Friar Anselmo (God's grace may he win!)
Committed one sad day a deadly sin;
Which being done he drew back, self-abhorred,
From the rebuking presence of the Lord,
And, kneeling down, besought, with bitter cry,
Since life was worthless grown, that he might die.
All night he knelt, and, when the morning broke,
In patience still he waits death's fatal stroke.
When all at once a cry of sharp distress
Aroused Anselmo from his wretchedness;
And, looking from the convent window high,
He saw a wounded traveller gasping lie
Just underneath, who, bruised and stricken sore,
Had crawled for aid unto the convent door.
The friar's heart with deep compassion stirred,
When the poor wretch's groans for help were heard
With gentle hands, and touched with love divine,
He bathed his wounds, and poured in oil and wine.
With tender foresight cared for all his needs,--
A blessed ministry of noble deeds.
In such devotion passed seven days. At length
The poor wayfarer gained his wonted strength.
With grateful thanks he left the convent walls,
And once again on death Anselmo calls.
When, lo! his cell was filled with sudden light,
And on the wall he saw an angel write,
(An angel in whose likeness he could trace,
More noble grown, the traveller's form and face),
"Courage, Anselmo, though thy sin be great,
God grants thee life that thou may'st expiate.
"Thy guilty stains shall be washed white again,
By noble service done thy fellow-men.
"His soul draws nearest unto God above,
Who to his brother ministers in love."
Meekly Anselmo rose, and, after prayer,
His soul was lightened of its past despair.
Henceforth he strove, obeying God's high will,
His heaven-appointed mission to fulfil.
And many a soul, oppressed with pain and grief,
Owed to the friar solace and relief.