In 1834, an elderly soldier living in Angouleme, France, no longer able to bear certain sorrows, resolved to take his own life.
He decided to kill himself with poison, thinking that he could more easily hide his crime from the public.
Upon taking the poison, he did not have to wait long to suffer the effects. Immediately he went to the hospital and asked to spend the night, thinking that the cause of his death would be undiscovered and his name would not be blackened because of commission of the cowardly sin of suicide.
But the hospital supervisor would not allow him to be admitted without an administration pass — which would mean discovery of his impending death by his own hand.
The unhappy soldier was forced to abandon the idea of spending the night in the hospital. While wondering what course of action to take, he suddenly heard a voice telling him to go to Saint Peters and confess to Father ***. The soldier went to the designated church and asked Father *** to hear his confession.
Father ***, overcome with fatigue, told the man to wait — it was Lent and it was three oclock in the afternoon and he had not yet had a bite to eat. The unhappy soldier made a new plea and assured the priest that there was not time to wait.
The priest entered the confessional and the penitent confessed that he had just poisoned himself. The confessor showed him his obligation before God, which included divulging the penitent’s secret.
The soldier, touched by this grace, gave the priest permission, and like the fire which burned his insides, the sufferings he felt threw him into a state of perfect hopelessness.
The charitable priest pulled him out of the confessional and took him to the hospital.
He immediately asked for an antidote, but while they were preparing it, he took the pulse of the sick man, and no longer found any: a deathly pale complexion, misty eyes — everything heralded the coming death.
His heart pierced with sadness, but full of confidence in the Divine Mercy, the fervent priest threw himself to his knees, and recited the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. At the first invocation, he sensed the pulse of the dying man return, and a short time later he heard the soldier speak a few words. ‘O my good Father,’ he said in a weak voice, ‘my Father, pray, pray some more!’ And he let out a breath and said: ‘Holy Mary, pray for me!’ And soon his consciousness returned. Father ***, in his enthusiasm over such a marvelous change, asked the soldier if he hadnt kept some pious practices — ‘No, my Father, I have not said any prayers in a long time.’ But after having reacted for an instant, he showed a Scapular: ‘Here is the only sign of piety that I have preserved.’ — ‘Ah! My friend,’ notes the priest, ‘I am no longer surprised by the miracle which just occurred; its Mary who protected you, its to Her that you owe being alive.’
Nevertheless the doctor arrived, and after having heard the necessary details on the condition of the patient, he assured them that only a superior power could prolong his life for longer than two hours after having taken the poison, one of the most active that we know; and hours had gone by since the fatal moment! … The antidote became useless. The doctor proposed to record a statement to attest the truth of the miracle; but the humble priest, fearing that they would perhaps attribute the miracle to the fervor of his prayers, did not think about making the miracle public. It was told to me by others, that it may give you a new confidence in Mary.*
The full promise of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to Saint Simon Stock July 16, 1251
“Accept this Scapular. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies clothed in this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”