One story that has always stood out in my head comes from one of my all time favorite books Raised From the Dead by Father Albert J. Hebert, S.M. This book should be required reading for all Catholic students.
The story demonstrates that God can do things completely against the ordinary way of things. In the following case, we see that it’s possible for a person to get a second chance after death to be saved.
St. Anthony of Padua
When Anthony was a monk in Padua, there occurred what is perhaps the most astonishing miracle of his entire life. It so happened that Anthony’s father, Don Martino, was unfairly implicated in a murder, and was imprisoned. Assassins had murdered a young nobleman coming from the cathedral. Don Martino’s home was a palace near the cathedral, and the murderers – whether by design or panic – threw the body of their victim into the garden of the palace of Don Martino.
Although Anthony was far away in Padua, Italy, by miraculous knowledge he immediately knew of the plight of his father. He was Provincial of his Franciscan province at the time and had no need to ask, but out of humility he requested permission of the Father Guardian of the convent at Arcella to be absent for a while. He then began the long, weary journey on foot from Padua to Lisbon, wondering if he would arrive in time to help his father.
Steadied by hope, St. Anthony found himself suddenly transported to Lisbon. He immediately entered the courts where the trial had begun and approached the judges, who were amazed to see him there. When Anthony declared his father’s innocence, they asked for proof; Anthony replies, “The murdered man shall bear witness as to the truth of my testimony.” It would certainly take a great faith and trust to venture such a statement, but Anthony confidently led the way to the victim’s grave. The judges and an expectant crowd followed.
At the burial site Anthony commanded the grave to be opened and the body uncovered. He then commanded the dead man, in the name of God, to declare whether or not Martino de Bouillon was his murderer. All gaped as the dead man, in his grave clothes, rose to a sitting position, and rested himself upon one hand. With the other hand raised to Heaven and to God (as one swearing at court), the resuscitated man declared in a loud voice that Martino de Bouillon was innocent.
Then the revived man turned to Anthony and asked absolution from an excommunication he was under. Anthony obliged, and the man sank back in his coffin, a corpse once more.
The judges, caught in an astonishing situation, asked Anthony who, then, was the guilty party or parties. Anthony replied, as more than one saint has done in a similar case, “I come to clear the innocent, not to denounce the guilty.”
When Anthony arrived back in Padua, he had been absent only two nights and a single day.
(pp. 73, 74)
Many more fascinating stories like this can be found in the book Raised from the Dead. I hope you buy and read it.