The Franciscan Chronicles report that two friars, on their way to visit a sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, were surprised by night in the thick of a forest. Although full of fear and anguish, they resolved to go on. Shortly afterwards they thought they saw a house. They arrive, knock at the door, and from inside ask: "Who goes there!" "We are some friars going on pilgrimage; we have been surprised by the night in the forest and we are looking for shelter". The door opens and they are received courteously by two richly attired pages. The friars asked them who lived
in that mansion. The pages replied that a very pious lady lived there. "We would like to thank her for her generous hospitality..." "Let us go and greet her," said the pages, "for the lady will be pleased to speak to you. As they climbed the stairs they saw all the rooms brightly lit and richly furnished. There was an unfamiliar fragrance in them. In the best of the rooms was the lady of very distinguished and extremely beautiful bearing, who received them with great affability and courtesy. She asked them the purpose of their journey, to which the friars replied, "We are going on pilgrimage to the shrine of Mary." "In that case," replied the lady, "when you leave, I will give you a letter which will be of much profit to you. As the lady spoke to them, they were inflamed with the love of God, enjoying a joy hitherto unknown. Then they retired to rest, but they could hardly sleep because of the joy that filled their hearts.
The next morning, after bidding farewell to the lady and thanking her for such a welcome, they went on their way. No sooner had they gone a short distance from the house than they noticed that the lady's letter was unaddressed. They retraced their steps looking for the lady's house, but did not find it. They finally opened the letter to see to whom it was addressed, and saw that it was addressed to themselves and that it was from the Blessed Virgin. From the contents they realized that the lady with whom they had spoken the night before and who had lodged them was the Virgin Mary, who, because of their devotion to her, had given them lodging and food in the middle of the forest. Who can describe the thanksgiving that those good religious paid to the Mother of God? Who can express how their desire to love her always and to serve her increased?
St. Alphonsus Liguori