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April 2, 1520. Bordeaux, France.
Andiette de Bisson was eight years old. She was the last female heir of the Colin
family line. Andiette lived with her parents and brother Henri in a small cottage in the
outskirts of Bordeaux. They were quite poor. Their ramshackle stone house was freezing
in the winter and stifling in the summer, but Andiette was not one to complain. She
loved her hard-working father and mother, and relished time with her mother performing
household chores. Her parents were very simple people, and very devout Catholics. The
family spent much of their time when they were not working praying in the town chapel.
The plague, which Andiette‘s family attributed to the Devil, had taken many in the
village. Andiette‘s family felt that the best way to ward off the Devil was to pray.
Andiette loved the chapel. She loved how the soft wooden pews smelled after they
had been cleaned. She loved the beauty of the candles, strung on metal chains above the
pews. She loved the solace and peace with God that she felt when she was in the chapel
alone. She felt that the church was the one place she could go and feel totally safe. Some
Sundays, after the mass, Andiette would stay behind in the chapel and ask the pastor if
she could do anything to help. Today was one of those days. She knelt before the statue
of Mary and put some flowers at the Virgin‘s feet. She began praying to Mary, asking
Her for help, asking that She divinely inspire her to do good works. She prayed for a
good hour, and the longer she prayed, the more intense the experience became. She
began to feel very close to the Virgin Mother, as if she could speak to Her.
Just then, she gasped and couldn‘t breathe. It was as if someone had cut off all
oxygen to her throat. No one was in the chapel, so she could not ask anyone for help.
She looked around wildly, holding her hands to her throat and trying to breathe. She had
a floating sensation, and then fell onto the floor between the pews. She saw the boy‘s
face under the water. He was about ten years old, close to her age. His head was
thrashing back and forth under the water, his eyes bug-eyed and desperate. His hair
floated silently like a ghost in the water. It was Petit Paul.
Suddenly, she woke up and could breathe again. She dashed out of the chapel as fast
as she could back to her house, where she saw her father Charles de Bisson relaxing in
front of the fire.
―Papa! You must come quick! Little Paulie is drowning! His own father is killing
him! You must come quick!‖
―Little Paulie? What are you talking about? I just saw him this morning in church.‖
―Papa, I am telling you! I saw it! Paulie will be killed today if we do not help! You
must help me!‖
Andiette‘s mother frowned. ―Now, Andiette, shame on you. You stop saying things
like that. That‘s the Devil talking. Why, Paulie‘s father Anton is a Christian. I saw him
in church today. How dare you make up such things! Now go back to the chapel and
pray for God‘s forgiveness.‖
―I am telling you, Mama! I know I am right! The Virgin gave me a vision this
morning. If my vision came from the Virgin, how can it be the Devil‘s work? It must be