A Resurrected Man Chooses to Return to Purgatory
Peter Miles, raised from the dead by St. Stanislaus of Krakow, Poland, preferred to return to Purgatory rather than to live again upon earth. The celebrated miracle of this resurrection happened in 1070 and is related in the Acta Sanctorum on May 7.
St. Stanislaus was Bishop of Krakow when the Duke Boleslaw II governed Poland (1058-1079). He did not neglect to remind this Prince of his duties, who scandalously violated them before all his people.
Boleslaw was irritated by the holy admonishment of the Prelate. In revenge, he incited against him the heirs of a certain Peter Miles, who had died three years before, after having sold a piece of ground to the Church in Krakow.
The heirs accused the Saint of having usurped the ground without having paid the owner. Stanislaus declared that he had paid for the land. However, since the witnesses who should have defended him had been either bribed or intimidated, he was denounced as a usurper of that property and condemned to make restitution.
Then, seeing that he had nothing to expect from human justice, St. Stanislaus raised his heart to God and received a sudden inspiration. He asked for a delay of three days in court, promising to make Peter Miles appear in person so that he might testify to the legal purchase and payment of the property.
The days were granted to him in scorn. The Saint fasted, watched and prayed God to take up the defense of his cause.
The third day, after having celebrated Holy Mass, he went out accompanied by his clergy and many of the faithful to the place where Peter Miles had been interred. On his order the grave was opened; it contained nothing but bones. He touched them with his crosier, and in the name of Christ Who is the Resurrection and the Life, he commanded the dead man to arise.
Suddenly the bones became reunited, were covered with flesh and, in sight of the stupefied people, the dead man was seen to take the Bishop by the hand and walk towards the tribunal. Duke Boleslaw, with his court and an immense crowd of people, were awaiting the result with the most lively expectation.
“Behold Peter,” said the Saint to Boleslaw. “He comes, Prince, to give testimony before you. Interrogate him. He will answer you.”
It is impossible to depict the stupefaction of the Duke, his councilors and of the whole concourse of people.
Peter affirmed that he had been paid for the ground. Then, turning towards his heirs, he reproached them for having accused the pious Prelate against all rights of justice. Then, he exhorted them to do penance for so grievous a sin.
Thus it was that iniquity, which believed itself already sure of success, was confounded.
Wishing to complete this great miracle for the glory of God, Stanislaus proposed to the deceased that, if he desired to live a few years longer, he would obtain for him this favor from God, for whom nothing is impossible.
Peter replied that he had no such desire. He was in Purgatory, but he would rather return there immediately and endure its pains than expose himself to damnation in this terrestrial life. He entreated the Saint only to beg of God to shorten the time of his sufferings, that he might the sooner enter the abode of the blessed.
After that, accompanied by the Bishop and a vast multitude, Peter returned to his grave, laid himself down, his body fell to pieces, and his bones resumed the same state in which they had first been found.
We have reason to believe that the Saint soon obtained the deliverance of his soul from the sufferings of Purgatory.
What is the most remarkable in this example is that a man’s soul from Purgatory, after having experienced the most excruciating torments, prefers that state of suffering to the life of this world. The reason which he gives for this preference is that in this mortal life we are exposed to the danger of being lost and incurring eternal damnation.