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CHAPTER XL

Of the many visions which the saint beheld in her last days.—Of her acute sufferings.—How she could taste nothing but the blessed sacrament, and suffered in herself the pains of the passion of our Lord.

During the last days of her life, her acute sufferings still continuing, this blessed soul received impressions in accordance with the divine operations in the saint whose day was celebrated.

On the evening of St. Lawrence’s day her body appeared to her in flames like his, and on the following day God visited her by drawing her upwards, towards himself. She remained immovable for more than an hour, with her eyes fixed on the ceiling of her chamber. She did not speak, but often smiled in sign of her interior joy. On returning to herself she told those around, who questioned her, that the Lord had showed her one spark of the joys of eternal life, and that her joy was so great that she could not restrain her smiles, and repeated only these words: “Lord, do with me all that seemeth good to thee,” which showed that the time was approaching when she was to pass from the fires of purgatory into that blessed life. Her sufferings were constantly increasing, followed by the sweetest consolation, until the vigil of the Assumption, when they became so great that all those around her believed her passing away to her Lord. When she was about receiving communion, she addressed many beautiful words to the holy sacrament, and to the persons present: words of burning love from the interior fire of her heart, so fervent and pious that every one wept with devotion.

The following day and the succeeding night she passed in torture, and received extreme unction at her own request, with great elevation. The next day she was in a state of such spiritual joy, that it burst forth in her countenance, which was radiant with smiles, to the admiration of those who beheld it. When the vision had passed, she answered to their inquiries that she had seen some most beautiful countenances, beaming with joy, so that she could not contain her delight; but the impression remained with her for seven days, so that she appeared better. The cause was manifestly supernatural, the change from death to life taking place so suddenly, and then again her return continually to a worse condition, as she was drawing nearer to her end.

An attack so severe followed this vision that she lost the use of her left hand and side, and a finger of the other hand. She lay speechless for several hours, with her eyes closed, and could not swallow, though the persons about her attempted to give her nourishment; but the divine work going on within her was to be accomplished without human aid.

Her thirst was always so great that it seemed to her she could drink all the water of the sea, and yet she could not swallow the smallest drop, or take refreshment from any created thing. She would sometimes attempt to taste of fruit, but as soon as it touched her lips she rejected it.

On the night of the vigil of St. Bartholomew, she had a demoniacal vision, which threw her into great distress of body and mind. Being unable to speak, she motioned to have the sign of the cross made on her heart, and blessed herself; and by this it was understood that she was suffering from a temptation of the devil. She made a sign that a surplice, stole, and holy water should be brought her; this being done, in half an hour she was relieved. Oh! how wretched are those sinners who are carelessly awaiting this terrible presence, and a torment as terrible, it being so dreadful where there is no sin!

About the 25th of August, some liquid was offered her, which she took in obedience, but it caused her to scream from the distress it gave her. She afterwards fell into a state of great weakness, and asked to have the windows opened that she might see the sky. As night came on, she had a great many candles lighted, and then, as well as she could, she sang the Veni Creator Spiritus. When it was finished, she lay with her eyes upturned towards heaven, making signs, which led those about her to believe that she saw wonderful things.

Her countenance was radiant with joy, and she seemed just about to breathe her last; but recovering herself, she repeated again and again: “Let us go;” adding, “no more earth, no more earth.” When questioned as to what she had seen, she answered that she could not describe those things, but they were very pleasant.

On the 27th of the same month, she seemed as if left without any life of her own, and resting with her spirit alone in God. She dismissed every one from her apartment, saying: “Let no one enter this room except those who are absolutely needed.” She held no more conversation with creatures, except so far as necessity required, and when she had need of any service, she said only, “Do this in charity.” This was contrary to her usual habit, for she was accustomed to speak always with entire confidence and frankness to every one; and always expressed great gratitude for any service done her. But at this time she could not look upon any service as done to herself, but only for the love of God. This state she continued in for two days.

On the 28th of August, the feast of St. Augustine, her sufferings were very great, and for some months before her death, she appeared to suffer much more on feast days, especially on those of our Lady, and of the apostles and martyrs. Often she cried aloud in her agony; but her silent sufferings were the greatest, when her tongue and lips were so parched with the burning fire within that she could not move them or speak. At such times if any one touched a hair of her head, or even the edge of the bed or the bed clothes, she would scream as if she had been wounded.

When she was unable to swallow the smallest morsel of food, or a drop of liquid, she could always receive holy communion; and sometimes when her confessor found her in such a state that he feared to give it to her, she would make a sign, with a joyful countenance, that she was not afraid, and often, on receiving her face was glowing and radiant with joy, like a seraph.

Sometimes she extended her arms as if stretched on the cross, and it seemed as if the stigmata were interiorly impressed on her, although they did not appear outwardly. On one occasion fresh water was brought her to cool her hands, and after bathing the palms, it became boiling hot, so as to heat even the stand of the cup, which had a very long stem. She also suffered greatly at this time in her feet.

As the burning fire within increased, her thoughts and imagination were filled with different sins, which she had never before thought of these, however, did not cause her any compunction but the remembrance of them gave her great pain. Her attendants, seeing her extreme weakness, and that she had not taken food for so long a time, on the 10th of the month of September assembled ten physicians, in order to ascertain if medical science could invent any remedy for her sufferings. After the most careful investigation of her case, they decided that her condition was produced wholly by supernatural causes, and was beyond the reach of medical skill, for all her bodily organs were in good order and showed no sign of infirmity; and they took their leave, lost in wonder and recommending themselves to her prayers.

On the 12th, she again received holy communion, but took no food; she also made a will naming the place in which she wished to be buried; then she lay alternately like one dead, motionless and speechless, or groaning with the internal flames that were consuming her and which raged so fiercely that black blood flowed from her mouth. Her body was covered with black stripes. After these attacks she became more and more exhausted, and on one occasion, having her eyes raised to the ceiling and fixed, she made so many signs to those around that they inquired of her what she saw, and she answered, “Drive away that beast;” but they could understand nothing more.

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