St. Bernardino Realino - Pushing open the door I saw with my own eyes Father Bernardino raised from the ground
Type of Spiritual Experience
Friar Herbert Thurston was a Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order and an historian. He wrote extensively on Catholic mysticism and psychic phenomena and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research. He was also widely read on this subject. He is described as ‘an honest skeptic’., and once said ‘the role of Devil’s advocate is a thankless one and does not make for popularity’.
A description of the experience
Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism
St. Bernardino Realino, S.J; died at Lecce in Southern Italy in 1616. In the inquiry held at Naples in 1621, Signor Tobias da Ponte, a gentleman of rank and high character, deposed upon oath that in the year 1608 or thereabouts he came to Lecce to ask the spiritual help of this venerable and holy priest. It was, said the witness, a Saturday in April after Easter.
The Father's door seemed to be closed to visitors, and accordingly Signor Tobias took a seat in a lobby which was just outside his room.
As he sat with his eyes on the room door, he noticed that the door was not completely shut and that through the aperture a certain glow or radiance of light was streaming. This appearance puzzled him and he began to wonder whether there could be a fire within.
Accordingly he drew near and pushed the door a little further open in order to peep into the room. Thereupon he perceived Father Bernardino in a kneeling attitude before his prie-dieu, his face turned towards heaven, his eyes closed and his whole body lifted a good two and a half feet above the floor (sin aria sollevato da quattro buoni palmi sopra), while, rapt in ecstasy as he was, he kept repeating these words:
Gesu Maria state in mia compagnia.
The witness then described the feelings of reverence mingled with fear which led him, after gazing for a while at this spectacle, to slink away home like a culprit, though he had time to notice again the radiance which streamed from the room through the partly opened doorway.
So far I have summarized the report, but now I translate textually:
Being asked to take good heed and bethink himself whether all that he had described was not rather an hallucination or fancy of his brain and whether the radiance and light he had seen was not a reflexion of the sun's rays or an ocular deception or some other natural effect, he answered:
"The thing was so clear, unmistakable and real, that not only do I seem to see it still but I am as certain of it as I am of speaking now, or of seeing the things around me. ... I noticed the light coming through the doorway not only once, but twice, thrice and four times, before the shadow of any such idea occurred to me. And so I began to debate with myself how there could be any fire in the room, since the rays which issued from it could only be caused by a great fire, just as when the blacksmiths at their forge are hammering the red-hot iron on the anvil, and so I stood up on purpose and pushing open the door I saw with my own Eyes Father Bernardino raised from the ground as unmistakably as I now see your Illustrious Lordship. . . ."
And being again admonished and bidden to be careful not to be led by any mistaken sense of devotion to exaggerate or to represent the facts otherwise than as they really were, because the saints had no need of such perverse championship, but on the contrary are displeased thereby, and being asked again whether any part of his statement needed modification, he replied:
"what I have deposed is the whole, pure and unvarnished truth, without fiction or exaggeration, and it seems to me a small matter in comparison with the sanctity, virtue and miracles of Father Bernardino."