The Obedience of Giordano

Surius relates of the blessed Giordano, General of the Dominicans, that when he was ill of a fever in a Piedmontese city, where there was no house of his Order, the Bishop received him and gave him a magnificent bed, soft, and richly curtained. The humble servant of God did not wish to rest so luxuriously, but submitted at the wish of a prior of the Order, who had charge of him at the time, on account of his medical skill.

The demon, however, seeing so good an opportunity, appeared to him the first night, in the form of a shining angel, and gazing on him with wonder, reproved him, saying that he could not understand how he could repose in such luxury, and how he could so soon abandon his usual mortifications, without thinking of the grave scandal that he would thus give to his Order. After adding that he ought rather to sleep on the bare ground, he quickly disappeared. The holy man, instantly springing from the bed, stretched himself upon the floor.

When the prior returned in the morning, he was much astonished at the condition of things, and immediately order his chilled and shivering patient to return to bed, if he did not wish to commit suicide.

The demon, however, did not lose courage, and appeared again the next night, under the form of an angel of light. “Oh,” said he, “I had believed that a warning from heaven would suffice to bring you back to regular observance! But I see that self-love is very strong in you. How do you dare to rebel against the light of heaven? Obey at once the voice of God, who requires you to leave this effeminacy, to cure you amid the austerities suited to your state!” Strangely enough, the good man allowed himself to be persuaded again to exchange his bed for the bare floor.

But when the prior visited him the next time, and found him benumbed and half-fainting, he exclaimed sharply: “What oddity or what spirit of rigor is this?”

But the Saint interrupted him, saying that he was lying thus not by his own caprice, but by command of the angel of the Lord, who had expressly informed him that it was the will of God that he should not remain in such a luxurious couch.

“No, Father,” returned the good prior, “it cannot be an angel of the Lord that has taught you to disregard obedience. This is the malign spirit, who desires to destroy your life, or at least to prolong your illness, that he may hinder your plans for the glory of God; if he comes again, show him no favor.” With these and similar words he persuaded him to return to bed, and allow himself to be cared for.

When the demon came back on the third night, the reception he met with showed him that he was discovered, and he instantly fled in a paroxysm of disappointment and rage. The sick man soon began to recover, and afterwards pursued his apostolic labors with such success that his name became terrible to hell, and very glorious throughout the world.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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