Our Lady Of Guard
Country : Italy
Year : 433
Father Aegedius, tall, blond; newly ordained priest had come from Holland to give missions in the wild-wooded northlands of Michigan before Detroit was a city. The young men crowded around his horse and led the priest to the little log cabin about 100 yards from the lake. The women had a blazing fire ready, as the wind whisked and rustled through the young Redemptorest’s black habit, and he was glad to step indoors.
He inquired whether all the families were on this side of the lake. “Sixteen on the other side”, was the answer. “Tell them to come, too”. The men informed him that it would not be safe to do so, since the ice might thaw, and the people would not get back to their side of the lake safely. After being informed that the priest would not be back for another year, word was sent to the other side of the lake. The mission started, baptism was administered, confessions heard, Holy Communion given, and marriages performed. One night during the services in the crowded cabin, a burly, unshaven man burst in with the news that the lake had begun to thaw and the lives of the people would be in danger trying to get home. They would have to remain in the cabin-chapel all night. How could 30 families be cared for here? – was the priest’s worried thought, of the freezing children and distraught mothers.
Facing the picture of Our Lady on the wall, Father Smulder said, “We’re going to pray to Our Holy Mother of Guard, and she will freeze the lake over for us.” He whispered frantically under his breath… “Mary, you must…you will! I know you will!” Then he began in a strong confident voice: “Hail Mary, full of grace…” The urgent voices of the people answered, “Holy Mary, Mother of God…” Again and again; after the third Hail Mary, the priest turned to the people and smiled. His lips were filled with a dry tremor and his eyes with cold sweat which looked like tears. “All right, home with you now. Mass at 8:00 tomorrow.” They were motionless. “I said Go! Our Lady has frozen the lake.”
Slowly one or two edged out of the door; then ten, twenty…he could hear them walking on the sand; now trotting, now racing for the shore. He held his breath, and prayed to Mary. No, he couldn’t pray. He just thought of Mary, and said nothing.