Monday, April 11, 2011

The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori: The Justice of God

It is narrated by Tritemius, Camsius, and others, that in Magdeburg, a city of Saxony, there was a certain man named Udo, who, from his youth, had been so destitute of talent that he was the ridicule of all his schoolfellows.

Now one day, being more than usually disheartened, he went to pray to the most holy Virgin before her image. Mary appeared to him in a dream, and said to him: "Udo, I will console you, and not only will I obtain from God for you, abilities which will protect you from derision, but even talents which will make you admired; and moreover, after the death of the bishop, I promise that you shall be elected in his place." Thus Mary said, and thus it came to pass. Udo made great progress in the sciences, and obtained the bishopric of that city.

But Udo was so ungrateful to God and to his benefactress for these favors, that he neglected all his devotions and became the scandal of the place. Whilst he was in bed one night with a wicked companion, he heard a voice saying to him: "Udo, cease this sinful pastime; you have sinned enough." At first he was irritated by these words, thinking it was someone who was reproving him; but hearing it repeated a second and a third night, he began to tremble a little, lest it should be a voice from heaven. Notwithstanding all this, he continued in his wickedness. But after God had given him three months for repentance, behold the punishment!

One night a devout canon, named Frederick, was praying, in the church of St. Maurice, that God would remove the scandal which Udo gave; when, behold, the door of the church was burst open by a strong wind. Two youths entered with lighted torches in their hands, and stood on each side of the high altar. Then two others followed, who spread before the altar a carpet, and placed upon it two thrones of gold. Another youth, in military attire, followed, with a sword in his hand, and stopping in the midst of the church, cried: "Oh ye saints of heaven, whose relics are preserved in this church, come to assist at the great justice which the sovereign Judge is about to execute."

At these words many saints appeared, and also the twelve apostles, as assistants in this judgment. Lastly, Jesus Christ entered, and seated himself on one of these thrones. Afterwards Mary appeared, attended by many holy virgins, and seated herself on the other throne at the side of her Son. The Judge now ordered that the culprit should be brought forward, and he was the miserable Udo. St. Maurice spoke, and demanded, in the name of the people whom he had scandalized, justice for his infamous life. All present raised their voices and said: "Oh Lord, he merits death." "Let him die, then," said the eternal Judge. But before the sentence was executed (see how great is the mercy of Mary) she, the kind mother, that she might not be present at that tremendous act of justice, left the church; and then the heavenly minister, who entered among the first, with the sword, approaching Udo, with one blow severed the head from the body, and the vision vanished.

The place was left dark. The canon, trembling, went for a light from a lamp which was burning under the church; and when he returned, saw the body of Udo with the head cut off, and the pavement all covered with blood. When daylight came, the people thronged the church, and the canon related the whole vision and the circumstances of that fearful tragedy.

And on the same day the wretched Udo, who was condemned to hell, appeared to one of his chaplains, who knew nothing of what had taken place in the church. The body of Udo was thrown into a marsh, and his blood remained for a perpetual memorial on that pavement, which was always covered with a carpet; and from that time it became the custom to uncover it when a new bishop took possession of the church, that at the sight of such a punishment he might be mindful to lead a good life, and not be ungrateful for the graces of the Lord and of his most holy mother.


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