The Gates of Hell

It was January 3rd, 1863. From the upper balcony of a run-down building in an outlying section of Paris, Father Eymard looked down into the garden at the recently arrived novice. He was alone and on his knees, reading a book.

Father Eymard sighed loudly and spoke to the priest beside him, “How is our Brother Augustin progressing, Father de Cuers?”

“Not well, I’m afraid,” he replied in a concerned tone, “He’s only here in honor of his sister, you remember... she was at the convent of the Community of the Holy Infant... died of peritonitis a few months ago... I’ve never seen such utter devastation in a man before. Such despair...”

“Such deep emotion is a sign of the love that he’s capable of, Father de Cuers. But do you think he has a calling?”

Father de Cuers stared down at the shiny white surplice of Brother Augustin for a minute before answering.

“If we could get him to focus... only then will we find out.”

Father Eymard squinted, his eyes on the book that Brother Augustin was holding.

“What is that volume he always carries with him?”

Father de Cuers shook his head in exasperation, “It’s Dante, Father, the Divine Comedy. He even reads it at adoration.”

“Okay then,” Father Eymard said, “it’s decided he must focus. He was a decorator before he came to us, no? A craftsman? Let’s have him work on his art... and take that book from him, the Gates of Hell shall not prevail!”

When it came time for Brother Augustin to make his vows for the priesthood, he instead departed once again as Auguste Rodin with the encouraging approval of Father Eymard. In his pocket again was Dante. In his soul was hope. And in his heart was a fire for creation.

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