There are similar stories about the healing of an amputated foot by St. Peter of Verona (a Dominican killed by hitmen, aka St. Peter Martyr) and St. Anthony of Padua (a Franciscan). Since Franciscans and Dominicans had a great rivalry back then, it’s hard to say which source has the real info, although St. Anthony’s version appeared in books about fifty years before St Peter’s version. (Or Italians being Italians, maybe it did happen more than once.) It is definitely a cautionary tale against taking hyperbole too literally.
Since I found the St. Peter Martyr version first, here it is.
Taegio, Vita S. Petri Veronensis, section 23. Collected and printed by the Bollandists in Acta Sanctorum, Aprilis vol. iii, 700 E. Translation by me.
“At the time when Blessed Peter was most fruitfully performing the duty of preaching throughout Italy, it happened that a certain youth felt pricked with repentance by his preaching, and approached him for his confession of sins. Among the rest of his sins, he confessed that in a certain disturbance, he had kicked his mother around with his foot.
“Arguing against such a sin of presumption to scare him, St. Peter indeed said, among other things, that “This foot which kicked his mother deserved to be cut off.” Then, having given him a healthy penance, he allowed him to leave, absolved of sin.
“But the young man, his mind continually pulled again and again toward Blessed Peter’s words about the amputation of his foot, was deceived by diabolical persuasion. Secretly taking a pick-axe, he cut off his own foot as vengeance against its wicked deed.
“And when he let out screams from the excessive pain, his father and mother and the rest of the household quickly ran to him. Then on hearing that he had received the happenstance of Blessed Peter’s words to himself as how he should proceed to judgment, his father went out for Blessed Peter, putting all delay behind him, and exposed the painful case, asking that he not refuse to see the suffering youth, and that he be helped by his prayers to the Lord.
“So joined by a companion, the tender Father [Peter] came near him. And shaken by tender compassion and relying on the tenderness of Christ, he threw out all who were in attendance but kept those parents and his companion. And most devoutly, on bended knees and with many tears, he called on the clemency of God. And rising, with great confidence in God, he took the foot in his hands, and applying it to the stump of his leg and sealing it with the Sign of the Cross, he healed it instantly and as if he had never had any wound. But as a sign of the miracle, a thin scar remained at the joining of the foot, with all inward deformity absent.”
Here’s a later miracle account.
St. Antoninus of Florence, giving an incident from the life of St. Peter of Verona. Collected in Acta Sanctorum, Aprilis vol. iii, 702 B.
“At that time, when he was roaming around preaching throughout Lombardy and Tuscany and Romagna, it happened that he heard in confession a certain adolescent, feeling pricked to repentance by his teaching. And among the rest of his sins, he confessed that he had kicked his mother around with his foot.
But the saint, shuddering at the crime, argued against him with bitter tears, showing him the seriousness of his wicked deed.
Shaken by his word and example, he asked, “What do you ask me to do, Father, in satisfaction for my disgraceful act? Look, I am ready for anything.”
“Surely,” said the holy man, “this foot which was the instrument of such impiety deserved to be cut off; and as when Christ said in the Gospel, ‘If… your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you.”* Yet I do not say that you should do this. So beware in the future. Do such and such a penance for satisfaction [of the sin].”
The adolescent went away with no moderate zeal for avenging the accomplished departure [from what is right], but of course not according to understanding. Returning home, he got a dagger (not a small one) and in a boiling passion of spirit, cut off his foot. Intense pain followed, which did not remove or diminish his fervor. He screamed from pain, and the noise was heard, and his blood poured copiously onto the ground.
His mother quickly ran to him. She noticed the cut off foot pouring out blood, and putting the distress away as if outside her, she called out to her female friends and neighbors. They hurried to help, totally filled with astonishment. Not knowing the cause of the matter, they exerted themselves to staunch the blood flow soonest. And having applied what care could be given, they questioned the adolescent how and for what reason he had done this to himself.
The youth responded that he had confessed himself to that preacher Peter, and among the rest of his sins, about spurning his mother with his heel; which sin he had shown him was so enormous, that it had not looked to the adolescent that he could satisfy it sufficiently unless by punishing the foot through cutting it off.
The mother lamented; her familiar friends joined in; the neighborhood was filled with whispers insulting Father Peter and the convent, holding the Brothers, who would impose the penance of cutting off feet upon adolescents, to be indiscreet and fatuous. Hurriedly, they proceeded to the convent; they called out the Prior. They set forth their complain against Father Peter; they explained the case.
This was set forth to the holy man. He justified himself; he had not imposed such a work. But to make provision for the simplicity of the adolescent, he ordered him to be brought to him, along with the cut off foot.
When this was done, after sending ahead a prayer, he joined the cut off foot and fastened it to the tibia in the place where it had been cut. And instantly, it was grafted on and the tibia was incarnated with the foot, and it was as if nothing had been cut there. And those who were in attendance seeing it, they glorified God who gave such power to human beings, and turned the simple fatuity of a youth into glory for his saint.”
* (Matthew 18:8)