Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Sinners, who receive the Divine Grace on earnestly seeking it
OF SINNERS, WHO RECEIVE THE DIVINE GRACE ON EARNESTLY SEEKING IT.
A certain emperor made a law by which if any woman were taken in adultery she should be condemned to perpetual imprisonment. It happened that a knight espoused a noble lady, to whom he was greatly attached. Being called by some emergency into foreign parts, his wife fell under the sentence of the law. She was accordingly cast into a dungeon, and there brought forth a remarkably handsome boy. The child grew, and was beloved by all who saw him. But the mother consumed her hours in groans and tears, nor experienced the smallest comfort. The boy, observing the continual lamentation of his mother, said to her, "For what reason, dearest mother, do you afflict yourself in this manner?" "Oh, my son!" returned she, "I have much reason to weep. Above our heads is an intercourse with mankind; and there the sun shines in his splendour. Here, we are kept in utter darkness, and light never blesses our sight." "I am ignorant of all this," said the boy, "because I was born in prison. As long as I receive a sufficiency of meat and drink, I shall willingly remain here." As they thus conversed, the emperor and his guards were passing the place of their confinement. One of them solicited his sovereign to liberate the mother and son; and he, compassionating their distress, and in consideration of the entreaties of his attendants, set them at liberty, and absolved them from future punishment.
My beloved, the emperor is our heavenly Father: the wife, is the soul; and the husband, is Christ. The prison is hell. The child is the powerful and wealthy of the world, who are satisfied with sensual delights. The intercessor is any good prelate.