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Pascal

( Originally Published 1883 )



In the life of Madame Schimmelpeninck a miraculous cure is narrated, said to have been operated ou the niece of the great Pascal.

Marguerite Perrier, daughter of M. Perrier, counsellor in the Court of Aides of Clermont, and of Gilberte Pascal, sister of the celebrated M. Blaise Pascal, was placed at Port Royal, with her eldest sister, in 1653, by their mother, who made it her earnest endeavour to give her children a Christian education. God, who was pleased to manifest his works and his power in the person of his child, suffered her to be afflicted, during three years and a half, with a " fistula lacrymalis " in the corner of her left eye. This fistula, which was very large externally, had made great ravages within. The bones of the nose were become carious, and perforated to the palate ; so that the discharge, which was continual, ran down her cheeks and nostrils, and sometimes into the throat. Her eye was considerably diminished, and the parts around so diseased that to touch her head on that side caused great pain. It was impossible to look at her without shuddering, and the discharge which ran from the ulcer was so intolerably offensive that the surgeons recommended her being separated from the other boarders in the convent. She was accordingly placed in a separate chamber with one of her companions, much older than herself, who from motives of duty undertook to remain with her. All the most famous oculists, surgeons, and operators were consulted, but their remedies only served to irritate the disorder. Fearing that the ulcer would extend itself over the face, three of the most able surgeons of Paris, MM. Cresse, Gelliard, and Dalence Advised the actual cautery, without, at the same time, expressing much hope of a cure. In a word, she was now in so deplorable a state that when she was spoken of, before Madame D'Aumont, she wished for her death to end her sufferings, and whenever miracles were mentioned she said that if this disorder were to be cured it would be indeed a miracle. The opinion of the surgeons was sent to M. Perrier, who immediately set out to be present at the operation, and was daily expected. On the morrow Mad'lle Tardieu called at Port Royal, and told Soeur Magdeleine des Anges de Druy that M. de la Poterie (an ecclesiastic of fortune and piety, who had, with great pains, made a collection of holy relics) had a holy thorn, which he had exhibited to all the communities in the district, and that, if she approved, he would bring it to her the next day. For three days the Mère des Anges had remained in a kind of retreat, where she continued night and day to lift her hands to heaven ; no hope being left of help from men. But it was the moment when the interference of heaven was to be shown for her and her community. The nuns, having received the thorn, placed it on a little altar in the choir ; and the community had notice to attend a procession, to be made after Vespers, in honour of it. Vespers being finished, hymns were sung and prayers made suited to the Crown of Thorns and the mysteries of the sacred Passion. After which they, each according to their rank, kissed the sacred relic, first the nuns, then the novices, afterwards the boarders. When it came to the turn of the little Perrier, Soeur Flavie Passant, mistress of the novices, who had placed herself near the grille, to see these children pass, having perceived her, could not see her so disfigured without horror, mingled with compassion, and said to her :—" Recommend yourself to God, my child, and touch your bad eye with the holy thorn ; " and she herself, says the Soeur Euphemie Pascal, took the holy relic and applied it without reflection. Having all retired they returned it to M. de la Poterié.

In the evening the Soeur Flavie, who thought no more of what she had done, heard little Perrier say to one of her little sisters, " My sister, I have no longer anything the matter with me ; the Holy Thorn hath cured me ; " in fact, the Soeur Flavie, on going near, found her left eye, that which had been diseased, quite well, and not in the least differing from the other, although it had been in a state that was painful to behold. The cure was so perfect that the Soeur Euphemie, her aunt, speaking of the disorder and of the cure, says in her letter that it would now require a much larger measure of faith in those who have not seen it to believe she ever had the disease, than in those who had seen it, to believe she had been cured in a moment by a miracle as great and as visible as restoring sight to the blind. There were six physicians and five surgeons who affirmed the miracle.

Pascal had some years previously to this miracle made a decidedly religious profession, but his health having suffered from severe mental exertion, his medical friends advised relaxation. This was the unfortunate occasion of his total relapse into the world. The cure of his niece put the final stroke to his vacillations. He became truly converted. He was deeply impressed by the circumstance, and wore ever after a seal, the device of which was a crown of thorns, from which emanated rays of light. Underneath was this motto

" Scie cui credidi."

" I know in whom I have believed."

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