Father Paul of Moll and His Messenger Birds
Today, February 24, we celebrate the blessed Soul of Father Paul de Moll.
The saintly Father Paul of Moll, known as “The Benedictine Wonder-Worker of the Nineteenth Century,” also had a mysterious experience with birds. We are told in his biography that whenever he visited Antwerp, he would call upon a certain invalid lady and her servant, Theresa. In the year 1887, said the servant Theresa that she would know beforehand of his approaching visits.
At his next visit, he asked, “Well, have the little birds announced my coming?”
The intimate relationship with the feathery ‘tribe”
As a matter of fact, on the eve of Father Paul de Moll’s visits to the lady, beautiful little birds, varying in number from two to twelve at a time, began to make their appearance in the garden, singing a joyful air which was always the same.
They would also perch on the windowsill of the drawing-room, which looked out upon the garden and tap upon the windowpanes. Although the tune of the mysterious songsters never varied, they had at each successive visit a different plumage.
The servant, Theresa, sees the birds and the invalid lady and her nurse. Neither of them could tell where the birds came from any more than Theresa could.
But were the birds from the tropics? Of course, but in that case, these delicate little creatures would hardly have ventured into our climate in all seasons, for they came in winter, when it was snowing and very cold, as well as in summer.
The nurse repeatedly tried to catch one of the birds but in vain. Finally, she spoke of it to Father Paul, and he replied, “Oh! they won’t let themselves be caught!”
When asked about the beautiful little birds, Father Paul de Moll replied with a smile, “They are messengers.” Father Paul then warned Theresa not to speak of the birds to anyone except an intimate friend of hers.
He then warned, “If during my lifetime you spread the news abroad, the birds will never come again.”
On the eve of Father Paul’s death, the birds appeared once more. Still, they were somewhat dejected and, with drooping wings, sang a melancholy song that the household members understood to be a presentiment of a tragic happening.
Bird connections continued even after death
Six months passed before the birds returned again, and this took place when a photograph of Father Paul de Moll was hung in the invalid’s drawing-room. They sang beautiful melodies at this time, but it is reported that their visits were infrequent afterward. As mentioned earlier, the birds appeared each time in a different plumage. Theresa, however, was able to give us a description as the birds appeared on Wednesday, September 30, 1897, a year and seven months after Father Paul de Moll’s death.
“Today, at ten minutes to eleven, two little birds of incomparable beauty arrived; their plumage was blue, green, and purple, their breasts and heads white, the latter with stripes of deep purple in the form of a garland.”
“The same woman tells us, “I have visited the grave of Father Paul de Moll three times, and on each occasion, a beautiful little bird came and sang over the tomb as long as I prayed there. The bird did not fly away until the moment I left.