Mysteries of the Bible

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The Invisible Monk

Posted by foryourfaith on September 9, 2011


Spanish monk Saint Vincent Ferrer, who lived from around 1350 to 1419, was a person of great authority at the court of Aragon, partly because of his natural abilities, and partly because of the miracles attributed to him. King Juan of Aragon frequently consulted him.

The king’s wife Queen Yolande was curious to see the inside of the cell where Ferrer lived. When he refused her permission to enter, the queen ordered the door to be forced open. She entered with her entourage, but there was no sign of him. Yet the monks present assured her that he was there – they were amazed that the queen and her attendants could not see him as clearly as they did.

A monk asked Ferrer why the queen could not see him. He replied that he had never allowed any woman to visit his cell. God was punishing the queen for having forced her way in, and she would suffer with partial blindness for as long as she remained there. Humbled, the queen immediately left the cell, apologizing to Ferrer for her intrusion.

Various examples of temporary invisibility are reported to connection with other saints. When a runaway took refuge with Saint Lydwina of Schiedam (1380-1433), God made him invisible to his pursuer. And when Saint Lucian of Beauvais, who died in AD 290, went walking in the street, he became selectively visible and was seen only by the people he wanted to notice him. A similar episode occurred when the king of Naples sent 60 soldiers to arrest Francis of Paola (1416-1507). Knowing that Francis had taken refuge before the altar of the church, the soldiers entered, but even though they touched the holy man, they could not see him.


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The Blood Of Saint Januarius

Posted by foryourfaith on September 6, 2011


Like many early Christian martyrs, Januarius was hard to kill. In the year AD 305 the Roman Emperor Diocletian had him roasted in a furnace that had been raging for three days, but Januarius emerged unscathed. He was thrown in with wild beasts, but they simply licked his feet. Finally he was beheaded in Pozzuoli, in Italy.

An anonymous traveler in 1389 was the first to document the miracle that followed. While friends prepared to take Januarius’s body to Naples, a woman of Pozzuoli carefully collected his blood in two bottles. Some time later Januarius’s ghost directed a citizen of Naples to find the severed head, which had rolled into a thicket. Head and body were reunited, just as the woman with his bottled blood appeared. As she approached, the solidified blood began to bubble and liquefy.

Ever since, the blood of Saint Januarius has liquefied in Naples several times in the course of a year – on the first Sunday in May, on his feast day of 19 September, and on 16 December – attracting crowds to the cathedral where the blood is preserved. Many believe it has miraculous healing power, but occasionally it fails to liquefy when expected, and this is deemed a sinister omen.

At the end of the nineteenth century the soldiers of Napoleon’s invading army were curious about stories of the liquefaction. When the priests brought out their prized possession, an army chemist claimed that the supposed blood was only wax, passed discreetly over a flame to make it liquefy. The French scattered the saint’s relics, but later they were recovered, and ceremonies resumed.

But more intrigue was to follow. In 1921 an English doctor, Frederick Newton Williams, was visiting the hospital dispensary at Naples, when an acolyte from the cathedral arrived and requested “the usual mixture” for the festival the next day. The chemist prepared a mixture of beef bile and sodium sulphate for the youth. To his visitor the chemist said, “As you see, miracles happen even in our own day – but nowadays they happen in hospital dispensaries.”


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Joan of Arc’s Heavenly Voices

Posted by foryourfaith on July 9, 2010


Joan of Arc was born in about 1412 in Domremy in France. For much of her short life she minded her father’s sheep, and boasted that she sewed and knitted as skilfully as any lady in Rouen. But at the age of 16 she left her village for the royal court, encouraging first her country’s leaders, and then its soldiers, to rise against their foes – the English and the Burgundians. Her brief military career was spectacularly successful, until the day she was captured by her enemies.

Joan believed that messengers from heaven direct her – angels, who first appeared to her at the age of 13, and the saints Catherine of Alexandria and Margaret of Antioch. There is no firm evidence that either saint ever existed, and their cults were officially suppressed in 1969. Joan herself was declared a saint, but not until nearly 500 years after her death.




Until she died at the age of 19, not a day passed without Joan hearing voices, and they never failed her when she asked for help. Her saintly visitors were real people to her – she embraced them, touched them and smelled their celestial fragrance. At her trial, after rigorous and lengthy questioning, the judges decided that her visionary figures were devils in disguise sent to lure her into sin. When Joan refused to accept this verdict, she was branded a heretic and handed to the secular authority.

Joan’s voices gave her a remarkable gift of prophecy – one of her biographers lists 65 accurate predictions. But in one respect they seem to have misled her. Joan told her judges the voices had promised she would be saved, but the history books say she was brunt in the marketplace at Rouen on 30 May 1431.

Soon after, there were rumors that it was not Joan who was burnt. French historians Pierre de Sermoise and Emile Grillot de Givry, writing in 1973 and 1983 respectively, suggested that enough evidence exists to prove that she did not go to the stake. They say that the person who was burnt was wearing a hood to conceal her identity – a “real” witch substituted for Joan. Five years later Joan is said to have married Robert des Armoises and lived as a wife and mother for 18 years after her supposed execution.



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