The cats stopped purring when they heard the singing. Pricking up their ears they ran from the kitchen into the library, and out through the cat flap into the walled garden. The hermits followed them.
As they opened the library door, the hermits heard the singing, which was very clear. They looked up into the sky and saw the beautiful crescent moon that they had just seen hovering over the Vatican. It seemed more beautiful and enchanting than it had seemed in Rome. The cats had stopped still, their ears alert to the lovely sounds. The hermits looked towards the herb garden and the bushes there. These seemed to be pulsating with golden and silvery lights. The cats of course were so used to seeing beautiful and wonderful things, that they were not surprised. However they felt no need to talk. They sat and waited, for this is where they had had their first encounter with St. Colette and her companions, and sure enough a moment later St. Colette stepped out from behind the Buddleia bush, followed by St. Bridget, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Hildegard. They were carrying shimmering lanterns that cast blue and silvery light all over the lawn. They smiled as they sang Alleluia. The hermits looked on amazed and wondered what else might happen. They were not disappointed; there was more rustling from behind the Buddleia and there were St. John Bosco, St. Francis, and St. Martin de Porres, but not with their attendant animals. They too smiled, and in their hands they carried great candles that cast a golden light which mingled with the silvery light of the lanterns. From the opposite side of the garden, the gate opened of its own accord, and there were St. Anthony of Egypt, St. Benedict, St. Romuald, St. Sergius, and St. Seraphim. They were swinging magnificent silver censers, which filled the air with the scent, not of incense, but of roses and lilies. These monks and hermits also acknowledged the hermits and, with the other saints, formed a semi circle in front of Brother Damon, Sister Colette, and Brother Stephen. The cats found themselves, separated from the hermits, inside the semicircle. The singing got louder and more beautiful until the hermits thought that their hearts would burst with joy.
“Look up for the Queen of Heaven comes!” said St. Colette. Looking up the hermits saw that Our Lady was standing on the Crescent Moon. She was smiling radiantly at them. She began to float down, and was now surrounded by angels and saints. The angels and the saints with Our Lady joined in the singing with the saints in the garden. Nearer and nearer She came, and then the hermits could see that she had with her, her spouse, St. Joseph, St. Juan Diego, St. Bernadette, Blessed Francisco, and Blessed Jacinta. Heading the procession was St. Clare, who like her name was radiating light. On her left was St Teresa of Avila, whose face was wreathed in smiles, and on her right was St Thérèse. She too was smiling a smile that was full of mirth. It was as if she was saying “Well done!” The three hermits all felt that, but also felt that perhaps she had made a mistake; you see they were very everyday sort of hermits, even mediocre. However they were not left long to contemplate their weaknesses and sins, for there before them was The Mother of God. If all the smiles that the hermits had witnessed seemed so heart warming, they were nothing compared to the smile of Mary.
The semicircle of the saints parted, as did the semicircle of cats. The hermits had found to their amazement that they had been kneeling. Our Lady then spoke, in a voice so gentle , so warm, and so reassuring:
“My beloved children though you are so weak, and so concerned about the state of the Church and the World, and though things are terrible, you must be filled with hope and joy; for surely you know that I have crushed the Devil’s head, and that my Son is victorious.
You must know that your dear cats have been such wonderful ambassadors for you, not only to The Holy Father, my beloved Francis, and to my equally beloved Pope Benedict, but to others as well. They have voiced your concerns so well and so accurately. Their little hearts have beaten with yours and have done what you would not have been able to do. They have charmed the hearts of those whom they have met.
Know my dearest ones that you are dear to me, as are all my children. Know that I am the Virgin made Church, and My Son is the head of the Church. I know that you love the Church, but I want you not to worry, for I and my beloved Spouse St. Joseph keep a constant watch over her.” Here Our Lady looked at St. Joseph, and he at her, and that look of perfect understanding seemed to say ‘All is well, all is well!’. She then turned again to the hermits, and her face became serious. “You will have much to suffer, as do all my children who long for the salvation of souls, but do not worry, put all care aside. Entrust everything to me your mother. I will say what I said to my beloved son, Juan Diego;
Listen and let it penetrate your heart my dear little children. Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?
Now I have said all that your hearts need to know. Though you will have sufferings enough, I will be always with you. Farewell my dear little cats, Farewell my dear children, Farewell.”
With that The Queen of Heaven opened her arms in prayer, and looked down with the most tender of looks upon the three hermits and from her Immaculate Heart streamed such light and love that they felt that they could not live and experience such love for more than a few seconds, and then Our Lady and all the saints were gone.
The hermits were alone with the cats. They got up off their knees. Sister Colette had to be helped by the Brother Damon and Brother Stephen. “This back of mine is a nuisance.” she said. “Well what do you expect? You did break it after all.” said Brother Stephen. “You could have asked Our Lady to heal it.” remarked Brother Damon. “If I hadn’t broken it, I would not have been able to join you.” said Sister Colette. “True” said Brother Damon. The three went into the library followed by some very thoughtful cats and closed the door.
“It’s a pity they no longer understand us.” said Lizzie. “I know” said Molly, “but perhaps it’s for the best.” “It would make things a lot easier.” said Bushy. “we could tell them what we would like to eat every day.” “Really Bushy, all you can think of is your stomach.” said Lizzie. All the cats began to laugh at this, but all the hermits could hear were ‘meows’. “I wonder what they want?” asked Brother Stephen. “Well I know what I want, and that’s a cup of tea.” said Brother Damon.“What a good idea” said Brother Stephen. “Do you want one sister” he asked Sister Colette. “I’d love one.” she replied. “Well put the kettle on Laddie, put the kettle on!” said Brother Damon. It must be added that Brother Damon was eight years younger than Brother Stephen, and five years younger than Sister Colette, but he, unlike them had been the oldest in his family, and they had been the youngest in theirs. Sister Colette smiled at Brother Stephen and the three of them went into the Kitchen. What they were unaware of, was that the saints were still with them, and were looking down upon them, unseen.
Lizzie and Molly looked at the saints smiling down on the hermits, as they drank their tea, and winked up at them.
“Nothing is lost, Molly, nothing is lost.” Lizzy mused to her sister.
“I know” said Molly, “but I wish we could still talk to them.”
“So do I.” said Bushy and with that he went off to look for something to eat.