"ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently had chased off her captors, a policeman said Tuesday."Can it truly be that a pride of Lions Rescued an Ethiopian Girl? It could, and if it is, it should indeed convert disbelievers into the reality of miracles happening in this day and age. The kidnappers had taken the girl to a secluded area where no one would hear her screams and whimperings. However, the miracle was that the desperate girl was being heard by a pride of lions. The three lions obviously heard a call from the anguished girl that was like the mewing of their own young cubs. Their primordial instincts sensed that this creature needed them. Amazingly, the three lions rushed to the young girl and chased away her tormentors. The feline trio then protected the girl by standing guard about her for hours until she was discovered by local police, who reported the unbelievable incident. When rescuers arrived, the beasts simply walked back into the forest. The young girl was safe - for the time being. However, she and other young Ethiopian maidens are in constant danger of abduction and forced marriages. Perhaps the miracle will be that the story of the lion protectors will highlight to the world, the dreadful plight of these young women, and then, perhaps, the perpetual anguish of their girlhood days may someday end. A miracle, that would be, indeed. Let us pray. According to the Associated Press and MSNBC:
"Kidnapping young girls has long been part of the marriage custom in Ethiopia. The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where most of the country’s 71 million people live."The BBC News is reporting "'They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,' the policeman said." Other news from Africa report that the Lions Would Have Eaten the Girl. We may later find there to be other circumstances of this newly released story, so one can be a bit of a skeptic, as am I. However, there have been stories in ancient history of lions being tamed to do the will of God. This story is much like one told of the young Saint Thecla, a martyr of the first century of Christianity.
From Lives of the Saints - "SAINTE THECLAThe Acts of Thecla: A Pauline Tradition Linked to Women
It was at Iconium that Saint Thecla heard the preaching of Saint Paul, who kindled the love of virginity in her heart. She had been promised in marriage to a young man who was rich and generous, but after hearing the discourses of the Apostle's word she died to all thought of earthly espousals. She forgot her beauty; she was deaf to her parent's threats, and at the first opportunity fled from a luxurious home and followed the Apostle.
"The rage of her parents and of her suitor followed hard after her, and the Roman power did its worst against the virgin whom Christ had chosen for Himself. She was stripped and placed in the public theater, but her innocence shrouded her like a garment. Then the lions were let loose against her; they fell crouching at her feet and licked them like a house pet."
From Catholic Encylopedia - Thecla of Iconium: "The reputed pupil of the Apostle Paul, who is the heroine of the apocryphal "Acta Pauli et Theclae" (cf. APOCRYPHA). Our knowledge of her is derived exclusively from these Acts, which appeared about 180. According to this narrative Thecla was a virgin of Iconium who was converted to Christianity and led to dedicate herself to perpetual virginity by the preaching of the Apostle Paul. Miraculously saved from death at the stake to which she had been condemned, she went with St. Paul to Antioch in Pisidia where she was thrown to the wild beasts and was again saved from death by a miracle. After this she went to Myra where the Apostle was, and finally to Seleucia where she died. With the consent of St. Paul she had acted as a 'female Apostle' in proclaiming the Gospel."
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