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… my umbrella, open always … descended indescribably those three steps here into the body of the church … On one side of its large circle, which you see, was an acolyte, facing inwards, clawing at the laces on his bosom and his elbow. On another was his companion, inextricably caught high up under the armpit, which he could not reach with the other hand … I exploded a fraction of a second before my people, saving, doubtless, some a ruptured blood-vessel. We did not—see you—laugh greatly. We were beyond that point when we began. Soon—very soon—we could no more.


This is from “The Miracle of St Jubanus” in Limits and Renewals.

A parish priest from a French village tells the tale of a hilarious episode in his church, involving an umbrella, two small boys, and a pompous dignitary. The whole congregation collapses in mirth, which is shared by a young soldier, who since the horrors of the trenches, had been a broken man, withered and terror-stricken. The laughter had worked a healing miracle.