Stories of Mary 16:
Mary and the Wayward Nun
Oh, Mary, defend thou me,
or tell me to whom I shall have recourse,
and who can protect me better than thou.
Our advocate has shown how great is her kindness towards sinners by her mercy to Beatrice, a nun in the monastery of Fontebraldo, as related by Cesarius, and by Father Rho.
This unhappy religious, having contracted a passion for a certain youth, agreed to flee with him from the convent; and, in fact, she went one day before a statue of the blessed Virgin, and there deposited the keys of the monastery, for she was portress, and boldly departed.
Arrived in another country, she led the miserable life of a prostitute for fifteen years. It happened that she met, one day, the agent of the monastery in the city where she was living, and asked of him, thinking he would not recognise her again, if he knew sister Beatrice?
“I knew her well,” he said. “She is a holy nun, and at present is mistress of novices.”
At this intelligence she was confounded and amazed, not knowing how to understand it. In order to ascertain the truth, she put on another dress and went to the monastery.
She asked for sister Beatrice, and behold, the most holy Virgin appeared before her in the form of that same image to which at parting she had committed her keys, and her dress.
The divine Mother thus spoke to her: “Beatrice, be it known to thee that, in order to prevent thy disgrace, I assumed thy form, and have filled thy office for the fifteen years that thou hast lived far from the monastery and from God. My child, return, and do penance, for my Son is still waiting for thee; and strive by thy holy life to preserve the good name I have gained thee.” She spoke thus and disappeared.
Beatrice re-entered the monastery, resumed the habit of a religious, and, grateful for the mercy of Mary, led the life of a saint. At her death she made known the foregoing incident, to the glory of this great Queen.
Oh great Mother of my Lord, I now see that the ingratitude shown by me for so many years, to God and to thee, would justly merit that thou shouldst abandon all care of me, for the ungrateful are no more worthy of favours.
But, oh Lady, I have a great idea of thy goodness; I believe it to be far greater than my ingratitude; continue, then, oh Refuge of Sinners, to help a miserable sinner who confides in thee. Oh Mother of mercy, extend thy hand to raise a poor fallen creature who implores thy mercy.
Oh, Mary, defend thou me, or tell me to whom I shall have recourse, and who can protect me better than thou.
Can I find an advocate with God more merciful and more powerful than thou, who art His Mother? Thou, having been created for the Mother of the Saviour, art destined to save sinners, and hast been given me for my salvation.
Oh, Mary, save him who has recourse to thee. I do not merit thy love, but the desire thou hast to save the lost gives me the hope that thou dost love me; and if thou lovest me, how can I be lost?
Oh my beloved Mother, if, as I hope, I am saved by thee, I will no longer be ungrateful; I will make amends by perpetual praises and by all the affection of my soul for my past ingratitude, and will make some return for the love thou bearest me.
In Heaven, where thou reignest and wilt reign forever, I will always joyfully sing thy mercies, and forever I will kiss those loving hands that have freed me from hell as often as I have deserved it for my sins.
Oh Mary, my liberator, my hope, my Queen, my advocate, my Mother, I love thee, I wish thee well, and will always love thee.
Amen, amen; thus I hope, so may it be.
“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy