The sinister snake was no match for a string of Hail Marys.
St. John Bosco was a holy priest whose deep spiritual life led to frequent visions or “dreams,” as he would call them. He wrote about one of them in a letter to his students.
The dream occurred on the eve of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in it a stranger came up to him and asked him to look at something on the ground.
He took me to a meadow alongside the playground and pointed to a huge, ugly snake, over twenty feet Iong, coiled in the grass. Frightened, I wanted to run off, but the stranger held me back. “Get closer and take a good look,” he said.
“What?” I gasped. “Don’t you realize that monster could spring on me and
gobble me up in no time?”
“Don’t be afraid! Nothing of the sort will happen. Just come with me.
The stranger went to get a rope and asked St. John Bosco to slap the snake with the rope.
We stretched the rope and then snapped it across the snake’s back. The monster immediately sprang up and struck at the rope, but, as it did so, it ensnared itself as in a noose.
The snake began to struggle and quickly died. Then the stranger picked up the rope and put it in a box. What happened next was astonishing, and then the stranger explained the spiritual symbolism behind what happened.
Within a few moments he opened the box. We looked in and were astounded to see the rope shaped into the words Ave Maria.
“How did that happen?” I asked.
“The snake,” the man replied, “is a symbol of the devil, whereas the rope stands for Ave Maria or, rather, the Rosary, a succession of Hail Marys with which we can strike, conquer, and destroy all of hell’s demons.”
St. John Bosco took the lesson to heart and wrote to his students, “Let us devoutly say a Hail Mary whenever we are tempted, and we’ll be sure to win.”
The experience confirms what many exorcists have said about the power of the Virgin Mary over the devil. Satan is greatly humiliated by the purity and simplicity of the Blessed Mother and flies as fast as he can whenever he hears her name. It’s a powerful reminder, one that urges us to pray the Rosary devoutly whenever we feel threatened by the Evil One.