By Sister Nancy Linenkugel, OSF
You wouldn’t believe it. In fact, no one would believe it. The story isn’t plausible, but far-fetched instead. Do you need more medication, Nancy? No. I don’t need anything. In fact, if no one believes me, it really doesn’t matter. I know what I know. And I believe it. It’s powerful, I tell you.
Let me start at the beginning. Not long ago I was on the west side of Cincinnati with a little extra time before an orchestra rehearsal, I drove by a somewhat-closed-down shopping center that was advertising a new furniture store. Although I wasn’t shopping for furniture, something made me stop.
The store was huge inside—a couple of football fields huge. Not only was this a furniture store, but also there were home goods of all types. Every inch of the floor space was taken up with various groupings of living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture arrangements plus tall shelving for smaller items around the edges. Still not sure what I was doing inside, I strolled around the merchandise and quickly realized that everything in the store was discontinued, one-of-a-kind, or closeout merchandise. Prices were posted, but negotiable. So I kept walking around.
I barely got a third of the way through the furniture groupings and there it was—a figurine situated on an end table. From where I was standing it looked like a St. Francis statue so I got closer. Indeed it was a St. Francis statue about 30” tall. Having seen many St. Francis statues, pictures, and renderings over the years, I quickly realized it was a Francis depiction I had never seen before.
The material was a hollow indoor/outdoor quasi-metallic substance. The Francis figure protected a splayed dove at his chest with his left hand and his right hand reached down to touch the wolf wrapped around him at the side. I was taken by two things: the wolf was a shaggy wolf—not a docile dog as is often pictured, and the burnish around Francis’ eyes screamed an eye ailment. I was mesmerized.
An employee came along to see if he could help, so I asked how much the statue was. The employee said, “Oh, I’ll go get James. He makes all the deals”. So after a few minutes James came by, glibly quoted the price plus gave background information about what a deal that was compared to its original price. I said that I’d think about it. James left me for about 10 minutes and then returned. During that time I just knew there was something special about the statue and I had to have it.
When James came back, we talked price. He told me about the Christian owner and how important Jesus was to the business, hence the Christian music playing throughout the store. I told him I was a Franciscan nun. After a few back-and-forths, we agreed on a price, I picked up Francis, carried him to the checkout, paid, put him in the car on the passenger side floor, and went off to rehearsal. When I was driving home from the rehearsal two hours later, I put my hand on Francis’ head to steady the statue for the entire 20-minute drive home. What I didn’t expect was the sense of peace that was flowing from this statue into me.
Once I got home, I put the statue outside my residence door so I can touch Francis’ head every time I leave and return. The sense of peace I carry with me these days is unbelievable. I credit this statue as having a mystical power to help with that. I haven’t changed anything else so I believe this Francis has a miraculous effect.