The homily at Mass this morning included a similar story to this account about St. Philip Neri. I found this version at the Catholic Education Resource Center: http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/philosophy/the-feathers-of-gossip-how-our-words-can-build-up-or-tear-down.html.
The story is often told of the most unusual penance St. Philip Neri assigned to a person for the sin of spreading gossip.
The sixteenth-century saint instructed the person to take a feather pillow to the top of the church bell tower, rip it open, and let the wind blow all the feathers away. This probably was not the kind of penance this person, or any of us, would have been used to!
But the penance didn’t end there. Philip Neri gave this person a second and more difficult task. He told them to come down from the bell tower and collect all the feathers that had been scattered throughout the town.
Some good words to live by.