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More On Night Visitors

That photo was taken recently at The Myrtles Plantation in my hometown, St. Francisville. It’s been going around Facebook; I’m not sure who the photographer is. The Myrtles is said to be haunted. Look on the staircase, just above halfway up. I once interviewed a local woman who had spent time there as a child, when the house was in her family. She told me that once she was upstairs, and she could hear sounds downstairs — voices, the tinkling of silverware against glass, that sort of thing — as if a party was going on in the dining room. But not a soul was there. I don’t know if the house is haunted or not, but I wouldn’t stay there. You can, though; it’s now a bed and breakfast.

Following up on the demonic visitation story in my Hilary Mantel post from earlier today, I want to tell a creepy one, but not (to me) nearly as scary.

It was the late fall or early winter of 1993. I was living in a friend’s antebellum plantation house far out in the country. There was no Internet back then. I was there alone most of the time. There were four bedrooms upstairs; my friend told me I could have my pick.

Shortly after I moved in, I became aware of a presence in that room, watching me as I slept. I chalked it up to me being slightly spooked by the idea of living in an old country house. Still, it persisted. By then I had become a practicing Catholic, and I began to sleep with a crucifix on the pillow next to me, angry and embarrassed that I could not shake the feeling of being watched.

It went on, and got so bad that I could not bring myself to turn off the lamp in the room at night. This went on for a couple of weeks. Finally, when my friend and her husband were visiting from the city one weekend, I told her that I was going to have to move out and go live with my mom and dad. I told her why, and that it humiliated me to be a grown man who couldn’t sleep in the dark.

She rolled her eyes. She’s a devout atheist who doesn’t believe in ghosts. But her husband, also secular-minded, but more open to mystery, said, “You know, in all the years I’ve been coming to this house, I have never been able to get a good night’s sleep in that bedroom, for the same reason.”

At that point, my friend told me that back in the 19th century, a family member — a doctor — hanged himself in the attic.

“Was the bedroom I’ve been sleeping in his?” I asked. She didn’t know.

“Why don’t you try another bedroom and see if you sleep any better?” her husband suggested.

I did — and slept like a baby. I lived there for a couple more months, before moving back to Washington.

Was the ghost of the doctor lingering in that bedroom? Was it a demonic presence? I have no idea. Something was there, though, and I wasn’t the only one who experienced it. When I returned to DC, I had dinner with a Catholic priest of deep learning and wide travels. I told him the story, and asked him what he thought of it theologically. He said he had never been able to figure this stuff out, but that he had no doubt that these things happened. He had experienced them himself. He told a story about an unquiet night he spent in a Scottish castle.

A reader sends in a story of a saint appearing in the dream of a Serbian abortionist — a dream that was so powerful it helped convince the man to repent. More:

In describing his conversion to La Razon, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from four to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat.

One night Stojan asked the man in black and white in his frightening dream as to his identity.

“My name is Thomas Aquinas,” he responded. Stojan, educated in communist schools that pushed atheism instead of real learning, didn’t recognize the Dominican saint’s name.

Stojan asked the nightly visitor, “Who are these children?”

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,” St. Thomas told him bluntly and without preamble.

Stojan awoke in shock and fear. He decided he would refuse to participate in any more abortions.

There is a much more detailed version of that story here. Interestingly, the doctor says he had never heard of Thomas Aquinas. He comes from the Orthodox tradition, which doesn’t recognize Aquinas as a saint as the Angelic Doctor lived after the Great Schism. But the doctor, who repented and returned to the Orthodoxy of his youth, maintains a devotion to Aquinas.

Any of you ever had dreams in which someone who no longer lives appeared, and gave you a message you took as meaningful? I’m interested to know about it if so.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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