The following story is found in Saint John Eudes’ book on The Sacred Heart:
One of the fathers of the Society of Jesus, in his history of the Crusades for the deliverance of the Holy Land, reports the following incident. In the year 1098, Geoffrey de la Tour, a nobleman from Limoges and one of the most valiant of the Christian knights, one day heard the roar of a lion, which sounded like a cry of pain.
Immediately he entered a near-by wood and ran to the spot from which the roaring came.
There he saw a horrible sight. A huge serpent had wound its coils around the lion’s body and legs, so that it was powerless to defend itself. The serpent was darting its venomous tongue, trying to strike the lion in a vital spot.
Geoffrey rushed forward with his sword and killed the snake without wounding the lion. The
poor beast, finding itself freed and recognizing his deliverer, came to thank the knight, by fawning and licking his feet. From then on, the lion attached itself to the man who had saved its life. It followed him everywhere like a faithful dog, never harming anyone, but ready to turn on a man who might attack its master.
But what is more wonderful is the sequel. When Geoffrey sailed to return to France
after the Crusade, the captain of the ship would not allow the lion to come aboard, so the faithful beast, plunging into the sea, kept on swimming in the wake of the ship until its strength failed and it sank, thus showing that it preferred to drown rather than to be parted from its benefactor.
It should make us ashamed to have to learn the lesson of true gratitude from a wild animal. Must we Christians be taught by dumb beasts what we owe to God, our Sovereign Benefactor?
0 my Savior, Thou has freed me from the coils of the infernal serpent. Thou hast given Thy life to deliver me from the eternal death of hell, and enable me to enjoy everlasting happiness in heaven. Let me be all Thine; let me live only for Thee; let me follow Thee everywhere. May all the faculties of my soul be linked inviolably to Thy divine will. Let me have no thoughts but Thine; let me have no hate except for sin, no love but for Thee. Let me die many deaths rather than ever be separated from Thee.