“I Have Heard the Devil’s Confession”

Winning Story of the Competition “Priestly Anecdotes”

ROME, MAY 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the winning story of the competition “Priestly Anecdotes,” convoked by the Spanish Web site of Catholic.net, in which 820 priests from 78 countries shared their stories.

The following entry was submitted by Father Manuel Julian Quiceno Zapata, of the Diocese of Cartago, Colombia. His prize is a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

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Of what I experienced before hearing his confession, I remember the following.

As parish priest of a small village, I would often go out through the streets on Sunday, to greet people and give them a written catechesis, especially those who for different reasons did not go to church.

In the parish dedicated to St. Joseph, many had a habit that they fulfilled every Sunday without fail, as if it was a duty. This was to drink “some cold ones” — as they called beer. Hence, it was easy to know where to find this type of “faithful,” and he was also among them.

One day, when I finished my run, a lady approached me to ask me if I had recognized the “diablo” [Spanish for devil]. According to her, I had greeted him and he had received one of the pamphlets that I gave out. I had not seen the “diablo,” or at least I don’t remember having seen any woman or man who looked like him.

On another occasion I had to go to the neighboring village to help a brother priest, but the parish car broke down and so I needed some one to take me.

What was my surprise when on asking some people who might help me with this service, a boy immediately said to me: “Father, if you like I’ll call ‘el diablo’ to take you.” You can’t imagine what I thought at that moment. It seemed a joke, but then I accepted the proposal and that day I saw him for the first time.

I kept silent for a long time, as it was the first time I was making such a trip. Moreover, I thought, what can I talk about with “el diablo”? Then I spoke to him, but it seemed more like an interview than a conversation. That day, before ending the trip and without saying anything, I left a scapular of Our Lady of Carmel in his car. More…

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