News – Website’s update: “Run away right now…”


Here we are with a new publication!

We will present you a new and intriguing story of Mrs. Concettina Iezzi – you have already seen her in “The invisible hand” -, and Father Emidio Alessandrini has interviewed her.

"The incoming voice" (Canon EOS 5D Mark II, with Canon 24-105mm zoom - Fonte Nuova, 2014)This new video-interview has been entitled “Run away right now…” (for a direct access, click here). Concettina will tell us what happened to her when she was 10 or 11 years old and lived in Naples. The World War II was still going on and one day in December, while she was queuing at the Post Office in order to get a letter for her cousin, she clearly heard a voice that told her to immediately run away. So Concettina started running away and once she got around 50 meters far from there, she saw…  

Well, to know how the story of Concettina ends, don’t miss watching our video and don’t forget to post a comment. Moreover, let us know similar stories, in case you have any…

Enjoy it!

E.A. – V.G.

News – Website’s update: “Communicating before the Internet”


You had to wait for a while but here we are with a new publication!

This time, we will present you an interesting video-interview of Father Emidio Alessandrini to Mrs. Maria Cristina Venanzoni: “Communicating before the Internet” (for a direct access to the new page, click HERE).

"Hope" (Panasonic, DMC-GH4 - Fonte Nuova, 12.13.2015)Maria Cristina will tell us about an “unusual dream” she had, where she met the mother of a dear friend, who had cancer. The lady in the dream was in good health and started telling her about all the concerns she had. But what did Maria Cristina come to know when she managed to phone her friend? You will find out by watching our video…

Enjoy it!

E.A. – V.G.

News – Website’s update: “With my slippers”


What are we going to publish on our “virtual window”?

We will present you an interesting video-interview, and we are pretty sure you will consider it intriguing: “With my slippers” (for a direct access to the new page, click HERE). The video-interview will deal with an “unusual” dream, and this will be the first of a series of stories told by Mrs. Carolina Fabiano.

With my slippersSome years ago, Carolina dreamed of her grandmother Maria, who had passed away some years before. Her grandma invited her to give a message to her father, her son, in order to convince him not to blaspheme anymore. Finally, her grandma said her time was over and had to go away. Before leaving, Maria told her something Carolina thought to be quite extravagant even for a dream.

What happened the following day when Carolina met with her father and told him that dream? Was his father convinced that Carolina had really met her grandma’s soul? You will find it out watching our video…

Enjoy it!

E.A. – V.G.

Voyages to the Hereafter – The Navigation of St. Brendan (Second Part)


The story that was written by the poet Benedeit (12th Cent.) is the most famous version arrived to us (it was in Norman-French dialect) and tells us the incredible adventures travelers go through during their navigation: celebration of Easter on a huge fish, which at first looks like an island; meeting with angels fallen at the time of the rebellion of Lucifer against God (these had been transformed into birds); attack by a sea snake, defeated by another after having prayed to God; approach to an island with a terrible stench, which is the Hell and where evil souls are being tortured; meeting with Judas, the betrayer of Christ, who enjoys a moment of peace before returning to devils’ torments; finally, arrival at the island “where Adam had been the lord”. Brendan and his companions are allowed to see little of that wonderful place: rivers full of fish, rivers of milk, a golden mountain, gardens full of flowers, an everlasting summer. Back home, Brendan tells the wonders of his voyage and, doing so, makes holy and virtuous those who are listening to him.

Well, we have decided to present you now the main parts of the story that, considering that our work deals with the Afterlife, are the most interesting ones: the discovery of Hell and the visit of Eden.

The island of Hell (chap. 31)

The island of Hell (by Ada Natale)…they came within view of an island, which was very rugged and rocky, covered over with slag, without trees or herbage, but full of smiths’ forges. …When they had passed on further, about a stone’s cast, they heard the noise of bellows’ blowing like thunder, and the beating of sledges on the anvils and iron. Then St. Brendan armed himself all over his body with the sign of the Cross, saying: “O Lord Jesus Christ, deliver us from this malign island”. Soon after one of the inhabitants came forth to do some work… …bearing in his hand a tongs with a burning mass of the slag, of great size and intense heat, which he flung at once after the servants of Christ. But it did them no hurt, for they were protected by the sign of the Cross. It passed them at a furlong’s distance, and where it fell into the sea, it fumed up like heap of burning coals, and a great smoke arose as if from a fiery furnace. When they had passed on about a mile beyond the spot where this burning mass had fallen, all the dwellers on the island crowded down to the shore, bearing, each of them, a large mass of burning slag, which they flung, everyone in turn, after the servants of God. And then they returned to their forges, which they blew up into mighty flames, so that the whole island seemed one globe of fire, and the sea on every side boiled up and foamed, like a caldron set on a fire well supplied with fuel. All the day the brethren, even when they were no longer within view of the island, heard a loud wailing from the inhabitants thereof, and a noisome stench was perceptible at a great distance. Then St. Brendan sought to animate the courage of the brethren, saying: “Soldiers of Christ, be strong in faith unfeigned and in the armour of the Spirit, for we are now on the confines of hell. Watch, therefore, and act manfully”.

On another day there came into view a large and high mountain in the ocean, not far off, towards the north, with misty clouds about it, and a great smoke issuing from its summit, when suddenly the wind drove the boat rapidly towards the island until it almost touched the shore. The cliffs were so high they could scarce see the top, were black as coal, and upright like a wall. Here the monk, who remained of the three who followed St. Brendan from his monastery, leaped from the boat, and made his way to the foot of the cliff, wailing and crying aloud: “Woe is me! father, for I am forcibly torn away from you, and cannot return”. But the brethren, seized with a great fear, quickly drew off from the shore. And, lamenting loudly, cried unto the Lord: “Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!” St. Brendan plainly saw how the wretched man was carried off by a multitude of demons, and was already burning amongst them, and he exclaimed: “Woe is yours, unhappy man, who has made you so evil an end of your life”.

Afterwards a favourable breeze caught the boat, and drove them southwards. And as they looked back, they saw the peak of the mountain unclouded, and shooting up flames into the sky, which it drew back again to itself, so that the mountain seemed a burning pyre.

The Earthly Paradise (chap. 36-37)

The Eden (by unknown author)…At the end of forty days, towards evening, a dense cloud overshadowed them, so dark that they could scarce see one another. Then the procurator said to St. Brendan: “Do you know, father, what darkness is this?” And the saint replied that he knew not. “This darkness,” said he, “surrounds the island you have sought for seven years; you will soon see that it is the entrance to it“. And after an hour had elapsed a great light shone around them, and the boat stood by the shore. When they had disembarked, they saw a land, extensive and thickly set with trees, laden with fruits, as in the autumn season. All the time they were traversing that land, during their stay in it, no night was there, but a light always shone, like the light of the sun in the meridian, and for the forty days they viewed the land in various directions, they could not find the limits thereof.

One day, however, they carne to a large river flowing towards the middle of the land, which they could not by any means cross over. St. Brendan then said to the brethren: “We cannot cross over this river, and we must therefore remain ignorant of the size of this country”.

While they were considering this matter, a young man of resplendent features, and very handsome aspect, came to them, and joyfully embracing and addressing each of them by his own name, said: “Peace be with you, brothers, and with all who practise the peace of Christ. Blessed are they who dwell in thy house, O Lord. They shall praise Thee for ever and ever”. He then said to St. Brendan: “This is the land you have sought after for so long a time. But you could not hitherto find it, because Christ our Lord wished, first to display to you His divers mysteries in this immense ocean. Return now to the land of your birth, bearing with you as much of those fruits and of those precious stones, as your boat can carry. For the days of your earthly pilgrimage must draw to a close, when you may rest in peace among your saintly brethren. After many years this land will be made manifest to those who come after you, when days of tribulation may come upon the people of Christ. The great river you see here divides this land into two parts; and just as it appears now, teeming with ripe fruits, so does it ever remain, without any blight or shadow whatever, for light unfailing shines thereon”.

For the complete version of the Navigation of St. Brendan, one can click on: http://markjberry.blogs.com/StBrendan.pdf

E.A. – V.G.

Voyages to the Hereafter – The Navigation of St. Brendan (First Part)


At the end of the 5th Century, Ireland was reached by monasticism, a phenomenon that had developed in the Near East in the 4th Century. Since the beginning, Irish monastic spirit was characterized by an intense asceticism. The most heroic ones started to look for absolute solitude in the contemplation of God. If Eastern monks found loneliness either on top of columns or in the desert, their Irish brothers also had an immense “desert” to use: the sea. Thus, started the Peregrinatio pro Christo, that was the research of solitude in the sea. Some hermits sailed and let their ships be carried by the waves to places which the case or, even better, God’s will had chosen for them. Both large and small islands started to be populated by monastic communities.

Saint Brendan - Map of voyagesSt. Brendan was born around the end of the 5th Century in Clonfert, where he also died, and his ashes were buried in Notre-Dame-d’Aynès (a small Roman chapel rebuilt between the 14th and 15th Centuries at Conques in the Aveyron region), far from the sea. He joined the monastic life and made numerous pilgrimages by the sea, reaching Scotland, maybe Brittany, Orkney and Shetland islands. His name is linked to the foundation of various monasteries. After his death, the memory of his travels was amplified by oral tradition and mingled with legends of Celtic folklore. Between the 6th and 8th Centuries, Ireland experienced a period of great cultural splendor and artists, scholars, monks elaborated a new culture, combining elements of Antiquity and Christianity with the old Celtic world.

The Navigation of St. Brendan (a second available text is Vita Prima Sancti Brendani – First Life of St. Brendan -, whose first version dates back to 11th-12th Centuries, but it recounts another version of the voyage), if we assume that it was written in Ireland, could be dated, as for its first draft, between the 7th and the 8th Centuries. It confirms its compliance with the new faith but, at the same time, highlights some issues in regards to the tradition:

  • Paradise is important for mankind not only at the End of Time, but one needs to already find out its existence on Earth;
  • the sea, conceived by the various cultures in different ways, is “the anteroom of the Afterlife”;
  • it is by going towards the West that one will reach the Promised Land (in the Bible the Eden is instead located in the East).

This legend was written in Latin by an unknown author, probably a cleric, and spread throughout the Middle Ages. It was translated into many languages (Anglo-Norman, French, Old Provencal, Catalan, English, Dutch, various Germanic dialects and, in Italy, Venetian and Tuscan).

This literary work reminds “Imram” (an adventurous sea voyage, made by one or more heroes). This kind of literary work was appreciated by the Irish, who were so well-linked to the sea that they could properly understand all those concepts coming from classical culture, for example Aeneid and Odyssey.

Navigatio Sancti Brendani

Navigation of Saint Brendan (German manuscript)St. Brendan is shown as a monk-blacksmith, a kind of magician who knows the power of water, an animal master, etc. These few elements are enough to give us an idea of the typical hagiographic approach: each image is used to highlight the Creation and convince mankind to convert to God.

Out of the thirty-eight chapters of the Navigation, the first tells what will be Brendan’s final destination, that is the Island of the Blessed, which is described by the abbot Barinto, his host (this is typical of the literary genre of Echtrai, whose protagonists reach islands shrouded in mist, where dead souls settled down).

The next three chapters describe the preparation of the voyage, the choice of companions and the ship construction.

The giant whaleFrom chapter 5 to chapter 35 one can read about the navigation, full of events and strange encounters: Island by high cliffs, Island of the giant sheep, the great whale, the Paradise of Birds, the elders of the community of Saint Albeo, Island of blacksmiths (the Hell), Judas Iscariot, the hermit Paul (episodes where one can find similarities with Imram, the Apocalypse or medieval texts describing voyages to the Holy Land, or even with the Aeneid, the Odyssey or Germanic mythology).

Saint Brendan encounters a siren (German manuscript)Chapters 36 and 37 again describe the Island of the Blessed, while chapter 38 tells of the return home and the serene death of the Saint.

This literary work is considered to be one the sources of inspiration of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, so as to suggest some scholars that the demonology of Dante could have been also derived, even though not all, from this ancient legend (in fact, it recounts of fallen angels, that the protagonist finds in the guise of snow-white birds, perched on a tree in Paradise; these are spirits fallen but not evil, nor proud, all sins for which, for example, in the Divine Comedy Dante places them as neutral).

E.A. – V.G.

News – Website update: Now you have a way to support us!


You have certainly noticed that we have updated, over the past few months, the advertising campaigns on the pages of our website. It has been an intense activity – really challenging –, however we decided to carry it out following the reports we have directly received from Google (probably, some months ago, you have seen some of these notifications that were generated by browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox, when trying to access our website). In fact, we have found that some advertising spaces, which we made available on our website, have been used in a “non-completely transparent” way. Transparency has always been – and always it will be! – one of our main objectives, ever since we decided to start our journey on the web for researching and documenting all those phenomena that are usually classified as “unusual”. This is why we considered to be necessary to take immediate action and restore a condition of absolute safety for all our visitors (however, we would like to confirm you that there have been neither risks of phishing nor malware).

Well, after we have removed all those commercials potentially ambiguous, we decided to limit our spaces – these are placed only at the beginning and at the end of our articles, so as not to bother your reading – to two primary campaigns, which could not hide low-transparency behaviors. These are the two online sales giants Amazon and Ebay! We are sure that you will like our choice, welcoming the fact that we focused on two traders with both renowned convenience and complete reliability.

Wall of MemoryWe take this opportunity to remind you to use ad windows on the pages of our website. If you like, this will be your personal way to support our disclosure work on the internet, and you won’t have to pay anything for it. How is this possible? The explanation is very simple. If you are already customers of Amazon and/or eBay, or if you are interested in becoming one, you will have just to click on one of the relevant advertising windows on any of our pages. By doing so, you will be directly led to the official websites of the two operators. Then, if you decide to purchase something or – in the case of eBay – you win an auction, since our affiliate code has been detected, we will be given a commission for your purchase. We would like to highlight that all this won’t absolutely have any impact on the final price you will be asked to pay. In fact, you will be able to take full advantage for all the incredible prices and offers the two online retailers will provide, as our commission will be retained from the price you would have anyway paid to Amazon and Ebay for your purchases. What is your opinion about all this? Don’t you think it could be an interesting way to support our disclosure efforts on the internet, becoming yourselves, in a certain way, “co-authors” of our articles and video productions? Since now we do thank you for the support you will give us, and have decided to confirm you our appreciation in a concrete way. We are sure you will like it! Every time you have purchased something on Amazon or eBay through our advertising windows, please notify it to us by using our pre-set form, you can find at the following address: http://www.liminamortis.org/support/contact-us/. After you have logged in, you will have just to fill in the four fields there, making sure to indicate, in the Subject field, “Purchase on Amazon” or “Purchase on Ebay”; then, don’t  forget to specify, in the Message field, both the amount and the date of your purchase, together with a short sentence that may introduce you (for those who want, you can also attach a picture in one of the specified formats). As soon as we have received your first notifications, on our website we will create the specific page “The Wall of Memory”, on which we are going to indicate – updating it regularly – the names of our supporters, together with the sentences you have indicated in the form to introduce yourselves and – in case – your pictures (names will be listed by amount of contributions). When your name is published on our website, we will take care to send you an email to notify it to you. What do you think? Do you like our idea? So, we are looking forward to receiving numerous mails!…

Thanks again for all that you will do!

E.A. – V.G.

News – Website’s update: “Santa ‘Ddora Cacate and popular magic in Mentana”


First of all, we would like to apologize for the delay in publishing this our new contribution, but your patience will be appropriately rewarded!…

Well, what are we going to present this time?

We will provide you with a new video-interview and are pretty sure you will find all this very interesting: “Santa ‘Ddora Cacate and popular magic in Mentana” (for a direct access to the new page, click HERE). It will be not only the story of an unusual dream, but also a wide-range survey on popular magic, that is indeed found not so far from the places where we use to live. Furthermore, for this video-interview we have decided to use an editing technique that will offer you scenes with increasing rhythms, able to intrigue you even more than usual…

Mrs. Valentina RaffaelliThis will also be the first video-interview of Mrs. Valentina Raffaelli we will publish since she passed away (last November), after a quite short period of illness. After a long life (she was almost 93) and fruitful years (2 children, 3 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren), Valentina returned to that Heavenly Home she has always been looking at with great hope and perseverance till the end, especially during all the numerous challenges she had to go through in her life. We like to remember her just like she will show herself in this video-interview, that is strong and proud in her convictions, but – under an apparent rough behavior – also rich in longanimity towards others, family members or otherwise. Which memory, more than any other, will we have of her, something that indeed emerges from all her video-interviews – already published or not yet – regarding all those “anomalous events” she went through during her life? We would like to remember her for her immense curiosity for the unusual, miraculous, supernatural facts, of which she was never satisfied enough, and that has definitely contributed to our today interest for research in this borderline area, which, unfortunately, continues to be considered “terra incognita”. Now, dear Valentina, you can fully enjoy the overwhelming “spiritual dimension” that during your life, despite the undoubted abundance of unusual events that have happened to you, you could just have a glimpse of thanks to those cracks which, every now and then, open on the veil that separates our dimension of existence from that awaiting all of us.

Dear mom and grandma, thank you so much for all!…

E.A. – V.G.

Dogs: possible means of “unusual events”! (part 3)


Statue of Don Bosco and the GrayAfter around 4 months since we have published our last article on this topic (for those who would like to read it again, click HERE for a direct access) and after approximately one year and a half from our first work about this fascinating matter regarding dogs as possible means of “unusual events” (for those who would love reading our first publication, please click HERE), we decided to deal again with the story of Don Bosco and the Gray dog, in order to provide you with further and interesting information.

Wait a minute! Do you remember the story that inspired us address the topic of miraculous phenomena related to the presence of dogs, which we sometimes find in the anecdotage of some Saints’ lives? The all idea came from the story of Mr. Mario Ritaldi from Rome. Should you like to enjoy again or for the first time his video-interview before continuing with the reading of this our new article, you can click HERE.

Well, now we can start!

«I have caressed the Gray».

Mr. Renato CelatoRenato Celato, a Salesian, who has been a reliable and discreet chauffeur of four Rector Majors, witnessed a “mysterious” meeting.

In May 1959, the urn containing the body of Don Bosco, during its way back from Rome to Turin on a special van incognito, made a stop in La Spezia, at the church of Our Lady of the Snow…

What do you remember about the mysterious dog that you saw beside the urn of Don Bosco?

I could see, touch and caress that mysterious dog. All happened on May 5 or 6, 1959, after the inauguration of the great church of Cinecittà (Rome). We were on our way back from Rome and were carrying the urn of Don Bosco, that had remained in Rome for a few days. Pope John XXIII had also come to see it… The urn of Don Bosco had remained for two days in the basilica of Saint Peter, while we were organizing its return trip to Turin… We arrived at La Spezia at The Gray crouching (general view and in detail)around 7:00am, instead of 4:00am. Our confrere, Mr. Bodrato, who was the sexton, had opened the doors of the church at 4:30am and had seen this dog crouching at the entrance. So, he had given a kick to the dog in order to send him away but the dog, without any reaction, had just moved aside, continuing to wait for the arrival of the urn.

Once we arrived, we took the urn into the church and put it on a carpenter table. The dog followed us and crouched under the table. At the beginning nobody cared about it, but then, when people started to gather and some Masses were celebrated, the director began to be concerned and told the policemen who were there: “Send away this dog that is lying under the urn!” The policemen did not succeed, as the dog started gnashing his teeth and looked really angry. The dog remained there until noon, when the church was closed. Then, the dog went out of the church and began to wander among the boys in the courtyard. Of course, the boys were happy to have the dog there and started to caress him, to pull his tail. I joined them too.

We went to have lunch. There were the inspector, all the directors of the inspectorate, the novices and the confreres who had been able to enter. The dining room was upstairs. During lunch, we saw this dog pushing the door with his front legs and coming in. He began to wander among the tables. Don Puddu, secretary of the High Council, gave him a kick, but the dog did not bother and continued to wander. The dog was offered some bread, ham, salami, he just sniffed as he liked that food but did not eat anything. He remained there during all the lunch. Shortly before the final prayer, the dog opened the door and went out.

The Gray crouching (in detail)At about 2:00pm we went back to the church. We had to leave because the journey was still long. The dog was again crouching under the urn. How did the dog get in, as the church’s doors were locked?

We loaded the heavy urn onto the van and the dog was still there near us. I left a photograph in our archive in order to document all that.

We left, heading to Genoa Sampierdarena through the Turchino passage, since there was no highway yet. Don Giraudi, who was in the car with me, every now and then used to ask me: “Please check if the dog is still following us!” The dog was still following the van, even in the city. I saw the dog as far as the third curve of a steep road. Then, the dog disappeared.

E.A. – V.G.

Cover of Salesian Bulletin (April 2016)Interview taken from the Salesian Bulletin, dated April 2016 (Year CXL, n. 4)
“I have caressed the Gray” – Meeting with Mr. Renato Celato (pp. 10-13), by the envoy Jesus Jurado

Voyages to the Hereafter – The Purgatory of St. Patrick


The Church has followed the Jewish tradition regarding Purgatory. In fact, since the 2nd Century BC the Jews believed that there was a period of purification after one died. For this reason, in the book of 2 Maccabees 12,43-45 it is written that Judas Maccabaeus sent to Jerusalem 2,000 silver drachmas in order to offer a sacrifice for those who had died in battle. Then, further references to Purgatory are also found in other biblical passages. In the Apocalypse, for example, it is written that nothing unclean will enter the Hereafter (Ap. 21,27), so everyone has to enter free from sins, therefore completely purified first. In the book of 1 Corinthians 3,15 St. Paul says that one can be saved, but only through a sort of fire. Moreover, Jesus clearly says that there are sins that can be forgiven after death (Mt. 12,32). Since the beginning, Christianity believed that there was a period of purification after death, although a more articulated idea of Purgatory formed between the 3rd and 12th Century. This was an evolution of the belief – such a belief was present in both liturgy and funerary epigraphy – that one may purify from some sins after death. The theoretical basis for the existence of Purgatory was provided by Augustine of Hippo and Gregory the Great, who described Hell’s pains. As for the idea of a Purgatory place and its representations, were fundamental the descriptions of visions or travels to the Hereafter, which already had a long tradition in pre-Christian literature (e.g., the descent to the Hades of Odysseus and Aeneas). Initially neglected for the will of the Church of defeating paganism, stories of travel experiences to the Hereafter flourished from the 7th Century, especially in the monastic framework, where popular elements could be filtered by Christianity. Finally, these stories spread all over in the 11th and 12th Centuries. It is worth to mention that the Catholic concept of Purgatory fully realized only later, thanks to Dante Alighieri who, in his literary work “The Divine Comedy” (written between 1302 and 1321), described the triple division in which he imagined the Afterlife was divided: Hell (place of eternal punishment), Purgatory (place of temporary punishment) and Paradise (place of eternal reward).

The Purgatory of St. Patrick.

The first mention of St. Patrick’s Purgatory was made in the Saint Life, written between 1180 and 1183 by Jocelyn of Furness.

According to his account, Jesus appeared to Saint Patrick, who was unable to convert Irish people. Christ showed him a round and dark cavity, maybe a pit or a cave, and assured him that those who, after having been purified from their sins, had spent a day and a night in it would have seen both the punishment awaiting the evil ones and the prize for the righteous ones.

Upon the Saint decision, the cavity was then enclosed by both a wall and a door, and a church was built nearby (by tradition the episode is dated to the year 445). The door key was given to the canons’ prior (he would have then become Saint Dabheog) that established there. It was provided that all penitents, who had faced the try, should have then written down a report on what they had seen.

Jocelyn of Furness located the place of the Purgatory of St. Patrick on a mountain of Connaught, in the western part of Ireland.

The knight Owen (left side) listens to the list of Purgatory torments from Prior (in the middle). From Le voyage du puys sainct Patrix auquel lieu on voit les peines de Purgatoire et aussi les joyes de Paradis by Claude Noury, Lyon 1506.However, the international success of St. Patrick’s Purgatory is due to the work of Henry (ancient codes do not say anything more about his name), a monk of the Cistercian abbey of Saltrey. In the Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii (written between 1190 and 1210) Henry of Saltrey tells the story of the Cistercian Gilberto, who was sent to Ireland at the time of King Stephen of England (between 1135 and 1154).

As he did not know the language of that country, the monk chose the knight Owein to guide him. The knight told him that, after a bad life, he repented of his sins and wanted to go through the punishment for all the bad actions he had committed while he was still alive, instead of being punished for them after death. Therefore, he was brought to a mysterious place through a door, which was strictly guarded by monks and to which no one was admitted without the consent of both the bishop of the local diocese and the neighboring church prior. First, both bishop and prior tried to dissuade him to take the try, because if he had been seduced by demons’ temptations, he would have then been sent directly to Hell, with no return. Since his obstinacy, they gave their permission, imposing him a preparatory period of fasting and prayer in the nearby church and advising him to invoke the name of Jesus in case of need during the try.

After having entered the cave, Owein went through various places of punishment. Everywhere he saw souls punished according to a well-established Christian imagery. He also received his punishment: he was assaulted, tempted, threatened and mocked by the demons who were providing those punishments and were leading him during the “visit”, but he was always saved in extremis by the invocation of the Divine name.

Finally, he arrived at an extremely narrow bridge, going over an infernal river of fire, which kept on widening as he was proceeding along the path. Once passed, he reached an amazing countryside, in front of a high wall that surrounded a beautiful city, which was nothing but the Earthly Paradise. Once through the door, a procession of Saints met with Owein and joyfully welcomed him in the divine city, then showing him the wonders of that place of bliss.

After this adventure and having been cleaned from all his sins, the knight returned outside. After 15 days of prayer in the nearby church, he returned to the world, but the experience had impressed him so much that Owein decided to become a crusader and then went to the Holy Land.

Lough Derg, ancient map. Island of St. Patrick’s Purgatory.Henry of Saltrey does not indicate the place where St. Patrick’s Purgatory was. However, in a margin note of a manuscript, dated to the second half of the 13th Century, of the Topographia Hibernica by Gerardo Cambria it is indicated that there is a lake in Ulster, with an island divided into two parts: the first, that is pleasant, with nice gardens and a church; the second, that is horrible and desolate, with many demons. It is highly probable that this lake is Lough Dergh (Lacus Derg), in which there are two islands: the largest of which, Saints’ Island, is home to a church, today dedicated to Saint Patrick; the second, Station Island, is the place of the “Purgatory” door.

The fame of the Purgatory of St. Patrick rapidly spread in Christendom thanks to Matteo Paris who, in the 12th Century, popularized the story of Henry of Saltrey, and also thanks to the poetess Mary of France, who translated the text into French in the Espurgatoire Saint Patriz. The story spread through remakes and versions in the vernacular throughout the whole West. Then, the Purgatory of St. Patrick often appeared in preachers’ sermons, and this contributed to its extraordinary fame.

Further voyages’ stories to the Purgatory.

Lough Derg, today.Further to the story of the knight Owein, it is worth mentioning at least other three reports: those of the knight Ludovico of Sur, the knight William Lisle and Antonio of Giovanni Martini.

The story of the knight Ludwig of Sur, who visited Purgatory on September 17, 1358, reports that, after a preparatory period of prayer and fasting, Ludwig was led by twelve monks to a rather small cave. After having spent there about half an hour, he saw a man dressed in white, who invited him to start the journey. After having descended some stairs, the knight found himself in a large room, where three monks scolded him for his temerity and anticipated him the temptations and pains he would have faced soon. In order to succeed, it would have been enough to make a cross sign and say a Gospel passage. The story continues with the description of Hell’s torments, with the difference, in comparison to Owein story, that temptations were not the work of demons but of graceful young women.

As for the account of the experience of the English knight William Lisle, who had been in Ireland in 1394, it is reported that William had been locked with a companion in the cave of Island Station for a whole night. During the descent, he had been surrounded by hot steam and had fallen asleep in a sleep full of strange dreams. This led him to believe that the “visions” of the place had been nothing but illusions, caused by gases, which would have caused an altered state of consciousness.

In a letter, sent by the Florentine Antonio of Giovanni Martini to a fellow citizen, is described the experience of Antonio’s descent to the Purgatory, which took place in November 1411. The preparation process for the try is accurately described: a three-day fasting (just bread and water), wearing a long white robe (like a shroud), monks’ recitation of the prayers for the dead over the pilgrim laying down on his back, a procession around the chapel next to the entrance of the cave, the “burial” into a narrow cave (similar to a tomb rather than a cave). It would appear that this complex ritual was part of a well-established technique to alter the state of pilgrim’s conscience, which, in fact, refers that he felt very weak and saw things that he could not write or say, except in confession. Antonio of Giovanni Martini was extracted from the cave while he was unconscious, after only five hours.

E.A. – V.G.

Dogs: possible means of “unusual events”! (part 2)


We have published our first article on this topic around a year ago (for those who are interested in reading our first publication, direct access is granted by clicking HERE) and now have decided to deepen one of the four examples used in that article. We will deal with Don Bosco and the Gray Dog!

‘Don Bosco and the Gray Dog’, illustration by Andrea F. PhillipsHowever, before starting this new work, please let us remind you what, a year ago and also today, has inspired us to debate about miraculous phenomena related to dogs, and which are found in the anecdotage of lives of some Saints. Well, we have been inspired by the story recounted by Mr. Mario Ritaldi from Rome. So, it could be interesting to watch his video-interview before continuing this reading (for a direct access, please click HERE).

And now we can start our story!

The urn of Don Bosco and the “gray dog”

The following story is a synthesis of what has been recounted by Don Tiburzio Lupo, who was at that time director of the Salesian House in Livorno (Italy) and was an eyewitness of what happened. Don Tiburzio passed away in 2001 at the Mother House in Turin, when he was around 100 years old.

In May 1959, the urn containing the body of Don Bosco had to secretly travel by a special van to Rome and then from Rome to Turin, and even the stops necessary for the long journey had to be kept completely secret. However, Don Tiburzio was determined to also have the urn of Don Bosco in La Spezia (Italy), and he had to convince his confrère Don Giraudi, who was in charge of the trip. Finally, Don Giraudi was convinced. This would have been the program: a) on May 12, the urn would have secretly arrived from Livorno to La Spezia at around 5:30am; b) confrères and youngsters of the House would have been allowed to see Don Bosco; c) on the same morning the urn would have then left to Sampierdarena, the last stop before returning to Turin.

‘Church of Our Lady of the Snow’, La SpeziaOn May 12, Don Tiburzio and some confreres got up early, and reached Garibaldi street, that was just in front of the church Our Lady of the Snow. They started waiting for the coveted arrival of the urn of Don Bosco. At this point, began the story of the “gray dog”.

A dog, that was half wolf and had gray hair, approached two confrères among those who were waiting there, and started to wander around them. They tried to drive him away, even with stones, but the dog went where Don Tiburzio, Don Oliva and a lady holding a child were waiting. Don Oliva, who was sitting on a bench, began to stroke the dog and the dog crouched beside him, putting his head on Don Oliva’s knees.

The van, together with all the people escorting it, finally arrived, albeit with an hour delay. Following persistent requests coming from Don Tiburzio, Don Giraudi agreed to let the urn be carried into the church for the veneration by devotees. The urn was placed on a steady table in the presbytery, lit by some spotlights and visible from every part of the church.

Less than an hour later, the church was completely full of people, conveyed to venerate the relics of Don Bosco.The number of people continued to increase so that, at approximately 8:00am, the police arrived in order to control devotees’ inflows.

‘The Gray Dog crouched’, illustration by Andrea F. PhillipsMeanwhile, something strange happened. During the seven-thirty Mass, that was celebrated by Don Giraudi, some of the faithful followers informed Don Tiburzio that a dog was crouched on the steps of the balustrade, just on the side of the urn, and prevented people from approaching it. After having tried to move him away from there, the dog – this dog just resembled the dog which was seen before the arrival of Don Bosco’s urn – even crouched under the table on which the urn was. Since no one complained, the dog could stay under the table, all the Mass long.

After the Mass, Don Tiburzio went to the sacristy to accompany Don Giraudi to have breakfast. Suddenly, the dog, quiet and wagging, arrived there and followed them into the refectory. Don Tiburzio tried to chase him away but Don Giraudi then said while smiling: “Leave him alone… Maybe he is the Gray of Don Bosco!”

In the refectory the dog crouched under the table, between Don Giraudi’s feet, refusing any food that was offered him: buttered bread, cheese, salami. All the people there were astonished because, if the dog had been a stray dog, he wouldn’t have refused to eat.

After breakfast, Don Giraudi went to rest for a while and Don Tiburzio then picked up the dog by the scruff of his neck and led him into the courtyard. The youngsters there, who had attended the Mass celebrated by Don Giraudi, were having some free time, but as soon as they saw the dog, they gathered around him and started to stroke him. However, even on this occasion the dog refused to eat what the guys offered him.

After the school bell rang, the dog was taken to the reception. There he crouched truly miserable, and the porter, since the dog refused to move, left him alone. At around 10:00am, Mr.Basilio, who was the factotum of the House, passed by the reception and saw the dog there. So, he picked up the dog by the scruff of his neck and dragged him off the House, then closing the door. After that day, no one saw the dog anymore.

E.A. – V.G.