Cross of fire

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On the evening of December 23 [1771], as the tearful sisters surrounded the inanimate remains of their Mother, one of the city’s leading citizens, Jean Delisle de Lacailleterie, “well known for his physical knowledge”, was strolling along Pointe-à-Callières when he spotted a bright spot near the top of the hospital. Stunned, he stopped, wondering whether he was in the presence of a fire. At the same moment, a perfectly distinct cross of fire rose from the summit and hung there for some time. Unable to believe his eyes, he called one of his friends, urging him to take a look and make sure he wasn’t the victim of a hallucination. The latter was astonished to see the same phenomenon and confirmed it. And M. Delisle exclaimed, filled with admiration and fear: “What cross will these poor Grey Nuns now bear? What will happen to them? Will it be something sinister or prosperous?” The next day, he learned of the Foundress’ death. This was enough to reassure him about his vision of the previous day. He came to tell the sisters about it and was astonished that they had not seen the sign, while several people in the faubourg Saint-Laurent claimed to have witnessed it as he had.