“If mother only knew what has become of me!My lips mouth the Our Fathers and the HailMarys, but my soul has no religion,and I’ve become so sinful…”
In the mid 1800’s there lived in Paris a good woman who, after her husband died, was left destitute. The widow had an only son, Hubald, who was her pride and joy.
Worn down by poverty, sacrifice, and worry, she became critically ill.
Calling her son to her bedside she said, “Hubald, son, I am about to die. I would like to make a last will.”
“Mother,” remonstrated the lad, “We’ve never had less; what can you possibly leave me?”
“I have a treasure to leave you,” said his dying mother, “Reach under my pillow.”
Doing so, Hubald pulled out a Rosary.
“This is what I leave you, my son,” gasped the mother, “I have nothing else, but this Rosary is enough. In honor of your dying mother, promise me that you will say it every day.”
“I promise,” said Hubald, his eyes awash. “I promise never to let a day pass without praying the Rosary on your beads.”
And so the lady breathed her last. After the funeral, alone and penniless in the world, the young man joined the army and was sent to the Crimea. Hubald proved a worthy soldier, and quickly attained military rank. At the age of thirty he was promoted to Colonel.
Unfortunately, his spiritual life did not keep pace with his military advancement. Gradually, through the years, Colonel Hubald had given up all practice of religion and all religious sentiment. Still, he kept his sacred promise to his dying mother, and no matter how busy or stressed, he found fifteen minutes each day in which to finger her beads, and recite the Rosary.
At times he thought regretfully, “If mother only knew what has become of me! My lips mouth the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys but my soul has no religion, and I’ve become so sinful…”
On September 7, 1855, when the army camped in the vicinity of Malakoff, during the siege of Sebastopol, Hubald lay in his cot. He was thus reflecting on the faithlessness and sinfulness of his life, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Colonel, are you awake?”
Turning, Hubald recognized the Army Chaplain. As they shook hands, the priest felt the Rosary beads.
“I’m so glad to see you praying the Rosary, Colonel. I did not think you so devout.”
“I’m not, Father. I say the Rosary in remembrance of my Mother…” And he proceeded to relate his story.
Taking advantage of the emotion of the moment, the good priest spoke words of encouragement and comfort to Hubald, assuring him that God wanted nothing more than to forgive him all his sins.
“Colonel, why don’t you open your soul in Confession? I assure you that your heart will know the peace and serenity which you no longer believe possible.”
Touched by grace, the soldier humbly bowed his head, and making a general confession, unloaded years of sin and remorse. As the priest raised his hand in absolution, an indescribable joy flooded Hubald’s soul.
While he basked in this new-found feeling, there was a trumpet blast and the cry,
Assembling his troops, the Colonel rode into the fray. There was a fierce battle, men falling on all sides, but hours later the victory went to the French.
Among the dead, struck by a fatal bullet, was found Colonel Hubald. In his pocket he had his mother’s beads.
The Rosary had opened heaven to him.
Rewritten by Andrea F. Phillips, based on a story by Rev. James Alberione, in his book Glories and Virtues of Mary