Flowers are key to this slim, barely known book. I found a second-hand copy with lovely black and white illustrations, and enjoyed the simple tale of a poor boy in Italy whose donkey is ill. He’s told if he can get her into the church, a miracle will happen. But the priests are having none of it. So the boy walks to Rome and takes a bunch of flowers to one of the Vatican guards, and asks if he will give it to the Pope together with his request for an interview.
The bunch of flowers, given in love and innocence, starts working miracles on the hardened people whose initial impulses are to dump them in a rubbish bin. Instead, the flowers get passed up and up the Vatican hierarchy until, slightly wilted, they reach the Pope. The magic is that each person who is handed the bunch is suddenly transported to a time and place of tenderness or beauty in their lives, where there were flowers.
Boy meets Pope, Pope writes letters to underlings instructing them to let the donkey into the local church, miracle happens.
And the donkey is cured.
The prose is limpid, the drawings fine, and I wish you walks in blossom-carpeted meadows.
‘He saw again the snow-capped mountains of his youth, the little gingerbread houses, the grey, soft-eyed cattle grazing in the blossom-carpeted meadows, and he heard the heart-warming tinkling of their bells.’
Source: Paul Gallico, The Small Miracle, illus. Edgar Norfield (London: Michael Joseph, 1958), p. 34