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A Polish Prince Changes His Mind 

Francis Xavier Schouppe, S.J.
The Polish Prince X, an avowed infidel and materialist, had just composed a work against the immortality of the soul. He was still preparing to send it to press when, on a walk one day in his park a woman bathed in tears threw herself at his feet.

peasant

A peasant woman pleas for money for a Mass for her deceased husband

In a tone of profound grief, she said to him, "My good Prince, my husband has just died. ... At this moment his soul is perhaps suffering in Purgatory. ... I am in such poverty that I have not even the small sum required to have a Mass celebrated for the dead. In your kindness come to my assistance in behalf of my poor husband."

Although the Prince was convinced that the woman was deceived by her credulity, he had not the heart to refuse her request. He slipped a gold piece into her hand, and the happy woman hastened to the church, and begged the priest to offer a number of Masses for the repose of her husband's soul.

Five days later, towards evening, the Prince, in the seclusion of his study, was reading over his manuscript and retouching some details. Suddenly, raising his eyes, he saw close to him a man dressed in the costume of the peasants of the country.

"Prince," said the unknown visitor, "I come to thank you. I am the husband of that poor woman who besought you the other day to give her an alms that she might have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for the repose of my soul. Your charity was pleasing to God: it was He who permitted me to come and thank you."

These words said, the Polish peasant disappeared like a shadow.

The emotion of the Prince was indescribable, and as a consequence he consigned his work to the flames and yielded himself so entirely to the conviction of truth that his conversion was complete. He persevered until death.


Adapted from Purgatory, Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints,
London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd, 1920, p. 117-118

Posted December 5, 2020

polish prince

The Polish Prince burns his manuscript

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