From time to time we are presented with those who would attempt we poor catholics just how stupid and superstitious we are. This is one of the more serious ones that is written by Brian Dunning in Skeptoid.
"...It's hard to argue with the facts of this event. The day was predicted in newspapers by a ten-year-old girl, and this is thoroughly proven. Tens of thousands of people personally witnessed exactly what the prediction said would happen. The sun's behavior was clearly unique, and couldn't have been mistaken for some chance atmospheric oddity. You add all this together, and the only reasonable conclusion is that Lucia Santos' vision and prediction was a genuine miracle.
Unless, of course, you set a reasonable standard for evidence, and start looking for things like alternate explanations. Let's point our skeptical eye at some of these details one by one, and see if they hold up to scrutiny. I'll start with the children's reports of six months of religious apparitions. These were three kids, ages 7 to 10, and came back home each night with wild tales. Is this surprising? Is the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary really the most probable explanation for stories told by small kids? The two youngest, Lucia's cousins, both died of influenza within a couple of years, but Lucia lived to the age of 97 and clung to her stories her entire life. Investigator Joe Nickell reports that Lucia's own mother said that she was "Nothing but a fake who is leading half the world astray." Friar Mario de Oliveira, who knew her well, described her as living in a "delirious world of infantile fantasies" and suffering from "religious hallucinations". There are alternate explanations for the children's stories, imagination and boredom being chief among them... more...
A causual look at the video above will dismiss many of the criticisms he delineates.
As was said of St Bernardette's miracle, "For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. For those who believe, no explanation is necessary." Anon.
The Obama administration has taken a cue from the Revolution in it's "New Morality" approach to the church.
Advance of same-sex marriage deepens concern for religious liberty
By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The widening campaign by gay rights advocates to promote same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue is forcing Catholic and other religious institutions to confront charges of intolerance and discrimination.
Also at risk, say church officials working on the legal front, is the way religious institutions and individuals opposed to same-sex marriage conduct business from hall rentals to receiving government contracts for social services.
Recently, the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., withdrew from all state-funded social service contracts, citing increasing clashes between state law and church teaching on same-sex relationships. The Diocese of Rockford stopped offering state-funded adoptions and foster care services when the Illinois civil unions legislation took effect June 1. Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Joliet and Springfield and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois in Belleville also have been involved in legal proceedings with the state since then.
In 2006, Catholic Charities in San Francisco and Boston stopped adoption placements when laws required equal treatment of applicants in same-sex relationships.
Elsewhere, including New York where a same-sex marriage law took effect July 24, church institutions are carefully monitoring how such laws are being applied and are vigilant for threats to religious liberty in the areas of taxes, housing, education and employment.
"The general issue is the definition of marriage creates many, many rights, not just one," explained Anthony R. Picarello Jr., general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "So changing the definition of marriage creates changes throughout the legal system."
Those changes can affect a wide range of practices far beyond marriage such as whether:
-- A private individual can deny renting an apartment to a same-sex couple on religious grounds.
-- A public school teacher who refuses to talk about same-sex marriage as a justice issue can continue to teach.
-- A counselor's license can be revoked for declining to accept same-sex couples as clients.
-- A religious organization that does not recognize same-sex marriage can be considered discriminatory by a state or local government and lose any contract for services.
"Redefining marriage has a multiplier effect," Picarello explained to Catholic News Service. "The problems proliferate. The problems that we see under mere sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws multiply by order of magnitude when marriage is redefined.
"Marriage is a legal lever, because in our society we have a legal infrastructure that rewards those who support marriage, and punishes those who oppose it. When that legal structure ... is then applied to a relationship that isn't marriage, the people who object to that definition are going to suffer severe disadvantages," he added.
Picarello pointed to the February announcement by the Justice Department that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act -- DOMA -- because it is biased and prejudicial against homosexuals and therefore is discriminatory as among the mounting challenges facing religious institutions opposed to same-sex marriage.
"They basically suggested that any law that distinguishes between same-sex couples and different sex couples, whether it's for purposes of marriage or anything else, violates the Constitution if the government is doing it, (that) the government can't make those distinctions," Picarello said.
"But all DOMA does is define marriage as it's always been defined," he said. "The church stands behind that definition and now the church has been lumped in with bigots and haters."
For states to imply such a comparison is a major leap because it dismisses religious tradition and the morality of same-sex relationships while portraying religious objections to same-sex marriage as equivalent to racial discrimination.
The religious liberty issue has largely been played out at the state level. Same-sex marriage has been legalized through legislation or by court decisions in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Illinois and Rhode Island this year enacted civil union laws; come Jan. 1 civil unions will become legal in Delaware and Hawaii.
In California, Proposition 8, a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2008 to ban same-sex marriage remains in the courts and may end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Same-sex marriage is banned by law or constitutional amendment in the remaining 40 states.
In states where same-sex marriage has been enacted by law, at least a basic religious exemption has been included. The breadth of the exemption varies with some jurisdictions offering a general exemption from performing same-sex marriages to more wide-ranging protections like those in Connecticut that spell out specific protections for religious institutions.
Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference, lobbied for three exemptions following the state Supreme Court's 2008 decision that legalized same-sex marriage.
In addition to the normal exemption for clergy from participating in a same-sex marriage ceremony, Connecticut's law has one provision protecting fraternal societies from providing insurance benefits to anyone if doing so violates the free exercise of religion and another safeguarding the rights of a religious organization in the delivery of adoption, foster care or social services as long as government funds are not involved.
"In the long hours we ended up with a very strong religious exemption," Culhane said. "We were very, very happy."
In Iowa, where the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal, Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, said the church has been minimally affected by the court's decision.
"We have the same concerns a lot of places do and would have," he said. "For example, Catholic schools in Iowa are accredited by the state. So anything that can be required in public schools can be required in Catholic schools as well."
The likelihood that the issue will be addressed by the legislature is slim, Chapman told CNS.
"My own feeling is there is a desire on everybody's part who wants same-sex marriage to leave it alone because they don't want us to have a defense of marriage amendment or legislation (that could restrict same-sex marriage)," he said.
Such an exemption in Illinois' civil unions law failed to resolve the dilemma faced by the Peoria Diocese. The predicament arose when state Department of Children and Family Services mandated that the diocesan Catholic Charities system end the practice of referring adoptions and foster placements to same-sex couples to another agency. Catholic Charities appealed, but lost in court, leading the diocese to back out of all state contracts for social services.
Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, told CNS that state law affords protections for religious practice, but that the state has the right to contract with any agency it for the delivery of services.
"The danger is that faith-based organizations will get crowded out of the provision of services that are desperately needed," he said.
Even with specific exemptions for religious institutions, individuals everywhere face possible infringements on the practice of their faith, said Daniel Avila, policy adviser for marriage and family to the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
"Even if you think you're protected and this is not an issue in your own state, given you have a state DOMA, they should be quite aware of events happening at the national level that could then bring these very issues and problems into their own lives," he said.
Avila suggested that at least two cases, including California's legal battle over Proposition 8, will likely make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court and determine the legal status of same-sex marriage in the country.
The cases are likely two years away, he said.
That leaves states to follow their own course on what actions are discriminatory and what are not and religious organizations guessing which way they will go.
What the Administration and it's "juring" congressional leaders may find is, that Morality can not be legislated.
The I'm OK if you're OK kind of "Catholicism" that spawned Kennedy, Kerry, is still alive and well in these parts. The democrats, republicans and new conservatives are on the same side of the same coin, insofar as they claim descent for the founding fathers.
This is not the form of government God has ordained for us.
So let us consider for a moment this by way of an explaination...
God’s plan of the created world may be described by a series of triangles, each one subordinate to the one above but sharing in similarities, that of having a base, and an apex..
The first and largest triangle is that of all Creation. At the apex is God, creator of the universe, and the base is his creation which (we believe) God created and all in it. While many would not have a problem with this description there are those who are atheistic, who do not (and obstinately will not) believe this. This teaching has been central to Christians, Jews and Muslims. This teaching also been challenged from time to time by Satan, from the very beginning. I will expound on this and its effects later.
The next triangle is that of the Church, with the Pope at its apex and the Church as its base. We see the apexes of these two triangles are directly below one another, and a vertical line may be drawn from God to the Pope which indicates Papal authority. Again while the truly faithful have no problem with this, the dissenters within and from without the Church including other Christian ecclesiastical communities argue that the Pope is merely a figurehead and that he is just the Bishop of Rome. They may even argue that he is the successor of Peter but is no more of an authority than any other Bishop. The attack on Papal authority began in earnest in 1154 with the Great Schism, through the Protestant Reformation (by Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, etc.) the American and most notably the French Revolution (i.e. Civil Constitution of the Clergy, destruction of religious orders, killing of Priests and religious, and attacks on the faithful of the Vendee ), Communist revolutions, (where the secular government is officially atheistic) to the “Me generation”, (free love and modernism), and the pressing for Priestesses by faithless women, media and liberals.
The third triangle is that of the Crown. The apex is the King (or Queen, depending on the nation) with its base the national family. Again, a vertical line may be drawn from God through the Pope (and Church) to the triangle of the Crown. This line is indicative of the relationship between God and the Crowned head of a nation. It insinuates that this relationship is ordained by God for the governance of the subjects and that the Crown is responsible for those subjects to God.
The fourth and last triangle while smaller is no less important is the family triangle. At the apex is the father. The base is the family and the children in that family. Again the line is drawn from God to the father of the family as the head of the household. I realize that in today’s society where the father is absent either by divorce, abandonment, dereliction, or unnatural circumstances he may not be viewed as the head of the family, this does not make him less so; on the contrary it increases his culpability to God. as James I said, "...no misconduct on the part of a father can free his children from obedience to the fifth commandment..."
Each of these relationships is a microcosm of the one above it. Therefore, logically it must be assumed that this is the model for mankind as ordained by God. Each has been in its turn been attacked by satan and each has suffered from these attacks to a greater or lesser degree. These attacks continue.
Let us begin with the first, the attack on God’s Creation. It began as Holy Scripture relates, in the Garden of Eden. When satan persuaded Eve to eat the “…fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise...” “...your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.” (1) In other words, Satan persuaded Adam and Eve that they really had no need of the God who had created them. The triangle was turned upside down for them (and us until Baptism) where their god is whatever and whomever they choose. This first attempt to change the direction of the triangle from pointing up to pointing down is a recurring feature of the attacks by satan on creation and on social order. It was this attack which set the tone for all future attacks, that of supplanting God with the creature and of assuming the authority of God for oneself.
Today we are beset with those who would challenge Gods authority by rationalism, by claiming all things are equal nothing is better than another or by replacing God with a society which lionizes the person, popularity, and possessions over God. This is a society where God is minimilized in order to elevate the status of mankind to exalted positions. Once again we see the triangle inverted. Too often these persons are exalted because they espouse popular (but false) teachings and ideas, lead a perverse lifestyle, challenge authority, or are in the media spotlight. They are elevated because they speak with an authority which they do not possess. To pervert mankind and to create his parody satan must destroy the Church. To do this he must convince the faithful that the Pope is not God’s anointed on earth, chosen to tend the sheep of the Church militant. As mentioned before, his attacks have come in the form of the Great heresies (2) , are repackaged resold as Eastern mysticism, Mormonism, Freemasonry, Scientology, Wicca, Satanism, and Protestantism, etc. Today the attacks arrive in the form of unnecessary liturgical changes, the desire by the laity to be in control of the church and from sex offending priests and religious. It comes in the form of the protestantization of churches, the design of new churches which deemphasize the Blessed Sacrament by hiding the tabernacle away from the faithful. In each case they move to remove the Divine and replace it with the banal and mundane.
In a like manner as the church the various Crowns have been attacked. Democracy has been taught to us as being the end all in as a form of government. It is rarely if ever mentioned that there can be no true democracies above a very local level. For example the former president (G.W.Bush) tells us in every speech that America must move ahead as the beacon of democracy(3). In this he carries the message started by Woodrow Wilson to make the “World safe for Democracy” (4). Wilson overlooked the fact that Belgium, England and Japan were (and are) monarchies, and that the United States is formally styled a Republic.
The most graphic example and overt attack by satan against monarchy was the attack against the monarchy and first daughter of the church, France. Before I begin I will relate some scripture passages which I believe demonstrate that authority comes from God to the ruler to rule over his (or her) subjects. “ Pilate therefore said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin." (John 19 10-11) (4) Jesus is "the prince of the kings of the earth." (Apoc.1:5).(5) "For the nation and the kingdom that will not serve thee, shall perish" (Is.60:12) (6) "Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resists the power,resists the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil." (Romans 13:1-3) (7) "Give ear, you that rule the people…For power is given you by the Lord, and strength by the most High, who will examine your works, and search out your thoughts" (Wisdom 6: 3-4) (8) "By me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things, By me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice." (Proverbs 8:15-16) (9) As we see not only does the authority to rule come from God but those rulers are required to be examined by that same God. This is in direct conflict with the writings of Rousseau who stated “The people are sovereign and authority lies in them.” So we have a problem, a trauma really, who is sovereign, man or God? Again Rousseau writes¸ “Law is the expression of the General Will of the people and this is indicated by numbers.”(votes?) Rousseauist democracy makes a god of the People, makes might prevail over right, makes the votes of a hundred fools or villains prevail over those of fifty saints or men of genius. (10) Yet this is the same ideology which propels forward the engines of democracy. To Rousseau and others of the French revolution, all things being equal, which ever plan receives the most votes, no matter how despicable it may be it must be adopted because it is a consensus. This democratic philosophy presupposes that the people can never make a mistake or that if it does it can be rectified either by more votes or by force. Rousseauist dogma, it must be called that for it is a religion, is defended by those who are indoctrinated from their youth to believe these ideas. In France this lead to the decapitation of the King and Queen, their closest relatives, and death by abuse and starvation of the Dauphin and a genocide in the Vendee. Why? Because this satanically imposed democracy could not afford to lose control of Power. A most striking personage is Robespierre who literally had the power of life and death over the people of France. “…your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods”. It was by votes that the King, and Queen were executed on trumped up charges. It was by votes that the Dauphin was allowed to enter into such degradation. It was by vote that Priests, Nuns, and religious were executed. It was by vote that the Vendee was invaded and ravaged. No one person could be charged with culpability with these atrocities. The triangle had been inverted. One last thing is important here. The King was and should be regarded as the father of his people. In martyring him the ground work was laid for the destruction of the family. (It should here be remembered that it was by vote that Jesus was crucified.)
Before there was a Pope, before there was a King there was a family. Adam and Eve created the first family. In order to make a family one must produce children. Not to dwell on the mechanics of the thing suffice it to say that children were produced by one man and one woman. The church in it’s infinite wisdom says that any other way of conception is unnatural. Unfortunately now it is possible for a woman to conceive through artificial means, by fertilizing the woman’s egg with male sperm artificially in a test tube. Women no longer are satisfied to be married to a man, and have children. It inflicts too much of a strain on her private life. Contraception has lead to abortion of unwanted pregnancies. Women who cohabitate with other women want children, and have lobbied to be allowed to be “married” through legal means. Men too while not able to carry a baby, lobby to adopt children to start families. Their arguments have become so common that the population has tuned them out and worse, they have been so rationalized as to be seen as a lifestyle that is as equal to a normal and natural lifestyle. Abortion too has reared its ugly head as Prophesied by Pope Paul VI. Unwanted pregnancies are just done away with like a murphy in a golf match.
We have an additional attack which presents us with the theory that “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” (11) This theory presents us with government controlling the family, but it does not stop there, All over the nation schools have declared that the parent does not have the right to be in charge of their child’s education, that they know best what a child needs to learn. (12) A certain president has presented us with “sex ed. for kindergarten.” (13) The family triangle has been inverted .
As each triangle has been inverted, the role of God in the life of man has diminished. No longer is the universe an orderly succession of the passing of authority from God to Pope and Church, God to King and Nation, or God to father and family. The path of this parody we are led to believe is the God to the members of the church who in turn grant the Pope authority to be in charge. We are instructed next, that it is the nation who forms governments and provides the authority to the Government to govern. (14) In other words authority comes from God to the people to provide authority to the ruler. (we see how fallacious is this.) …And lastly we are now informed that a family is whatever and whomever decides to get together for what ever short or long of a time, regardless of sex, (not gender, which is a grammatical term). We are told that all relationships are valid and equal. (“Judge not and be not judged” the only Sacred Scripture a liberal knows). Is is presumed that children have rights which may supplant that of the parent. (15) That children should not even be spanked for disobedience. (16) Thus we have the breakdown of the family and through that breakdown the order of the universe, and that which was ordained by God. (17) These are some of my reasons for considering Democracy whether in government, Church, or family as being unsupportable.
(1) Genesis Chapter 3, 3-6 Douay-Rhiems Bible
(2) see, The Great Heresies, Catholic Answers, http://www.catholic.com/library/Great_Heresies.asp
The Circumcisers (1st Century), Gnosticism (1st and 2nd Centuries), Montanism (Late 2nd Century), Sabellianism (Early 3rd Century), Arianism (4th Century), Pelagianism (5th Century), Semi-Pelagianism (5th Century), Nestorianism (5th Century), Monophysitism (5th Century), Iconoclasm (7th and 8th Centuries), Catharism (11th Century), Protestantism (16th Century), Jansenism (17th Century). All which (except Protestantism which fractures itself in some form or the other each day) are heresies.
(3) Yahoo News, Pat Buchanan opinion, Ideology was Bush’s undoing. http://news.yahoo.com/s/uc/20071127/cm_uc_crpbux/op_334488
(4) Douay-Rheims Bible
(10) Article, Forerunners of the French Revolution, posted on Le Fleur de Lys Too
(11) Text of Hillary Clinton Speech, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 1996 Associated Press ,
(12) The Education Establishment: The Teacher Unions,
(13) Barack Obama , …on sex education for kindergarteners. July 18, 2007 1:13 PM ABC News' Teddy Davis and Lindsey Ellerson Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Planned Parenthood Tuesday that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is "age-appropriate," is "the right thing to do."
Declaration of Independence, 1776, …Governments are instituted among
Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new Government…,
(15) Children’s Rights Movement, Wikipedia article.
(16) Mass. Considers Outlawing Spanking. CBS/AP, Nov. 28, 2007 Boston Mass
(17 Genesis Chapter 1, 1-31 Douay-Rhiems Bible
Note: The United States are more of a oligarchy than of a republic.
Although The Story of Nurse Edith Cavell happened in the year after the beginning of the First World War one can barely read a history of the war with out coming across her name. Her death by firing squad was used by the Allies to advantage for propaganda.
The opening days of the First World War saw the Belgians almost overrun. With the occupation of the cities, anything of value that could be moved was. As the population of Belgium and France fled from the invading Germans, with cities almost deserted, one who stayed behind was...
Edith Cavell (1865-1915) was a British nurse serving in Belgium who was executed on a charge of assisting Allied prisoners to escape during World War One.
Born on 4 December 1865 in Norfolk, Cavell entered the nursing profession while aged 20. Moving to Belgium she was appointed matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels in 1907. During her brief career in Belgium she nevertheless succeeded in modernising the standard of Belgian nursing.
With war in 1914 and the subsequent German occupation of Belgium Cavell joined the Red Cross; the Berkendael Institute was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers of all nationalities.
Above, Edith Cavell, by George Bellows 1918
Many of the captured Allied soldiers who were treated at Berkendael subsequently succeeded in escaping - with Cavell's active assistance - to neutral Holland. Cavell was arrested on 5 August 1915 by local German authorities and charged with having personally aided in the escape of some 200 such soldiers.
Kept in solitary confinement for nine weeks the Germans successfully extracted a confession from Cavell which formed the basis of her trial. She, along with a named Belgian accomplice Philippe Baucq, were duly pronounced guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad.
The sentence was carried out on 12 October 1915 without reference to the German high command. Cavell's case received significant sympathetic worldwide press coverage, most notably in Britain and the then-neutral U.S. Such coverage served to harden current popular opinion regarding supposed routine German barbarity in occupied Belgium.
Cavell, who is buried at Norwich Cathedral, is also commemorated in a statue near Trafalgar Square.
Letter of Brand Whitlock, U.S. Minister to Belgium, to the German authorities pleading for her life.
October 11, 1915
I have just heard that Miss Cavell, a British subject, and consequently under the protection of my Legation, was this morning condemned to death by court martial. If my information is correct, the sentence in the present case is more severe than all the others that have been passed in similar cases which have been tried by the same court, and, without going into the reasons for such a drastic sentence, I feel that I have the right to appeal to his Excellency the Governor-General's feelings of humanity and generosity in Miss Cavell's favour, and to ask that the death penalty passed on Miss Cavell may be commuted, and that this unfortunate woman shall not be executed.
Miss Cavell is the head of the Brussels Surgical Institute. She has spent her life in alleviating the sufferings of others, and her school has turned out many nurses who have watched at the bedside of the sick all the world over, in Germany as in Belgium.
At the beginning of the war Miss Cavell bestowed her care as freely on the German soldiers as on others. Even in default of all other reasons, her career as a servant of humanity is such as to inspire the greatest sympathy and to call for pardon.
If the information in my possession is correct, Miss Cavell, far from shielding herself, has, with commendable straightforwardness, admitted the truth of all the charges against her, and it is the very information which she herself has furnished, and which she alone was in a position to furnish, that has aggravated the severity of the sentence passed on her.
It is then with confidence, and in the hope of its favourable reception, that I beg your Excellency to submit to the Governor-General my request for pardon on Miss Cavell's behalf. Brand Whitlock, U.S. Minister to Belgium
Germany did not win the propaganda war with the Allies. The stories of atrocities with which Germany was condemned were generally exaggerated or down right lies. Germany never really lived down the accusations in Belguim during the in the First World War, she certainly would live up to them in the next.
During one trip through New York State near Exeter at the side of the road Dad spotted a sign which marked the location of the Gunboat Philadelphia. I recall it well, located in a old barn a very old woman the wife of Colonel Lorenzo Hagglund, a World War I veteran. This was her husbands life's work, his magnum opus and she was exceptionally careful that it was not damaged. There was a board walk around the gunnel's and I suppose were I taller I could have look onto the deck. I was enthralled.
Left: Col Haggland stands on the deck of the raised Philadelphia
"...During the summer of 1935, Colonel Lorenzo F. Hagglund, an experienced salvage engineer from new York, located the Philadelphia with a sweep chain, midway between Valcour Island and the New York shore. She was lying upright in 60 feet of water, her mast still standing, its top barely 15 feet beneath the surface. Hagglund describes his dives:
We are now approaching the blunt bow. Just above the mud line there is a hole in her side through the outer planking, a shattered rib and the inner planking; it measures about 10 x 12 inches. Just forward of this hold the starboard anchor stands in the mud under a cathead. The stock, made of two pieces of oak pined together, is now worn thin, but the remainder of the anchor, made of wrought iron, is so well preserved that in places the hammer marks can still be seen. It carries the number 320. A little forward of the cathead is what appears to be a white hole above the wearing strake. It is a lead-lined hawse pipe and the wear of the anchor rope is clearly visible.
We have arrived at the bow. In place of a bowsprit, we find a cannon with a peculiarly shaped object fixed in the muzzle. This object, now covered thickly with rust, is a bar shot. The bow gun crew had not completed the loading the their gun, and as the Philadelphia went down bow first, this bar shot slid forward and half out of the muzzle, where, as one end dropped, its own leverage clamped it in position. The carriage of this gun is full forward on its slide..."
A narrative of the actual battle may be found here...
The Gondola Philadelphia as it is at The Smithsonian Institution today. Note the cannonball protruding out of the starboard quarter. This ball is the one which holed and sank her.
I found this boat in the Smithsonian during a tour of duty at M.C.B. Henderson Hall in 1974, I recognized her immediately. Now that I live close to Washington with each trip my memory returns to that summer in 1961.
*A collection of Robert's novels reside in mother's home, some of which are first or second editions.
“There! That is the sign for which I was waiting.” -Pope St Pius X after hearing about the holy life of little Nellie. A few months later in 1910 he issued “Quam Singulari” which significantly lowered the age of Holy Communion for children.
Little Nellie Organ lived to be only four and one-half years old, and yet for very good reason she is known as “The Little Violet of the Blessed Sacrament.” The remarkable story of her short yet holy life begins with her birth on August 24, 1903. Her father, William Organ and her mother Mary Aherne Organ were married on July 4, 1896 and their marriage was soon blessed with four children: Thomas, David, Mary and, lastly, Nellie. Because unemployment was very high at that time in Ireland, her father William Organ had to choose between emigration and enlistment as a soldier. He chose the latter and in October, 1897, he joined the British Army then in occupation in Ireland, in a garrison in the maritime town of Waterford.
Thus little Nellie was born on August 24, 1903, in the "married quarters" of the Royal Infantry Barracks in Waterford, Ireland. Soon afterward she was brought to the parish Church of the Trinity where she was Baptized with the name of "Ellen," though she would be familiarly called "Nellie."
"When only two," Nellie's father writes, "she would clasp my hand and toddle off to Mass, prattling all the way about Holy God. That was the way she always spoke of God, and I do not know where she could have learned it." Nellie loved her father dearly, and her first request when her mother went out was to buy a rosary for Daddy. One night her father said he was going on sentinel duty. Nellie said, "I will be sentinel in your place."
"You go to sleep," said her father.
"No," said Nellie, "I shall wait for you"-and when he returned some hours later she was awake, waiting for him.
The holy names were the first words that Nellie learned, and at night the family Rosary was said. Her mother taught her to kiss the crucifix and the large beads, a habit which Nellie retained.
The death of her mother
In 1905 the family moved to Spike, an island fort situated in Cork Harbor. The mother's health, which had never been robust, now visibly deteriorated.
Pious and devout, Mrs. Organ turned in her last months entirely to God, and her rosary was never out of her hands. Toward the end she clung to Nellie with such transports of affection that the child had to be torn, almost rudely, from her dying embrace. She died of consumption (tuberculosis) in January, 1907.
The eldest of the Organ children was only nine at the time and her father was engaged throughout the day in his military duties, so initially a charitable neighbor gave occasional help in the Organ household. However since the children were so young and couldn't help much with all the necessary household duties, it was soon realized that this makeshift arrangement was a poor one, and in addition it was discovered that Nellie was painfully delicate and was requiring special care, for it was soon discovered that she had a crooked spine, though this was not recognized completely until she came into the care of the Good Shepherd Sisters. Sitting upright in a chair was painful for her and in fact holding her body still for any length of time pained her a great deal. Her hip and her twisted back were out of joint. She cried, but there was no loving mother to soothe and comfort her. Nellie's father at length realized that he could not carryon any longer in a motherless family, so he asked a kind priest friend to find a home in some convent for his forlorn orphans.
Nellie and her sister is sent to the Good Shepherd Sisters
The priest friend came to his assistance, and with his kind help each of the little ones was provided with a home in the charitable institutions of the diocese. Thomas was sent to the School of the Brothers of Charity at Upton; David, the younger brother, to the convent school of the Sisters of Mercy, Passage West; and it was arranged that Mary and Nellie should be sent to live at St. Finbarr's Industrial School conducted by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd at Sunday's Well, in the city of Cork, Ireland.
Nellie and her sister arrived on May 11th, 1907. It was with truly maternal care that Mary and Nellie were surrounded there by the kind Good Shepherd Sister and Nellie was truly happy there, and she called all the Sisters "Mothers." Upon her arrival Nellie was three years and nine months old; she would live the remaining eight months of her life with the Sisters.
A Physicians Diagnosis
Mary Long was a young girl who slept next to Nellie and she told the Sisters that Nellie seemed to be in pain and would often be up much of the night crying and often coughing. Because of this, little Nellie was transferred to the school infirmary where she would share her meals with a little black kitten, of which she grew very fond and which fully reciprocated the child's affection.
While classroom lessons had now ceased for the suffering child, she was however taken at times join the kindergarten games on the playground. One day she was given a box of beads string. She put some in her mouth and inadvertently she somehow swallowed, or rather half swallowed them. They stuck in her throat and she seemed to be suffocating. The teacher snatched her up and went running to find the nurse and together they rushed Nellie into the Sacred Heart Infirmary on the convent ground, and immediately those present performed the operation of extracting the beads from her throat. Five were removed from the neighborhood of the trachea. Remarkably, Nellie did not cry during the painful experience, but sometime later she became listless, so they sent for the doctor. With grief in their hearts they soon heard his diagnosis: Along with her crooked spine Nellie was the victim of the dreaded tuberculosis--the disease that had proved fatal to her mother. Since the disease was already quite along in its progress, the doctor held out no hope whatsoever of her recovery. In fact he informed them that she had only a few months of life remaining.
Her devotion to the Child Jesus
Little Nellie remained for two months in the Sacred Heart Infirmary. Her nurse, Miss Hall frequently considered it necessary to stay the night with her, and Nellie's gratitude for this attention was full of childlike love---"Holy God took my Mudder," she would say, "but He has given me you to be my Mudder." She would put out her tiny hand between the rails of her crib to take that of her "Mudder," and she would clasp it affectionately until the little fingers gradually relaxed and she fell into a fitful sleep.
During this time when Nellie was still confined to bed in the infirmary, a little altar on which stood a statue of the Holy Infant of Prague attracted her attention. She asked Miss Hall about the statue and she explained to Nellie that the statue was an image of Our Lord when He was a child. Immediately Nellie's interest was aroused. Miss Hall proceeded to narrate the story of the birth of Christ and His great love for us. The child listened with evident enthusiasm, and ever afterward she delighted in "the story of Holy God when He was a little child."
Her remarkable recovery
And from that moment she turned with all the sweet simplicity of childhood and spoke to little Jesus, and at the suggestion of the nuns she soon made a novena to Him, asking Him to make her well. When the novena was ended, she unexpectedly became so far recovered as to be able to walk about in the garden holding someone's hand. Naturally, this inspired in her a great confidence in the Holy Child, with whom she now began to chat familiarly and of whom she made the most extraordinary demands.
When, shortly afterwards her former nurse, Miss Hall became unwell, Nellie called one of the older girls and said to her, "Go and bring me Holy God (referring to the statue of the Infant Jesus), and put Him on the chair near me. I want to ask Him to make Mudder better. He made me better, you know."
The dancing Child Jesus
Among Nellie's toys was a tin whistle which she often enjoyed playing with. One day toward the end of September, Mary Long was busy in the kitchen and was engaged in copying some verses which the children were to recite on the occasion of a visit from the Mother Provincial, who visited each day. For awhile Nellie was there playing quietly with her toys, but then she came over to Mary and said "Longie, give me my baby," for that is how she always spoke of the little statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. Mary paid no heed at first, but Nellie went on: "Longie, give me my baby," until Mary, to have peace, said:
"I will give it to you, Nellie, but please do not break it or Mother Francis will be angry."
'Mary went into the other room, got the statue, and gave it to Nellie. Nellie, now perfectly happy and content, hugged the little image, hushing it in her arms and kissing it, with many lisping words and murmurs of affection. Then she put it on the floor beside the pots and pans. Mary went on with her copying, but let us now continue in Mary Long's own words:
All of a sudden Nellie got very excited and called out: 'Longie, Him dance for me! Longie, play music,' and she snatches hold of her whistle and keeps on blowing, only stopping to cry, 'Him dance for me! Longie, play more music!' I thought the child had gone mad. Then Josephine, the girl who helped with the cleaning, came in. Josephine at once said, 'What is the matter with Nellie?'
Nellie, her face flushed, her eyes sparkling, cried out just flinging one glance toward us, then instantly back again to the statue- 'Jo! play music! Him dance for me; now me dance for Him,' and Nellie begins stepping about, her arms extended. After a few more moments she stopped suddenly, and sadly in a disappointed little voice she said “He stopped now”. And thus she became quiet once again.'
As the months passed, Nellie soon became ill once again. Often the good Sisters brought flowers to Nellie to brighten her up during her dreary days of illness. "Isn't Holy God good," she would say, "to have made such lovely flowers for me?" Because of this fact she disliked artificial flowers. "They are too 'tiff (stiff)," she used to say; "bring me some of Holy God's own flowers."
One day Mary Long, on reaching the door of the infirmary, was surprised to find Nellie scrambling back into bed, in her hand a flower which she had evidently taken from a vase that stood on a table nearby. Perceiving Mary, Nellie slipped the flower under the bed clothes, believing her action to be unobserved. But Mary had seen it and began questioning the child: "Who stole that lovely daisy from the vase?"
"No one, Longie."
"Then where is it? Perhaps it is under the bed?" -and Mary pretended to be searching about for it. With a shriek of laughter, Nellie suddenly produced it from its hiding place, smiling all the while.
"Oh, you naughty child," said the girl, pretending to be angry, “I'll tell Mother when she comes back that you stole the flower."
Nellie did not answer for a moment but hugged the flower to her breast, then quietly remarked that the altar was hers (and thus in her little mind the flower was hers also). Later, when she was alone with Mary, Nellie said to her: "Mudder, I'm sorry I took the flower; but I was only talking to Holy God, and Him gave me the flower…Him did, Mudder."
Once Nellie noticed some dead flowers by the Sacred Heart statue outside the infirmary. She spoke up: "Look at them dirty flowers, them should be taken away." Long afterwards, when she was so weak that she could not leave her bed, she asked Reverend Mother whether "them dirty flowers" had been taken away from the statue of Holy God.
Nellie's devotion to the “Hidden Jesus” in the Eucharist
With her various household tasks, Mary Long did not always feel able to rise for the community Mass each morning. On one such occasion, Mary began doing her morning work quietly in the kitchen until she heard the children pass into their refectory after Mass. Then she opened the door to Nellie's room and said, "Well, Nellie, how are you today?"
To her surprise, Nellie answered reproachfully, "You did not get Holy God this morning."
Mary thought that perhaps Nellie had heard her moving about in the kitchen, and so an idea occurred to her to test Nellie next time. She went to the door of the building, opened the latch, and closed the door again, thus giving the impression, as she thought, that she had really gone to Mass. She then removed her boots, and during Mass time she moved about as little as possible in the kitchen. When she returned to Nellie's room, she looked quite unconcerned. The child, however, fixed her pensive eyes on Mary's countenance, and then the same reproving words were spoken sadly:
"You did not get Holy God today."
"How do you know, lovey?" said Mary. "Didn't you hear me close the door?"
"No matter," said the child, "I know you didn't get Holy God."
Nurse Hall gave the following account of Nellie's extraordinary behavior on the occasion of her first visit to the chapel during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
On that morning, Nurse Hall carried Nellie down to the chapel. Nellie had never before actually seen the Sacred Host exposed in the monstrance. What then was Miss Hall's surprise to hear the little one say to her in an awed whisper: "Mudder, there He is, there is Holy God! And with her little hand she pointed to the monstrance, after which she never once took her eyes off the Host, while an expression of ecstasy transfigured her face.
In another account of this same first visit, Reverend Mother writes: "It was the First Friday of the month (October), I was passing along the corridor, when the chapel door opened and Nellie, holding the Nurse's hand, toddled out softly and recollectedly. Remembering how ill the child had been, I stooped down, one knee on the floor, and said: 'Well, how is Baby today?' For answer the little one laid her face on my shoulder and wept silently; but her tears were not sad, they were all sweetness; it was a holy emotion, the happiness of which overflowed in wordless weeping. In that moment," continues the Mother solemnly, "it was made known to me interiorly that God had some special designs on the child, and that I, then Superior, was expected to co-operate with Him in accomplishing them."
From that day onward, by some interior warning, without a single exterior sign to guide her, Nellie always knew when there was Exposition at the convent.
Nellie had been born in the army barracks, where the prison was called the "lock-up." So concerning the Eucharist in the Tabernacle she regarded Jesus as the "Prisoner" in the “lockup”.
Thus on Exposition days she would say: "Take me down to the chapel. I know that Holy God is not in the lockup today." Oftentimes she would call the Eucharist “the hidden Jesus”.
Mother Francis Xavier had instructed Nellie concerning the significance of the crucifix. Here is Mary Long's reminiscence: "The prioress, Mother Francis Xavier Hickey, used to come over to see Nellie every evening. Then Mother would kneel by Nellie, take out her crucifix, and explain Our Lord's life .... "
All this time, tuberculosis was wasting away the baby frame. Not only were Nellie's lungs affected, but her jawbone had begun to crumble away from the disease known as "caries." In the end it came away in pieces, and the odor from it was extremely unpleasant and at times unbearable. The devoted nurse syringed it frequently with disinfectants. This, although it hurt considerably, was nevertheless not once resisted by the child. When the nurse took out her syringe, Nellie took out her crucifix. Giving her intelligent consent to this pain, which clearly God had laid upon her, she thought of the Great Atonement. When the pain was greatest she used to lie motionless in bed, her arms crossed on her breast, her little fingers folded around her crucifix.
A vision of Jesus
As we can see, little Nellie's devotion to whom she called “Holy God” was extraordinary and heroic, while at the same time being very simple and childlike, given that she was only 4 years old.
One morning, Sister Immaculata and Nurse Hall went together to visit the little patient, who had spent a very restless night, owing to her many sufferings. It was then that the following extraordinary conversation took place:
"How are you today, darling?" asked nurse Hall.
"I thought that you would have been with Holy God by this time."
"Oh, no!" answered Nellie, "Holy God says I am not good enough to go to him yet."
"What do you know about Holy God?" asked the nurse.
"Him did come and stand there," replied the child, pointing to the side of her bed, "and Him did
Nurse and the Sister looked at each other in amazement.
"Where was He, Nellie?" asked the Sister.
"Dere," she repeated confidently, pointing to the same spot.
"And what was He like?" asked the Sister again.
"Like that," answered Nellie, putting her hand on her breast in a tucked position.
Sister Immaculata and Nurse Hall were naturally astounded at this revelation. Was it a childish fancy or had God really favored this little child as He had favored other chosen souls? After some discussion, they both agreed that it would be more prudent not to mention the matter to anyone, unless Nellie herself should speak of it again. And one day little Nellie, when on the threshold of eternity, solemnly repeated the story of this visit of “Holy God”.
And for a child of four years, Nellie was making incredible strides in faith and holiness. She had learned by heart the morning and evening prayers, the acts of faith, hope and charity, the principal mysteries of religion, and much of the story of the life of Jesus. She had a remarkable devotion to the Passion of Our Divine Lord, and when they exhorted her to unite her sufferings with those of Jesus, she seemed to grasp the idea immediately and was quite prepared to make the heroic sacrifice and to endure the most atrocious suffering without a murmur of complaint. She kept a crucifix beside her on her bed, and when her sufferings became almost unbearable, she would take it in her little hand, stare at it fixedly, and whisper, "Poor Holy God! Oh, poor Holy God!" If others sympathized with her, she would smile and remark, "What is it compared with what He suffered on the Cross for me?"
She prayed often during the day, and her recollection during prayer was very edifying. She prayed for all who were dear to her- the Sisters, the Bishop, the Nurses, her little companions, the welfare of the Church of Christ and the Pope.
Nellie's recital of the Rosary was particularly edifying. She kissed each of the large beads and the crucifix and recited each prayer slowly, distinctly, and with a spirit of recollection most remarkable in one so young.
"One evening," writes Reverend Mother, "while I was sitting beside her bed, I said to her: 'Shall I talk to you, Baby, or shall we say the Rosary?'
"'Say the Rosary, Mudder,' she answered. I had only said a few Hail Marys when I heard her whisper, 'Kneel down, Mudder.' I paid no attention and continued to the end of the first decade, when she repeated in quite a determined tone, 'Kneel down, Mudder,' and I had to finish the Rosary on my knees."
Her incredible desire to receive Jesus in Holy Communion
Not long after Nellie was completely bedridden, she expressed a strong desire to be carried down for Mass to adore Jesus in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and what's more she soon expressed sighs of longing for the then unheard-of privilege in childhood of receiving Holy Communion. During this time, the normal age for first Holy Communion was at least age 12. Often now she was heard repeating to herself: "Oh, I am longing for Holy God! I wonder when He will come! I am longing to have Him in my heart."
All the while, Reverend Mother continued visiting Nellie every evening. On one occasion, when about to bid the child "Good night," she was startled by the following request. "Mudder," asked Nellie, "tomorrow morning, when you get Holy God, will you bring Him up to me?" Mother knew not what to answer. She considered for a moment and then replied, "Tomorrow morning I shall ask Holy God to be very fond of you, and I shall come up to see you after Mass." This reply seemed to satisfy the child. Later in the evening she called Nurse Hall and said to her, "Mudder Prancis is going to bring Holy God to me in the morning”.
What was her disappointment after Mass when Mother Francis came to see her, but without actually bringing her Holy Communion! In fact when she saw Mother Francis enter without "Holy God," her disappointment was so keen that she wept bitterly.
During the rest of that day Nellie scarcely spoke a word and for some days after that sorrowful experience, Nellie lay sad, not caring to talk or play. Sometimes she would sigh wistfully, and when they asked if she needed anything, she would answer:
"No, I am just thinking about Holy God."
Soon, however, the clever little brain had evolved a plan which might solace -though it could not satisfy her longing for Holy Communion.
"Mudder," she whispered to the nurse one morning, "when you get Holy God in the chapel, will you come back and kiss me? Then you can go back to the chapel again."
This kiss was not for the nurse, it was for the Blessed Sacrament. It was given indiscriminately to anyone, nun or child or grown-up, whom Nellie could coax to come to her immediately after their receiving Holy Communion. In profound reverence the baby lips would touch the lips of the communicant, then in strictest silence she would wave her tiny hand as a signal to the other to return and finish her thanksgiving. Sometimes her nurse would hesitate to leave Nellie to attend Mass, but Nellie would always insist. "Mudder, go down to Mass," she would say, "and get Holy God and come back to kiss me. Then you can go back to the chapel again."
The whole month of November 1907 passed thus in holy desire, in suffering patiently borne, and in loving thoughts of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Her First Holy Communion
As December came, the Sisters had begun a ten-day retreat which was to end on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Bury, S.J., was the director. Naturally, the Sisters mentioned to him the longing for Holy Communion of the "extraordinary child" upstairs. Nellie was only 4 years old, and at this time children generally were not admitted to Holy Communion until ten or twelve years of age.
Father Bury, far from dismissing the Sisters' account, gave his sympathetic attention. "St. Alphonsus," he said, "gave Holy Communion to a tiny child who longed for it. If the Bishop permitted me, I would do the same by Little Nellie."
So that day Fr. Bury went up and had a talk with Nellie. "What is the Blessed Eucharist?" he asked. Nellie's reply was all her own: there was not a touch of coaching or catechism about it. "It is Holy God," she lisped; "it is Him that makes the nuns and everybody else holy." On another occasion she would say, "Jesus comes on my tongue and goes down into my heart." The words were indeed the words of an infant, but the doctrine was profound.
Impressed by the reasoning of Nellie, Father Bury wrote a letter to the Bishop requesting special permission to give her Holy Communion. According to Father Bury, "With regard to the reception of this Sacrament, Nellie had arrived at the use of reason." He told the Bishop that Nellie was endowed in no ordinary degree with ardent love of God and the desire to be united to Him in Holy Communion.
The answer came while Father Bury was dining in the convent parlor. No sooner had he read the permission than he started up from his unfinished meal, flung his napkin halfway across the table and rushed upstairs two steps at a time to take the joyful news to the anxious little one.
When Nellie heard the glad tidings, her joy was indescribable. "I will have Holy God in my heart!!! I will have Holy God in my heart!" she kept repeating with indescribable joy!
The night before her First Communion day brought Nellie little rest; she could not sleep for joy. She kept Nurse awake all night long, asking if it were not yet time to rise. "The stars are gone, Mudder!" she would cry, "' is it time to get up now?"
The eventful morning dawned at last, the morning of December 6, 1907. After such a sleepless night it was feared the excitement would be too much for the delicate child and that she would be unable to receive the Blessed Sacrament. But Nellie tried to calm herself; she lay quietly in her bed, and though her limbs trembled slightly, the illness passed.
It was the First Friday. Dressed all in white, she was carried down and placed in a little easy chair before the Sanctuary. The community Mass had just ended. Nellie remained silent and motionless with her head bowed down in prayer and adoration. Every eye was on this baby of predilection; all her companions looked on in wonder. A baby to receive Holy Communion!
Then came Father Bury in stole and surplice. Soon she saw the priest approaching, she lifted her eager face. "The child," wrote Father Bury, "literally hungered for her God, and received Him from my hands in a transport of love."
So all of Nellie's yearnings were satisfied. Holy God had come into her heart at last.
A priest wrote in October, 1911, describing Nellie's thanksgiving after her First Communion. "The happy moment will long be remembered by those who had the privilege of being present. Nellie seemed in an ecstasy, and all remarked the heavenly light that lighted up the child's countenance."
And then a strange thing was noticed: the disagreeable (some called it "the unbearable") odor that previously had exhaled from her diseased mouth and jaw was never experienced again after that First Communion morning. But amidst such indescribable joy, Nellie's tuberculosis progressed, and her health continued to grow worse
Pope St. Pius X lowers the age of first Communion after hearing about Nellie
June 4, 1912The New Year 1908 dawned, but it brought no earthly hope to those who loved little Nellie. It was a wonder to all how she continued to exist: the tiny frame was quite exhausted. She could now retain nothing, not even a spoonful of broth. She seemed to live on the Blessed Sacrament alone. Her sufferings were so great that one day they drew tears from a Sister who witnessed them. But Nellie was quite resigned. "Why are you crying, Mudder?" she asked. ''You should be glad that I am going to Holy God." If her nurse complained of a headache or other pain, Nellie would say, "What is that compared to what Holy God suffered for us."
On another occasion one of the nuns went to Nellie and begged her to pray for a sister of hers, a lady in the world, who was very ill.
"Has she children, Mudder?" asked this astounding infant.
"She has many children," replied the Good Shepherd Sister, quite gravely.
"Then," said Nellie confidently, "I will pray to Holy God, and He will see that she'll be cured." And, in fact, the lady recovered.
Nellie loved holy cards and medals, and would have them placed all about her room and her sick bed. One day Mother Superior showed Nellie a new holy card of Jesus. She responded “that is not the way that I see Him”.
"How do you see Him?" asked Mother.
"This way," answered Nellie, holding her hands on her breast in the same manner as on the occasion when she had spoken of her vision to Sister Immaculata and Nurse Hall. Mother was astonished; she had not heard ofthis "visit of Holy God" before. She spoke to the Sister and the Nurse, and they gave thanks to God. Their lips were opened now, and they disclosed their treasured secret.
Nellies silent communings with God became daily longer and more frequent. She often asked others to leave her room, as she wished to speak to Holy God. Sometimes they asked her if she were not lonely or afraid during their absence, but the answer was always the same: "Oh, no! I was talking to Holy God." If they questioned her further, she would answer: ''Holy God says I must not speak of these things.”
Nellie had been asked to pray for the recovery of a well-known Jesuit Father who was unable to come to Cork because of a serious illness. "Holy God is very fond of Father" she said a few days later. "He will get better, but he will never see me." Her words proved true.
During the month of January the little patient lingered on, enduring her sufferings with heroic fortitude. Fr. Scannell says that "days of torture glided into weeks of agony, until sympathetic hearts would pray that God might take her."
Her holy death
Nellie said that she would go to Holy God on His own day (Sunday); that she would wear her First Communion dress, that she would go in Nurse's arms, and that they should make a new dress for Nurse.
Her strength was failing day by day; the end was close at hand. On Thursday, the 30th of January, Mother Francis came to see her. Knowing that the child's life was nearly spent, she spoke of what was dearest to her heart. "Nellie," she said, "when you go to Holy God, will you ask Him to take me to Him? I am longing for Heaven." The child looked searchingly at Mother, and her wonderful eyes seemed to glow with some preternatural light. Then she answered solemnly: "Holy God can't take you, Mudder, till you are better and do what He wants you to do.”
(Mother Francis lived to be 99 years old. She died in 1960 at the Good Shepherd Home in St. Paul, Minnesota.)
Rosary tickets for the month of February (1908) were distributed by lot among the children, and Nellie in her turn drew hers. It proved to be that ofthe Feast ofthe Purification, February 2, which was to fall on the upcoming Sunday. Would that be the day? On Friday Nellie was so weak that it was thought she had already passed away, but again she rallied slightly. She passed an agonizing night. On Saturday the little sufferer hung between life and death.
All day on February 2, poor little Nellie's agony was heartrending to behold. Several Sisters came in turn to kneel in prayer around the little bed; three remained, becoming witnesses of Nellie's saintly death.
Toward three o'clock Nellie became quite calm, and she remained motionless for about an hour. Her eyes were fixed on something which she seemed to see at the foot of her bed. "There was an extraordinary look in those lovely eyes," a Sister related; "it was not the sightless, glazed expression of the dying." Then Nellie moved. Her eyes now filled with tears-with tears of joy, it seemed. She tried to rise and draw near to that "something" on which she was gazing so longingly, and then she smiled. From the movement of her lips it seemed she was speaking with someone, and raising her eyes, she followed with a look of supernatural love that "something," which seemed now to hover above her head. Presently, with an ecstatic smile, little Nellie "flew" to Holy God. It was four o'clock on Sunday, February 2, 1908, the Feast of the Purification of Mary and of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Candlemas Day). Nellie was then four years, five months and eight days old.
Nellie's body is exhumed and found incorrupt
Nellies body was laid out on the bed which had been her cross, clothed. in her First Communion dress and wearmg the wreath and veil and her dainty little shoes. Around the bed were placed the pictures, medals and other objects of piety which she had loved so much in life; all these became precious relics.
In the morning, the little coffin was carried to the chapel and laid in the children's choir. Then, after the Requiem Mass, the Sisters and the pupils came to bid a last farewell. They touched the little hand with rosaries and medals and reverently kissed the body that had housed a soul so dear to God. She was buried in the evening in St. Joseph's cemetery. The mourners were few: Nellie's sister Mary, who was still a pupil at St. Finbarr's School; Nurse Hall; Sister Teresa and some of the pupils.
However as time went on the story of the remarkable life of that holy child spread among the public, the little grave in St. Joseph's Cemetery gradually became a shrine. The graces obtained through her intercession were by degrees divulged, and the resting place of this little child became celebrated throughout the country.
It was now sought to have the remains transferred to the Convent Cemetery at Sunday's Well. Exactly a year and a week after little Nellie's death, the grave was opened to see if such transference could with safety be accomplished.
The Reverend Dr. Scannell will now tell us what took place at tne exhumation:
"There were present a priest (this was Fr. Scannell himself), the Nurse, and two other reliable witnesses. To the great astonishment of all, for it must be borne in mind that the child had died of phthisis (a wasting or consumption of the tissue; usually, pulmonary tuberculosis) the body was found. intact, except for a small cavity in the right jaw which corresponded to the bone that had been destroyed by caries whilst the little one was still alive. The fingers were quite flexible and the hair had grown a little. The dress, the wreath and veil of First Communion, with which she had been buried as she desired, were still intact. The silver medal of the saintly child of Mary was bright as if it had been recently polished; everything, in fact, was found to be exactly as on the day of Nellie's death."
The permission of the authorities, civil and ecclesiastical, having been obtained, the body was transferred from the public cemetery to that of the Good Shepherd Convent, where it was piously laid on the 8th of September, 1909.
Father Scannell finishes his report "The new grave is visited by groups of pious persons who ask that little Nellie may plead for them before the throne of the All-powerful God. The blind, the deaf, the lame, those in suffering or in sorrow, seek health and comfort at this peaceful holy shrine."
From Mystics of the Church with many thanks.
A more complete Biography of Little Nellie may be found here.