Miracle in Hungary
The following is the story of a marvelous miracle that occurred just before Christmas 1956 in Communist-occupied Hungary. It is a true story which demonstrates how powerful the prayers of children are. Woe to those who want to destroy the faith of the young! The account, written by Maria Winowska, appeared in the French language periodical, “Ecclesia,” in March, 1958. The author took the story from Father Norbert, one of the last survivors of Hungary after the insurrection crushed by Russian tanks in 1956. This Father Norbert was the priest in a small Hungarian town of about 1,500 souls and the chaplain of the school where the event took place.
The teacher, Miss Gertrude, a militant atheist, took every opportunity to ridicule belief in God. She made it her mission to destroy her pupils’ Catholic faith, and missed no opportunity to either mock their beliefs or slyly indoctrinate them in Marxist propaganda. Her students, who belonged to deeply Christian families, were not impressed by the teacher’s anti-religious remarks, and Father Norbert did his best to bolster them. He recommended the frequent taking of the sacraments for strength and protection. With a sort of diabolical flair, Miss Gertrude discerned, seemingly at a glance, which pupils had received Holy Communion that morning, and she persisted in bullying them in particular.
Among her students was 10-year-old girl, Angela, first in her class and loved by all her school companions. One day, Angela asked Fr. Norbert to allow her to receive Holy Communion daily to help her stand tall under her teacher’s constant persecution. The priest warned Angela: “She will persecute you even more so.” But the little girl insisted. She had confidence in the strength she would receive from Jesus, who had suffered first. “He was in pain when people spat on Him, and that hasn’t happened to me yet.” The priest, amazed, granted her request, not without concern for Angela.
From then on, he said, the fourth-grade class became a little ‘hell.’ Although Angela knew her lessons well and did her homework perfectly, she was still the object of constant bullying from the schoolmistress. From November, it was a real duel between the teacher and the 10-year-old. Miss Gertrude evidently had the last word; but Angela’s faith was unshakeable, and she refused to accept the teacher’s arguments causing the teacher to become even more ferocious.
In the village and surrounding area, everyone came to know what was happening but no one blamed the priest for having allowed Angela to receive Holy Communion daily. The families were well aware that the teacher was aiming not only at Angela, but at the Christian faith, their common treasure. Angela’s parents encouraged her.
Then came the extraordinary event related by Father Norbert. Here it is, in his own words, reproduced in “Ecclesia,” No. 108, March 1958.
A few days before Christmas, on December 17 to be exact, Miss Gertrude invented a cruel game which, in her opinion, would deal a deathblow to what she termed “ancestral superstitions infesting the school.” Naturally, Angela was put on the spot. In a sweet voice, the teacher questioned her:
“My child, when your parents call you, what do you say?”
“I’m coming,” answered the child in a small, shy voice.
“Perfectly! You hear them calling and you come immediately like a well-behaved little girl. And what happens when your parents call the chimney sweep?”
“He comes too,” said Angela.
Her poor little heart was beating very loudly; she guessed a trap, but did not understand it yet.
Miss Gertrude continued. (She had the eyes of a cat playing with a mouse, one of the students told me later; a mean, mean look.)
“Very well, my child! The chimney sweep comes because he exists. You come, because you exist. But suppose your parents call your grandmother who died, will she come?”
“No, I don’t think so!”
“Correct! What if they call Bluebeard? Or Red Riding Hood? Or Donkey Skin? You like fairy tales. What will happen?”
“No one will come, because these are fairy tales.”
“All right, all right,” the teacher said triumphantly. “It seems that today your intelligence is loosened. So you see, my children, that the living, those who exist, answer. On the other hand, those who do not answer do not live or have ceased to exist. It’s clear, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” answered the class in unison.
“We’ll do a little experiment right away.”
Miss Gertrude asked Angela to step out of the room. Then she had the whole classroom call to her in unison. “Angela, come in!” Angela entered, intrigued, but suspected a trap.
“Girls, we all agree,” Miss Gertrude said. “When you call someone who exists, he comes. When you call someone who does not exist, he does not come and cannot come. Angela is flesh and blood; she lives, she hears. When you call her, she comes. Now suppose you call the Baby Jesus, in whom some of you seem to believe…do you think he would hear you?”
There was silence. Finally, some voices timidly said, “Yes, we do.”
“What about you, Angela?” asked the teacher. Now Angela understood. She expected a trap, but not one so terrible. But she answered with ardent faith. “Yes! I believe that He hears me!”
Miss Gertrude laughed loud and long. Turning to the class, she said: “Very well, we will see. Did you see Angela just now coming in when you called her? If the Child Jesus exists, he will hear your call. Cry then, all together, very loudly: Come, Child Jesus! Come on, one, two, three, together!”
The girls were silent and bowed their heads. In this silence, the sardonic laughter of the teacher was heard. “That’s my point, that’s my proof! You dare not call him, because you know very well that he will not come, your Child Jesus! He won’t come more than Donkey skin or Bluebeard because he doesn’t exist either. It’s just a myth, a story for good women purring by the fireside that no one takes seriously because it’s not true!”
Flabbergasted, the little girls continued to be silent. One or the other told me later that, in the face of the teacher’s argument, doubt was beginning to creep into their minds.
Angela remained standing, pale as death. As for the teacher, she enjoyed her triumph: “The infamous girl has been crushed!”
Suddenly, something unexpected happened. Angela rushed to the front of the class, her eyes glistening. Facing her classmates she shouted: “Listen girls, we are going to call Him! Let’s all call together: Come, Infant Jesus!”
In the blink of an eye, all the little girls were on their feet. Hands clasped, gazes ardent, hearts swollen with immense hope, they exclaimed: “Come, Infant Jesus!”
The teacher did not expect it. Instinctively, she stepped back, her eyes fixed on Angela. There was a silent moment, heavy as anguish. Then, again, that little crystal voice: “Again!”
It was a cry “to knock down the walls,” one of the little girls told me. They all shouted the call together, spurred on by Angela, although one of them, Gisele, later admitted to me, “I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary.”
But the extraordinary happened! The girls weren’t looking at the door, they told me; they looked at the wall opposite, and against this white background, the face of Angela. But it was the door that opened. It opened silently, and yet everyone noticed it, because, according to their own words: “All daylight fled to the door. This light grew, grew, then became a globe of fire. So we were scared. But we didn’t even have time to cry out when the globe cracked open, and in this globe appeared a child, a delightful child, the likes of which had never been seen before.”
This child smiled at them without uttering a word. His presence “was immensely sweet. We were no longer afraid. There was only joy. The child was dressed in white and looked like a little sun. It was He who produced the light. The day seemed dark next door. Then He disappeared into the merging globe of light. The door closed by itself.”
Delighted, their hearts flooded with joy, the little girls could not utter a word. They were still raptly gazing in the direction of the door when they were jolted back to earth by a sharp scream.
“He CAME!” screamed the terrified school mistress, “Her eyes all but popped out of their sockets,” said the girls. “He CAME….!!!” The woman fled down the hallway.
Had the vision lasted a moment, a quarter of an hour or was it an hour? On this particular point, the children did not agree; but it certainly did not exceed the duration of the lesson.
Angela seemed to come out of a dream. She simply said: “You see, He exists. And now let’s say thank you.”
Fr. Norbert questioned the little girls, one by one. He attested under oath that he did not find the least contradiction in their accounts.
Wisely, all knelt down and said a Pater Noster, an Ave Maria and a Gloria Patri. Then they left the class, because it was time to leave.
Naturally, the news spread. Relatives came to see Fr. Norbert, who wrote: “I questioned the little girls, one by one. I can declare on oath that I have not discovered the slightest contradiction in their accounts. What struck me above all was that, afterwards, the event did not seem in the least extraordinary to them.”
Fr. Norbert continued: “As for Miss Gertrude, she had to be taken to an asylum. The teacher’s association hushed up the affair. It seems that she kept screaming: ‘He came! He came!’ I tried to go see her, but in vain.
“And Angela? She has finished her classes and helps her mother as she was the eldest of a large family. I believe she harbors a vocation, but since my hasty departure from Hungary, I have lost track of her.”
Reprinted with permission from St. Michael Journal, December 2022