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   The Life of Dominic Savio

  Chapter XXIII  

His Last Moments and Holy Death.

It is one of the maxims of our Faith that at the hour of death we reap the fruit of our good works during life: Quae seminaverit homo, haec et metet. However, it sometimes happens that good, pious people experience fear and dread at the approach of death. This is in accordance with the adorable decrees of God, who wishes to purify those souls from the small stains they may have contracted, so that they may increase their merit in heaven.

It was not thus with Dominic Savio. It is my conviction that God deigned to give him the hundredfold, which He bestows upon the souls of the just, as a preliminary to the glory of Paradise. And indeed the innocence which he preserved to the last moment of his life, his generous Faith, his habit of constant prayer, his mortifications, and the sufferings which had, as it were, beset his life, certainly merited that consolation for him at the hour of death.

Hence it was that he perceived his end approaching with the tranquillity of an innocent soul; it would seem that he did not feel even the suffering and oppressiveness which are a natural outcome of the efforts of the soul to break the bonds by which it is united to the body. In short, Savio's death was more like the passing into a peaceful slumber.

By the evening of March 9th he had received all the consolations of our Holy Religion. Anyone listening to his voice, or noticing his cheerful countenance, would have thought he was lying in bed for a little rest. His bright manner, his looks, still full of life, the complete possession of his senses, quite astonished everyone, and nobody, except himself, believed him to be on the point of death.

An hour and a half before he passed away, the parish priest came to see him, and seeing how calm he was, he was surprised to hear him recommending his soul to God. He continued to make aspirations and short ejaculations expressing his desire to go speedily to heaven.

The priest remarked: "I am at a loss to know what to suggest for the recommendation of a soul of this sort."

He recited some prayers, and was about to leave, when Dominic asked him for some final thought by way of souvenir. The priest said he could recommend nothing to him but the thought of the Sacred Passion; Dominic thanked him for this and continued to recall it, and to repeat invocations to Jesus and Mary. Then he rested for about half an hour.

At the end of that time he turned to his parents and said: "Father, it is time."

The father replied: "I am here, my son, what would you like?"

"It is time, father; get my prayer book, and read the prayers for a good death."

At these words the mother began to weep, and had to go out of the room. The father was greatly moved, but he restrained his grief so as to read the prayers. Dominic repeated them after him, and, in the proper place, said by himself: "Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me." When they came to the part which says: "But deign to receive me into Thy Kingdom where I may for ever sing Thy praises," Dominic added: "Yes, that is exactly what I desire; to sing the praises of God for all eternity." He now seemed to rest a moment, as though pondering over something in his mind. Then he opened his eyes again, and said with a clear voice, and a smiling countenance: "Goodbye, father, goodbye; the priest wanted to tell me something else, but I cannot remember it now . . . . Oh! what a beautiful sight I behold ...." Thus saying, with his hands joined, and a heavenly smile, his soul passed away.

Yes, go forth, faithful soul, to meet thy Creator; Heaven is opened to thee, and the angels and saints are rejoicing for thee; Jesus, whom you loved so much, invites you and says: "Come, good and faithful servant, thou hast fought and won the victory, come and enjoy that happiness which will never fail: Intra in gaudium Domini tui."