Miracle of the Blessed Sacrament
In the year 1649 John Frederick, Duke of Brunswick, then about twenty-five years old, undertook a journey through Europe to visit the various courts, and among others he visited Rome. Though not a Catholic, the duke was greatly edified by all he saw in the Papal City. During his stay he was anxious to go to Assisi, in order to become acquainted with the saint whose holiness was renowned even in the duke’s own country. Pope Innocent, therefore, gave him a letter of introduction to the convent, asking the Fathers’ permission for an interview with Father Joseph of Cupertino, in the hopes of the duke’s final conversion. The superior hastened to comply with the request, receiving the duke and his royal friends with honor. At once the duke requested to see Father Joseph. The following day being Sunday, the duke and two counts, one of whom was a Protestant and the other a Catholic, were taken secretly to the chapel where the Saint usually said Mass. No one was aware of this, and Father Joseph did not know of the arrival of the strangers. He was standing at the altar, in the act of breaking the Host, as the duke and his friends entered the chapel. Suddenly a deep sigh escaped the lips of the Saint, and laying the Host down upon the paten he fell into an ecstasy.
The duke, being much moved by this strange sight, requested the superior after Mass to inquire of Father Joseph what that strange cry and sigh meant. The superior replied that the Saint was not always willing to give such explanations, but at the request of the duke he would require it from him under obedience. The Saint, when placed under this obedience, replied: “Ah, the strangers whom thou didst send to hear my Mass are of a hard heart and do not believe all that the Catholic Church teaches. On this account the Lamb became hard in my hands this morning, and I could not break It.” The young duke, struck at this reply, desired after dinner to converse with the Saint. The conversation lasted until evening.
The following morning the duke attended the Saint’s Mass. A new miracle awaited his eyes. At the moment of the elevation there appeared upon the Host the form of a black cross, and at the same time, uttering the same strange cry, Father Joseph was raised high in the air and remained so for a short space of time. Then the duke cried out: “Accursed be the day that I came into this country! In my own land I was at peace, but here I have found only anguish and distress of conscience.” The Protestant count, however, began to weep at the miracle, for a ray of truth had touched him, and his heart was softened, although he still withstood the call of God. Father Joseph, enlightened by the grace of God, perceived the strife which was going on in his soul, and smiling at his irresolution, said to a friend after Mass, “Let us rejoice; the deer is wounded.”
After Holy Mass the duke conversed with Father Joseph until midday. After dinner he desired to return to the cell of the Saint, but Father Joseph met him and said: “Go, pray at the altar of St. Francis, attend Compline and the procession, and do all that thou seest the brethren do.” The duke, entirely humbled, obeyed the Saint and followed instructions as he was told. Accompanied by Cardinals Frachiette and Rapachicioli he threw himself before the Blessed Sacrament, and said with a loud voice: “The King of the whole world is adored in this church. I believe and acknowledge all the Catholic Church acknowledges and believes.” Once more a wandering child was won to the arms of Mother Church. During the remainder of that day and also to a late hour that night the duke conversed with the Saint, learning the mysteries of Faith. The next day he resumed his journey to his own country, promising, however, to return the following year and make public reparation for his errors. And the duke kept his word!
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