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Ms A 61r

[61r°] continued to look toward the ruins into which I wanted to descend; I didn’t see any angels, but I did see what I was looking for and I cried to Céline: “Come quick! We can get through!” We crossed the barrier where there was an opening, the fallen masonry hardly [5] reaching up to the barrier, and we were climbing down over the ruins that rumbled under our feet.

Papa stared at us, surprised at our boldness. He was calling us back, but the two fugitives no longer heard anything. Just as warriors experience an increase in courage in the presence of danger, so our joy increased proportionately to the trouble we met with in attaining the object [10] of our desire. Céline had listened to the guide and remembering that he had pointed out a tiny bit of pavement marked with a cross as the place where the martyrs fought, we began looking for it. We soon found it and threw ourselves on our knees on this sacred soil, and our souls were united in the same prayer. My heart was beating hard when my [15] lips touched the dust stained with the blood of the first Christians. I asked for the grace of being a martyr for Jesus and felt that my prayer was answered! All this was accomplished in a very short time; gathering up a few stones, we returned to the fallen walls and began the dangerous ascent. Papa, seeing us so happy, [20] didn’t have the heart to scold us and I could easily see he was proud of our courage. God visibly protected us, for the other pilgrims hadn’t noticed our absence. They were farther away, absorbed in the examination of magnificent arches, the guide calling their attention to “the little CORNICES carrying figures of CUPIDS,” and so neither he nor the priests knew anything about the joy that inundated our hearts.

The Catacombs, too, left a deep impression on me. They were exactly as

 

 

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