Long, long ago there lived a saint so good that the astonished angels came down from heaven to see how a mortal could be so good.
He simply went about his daily life, diffusing virtue as a star diffuses Light, and the flowers perfume, without even being aware of it.
Two words summed up his day: He Gave And He Forgave. Yet these words never fell from his lips; they were expressed in his ready smile, in his kindness, his forbearance and charity.
The angels said to God, “Oh, Lord, grant him the gift of miracles.” God replied, “I consent; ask what he desires.”
So they said to the Saint, “Should you like the touch of your hand to heal the sick?” “No”, answered the Saint, “I would rather God should do that.”
“Should you like to convert guilty souls and bring wandering hearts to the right path?” “No; that is the mission of angels. I pray, I do not convert.”
“Should you like to become a model of patience, attracting all men by the luster of your virtue, and thus glorify God?” “No, “ replied the Saint, “If men should be attracted to me, they would be estranged from God. The Lord has other means of glorifying himself.”
“What do you desire, then?” cried the angels.
“What can I wish for,” asked the Saint smiling, “that God give me His grace; with that should I not have everything?” But the angels insisted. “You must ask for a miracle or one will be thrust upon you.”
“Very well,” said the Saint. “That I may do a great deal of good without even knowing it.”
The angels were greatly perplexed. They took counsel together, and resolved upon the following plan: Every time the Saint’s shadow should fall behind, or at either side, so that he could not see it, it would have the power to cure diseases, soothe pain, and comfort sorrow.
And so it came to pass, when the Saint walked along, his shadow upon either side or behind him, made arid paths green, caused withered plants to bloom, gave clear water to dried up brooks, fresh color to pale little children, and joy to unhappy mothers.
But the Saint simply went about his daily life diffusing virtue as a star diffuses Light and the flowers perfume, without even being aware of it.
And the people respected his humility, followed him silently, never speaking to him about his miracle.
Little by little they came even to forget his name and called him only “The Holy Shadow”.