The youth stooped to kiss her feet, and Mary extended her arm from that statue, took him by the hand and held him so strongly that no power could move him.
Father Razzi, of the order of Camaldoli, relates that a certain youth having lost his father was sent by his mother to the court of a prince. The mother, who had a great devotion to Mary, when she parted with him made him promise to recite every day a “Hail Mary” and add these words:
“Blessed Virgin, help me in the hour of my death”
The youth arrived at court, but soon began to lead so dissolute a life, that his master was obliged to send him away. In despair, without means of support, he went into the country and became a highway robber; but even then he did not omit to recommend himself to our Lady, as his mother had directed him.
At length he fell into the hands of justice, and was condemned to death. Being in prison the evening before his execution, and thinking of his disgrace, the grief of his mother, and the death which awaited him, he fell to weeping bitterly.
The devil seeing him so oppressed by melancholy, appeared to him in the form of a beautiful young man, and said to him that he would release him from death and prison if he would follow his directions. The convict engaged to do all that he required. Then the pretended youth made known to him that he was the devil and had come to his assistance. In the first place, he ordered him to renounce Jesus Christ and the holy sacraments. The youth consented. He then required him to renounce the Virgin Mary and her protection.
“This” exclaimed the young man, “I will never do” and turning to Mary, repeated the accustomed prayer that his mother had taught him: “Blessed Virgin, help me in the hour of my death”. At these words, the devil disappeared. The youth remained in great affliction for the wickedness he had committed in denying Jesus Christ. He invoked the Blessed Virgin, and she obtained for him, by her prayers, a great sorrow for all his sins, so that he made his confession with much weeping and contrition.
On his way to the gallows, happening to pass before a statue of Mary, he saluted her with his usual prayer: Blessed Virgin, help me in the hour of my death, and the statue, in the presence of all, inclined its head and saluted him. Deeply moved, he begged to be allowed to kiss the feet of the image. The executioners refused but afterwards consented on account of the clamor of the people. The youth stooped to kiss her feet, and Mary extended her arm from that statue, took him by the hand and held him so strongly that no power could move him.
At this prodigy the multitude shouted “Pardon, pardon” and pardon was granted. Having returned to his country, he led an exemplary life, and was always most devoted to Mary, who had delivered him from temporal and eternal death.
Source: “The Glories of Mary” by St Alphonsus Liguori