church (for sufficient reasons he did not mention the place where this occurred, although the penitent gave him leave to publish the fact), a youth stood before him, who appeared to wish and not to wish to come to confession. The Father, after looking at him several times, at length called him, and asked him if he wished to make his confession. He answered, yes; but as he required a longtime for it, the confessor took him into a retired room. There the penitent began by telling him that he was a foreigner, and of noble birth, but be could not believe that it was possible for God to pardon him after the life he had led.
Besides innumerable other sins he had committed of impurity, homicide, he said, that being entirely in despair of salvation, he had set about committing sins, not so much for his own gratification, as to defy God, and manifest the hatred he bore him. He said, that among other things, he had with him a crucifix, which he had beaten out of contempt. He said that just before, on that very morning, he had made a sacrilegious communion, and for what object? That he might put under his feet the consecrated wafer.
And that, in fact, he had actually received, and was about to put in execution this horrible intention, but was prevented by the people who ob served him. He then consigned to the confessor the consecrated host, wrapped in a paper, and told him that as he was passing by that church he had a great desire to enter. He could not resist this desire, and had entered.
That then he felt great remorse of conscience, together with a certain confused and irresolute desire to make his confession. For this reason he had placed himself before the confessional, but while standing there he felt so confused and timid, that he wished to go away, but it seemed as if some one had retained him by force:
“Until,” he said, “you, Father, called me; and now I find myself here; I find myself making my confession; but I know not how to do it.”
The Father then asked him if he had practised any act of devotion during that time; meaning towards the most holy Mary ; for such sudden con versions only come through the powerful hands of the Virgin.
“None, Father; what devotion could I offer,” answered the youth, when I believed myself lost?” “But try to remember more carefully,” replied the Father. “Father, nothing.” But accidentally putting his hand to his breast, he remembered that he wore the Scapular of the Seven Dolors of Mary:” Maria addolorata.” “Ah, my son,” said the confessor to him, “do you not see that our blessed Lady has bestowed this grace upon you? And know,” he added, “that this church is a church of our blessed Lady.”
Hearing this, the youth was moved to contrition, and began to weep. He confessed his sins, and his compunction increased to such a degree that, bursting into tears, he fell, overcome with grief, as it seemed, at the feet of the Father, who, having restored him by a cordial, finally finished hearing his confession, and absolved him with the greatest consolation, as he was entirely contrite and resolved to amend his life. The Father sent him back to his own country after having obtained from him full liberty to preach and publish everywhere the great mercy exercised by Mary towards him.