by Mark Passero

Dear Franciscan Brother Father Joseph,

I was tending the chapel, when I heard gunfire and savaging screams. I looked out of my window to see the heathens climbing the walls, shooting arrows and waving their hatchets, each one landing a deadly blow. 

Shooting gunfire by our soldiers was not enough; they came like locusts destroying crops. I ran and hid behind barrels, dropped on my knees and crawled under wagons until I reached the fort wall. I pushed gates that were never open. I made the sign of the cross and ran out into chaos.

Indians charging inside, more shouting, screaming, and children crying. They did not notice as I plunged deeper into the wooded greenery.

It was thick, hot, and humid with mosquitos. I travelled a short distance, almost far enough from the dreadful battling into the quiet, when I tripped and fell from exhaustion. You know my age of 42, when my bad right leg is pushed to the extreme, it freezes, loses life like the numbing cold.

I crawled to hide behind a tree when a young man jumped in front of me, baring his bloody hatchet. His eyes black as coal, with red paint under his eyes ready to strike. I clasped my hands and prayed and shouted, “Have mercy!”

He held back and he stared in my pleading eyes like a hawk. Then he turned away and disappeared into the woods.

I mustered all my strength and crawled further into the woods. I found a fallen log and under the log was an opening. I hid myself and fell asleep.

Hours passed, the forest was silent. I was hungry. I crawled out and got up. My leg was fine. I noticed a berry bush a short distance away. I picked some and ate. After eating I knelt down and asked God to show me the way out. A voice in my head said, “South.”

I got up and had traveled south a short distance, about 2 hours, when I encountered a small stream. I knelt down for a drink, when a reflection of a man’s face appeared behind mine in the water. Wearing animal skins, he placed his hand on my shoulder. He said something to me. His accent was French, and he noticed I dropped my rosary. He offered his hand and smiled. Then handed me my rosary. He waved his hand to follow him. We headed north.

I was with a group of French trappers. They took off their caps and bowed their heads. The four grinned at me and brought me home. Until today I continue to save them in Christ.


Brother Franciscan Terimalt Sontero

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