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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Attacks of the Devil. Legends by Augusta Theodosia Drane, 1891

Attacks of the Devil. Legends
by Augusta Theodosia Drane, 1891 
 St. Dominic and the Devil by Pietro della Vecchia: The story of the Devil's appearance to St. Dominic in the form of a monkey derives from a medieval legend, according to which the saint seized his tormentor and forced him to hold a lighted candle while he studied. St. Dominic released him only after the candle burned down and singed his fingers.

On the second Sunday in Lent, being the first after the settlement of the nuns at S. Sixtus, Dominic preached in their church, standing, as it is said, "at the grating," that is, so as his discourse should be heard both by them and by the congregation assembled in the public parts of the church. As he did so, a possessed woman who was in the midst of the crowd interrupted the sermon, "Ah, villain!" cried the demon, speaking through her voice, "these nuns were once all mine own, and thou hast robbed me of them all. 
 
This soul at least is mine, and thou shalt not take her from me, for we are seven in number that have her in our keeping." Then Dominic commanded her to hold her peace, and making the sign of the cross, he delivered her from her tormenters in the presence of all the spectators. A few days after this she came to him, and, throwing herself at his feet, implored to be allowed to take his habit. He consented to her request, and placed her in the convent of S. Sixtus, where he gave her the name of Amata, or, as we used to call her, Amy; to signify the love of God displayed in her regard. She afterwards removed to Bologna, where she died in the odour of sanctity, and lies buried in the same tomb with Dominic's two other holy daughters, Cecilia and Diana, the latter of whom was foundress of the convent of women in that place.

In speaking of this and other examples of the malice of the demon, which are narrated in the history of S. Dominic, we cannot but observe something perhaps a little distinctive about them. Never do we find one instance in which Satan was permitted the least power to vex or trouble him. Never, as with so many other saints, was he suffered to do him bodily harm, or to assault him with grievous temptations. The evil one appears to us always baffled and contemptible, as in the power of one who is his master, the very Michael among the saints. Yet though always petty, and as it were ridiculous, he ceased not in his efforts to thwart and disturb him, and chiefly directed his malice against the friars and sisters of S. Sixtus, grievously trying them by perpetual distraction, as though he hoped thereby at least to diminish something of the fervour of their devotions.

Once indeed he made a more serious attempt against Dominic's life. One night, as he prayed in the church of Santa Sabina, a huge stone was hurled at him by an invisible hand from the upper part of the roof, which all but grazed his head, and even tore his hood, but falling without further injury to the saint, was buried deep in the ground beside him. The noise was so loud that it awoke several of the friars, who came in haste to the spot to inquire the cause; they found the fragments of the broken pavement, and the stone lying where it fell; but Dominic was kneeling quietly in prayer, and seemed as if unconscious of what had happened.

Another story, of a similar character, is told as follows: "The servant of God, who had neither bed nor cell of his own, had publicly commanded his children in chapter, that in order that they might wake the more promptly, to rise to matins, they should retire to bed at a certain hour, in which he was strictly obeyed. Now, as he himself abode before the Lord in the church, the devil appeared before him in the form of one of the brethren, and though it was past the prohibited time, yet did he remain in the church with an air of particular devotion and modesty. Wherefore the saint, judging it to be one of the friars, went softly up to him, and desired him to go to his cell, and sleep with the others. And the pretended friar inclined his head, in sign of humble obedience, and went as he was bid; but on each of the two following nights, he returned at the same hour and in the same manner. The second time the man of God rose very gently (although, indeed, he had reason to be somewhat angry, seeing he had at table during the day reminded all of the observance of that which had been enjoined), and again desired him to go away. He went; but, as we have said, returned yet a third time. Then, it seemed to the saint that the disobedience and pertinacity of his brother was too great, and he reproved him for the same with some severity; whereat, the devil (who desired nothing else, save to disturb his prayer and stir him unto wrath, and move him to break the silence) gave a loud laugh, and, leaping high into the air, he said, 'At least I have made you break the silence, and moved you to wrath!' But he calmly replied, 'Not so, for I have power to dispense, neither is it blameworthy wrath when I utter reproofs unto the evil-doers.' And the demon, being so answered, was obliged to fly."

On another occasion, as he was by night walking about the convent of S. Sabina, guarding his flock with the vigilance of a good shepherd, he met the enemy in the dormitory, going like a lion seeking whom he might devour; and recognizing him, he said, "Thou evil beast, what doest thou here?" "I do my office," replied the demon, "and attend to my gains." "And what gains dost thou make in the dormitory?" asked the saint. "Gain enough," returned the demon. "I disquiet the friars in many ways; for first, I take the sleep away from those who desire to sleep in order that they may rise promptly for matins; and then I give an excessive heaviness to others, so that when the bell sounds, either from weariness or idleness they do not rise; or, if they rise and go to choir, it is unwillingly, and they say their office without devotion." Then the saint took him to the church, and said, "And what dost thou gain here?" "Much, answered the devil; "I make them come late and leave soon. I fill them with disgusts and distractions, so that they do ill whatsoever they have to do." "And here?" asked Dominic, leading him to the refectory. "Who does not eat too much or too little?" was the reply; "and so they either offend God or injure their health."

Then the saint took him to the parlour, where the brethren were allowed to speak with seculars, and to take their recreation. And the devil began maliciously to laugh, and to leap and jump about, as if with enjoyment, and he said, "This place is all mine own; here they laugh and joke, and hear a thousand vain stories; here they utter idle words, and grumble often at their rule and their superiors; and whatsoever they gain elsewhere they lose here." And lastly they came to the door of the chapterroom, but there the devil would not enter. He attempted to fly, saying, "This place is a hell to me; here the friars accuse themselves of their faults, and receive reproof and correction, and absolution. What they have lost in every other place they regain here." And so saying, he disappeared, and Dominic was left greatly wondering at the snares and nets of the tempter; whereof he afterwards made a long discourse to his brethren, declaring the same unto them, that they should be on their guard.




The Legend of St. Dominic

This Legend was compiled by Gerard de Frachet from the Book of Epilogues of Brother Bartholomew of Trent, one of the saint's first companions, and from the History of the Foundation of the Order, composed by Blessed Jordan of Saxony, and dedicated by him to his sons by grace and joint heirs to glory. The Legend dates between 1255 and 1257.


St. Dominic Delivers a Glutton Possessed by the Devil

One of the brothers at Bologna, who had care of the sick, used sometimes, without permission, to eat some of the food which was left. While thus busied one evening, the devil entered into him, and he began to bellow horribly. The holy father came to the spot with the rest of the brethren who were hurrying to the brother's assistance, and pitying his condition bade the devil speak up and say Why he had gone into him. Then the demon answered him: "I hold possession of him since he richly deserves it, for contrary to the letter of your constitutions, and without leave, he has been in the habit of eating the meat left by the sick." On hearing this the tender father replied: "And I, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, do absolve him from his sin, and command you in the name of the same Jesus, that you go out of him and vex him no longer"; and at once the brother was freed from his tormentor.


How the Possessed were Delivered at the Grave of St. Dominic

Brother Chabert of Savoy, a stirring and graceful preacher, and famed for many miracles after death, was a student in Bologna at the time, and on the day after St. Dominic's burial was present with many more spectators while a possessed man was being led to the saint's grave. No sooner bad he entered the church than the devil began to cry out: 'What is it that you want with me, Dominic?' and repeatedly howled out the name of Dominic. Those present brought the man over to the tomb and the devil went out of him.



In Temptations
from the Mission Book, 1853

When you are tempted to anger, say--"Oh my Jesus, give me patience! Bless me, Mary, my Mother!"

If wicked thoughts come into your mind, say quickly--"Jesus and Mary, help me!" Repeat the Hail Mary or some other prayer, until you have banished them.



Prayer in Time of Temptation

O God, Who restorest the wicked to justice and desirest not the death of the sinner; we humbly entreat Thy Majesty, that by Thy heavenly help and constant protection Thou wouldst graciously shield Thy servants who trust in Thy mercy, that they may always serve Thee and never be separated from Thee by any temptation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.