Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cool Wisconsin

Thanks to a link on Amy Welborn's blog I found this link to an article written about a fire that took place (relatively) near my home town in 1871. Here's an excerpt (the fire is getting very close to the church in Peshtigo):

In his haste to get the Blessed Sacrament (and in full compliance with Murphy's law) he [Fr. Pernin] dropped the tabernacle key. Not having time to look for it, he lifted the bulky tabernacle from its temporary altar, put it on his surrey and with himself in the shafts (his horse was too frightened to budge) he fought his way against the buffeting winds over the two and half city blocks to the river. Sparks were exploding all around him in a grim fireworks display. Flames were arching overhead as he finally pushed his surrey with its precious cargo into the water.

To an unbeliever it must have seemed sheer madness for Father Pernin to abandon his horse and pull the surrey himself against such odds to the river. But to a believer, what an act of faith!

The river was filled with people and with wild and domestic animals all in panic. Under the lighted skies "brighter than day" he could see people dousing themselves with water or shielding their heads with wet blankets as they surfaced for air. Even the air seemed to be on fire.

By 3:30 a.m. the fire had spent itself sufficiently for Father Pernin to emerge from the water. He says he was chilled to the bone in spite of the heat all around him. While he was warming himself on the warm ground at the rivers edge, a parishioner came hurrying up with word about a "great miracle". In the tumult of the river, the tabernacle had fallen from the surrey and was now standing upright on a floating log at the river bank. It was undamaged by the fire.

For two days, Father Pernin let the tabernacle where it was found so that all might see what might otherwise be doubted. He then took the tabernacle to Marinette, forced open its door and found the sacred vessels and the consecrated Host intact. Neither the flames nor the water had injured even the silken tissue with which the tabernacle was lined.
Kind of cool...


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