Doubles - Saint Alfonso of Liguori and Saint Antony of Padua
119. But to return to our subject. The spirit of a person in the flesh, when partially disengaged from the body, can show himself just as well as that of one who has departed this life, and with all the appearance of reality ; and may even, through the means already described, acquire a momentary tangibility. This is the phenomenon designated as bi-corporeity, which has given rise to the stories of doubles, that is to say, of individuals who have been proved to have been simultaneously present in two different places. Here are two examples of this fact, taken, not from mere popular legends, but from ecclesiastical history.
Saint Alfonso of Liguori was canonised before the lapse of the usual period after his death, because he was seen simultaneously in two different places, which was accounted a miracle. When Saint Antony of Padua was in Spain, and while he was one day preaching, his father, who was at Padua, was being led to death, having bee accused of murder. At the moment when he was about to be executed, Saint Antony appeared, proved his father to be innocent, and pointed out the real criminal, who underwent the punishment of his crime. It was subsequently ascertained that, at this time, Saint Antony had not quitted Spain.
Saint Alfonso, having been evoked by us, for interrogation in regard to these occurrences, the following conversation took place between us: -
1. Can you give us an explanation of this phenomenon?
"Yes; a man who, as the result of his moral advancement, has attained to a certain degree of dematerialisation, can show himself in a place other than that in which his body is, and by the following means. Finding sleep to be stealing upon him, he asks of God that his spirit may be enabled to transport itself to a given place. If his request is granted, his spirit abandons his fleshly body, as soon as the latter falls asleep, and, accompanied by a part of his perispirit, leaves the gross material body in a state closely bordering on death. I say bordering on death, because there still remains in the body a link which cannot be defined, but which keeps up its union with the perispirit and the soul. The perispirit then appears in the place where the spirit desires to show himself."
2. Your statement does not explain our question, as regards the visibility and the tangibility of the perispirit.
"The spirit, finding himself disengaged from the bonds of matter, according to his degree of elevation, can render himself tangible by a special action on matter."
3. Is the sleep of the body indispensable, in order that the spirit may appear in another place?
"The soul can divide itself when it feels itself attracted to a place, other than that in which its body is. It may happen that the body is not asleep when this takes place, though that is a very rare occurrence; but, on such occasions, the body is never in a perfectly normal state, it is always more or less entranced."
Remark. - The soul does not "divide itself" in the literal sense of those words ; it radiates in different directions, and can thus manifest itself on several points without being divided, just as a light can be simultaneously reflected in several mirrors.
4. How would it be if a man, whose spirit is appearing elsewhere "'bile his body is asleep, were suddenly awakened?
"That could not happen, because, if any one approached his body, with the intention of awaking it, the spirit would re-enter it, before the intention could be executed; for the
spirit would read the thoughts of the intending disturber."
The same explanation has repeatedly been given to us, by the spirits of persons deceased as well as living. Saint Alfonso explains the fact of the double presence; but he does not give us the theory of visibility and of tangibility.