A ray of light from Our Lady shines in prison too! – Turin

St. Catherine Labouré

Every evening in her cell, Costanza, sitting on her bunk bed and avoiding all noise, writes a short account of her life as a prisoner on a paper and sends her diary to her mother every week, hoping that she will understand how much she loves the family and how guilty she feels about being in prison for two years. It was during one of those few meetings at the start of the new year that Costanza’s mother left her daughter in the worst possible way, telling her that it would be the last time she would visit her in prison because she could not stand the thought of her being there. During this last meeting, Costanza’s mother walked away, without hugging and saying goodbye to her, as she used to do.

It is indescribable what a daughter in prison would feel when she no longer has contact with her family, especially her mother; when the latter’s judgment resembles that of anonymous people who consider prisoners, whatever the reason for their imprisonment, worthy of severe punishment.  Costanza had received from the Sisters a small medal of Our Lady of Paris, the one in the chapel of Rue du Bac. She was fascinated by the story of St. Catherine Labouré and of Our Lady who complained to her seer that her children forget to ask for graces.

Costanza saw a road she wants to follow. She entrusted herself to Our Lady and, little by little, she was reassured. At the beginning of the novena for the feast of the Miraculous Medal, Costanza wrote a special letter to her mother and began to pray that the Virgin of Rue du Bac would also shine a ray from her fingers for her mother. On 27November she repeated a thousand times the prayer “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you,” inventing in an ingenious manner the counting of the invocation since she could not use the rosary. She wished to see her mother again and entrusted this wish to Our Lady, begging that it be granted.

One morning – after Christmas eve – she heard the officer on duty saying: “Costanza, quick, get ready, you’re on the interview list, I don’t know who’s there.” At these words she stopped tidying up her cell, hurriedly put on her best clothes, took out a Christmas card which she herself prepared, and joined the other prisoners waiting to enter the visitors’ room.

As soon as she entered, she found her whole family there, including her mother. After a few minutes of great emotion, Costanza turned to her mother and said in a confident voice: “Mother, today a ray of light shone from Our Lady’s hands, for you and for me. I knew that the little Madonna of Paris would listen to me and hear me.” She then told them about St. Catherine Labouré, of Our Lady’s apparitions and of the beautiful story of the Miraculous Medal.

But the greatest surprise was when the mother confided to Costanza that she had accepted the latter’s suggestion which she indicated in a letter that she too recite the ejaculatory prayer to Our Lady a thousand times, on 27 November; together with her daughter in prison and out of love for her, even without knowing exactly the reason for the invocation, she repeated it so many times.

“Our Lady’s ray,” Costanza confided to the sisters, “has broken the barriers of our hearts and minds. I am happy, very happy. Even inside the prison. When I will be released, I will go to Paris to thank Our Lady… with my mother.”

Taken from Informazione Vincenziana, Year XXII-6/7-2021-June/July

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