Brothers who stretch out their hands
I go to prepare you a place for you.
Alphonse Ratisbonne, while a guest of Baron Buissières in Rome, was subject of an unexpected test , completely innocent. He was invited to carry on himself a Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin. The proposal was initially seen as strange and childish. But .. then he accepted, because Alphonse thought then he would give the medal to his girlfriend. He put the medal around his neck with some difficulty, because the knot was too tight. But Buissières, while innocently enjoying his victory, wanted to win big.
He required that Ratisbonne recited, morning and evening, the "Memorare", a prayer of love very vibrant and effective, that St. Bernard spoke to the Virgin Mary: "Remember, most gracious Virgin Mary, that none of those who appealed to your protection, who implored your help and asked for your patronage, have ever been abandoned. Encouraged by this belief, I come, Oh Virgin of Virgins, to throw myself into your arms, and moaning under the burden of my sins, I prostrate myself at your feet. Do not, or Mother of the Word, ignore my petitions, but in your mercy, hear them and grant them".
Ratisbonne agreed to recite it. Soon strange and happy things began to happen to him, which led him to extend his stay in Rome. He wondered where this irresistible impulse, which forced him to do what he did not want, was coming from. It was the Divine Providence that, mysteriously, was accompanying him on the road of life.
On January 20th, 1842, Alphonse Ratisbonne leaving a coffee shop, around noon, met the coach of Theodore de Buissières, who invited him to come up for a ride. The weather was beautiful. De Buissières asked permission to stop for a few minutes at the church of "Sant'Andrea delle Fratte", which was next door to a place where he had to attend to some business: de Buissiers suggested he'd wait in the carriage, but he preferred to go out to see the church. They were making preparations for a funeral and then he asked his friend about the deceased, who was to receive the last respects.
De Buissières replied: "He's my friend, Count de La Ferronays and his sudden death causes me great sadness." Alphonse entered the church of St. Andrew. No work of art attracted his attention. Mechanically he looked around, without focusing on any thought, only a black dog kept jumping in front of him. As soon as the dog disappeared, the whole church disappeared, he could not see anything ... or rather, he saw only one thing!
He declared: "Any description, however sublime, would be only a profanation of the unspeakable truth. I was there, prostrate, wet with tears, my heart out of me, when de Buissières called me back to life. " Alphonse could not answer any questions. He Just grabbed the medal he had on his chest and kissed the image of the Virgin with effusion.
He did not know where he was or who he was, he felt so changed, he believed to be somebody else. The most ardent joy exploded in the depths of his soul, he could not speak for himself, he felt something solemn and sacred that made him call for a priest.
Later he would narrate what had happened to him in the church of "Sant'Andrea delle Fratte "All I know is that when I entered the church I did not know anything; once outside, I saw clearly. I can not explain this change except by comparing it to a man suddenly awakened from a deep sleep, or with the analogy of a man born blind who suddenly sees the light. "From that moment everything changed for him.
First he went to a convent of Jesuits to prepare for baptism, then he gave up the world, its seductions, its pleasures, his fortune, his hopes, his future. He Also gave up his girlfriend, the affection of his family, the esteem of his friends, and did not want anything else but to follow Jesus Christ and bear his cross till death.