Listening to your guardian angel is sometimes a matter of life and death. This is the experience of Father Lamy, parish priest of La Courneuve, during the First World War.
Father Jean-Édouard Lamy (1853-1931), parish priest of La Courneuve at the beginning of the last century, whom the Archbishop of Paris compared, to those close to him, to “another parish priest of Ars”, is an admirable figure of holiness. However, the place of the supernatural in his life has often made us forget the man of action and the committed priest that he was. As for his familiarity with the angelic world, it certainly harmed him at a time when people no longer believed in it, even in certain ecclesiastical circles. This ability to see and listen to angels was however often useful to him. The following anecdote, among many others, bears witness to this.
We are in March 1918. The war effort is pushed to its maximum and the armament factories installed in this market-gardening suburb not long ago are working at full speed to ship shells and ammunition to the front every day. At first, the population was worried about their neighborhood, likely to attract enemy bombardments, the Germans possessing long-range guns, including the famous Big Bertha, which triumphed over the Krupp steelworks, with which they managed to strike Paris. The inhabitants also fear an accident, because of the enormous stocks of powder before little by little getting used to it, especially since these factories provide well-paid work to women forced to support their families now that the men are at home. combat, or dead… This apparent carelessness does not alter the reality of the danger. We don’t think about it anymore, that’s all. Except Father Lamy… On all occasions, he invites his Saint-Lucien flock to recite the rosary every day in order to preserve the town from a “terrible tragedy”. Simple common sense, knowing that the powder kegs could blow up half the city, or prescience from Above, as some think, aware of the links that the old priest maintains with the invisible world?
Be that as it may, on March 15, 1918, the priest seemed to have forgotten his fears and, with Easter approaching, he decided to embark on a major spring cleaning. One day, he received an impromptu visit from the Blessed Virgin — usually announced by the Archangel Gabriel — escorted by a good sixty magnificent blessed spirits. Despite his age, his very poor eyesight and his rheumatism, Father Lamy is, that morning, on all fours doing the paving with great sweeps of the floorcloth and is thinking of getting a ladder to do the filthy stained glass windows.
“Go to Paris instead!” »
In a corner, his guardian angel, in the company of the Archangel Gabriel because they are often together, watches him do it, with a smile that the priest finds dubious. Guessing his intentions, they shake their heads no and Gabriel says to the guardian angel, who approves: “No need…” The exchange did not fall on deaf ears. Father Lamy knows that angels, unlike humans, never speak without saying anything and that their advice must be taken seriously. Obediently, he gets up and goes to put away his buckets and his black soap; he will find much else to do this afternoon to embellish the church. But now, suddenly, he doesn’t want to anymore. A strange, insistent idea came to him: “Go to Paris sooner rather! »
No sooner had he started than a terrible explosion shook the whole neighborhood, with a terrifying noise, smashing all the windows for miles around, starting with the windows of Saint-Lucien that he wanted to clean. this morning…
What would he do there? Buy the rosaries and the pious images that he offers each year to children who make their first communion? There is nothing urgent about this race, but the idea remains there, irritating: “Go to Paris, go to Paris right away! » So haunting that it is no longer natural; someone else has to whisper it to him and, recognizing the devious way of acting of the guardian angels, the priest takes his coat, closes his door, goes to the omnibus station and gets on the tram for the capital which shakes in the direction of Aubervilliers. No sooner had he started than a terrible explosion shook the whole neighborhood, with a terrifying noise, smashing all the windows for miles around, starting with the windows of Saint-Lucien that he wanted to clean. this morning… The Sohier arms factory has just been blown up, and dozens of buildings and houses with it…
Protected by angels
Shaking with emotion, Father Lamy gets off the tram and contemplates, appalled, what remains of his church whose vault has collapsed. If he had followed his program, the old priest would be there, buried under the rubble, at the foot of the tabernacle in front of which he usually prays at that hour. Dead, no doubt, like so many victims of this disaster. As for the Eucharistic reserve, its immediate concern, it is intact, the tabernacle having been supported by two plumb bricks, the only ones not to have fallen.
If he survived thanks to this miraculous warning, Father Lamy understands why. If he was lying under the rubble, there would be no priest to go to the bedside of the victims as the relief workers begin to clear the rubble and give absolution. On its survival depends the salvation of all these unfortunates. For hours, amid the rubble and toxic smoke that suffocated him, the parish priest of Saint-Lucien, forgetting himself for the others, took care of the dying and the wounded. There are more than nine hundred. In the evening, exhausted, he will find that, as the angels and Our Lady had promised him when they announced the disaster to him, all his parishioners are safe and sound. Protected by the rosary, the holy angels and the faith of their old priest.
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Father Lamy, saved from the bombardments… by his guardian angel
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