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recording, as is to be found in the annals of mankind.
Felix Peretti (for that was his family name) was born at a village called Le Grotte, in the figniory of Montalto, and province of La Manca d'Ancona, on the 13th of December 1521; at a time when all Italy was in arms, Pope Leo the tenth having, in the last year of his pontificate, joined with the emperor Charles the fifth, to drive the French out of Italy.
His father, Francis Peretti, a native of Caftello di Farnefe, being obliged to leave his country for fome crime he had been guilty of, came to Le Grotte, to advise with his uncle, who lived there, what course he should take. By him he was recommended to a rich country gentleman in that neighbourhood, as his gardener, who was fo pleafed with his diligence and fidelity, that at the end of fix years, he gave him a favourite maid-servant to wife, whofe name was Gabana, by whom he had two fons and a daughter; Felix (afterwards pope), Anthony,
During his childhood, Felix had two hairU 4
breadth efcapes for his life; the first from the fmall pox, when, through the inability of his parents to procure for him the needful remedies, he was in the most imminent danger; `and fecondly, from a fall through the floor of a ruinous old house, when he tumbled headlong above twenty feet, upon a rough pavement, and was taken up for dead, with his legs and arms broken. It was much feared that he would have been lame all his life from the effects of this accident; but that Providence which had deftined him to become the head of the Romish church, reftored him to the perfect use of his limbs.
His father and mother would gladly have given young Felix fome education, had they been able, the quicknefs of his apprehenfion being then very difcernible; but as this was not in their power, his father hired him, when he was about nine years old, to an inhabitant of the fame town, to look after his fheep; and "though the child, even at that age, had a spirit above fuch an employment, he would not disobey his parents by refufing it.
In this capacity young Felix remained for fome time; but his mafter being angry with
him for fome little mifbehaviour, took him from the care of his fheep, and fet him to prefide over his hogs. So difagreeable a change would have thrown him into despair, had he not, foon after, been delivered from the vile occupation by an accident wholly unforeseen, and which appears to have been brought about folely by the influence of his good stars.
There was fomething in the manners and difpofition of young Felix that did not accord with the menial ftate to which the poverty of his parents doomed him. He always loved to be in the company of his betters; and was fo fond of thofe who belonged to religious houses, that whenever he faw any of them at a diftance, he would run to falute them with all the civility and complaifance he was mafter of. And this propenfity, under Providence, proved the foundation of his future greatness. To fuch minute, and feemingly accidental circumstances, is often owing that ftream of fuccefs or adverfity which fo remarkably attends fome men through the whole courfe of their lives.
Father Michael Angelo Selleri, a Francifcan friar, going, during the Lent season of
1531, to preach at Ascoli, a considerable town in the province of La Marcha d'Ancona, loft his way near Le Grotte; and looking round for fomebody to direct him, little Felix left his hogs, and ran to tender him his fervice. The friar readily accepted it, and asked him the way to Afcoli. "I will foon fhew you," cried Felix ; and away he ran before him.
As they went along, the answers he gave to Father Michael's queftions were fo fmart and pertinent, and accompanied with so much humour, that every time the boy turned his face to liften more attentively to what he faid, he was charmed with him, and could not conceive whence a child, that had no higher employment than looking after hogs, fhould have fuch a fhare of good sense and good manners.
When the holy father had got into the right road, he thanked Felix for his trouble, and would have difmiffed him with a gratuity: but he kept running on, without seeming to take any notice of what was faid to him; which obliged the friar to ask him in a jocofe manner, whether he defigned to go with him quite to the town? “ Yes," faid Felix, "not only to Afcoli, but to the world's
end, with a great deal of pleasure ;" and upon this he took occafion to tell him, that the poor circumftances of his parents would not allow them to fend him to fchool, as he defired; "but my moft earnest wish, Sir," continued he, “is, that fomebody belonging to a convent would take me as a waiting-boy. I would ferve him to the utmost of my power, provided he would teach me to read."
To try his young companion a little farther, Father Michael afked him, if he would take upon him the habit of their order? Felix anfwering in the affirmative, the friar began to fet forth, in very frightful colours, all the mortifications and aufterities he would be obliged to undergo in that courfe of life. To which the boy boldly replied, "that he would willingly fuffer the pains of purgatory itself, if he would make him a scholar."
The monk, furprized at his courage and refolution, thought there must be something extraordinary in fuch a call, and refolved to take him along with him. He, however, told him, that he would have him firft conduct his hogs back to his mafter, and then come to him at the convent in Afcoli: but Felix, who would not leave his new found patron upon