More Instances of Apparitions

[This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850.]

Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, relates that a good priest named Stephen, having received the confession of a lord named Guy, who was mortally wounded in a combat, this lord appeared to him completely armed some time after his death, and begged of him to tell his brother Anselm to restore an ox which he Guy had taken from a peasant, whom he named, and repair the damage which he had done to a village which did not belong to him, and which he had taxed with undue charges; that he had forgotten to declare these two sins in his last confession, and that he was cruelly tormented for it. "And as assurance of the truth of what I tell you," added he, "when you return home, you will find that you have been robbed of the money you intended for your expenses in going to St. Jacques." The curé, on his return to his house, found his money gone, but could not acquit himself of his commission, because Anselm was absent. A few days after, Guy appeared to him again, and reproached him for having neglected to perform what he had asked of him. The curé excused himself on account of the absence of Anselm; and at length went to him and told him what he was charged to do. Anselm answered him harshly that he was not obliged to do penance for his brother's sins.

The dead man appeared a third time, and implored the curé to assist him in this extremity; he did so, and restored the value of the ox; but as the rest exceeded his power, he gave alms, and recommended Guy to the worthy people of his acquaintance; and he appeared no more.

Richer, a monk of Senones, speaks of a spirit which returned in his time, in the town of Epinal, about the year 1212, in the house of a burgess named Hugh de la Cour, and who, from Christmas to Midsummer, did a variety of things in that same house, in sight of everybody. They could hear him speak, they could see all he did, but nobody could see him. He said he belonged to Cléxenteine, a village seven leagues from Epinal; and what is also remarkable is that, during the six months he was heard about the house, he did no harm to any one. One day, Hugh having ordered his domestic to saddle his horse, and the valet being busy about something else, deferred doing it, when the spirit did his work, to the great astonishment of all the household. Another time, when Hugh was absent, the spirit asked Stephen, the son-in-law of Hugh, for a penny, to make an offering of it to St. Goëric, the patron saint of Epinal. Stephen presented him with an old denier of Provence; but the spirit refused it, saying he would have a good denier of Thoulouse. Stephen placed on the threshold of the door a Thoulousian denier, which disappeared immediately; and the following night, a noise, as of a man who was walking therein, was heard in the church of St. Goëric.

Another time, Hugh having bought some fish to make his family a repast, the spirit transported the fish to the garden which was behind the house, put half of it on a tile (scandula), and the rest in a mortar, where it was found again. Another time, Hugh desiring to be bled, told his daughter to get ready some bandages. Immediately the spirit went into another room, and fetched a new shirt, which he tore up into several bandages, presented them to the master of the house, and told him to choose the best. Another day, the servant having spread out some linen in the garden to dry, the spirit carried it all up stairs, and folded them more neatly than the cleverest laundress could have done.

A man named Guy de la Torre, who died at Verona in 1306, at the end of eight days spoke to his wife and the neighbors of both sexes, to the prior of the Dominicans, and to the professor of theology, who asked him several questions in theology, to which he replied very pertinently. He declared that he was in purgatory for certain unexpatiated sins. They asked him how he possibly could speak, not having the organs of the voice; he replied that souls separated from the body have the faculty of forming for themselves instruments of the air capable of pronouncing words; he added that the fire of hell acted upon spirits, not by its natural virtue, but by the power of God, of which that fire is the instrument.

Here follows another remarkable instance of an apparition, related by M. d'Aubigné. "I affirm upon the word of the king the second prodigy, as being one of the three stories which he reiterated to us, his hair standing on end at the time, as we could perceive. This one is, that the queen having gone to bed at an earlier hour than usual, and there being present at her coucher, amongst other persons of note, the king of Navarre, the Archbishop of Lyons, the Ladies de Retz, de Lignerolles, and de Sauve, two of whom have since confirmed this conversation. As she was hastening to bid them good night, she threw herself with a start upon her bolster, put her hands before her face, and crying out violently, she called to her assistance those who were present, wishing to show them, at the foot of the bed, the Cardinal (de Lorraine), who extended his hand towards her; she cried out several times, 'M. the Cardinal, I have nothing to do with you.' The King of Navarre at the same time sent out one of his gentlemen, who brought back word that he had expired at that same moment."

I take from Sully's Memoirs, which have just been reprinted in better order than they were before, another singular fact, which may be related with these. We still endeavor to find out what can be the nature of that illusion, seen so often and by the eyes of so many persons in the Forest of Fontainebleau; it was a phantom surrounded by a pack of hounds, whose cries were heard, while they might be seen at a distance, but all disappeared if any one approached.

The note of M. d'Ecluse, editor of these Memoirs, enters into longer details. He observes that M. de Peréfixe makes mention of this phantom; and he makes him say, with a hoarse voice, one of these three sentences: Do you expect me? or, Do you hear me? or, Amend yourself. "And they believe," says he, "that these were sports of sorcerers, or of the malignant spirit." The Journal of Henry IV., and the Septenary Chronicle, speak of them also, and even assert that this phenomenon alarmed Henry IV. and his courtiers very much. And Peter Matthew says something of it in his History of France, tom. ii. p. 68. Bongars speaks of it as others do, and asserts that it was a hunter who had been killed in this forest in the time of Francis I. But now we hear no more of this specter, though there is still a road in this forest which retains the name of the Grand Veneur, in memory, it is said, of this visionary scene.

A Chronicle of Metz, under the date of the year 1330, relates the apparition of a spirit at Lagni sur Marne, six leagues from Paris. It was a good lady, who after her death spoke to more than twenty people—her father, sister, daughter, and son-in-law, and to her other friends—asking them to have said for her particular masses, as being more efficacious than the common mass. As they feared it might be an evil spirit, they read to it the beginning of the Gospel of St. John; and they made it say the Pater, credo, and confiteor. She said she had beside her two angels, one bad and one good; and that the good angel revealed to her what she ought to say. They asked her if they should go and fetch the Holy Sacrament from the altar. She replied it was with them, for her father, who was present, and several others among them, had received it on Christmas day, which was the Tuesday before.

Father Taillepied, a Cordelier, and professor of theology at Rouen, who composed a book expressly on the subject of apparitions, which was printed at Rouen in 1600, says that one of his fraternity with whom he was acquainted, named Brother Gabriel, appeared to several monks of the convent at Nice, and begged of them to satisfy the demand of a shop-keeper at Marseilles, of whom he had taken a coat he had not paid for. On being asked why he made so much noise, he replied that it was not himself, but a bad spirit who wished to appear instead of him, and prevent him from declaring the cause of his torment.

I have been told by two canons of St. Diez, in our neighborhood, that three months after the death of M. Henri, canon of St. Diez, of their brotherhood, the canon to whom the house devolved, going with one of his brethren, at two o'clock in the afternoon, to look at the said house, and see what alterations it might suit him to make in it, they went into the kitchen, and both of them saw in the next room, which was large and very light, a tall ecclesiastic of the same height and figure as the defunct canon, who, turning towards them, looked them in the face for two minutes, then crossed the said room, and went up a little dark staircase which led to the garret.

These two gentlemen, being much frightened, left the house instantly, and related the adventure to some of the brotherhood, who were of opinion that they ought to return and see if there was not some one hidden in the house; they went, they sought, they looked everywhere, without finding any one.

We read in the History of the Bishops of Mans, that in the time of Bishop Hugh, who lived in 1135, they heard, in the house of Provost Nicholas, a spirit who alarmed the neighbors and those who lived in the house, by uproar and frightful noises, as if he had thrown enormous stones against the walls, with a force which shook the roof, walls, and ceilings; he transported the dishes and the plates from one place to another, without their seeing the hand which moved them. This genius lighted a candle, though very far from the fire. Sometimes, when the meat was placed on the table, he would scatter bran, ashes, or soot, to prevent them from touching any of it. Amica, the wife of the Provost Nicholas, having prepared some thread to be made into cloth, the spirit twisted and raveled it in such a way that all who saw it could not sufficiently admire the manner in which it was done.

Priests were called in, who sprinkled holy water everywhere, and desired all those who were there to make the sign of the cross. Towards the first and second night, they heard as it were the voice of a young girl, who, with sighs that seemed drawn from the bottom of her heart, said, in a lamentable and sobbing voice, that her name was Garnier; and addressing itself to the provost, said, "Alas! whence do I come? from what distant country, through how many storms, dangers, through snow, cold, fire, and bad weather, have I arrived at this place! I have not received power to harm any one—but prepare yourselves with the sign of the cross against a band of evil spirits, who are here only to do you harm; have a mass of the Holy Ghost said for me, and a mass for those defunct; and you, my dear sister-in-law, give some clothes to the poor, for me."

They asked this spirit several questions on things past and to come, to which it replied very pertinently; it explained even the salvation and damnation of several persons; but it would not enter into any argument, nor yet into conference with learned men, who were sent by the Bishop of Mans; this last circumstance is very remarkable, and casts some suspicion on this apparition.





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