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Stories of the Saints by  Grace Hall
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ST ORINGA AND THE HARE

[233] ORINGA was the name of a little Tuscan maid born at Santa Croce.

Her family was of the poor peasant class, and she spent her days in work upon her parents' farm. She tended the cows, who under her care became so tame that it was a delight to see.

After the death of her parents, her brothers wished to marry her to a rich farmer for whom she had no liking, so she took her courage in both hands and ran away in the direction of Lucca.

The path of her flight lay through a thick wood, and the child would surely have died of fright in the long hours of the night had not a little hare suddenly appeared at her feet. He so took up her attention with his antics, for he seemed more like a playful kitten than like a wild hare of the forest, that she forgot her terror of the dark, and of the strange forest night sights and sounds, and in her play with her little companion, her races with him and her pauses to stroke him, the night passed, dawn broke, and she found that not only had he kept her from dread and fear, but he had led her on the right path across the forest. Daylight having now come, he conducted her to the edge of the highway to Lucca, where with a parting flip of his expressive ears he disappeared into the undergrowth.

Oringa continued on her way to Lucca and there entered the service of a family by whom she was most kindly treated.

On one occasion she made a pilgrimage to Mount Gargano, where it was said that St Michael had once [234] appeared; she spent her time there in devotions to him, and that he heard the good child's prayers was proved on her homeward journey. For certain men on the road tried to mislead her by night in a thick wood, when of a sudden Michael himself, the Saint in shining armour, stood among them, and with his flaming sword protected Oringa, scattered the evil-doers, and sent her safe on her way.

The end of her life was spent in Rome, where she lived with a widow named Margaret, to whom she was rather a daughter than a servant, and who valued her for her goodness and for the sanctity of her life. She is worshipped as St Oringa, but is sometimes called St Christiana.


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