203. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part eight
Andrea de’Bellanti was a young man notorious for his wild and blasphemous ways. He was a compulsive gambler and often lost money. After losing money he would curse God and blame Him. One time he went to a church and stomped on a crucifix and burned a picture of Blessed Mary. He became afflicted with a mortal sickness as a young man. That made him even bitterer. Father Tommaso used to plead with him but it was of no use. One time, discouraged, Tomasso stopped at Catherine’s house and asked her to pray for him with God. She started praying. Part of the prayer was ‘Did You not come to take away man’s sins,…..O Lord grant that my brother’s heart may be softened and made to yield to the working of Your Holy Spirit’
She prayed for the whole night.
She heard Lord’s promise.
“ I shall put away my sword of justice. This sinful man shall find the grace and favor you asked”
In the morning Andrea asked his wife to see a priest. She could not believe his words.
He told her the reason. He saw Jesus standing in the corner of his room along with Catherine. She asked him to go for confession. Father Tomasso rushed to Catherine to tell her the story but she already knew the details and could describe the inside of Andrea’s house. This story spread all over Siena. . People started asking the holy woman for intercession in their feuds
Nanni di Ser Vanni was an influential and evil man. His specialty was starting private feuds. He was like an agent of devil, causing malice and strife while outwardly pretending peace. There was a party who had killed a man of the opposite party. The guilty party wanted to make peace but Nanni was the obstacle. A holy man, Friar Williams, extracted a promise out of Nanni that he would go and listen to Catherine. He went to see Catherine but she was not at home. However, Father Raymond happened to be there. Father Raymond escorted him to the private room of the holy virgin, so that he should not go away. Nanni said that he had come to this place only because he had given a promise to Friar Williams to see Catherine, but he had no intention of generating peace in this fight, although he could cause peace if he wanted to, and he had not before told this secret that he did not want peace to any living soul. As he was about to leave Catherine came home. She made him sit and asked him why he had come. Nanni told the whole story which he had told to Raymond, again, stressing, that he did not want to make peace. Catherine told him that he was putting his soul in mortal danger. She cajoled and argued. Soon it was evident that his mind was closed and words were having no effect.
At that point she started silently praying, which Raymond could discern. Suddenly Nanni said, “I don’t want to be completely obstinate. I will make a concession. I have four feuds to settle. You can do whatever you want about one of them”. He gave details of that strife. “But now I must go.” But Instead of leaving he lingered. He said, “I already feel so peaceful” Then he said,” Lord God a power holds me. I cannot go and I cannot say no.” And he burst into tears.
He fell on his knees in front of Catherine. He said, “Holy virgin I will do as you say. Not only in this matter but in all matters.”
Meanwhile Catherine had gone into ecstasy. She came to her senses and thanked the Lord. She said, “I could see that I was not succeeding. I prayed to the Lord. He at once heard my prayer. Now do the penance, if you do not want to run into anymore troubles”
Nanni completely turned his life around. He confessed his sins to Raymond.
For some reason he was arrested and was rumored to be beheaded. Father Raymond was very upset. He rushed to Catherine and said “Mother, as long as Nanni was with the devil he had marvelous life. Now that he has turned to God, his life has become very difficult”. Catherine consoled Raymond that may be he is being cleansed in this world instead of receiving punishment in the next world. But she assured him that Lord who had mercy on him in the first place will release him from prison also. Soon he was freed from prison as she had predicted, but he suffered monetarily. Then he became very sick. However, his devotion increased. He donated a castle to Catherine, which was converted to a convent called, “Holy Mary, Queen of the Angels”
Now an episode of what happened when someone in mortal danger called her for help twenty-four miles away.To be continued.