During the 14th century Siena’s magistrates had sentenced two hardened criminals to a brutal public death. They were driven about town in a cart while executioners tore at their bodies with red-hot pincers. The condemned men showed no trace of remorse for their crimes and spat curses and blasphemies at the people who lined the streets. They had refused to speak with the priests who had offered to prepare them for death. Catherine of Siena happened to be visiting a friend who lived on one of the roads the cart had to travel. While she stood at the window observing the terrible scene, Catherine was moved by compassion. In her mind’s eye, she saw a mob of demons waiting to punish the condemned men even more sadistically in hell.
Catherine of Siena happened to be visiting a friend who lived on one of the roads the cart had to travel. While she stood at the window observing the terrible scene, Catherine was moved by compassion. In her mind’s eye, she saw a mob of demons waiting to punish the condemned men even more sadistically in hell.
Immediately, she began to pray for the two unfortunates. “My most merciful Lord,” she said with her characteristic frankness, “why do you show such contempt for your own creatures? Why are you letting them suffer such torture now? And even more vicious torture by these hellish spirits?” Catherine never beat around the bush, even in conversations with God.
To the amazement of all, both criminals suddenly stopped shouting curses and cried out for a priest. They wept and confessed their sins to him. The crucified Christ, they claimed, had appeared to them urging repentance and offering forgiveness. They told the crowd that they expected to be with Christ in Heaven, and then they submitted peacefully to their execution. This miraculous turn of events mystified the whole town, but Catherine’s close friends knew that she had intervened in some way. For many days after the dramatic conversions, Saint Catherine of Siena was heard to say, “Thank you, Lord, for saving them from a second prison.”
God’s merciful loves waits for us to turn back to Him. No matter how grave our sins, He longs to embrace us and draw us into His everlasting peace. Would you say ‘yes’ to His call today by making a good confession with a truly repentant heart? Surely, the Kingdom of God belongs to you.