AN ADVENTURE IN THE APENNINES
A group of priests was called to Rome to treat of a grave business matter. They were bearers of important documents, and a large sum of money was entrusted to them for the Holy Father. Aware that the Apennines, over which they had to pass, were infested by daring bandits, they chose a trusty driver. There was no tunnel through the mountains nor train in those days.
They placed themselves under the protection of the Holy Souls and decided to say a De Profundis every hour for them.
When right in the heart of the mountains, the driver gave the alarm and at the same time lashed the horses into a furious gallop. Looking around, the priests saw fierce bandits at each side of the road with rifles aimed, ready to fire. They were amazed that no shot rang out. They were completely at the mercy of the bandits.
After an hour's headlong flight, the driver stopped and, looking at the priests, said: "I can not understand how we escaped. These desperadoes never spare anyone. "
The Fathers were convinced that they owed their safety to the Holy Souls, a fact that was afterwards confirmed beyond doubt.
When their business was concluded in Rome, one of their number was detained in the Eternal City, where he was appointed chaplain to a prison Not long after, one of the fiercest brigands in Italy was captured, condemned to death for a long series of murders and was awaiting execution in this prison.
Anxious to gain his confidence, the chaplain told him of several adventures he himself had had and, finally, of his recent escape in the Apennines. The criminal manifested the greatest interest in the story. When it was ended, he exclaimed: "I was the leader of that band! We thought that you had money and we determined to rob and murder you. An invisible force prevented each and all of us from firing, as we assuredly would have done had we been able. "
The chaplain then told the brigand of how they had placed themselves under the protection of the Holy Souls, and that they ascribed their deliverance to their protection.
The bandit found no difficulty in believing it. In fact, it made his conversion more easy. He died full of repentance.