The Adventure of the Owl
From the Preface:
Scarcely any work of its kind illustrates the good, the bad, and sometimes, the strange material of which Church History is composed… …even its queer stories, like that of the council held at Rome by Pope John the XXIII, when a slight event occurred which quite disturbed the whole council, namely, the adventure of the owl. The mass of the Holy Ghost had just been performed; Pope John was seated on his throne, when suddenly a frightful looking owl came screaming out of his hole, and placed himself just in front of the Pope, staring him full in the face, and intently and immovably gazing upon him. In such a superstitious age, an adventure like this, of the large nocturnal bird in the full brightness of the day, led to many speculations; some took it for an ill omen, others smiled, and whispered that the Spirit had chosen a strange form in which to appear after the mass – both of which, of course, were not true. The records say that the Pope blushed, and was in a great sweat. He instantly arose and broke up the assembly. But when they met in session again, again appeared the owl in the same place; whence he continued to fix his eyes imperturbably on, and to outstare the Pope. An interesting sight it must have been, to behold all the prelates hunting the owl, for he would not decamp; at last he was killed as an incorrigible heretic by the assembly throwing their canes at him. Thus ended the adventure and the owl.