Saint Peregrine, Servite and priest – returns to Forli and is Miraculously Cured of Cancer
After approximately five years, his superiors sent Sant Peregrine, now a priest, back to Forli, to open a house, there. He was available to everyone who called on him, never too tired to counsel whoever came to him. Because of this, he earned the name, “Angel of Good Counsel.”
An authentic and outstanding priest, he approached all the works of his vocation as gifts and privileges. His life was salvation of souls, and consolation to the suffering and impoverished. And this, he did not only with much devotion, but delight!
He was fervent, as he celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass. Beginning reverently with the Word, he went on to passionately relive the Eucharistic Prayer. He was back in Capharnaum, with Jesus, as He is telling his followers, He will give them bread and they will never die; he is in the Upper Room with Jesus, as He is giving us the means by which we could have Him until the end of the world; and Peregrine is saying yes, to being that means through which Jesus would be brought to life, to the faithful of his day.
We know Peregrine was a zealot, but he was first and foremost, a servant of God. Jesus said, “Feed My lambs,” and that, Peregrine did with the last ounce of his strength. The same qualities, he had shown as a brash young man, fighting against the Church, he now used fighting for that Church’s people.
He ministered tirelessly to the sick. A plague had broken out in Italy and had spread to Forli. No one was safe, or excused, from the spreading ravages of the disease. Saint Peregrine would not even take time out to be sick. Now, a very tired and sick sixty years old, he could barely stand. A cancerous growth, on his right leg, had spread dangerously, and there was no way out. He had to be operated on!
He had worked among the sick, ignoring his own pain and the seriousness of his illness, for years. Now, it seemed, the Lord was saying, through the doctors, there was nothing that could be done; the leg had to be amputated! Or was that the Lord talking?
All his life, his greatest struggle had been obedience. That was the room of his heart, he would have to hand over to Jesus, again and again. No sooner did he allow the Lord into that part of his will, he would, at the next crisis, shut him out again. He always judged himself the reluctant giver. But the Lord really does not care how you do it; He loves reluctant and willing, the same.
The Lord was waiting for his total surrender! Peregrine turned the entire matter over to Jesus. But, it wouldn’t hurt to pray! If, the next day, when he awakened from the operation, he was to be in the Presence of Jesus and Mary, in his Heavenly home, what better way to prepare for the journey? They would not reject him, as even those he’d helped had. The sight of his sore, and the stench emanating from it, repulsed them. Did he surrender all those hurts over to the Lord and His Mother?
The night before he was scheduled to be operated on, he went into the chapter room of the Priory. He was all alone. He prayed before a fresco of Jesus Crucified. He fell into a deep sleep. He had a vision of the Lord. Our Lord came down from His Cross and reaching out to his cancerous leg, He touched it, ever so gently, with His Healing Hand.
The next morning, he awakened, resigned to the operation. Like with so many of us, the Lord had been just waiting for his yes. Peregrine was amazed! His leg didn’t hurt. He could stand, he could walk, without pain! He was completely healed!
The operation never took place. When the surgeons investigated the leg, they reported there was not a trace of the illness. As Bob likes to say, tell an Italian and you tell the world; news of this miracle spread. People, who knew and loved him, had been following anxiously the progressive deterioration of Peregrine’s health. Imagine when they heard, he had been completely cured! And overnight!
Peregrine lived for another twenty years. People continued to come to him, for help. Before, it had been for spiritual direction and healing of the soul; now they came seeking miracles of the body. Like with his Lord, he didn’t care why they came, he said yes!
There were miracles, even before his death. As we say, in Lourdes, no one went away disappointed. Many were healed of the cancer that attacked their bodies, but we are sure as many, if not more, left cured of the cancer that spreads and kills the soul. Through the Sacrament, he so lovingly administered, that of Reconciliation, they went away with new life. Remembering that Jesus first said, before healing physically, “Your sins are forgiven you,” imagine the next twenty years for Peregrine in the confessional. It had to be the culmination of this faithful priest’s life!
Peregrine was eighty years old, but when he looked upon his Lady, it was like the first time; he was young! The young cavalier in the old priest’s body was ready to ride gallantly forth with his Lady. On May 1st, 1345, consumed now by fever, with his last spark of life, Peregrine’s spirit soared, like a rocket of fire, to his Lord and to the Lady he so loved. She had called him from the world, to life as a religious. Now, Mary was calling him out of the world, to live eternally with her and her Son, Jesus.
All his life as a religious, had been a preparation for this, his entrance into eternal life. We know, as Peregrine called out, “Jesus! Mary!” They lifted him and carried him Home.