In the history of the foundations of the Company of Jesus, in the kingdom of Naples, is related the following story of a noble youth of Scotland, named William Elphinstone. He was a relation of King James.

Born a heretic, he followed the false sect to which he belonged; but enlightened by divine grace, which showed him his errors, he went to France, where, with the assistance of a good Jesuit father, who was like himself a Scotchman, and still more by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, he at length saw the truth, abjured heresy, and became a Catholic.

He went afterwards to Rome, where a friend of his found him one day very much afflicted and weeping. He asked him the  cause, and he answered, that in the night his mother had appeared to him and said: “My son, it is well for thee  that thou hast entered the true Church; I am already lost because I died in heresy.”

From that time he became more fervent in his devotion to Mary, chose her for his mother, and by her was inspired to become a religious. He made a vow to do so, but being ill, he went to Naples to restore his health by a change of air.

But the Lord ordered it so that he should die in Naples, and die a religious; for, having become dangerously ill soon after his arrival there, he by prayers and tears obtained from the superiors admittance, and when about receiving the viaticum, he made his vows in presence of the blessed sacrament, and was enrolled in the society.

After this, in the tenderness of his feelings, he gave thanks to his mother Mary for having rescued him from heresy and brought him to die in the true Church, and in a religious house in the midst of his brethren. Therefore, he exclaimed: “Oh! how glorious it is to die in the midst of so many angels!” Being exhorted to take a little rest, he answered: Ah, this is not the time to rest when the end of my life is drawing near.” Before dying, he said to the persons present: “Brethren, do you not see the angels of heaven around me?”

One of the religious having heard him murmuring something to himself, asked him what he had said. He answered, that his angel-guardian had revealed to him that he should be in purgatory but a short time, and would soon enter paradise.

Then he began again to talk with his sweet mother Mary, and repeating the word, mother, mother, he tranquilly expired, like a child falling asleep in the arms of its mother. Soon after, it was revealed to a devout religious that he had already entered paradise.

 

From “The Glories of Mary” by St Alphonsus Liguori

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