Reading this was not without a pang of guilt for Susan:
Blessed Lucy was about twenty-nine years of age. The honour in which she was held, and the public celebrity she enjoyed, were a continual source of sorrow and humiliation to her; and with the desire to escape from something of the popular applause which followed her, she ceased not earnestly to implore her Divine Spouse to remove from her the visible marks of the sacred stigmata, which were the chief cause of the veneration which was paid her by the world. Her request was in part granted, the wounds in her hands and feet closed; but that of the side, which was concealed from the eyes of others, remained open to the hour of her death. Whether the withdrawal of these visible tokens of the Divine favour was the cause of the change in the sentiments of her subjects, we are not told; but we find shortly after, that some among them, disgusted at her refusal to allow the community to become incorporated with the second order, rose in rebellion, and even attempted her life. The scandal of this crime was concealed through the exertions of Lucy herself; but on the death of her great protector, Duke Hercules, in 1505, the discontented members of the community recommenced their plots against her authority and reputation. Then - designs were laid with consummate art; and at length they publicly accused her of having been seen in her cell endeavouring to re-open the wounds of her hands and feet with a knife, in order to impose on the public. Their evidence was so ably concocted, that they succeeded in gaining over the heads of the order to their side.
Hasty and violent measures were at once adopted; every apostolic privilege granted by Pope Alexander was revoked; she was degraded from her office of prioress, deprived of every right and voice in the community, and placed below the youngest novice in the house. She was, moreover, forbidden to speak to any one except the confessor, kept in a strict imprisonment, and treated in every way as if proved guilty of an infamous imposture. Nor was this disgrace confined within the enclosure of her own monastery; it spread as far as her reputation had extended. All Italy was moved with a transport of indignation against her; the storm of invective which was raised reached her even in her prison; her name became a proverb of reproach through Europe; and the nuns who had been professed at her hands made their professions over again to the new prioress, as if their vows formerly made to her had been invalid.
One can hardly picture a state of desolation equal to that in which Blessed Lucy now found herself. It was as if this token of deep abjection and humiliation were required as a confirmation of her saintliness. If any such proof were indeed needed, it was furnished by the conduct which she exhibited under this extraordinary trial. During the whole remaining period of her life, a space of eight-and-thirty years, she bore her heavy cross without a murmur. Perhaps its hardest suffering was, to live thus among those whom she had gathered, together with her own hands, and had sought to lead to the highest paths of religion, compelled now to be a silent witness of their wickedness. Her life was a long prayer for her persecutors, and we are assured that no sorrow or regret ever seemed to shadow the deep tranquillity of her soul. So far as it touched herself, she took it as a more precious token of her Spouse's love than all the graces and favours He had ever heaped on her before. But it is no part of saintliness to be indifferent to the sins of others; and we can scarcely fathom the anguish which must hourly have pierced her heart, at the ingratitude and malignity of her unworthy children.
"Wonder what Lu ..." she started. Should she admit or not? She tried to get to the priest who had preached, but he was not around. And after all: she had lied, but she had not called her sister names of outrage or treated her as an outcast. She had caused her trouble, but not quite as much trouble as all that. But maybe it would have been even worse, if she had not died in the railway accident. Poor Lu ... or poor herself. She was afraid of admitting to anyone what had happened. And it was getting harder and harder not to admit - without lying again.
When she got back to the inn, she asked the landlady about Lady Georgiana Fullerton.
"A very devout woman - after her Catholic Conversion - and who knew how to write. Apart from her book about a few saints including our Lucia, Lucy as she called her in English, there is also the novel 'Helpers of the Holy Souls' - I have an example for you, if you like."
"Indeed, I would be very grateful. Do you have a separate text on St Lucy too? After all it is her city."
"We do, I will give it as part of the belated Christmas present. It will all be packed into your luggage before getting home. Down here Christmas presents are often brought by the three Magi, so opening it back in England will not be a bad idea."
*BLESSED LUCY OF NARNI
by Lady Georgiana Fullerton