LONG, long ago, there lived in Paris a juggler, Francis by name. His tricks, magic, and jugglery pleased children, young and old alike. And when, at the end of the performance, he took his hat round, they would fill it with coins to make him happy. At the end of the day, Francis would go to the Virgin Mary’s church and thank Her for giving him his daily bread.

One evening Francis saw in the church some monks kneeling down and loudly offering prayers to the Virgin Mary. This holy sight made his simple and pure heart overflow with love for Her. He looked up and said in a sad tone, “Alas! I don’t know those prayers. How can I please you, Mother Mary?”

But his pure heart soon showed him the way. He patiently waited till all the monks left the church. When all was quiet, he slowly entered the church and closed its big doors so that none could disturb him.

Francis took out of his bag knives, glass plates, lead balls and many other things and started his performance. Now and then, he would say aloud with joy, “Does this juggling please you, Mother Mary?”

One of the monks who lived close by heard these strange sounds and came running to the church. Seeing the big doors closed, he peeped through the large keyhole of the door. What did the monk see? Francis stood with his head on the ground and his legs up in the air. With both his feet he was turning round and throwing up two big lead balls, one after the other. He was joyfully asking the Virgin Mary, “How do you like this one, Mother Mary?” Just then, one of the heavy lead balls slipped from his feet and fell down, hitting hard his forehead. Francis fainted and lay still on the ground.

The monk saw all this through the keyhole but he did not know what to do. Just at that time he saw a big flash of light inside. Out of that light, the Virgin Mary appeared and came down the steps of the altar. Coming close to Francis, She knelt down and wiped the sweat off his forehead with the edge of Her silken robe. By the time the monk opened the door, the Virgin Mary had vanished.

“Blessed are the pure in heart,” said the monk ‘because they win the grace of God.’

  1. What did the monk learn from Francis?
  2. Describe what is purity of heart, in your own words.
  3. Suppose you feel like pleasing God. What would you do?
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