Friday, May 31, 2013

The Preacher of Lungavilla

Providence had sent him a horse which, to its credit, had had an honorable career, but through age, hardships and unavoidable lack of food, was beginning more and more to resemble Don Quixote's horse.  

  Needing to go to Lungavilla, Don Orione thought of using the little cart that Providence's horse could pull and one of his boys could drive.  Everything went well until they were the other side of Voghera, but there the problems started.  The poor horse, tired out by the distance traveled, suddenly slowed down and fell, dragging the cart with it, on to the Voghera-Stradella tramway.  All efforts to raise it up again were in vain.  As if on purpose a locomotive appeared in the distance puffing terribly, as though taken by surprise by this new kind of signal set at danger.  Finally it stopped.
In surprise the people wondered what had happened, then, seeing the obstacle, many of them got down to help with removing it.  Among those present was a young woman who made more of a fuss than anyone because she recognized the boy accompanying Don Orione as her brother.
It was God's will that the poor animal, after being held by the legs, the head and the tail, could be moved and put back on its feet.  Diagnosis of the condition, carried out immediately by the more expert of the people, revealed the necessity for some hay in order to restore the animal to health again.  The tram went on its way again while Don Orione, who by then was expected at Lungavilla, saw to the urgent needs of the horse by finding shelter for it in a nearby farm under the care of the boy.  He made his way to Lungavilla on foot and alone.

 It was a cold winter's afternoon with a great deal of snow in the fields and on the roads.  The mishap on the journey had taken up more time than had been allowed for.  The parish priest, after waiting patiently, had decided to begin and the people were already about to leave the church when Don Orione arrived, breathless from his haste.
Once the news had spread around, however, they all went back inside.  He then entertained them with one of his sermons that made them lose all notion of time.
His preaching ability spoiled the festivities for several producers of public dances.  The bishop of Tortona, Mgr. Bandi, forbade any solemn religious services in the parishes where entertainment so dangerous to morals was arranged, but did give permission for a priest to preach.  Armed with this permission, Don Orione kept the faithful in church for several hours, even having recourse to some most amusing jokes, and thus compromised the success of the dance.

Source: "St. Luigi Orione" by Fr. Domenico Sparpaglione 

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