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Full text of ""The little flowers" : & the Life of St. Francis with the "Mirror of perfection""

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the LIFE OF iS 
iwf/i t/ie"M\RROR 



First Issue of this. Edition . September 1910 
Reprinted . • • • August 1912 


Then shalt thou feel thy spirit so possest 
And ravisht with devouring great desire 
Of His deare selfe, that shall thy feeble brest 
Inflame with love, and set thee all on fire 
With burning zeale, through every part entire, 
That in no earthly thing thou shalt delight 
But in His sweet and amiable sight. 

Since the appearance of Paul Sabatier's Vie de Saint Francois 
d' Assise in 1894, the starting-point of the neo-Franciscan 
movement, scholars have disputed with much unfranciscan 
acrimony concerning the relative value of existing documentary 
authorities: the main outlines, however, of the life of the 
founder of the Franciscan order are clear enough. Giovanni 
Bernadone, better known as Francesco, tenderest and sweetest 
of Christian saints, was born at Assisi in 1182. The male 
child that the Lady Pica, wife of the wealthy mercer, Pietro 
Bernadone, brought into the world during her husband's 
absence in France, received the baptismal name of Giovanni; 
and it was probably on his return that the joyous father 
substituted the name of Francesco. The little lad was in due 
course sent to the priest's school at the church of St. Giorgio, 
and there received the usual education of a mediaeval school- 
boy. He was not a diligent scholar. We need not accept 
too literally his own description of himself as ignorant and 
unschooled, 1 for he read, dictated, and spoke Latin (although 
with difficulty), and, as befitted the son of a merchant, early 
acquired a knowledge of French. The only work by St. 
Francis we possess, other than in Latin, is a poetical rhapsody 
composed in the Umbrian dialect, and more nearly akin to 
the formless inspirations of Walt Whitman than to any 
known metrical model. If, indeed, the famous " Hymn to 
the Sun " be the work of St. Francis at all, for an eminent 
Italian scholar, after subjecting that composition to an 
exhaustive criticism, concludes that "at most it is but a very 
unfaithful echo of an improvisation that burst from the lips 
of the seraphic father when he was assured of the near approach 
1 Epist. ad cap. gen. 5. Quia ignorans sum et ydiota, 


-33 X^ 

viii The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

of celestial felicity; or it may be nothing more than a re- 
fashioning of the 148th Psalm and the Song of the Three 
Holy Children, composed at the end of the thirteenth 
century, without a breath of the poetic spirit with which the 
seraphic father was so exquisitely endowed." 1 

Francis was neither a good boy nor an exemplary youth. 
Fond and foolish parents indulged him with an early command 
of money; he was endowed with a romantic and emotional 
temperament, and association with gay, dissolute, and 
pleasure-loving companions led to a wasted early manhood. 

The ancient city of Assisi at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century was far different from the decayed, poverty-stricken 
Assisi of to-day. It was a rich and busy trading centre, with 
a turbulent aristocracy. Its traditions of communal freedom, 
never lost since Roman days, had been stirred by the general 
rising of the towns of Northern Italy against their German 
imperial oppressors, which culminated at Legnano (1176), 
where the mail-clad hosts of Barbarossa had bitten the dust 
before the stout burgesses of the Lombard League. The 
burghers of Assisi, after a bitter period of feudal reaction, 
rose in 1202 against their nobles, razed the sinister stronghold 
of Count Conrad of Swabia, and girdled their city with defen- 
sive walls. In the ensuing conflict with the republic of 
Perugia, that had allied herself with the expelled Assisian 
nobles, the young Francis was taken prisoner. He supported 
his incarceration with admirable courage and gaiety, and at 
the peace of November 1203 was back again in Assisi. But 
soon the hand of the Lord was upon him, and those crises of 
the soul which throughout the ages have summoned the great 
saints of the Christian faith to action, wrought upon Francis. 
Between 1204 and 1209, tossed with fever on a sick-bed at 
Assisi; again at Spoleto, whither he had ridden, richly 
armed, on the way to win his spurs with the army of Walter 
of Brienne in Apulia; on a pilgrimage to Rome; at prayer 
before the crucifix at St. Damian's, mysterious voices called 
him, like St. Augustine of old, to the service of a Lord and of 
ideals far removed from those with which the troubadours of 
Provence had fired the minds of the youth of Italy. And he, 
the refined and delicate signor, who was wont to turn aside 
and hold his nostrils with disgust at the sight of a leper, was 

1 Ildebrando della Giovanna, S. Francesco d' Assisi Giullare e la 
" Laudes Creaiurarum" Giornale Storico d. Lett. Ital. xxv. 1895. The 
poem is, however, accepted as genuine by most recent critics. 

Introduction ix 

constrained to kiss their sores and serve in nauseous lazar- 

Between 1207 and 1209, interpreting literally the words 
uttered by the figure of Christ painted on the crucifix at 
St. Damian's, " Francis, go, repair my house that thou seest 
is all in ruins," he applied himself with fervent zeal to the 
restoration of that rustic chapel and of the forsaken little 
Benedictine oratory of St. Mary of the Porziuncula (the Little 
Portion), 1 or St. Mary of the Angels, below Assisi. To procure 
money for the repair of St. Damian's, Francis had conveyed 
a load of cloth from his father's shop and sold it at Foligno 
market. The wrath of Peter Bernadone may be imagined. 
Francis, his firstborn, on whom he had counted for the future 
conduct and prosperity of an honourable and profitable house, 
had become a prodigal indeed; all his hopes were wrecked, 
and he cited his mad son — for so he was esteemed in Assisi — 
before the magistrates. At Francis' request the case was 
referred to the bishop's court, and there in April 1207 
father and son met. At his angry complaints Francis 
stripped off his garments, flung them down at his father's feet 
in a passionate act of repudiation, and wrapped in a peasant's 
tattered cloak, on which he had rudely chalked a cross, went 
forth to his mission. 

But the neglected and crumbling temples of God were but 
an outward sign of the spiritual rot within, and soon it was 
revealed to Francis that his calling was to restore the spirit 
of Christ and proclaim anew His message of peace, goodwill, 
and salvation to men. One early February morning in 1209, 
while hearing mass at the Porziuncula, the aged priest read 
from the Gospel of St. Matthew — for it was St. Matthew's 
Day — the words of Jesus to the twelve as He sent them forth 
to preach. In a moment of inspiration God's will was made 
known to Francis, and the seed of the Order of the Barefoot 
Friars was sown in his bosom. He too would go forth, with 
neither gold, nor silver, nor wallet, nor shoes, nor staff, and 
with but one coat, to call men to righteousness. He began 
to preach, disciples joined him — Bernard of Quintavalle, 
Peter Catani, Giles of Assisi. A forsaken travellers' shelter 
near the leper hospital at Rivo Torto, so small and mean that 
Francis had to chalk the name of each friar over his narrow 
sleeping-place, became the first settlement of the Franciscan 

1 It was built on a " small portion " of land given by the Assisians to 
St. Benedict in the sixth century. 

A 2 

xii The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

regularly to the Church, to take no oath save under excep- 
tional conditions, never to wear arms, to use no foul language, 
and to practise piety to the dead. 

The Franciscan movement was not without its Mary who 
chose the good part that was not taken away from her. 
Among the hearers of Francis during the Lent of 121 2 was the 
young and beautiful Lady Clare, daughter of the patrician 
houses of the Scifi and the Fiumi. She, a girl of eighteen 
summers, already quickened by his preaching, left her parents' 
mansion on the night of Palm Sunday, March 18, and hurried 
to the Porziuncula, where Francis awaited her. Falling 
prostrate before the altar of the Virgin in silent prayer, she 
took the vows of poverty, of chastity, and obedience. Her 
rich and noble robes she exchanged for coarse sackcloth, her 
jewelled girdle for a cincture of rope, her lovely golden tresses, 
shorn by Francis' own hand, fell at her feet no longer adorned 
with silken hose, but thrust naked into rough wooden sandals. 
Her sweet face veiled in black, she was led in the early dawn 
to the Benedictine nunnery at Bastia, whence she was driven 
by the importunities of her kinsfolk to a more secluded 
cloister; there she was joined by Agnes, her younger sister. 
Francis, having begged for her the use of the chapel of St. 
Damian, built with his own hands a few rough cells and 
established her there. He composed a summary rule of life, 
and promised that he and his friars would have diligent care 
and special solicitude for her. She, too, soon found her 
spiritual disciples, and in 1215, Innocent III. with his own 
hand wrote the first notula which conferred the privilege of 
Holy Poverty on the poor ladies of St. Damian. In 121 9, 
their Rule was drawn up by Cardinal Hugolin, approved by 
Francis, and confirmed by Honorius III. Thus the " un- 
worthy handmaid of Christ and little plant of the most blessed 
Father Francis " became founder of the famous sisterhood of 
the Poor Clares, which for forty years she ruled and uplifted 
towards the loftiest ideals of their spiritual father. The little 
convent of St. Damian, with its rude, worm-eaten benches, 
the old bell with which St. Clare called the sisters to prayer, 
the pectoral cross given her by St. Bonaventura, the breviary 
written for her by Friar Leo, the tabernacle of alabaster for 
the Blessed Sacrament, with which she miraculously drove 
away the Saracen host in 1234, her tiny cell — remain to-day, 
thanks to the liberality of the Marquis of Ripon, much as 
they were in the days when St. Francis broke bread with her 

Introduction xiii 

or sought guidance and consolation from her prayers. There, 
too, is the little patch of garden where she tended her favourite 
flowers — the lily, symbol of purity; the violet, of humility; 
the rose, of love for God and man. In the old chapel of St. 
Giorgio, still preserved within the church of St. Clare, we may 
gaze upon her body with the coarse brown habit in which she 
was buried, clasping the book of the Rule in her hand, even 
as she was found in 1850, with the wild thyme her sisters had 
cast around her, six centuries before, still retaining some of 
its fragrance. There, too, the old crucifix of St. Damian's is 
preserved, which uttered the command to Francis to go and 
repair the ruined house of the Lord. 

Between 121 2 and 1215, Francis sought martyrdom in two 
attempts to reach the infidels (in Palestine and in Morocco), 
which were frustrated by sickness and shipwreck, and we are 
permitted to see the saint and his companion returning as 
stowaways from Slavonia. At the second Chapter-General 
of the Order, held at the Porziuncula on May 26, 1219, the 
first great foreign mission of the friars was organised. John 
of La Penna with sixty friars went to Germany ; Friar Pacifico, 
once a famous troubadour, crowned king of poets {rex versuum) 
by the emperor, was sent to France; Friar Giles to Tunis; 
others to Spain, Hungary, and Morocco. 1 AH were furnished 
with copies of a brief from Honorius III. (June 11, 1219), 
commending the friars to the prelates of the catholic world. 
Soon news came that the five sent to Morocco had suffered 
martyrdom, and St. Francis again set forth for the lands of 
the infidel. After his attempt to convert the soldan in 
Egypt, he set sail about March 1220 for Palestine, soon, 
however, to be recalled to Assisi by news of serious dissension 
and attempts at innovation among his friars at home. In 
September 1220, he obtained from the pope at Orvieto the 
appointment of his friend Cardinal Hugolin as protector and 
corrector of the Order. Having resigned his office of minister- 
general in favour of Peter Catani, owing to severe ophthalmia 
contracted in Egypt, he prepared, after recovery from an 
attack of malaria, to deal, early in 1221, with the crisis in the 
affairs of the Order. 

On May 30, the great Chapter-General, called of the Mats, 
was held — Peter Catani having died in the meantime, and the 
powerful and worldly Friar Elias ruling in his stead. It is 

1 The first mission to England, composed of nine friars, was sent forth 
in June 1224. 

xiv The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

with the children of the spirit as with the offspring of the body 
— they soon grow to an independent life of their own, and 
pass beyond their parents' control. So it was with the 
mighty creation of Francis of Assisi. The new Order had 
grown far beyond the statesmanship of its guileless founder. 
From 3000 to 5000 friars met at the Chapter; the warning 
note sounded by Innocent III. had not been in vain, and the 
brief gospel Rule of 1210 no longer sufficed to meet the needs 
of a vast organisation covering almost the whole civilised 
world, and including in its ranks men of ideals far below the 
lofty heights of renunciation and self-sacrifice reached by 
the earliest friars. Already, in September 1220, it had been 
found necessary at Rome to forbid any one to be received into 
the Order without a noviciate of one year. The easy-going, 
lazy friar, called " friar fly " by Francis, who " plied his jaws 
more than his hands; " the vagrant impostor, trading on the 
reputation of the Order, were become an urgent problem to 
the provincial ministers. Moreover, the mediaeval revival 
was an artistic and an intellectual as well as a religious one. 
The passion for beauty and knowledge that characterised the 
early thirteenth century had touched the minds of Franciscan 
as well as of Dominican friars, and the fratres scientiati de- 
manded a relaxation of the more stringent clauses against the 
possession of books and against attendance at the universities, 
no less than a revision of the regulations as to food and dress. 
The discussions at the Chapter resulted in the elaboration of 
the so-called Regula prima, or Rule of 1221. How far this 
may have modified the primitive Rule of 12 10 is not known, 
for whatever fragments may remain of that Rule are involved 
in a mass of admonitions and precepts composed by Francis at 
different periods. 1 The Rule of 122 1, however, never received 
papal sanction, and the definite constitution of the Order, known 
as the Regula bullata, was the outcome of long and complicated 
negotiations between Francis, Cardinal Hugolin, Friar Elias, 
and other influential Franciscans ; it was finally confirmed by 
Honorius at Rome on November 29, 1223, and published at 
the Chapter of June 1224. 2 Space forbids a detailed com- 
parison of the two Rules. Suffice it to say that the Regula 
bullata was a compromise between the zealots of gospel 
poverty, some of them more Franciscan than Francis himself, 
and the innovators who, like Friar Elias, would have sup- 

1 It fills twenty-six pages in Boehmer's Analecten. 
% This occupies six pages only in Boehmer. 

Introduction xv 

pressed the primitive Rule altogether, and substituted for it 
another, based on that of the Dominicans. The bitterest trial 
to Francis was the merciless elimination of what he regarded 
as the very pith and marrow of his religion — the gospel rule 
of the opening verses of the ninth chapter of St. Luke's Gospel. 
And this, too, from Elias — Elias, one of the earliest of his 
disciples, whom he had chosen to himself as a mother. It was 
like rending his breast. Already blind and weakened by 
disease, the heart-broken Francis retired from the active 
conduct of the Order; he spent his days with his faithful few 
in solitary prayer, ever striving, by example, by admonition, 
and by letters, to strengthen his followers in the worship of 
poverty and in loyalty to his simple ideals. 

From the rise of the new spirit within the Order, the story 
of Francis is that of all the great saviours of mankind. The 
coarse thumb of the world had smudged the purity of his 
ideal. Powerless to arrest the tide of advancing worldliness, 
his via cruris began. Too ill, or too heart-broken, to attend 
the Chapter-General of 1224, he retired to the new hermitage 
of La Verna, and there, at the end of his forty days' Michaelmas 
fast, his spiritual anguish was sealed with the material wounds 
of Christ's passion. In the summer of 1225 he withdrew to a 
solitary hut of reeds, prepared for him near St. Damian's by 
Clare, the faithful daughter of his soul, where the poor blind 
saint, ravaged by disease and tormented by vermin, is said to 
have composed the " Hymn to the Sun." In September he 
had left St. Damian's, and at the urgent entreaty of Cardinal 
Hugolin came for treatment by an eminent oculist to Rieti. 
In accordance with the savage surgery of the time, a red-hot 
iron was slowly drawn across his face from ear to eyebrow, 
and his already debilitated body was bled again and again; 
plasters and eye-salve were liberally applied — nihil proftceret, 
says Thomas of Celano. 

In March 1226, he was under a famous physician at 
Siena. Admonished by a severe haemorrhage, he dictated 
his spiritual Testament to Benedict of Prato — a last touching 
appeal for the pure, strict, and single-minded observance of 
his Rule. After a short rest at Cortona, where dropsy set in, 
Friar Elias had the death-stricken saint carried to Assisi, and 
at Bagnora the sorrowful procession was met by an armed 
force sent by the authorities at Assisi, who were fearful lest 
the men of the rival city of Perugia might snatch the body 
and thus deprive them of its lucrative possession. Francis 

xvi The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

was carried to the bishop's palace, where he lay guarded 
outside by sentinels day and night. Having entreated his 
physician, Bongiovanni of Arezzo, to number his days, he was 
advised that his release was near at hand. Joyfully he added 
the last lines in praise of sister Death to the " Hymn to the 
Sun," and desired that the fast-decaying tenement of his soul 
might be borne to his beloved Porziuncula. Halfway thither 
he bade the bearers lay the litter down and turn his blind 
eyes towards Assisi. Then, painfully rising a little, he 
solemnly blessed the city of his birth, fell back exhausted, and 
was carried on to the Porziuncula, where he was visited and 
consoled by his Roman friend, the Lady Jacqueline of Set- 
tesoli, and tended by his faithful companion and secretary, 
Friar Leo. Having received the Sacrament, he made a last 
appeal to the friars to cleave to Holy Poverty, gave them his 
blessing, and began to sing the 142nd Psalm: Voce mea ad 
dominum clamavi 1 ("I cry with my voice to the Lord "); and 
so, writes Thomas of Celano, mortem suscepit cantando ("he 
welcomed death with a song"). 2 

As the great burial procession slowly wound its way up the 
hill to Assisi, amid the clangour of trumpets, the tolling of 
bells, and the chanting of litanies, it was halted before the 
convent of St. Damian. The coffin was carried into the 
church, the lid removed, and there, through the little grated 
window whence they were wont to receive the Lord's body, 
the Lady Clare and her sisters took a last look at the body of 
their spiritual father, and as the bearers shouldered the bier 
again, they cried in voices choked with sobs, " Father, father, 
what shall we do ? " The body was temporarily placed in the 
church of St. Giorgio, and on May 25, 1230, transferred to the 
magnificent basilica that Friar Elias, with the aid of papal 
indulgences, had raised on the hill of Assisi. Had Francis 
been alive he would have sought to tear down the proud 
edifice stone from stone. Elias, fearing robbery, so effectually 
concealed the body in the rock on which the church was built, 
that it was not discovered again until the year 181 8. On 
July 16, 1228, Hugolin, now Pope Gregory IX., set the official 
seal on the canonisation which the universal voice of Europe 
had long since conferred on Francis of Assisi. 

The ravelled fabric of the Order was never knit together, 
and a long and bitter contest ensued between the Spirituali, or 
strict Observants, and the more lax friars, or Conventuali. On 
1 The 141st in the Vulgate. 2 October 4, 1226. 

Introduction xvii 

September 28, 1230, Gregory IX. declared the Testament of 
St. Francis not to be binding; in May 13 18, four Spirituali 
were burnt at the stake at Marseilles; on November 12, 1323, 
John XXII. denounced as a heresy the doctrine that Christ 
and His apostles possessed nothing personally or collectively; 
and finally, the Order was rent asunder by Leo X. in 151 7, 
each section being authorised to choose its own superior: that 
of the Spirituali to be called Minister, that of the Conventuali, 
Master-General. I well remember, some years since, the scornful 
, gesture with which a cultured French friar, who conducted 
V me over the great church at Assisi, and who had just won a 
V suit in the courts against the Italian government, turned 
towards the friary of the Observants below, and exclaimed: 
Y\ f What's the use in these days of sitting down there, comme 
tin hibou (like an owl) ? " 

Thomas of Celano, who was received into the Order by 
St. Francis himself, has left a vivid word-picture of his 
spiritual father. He was of medium stature, inclining to 
shortness; his head was round and rather small, and he had 
a rather long and prominent face, with a smooth but not 
high forehead. His eyes were dark, clear, and frank (sim- 
plices); his hair was black, eyebrows straight, nose well 
formed and thin, ears erect but small, temples smooth. He 
had thin lips, teeth regular and white, a rather sparse black 
beard, a slender neck, straight shoulders, short arms, and 
delicate hands with long fingers. His legs were thin, feet 
small; his skin was fine and tender, and he had little flesh on 
his bones. He used to wear coarse clothing, was of a kindly 
aspect, with a joyful countenance, and was fearless without 
arrogance. His voice was eager, sweet, clear, and sonorous, 
and he was a man of supreme eloquence. But the gentle 
Francis, if we may believe the same biographer, could be 
sometimes stirred to indignation; for on a certain friar 
desiring too gladly to visit a convent of Poor Clares, the saint 
upbraided him most severely in words unfit for publication 
(increpavit earn sanctus durissime, verba non modo referenda 
inculcans). 1 

It would be a grave misconception to assume that the 
Franciscan friar was essentially a beggar. Poverty, not 
mendicancy, was the ideal of St. Francis, who repeatedly 
urged the friars to earn their living by honest work and to 
beg only exceptionally. " I worked with my hands," he states 
1 Legenda Secunda, clvi. 

xviii The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

in the Testament, " and desire to work. I steadfastly will and 
desire that all the friars work at some honourable handicraft; 
and as for those that know none, let them learn — not for the 
sake of the price of their labour, but for example and to eschew 
idleness. And when we can obtain nothing for our labour, 
then we may have recourse to the table of the Lord, begging 
alms from door to door." x In the Regula prima each friar 
is exhorted to work at the craft he has learned (save such as 
might cause scandal or imperil salvation), for he that will not 
work neither shall he eat. The friar may also possess tools 
needful for his craft. In case of necessity he may beg, as 
other poor folk do. 2 A like injunction is included in the 
Regula bullata. 3 

St. Francis was the very antithesis of a sour Puritan. He 
was the most joyous of saints, would have no sad, long faces 
about him, and always rebuked any friar that was gloomy or 
melancholy. His friars were to be the joculatores Dei ("the 
minstrels of God"), scattered about the world to sing the 
gospel truths. " At times," says Thomas of Celano, " I have 
seen him, with my own eyes, draw a stick across his arm, 
in the guise of one playing a viol, and sing in French praises 
of the Lord." Indeed, the mediaeval evangelist was the 
analogue of the modern Salvationist. Salimbene tells of a 
famous revivalist, a simple and unlettered man, Friar Benedict 
of the Trumpet, whom he heard preaching in the streets of 
Parma during the famous revival of 1233, known as the 
Great Halleluiah. Standing on the unfinished wall of the 
bishop's palace, surrounded by a crowd of boys, Friar Benedict 
would blow a small brass or gilt trumpet to call folk together, 
et terribiliter reboabat tuba sua (" and terribly was he wont to 
bray with his trumpet"). 

Of Friar Elias a little may be said. In 1227, after an 
unseemly scuffle at the Chapter-General, he was replaced as 
minister-general by Giovanni Parenti, re-elected in 1232, and 
finally deposed on May 15, 1239, as the result of a widespread 
opposition to his policy. In 1238, he had been sent by 
Gregory IX. on an embassy of peace to the Emperor Frederick 
II., and, after his fall in 1239, soon threw in his lot with 
the excommunicated emperor. He joined the court at Pisa, 
began a stirring life of war and diplomacy, and retired on the 
emperor's death in 1250 to Cortona, where he employed his 
energy in building a fine church and friary. On April 22, 1253, 

1 Testamentum, 5. 2 Regula prima, 7. 3 Regula bullata, 5. 

Introduction xix 

his unquiet spirit found rest in a lonely cell in the hermitage 
outside Cortona. According to the Fioretti, he was assoiled of 
his sins at the point of death; according to Salimbene, his 
body was flung on a dunghill. 

The reader of the Mirror of Perfection, and of the Little 
Flowers, will not fail to perceive the anti-Elian and pro- 
Spirituali bias of their compilers; and this impression will 
probably do less than justice to Elias ' memory. Friar Elias, 
by his powerful statesmanship, aimed at welding the somewhat 
loosely organised friars into a compact and mighty com- 
munity that should cover the known world with its ramifica- 
tions, and become the greatest of the regular orders of the 
church. The easy-going, tolerant, and scandal-loving Salim- 
bene, whom Elias had received into the Order, has drawn 
up a heavy indictment of sins in thirteen counts against his 
sponsor. 1 He tells, too, how he saw him at Parma, when on 
his way to the emperor's court in 1238, with his own eyes, 
sitting in the guest-chamber on a couch of down, with a 
roaring fire in front of him and an Armenian cap on his head, 
and how when the podesta, Dominus Ghirardus, called Denti- 
bus because of his big teeth, paid Elias a visit of courtesy, 
with an honourable escort of knights, the haughty superior 
neither returned the salutation of the podesta nor stirred 
from his seat. A passing remark of the gossiping diarist 
helps us, however, to comprehend some part of the opposition 
to the government of the Order by the autocratic and master- 
ful Elias. " The aforesaid Elias held the provincial ministers 
so under his rod that they trembled before him as a reed 
buffeted by the waves, or as a lark trembles when the pursuing 
hawk is swooping down upon her." . . . Sub dominio suo 
durissimum erat vivere ("We had a very hard time under his 

The three works of which this volume is composed are 
printed in the inverse order of their composition, although not 
of their charm and interest. The Little Flowers {Fioretti) is 
a free and amplified Italian translation of a Latin original 2 
compiled some time after 1322. The Mirror of Perfection 
(Speculum Perfectionis), according to Boehmer, is a compila- 
tion, edited by one of the Spirituali of the Porziuncula, and 
based chiefly on documents and memoirs left by Friar Leo, 
and completed about 1318. Of the date and authorship of 
the Life of St. Francis by St. Bonaventura there is no question. 

1 Liber de Prcelato. 2 Actus B. Francisci et sociorum ejus. 

xx The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

It was written by command of the Chapter-General of Nar- 
bonne in 1260, and was intended to be the definite and 
authoritative Life, and to supersede the great variety of 
^fragmentary Lives then in circulation. Bonaventura went 
to Assisi for the purpose of consulting documents and to 
interrogate the surviving companions of St. Francis. He 
was attached to neither of the two great contending parties 
within the Order, and softened certain matters with a view 
to pacification. In 1263, Bonaventura had completed his task, 
which he presented to the Chapter-General at Pisa. So 
satisfied were the authorities with the result, that at the 
Chapter-General at Paris in 1266, under the presidency of 
Bonaventura, it was commanded that the whole of the existing 
Lives in the friaries of the Order should be destroyed, and the 
friars were instructed to remove from circulation any that 
they might find outside. The Life by St. Bonaventura is the 
Vita et Mivacula x of a conventional hagiographer, and the real 
St. Francis shines but dimly through its ornate periods; but 
the Fioretti and the Speculum, later in date though they be, 
are based on the ingenuous records, written and oral, of the 
saint's intimate, faithful, and steadfast followers. St. Clare 
lived until 1253 ; Friar Giles until 1261 ; and if we may trust 
the authority cited by Wadding, Friar Leo survived the fatal 
order of the Paris Chapter by more than five years. Assuredly 
the aged and beloved disciple, brother and companion in 
tribulation, as he meditated in his lonely cell, would commit 
to paper the cherished memories of his master with even more 
diligence than he had done in the past, and as he sat at their 
humble repasts he would talk with the new generation of friars 
of the fair days of old, and repeat to them the precious sayings 
and doings, embroidered doubtless by his pious fancy, of their 
spiritual father. He would recall, too, the betrayal of Elias, 
and dwell with edification on his apostacy and fall. The 
Lady Jacqueline, his noble devotee of Rome, was still living 
at Assisi, amid scenes eloquent of her dear master, as late as 
October 1273, according to documentary evidence discovered 
at Assisi by Sabatier. Living memory of St. Francis thus 
reached to the later decades of the thirteenth century. Many 
of the stories of the Fioretti are, doubtless, but memories of 
memories; ensamples, fused and transfigured in their fervent 
imaginations, which the second and third generations of 

1 The Miracles attributed to St. Francis after his death do not appear in 
this volume. 

Introduction xxi 

Spirituali would tell as they went by the way or gathered 
together in their refectories. The dramatic force of the 
narration, the transition from past to present tense (which 
I have retained in translation), 1 suggest that we have here the 
realistic form in which the friars recited some of these stories 
in their sermons to the people that filled the market-places 
and the great Franciscan churches of Italy. Dichtung and 
Wahrheit are inextricably interwoven. The once savage 
brigand Fra Lupo of La Verna, or, perhaps, a cruel feudal 
oppressor wreaking havoc and desolation among a peaceful 
community, may easily have been developed into the fierce 
wolf of Gubbio, and the judicious reader who peruses the 
Fioretti and the Speculum will gain a truer insight into the 
poverello of Assisi than he will from the studied eloquence 
and insistent preoccupation with the miraculous of his 
official panegyrist. There is small need to bespeak the 
reader's benevolence. It is a far cry now to the early nine- 
teenth century, when the great Hallam could contemptuously 
dismiss the most potent spiritual force of the Middle Ages, 
a saint in whom the Jesus of the gospels found His purest 
incarnation, " as a harmless enthusiast, pious and sincere, but 
hardly of sane mind, who was much rather accessory to the 
intellectual than to the moral degradation of mankind." 



Canticle of the Sun. Edited in four versions by A. Rossi, 1882 ; transla- 
tion in M. Arnold's Essays in Criticism, 1875; and in Works {see below). 

The Seraphic Keepsake: a talisman against temptation written for 
Brother Leo by St. Francis of Assisi; also his Words of Counsel and Praise 
of God Most High, facsimile from saint's own handwriting, and set 
forth in English by Reginald Balfour, 1905. 

Works. — A certain number appeared in Speculum Vitae B. Francisci et 
Sociorum ejus, 1504 (Venice), 1509 (Metz); in Speculum Minorum, 1509; 
Monumenta Ordinis Minorum, 1511; Firmamenta trium Ordinum B. 
Francisci, 15 12. 

Chief Printed Editions of Works. — Edited by Father Wadding 
(Antwerp), 1623; published by de la Have (Paris), 1641; in Magna 
Bibliotheca, vol. 5, 1654; in Bibliotheca Patristica, vol. 6, 1880; by von 
der Burg (Cologne, Bonn, Brussels), 1849; critical edition published by 
the Friars Minor at Ouaracchi, 1904; see aho H. Boehmer, Analekten 
zur Geschichte des Franciscus von Assisi, 1904; and W. Goetz, Die 

1 The translation of the Fioretti di San Francesco has been made, on 
the advice of M. Sabatier, from the well-known text of Antonio Cesari. 
In a very few passages, however, I have not hesitated to follow the more 
recent text by Passerini, where it has filled a gap in the Cesari text or 
has seemed to offer a better reading. 

xxii The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

Quelten zur Geschichte des HI. Franciscus von Assisi, 1904, in both of 
which the writings of the saint are dealt with. 

Translations of Works. — By a Religious of the Order, 1882, 2nd 
edition, 1890; by Father Paschal Robinson, 1906; by Countess de la 
Warr (from the French of F. U. d'Alencon), 1907. 

Selections. — A. Macdonell, 1904. 

Life. — Earliest Sources: Thomas de Celano, 1st life written, 1228-29; 
2nd life, 1244-47; ed. H. G. Rosedale, 1904; English translation by 
A. G. Ferrers Howell, 1908. Bonaventura, Legenda Major, or Aurea 
Legenda, 1260-63, first printed, 1507; trans. A. Mounfague, 1635; Lock- 
hart, with preface by Archbp. Manning, 1868; E. G. S., Temple Classics, 
1904. Speculum Perfectionis, attributed to Brother Leo, secretary and 
companion of St. Francis, ed. P. Sabatier, 1898; trans. S. Evans, 1901; 
R. Steele, Temple Classics, 1903. Legenda Trium Sociorum (Brothers Leo, 
Rufino, and Angelo), 1244-47, first printed, 1768; first complete edition, 
Rome, 1899; trans. E. G. Salter, Temple Classics, 1902; by Countess de la 
Warr, 1902. Speculum Vitae S. Francisci et Sociorum ejus, 1504; ed. P. 
Sabatier, 1903. Fioretti, earliest dated MS., 1390; trans, ed. by Archbp. 
Manning, 1864, 1887; trans, by the Upton Fathers, revised by'T. Okey, 
1894, 1899, 1905, 1909; trans, by T. W. Arnold (Temple Classics), 1898, 
with note by Dr. Biagi, 1908; with illustrations from Laurentium MS., 
1909; trans, (into English verse) by J. Rhoades, 1904; by W. Heywood, 
1906; by A. G. Ferrers Howell, 1906. Giovanni de Parenti, Sacrum Com- 
mercium, first Latin ed., 1539; trans. M. Carmichael, 1901; Sacrum Com- 
mercium : the Converse of Francis and his Sons with Holy Poverty, trans, 
by Canon Rawnsley, with The Lady Poverty and how St. Francis came to 
love Her, with introduction by P. Sabatier, translated by E. S. Fisher 
(Latin and English) (Temple Classics), 1904. 

Later Biographies. — From the French of C. Chalippe (with Essay by 
Faber), 1847; Life and Sketch of the Franciscan Order, by a Religious of 
Order of Poor Clares, 1867; Mrs. Oliphant (Sunday Library), 1871; from 
the French of L. de Chevanee, by R. F. O'Connor, 1880; A. L. Cotton, 
A Sketch, 1885; from the French of L. Le Monniet, by a Franciscan 
Tertiary, with preface by Cardinal Vaughan, 1894; Paul Sabatier, 1894, 
trans, by Louise Seymour Houghton, 1894; W. J. K. Little, 1897; 
J. A. Jackman, The Seraph of Assisi, 1898; F. Vernet, The Inner Life of 
St. Francis, 1900; J. G. Adderley, Francis, the Little Poor Man of Assisi, 
1900; W. O. E. Oesterley, 1901; J. Herkless, Francis and Dominic and 
the Mendicant Orders, 1901; A. M. Stoddart (Little Biographies), 1903; 
W. P. Swainson, Christian Mystics, No. I., 1903; Paschal Robinson, 
The Real St. Francis of Assisi, 1904; L. L. Dubois, St. Francis of Assisi, 
Social Reformer, 1906; M. A. Heins, The Story of St. Francis of Assisi, 
1908; H. Grimley, St. Francis and his Friends, rendered into English 
from Franciscan Chronicles, 1908. 

See also : Paschal Robinson, A Short Introduction to Franciscan 
Literature, 1907; C. Goff, Assisi of St. Francis, and Influence of the 
Franciscan Legend on Italian Art, etc., 1908. 



The Little Flowers of St. Francis i 

Translated by T. Okey 

The Life of St. Francis 181 

Translated by Miss E. Gurney Salter 

The Mirror of Perfection 301 

Translated by Robert Steele 





It is first to be considered that the glorious St. Francis in all the 
acts of his life was conformable to Christ the Blessed. And that 
even as Christ, at the beginning of his mission, chose twelve 
Apostles who were to despise all worldly things and follow Him 
in poverty and in the other virtues, so St. Francis in the begin- 
ning chose for the foundation of his Order twelve companions 
who were possessed of naught save direst poverty. And even 
as one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, being reproved by God, 
went and hanged himself by the neck, so one of the twelve com- 
panions of St. Francis, whose name was Friar * John della Cap- 
pella, became a runagate and at last hanged himself by the neck. 
Now these things are a great warning to the elect, and matter 
for humility and fear when they consider that none is certain of 
persevering to the end in God's grace. And even as those holy 
Apostles were, above all, wondrous in their holiness and humility 
and filled with the Holy Ghost, so those most holy companions 
of St. Francis were men of such saintliness that, since the days 
of the Apostles, the world hath never beheld men so wondrously 
holy. For one among them was rapt, like St. Paul, up to the 
third heaven, and he was Friar Giles; another, to wit, Friar 
Philip, was touched on the lips by an angel with a coal of fire, 
even as the prophet Isaiah was; another, to wit, Friar Silvester, 
spake with God as one friend speaketh with another, after the 

1 The Italian text distinguishes between frate — " friar " or " brother " in 
its religious sense — and fratello — " brother " in its ordinary sense. 

2 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

manner of Moses; another by the purity of his mind soared as 
far as the light of the Divine Wisdom, even as did the Eagle, that 
is to say, John the Evangelist, and he was Friar Bernard, 
humblest of men, who was wont to expound the Holy Scriptures 
most profoundly; yet another was sanctified by God and 
canonised in heaven while yet he lived in the world, and he was 
Friar Rufus, a nobleman of Assisi. And thus were all distin- 
guished by singular marks of holiness, as will be made clear 



The first companion of St. Francis was Friar Bernard of Assisi, 
that was converted after this manner : St. Francis, while yet in 
the secular habit, albeit he had renounced the world, was wont 
to go about in meanest guise and so mortified by penance that 
by many he was held to be a fool, and was mocked and hunted 
as a madman and pelted with stones and filthy mire both by his 
kinsfolk and by strangers ; but he, even as one deaf and dumb, 
went his way enduring every insult and injury patiently. Now 
Bernard of Assisi, who was one of the noblest and richest and 
wisest of that city, began to consider wisely concerning St. 
Francis and his exceeding contempt of this world and his long- 
suffering under injury; and that, albeit for two years he had 
been thus hated and despised by all men, yet did he ever seem 
more steadfast. And he began to ponder these things and to 
say within himself, " Of a surety this friar hath great grace from 
God." And he invited St. Francis to sup and lodge with him; 
and St. Francis accepted and supped and tarried the night. 
And then Bernard determined in his heart to contemplate his 
holiness : wherefore he had a bed made ready for him in his own 
chamber wherein by night a lamp ever burned. And St. Francis, 
to conceal his holiness, flung himself on his bed immediately he 
entered his chamber and feigned to sleep : and Bernard likewise, 
after a little while, lay down in his bed and began to snore 
loudly, as one wrapped in deepest slumber. Wherefore St. 
Francis, verily believing that Bernard slept, arose, in the still- 
ness of the night, from his bed and knelt down to pray; lifting 
his eyes and hands to heaven he cried with great devotion and 

Conversion of Friar Bernard 3 

fervour, " My God, my God ! " And so saying and weeping 
bitter tears, he prayed until morning, ever repeating, " My God, 
my God ! " and naught else. And St. Francis said this, while 
contemplating and marvelling at the excellency of the Divine 
Majesty that had deigned to stoop down to this perishing world, 
and, through His poor little one, St. Francis, had resolved to 
bring healing salvation to his soul and to others. And therefore, 
illumined by the Holy Ghost or by the spirit of prophecy, he 
foresaw the great things that God was to work through him and 
his Order. And considering his own insufficiency and little 
worth he called on God Almighty and prayed that of His com- 
passion He would supply, aid, and complete that which he of 
his own frailty could not achieve. Now Bernard, when he 
beheld these most devout acts of St. Francis by the light of the 
lamp, and had reverently considered the words he uttered, was 
moved and inspired by the Holy Ghost to change his manner of 
life; wherefore when morning was come he called St. Francis to 
him and spake thus, " Friar Francis, I have fully determined 
in my heart to forsake the world and obey thee in all things thou 
commandest me." When St. Francis heard this he rejoiced in 
spirit and said, " Bernard, this that you 1 tell is a work so great 
and so difficult that it behoves us to seek counsel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ and pray that it may please Him to reveal His will 
concerning this thing, and teach us how we may put it into 
execution. Therefore we will go together to the bishop's house, 
where a good priest dwells, and mass shall be said, and then we 
will remain in prayer until tierce, beseeching God that He will 
point out to us in three openings of the mass book the way it 
pleaseth Him we should choose." Bernard answered that this 
pleased him much. Whereupon they set forth and went to the 
bishop's house, and after they had heard mass and had remained 
in prayer until tierce, the priest, at the entreaty of St. Francis, 
took the book, and having made the sign of holy cross, opened 
it thrice in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And at the first 
opening he happened on those words that Christ in the gospel 
spake to the young man who asked concerning the perfect way, 
" If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to 
the poor and follow Me." In the second opening occurred those 
words that Christ spake to the Apostles when He sent them to 
preach, " Take nothing for your journey, neither staves nor 

1 Voi (you) instead of the more familiar tu (thou). The more reverent, 
voi, is xised by Dante only in addressing spirits of great dignity, e.g. 
Brunetto Latino, Cacciaguida, and a very few others. 

4 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

scrip, neither shoes nor money/' desiring by this to teach them 
that all trust for their livelihood should be placed in God, and 
all their mind intent on preaching the holy gospel. In the third 
opening were found those words which Christ spake, " If any 
man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me." 
Then said St. Francis to Bernard, " Behold the counsel that 
Christ giveth us. Go, therefore, do faithfully what thou hast 
heard, and blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
hath deigned to reveal to us the life evangelical." Hearing this, 
Bernard departed and sold all he had (for he was very rich), and 
with great joy distributed all to widows and orphans, to prisoners 
and hospitals and pilgrims; and in all these things St. Francis 
helped him faithfully and carefully. And one whose name was 
Silvester, when he saw that St. Francis gave and caused to be 
given so much money to the poor, was constrained by avarice, 
and said to St. Francis, " Thou didst not pay me fully for the 
stones thou boughtest of me to repair the church, and therefore 
now thou hast money, pay me." Then St. Francis, marvelling 
at his avarice, and as a true follower of the gospel desiring not 
to contend with him, thrust his hands in Bernard's bosom, and 
with hands full of money placed them in Silvester's bosom, 
saying, that if he would have more, more should be given him. 
And Silvester, satisfied with this, departed and returned home, 
but in the evening, pondering on what he had done that day 
and on the fervour of Bernard and the holiness of St. Francis, 
he reproved himself for his avarice. And that night following 
and two other nights he had from God this vision : he beheld a 
cross of gold issue from the mouth of St. Francis, the top whereof 
touched heaven, and the arms stretched from the east as far as 
the west. Because of this vision he gave up all he had for love 
of God, and became a friar minor, and such holiness and grace 
had he in the Order that he spake with God even as one friend 
with another, according as St. Francis proved and as will be 
related hereafter. Bernard likewise was so filled with God's 
grace that in contemplation he was often taken up to God. And 
St. Francis was wont to say of him that he was worthy of all 
reverence and had founded this Order, for he was the first who 
had forsaken the world, holding back nothing, but giving all to 
Christ's poor, and the first who began his evangelic poverty by 
offering himself naked to the arms of the Crucified, to whom be 
all praise and glory world without end. Amen. 

Friar Bernard 



St. Francis, the most devout servant of the Crucified, had 
grown almost blind by the rigour of his penance and incessant 
weeping, so that he saw but ill ; and once on a time he departed 
from the place where he was, and went to a place where Friar 
Bernard was in order to speak with him of divine things. Being 
arrived there, he found that Friar Bernard was at prayer in the 
wood, wholly lifted up and united with God. Then St. Francis 
went forth into the wood and called him. " Come," said he, 
" and speak with this blind man." And Friar Bernard answered 
him not a word; for being a man great in contemplation, his 
soul was lifted up and raised to God. And forasmuch as Friar 
Bernard was possessed of singular grace in discoursing of God, 
even as St. Francis had proved many times, great was his desire 
to speak with him. After some while he called him a second 
and a third time in that same wise, and no time did Friar 
Bernard hear him: therefore he neither answered nor came to 
him; whereat St. Francis departed somewhat disconsolate, 
marvelling within himself and grieving that Friar Bernard, 
being called thrice, had not come to him. St. Francis turned 
away with these thoughts in his mind, and when he was gone 
some little distance he said to his companion, " Tarry for me 
here." And he went aside hard by into a solitary place and 
prostrated himself in prayer, beseeching God to reveal to him 
why Friar Bernard answered him not; and remaining thus in 
prayer there came to him a voice from God, saying, " poor 
little one, wherefore art thou troubled ? Ought a man to forsake 
God for His creature? When thou didst call, Friar Bernard 
was united with Me, and therefore could neither come to thee 
nor answer thee. Marvel thou not if he could not respond, for 
he was so lifted out of himself that of thy words he heard none." 
St. Francis, having heard these words from God, straightway 
returned with great haste towards Friar Bernard, in order to 
accuse himself humbly before him of the evil thoughts he had 
nursed concerning him. And Friar Bernard, beholding him 
come towards him, drew nigh and cast himself at his feet; and 
then St. Francis made him rise up, and with great humility 

6 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

related to him the thoughts he had had and the tribulation he 
had suffered concerning him, and how that God had answered 
his prayer. And thus he concluded, " I command thee by holy 
obedience that thou do whatsoever I command thee." Friar 
Bernard, fearing lest St. Francis might lay on him some excess 
of penance, as he was wont to do, desired with all sincerity to 
escape such obedience, and answered him thus, " I am ready to 
do your obedience if you will promise to do what I shall com- 
mand you." And St. Francis gave him the promise. Then 
said Friar Bernard, " Say on, father; what would you that I 
do? " And St. Francis .answered him, saying, " I command 
thee by holy obedience that, in order to punish the arrogance 
and rashness of my heart, thou shalt now, even as I lay me 
supine on the ground, set one foot on my neck and the other on 
my mouth, and so pass thrice from one side to the other, reviling 
and crying shame on me; and especially shalt thou say, ' Lie 
there, churl, son of Peter Bernadone ! whence cometh such pride 
to thee, thou that art so vile a creature?'" Friar Bernard 
hearing this, albeit it was very hard to do, performed, in holy 
obedience, what St. Francis had commanded him, with all the 
gentleness he could. This done, St. Francis said, " Now com- 
mand thou me what thou wouldest I should do, for I have 
promised thee holy obedience." Then said Friar Bernard, " I 
command thee by holy obedience, that every time we are 
together thou rebuke and correct me harshly for all my faults." 
Whereupon St. Francis marvelled greatly, for Friar Bernard 
was of such exceeding sanctity that he held him in great 
reverence and in no wise worthy of reproof. And thenceforth 
St. Francis was careful to avoid being much with him, because 
of the said obedience, lest it befell that he utter one word of 
reproof against him, that he knew to be of such great holiness. 
But when he desired to see him, or indeed to hear him speak of 
God, he made haste to leave him and depart from him, and a 
goodly thing it was to behold, what great charity and reverence 
and humility St. Francis, the father, used towards Bernard, his 
first-born son, when he spake with him. To the praise and 
glory of Christ Jesus and of the poor little Francis. Amen, 

Friar Elias 



At the first beginning of the Order, when there were but few 

friars and their friaries were not yet established, St. Francis 

repaired for his devotions to St. James's of Compostella in 

Galicia, and took a few friars with him, one of whom was Friar 

Bernard. And as they journeyed thus together, he found a poor 

sick man in a village by the way. Filled with compassion, he 

said to Friar Bernard, " Son, I desire that thou remain here to 

tend this sick man; " and Friar Bernard humbly kneeling and 

bowing his head, reverently received the holy father's obedience 

and remained in that place: and St. Francis and the other 

companions went their way to St. James's. Arrived there, they 

passed the night in prayer in the church of St. James, where it 

was revealed to St. Francis that he was to establish many 

friaries throughout the world; for his Order was to spread and 

grow into a great multitude of friars: whereat, according to 

this revelation, St. Francis began to establish friaries in those 

lands. And as St. Francis was returning by the way he came, 

he found Friar Bernard, and the sick man with whom he had 

left him healed perfectly; whereupon St. Francis gave Friar 

Bernard leave to go the following year to St. James's. And 

St. Francis returned to the vale of Spoleto, and he and Friar 

Masseo and Friar Elias and others abode in a wilderness; and 

each took heed not to vex or disturb St. Francis in his prayers, 

because of the great reverence they bore him, and because they 

knew that God revealed great things to him in his prayers. It 

fell out one day, while St. Francis was in the wood at prayer, 

that a fair youth, apparelled as for a journey, came to the door 

of the friary and knocked so impatiently and loudly and for so 

long a time that the friars marvelled much at so unwonted a 

knocking. Friar Masseo went and opened the door, and said 

to the youth, " Whence comest thou, my son; it seemeth thou 

1 Luogo, luogo dei frati : literally, " place of the friars." I have rendered 
this " friary " as well as the term convento, used by the Franciscans when 
in later times their poor hovels and caves were exchanged for edifices of 
brick and stone. 

8 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

hast never been here before, so strangely hast thou knocked." 
The youth answered, " And how then ought one to knock? " 
Friar Masseo said, "Knock three times, one after the other, 
slowly; then tarry so long as the friar may say a paternoster 
and come to thee: and if in this space of time he come not, 
knock once again." The youth answered, " I am in great haste, 
and therefore I knock thus loudly. I have to go a journey, and 
am come here to speak with Friar Francis; but he is now in the 
wood in contemplation, and I would not disturb him; but go 
and send Friar Elias to me, for I would ask him a question, and 
he is very wise." Friar Masseo goes and bids Friar Elias haste 
to that youth; and he takes offence and will not go. Whereat 
Friar Masseo knows not what to do, nor what answer to make 
to that youth; for if he said, " Friar Elias cannot come," he 
lied; if he said he was in evil humour, he feared to set a bad 
example. And while Friar Masseo was thus laggard in return- 
ing, the youth knocked yet again, even as before. Friar Masseo 
came back to the door and said to the youth, " Thou hast not 
observed my instructions in knocking." The youth answered, 
" Friar Elias will not come to me; but go thou and say to Friar 
Francis that I am come to speak with him; but since I would 
not disturb him in his prayers, bid him send Friar Elias to me." 
And then Friar Masseo went to St. Francis, that was praying in 
the wood with his face lifted up to heaven, and gave him the 
youth's message and Friar Elias's reply. And that youth was 
an angel of God in human form. Then St. Francis, changing 
neither his position nor lowering his face, said to Friar Masseo, 
" Depart and bid Friar Elias by obedience go to that youth." 
Now Friar Elias, when he heard the command of St. Francis, 
went in great fury to the door and flung it open with great 
violence and noise, saying to the youth, " What wouldst thou? " 
The youth answered, " Beware, friar, lest thou be angry as 
thou seemest, for anger hindereth much the soul and cloudeth 
the perception of truth." Friar Elias said, " Tell me, what 
wouldst thou of me? " The youth answered, " I ask thee if it 
be lawful for observers of the holy gospel to eat whatsoever is 
placed before them, according as Christ said to His disciples; 
and I likewise ask thee whether it be lawful for any man to 
command things contrary to evangelical liberty." Friar Elias 
answered proudly, " This know I well, but I will not answer 
thee: go thy ways." Said the youth, " I could answer this 
question better than thou." Then Friar Elias slammed the 
door in a great rage and departed. And then he began to ponder 

Friar Elias 9 

the said question and to doubt within himself, and he could not 
solve it; for he was vicar of the Order, and had ordered and 
made a rule outside the gospel and outside the Rule of St. 
Francis, to wit, that no friar of the Order should eat flesh: 
therefore the said question was aimed against him. Whereupon, 
unable to get clear with himself, he began to consider the 
youth's modesty, and that he had told him he could answer the 
question better than he, and Friar Elias returned to the door 
and opened it, to ask the youth concerning the aforesaid ques- 
tion. But he had already departed, for the pride of Friar Elias 
made him unworthy to speak with angels. This done, St. 
Francis, to whom all had been revealed by God, returned from 
the wood, and loudly and severely reproved Friar Elias, saying, 
" Thou dost ill, proud friar, that chasest away the holy angels 
from us that come to teach us. I tell thee, much do I fear lest 
thy pride make thee end thy days outside this Order." And 
so it befell thereafter even as St. Francis had said, for he died 
outside the Order. On that same day, at the very hour he 
departed, the angel appeared in that same form to Friar Bernard, 
who was walking along the bank of a great river, on his way 
back from St. James's, and gave him salutation in his own 
tongue, saying, " Hail, good friar, the peace of God be with 
thee ! " And Friar Bernard marvelled greatly, and considering 
the comeliness of the youth and the salutation of peace in the 
mother tongue and his glad countenance, questioned him thus: 
" Whence comest thou, good youth? " The angel answered, 
" I come from such a place, where St. Francis dwells, and I 
went to speak with him, but could not, for he was in the wood 
contemplating divine things, and I would not disturb him. 
And in that same house dwell Friar Masseo and Friar Giles and 
Friar Elias; and Friar Masseo taught me how to knock at the 
door after the manner of a friar, but Friar Elias, because he 
would not answer a question I propounded to him, repented and 
desired thereafter to hear and see me; and he could not." 
Having spoken these words the angel said to Friar Bernard, 
" Wherefore dost thou not pass over yonder? " Friar Bernard 
answered, " Because I dread danger from the depth of the water 
I see." Said the angel, " Let us pass over together; fear not: " 
and he takes his hand and in the twinkling of an eye places him 
on the other side of the river. Then Friar Bernard knew that 
he was the angel of God, and with great reverence and joy said 
in a loud voice, " blessed angel of God, tell me, what is thy 
name?" The angel answered, "Wherefore askest thou my 


io The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

name, that is marvellous? " This said, the angel vanished, and 
left Friar Bernard much consoled, so much that he went all that 
journey with great joyfulness; and he marked the day and the 
hour of the angel's appearance. And reaching the friary, where 
St. Francis was with the aforesaid companions, he related to 
them all things in the order of their happening; and they 
knew of a surety that that same angel had appeared to them 
and to him on that very day and at that very hour. 



Forasmuch as St. Francis and his companions were called and 
chosen by God to bear the cross of Christ in their hearts and in 
their works, and to preach it with their tongues, they seemed 
and truly were, men crucified, so far as regarded their dress, the 
austerity of their lives, their acts, and their deeds ; and therefore 
they desired rather to endure shame and reproach for love of 
Christ than worldly honour, or reverence, or praise from men. 
Yea, they rejoiced in contumely, and were afflicted by honour; 
they went about the world as pilgrims and strangers, bearing 
naught with them save Christ crucified. And because they 
were true branches of the true vine, which is Christ, they brought 
forth great and good fruit in the souls they won to God. It 
came to pass in the beginning of the Order that St. Francis sent 
Friar Bernard to Bologna, that he might bring forth fruit to 
God there, according to the grace God had given him. And 
Friar Bernard, having made the sign of holy cross, departed 
in holy obedience and came to Bologna. And when the children 
beheld him in a ragged and mean habit they mocked him and 
reviled him loudly as were he a fool. And Friar Bernard 
suffered all things patiently and joyfully for the love of Christ. 
Aye, and in order that he might be the more derided he set 
himself openly in the market-place of the city; and as he sat 
there many children and men gathered around him, and one 
plucked at his cowl from behind, and another in front; one 
cast dust at him, and another stones ; one pushed him on this 
side, and another on that; but Friar Bernard, neither uttering 
complaint nor changing his position, abode there patient and 
glad : and for many days he returned to that same place, solely 

Friar Bernard at Bologna 1 1 

to endure the like things. And since patience is a work of 
perfection and proof of virtue, a wise doctor of laws, on 
beholding Friar Bernard's exceeding great constancy and virtue, 
and how he could not be provoked during many days by any 
hurt or insult, said within himself, " It is impossible but that 
this must be a holy man." And drawing nigh to him, spake to 
him thus, " Who art thou, and wherefore art thou come hither? " 
And for answer Friar Bernard put his hand in his bosom and 
drew forth the Rule of St. Francis and gave it him that he might 
read. And when he had read it and had considered its lofty 
perfection, he turned to the companions with greatest amaze- 
ment and admiration, and said, " Verily this is the most exalted 
state of the religious life whereof I ever heard: therefore this 
man and his companions are the most saintly men in this world, 
and he who revileth him is the greatest of sinners; for he is 
worthy of highest honour since he is the true friend of God." 
Then said he to Friar Bernard, " If you would take a place 
wherein you might conveniently serve God, I fain would give 
it you for the salvation of my soul." Friar Bernard answered 
him, " Master, I believe this offer is an inspiration from our 
Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore willingly do I accept it for the 
honour of Christ." Then the said judge led Friar Bernard to 
his home with great love and joy: and he gave him the promised 
place, and furnished and completed it at his own cost: and 
thenceforth he became to him as a father, and was the diligent 
upholder of Friar Bernard and his companions. And Friar 
Bernard began to be so greatly honoured by all men, that 
any one who could touch or behold him held himself blessed. 
But he, as a true disciple of Christ and of the lowly Francis, 
fearing lest the honours of this world might hinder the peace 
and salvation of his soul, departed one day and returned to 
St. Francis, and spake to him thus, " The place has been taken 
in the city of Bologna; send friars thither to abide and main- 
tain it, for I have no profit there; nay, I fear, by reason of the 
too great honour done to me, lest I lose more than I should 
gain." Then St. Francis, having heard all things in order that 
God had wrought there through Friar Bernard, gave thanks to 
God who thus began to spread abroad the poor little disciples 
of the cross: and then he sent some of his companions to 
Bologna and to Lombardy, who established many friaries in 
divers places. 

1 2 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



Friar Bernard was of such holiness that St. Francis bore him 
great reverence and ofttimes praised him. St. Francis being on 
a day devoutly at prayer, it was revealed to him of God that 
Friar Bernard, by divine permission, was to endure many and 
grievous assaults from devils, wherefore St. Francis, that had 
great compassion on the said Friar Bernard and loved him as a 
son, prayed many days in tears, commending him to Christ 
Jesus, and entreating God that victory over the devil might be 
vouchsafed to him. And one day while St. Francis was thus 
devoutly praying, God answered him, saying, " Francis, fear 
not; for all the temptations whereby Friar Bernard shall be 
assailed are permitted by God as an exercise of virtue and crown 
of merit; and at the last he shall gain the victory over all his 
enemies, for he is one of the ministers of the kingdom of heaven." 
At which answer St. Francis rejoiced greatly and gave thanks 
to God ; and from that hour he bore greater love and reverence 
to Friar Bernard. And this he showed not only in his life, but 
also at his death, for when St. Francis came to die, after the 
manner of the holy patriarch Jacob, with his devout children 
standing around him, all sorrowing and weeping at the departure 
of so loving a father, he asked, " Where is my first-born? Come 
nigh to me, my son, that my soul may bless thee ere I die." 
Then Friar Bernard said secretly to Friar Elias, that was vicar 
of the Order, " Father, go to the right hand of the saint that he 
may bless thee." And Friar Elias drew nigh to his right hand, 
and St. Francis, that had lost his sight through excess of weep- 
ing, placed his right hand on Friar Elias's head, and said, " This 
is not the head of my first-born, Friar Bernard." Then Friar 
Bernard went to his left hand, and St. Francis moved his hands 
over in the form of a cross, and placed his right hand on Friar 
Bernard's head and his left on Friar Elias's head, and said to 
Friar Bernard, " God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ bless 
thee with all spiritual and celestial blessings. Thou art the 
first-born, chosen in this holy Order to give evangelical example, 
and to follow Christ in evangelical poverty, for not only gavest 

Death of Friar Bernard l 5 

thou thine own substance and didst distribute it wholly a! ac * 
freely to the poor for love of Christ, but thou didst offer thyselr 
also to God in this Order, a sacrifice of sweetness. Blessed be 
thou therefore by our Lord Jesus Christ and by me, poor little 
one, His servant, with blessings everlasting, walking and stand- 
ing, watching and sleeping, living and dying. Let him that 
blesseth thee be filled with blessings, and he who curseth thee 
go not unpunished. Be thou lord over thy brethren and let all 
the friars obey thy commands ; whosoever thou wilt, let him be 
received into this Order; let no friar have lordship over thee, 
and be it lawful to thee to go and to abide wheresoever it may 
please thee." And after the death of St. Francis, the friars 
loved and revered Friar Bernard as a venerable father; and 
when he was nigh unto death, many friars came to him from 
divers parts of the earth, among whom was that angelic and 
divine Friar Giles; and he, beholding Friar Bernard, cried with 
great joy, " Sursum cor da, Friar Bernard, sursum cor da ! " and 
Friar Bernard secretly bade a friar prepare for Friar Giles a 
place meet for contemplation; and this was done. Now Friar 
Bernard being come to the last hour of death, had himself raised 
up and spake to the friars that stood around him, saying, 
" Brethren, most dear, I will not say many words to you, but 
ye must consider that this religious state wherein I have lived, 
ye live; and such as I am now, ye shall be also, and this I know 
in my soul — that not for a thousand worlds such as this would 
I have renounced the service of our Lord Jesus Christ for that 
of any other lord, and I do now accuse me of all my offences, and 
confess my sins to Jesus my Saviour, and to you. I beseech 
you, dearest brothers mine, that ye love one another." And 
after these words and other good exhortations he lay back in his 
bed, and his countenance shone with exceeding great joy; 
whereat all the friars marvelled greatly; and in that joy his 
most holy soul departed from this present life, crowned with 
glory, to the blessed life of the angels. 

1 O • r 

1 2 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



Forasmuch as St. Francis, the true servant of Christ, was in 
certain things well-nigh another Christ given to the world for 
the salvation of souls, it was the will of God the Father that in 
many of his acts he should be conformable and like unto His Son 
Jesus Christ, even as he showed to us in the venerable company 
of the twelve companions and in the wondrous mystery of the 
sacred stigmas, and in the continuous fast of the holy Lent, 
which he kept in this wise. St. Francis was once lodging on 
carnival day in the house of one of his devout followers on the 
shores of the lake of Perugia, and was inspired by God to go 
and pass that Lent on an island in the lake; wherefore St. 
Francis prayed his disciple to carry him in his little bark to 
an island, whereon no man dwelt, and this on the night of Ash 
Wednesday, to the end that none should perceive it. And he 
by the great love and devotion he bore to St. Francis satisfied 
diligently his desire, and carried him to the said island, St. 
Francis taking with him naught save two small loaves. And 
when he had reached the island, and his friend was about to 
depart and return to his home, St. Francis prayed him earnestly 
to reveal to no man where he was nor to come for him before 
Holy Thursday, and so the friend departed and St. Francis 
remained alone. And finding no house wherein he could take 
shelter, he crept into a very dense thicket of thorn and other 
bushes fashioned after the manner of a lair or a little hut: and 
in this place he betook himself to prayer and to the contem- 
plation of divine things. And there he abode the whole of Lent, 
eating and drinking naught save the half of one of those small 
loaves, even as his devout friend perceived when he returned 
for him on Holy Thursday: for of the loaves he found one 
whole and the other half eaten. And it was believed that St. 
Francis ate this through reverence for the fasting of Jesus Christ, 
who fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any 
bodily food; for with this half -loaf he cast the venom of vain- 
glory from him while following the ensample of Christ in the 
fast of forty days and forty nights. And God wrought many 

Friar Leo i 5 

miracles thereafter in that same place where St. Francis had 
endured so marvellous an abstinence, because of his merits: 
wherefore folk began to build houses and to dwell there. And 
in brief time a fair burg x was built there, and there also is the 
friary that is called of the island; and to this day the men and 
women of that burg hold the place where St. Francis kept Lent 
in great devotion and reverence. 



One winter's day, as St. Francis was going from Perugia with 
Friar Leo to St. Mary of the Angels, suffering sorely from the 
bitter cold, he called Friar Leo, that was going before him, and 
spake thus, " Friar Leo, albeit the friars minor in every land 
give good examples of holiness and edification, nevertheless 
write and note down diligently that perfect joy is not to be found 
therein." And St. Francis went his way a little farther, and 
called him a second time, saying, " Friar Leo, even though 
the friar minor gave sight to the blind, made the crooked 
straight, cast out devils, made the deaf to hear, the lame to 
walk, and restored speech to the dumb, and, what is a yet 
greater thing, raised to life those who have lain four days in the 
grave; write — perfect joy is not found there." And he journeyed 
on a little while, and cried aloud, " Friar Leo, if the friar minor 
knew all tongues and all the sciences and all the Scriptures, so 
that he could foretell and reveal not only future things, but even 
the secrets of the conscience and of the soul; write — perfect jo)' 
is not there." Yet a little farther went St. Francis, and cried 
again aloud, " Friar Leo, little sheep of God, even though the 
friar minor spake with the tongue of angels and knew the 
courses of the stars and the virtues of herbs, and were the hidden 
treasures of the earth revealed to him, and he knew the qualities 
of birds, and of fishes, and of all animals, and of man, and of 
trees, and stones, and roots, and waters; write — not there is 
perfect joy." And St. Francis went on again a little space, 
and cried aloud, " Friar Leo, although the friar minor were 
skilled to preach- so well that he should convert all the infidels 

1 Castello. See Petrocchi. Nuovo diz. universale de lingua Hal. : piccolo 
paese con mura. 

1 6 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

to the faith of Christ; write — not there is perfect joy." And 
when this fashion of talk had endured two good miles, Friar 
Leo asked him in great wonder and said, " Father, prithee in 
God's name tell me where is perfect joy to be found? " And 
St. Francis answered him thus, " When we are come to St. Mary 
of the Angels, wet through with rain, frozen with cold, and foul 
with mire and tormented with hunger; and when we knock at 
the door, the doorkeeper cometh in a rage and saith, ' Who are 
ye ? ' and we say, ' We are two of your friars,' and he answers, 
' Ye tell not true; ye are rather two knaves that go deceiving 
the world and stealing the alms of the poor ; begone ! ' and he 
openeth not to us, and maketh us stay outside hungry and cold 
all night in the rain and snow; then if we endure patiently such 
cruelty, such abuse, and such insolent dismissal without com- 
plaint or murmuring, and believe humbly and charitably that 
that doorkeeper truly knows us, and that God maketh him to 
rail against us; Friar Leo, write — there is perfect joy. And 
if we persevere in our knocking, and he issues forth and angrily 
drives us away, abusing us and smiting us on the cheek, saying, 
1 Go hence, ye vile thieves, get ye gone to the spital, for here ye 
shall neither eat nor lodge; ' if this we suffer patiently with love 
and gladness; write, Friar Leo — this is perfect joy. And 
if, constrained by hunger and by cold, we knock once more and 
pray with many tears that he open to us for the love of God 
and let us but come inside, and he more insolently than ever 
crieth, ' These be impudent rogues, I will pay them out as they 
deserve; ' and issues forth with a big knotted stick and seizes 
us by our cowls and flings us on the ground and rolls us in the 
snow, bruising every bone in our bodies with that heavy stick — 
if we, thinking on the agony of the blessed Christ, endure all 
these things patiently and joyously for love of Him; write, 
Friar Leo, that here and in this perfect joy is found. And 
now, Friar Leo, hear the conclusion. Above all the grace and 
the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Christ giveth to His beloved is 
that of overcoming self, and for love of Him willingly to bear 
pain and bufferings and revilings and discomfort; for in none 
other of God's gifts, save these, may we glory, seeing they are 
not ours, but of God. Wherefore the Apostle saith, ' What 
hast thou that is not of God, and if thou hast received it of Him, 
wherefore dost thou glory as if thou hadst it of thyself? ' But 
in the cross of tribulation and of affliction we may glory, because 
this is ours. Therefore the Apostle saith, ' I will not glory save 
in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.' " 

Friar Leo 17 



In the early days of the Order, St. Francis and Friar Leo were 
once in a friary where no book could be found wherefrom the 
divine offices might be said, and when the hour of matins was 
come St. Francis said to Friar Leo, " Dearest, we have no 
breviary to say matins from; but in order that we may spend 
the time in praise of God, I will speak and thou shalt answer 
me as I teach thee, and beware lest thou change one of the 
words I teach thee. I will say thus, ' Friar Francis, thou 
hast done so many evil deeds and committed so many sins in 
the world that thou art deserving of hell; ' and thou, Friar Leo, 
shalt answer, ' Truly thou dost merit the deepest hell.' " And 
Friar Leo said, with dove-like simplicity, " Willingly, father ; do 
thou begin in God's name." Then St. Francis began to say, 
" Friar Francis, thou hast done so many evil deeds and hast 
committed so many sins in the world that thou art deserving 
of hell." And Friar Leo answers, " God will perform so many 
good works through thee that thou shalt go to paradise." 
Saith St. Francis, " Say not so, Friar Leo, but when I say, ' 
Friar Francis, thou hast committed so many iniquities against 
God that thou art worthy of being cursed by God,' do thou 
answer thus, ' Verily thou art worthy of being numbered 
among the accursed.' " And Friar Leo answers, " Willingly, 
father." Then St. Francis, with many tears and sighs and 
smitings of the breast, said with a loud voice, " Lord God of 
heaven and earth, I have committed so many sins and iniquities 
against Thee that I am wholly worthy of being cursed by Thee." 
And Brother Leo answers, " Friar Francis, God will do in 
such wise that among the blessed thou shalt be singularly 
blessed." St. Francis, marvelling that Friar Leo ever answered 
contrary to that which he had charged him, rebuked him thus, 
saying, " Wherefore answerest thou not as I teach thee? I 
command thee by holy obedience that thou answer as I teach 
thee. I will say thus, ' Friar Francis, little wretch, thinkest 
thou God will have mercy on thee, seeing thou hast committed 
so many sins against the Father of mercies and God of all con- 

1 8 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

solations that thou art not worthy to find mercy ? ' And thou, 
Friar Leo, little sheep, shalt answer, ' In no wise art thou worthy 
of finding mercy.' " But when St. Francis said, " Friar 
Francis, little wretch," et cetera, lo, Friar Leo answered, " God 
the Father, whose mercy is infinite, far exceeding thy sins, will 
show great mercy to thee, and will add likewise many graces 
thereto." At this answer St. Francis, sweetly angry and 
meekly perturbed, said to Friar Leo, " Wherefore hast thou had 
the presumption to act counter to obedience, and so many times 
hast answered the contrary of what I told thee and charged 
thee? " Friar Leo answers, with deep humility and reverence, 
" God knoweth, my father; for I have purposed in my heart 
each time to answer as thou hast commanded me; but God 
maketh me to speak as it pleaseth Him, and not as it pleaseth 
me." Whereat St. Francis marvelled, and said to Friar Leo, 
" I pray thee most dearly, answer me this once as I have 
charged thee." Said Friar Leo, " Say on, in God's name, for 
of a surety this time I will answer as thou desirest." And 
St. Francis said, in tears, " Friar Francis, little wretch, 
thinkest thou God will have mercy on thee? " et cetera. And 
Friar Leo answers, " Nay, rather great grace shalt thou receive 
of God, and He will exalt thee and glorify thee everlastingly, 
because he that humbleth himself shall be exalted; and naught 
else can I say, for God speaketh by my mouth." And so in this 
lowly disputation, with many tears and much spiritual consola- 
tion, they watched until the dawn. 



While St. Francis was abiding at the friary of the Porziuncula 
with Friar Masseo of Marignano, a man of great holiness and 
discernment and grace in discoursing of God, and therefore 
much beloved of him, he was returning one day from prayer in 
the wood, and was already on the point of issuing therefrom, 
when Friar Masseo, desiring to prove his humility, made towards 
him and said, half jestingly, "Why after thee? Why after 

Friar Masseo 19 

thee? Why after thee? " And St. Francis answered, " What 
meanest thou?" Said Friar Masseo, "I mean why doth all 
the world follow after thee, and why doth every man desire to 
see thee and to hear thee and to obey thee ? Thou art not fair 
to look upon ; thou art not a man of great parts ; thou art not 
of noble birth. Whence cometh it, then, that all the world 
followeth after thee?" When St. Francis heard this he re- 
joiced exceedingly in spirit, and raising his face to heaven, 
remained for a great space with his soul uplifted to God. And 
then, returning to himself, he knelt down and gave praise and 
thanks to God. Then with great fervour of spirit he turned to 
Friar Masseo and said, " Wouldst thou know why after me? 
Wouldst thou know why after me? Wouldst thou know why 
after me? Know that this I have from those eyes of the most 
high God, that everywhere behold the righteous and the wicked, 
and forasmuch as those most holy eyes have beheld among 
sinners none more vile, more imperfect, nor a greater sinner than 
I, therefore since He hath found no viler creature on earth to 
accomplish the marvellous work He intendeth, He hath chosen 
me to confound the nobility, the majesty, the might, the beauty, 
and the wisdom of the world; in order to make manifest that 
every virtue and every good thing cometh from Him the Creator, 
and not from the creature, and that none may glory before 
Him : but that he that glories shall glory in the Lord, to whom 
belong all glory and all honour for ever and ever." Then Friar 
Masseo waxed sore afraid at this lowly answ r er given with great 
fervour, and knew of a surety that St. Francis was grounded in 



On a day as St. Francis was journeying with Friar Masseo, the 
said Friar Masseo went a little in front of him; and when they 
reached a point where three ways met- — one leading to Florence, 
another to Siena, and a third to Arezzo — Friar Masseo said, 
" Father, which road ought we to follow? " St. Francis 
answered, " That which God willeth." Said Friar Masseo, 
"And how shall we know the will of God?" St. Francis 
answered, " By the token I shall show thee: wherefore I com- 

20 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

mand thee by the merit of holy obedience that at this parting of 
the ways, and on the spot where thou now standest, thou shalt 
turn round and round as children do, and shalt not cease turn- 
ing until I bid thee." Then Friar Masseo began to turn round 
and round, and continued so long that by reason of the giddiness 
which is wont to be begotten by such turning, he fell many 
times to the ground; but, as St. Francis did not bid him stay, 
he rose up again, for faithfully he desired to obey him. At 
length, when he was turning lustily, St. Francis cried, " Stay; 
stir not!" And he stayed. Then St. Francis asked him, 
"Towards which part is thy face turned?" Friar Masseo 
answers, " Towards Siena." Said St. Francis, " That is the 
road God wills we should go." And as they walked by the way, 
Friar Masseo marvelled that St. Francis had made him turn 
around and around even as a child doth, in the presence of 
secular folk that were passing by: yet for very reverence he 
dared say naught thereof to the holy father. As they drew 
nigh to Siena the people of that city, hearing of the advent of 
the saint, made towards him ; and in their devotion they carried 
the saint and his companion shoulder high as far as the bishop's 
house, so that they never touched ground with their feet. Now 
in that same hour certain men of Siena were fighting among 
themselves, and already two of them had been slain. When 
St. Francis came among them he preached with such great 
devotion and sanctity that he brought the whole of them to 
make peace and to dwell in great unity and concord together. 
Wherefore, when the bishop of Siena heard of the holy work 
that St. Francis had accomplished, he invited him to his house, 
and received him that day and that night also with the greatest 
honour. And the following morning St. Francis, who in all his 
works sought but the glory of God, arose betimes and with true 
humility departed with his companion without the knowledge 
of the bishop. Wherefore the said Friar Masseo went murmur- 
ing within himself by the way, and saying, " What is this that 
holy man hath done? Me he made to turn round and round 
as a child, and to the bishop who did him so much honour he 
said naught, not even a word of thanks: " and it seemed to 
Friar Masseo that St. Francis had borne himself indiscreetly. 
But soon, by divine inspiration, Friar Masseo bethought him 
and reproved himself in his heart, and said, " Friar Masseo, thou 
art over-proud, thou that judgest the ways of God, and for 
thy indiscreet pride art worthy of hell. For yesterday Friar 
Francis wrought such holy works, that they could not have been 

Friar Masseo 21 

more marvellous if the angel of God had done them. Where- 
fore if he should command thee to cast stones, thou shouldst 
obey him; for what he hath wrought in this city hath been by 
divine operation, even as is manifest in the good that followeth 
thereafter; because had he not made peace among those that 
were fighting, not only would many bodies have been slain by 
the knife (even as had already begun to come to pass), but many 
souls likewise would have been dragged to hell by the devil. 
Therefore art thou very foolish and proud, thou that murmurest 
at these things which manifestly proceed according to the will of 
God." Now all these things that this friar was saying in his 
heart were revealed by God to St. Francis, wherefore St. Francis 
drew nigh to him and said, " Hold fast to those things thou art 
now thinking, for they are good and profitable, and inspired by 
God; but thy first murmurings were blind and vain and proud, 
and instigated by the evil one." Then did Friar Masseo per- 
ceive clearly that St. Francis knew the secrets of his heart, and 
he understood that of a surety the Spirit of divine wisdom 
governed the holy father in all his works. 



St. Francis, desiring to humble Friar Masseo in order that by 
reason of the many gifts and graces God had bestowed on him 
he should not be puffed up with vainglory, but by virtue of 
humility should increase from virtue to virtue, said to him on a 
day when he was dwelling with his first companions in a solitary 
place — those truly holy companions whereof Friar Masseo was 
one, — " Friar Masseo, all these thy companions have the gift of 
contemplation and of prayer; but thou hast the gift of preach- 
ing the word of God to the satisfaction of the people. Therefore 
I desire that thou take upon thee the offices of doorkeeper, of 
almoner, and of cook, in order that thy companions may give 
themselves up to contemplation; and when the other friars are 
eating, thou shalt eat outside the door of the friary, so that thou 
mayst satisfy with some sweet words of God those who come to 
the convent, ere they knock; and so that no other friar than 
thou have need to go outside. And this do through the merit 

22 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

of holy obedience." Then Friar Masseo drew back his cowl and 
inclined his head and humbly received and fulfilled this com- 
mand, and for many days he discharged the ofnces of doorkeeper, 
and almoner, and cook. Whereat the companions, even as men 
illumined by God, began to feel great remorse in their hearts, 
considering that Friar Masseo was a man of as great perfection 
as they were, or even greater; and yet on him was laid the whole 
burden of the convent, and not on them. Wherefore, moved 
by one desire, they went with one accord and entreated the holy 
father to be pleased to distribute those ofnces among them; for 
in no wise could they endure in their conscience that Friar 
Masseo should bear so many burdens. When St. Francis heard 
this he gave heed to their prayers and consented to their desire, 
and calling Friar Masseo he thus spake to him, " Friar Masseo, 
thy companions would have a share in the ofnces wherewith I 
have charged thee: it is therefore my will that the said ofhces 
be divided." Says Friar Masseo, with great humility and 
meekness, " Father, whatsoever thou layest upon me, either 
all or part, that I hold to be wholly done of God." Then St. 
Francis, beholding the love of them and the humility of Friar 
Masseo, preached a wondrous sermon touching most holy 
humility, admonishing them that the greater the gifts and 
graces that God bestows upon us, the greater ought our humility 
to be; for without humility no virtue is acceptable to God. 
And when he had made an end of his sermon he apportioned 
the ofhces among them with the greatest loving-kindness. 



The wondrous servant and follower of Christ, to wit, St. Francis, 
to the end that he might conform himself to Christ perfectly 
in all things (who, according to the gospel, sent His disciples 
two by two unto all those cities and places whither He was to 
go), gathered together twelve companions and sent them forth 
after the example of Christ two by two to preach throughout 

Friar Masseo 23 

the world. And St. Francis, that he might give them an 
example of true obedience, himself set forth first, after the 
example of Christ, who began to do before He began to teach. 
Wherefore, having assigned to his companions the other quarters 
of the world, he took Friar Masseo with him as his companion 
and went his way towards the land of France. And journeying 
one day they came to a city sore a-hungered, and went, according 
to the Rule, begging bread for love of God : and St. Francis took 
one street and Friar Masseo another. But forasmuch as St. 
Francis was a man of mean appearance and short of stature, 
and therefore looked down upon as a poor vile creature by those 
who knew him not, he collected naught save a few mouthfuls of 
dry crusts ; but to Friar Masseo many large pieces of bread and 
even whole loaves were given, for he was fair and tall of body. 
And after they had begged their food, they met to eat together 
at a place outside the city where was a fair fountain, and beside 
it a fair broad stone, whereon each laid the alms he had collected. 
Now when St. Francis saw that the bread and loaves brought 
by Friar Masseo were finer and larger than his own, he showed 
forth joy exceeding great, and spake thus, " Friar Masseo, 
we are not worthy of so great a treasure." And having re- 
peated these words many times, Friar Masseo answered, 
" Dearest father, how can that be called a treasure where there 
is poverty so great and such lack of needful things? Here is 
neither cloth, nor knife, nor trencher, nor bowl, nor house, nor 
table, nor man-servant, nor maid-servant." Then said St. 
Francis, " And this is what I hold to be a great treasure: where 
there is no dwelling made by human hands, but all is prepared 
for us by divine providence, even as is made manifest by the 
bread we have collected on this table of stone so fair and this 
fountain so clear. Therefore I desire that we pray unto God 
that He may make us love with all our hearts this noble treasure 
of holy poverty that hath God for its servitor." After these 
words they refreshed their bodies, and having made their prayer, 
rose up and journeyed on to France. And when they came to 
a church, St. Francis said to his companion, " Let us enter into 
this church to pray." And St. Francis goes behind the altar 
and kneels down in prayer. And as he prayed he was inspired 
by the divine presence with fervour so exceeding great that his 
whole soul was inflamed with love for holy poverty; in such 
wise that what with the hue of his face and the strange yawning 
of his mouth, it seemed as if flames of love were bursting from 
him. And coming thus aflame towards his companion, he spake 

24 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

thus to him, " Ah, ah, ah, Friar Masseo; give thyself to me." 
And this he said thrice; and the third time St. Francis lifted 
up Friar Masseo into the air with his breath, and cast him away 
from him the length of a tall spear; whereat Friar Masseo was 
filled with great amaze. And he afterwards related to his 
companions that when St. Francis thus lifted him up and cast 
him from him with his breath, he felt such great sweetness in 
his soul, and such deep consolation from the Holy Spirit, that 
never in his life had he felt the like. This done, St. Francis 
said, " Dearest companion, go we now to St. Peter and St. Paul 
and pray them to teach us and aid us to possess this boundless 
treasure of holiest poverty; for it is a treasure of such exceeding 
worth and so divine that we are unworthy to possess it in our 
vile vessels. Yea! this is that celestial virtue whereby all 
earthly and transitory things are trodden under foot and whereby 
every hindrance is removed from the soul that she may be 
freely conjoined with the eternal God. This is the virtue that 
maketh the soul, while yet on earth, have communion with the 
angels in heaven; that companioned Christ on the cross; with 
Christ was buried; with Christ rose again, and with Christ 
ascended into heaven. It is this virtue also that easeth the 
flight into heaven of those souls that love it; for it guards the 
armour of true humility and charity., Therefore let us pray 
unto the most holy Apostles of Christ, who were perfect lovers 
of this pearl evangelical, to obtain for us this grace from our 
Lord Jesus Christ: that He in His holy mercy may vouchsafe 
to us to grow worthy to be true lovers and followers and humble 
disciples of the most precious and most lovable gospel poverty." 
Thus discoursing, they came to Rome and entered St. Peter's 
Church; and' St. Francis set himself to pray in one corner of 
the church, and Friar Masseo in another. And as St. Francis 
remained in prayer a long while, with many tears and great 
devotion, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to him in 
great splendour, and said, " Forasmuch as thou askest and 
desirest to serve that which Christ and His holy Apostles served, 
our Lord Jesus Christ sendeth us to thee to announce that thy 
prayer is heard, and that God granteth to thee and to thy 
followers the perfect treasure of holiest poverty. And from 
Him also we say unto thee, that whosoever, following thy 
example, shall pursue this desire perfectly, he is assured of the 
blessedness of life eternal; and thou and all thy followers shall 
be blessed of God." These words said, they vanished, leaving 
St. Francis filled with consolation; who, rising from prayer, 

Apparition of the Blessed Christ 25 

returned to his companion and asked him if God had revealed 
aught to him; and he answered, " Nay." Then St. Francis 
told him how the holy apostles had appeared to him, and what 
they had revealed. Whereupon each of them, filled with joy, 
purposed to return to the vale of Spoleto, and renounce the 
journey into France. 



In the early days of the Order, as St. Francis was communing 
with his companions and discoursing of Christ, he, in fervour 
of spirit, bade one of them open his lips in God's name and 
speak what the Holy Ghost would inspire him to say concerning 
God. This friar having fulfilled his behest and discoursed 
wondrously of God, St. Francis laid silence upon him, and gave 
a like command to another friar. He also having obeyed and 
spoken subtly of God, St. Francis in like manner laid silence 
upon him, and bade a third speak of God; and he likewise began 
to discourse so profoundly of the hidden things of God that 
St. Francis knew of a surety that he, together with the other 
two, had spoken by the Holy Ghost; and this was shown forth 
also by ensample and by a clear token; for while they were thus 
speaking the blessed Christ appeared in the midst of them in 
the similitude and form of a most fair youth, and blessed them 
and filled them with so much grace and sweetness that they all 
were rapt out of themselves, and lay as though dead and 
insensible to the things of this world. And when they returned 
to themselves, St. Francis said to them, " Brothers mine, most 
dear, give thanks to God, who hath willed to reveal the treasures 
of divine wisdom through the lips of the simple; for God is He 
that openeth the mouths of the dumb, and the tongues of the 
simple He maketh to speak great wisdom." 

26 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



When St. Francis was at Assisi he visited St. Clare many times 
and gave her holy instruction, and she having great desire to 
eat once with him did entreat him thereof many times, but 
never would he grant her this consolation. Whereupon his 
companions, beholding St. Clare's desire, spake to St. Francis 
and said, " Father, it seemeth to us too severe a thing and not 
in accord with divine charity that thou grantest not the prayer 
of Sister Clare, that is a virgin so holy and so beloved of God, in 
so small a grace as to eat with thee; above all, when we consider 
that through thy preaching she forsook the pomps and riches of 
this world. Nay, had she asked even greater grace of thee thou 
shouldst grant it to her, thy spiritual plant." Then St. Francis 
answered, " Doth it seem good to you that I should grant her 
prayer? " His companions made answer, " Father, even so, 
for it is meet that thou grant her this grace and give her consola- 
tion." Then said St. Francis, " Since it seemeth good to you, i 
even so it seemeth good to me. But that she may be the more 
consoled, I desire ^that this repast be made in St. Mary of the 
Angels; for long hath she been shut up in St. Damian's, and it 
will profit her to behold the friary of St. Mary, where her hair was 
shorn and she became the spouse of Jesus Christ : there will we 
break bread together in the name of God." And when the ap- 
pointed day came, St. Clare came forth from the convent with 
one companion, and accompanied by the companions of St. 
Francis, journeyed to St. Mary of the Angels; and having 
devoutly saluted the Virgin Mary, before whose altar she had 
been shorn and veiled, the companions conducted her around 
to see the friary of St. Mary's until the hour of the repast was 
come. Meanwhile St. Francis made ready the table on the bare 
ground, as he was wont to do. And the hour for dinner being 
come, St. Francis and St. Clare, and one of the companions of 
St. Francis and the companion of St. Clare, seated themselves 
together; and all the other companions of St. Francis then 
humbly took their places at the table. And for the first dish 
St. Francis began to discourse of God so sweetly, so loftily, and 
so wondrously that a bounteous measure of divine grace de- 

Visit to St. Clare 27 

scended upon them and they were all rapt in God. And being 
thus ravished, with eyes and hands lifted up to heaven, the men 
of Assisi and of Bettona, and the men of the country round 
about, beheld St. Mary of the Angels and the whole friary and 
the wood that was around about it brightly flaming; and it 
seemed as 'twere a great fire that was devouring the church and 
the friary and the wood together: wherefore the men of Assisi, 
verily believing that everything was in flames, ran down thither 
with great haste to quench the fire. But when they came to the 
friary and found nothing burning, they entered within and 
beheld St. Francis with St. Clare and all their companions 
seated around that humble table and rapt in the contemplation 
of God. Wherefore they understood that truly the fire had 
not been a material fire, but a divine fire which God had miracu- 
lously made to appear in order to show forth and signify the 
fire of divine love wherewith the souls of these holy friars and 
holy nuns did burn: and they departed with great consolation 
in their hearts and with holy edification. Then after a long 
space St. Francis and St. Clare, together with the companions, 
returned to themselves, and feeling well comforted with spiritual 
food, took little heed of corporeal food; and thus that blessed 
repast being ended, St. Clare, well companioned, returned to St. 
Barman' s. And when the sisters beheld her they had great joy, 
for they feared lest St. Francis had sent her to rule over some 
other convent, even as he had already sent Sister Agnes, her 
holy sister, to rule, as abbess, over the convent of Monticelli at 
Florence. For on a time St. Francis had said to St. Clare, 
" Make thee ready if it so be that I must needs send thee to 
another convent." And she, even as a daughter of holy obedi- 
ence, had answered, " Father, behold I am ever ready to go 
whithersoever thou wilt send me." Therefore the sisters re- 
joiced greatly when they had her back again, and thenceforth 
St. Clare abode there much consoled. 

28 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



St. Francis, humble servant of God, short time after his con- 
version, having gathered together many companions and 
received them into the Order, fell into great perplexity and 
doubt touching what it behoved him to do — whether to be 
wholly intent on prayer, or sometimes to preach. And greatly 
he desired to know the will of God touching these things. But 
since the holy humility wherewith he was filled suffered him not 
to lean overmuch on his own judgment, nor on his own prayers, 
he bethought him to seek the divine will through the prayers 
of others. Wherefore he called Friar Masseo to him and spake 
to him thus, " Go to Sister Clare and bid her from me that she 
and some of the most spiritual of her companions pray devoutly 
unto God, that He may be pleased to reveal to me which is the 
more excellent way : whether to give myself up to preaching or 
wholly to prayer; then go to Friar Silvester and bid him do the 
like." Now he had been in the world and was that same Friar 
Silvester that beheld a cross of gold issue from the mouth of 
St. Francis, the length whereof was high as heaven, and the 
breadth whereof reached to the uttermost parts of the earth. 
And this Friar Silvester was a man of such great devotion and 
holiness that whatsoever he asked of God he obtained, and the 
same was granted to him; and ofttimes he spake with God, 
wherefore great was the devotion of St. Francis to him. Friar 
Masseo went forth and gave his message first to St. Clare, as St. 
Francis had commanded, and then to Friar Silvester, who no 
sooner had heard the command than he straightway betook 
himself to prayer, and when he had received the divine answer, 
he returned to Friar Masseo and spake these words, " Thus 
saith the Lord God, ' Go to Friar Francis and say unto him that 
God hath not called him to this state for himself alone, but that 
he may bring forth fruit of souls and that many through him 
may be saved.' " Friar Masseo, having received this answer, 
returned to Sister Clare to learn what answer she had obtained 

The Third Order 29 

of God; and she answered that she and her companions had 
received the selfsame response from God that Friar Silvester 
had. And Friar Masseo returned with this answer to St. Francis, 
who greeted him with greatest charity, washing his feet and 
setting meat before him. And St. Francis called Friar Masseo, 
after he had eaten, into the wood, and there knelt down before 
him, drew back his cowl, and making a cross with his arms, 
asked of him, " What doth my Lord Jesus Christ command? " 
Friar Masseo answers, " Thus to Friar Silvester and thus to 
Sister Clare and her sisterhood hath Christ answered and re- 
vealed His will: that thou go forth to preach throughout the 
world, for He hath not chosen thee for thyself alone, but also 
for the salvation of others." Then St. Francis, when he had 
heard these words and learned thereby the will of Christ, rose 
up and said with great fervour, " Let us then go forth in God's 
name." And with him he took Friar Masseo and Friar Agnolo, 
holy men both, and setting forth with great fervour of spirit 
and taking heed neither of road nor path, they came to a city 
called Saburniano. And St. Francis began to preach, first 
commanding the swallows to keep silence until his sermon were 
ended; and the swallows obeying him, he preached with such 
zeal that all the men and women of that city desired in their 
devotion to follow after him and forsake the city. But St. 
Francis suffered them not, saying, " Be not in haste to depart, 
for I will ordain what ye shall do for the salvation of your 
souls." And then he bethought him of the third Order which 
he stablished for the universal salvation of all people. And so, 
leaving them much comforted and well disposed to penitence, he 
departed thence and came to a place between Cannara and 
Bevagna. And journeying on in that same fervour of spirit, he 
lifted up his eyes and beheld some trees by the wayside whereon 
were an infinite multitude of birds; so that he marvelled and 
said to his companions, " Tarry here for me by the way and I 
will go and preach to my little sisters the birds." And he 
entered into the field and began to preach to the birds that were 
on the ground; and anon those that were on the trees flew down 
to hear him, and all stood still the while St. Francis made an end 
of his sermon; and even then they departed not until he had 
given them his blessing. And according as Friar Masseo and 
Friar James of Massa thereafter related, St. Francis went among 
them, touching them with the hem of his garment, and not one 
stirred. And the substance of the sermon St. Francis preached 
was this, " My little sisters the birds, much are ye beholden to 

30 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

God your Creator, and alway and in every place ye ought to 
praise Him for that He hath given you a double and a triple 
vesture; He hath given you freedom to go into every place, and 
also did preserve the seed of you in the ark of Noe, in order that 
your kind might not perish from the earth. Again, ye are 
beholden to Him for the element of air which He hath appointed 
for you; moreover, ye sow not, neither do ye reap, and God 
feedeth you and giveth you the rivers and the fountains for 
your drink; He giveth you the mountains and the valleys for 
your refuge, and the tall trees wherein to build your nests, and 
forasmuch as ye can neither spin nor sew God clotheth you, you 
and your children: wherefore your Creator loveth you much, 
since He hath dealt so bounteously with you; and therefore 
beware, little sisters mine, of the sin of ingratitude, but ever 
strive to praise God." While St. Francis was uttering these 
words, all those birds began to open their beaks, and stretch 
their necks, and spread their wings, and reverently to bow their 
heads to the ground, showing by their gestures and songs that 
the holy father's words gave them greatest joy: and St. Francis 
was glad and rejoiced with them, and marvelled much at so 
great a multitude of birds and at their manifold loveliness, and 
at their attention and familiarity ; for which things he devoutly 
praised the Creator in them. Finally, his sermon ended, St. 
Francis made the sign of holy cross over them and gave them 
leave to depart; and all those birds soared up into the air in one 
flock with wondrous songs, and then divided themselves into 
four parts after the form of the cross St. Francis had made over 
them; and one part flew towards the east; another towards 
the west; the third towards the south, and the fourth towards 
the north. And each flock sped forth singing wondrously, be- 
tokening thereby that even as St. Francis, standard-bearer of 
the cross of Christ, had preached to them and had made the sign 
of the cross over them, according to which they had divided 
themselves, singing, among the four quarters of the world, so 
the preaching of Christ's cross, renewed by St. Francis, was, 
through him and his friars, to be borne throughout the whole 
world; the which friars possessing nothing of their own in this 
world, after the manner of birds, committed their lives wholly 
to the providence of God. 

The Boy Friar 31 



A boy most pure and innocent was received into the Order, 
during the life of St. Francis, in a convent so small that the 
friars were of necessity constrained to sleep two in a bed. And 
St. Francis once came to the said convent, and at even, after 
compline, lay down to rest that he might rise up to pray in the 
night while the other friars slept, as he was wont to do. The said 
boy having set his heart on spying out diligently the ways of 
St. Francis, lay down to sleep beside St. Francis that he might 
understand his holiness, and chiefly what he did by night when 
he rose up; and in order that sleep might not beguile him, he 
tied his own cord to the cord of St. Francis, that he might feel 
when he stirred: and of this St. Francis perceived naught. 
But by night, during the first sleep, when all the friars were 
slumbering, St. Francis arose and found his cord thus tied; and 
he loosed it so gently that the boy felt it not, and went forth 
alone into the wood near the friary, and entered into a little cell 
there and betook himself to prayer. After some space the boy 
awoke, and finding his cord loosed, and St. Francis risen, he 
rose up likewise and went seeking him, and finding the door 
open which led to the wood, he thought St. Francis had gone 
thither, and he entered the wood. And coming nigh unto the 
place where St. Francis was praying, he began to hear much 
talking; and as he drew closer to see and understand what he 
heard, he beheld a wondrous light that encompassed St. Francis, 
wherein were Christ and the Virgin Mary, and St. John the 
Baptist, and the Evangelist, and an infinite multitude of angels 
that were speaking with St. Francis. Seeing and hearing this, 
the boy fell lifeless to the earth. And the mystery of that holy 
apparition being ended, St. Francis, as he returned to the house, 
stumbled with his foot against the boy, who lay as one dead, and 
in compassion lifted him up and carried him in his arms, even 
as the good shepherd doth his sheep. And then learning from 
him how he had beheld the said vision, St. Francis commanded 
him to tell it to no man, to wit, so long as he should live, and the 

32 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

boy increasing daily in the great grace of God and in devotion to 
St. Francis, became a valiant man in the Order, and after the 
death of St. Francis revealed the said vision to the friars. 



Francis, faithful servant of Christ, once held a Chapter-General 
at St. Mary of the Angels, where more than five thousand friars 
were gathered together. Now St. Dominic, head and founder 
of the Order of preaching friars, who was then journeying from 
Burgundy to Rome, came thither, and hearing of the congrega- 
tion of the Chapter that St. Francis was holding in the plain of 
St. Mary of the Angels, he went with seven friars of his Order to 
see. And there was likewise at the said Chapter a cardinal who 
was most devoted to St. Francis, the which cardinal he had 
foretold should one day become pope: x even as it came to pass. 
This cardinal had journeyed diligently to Assisi from Perugia, 
where the papal court was, and every day he came to behold 
St. Francis and his friars, and sometimes sang the mass, and 
sometimes preached the sermon to the friars in Chapter; and 
the said cardinal was filled with the greatest joy and devotion 
when he came to visit that holy college. And beholding the 
friars sitting on that plain, around St. Mary's, company by com- 
pany, here forty, there a hundred, there eighty together, all 
engaged in discoursing of God, or at prayer, or in tears, or in 
works of charity, and all so silent and so meek that no sound 
nor discord was heard, and marvelling at so great and orderly 
a multitude, he said with great devotion and tears, " Verily this 
is the camp and the army of the knights of God." In so mighty 
a host was heard neither vain words nor jests, but wheresoever 
a company of friars was assembled together, there they prayed, 
or said the office, or bewailed their sins, or the sins of their bene- 
factors, or discoursed of the salvation of souls. For shelter they 
made them little wicker cots of willow and of rush matting, 
divided into groups according to the friars of the divers pro- 
vinces : and therefore that Chapter was called the Chapter of the 
wicker cots or of the mats. Their couch was the bare earth, 
1 Cardinal Hugolin, who became Gregory IX. 

Chapter of the Mats 33 

with a little straw for some: their pillows were blocks of stone 
or of wood. For which cause so great was the devotion of who- 
soever heard or saw them, so great the fame of their sanctity, 
that many counts and barons, and knights and other noblemen, 
and many priests likewise, and cardinals and bishops, and 
abbots and other clerks, came from the papal court, which then 
was at Perugia, and from the vale of Spoleto, to behold that 
great assembly, so holy and so humble, and so many saintly men 
together, the like whereof the world had never known before. 
And chiefly they came to behold the head and most holy father 
of that saintly folk, who had snatched so fair a prey from the 
world, and had gathered together so fair and devout a flock to 
follow the footprints of the true Shepherd Jesus Christ. The 
Chapter-General then being assembled together, St. Francis, 
holy father of all and general minister, expounded the word of 
God in fervour of spirit and preached unto them in a loud voice 
whatsoever the Holy Spirit put into his mouth. And for the 
text of his sermon he took these words, "My children, great 
things have we promised unto God : things exceeding great hath 
God promised unto us, if we observe those we have promised 
unto Him: and of a surety do we await those things promised 
unto us. Brief is the joy of this world; the pain that cometh 
hereafter is everlasting: small is the pain of this life; but the 
glory of the life to come is infinite." And on these words he 
preached most devoutly, comforting the friars and moving them 
to obedience and to reverence of holy mother church, to brotherly 
love and to pray to God for all men, to be patient under the 
adversities of this world, temperate in prosperity, observant of 
purity and angelic chastity, to live in peace and concord with 
God and with men and with their own conscience, and in the 
love and practice of most holy poverty. And then he spake 
and said, " I command you by the merit of holy obedience, all 
you that are here assembled, that none of you have care nor 
solicitude for what he shall eat nor what he shall drink, nor for 
aught necessary for the body, but give ye heed solely to prayer 
and to the praise of God : lay upon Him all solicitude for your 
body, for He hath special care of you." And all and sundry 
received this commandment with glad hearts and with joyful 
countenances: and the sermon of St. Francis being ended, all 
prostrated themselves in prayer. Whereat St. Dominic, that 
was present at all these things, marvelled mightily at the com- 
mandment of St. Francis and deemed it rash ; for he knew not how 
so great a multitude could be governed while taking no thought 

34 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

or care for the things necessary to the body. But the chief 
Shepherd, Christ the blessed, being willed to show what care He 
hath for His sheep and His singular love for His poor ones, anon 
moved the hearts of the people of Perugia, of Spoleto, of Foligno, 
of Spello, and of Assisi, and of the other cities round about, to 
bring wherewithal to eat and to drink to that holy congregation. 
And lo, there came quickly from the aforesaid cities, men with 
sumpter mules and horses and carts, loaded with bread and wine, 
with beans and cheese and other good things to eat, according 
to the needs of Christ's poor ones. Besides this they brought 
napery and pitchers, and bowls and glasses, and other vessels 
needful for so grea,t a multitude; and blessed he that could bring 
the heaviest load or serve most diligently, so that knights and 
barons also and other noblemen, who had come to look on, 
served them with great humility and devotion. Wherefore St. 
Dominic, beholding all these things and knowing of a truth that 
divine providence wrought in them, humbly owned that he had 
falsely judged St. Francis of rashness, and drawing nigh to him 
knelt down and humbly confessed his fault, and added, " Verily, 
God hath especial care of these His poor little ones, and I knew 
it not: henceforth I promise to observe holy gospel poverty, and 
in God's name do curse all the friars of my Order that shall dare 
to possess things of their own." And St. Dominic was much 
edified by the faith of the most holy St. Francis, and by the 
obedience and poverty of so great and well ordered an assembly, 
and by the divine providence and the rich abundance of all good 
things. Now in that same Chapter it was told St. Francis that 
many friars were wearing breastplates of iron 1 next their skins, 
and iron rings, whereby many grew sick even unto death and 
were hindered in their prayers. Whereat St. Francis, as a wise 
father, commanded by holy obedience that whosoever had these 
breast-plates or iron rings should remove them and lay them; 

1 Cuoretto. The sense of this word is doubtful. A note to Cesari's texl: 
interprets " a kind of metal cilice in the form of a heart." The Uptor, 
fathers render "leather bands with sharp points;" Cardinal Manning 
has " small hearts of iron." Prof. Arnold in his admirable translatior 
gives " shirts of mail." A shirt of mail was, however, an expensive 
harness in the Middle Ages, and a gathering of mendicant friars, 500 o ' 
whom were possessed of shirts of mail, is hardly credible. Petrocchi 
Nuovo diz. universale, interprets, specie di cilizio, " a kind of cilice," anc ] 
Johann Jorgensen, the Danish translator, has Bodsskjorte, " penitentia 
shirt." A reference to the Latin original gives loricam, and since i 
well - known eleventh - century Italian hermit, S. Domenico lorato, wa 
thus called by reason of the iron cuirass he wore next his skin, I hav 
small doubt that cuoretto should be rendered " breastplate." The friar 
could easily have begged old breast-plates for penitential purposes. 

St. Francis at Rieti 35 

before him, and thus did they; and there were numbered full 
five hundred breast-plates, and many more rings, either for the 
arm or for the loins, so that they made a great heap; and St. 
Francis bade them be left there. After the Chapter was ended 
St. Francis heartened them all to good works, and taught them 
how they should escape without sin from this wicked world; 
then dismissed them with God's blessing and his own to their 
provinces, all consoled with spiritual joy. 



St. Francis being on a time sorely afflicted in his eyes, was 
invited by a letter from Cardinal Hugolin, protector of the 
Order, to come to Rieti, where excellent physicians for the eyes 
then dwelt, for he loved him tenderly. When St. Francis re- 
ceived the cardinal's letter he went first to St. Damian's, where 
St. Clare, the most devout spouse of Christ was, to give her some 
consolation; then he would go his way to the cardinal at Rieti. 
And the night after he came thither his eyes worsened so that 
he saw no light at all. Wherefore, being unable to depart, St. 
Clare made him a little cell of reeds whereon he might the better 
find repose. But St. Francis, what with the pain of his eyes 
and what with the multitude of mice that tormented him, could 
not rest a moment night or day. And after enduring that pain 
and tribulation many days, he began to bethink him and to 
understand that this was a divine scourge for his sins; and he 
began to thank God with all his heart and with his mouth, and 
then crying with a loud voice, said, " My Lord, worthy am I of all 
this and far worse. My Lord Jesus Christ, good Shepherd, that 
in Thy mercy hast laid upon us sinners divers corporeal pains and 
anguish, grant to me, Thy little sheep, such virtue and grace that 
for no sickness or anguish or suffering I may depart from Thee." 

36 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

And as he prayed there came to him a voice from heaven saying, 
" Francis, answer Me: If all the earth were gold, and all the sea 
and fountains and rivers were balm, and all the mountains and 
hills and rocks were precious stones, and thou shouldst find 
another treasure as much nobler than these things as gold is 
nobler than clay, and balm than water, and precious stones than 
mountains and rocks, and if that nobler treasure were given thee 
for thine infirmity, oughtest thou not to be right glad and right 
joyful?" St. Francis answers, "Lord, I am unworthy of so 
precious a treasure." And the voice of God said to him, " Re- 
joice, Francis, for that is the treasure of life eternal, which I 
have laid up for thee, and from this hour forth I do invest thee 
therewith: and this sickness and affliction is a pledge of that 
blessed treasure." Then St. Francis with exceeding great joy 
called his companion and said, " Go we to the cardinal." And 
first consoling St. Clare with holy words and humbly taking 
leave of her, he went his way towards Rieti. And when he drew 
nigh to the city, so great a multitude of people came forth to 
meet him that he would not enter therein, but went to a church 
that was perchance two miles distant therefrom. When the 
citizens heard that he was at the said church, they ran thither 
to behold him in such numbers that the vineyard of the said 
church was utterly despoiled, and all the grapes were plucked : 
whereat the priest, sorely grieved in his heart, repented that he I 
had received St. Francis in his church. Now that priest's 
thoughts being revealed by God to St. Francis, he called him j 
aside and said to him, " Dearest father, how many measures of ■ 
wine doth this vineyard yield thee a year when the yield is 
highest?" He answered, "Twelve measures." Says St. 
Francis, " Prithee, father, suffer me patiently to sojourn here 
yet a few days, for I find much repose here; and for the love of 
God and of me, poor little one, let every man gather grapes from 
thy vineyard, and I promise thee, in the name of my Lord Jesus ; 
Christ, that every year thy vineyard shall yield thee twenty [ 
measures of wine." And St. Francis tarried there because of; 
the great harvest of souls manifestly gathered from the folk'| 
that came thither; whereof many departed inebriated with; 
divine love and forsook the world. The priest had faith in the 
promise of St. Francis, and surrendered the vineyard freely to 
those that came thither: and the vineyard was all wasted and : 
stripped, so that scarce a bunch of grapes remained. Marvellous 
to tell, the vintage season comes, and lo, the priest gathers the 
few bunches that were left and casts them into the wine-press 

A Wondrous Vision 37 

and treads them, and, according to the promise of St. Francis, 
he harvested twenty measures of excellent wine. In this 
miracle was manifestly seen that, since by the merits of St. 
Francis the vineyard, stripped of its grapes, gave forth abun- 
dance of wine, so Christian folk, barren of virtue through sin, 
ofttimes abounded in good fruit of penitence through the merits 
and teaching of St. Francis. 



A youth of very noble birth and gently nurtured entered the 
Order of St. Francis; and after some days, at the instigation of 
the devil, began to hold the habit he wore in such abomination 
that it seemed to him of vilest sackcloth. The sleeves thereof 
he held in horror; he hated the cowl, and the length and coarse- 
ness thereof seemed to him an intolerable burden. And his 
dislike of the Order increasing also, he finally determined to quit 
the habit and return to the world. Now he was already wonted, 
even as he had been taught by his master, to kneel down with 
great reverence and draw off his cowl and cross his arms on his 
breast and prostrate himself whensoever he passed before the 
altar of the friary, where the body of Christ was reserved. Now 
it befell on the night when he was minded to depart and leave 
the Order, that it behoved him to pass before the altar of the 
convent: and passing there he knelt down as was his wont and 
did reverence. And suddenly he was rapt in spirit, and a 
wondrous vision was shown him by God; for he beheld, as 
'twere, a countless multitude of saints pass before him, after 
the manner of a procession, two by two, clad in most fair and 
precious raiment; and the countenances and hands of them 
shone like the sun; and they paced to the chants and music of 
angels. And amid these saints were two more nobly arrayed 
and adorned than all the others; and they were encompassed 
with such brightness that he who beheld them was filled with 
great amaze; and well-nigh at the end of the procession he 
beheld one adorned so gloriously that he seemed a new-made 
knight, more honoured than the others. This youth, beholding 
the said vision, marvelled greatly, and knew not what that 

38 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

procession betokened, yet dared not ask, and remained dazed 
with the sweetness thereof. And, nevertheless, when all the 
procession was passed, he took courage and ran after the last 
of them, and asked, saying, " beloved, prithee of your courtesy 
tell me who be they so marvellously arrayed that walk in this 
venerable procession? " They answered, " Know, my son, 
that we are all friars minor, who now are coming from the glory 
of paradise." Then asked he thus, " Who be those two that 
shine more brightly than the others? " They answered, " Those 
are St. Francis and St. Anthony; and he the last of all whom 
thou sawest thus honoured is a holy friar that newly died, whom 
we are leading in triumph to the glory of paradise, for that he 
hath fought valiantly against temptation and persevered unto 
the end ; and these fair garments of fine cloth we wear, are given 
to us by God in lieu of the coarse tunics We wore in the Order; 
and the glorious brightness that thou beholdest is given to us 
by God for the humility and patience, and for the holy poverty 
and obedience and chastity we kept even to the last. Therefore, 
my son, be it not hard to thee to wear the sackcloth of the 
Order, that is so fruitful, because, if clothed in the sackcloth 
of St. Francis, thou for love of Christ despise the world and 
mortify thy flesh and valiantly fight against the devil, thou, 
with us, shalt have a like raiment and exceeding brightness of 
glory." These words said, the youth returned to himself, and 
heartened by this vision, cast away from him all temptation, 
and confessed his fault before the warden and the friars; and 
thenceforth he desired the bitterness of penitence and the 
coarseness of the habit, and ended his life in the Order in great 



In the days when St. Francis abode in the city of Gubbio, a 
huge wolf, terrible and fierce, appeared in the neighbourhood, 
and not only devoured animals but men also ; in such wise that 
all the citizens went in great fear of their lives, because ofttimes 
the wolf came close to the city. And when they went abroad, 
all men armed themselves as were they going forth to battle; 
and even so none who chanced on the wolf alone could defend 

Conversion of the Wolf of Gubbio 39 

himself; and at last it came to such a pass that for fear of this 
wolf no man durst leave the city walls. Wherefore St. Francis 
had great compassion for the men of that city, and purposed 
to issue forth against that wolf, albeit the citizens, with one 
accord, counselled him not to go. But he, making the sign of 
holy cross, and putting all his trust in God, set forth from the 
city with his companions; but they, fearing to go farther, 
St. Francis went his way alone towards the place where the 
wolf was. And lo ! the said wolf, in the sight of much folk that 
had come to behold the miracle, leapt towards St. Francis with 
gaping jaws; and St. Francis, drawing nigh, made to him the 
sign of most holy cross and called him, speaking thus, " Come 
hither, friar wolf; I command thee in the name of Christ that 
thou do hurt neither to me nor to any man." Marvellous to 
tell ! no sooner had St. Francis made the sign of holy cross than 
the terrible wolf closed his jaws and stayed his course; no sooner 
was the command uttered than he came, gentle as a lamb, and 
laid himself at the feet of St. Francis. Then St. Francis speaks 
to him thus, " Friar wolf, thou workest much evil in these parts, 
and hast wrought grievous ill, destroying and slaying God's 
creatures without His leave; and not only hast thou slain and 
devoured the beasts of the field, but thou hast dared to destroy 
and slay men made in the image of God; wherefore thou art 
worthy of the gallows as a most wicked thief and murderer: 
all folk cry out and murmur against thee, and all this city is 
at enmity with thee. But, friar wolf, fain would I make peace 
with them and thee, so that thou injure them no more; and 
they shall forgive thee all thy past offences, and neither man 
nor dog shall pursue thee more." Now when St. Francis had 
spoken these words, the wolf, moving his body and his tail and 
his ears, and bowing his head, made signs that he accepted what 
had been said, and would abide thereby. Then said St. Francis, 
" Friar wolf, since it pleaseth thee to make and observe this 
peace, I promise to obtain for thee, so long as thou livest, a 
j continual sustenance from the men of this city, so that thou 
Ishalt no more suffer hunger, for well I ween that thou hast 
wrought all this evil to satisfy thy hunger. But after I have 
won this favour for thee, friar wolf, I desire that thou promise 
I me to do hurt neither to man nor beast. Dost thou promise 
me this? " And the wolf bowed his head and gave clear token 
that he promised these things. And St. Francis said, " Friar 
wolf, I desire that thou pledge thy faith to me to keep this 
promise, that I may have full trust in thee." And when St. 

40 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

Francis held forth his hand to receive this pledge, the wolf lifted 
up his right paw and gently laid it in the hand of St. Francis, 
giving him thereby such token of good faith as he could. Then 
said St. Francis, " Friar wolf, I command thee in the name of 
Jesus Christ to come with me; fear naught, and we will go and 
confirm this peace in the name of God." And the wolf, obedient, 
set forth by his side even as a pet lamb ; wherefore, when the men 
of the city beheld this, they marvelled greatly. And anon this 
miracle was noised about the whole city, and all folk, great and 
small, men and women, old and young, flocked to the market- 
place to see the wolf with St. Francis. And when all the people 
were gathered together there, St. Francis stood forth and 
preached to them, saying, among other things, how that for 
their sins God had suffered such calamities to befall them, and 
how much more perilous were the flames of hell which the 
damned must endure everlastingly than was the ravening of a 
wolf that could only slay the body; and how much more to be 
feared were the jaws of hell, since that for fear of the mouth of 
a small beast such multitudes went in fear and trembling. 
" Turn ye, then, dearest children, to God, and do fitting penance 
for your sins, and so shall God free you from the wolf in this 
world and from eternal fire in the world to come." And having 
made an end of his sermon, St. Francis said, " Hark ye, my 
brethren, friar wolf, here before you, hath promised and pledged 
his faith to me never to injure you in anything whatsoever, if 
you will promise to provide him daily sustenance; and here 
stand I, a bondsman for him, that he will steadfastly observe this 
pact of peace." Then the people with one voice promised to 
feed him all his days. And St. Francis, before all the people, 
said to the wolf, " And thou, friar wolf, dost promise to observe 
the conditions of this peace before all this people, and that thou 
wilt injure neither man nor beast nor any living creature? " 
And the wolf knelt down and bowed his head, and with gentle 
movements of tail and body and ears, showed by all possible 
tokens his will to observe every pact of peace. Says St. Francis, 
" I desire, friar wolf, that even as thou didst pledge thy faith 
to me without the city gates to hold fast to thy promise, so 
here, before all this people, thou shalt renew thy pledge, and 
promise thou wilt never play me, thy bondsman, false." Then 
the wolf, lifting up his right paw, placed it in the hand of St. 
Francis. Whereat, what with this act and the others aforesaid, 
there was such marvel and rejoicing among all the people — not 
only at the strangeness of the miracle, but because of the peace 

St. Francis and the Doves 41 

made with the wolf — that they all began to cry aloud to heaven, 
praising and blessing God, who had sent St. Francis to them, 
by whose merits they had been freed from the cruel wolf. And 
the said wolf lived two years in Gubbio, and was wont to enter 
like a tame creature into the houses from door to door, doing 
hurt to no one and none doing hurt to him. And he was kindly 
fed by the people; and as he went about the city never a dog 
barked at him. At last, after two years, friar wolf died of old 
age: whereat the citizens grieved much, for when they beheld 
him going thus tamely about the city, they remembered better 
the virtues and holiness of St. Francis. 



A certain youth one day, having snared many turtle doves, 
was taking them to market when St. Francis met him. And 
St. Francis, who ever had singular compassion for gentle 
creatures, gazed upon those doves with a pitying eye, and said 
to the youth, " good youth, prithee give them to me, lest 
birds so gentle, that chaste, humble, and faithful souls are 
compared to them in the scriptures, fall into the hands of cruel 
men who would kill them." Straightway the youth, inspired by 
God, gave them all to St. Francis, who received them into his 
bosom and began to speak sweetly to them, " my little sisters, 
ye simple doves, innocent and chaste, wherefore suffer your- 
selves to be caught? Now will I rescue you from death, and 
make nests for you, that ye may be fruitful and multiply, 
according to the commandments of our Creator." And St. 
Francis went and made nests for them all; and they took to 
the nests and began to lay eggs and rear their young before 
the eyes of the friars: and thus they abode tamely and grew 
familiar with St. Francis and the other friars, as if they had been 
chickens ever fed by their hands: nor did they depart until 
St. Francis gave them leave with his blessing. And he said to 
the youth that had given them to him, " Son, thou shalt yet be 
a friar in this Order and serve Jesus Christ in grace." And so 
it befell, for the said youth became a friar and lived in the Order 
with great holiness. 

42 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



It fell out on a time as St. Francis was at prayer in the friary 
of the Porziuncula, that he beheld by divine revelation the whole 
house surrounded and besieged by devils in the similitude of a 
mighty army. But they could not enter within because those 
friars were of such holiness that no evil spirit could come nigh 
them. And as the enemy lay in wait, one of the friars on a day 
quarrelled with another, and thought in his heart how he might 
accuse him and be avenged. Wherefore, while he nursed this 
evil thought, the devil saw the way open and entered into the 
friary and sat on the friar's shoulder. But the compassionate 
and vigilant shepherd that ever watched over his flock, seeing 
the wolf had entered the fold to devour his lamb, let that friar 
be called to him, and commanded him straightway to reveal 
the venom of hatred he had conceived towards his neighbour, 
whereby he had fallen into the power of the enemy of mankind. 
The friar, affrighted when he perceived that the holy father 
had thus read his heart, revealed all the venom and malice he 
had borne in his breast, and confessed his sin and humbly craved 
mercy and penance. This done, and his penance being accepted, 
he was assoiled of his sin, and straightway the devil departed in 
the presence of St. Francis. And the friar, thus delivered from 
the power of the cruel fiend through the loving-kindness of the 
good shepherd, gave thanks to God, and returned chastened 
and admonished to the fold of the holy pastor, and ever after 
lived in great sanctity. 



St. Francis, stirred by zeal for the faith of Christ and by the 
desire of martyrdom, voyaged on a time over the seas with 
twelve of his holiest companions, to fare straight to the Soldan 
of Babylon; x and when they came to the land of the Saracens, 

1 Old Cairo. 

Conversion of Soldan of Babylon 43 

where the passes were guarded by certain men so cruel that 
never a Christian who journeyed that way escaped death at 
their hands, by the grace of God they escaped, and were not 
slain; but seized and beaten, they were led in bonds before the 
Soldan. And standing before him, St. Francis, taught by the 
Holy Ghost, preached the faith of Christ so divinely that for 
his faith's sake he even would have entered the fire. Whereat 
the Soldan began to feel great devotion towards him, as much 
for the constancy of his faith as for his contempt of the world 
(for albeit he was very poor, he would accept no gift), and also 
for the fervour of martyrdom he beheld in him. From that 
time forth the Soldan heard him gladly, and entreated him many 
times to come back, granting to him and to his companions 
freedom to preach wheresoever it might please them; and he 
gave them also a token, so that no man should do them hurt. 
Having therefore received this licence, St. Francis sent forth 
those chosen companions, two by two, in divers parts, to preach 
the faith of Christ to the Saracens. And himself, with one of 
them, chose a way, and journeying on he came to an inn to rest. 
And therein was a woman, most fair in body but foul in soul, 
who, accursed one, did tempt him to sin. And St. Francis, 
saying he consented thereto, she led him into a chamber. Said 
St. Francis, " Come with me." And he led her to a fierce fire 
that was kindled in that chamber, and in fervour of spirit 
stripped himself naked and cast himself beside that fire on the 
burning hearth; and he invited her to go and strip and lie with 
him on that bed, downy and fair. And when St. Francis had 
lain thus for a great space, with a joyous face, being neither 
burned nor even singed, that woman, affrighted and pierced to 
the heart, not only repented of her sin and of her evil intent, 
but likewise was wholly converted to the faith of Christ; and 
she waxed so in holiness that many souls were saved through her 
in those lands. 

At last, when St. Francis saw he could gather no more fruit 
in those parts, he prepared by divine admonition to return to 
the faithful with all his companions; and having assembled 
them together, he went back to the Soldan and took leave of 
him. Then said the Soldan to him, " Friar Francis, fain would 
I convert me to the faith of Christ, but I fear to do so now, for 
if this people heard thereof they would surely slay thee and me 
and all thy companions ; and forasmuch as thou canst yet work 
much good, and as I have certain affairs of great moment to 
despatch, I will not be the cause of thy death and of mine. But 

44 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

teach me how I may be saved; lo, I am ready to do whatsoever 
thou lay est upon me." Then said St. Francis, " My lord, now 
must I depart from you, but after I am returned to mine own 
country and by the grace of God have ascended to heaven, after 
my death, as it may please God, I will send thee two of my friars, 
at whose hands thou shalt receive the holy baptism of Christ and 
be saved, even as my Lord Jesus Christ hath revealed to me. 
And do thou meanwhile get thee free from all hindrance, so that 
when the grace of God shall come upon thee thou shalt find 
thyself well disposed to faith and devotion." Thus he promised 
and thus he did. This said, St. Francis returned with that 
venerable college of his holy companions, and after some years 
he gave up his soul to God by the death of the body. And the 
Soldan, being fallen sick, awaits the promise of St. Francis, and 
stations guards at certain of the passes, and commands them 
that if two friars appear in the habit of St. Francis, they shall 
straightway be led before him. At that very hour St. Francis 
appeared to two friars, and bade them tarry not, but hasten 
to the Soldan and compass his salvation, according as he had 
promised. And anon the friars set forth, and having crossed 
the pass, were led by the said guards before the Soldan. And 
when the Soldan beheld them he was filled with great joy, and 
said, " Now do I truly perceive that God hath sent his servants 
to me for my salvation, according to the promise St. Francis 
made to me by divine inspiration." And when he had received 
instruction from those friars in the faith of Christ and holy 
baptism, he, being born again in Christ, died of that sickness, 
and his soul was saved through the merits and the prayers of 
St. Francis. 



St. Francis, true disciple of Christ, while he lived in this 
miserable life, strove with all his might to follow Christ, the 
perfect Master; wherefore it befell many times, by divine 
power, that the souls of those, whose bodies he healed, were also 
healed at the selfsame hour, even as we read of Christ. And 
he not only served lepers gladly, but had also ordained that 
the friars of his Order, as they went about the world, should 

The Leper 45 

serve lepers for love of Christ, who for our sakes was willing to 
be accounted a leper. Now it befell on a time, in a friary nigh 
unto where St. Francis then was dwelling, that the friars were 
serving lepers and other sick folk in a lazar-house, among whom 
was a leper, so froward, so intolerable, and so insolent, that all 
believed of a surety he was possessed of the devil; and so in 
sooth it was, for he reviled so shamefully with words, and 
belaboured whosoever was tending him, and, what is worse, did 
foully blaspheme the blessed Christ and His most holy Mother 
the Virgin Mary, so that in no wise could one be found willing 
or able to serve him. And albeit the friars strove to bear 
patiently the injuries and insults heaped upon themselves, in 
order to increase the merit of their patience, nevertheless, their 
consciences were unable to endure those uttered against the 
Christ and His Mother: so they resolved to forsake the said 
leper, but would not until they had signified all things in due 
order to St. Francis, who was then dwelling in a friary hard by. 
And when they had signified these things to him, St. Francis 
came to this perverse leper, and drawing nigh, gave him saluta- 
tion, saying, " God give thee peace, my dearest brother." The 
leper answers, " What peace can I have from God, who hath taken 
peace from me and all good things, and hath made me all 
rotten and stinking? " And St. Francis said, " My son, have 
patience, for the infirmities of the body are given to us by God 
in this world for the salvation of souls ; inasmuch as they are of 
great merit when they are endured patiently." The sick man 
answers, " And how can I bear patiently this continual pain 
that afflicts me day and night? And not only am I afflicted 
by my sickness, but the friars thou gavest to serve me do even 
worse, and serve me not as they ought." Then St. Francis, 
knowing by divine revelation that this leper was possessed of 
the evil spirit, went aside and betook himself to prayer, and 
devoutly prayed God for him. His prayer ended, he returns 
to the leper and bespeaks him thus, " My son, I will serve thee, 
even I, since thou art not content with the others." And the 
leper answers, " So be it; but what canst thou do more than the 
others?" St. Francis answers, "Whatsoever thou wilt, that 
will I do." Says the leper, " I will that thou wash me all over, 
for I stink so foully that I cannot abide myself." Then St. 
Francis made quickly water boil, with many sweet-smelling 
herbs therein; then did strip the leper and began to wash him 
with his own hands, while another friar poured water over him. 
And by miracle divine, wherever St. Francis touched him with 

46 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

his holy hands the leprosy departed, and the flesh became 
perfectly whole. And even as the flesh began to heal, the soul 
began to heal also; whereupon the leper, seeing the leprosy on 
the way to leave him, began to have great compunction and 
repentance for his sins; and bitterly he began to weep; so that 
while the body was outwardly cleansed of the leprosy by the 
washing with water, the soul within was cleansed of sin by 
amendment and tears. And being wholly healed, as well in 
body as in soul, he humbly confessed his sins, and weeping, said 
with a loud voice, " Woe unto me, who am worthy of hell for 
the insults and injuries I have put upon the friars in word and 
deed, and for my perversity and blasphemies against God." 
Wherefore a fortnight long he persevered in bitter weeping for 
his sins and in craving mercy of God, confessing himself unto 
the priest with a whole heart. And when St. Francis beheld so 
clear a miracle that God had wrought by his hands, he gave 
thanks to God, and departing thence, journeyed into a very far 
country; for through humility he desired to flee all vainglory, 
and in all his works sought the honour and glory of God, and 
not his own. Then as it pleased God, the said leper, being 
healed in body and soul, fell sick of another infirmity a fort- 
night after his repentance; and, armed with the sacraments of 
the church, died a holy death. And his soul, on her way to 
paradise, appeared in the air to St. Francis, who was at prayer 
in a wood, and said to him, " Knowest thou me? " " Who 
art thou ? " said St. Francis. " I am the leper whom the blessed 
Christ healed through thy merits, and this day am going to life 
everlasting; wherefore I render thanks to God and to thee. 
Blessed be thy soul and thy body; blessed thy holy words and 
deeds, because through thee many souls shall be saved in the 
world : and know that not a day passeth in the world but that 
the holy angels and the other saints give thanks to God for the 
holy fruits that thou and thy Order bring forth in divers parts j 
of the world. Therefore be comforted, and give thanks to God J 

and abide with His blessing." These words said, the soul passed 
into heaven, and St. Francis remained much comforted. 

Conversion of Three Robbers 47 



St. Francis on a time was journeying through the wilderness 
of Borgo San Sepolcro, and as he passed by a stronghold, called 
Monte Casale, a noble and delicate youth came to him and said, 
" Father, fain would I become one of your friars." St. Francis 
answers, " Son, thou art but a delicate youth and of noble birth, 
peradventure thou couldst not endure our poverty and our 
hardships." And the youth said, " Father, are ye not men as 
I am? Since ye then endure these things, even so can I by 
the grace of Jesus Christ." St. Francis, well pleased with this 
answer, gave him his blessing, and anon received him into the 
Order, and gave him for name Friar Angel. And this youth 
waxed so in grace that short time after St. Francis made him 
warden of the friary called of' Monte Casale. Now in those days 
three famous robbers who infested that country and wrought 
much evil therein, came to the said friary and besought the 
said warden, Friar Angel, to give them food to eat; and the 
warden answered them in this wise, rebuking them harshly, 
" Ye robbers and cruel manslayers, are ye not ashamed to steal 
the fruit of others' labours, but, frontless and insolent, would 
seek likewise to devour the alms bestowed on God's servants? 
Ye are not worthy even to walk this earth, for ye reverence 
neither man nor the God that created you; get ye gone, then, 
and be seen here no more." Whereat they, perturbed, departed 
in great fury. And lo, St. Francis appeared outside the friary, 
his wallet filled with bread, and carrying a small vessel of wine, 
that he and his companion had begged. And when the warden 
related to him how he had driven the robbers away, St. Francis 
chid him severely, saying he had borne himself cruelly, since 
sinners were better drawn to God by gentleness than by cruel 
reproof. " Wherefore our Master, Jesus Christ, whose gospel 
we have promised to observe, saith, that the whole need not a 
physician, but they that are sick, and that He had not come 
to call the just but sinners to repentance; and therefore many 
times He ate with them. Forasmuch as thou hast done contrary 

48 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

to charity and contrary to Christ's holy gospel, I command thee 
by holy obedience that thou straightway take this wallet of 
bread that I have begged and this vessel of wine, and go diligently 
after them over hill and valley until thou find them, and give 
them all this bread and wine from me: then kneel thee down 
before them and confess humbly thy fault of cruelty, and 
entreat them for my sake to work evil no more, but to fear God 
and offend Him no more; and say that if they will do this I 
promise to provide for all their needs, and give them continually 
enough to eat and to drink. And when thou hast done this, 
return humbly hither." While the said warden went to do this 
bidding, St. Francis betook himself to prayer, and besought God 
that He would soften the hearts of those robbers and convert 
them to repentance. The obedient warden overtakes them 
and gives them the bread and wine, and does and says what 
St. Francis had commanded him. And it pleased God that 
those robbers, as they ate of the alms of St. Francis, began to 
say to one another, " Woe unto us, wretched and hapless ! what 
hard torments await us in hell! For we go about not only 
robbing our neighbours, beating and wounding them, but do 
slay them likewise; and so many evil deeds and wicked works 
notwithstanding, we have neither remorse of conscience nor 
fear of God; and lo, this holy friar hath come to us, and for a 
few words wherewith he justly rebuked our wickedness, hath 
humbly confessed to us his fault; and moreover, hath brought 
us bread and wine and promise so bounteous from the holy 
father: verily these are God's holy friars that merit His 
paradise, and we are children of eternal wrath that deserve the 
pains of hell, and each day do increase our doom; yea, we 
know not whether for the sins we have committed to this day 
we may return to the mercy of God." These and the like words 
being spoken by one of them, the others said, " Of a surety thou 
speakest sooth, but look ye, what must we do?" "Go we," 
said one, " to St. Francis, and if he give us hope that we may find 
mercy from God for our sins, let us do whatsoever he command 
us, and so may we deliver our souls from the torments of hell." 
Now this counsel was pleasing to the others, and thus all three 
being in accord, they came in haste to St. Francis and spake to 
him thus, " Father, we for our many wicked sins believe we 
cannot return to the mercy of God; but if thou have some hope 
that God in His mercy will receive us, lo, we are ready to do thy 
bidding and to do penance with thee." Then St. Francis 
received them with loving-kindness and comforted them with 

Conversion of Three Robbers 49 

many ensamples, and made them confident of God's mercy, 
promising he would surely obtain it for them from God. He 
told them that the mercy of God was infinite, and that, according 
to the gospel, even if our sins were infinite, His mercy was yet 
greater than our sins ; and that the Apostle St. Paul hath said, 
" Christ the blessed came into the world to save sinners." 
Hearing these words and the like teachings, the said three 
robbers renounced the devil and all his works, and St. Francis 
received them into the Order, and they began to do great 
penance. And two of them lived but a brief space after their 
conversion and went to paradise; but the third lived on, and, 
pondering on his sins, gave himself up to do such penance 
during fifteen unbroken years that, besides the common lenten 
fasts which he kept with the other friars, he fasted three days 
of the week on bread and water; he went ever barefoot, with 
naught on his back but a single tunic, nor ever slept after 
matins. In the meantime St. Francis passed from this miserable 
life; and this friar through many years continued his penance, 
when lo, one night after matins, so sore a temptation to sleep 
came upon him, that in no wise could he resist it, nor watch as 
he was wont to do. At length, unable to overcome his drowsi- 
ness, or to pray, he lay on his bed to sleep. No sooner had he 
laid down his head than he was rapt and led in spirit to the 
top of a very high mountain over a steep place, and on this side 
and on that were broken and jagged rocks and monstrous crags 
that jutted forth from the rocks; wherefore this steep place 
was frightful to behold. And the angel that was leading this 
friar pushed him and flung him down that steep place; and as 
he fell he was dashed from rock to rock and from crag to crag 
until he fell to the bottom of the abyss, his limbs all broken 
and shattered to pieces, according as it seemed to him. And 
lying thus mangled on the ground, he that led him said, " Rise 
up, for it behoves thee to go a yet greater journey." The friar 
answered, " Methinks thou art a most foolish and cruel man; 
for thou seest I am well-nigh dead of my fall, which has dashed 
me to pieces, and thou yet biddest me rise up." And the 
angel drew nigh and, touching him, made all his members whole 
again and healed his wounds. And then he showed him a great 
plain, full of sharp and pointed stones and thorns and briars, 
and told him he must needs run across all this plain and pass over 
it with naked feet until he came to the end; there he would 
behold a fiery furnace wherein he must enter. And the friar 
having passed over all the plain with great pain and anguish,. 

50 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

the angel said to him, " Enter yon furnace, for this it behoves 
thee now to do." He answers, " Alas ! how cruel a guide art 
thou, that seest I am nigh unto death, because of this horrible 
plain; and now for repose thou biddest me enter this fiery- 
furnace." And as he gazed, he beheld many devils around the 
furnace with iron forks in their hands, wherewith, seeing him 
slow to enter, they thrust him into the furnace. Having entered 
the furnace, he gazed around and beheld one that had been his 
boon companion, who was all a-burning; and he asked of him, 
"O hapless comrade, how earnest thou here?" And he 
answered and said, "Goa little farther and thou shalt find my 
wife, thy gossip; she will tell thee the cause of our damnation." 
And as the friar passed on, lo, the said gossip appeared, all 
aflame and enclosed in a fiery measure of corn; and he asked 
her, saying, " O gossip, hapless and wretched, why art thou in 
so cruel a torment? " And she answered, " Because at the 
time of the great famine that St. Francis had foretold, my 
husband and I gave false measure of corn and wheat; therefore 
do I burn in this measure." These words said, the angel who 
was leading the friar thrust him out of the furnace and said to 
him, " Make thee ready for a horrible journey thou hast to 
take." And he, lamenting, said, " O guide most cruel, that 
hast no compassion on me, thou seest I am well-nigh all burned 
in this furnace, and yet wouldst lead me on a perilous and 
horrible journey." And the angel touched him, and made him 
whole and strong. Then he led him to a bridge, which could 
not be crossed without great peril, for it was very frail and 
narrow and slippery and without a rail at the sides ; and beneath 
it flowed a terrible river, filled with serpents and dragons and 
scorpions, that it gave forth a great stench. And the angel said 
to him, " Pass over this bridge; at any cost thou must pass 
over." And the friar answers, " And how shall I cross without 
falling into this perilous river? " Says the angel, " Follow after 
me, and set thy foot where thou seest me place mine; so shalt 
thou pass over well." This friar passes behind the angel as he 
had shown him, until he reached the middle of the bridge, and 
as he stood thus on the crown of the bridge the angel flew away, 
and departing from him, went to the top of a most high moun- 
tain far away beyond the bridge. And the friar considered well 
the place whither the angel had flown ; but, left without a guide 
and gazing below him, he beheld those terrible beasts with 
their heads out of the water and with open jaws ready to devour 
him if peradventure he should fall; and he trembled so that in 

Conversion of Three Robbers 5 1 

no wise knew he what to do, nor what to say; for he could 
neither turn back nor go forward. Wherefore, beholding himself 
in such great tribulation, and that he had no other refuge save 
in God, he stooped down and clasped the bridge, and with his 
whole heart and in tears he commended himself to God, and 
prayed that of His most holy mercy he would succour him. 
His prayer ended, himseemed to put forth wings, whereat with 
great joy he waited until they grew, that he might fly beyond 
the bridge whither the angel had flown. But after a while, by 
the great desire he had to pass beyond this bridge, he set himself 
to fly, and because his wings were not yet fully grown, he fell 
upon the bridge and his wings dropped from him; whereat he 
clasped the bridge again, and commended himself as before to 
God. And his prayer ended, again himseemed to put forth 
wings ; but, as before, he waited not until they had fully grown, 
and setting himself to fly before the time, he fell again on the 
bridge, and his wings dropped. Wherefore, seeing these things, 
and that he had fallen, through his untimely haste to fly, he 
began to say within himself, "Of a surety, if I put forth wings 
a third time, I will wait until they be so great that I may fly 
without falling again." And pondering these things, lo, him- 
seemed yet a third time to put forth wings ; and waiting a great 
space, until they were well grown, himseemed with the first 
and second and third putting forth of wings that he had waited 
full a hundred and fifty years or more. At length he lifted 
him up this third time, and with all his might took wing and 
flew on high as far as the place whither the angel had flown. 
And knocking at the door of the palace wherein the angel was, 
the doorkeeper asked of him, "Who art thou that comest here? " 
He answered, " I am a friar minor." Says the doorkeeper, 
" Tarry a while, for I will bring St. Francis hither, to see if he 
know thee." As he went his way to St. Francis, this friar 
began to gaze on the marvellous walls of the palace; and lo, 
these walls appeared translucent and of such exceeding bright- 
ness that he beheld clearly the choirs of the saints and all that 
was doing within. And standing thus amazed at this vision, 
lo, St. Francis cometh, and Friar Bernard, and Friar Giles; 
and after these, so great a multitude of sainted men and women 
that had followed the example of his life, that they seemed well- 
nigh countless; and St. Francis came forth and said to the 
doorkeeper, " Let him enter, for he is one of my friars." And 
no sooner had he entered therein than he felt such great con- 
solation and such sweetness that he forgot all the tribulations 

52 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

he had suffered, even as if they had not been. And then St. 
Francis led him in and showed him many marvellous things, 
and thus bespake him, " Son, needs must thou return to the 
world and abide there seven days, wherein thou shalt make 
thee ready diligently and with great devotion; for after these 
seven days I will come for thee, and then shalt thou enter with 
me this abode of the blessed." Now St. Francis was arrayed 
in a wondrous garment, adorned with fairest stars, and his five 
stigmas were like unto five beauteous stars, of such exceeding 
splendour that the whole palace was illumined with their beams. 
And Friar Bernard's head was crowned with fairest stars, and 
Friar Giles was aureoled with wondrous light; and many other 
friars he knew among them that in the world he had never seen. 
Then taking leave of St. Francis he returned, albeit with laggard 
steps, to the world again. And when he awoke and returned 
to himself and came to his wits again, the friars were chanting 
prime; so that he had been in that vision but from matins to 
prime, albeit it had seemed to him that he had remained therein 
many years. And having related to the warden all this vision 
in due order, he began, within seven days, to sicken of a fever; 
and on the eighth day St. Francis came for him, according to 
his promise, with a great multitude of glorious saints, and led 
his soul to life everlasting in the realms of the blessed. 



Once on a time when St. Francis came to the city of Bologna 
all the people of the city ran forth to behold him, and so great 
was the press that the folk could with great difficulty reach the 
market-place; and the whole place being filled with men and 
women and scholars, lo, St. Francis stood up on high in the 
midst of them and began to preach what the Holy Ghost taught 
him. And so wondrously he preached that he seemed to speak 
with the voice of an angel rather than of a man; his celestial 
words seemed to pierce the hearts of those that heard them, 
even as sharp arrows, so that during his sermon a great multi- 
tude of men and women were converted to repentance. Among 

Friar Pellegrino and Friar Rinieri 53 

whom were two students of noble birth from the Marches of 
Ancona, the one named Pellegrino, the other Rinieri : and being 
touched in their hearts by divine inspiration through the said 
sermon, they came to St. Francis saying they desired wholly to 
forsake the world and be numbered among his friars. Then St. 
Francis, knowing by divine revelation that they were sent of 
God and were to lead a holy life in the Order, and considering 
their great fervour, received them joyfully, saying, " Thou, 
Pellegrino, keep the way of humility in the Order, and do thou, 
Friar Rinieri, serve the friars;" and thus it was: for Friar 
Pellegrino would never go forth as a priest but as a lay brother, 
albeit he was a great clerk and learned in the canon law. And 
by reason of this humility he attained to great perfection of 
virtue; in such wise that Friar Bernard, first-born of St. Francis, 
said of him, that he was one of the most perfect friars in this 
world. Finally, the said Friar Pellegrino passed from his blessed 
life, full of virtue, and wrought many miracles before his death 
and after. And the said Friar Rinieri, devoutly living in great 
holiness and humility, faithfully served the friars, and wa.s much 
beloved of St. Francis. Being afterwards chosen minister of the 
province of the Marches of Ancona, he ruled it a long time with 
great peace and discretion. After a while God suffered a sore 
temptation to arise in his soul; whereat, in anguish and tribu- 
lation, he afflicted himself mightily with fastings and scourgings, 
with tears and prayers, both day and night. Nevertheless, he 
could not banish that temptation, but ofttimes was in great 
despair because he deemed himself forsaken by God. In this 
great despair he resolved, as a last remedy, to go to St. Francis, 
thinking thus within himself, " If St. Francis meet me with a 
kindly countenance, and show me affection, as he is wont to do, 
I believe that God will yet have compassion on me: but if not 
it shall be a token that I am forsaken of God." Thereupon he 
set forth and went to St. Francis, who at that time lay grievously 
sick in the bishop's palace at Assisi; and God revealed to him 
all the manner of that temptation, and of the state of the said 
Friar Rinieri, and his coming. And straightway St. Francis 
calls Friar Leo and Friar Masseo, and says to them, "Go ye 
quickly and meet my most dear son, Friar Rinieri, and embrace 
him for me and salute him, and say unto him that among all the 
friars that are in the world, him I love with singular love," They 
go forth and find Friar Rinieri by the way and embrace him, 
saying unto him what St. Francis had charged them to say. 
Whereupon such great consolation and sweetness filled his soul 

54 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

that he was well-nigh beside himself with joy, and giving thanks 
to God with all his heart he journeyed on and reached the place 
where St. Francis lay sick. And albeit St. Francis was griev- 
ously sick, nevertheless, when he heard Friar Rinieri coming, he 
rose up from his bed and went towards him and embraced him 
most sweetly and spake to him thus, " Friar Rinieri, dearest son, 
thee I love above all the friars in this world; thee I love with 
singular love: " and these words said, he made the sign of most 
holy cross on his brow and there did kiss him Then he said to 
him, " Son most dear, God hath suffered this sore temptation to 
befall thee for thy great gain of merit: but if thou desire this 
gain no longer, have it not." Marvellous to tell! no sooner had 
St. Francis uttered these words than all temptation departed 
from him, even as if he ne'er had felt it in his life: and he 
remained fully comforted. 



How large a measure of grace God oft bestowed on poor 
followers of the gospel that forsook the world for love of Christ 
was shown forth in Friar Bernard of Quintavalle, who, after 
having put on the habit of St. Francis, was rapt many times in 
God through contemplation of celestial things. Among others, 
it befell on a time that when he was in church hearing mass, and 
with his whole mind lifted up to God, he became so absorbed 
and rapt in God that he perceived not when the body of Christ 
was elevated, nor knelt down, nor drew off his cowl as the other 
friars did : but without moving his eyes, stood with fixed gaze, 
insensible to outward things from morn till noon. And after 
noon, returning to himself, he went about the friary crying with 
a voice of wonder, " O friars, friars, friars, there is no man 
in this country, were he ever so great or so noble, but if he were 
promised a beautiful palace filled with gold would not find it 
easy to carry a sack full of dung in order to win that treasure so 
noble." To this celestial treasure, promised to those that love 
God, the aforesaid Friar Bernard had his mind so lifted up that 
for full fifteen years he ever went with his mind and his coun- 

Temptation of Friar Ruffino 55 

tenance raised to heaven; during which time he never satisfied 
his hunger at table, albeit he ate a little of that which was placed 
before him: for he was wont to say that perfect abstinence did 
rot consist in foregoing that which a man did not relish, but that 
true abstinence lay in using temperance in those things that 
were of pleasant savour in the mouth; and thereby he attained 
to such degree of clearness and light of understanding that even 
great doctors had recourse to him for the solution of the knottiest 
questions and of difficult passages in the Scriptures, and he 
resolved all their difficulties. And forasmuch as his mind was 
wholly loosed and detached from earthly things, he, like the 
swallows, soared high by contemplation: wherefore, sometimes 
twenty days, sometimes thirty, he dwelt alone on the tops 
of the highest mountains, contemplating divine things. For 
which cause Friai Giles was wont to say of him, that on no other 
man was this gift bestowed as it was on Friar Bernard; to wit, 
that he should feed flying, as the swallows did. And for this 
excellent grace that he had from God, St. Francis willingly and 
oft spake with him, both day and night; so that sometimes they 
were found together in the wood, rapt in God, the whole night 
long, whither they had both withdrawn to discourse of God, 



Friar Ruffino, one of the noblest gentlemen of the city of 
Assisi, and the companion of St. Francis, a man of great holiness, 
was once mightily assailed and tempted in soul touching pre- 
destination; whereby he became full of sadness and melancholy; 
for the devil put it into his heart that he was damned, and not 
among those predestined to eternal life; and that he was losing 
all his work in the Order. And this temptation lasting many 
days, he, for very shame, did not reveal it to St. Francis ; never- 
theless he ceased not to pray nor to observe the usual fasts: 
whereat the enemy began to heap trial upon trial upon him, and 

56 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

ever and above the battle within did likewise assail him out- 
wardly with false visions. Wherefore he appeared to him once 
in the form of the Crucified, and said to him, " Friar Ruffino^ 
wherefore afflict thyself with penance and prayer, seeing thou 
art not among those predestined to life eternal? Believe me, 
for I know whom I have elected and predestined, and heed not 
the son of Peter Bernadone if he tell thee contrary; and more- 
over, question him not concerning this matter, for neither he 
nor any man knoweth; none save Me, that am the Son of God: 
therefore believe that of a surety thou art numbered among the 
damned; and the son of Peter Bernadone, thy father, and his 
father also are damned, and whosoever followeth him is be- 
guiled." These words said, Friar Ruffino began to be so over- 
cast by the prince of darkness that already he lost all the faith 
and love he had had for St. Francis, and cared not to tell him 
aught of his condition. But that which Friar Ruffino told not 
the holy father was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit; 
whereat St. Francis, beholding in spirit the great peril of the 
said friar, sent Friar Masseo for him; to whom Friar Ruffino 
answered, murmuring, " What have I to do with Friar Francis ? " 
Then Friar Masseo, filled with divine wisdom, and knowing the 
wiles of the devil, said, " Friar Ruffino, knowest thou not that 
St. Francis is like unto an angel of God that hath illumined so 
many souls in this world and from whom we have received the 
grace of God ? Therefore I desire that thou, by all means, come 
with me to him, for clearly do I perceive thou art beguiled by 
the devil." This said, lo, Friar Ruffino set forth and went to 
St. Francis; and St. Francis beholding him coming from afar, 
began to cry, " O naughty Friar Ruffino, to whom hast thou 
given credence? " And when Friar Ruffino was come to him, 
St. Francis related all the temptation he had suffered from the 
devil in due order, both within and without, and showed to him 
clearly that he who had appeared to him was the devil and not 
Christ, and that in no wise should he consent unto his sugges- 
tions; but that " whenever the devil saith again to thee : 'Thou 
art damned,' answer him thus: ' Open thy mouth and I will 
drop my dung therein.' And let this be a token to thee that he 
is the devil and not Christ; and when thou hast thus answered 
he will forthwith flee from thee. By this token also shalt thou 
know that it was the devil: for that he hardened thy heart 
against all good, which thing is his own proper office; but the 
blessed Christ never hardeneth the heart of the man of faith, 
rather doth He soften it according as He speaketh by the mouth 

Temptation of Friar Ruffino 57 

ol the prophet: ' I will take away the stony heart out of their 
flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.' " Then Friar Ruffino, 
seeing that St. Francis had told him all the circumstance of his 
temptation, was melted by his words, and began to weep 
bitterly and to give praise to St. Francis, humbly confessing his 
fault in that he had hidden his temptation from him. And thus 
he remained fully consoled and comforted by the holy father's 
admonitions and wholly changed for the better. Then at the 
last St. Francis said to him, " Go, my son, confess thee, and 
cease not the exercise of thy wonted prayers, and know of a 
surety that this temptation shall be of great profit and consola- 
tion to thee, and in brief time shalt thou prove it." Friar 
Ruffino returns to his cell in the wood, and being at prayer with 
many tears, lo, the enemy comes in the form of Christ, according 
to outward similitude, and saith to him, " Friar Ruffino, did 
I not tell thee thou shouldst not believe the son of Peter Berna- 
done, and shouldst not weary thee in tears and prayers, seeing 
thou art damned? What doth it profit thee to afflict thyself 
while thou art yet alive, seeing that when thou diest thou shalt 
be damned ? " And anon Friar Ruffino answered the devil and 
said, " Open thy mouth and I will drop my dung therein." 
Whereupon the devil straightway departed in great wrath, and 
with such tempest and ruin of stones from Mount Subasio hard 
by, that the thunder of the falling rocks endured a great space; 
and so mightily did they smite one against the other as they 
rolled down that they kindled horrible sparks of fire through 
the vale below: and at the terrible noise they made, St. Francis 
and his companions issued forth from the friary in great amaze 
to behold what strange thing had befallen; and to this very 
day that mighty ruin of rocks may be seen. Then did Friar 
Ruffino manifestly perceive that he who had beguiled him was 
the devil, and returning to St. Francis flung himself again on the 
ground and confessed his fault. And St. Francis comforted 
him with sweet words, and sent him forth all consoled to his 
cell ; wherein, while he remained in devoutest prayers, the blessed 
Christ appeared to him and kindled his whole soul with divine 
love, and said, " Well didst thou, My son, to believe in Friar 
Francis; for he who afflicted thee was the devil; but I am Christ 
thy Master, and to make thee full sure I give thee this token: 
that while thou livest thou shalt feel neither sadness nor melan- 
choly." This said, Christ departed, leaving him in such gladness 
and sweetness of spirit and elevation of mind, that day and 
night he was absorbed and rapt in God. And thenceforth was 

58 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

he so confirmed in grace and in certainty of salvation that he 
became wholly changed into another man, and would have 
remained both day and night in prayer and in contemplation of 
divine things, if the friars had suffered him. Wherefore St. 
Francis said of him, that Friar Ruffino was canonised by Christ 
in this life, and that save in his presence he would not hesitate 
to call him Saint Ruffino, albeit he still was living on the earth. 



The said Friar Ruffino was by his continual contemplation so 
absorbed in God that he grew dumb and almost insensible to 
outward things, and spake very seldom, and, moreover, had no 
longer grace, nor courage, nor eloquence in preaching. None 
the less St. Francis on a time bade him go to Assisi and preach 
to the people what God should inspire him to say. Whereat 
Friar Ruffino answered and said, " Reverend father, prithee 
forgive me and send me not, for thou knowest I lack the gift 
of preaching, and am simple and unlearned." Then said St. 
Francis, " Forasmuch as thou hast not obeyed quickly, I com- 
mand thee by holy obedience that thou go to Assisi naked, and 
clothed only in thy breeches, and enter into a church and preach 
to the people." At his command Friar Ruffino strips himself 
and goes forth to Assisi and enters a church; and having made 
his reverence to the altar ascends the pulpit and begins to preach. 
Whereat the children and the men of Assisi began to laugh and 
said, " Now look ye, these friars do such penance that they 
grow foolish and lose their wits." Meanwhile, St. Francis, 
bethinking him of the ready obedience of Friar Ruffino, that 
was one of the noblest gentlemen of Assisi, and of the hard 
command he had laid upon him, began to upbraid himself, 
saying, " Whence, O son of Peter Bernadone, thou sorry churl, 
whence such great presumption that thou commandest Friar 
Ruffino, one of the noblest gentlemen of Assisi, to go and preach 
to the people like a crazy man? By God's grace thou shalt 
prove in thyself what thou commandest others to do." And 
straightway in fervour of spirit he stripped himself in like manner 
and set forth for Assisi; and with him he took Friar Leo, 
who carried his and Friar Ruffino's habits. And the men of 

St. Francis at Assisi 59 

Assisi, beholding him in like plight, mocked him, deeming that 
he and Friar Ruffino were crazy from excess of penance. St. 
Francis enters the church, where Friar Ruffino was preaching 
thus, " dearest brethren, flee from the world and forsake sin, 
make restoration to others if ye would escape from hell; keep 
God's commandments and love God and your neighbour if ye 
would go to heaven ; do penance if ye would possess the kingdom 
of heaven." Then St. Francis mounted the pulpit and began 
to preach so wondrously of the contempt of the world, of holy 
penance, of voluntary poverty, and of the desire for the 
heavenly kingdom, and of the nakedness and shame of the 
passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all they that were present 
at the sermon, men and women, in great multitudes, began to 
weep bitterly with wondrous devotion and contrition of heart; 
and not only there, but throughout the whole of Assisi, was 
such bewailing of the passion of Christ that the like had never 
been known before. And the people being thus edified and con- 
soled by this act of St. Francis and of Friar Ruffino, St. Francis 
clothed himself and Friar Ruffino again; and thus re-clad they 
returned to the friary of the Porziuncula, praising and glorifying 
God, who had given them the grace to vanquish themselves by 
contempt of self, and to edify Christ's little sheep by good 
example, and to show forth how much the world is to be 
despised. And on that day the devotion of the people towards 
them increased so greatly that he who could touch the hem of 
their garments deemed himself blessed. 



Even as our Lord Jesus Christ saith in the gospel, " I know My 
sheep, and Mine own know Me," etc., so the blessed father St. 
Francis, like a good shepherd, knew all the merits and the 
virtues of his companions by divine revelation, and likewise 
their failings : by which means he knew how to provide the best 
remedy for each, to wit, by humbling the proud, exalting the 
humble, reproving vice, and praising virtue, even as may be 
read in the wondrous revelations he had, touching his first house- 
hold. Among which it is found that St. Francis being on a 
time with his household in a friary discoursing of God, and 

60 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

Friar Ruffino not being with them during that discourse, but in 
the wood absorbed in contemplation, lo, while they continued 
in their discourse of God, Friar Ruffino came forth from the 
wood and passed by somewhat afar from them. Then 3t. 
Francis, beholding him, turned to his companions and asked of 
them, saying, " Tell me, who think ye is the saintliest soul God 
hath in this world? " And they answered him, saying, they 
believed it was his own; and St. Francis said to them, " Dearest 
friars, I am of myself the most unworthy and vilest of men that 
God hath in this world; but, behold yon Friar Ruffino, that 
now cometh forth from the wood! God hath revealed to me 
that his soul is one of the three saintliest souls in this world: 
and truly I say unto you, that I would not doubt to call him St. 
Ruffino even while he yet liveth, for his soul is confirmed in 
grace, and sanctified and canonised in heaven by our Lord Jesus 
Christ." But these words St. Francis never spoke in the 
presence of the said Friar Ruffino. Likewise, how that St. 
Francis knew the failings of his friars is clearly manifest in 
Friar Elias, whom many times he chid for his pride; and in 
Friar John della Cappella, to whom he foretold that he was to 
hang himself by the neck ; and in that friar whom the devil held 
fast by the throat when he was corrected for his disobedience; 
and in many other friars whose secret failings and virtues he 
clearly knew by revelation from Christ. 



The first companions of St. Francis strove with all their might 
to be poor in earthly things and rich in virtue, whereby they 
attained to true celestial and eternal riches. It befell one day 
that while they were gathered together discoursing of God, a 
friar among them spake thus by way of ensample, " One there 
was, a great friend of God, that had much grace both for the 
active and for the contemplative life, and withal he was of such 
exceeding humility that he deemed himself the greatest of 
sinners. And this humility confirmed and sanctified him in 
grace and made him increase continually in virtue and in divine 
gifts, and never suffered him to fall into sin." Now Friar 
Masseo, hearing such wondrous things of humility, and knowing 

Friar Masseo 61 

it to be a treasure of life eternal, began to be so kindled with 
love, and with desire for this virtue of humility, that in great 
fervour of spirit he lifted up his face to heaven and made a vow 
and steadfast aim never to rejoice again in this world until he 
felt the said virtue perfectly in his soul: and thenceforth he 
remained well-nigh continually secluded in his cell, mortifying 
himself with fasts, vigils, prayer, and bitter tears before God to 
obtain that virtue from Him, failing which he deemed himself 
worthy of hell — the virtue wherewith that friend of God of 
whom he had heard was so bounteously dowered. And Friar 
Masseo, being thus for many days filled with this desire, it fell 
out on a day that he entered the wood, and in fervour of spirit 
roamed about giving forth tears, sighs, and cries, and craving 
this virtue from God with fervent desire : and since God willingly 
granteth the prayers of humble and contrite hearts, there came 
a voice from heaven to Friar Masseo, as he thus strove, and 
called him twice, " Friar Masseo, Friar Masseo ! " And he, 
knowing in spirit that it was the voice of Christ, answered thus, 
" My Lord." And Christ said to him, " What wouldst thou 
give to possess the grace thou askest? " Friar Masseo answered, 
v Lord, I would give the eyes out of my head." And Christ 
said to him, " And I will that thou have this grace and thine 
eyes also." This said, the voice vanished, and Friar Masseo 
remained filled with such grace of the yearned-for virtue of 
humility, and of the light of God, that from thenceforth he was 
ever blithe of heart. And many times he made a joyous sound 
like the cooing of a dove, " Coo, coo, coo." And with glad 
countenance and jocund heart he dwelt thus in contemplation; 
and withal, being grown most humble, he deemed himself the 
least of men in the world. Being asked by Friar James of 
Falterone wherefore he changed not his note in these his jubila- 
tions, he answered with great joyfulness, that when we find full 
contentment in one song there is no need to change the tune. 

62 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



St. Clare, most devout disciple of the cross of Christ and noble 
plant of St. Francis, was so filled with holiness that not only 
bishops and cardinals but the pope also, with great affection, 
desired to behold and to hear her, and ofttimes visited her in 
person. Among other times, the holy father once went to her 
convent to hear her discourse of divine and celestial things : and 
being thus together, holding divers discourses, St. Clare had 
the table laid and set loaves of bread thereon that the holy 
father might bless them. Whereupon, the spiritual discourse 
being ended, St. Clare knelt down with great reverence and 
besought him to be pleased to bless the bread placed on the 
table. The holy father answers, " Sister Clare, most faithful 
one, I desire that thou bless this bread, and make over it the 
sign of the most holy cross of Christ, to which thou hast wholly 
devoted thyself." And St. Clare saith, " Most holy father, 
pardon me, for I should merit too great reproof if, in the presence 
of the vicar of Christ, I, that am a poor, vile woman, should 
presume to give such benediction." And the pope gives 
answer, " To the end that this be not imputed to thy presump- 
tion, but to the merit of obedience, I command thee, by holy 
obedience, that thou make the sign of the most holy cross over 
this bread, and bless it in the name of God." Then St. Clare, 
even as a true daughter of obedience, devoutly blessed the 
bread with the sign of the most holy cross. Marvellous to tell ! 
forthwith on all those loaves the sign of the cross appeared 
figured most beautifully. Then, of those loaves, a part was 
eaten and a part preserved, in token of the miracle. And the 
holy father, when he saw this miracle, partook of the said 
bread and departed, thanking God and leaving his blessing with 
St. Clare. In that time Sister Ortolana, mother of St. Clare, 
abode in the convent, and Sister Agnes, her own sister, both 
of them, together with St. Clare, full of virtue and of the Holy 
Spirit, and with many other nuns, to whom St. Francis sent 
many sick persons; and they, with their prayers and with the 
sign of the most holy cross, restored health to all of them. 

St. Louis Visits Friar Giles 63 



St. Louis, King of France, went on a pilgrimage to visit the 
holy places throughout the world, and hearing of the far- 
famed holiness of Friar Giles, who had been one of the first 
companions of St. Francis, purposed and set his heart wholly 
on visiting him in person: for which thing he came to Perugia, 
where the said friar then dwelt. And coming to the door of 
the friary as a poor unknown pilgrim, with but few companions, 
he asked with great importunity for Friar Giles, telling not the 
doorkeeper who he was. So the doorkeeper goes to Friar Giles 
and says, " There is a pilgrim at the door that asketh for you." 
And God inspired and revealed to him that this was the King 
of France. Whereat, anon he comes forth from his cell with 
great fervour and runs to the door; and asking naught, and 
never having seen each other before, they knelt down with 
great devotion, and embraced each other, and kissed with such 
affection as if for a long space they had been great friends 
together; yet, through all this, neither one nor the other spake, 
but they remained silently locked in each other's arms with 
those outward signs of loving charity. And after they had 
remained thus a great space, saying no word each to other, they 
both departed : St. Louis went his way and Friar Giles returned 
to his cell. Now as the king was setting forth, a friar asked of 
one of the king's companions who he might be that had so long 
embraced Friar Giles, and answer was made that he was Louis, 
King of France, who had come to see Friar Giles. And when 
the friar told this to the others they waxed mightily afflicted 
that Friar Giles had spoken no word with the king, and, making 
complaint, they cried, " O Friar Giles, wherefore hast thou been 
so churlish as to speak no word to so great and saintly a king, 
that hath come from France to see thee and to hear some good 
word from thee? " Friar Giles answered, " Dearest friars, 
marvel not thereat, for neither I to him nor he to me could utter 
one word; since, no sooner had we embraced together, than 
the light of wisdom revealed and manifested his heart to me 
and mine to him, and thus, by divine power, as we looked in 

64 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

each other's breasts, we knew better what I would say to him 
and he to me than if we had spoken with our mouths; and 
greater consolation had we than if we had sought to explain 
with our lips what we felt in our hearts. For, because of the 
defect of human speech, that cannot express clearly the mys- 
teries and secrets of God, words would have left us disconsolate 
rather than consoled; know, therefore, that the king departed 
from me marvellously glad and consoled in spirit." 



St. Clare, being on a time grievously sick, so that she could 
in no wise go to say the office in church with the other nuns, 
and seeing that when the feast of the Nativity of Christ came 
all the others went to matins, while she remained in bed, grew 
ill at ease that she could not go with them and enjoy that 
spiritual consolation. But Jesus Christ, her spouse, not willing 
to leave her thus disconsolate, caused her to be miraculously 
borne to the church of St. Francis and to be present at the whole 
office of matins, and at the midnight mass; and moreover, she 
received the holy communion, and then was borne back to her 
bed. When the nuns returned to St. Clare, after the office at 
St. Damian's was over, they spake to her thus, " Sister 
Clare, our mother, what great consolation have we had on this 
holy feast of the Nativity; would now it had pleased God that 
you had been with us!" And St. Clare answered, "Thanks 
and praise do I render to our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, my 
sisters, and dearest daughters, for at all the solemn offices of 
this most holy night, yea, and at even greater festivals have 
I been present with great consolation of soul, than ye have 
seen, for by the solicitude of my father, St. Francis, and by 
the grace of Jesus Christ, have I been present in the church of 
my venerable father, St. Francis; and with my bodily and 
spiritual ears have I heard all the office and the music of the 
organs that were played there, and in that same church have 
I partaken of the most holy communion. Wherefore rejoice 
ye that such grace hath been vouchsafed to me and praise our 
Lord Jesus Christ." 

Friar Leo's Vision 65 




On a time when St. Francis lay grievously sick and Friar Leo 
was tending him, the said friar, being in prayer by the side of 
St. Francis, was rapt in ecstasy and led in spirit to a mighty 
torrent, wide and raging. And as he stood gazing on those who 
were crossing it, he beheld certain friars, bearing burdens, enter 
into this stream that anon were overthrown by the fierce buff et- 
ings of the waves and drowned; some reached as far as a third 
of the way across; others as far as the middle; yet others 
reached nigh over unto the shore. But all of them, by reason 
of the fury of the waters and the heavy burdens they bore on 
their backs, fell at last and were drowned. Friar Leo, beholding 
this, had compassion on them exceeding great, and straight- 
way, as he stood thus, lo, there comes a great multitude of 
friars, bearing no burdens or load of any kind, in whom shone 
forth the light of holy poverty: and they entered this stream 
and passed over to the other side without peril: and when he 
had seen this, Friar Leo returned to himself. Then St. Francis, 
feeling in spirit that Friar Leo had seen a vision, called him 
to himself and asked touching the vision he had seen. And 
as soon as the aforesaid Friar Leo had told his vision in due 
order, St. Francis said, " What thou hast seen is true. The 
mighty stream is this world; the friars that were drowned 
therein are they that followed not the teachings of the gospel, 
and especially in regard to most high poverty; but they that 
passed over without peril are those friars that seek after no 
earthly or carnal thing, nor possess aught in this world; but, 
temperate in food and clothing, are glad, following Christ 
naked on the cross, and bear joyously and willingly the burden 
and sweet yoke of Christ and of most holy obedience. There- 
fore they pass with ease from this temporal life to life eternal." 

66 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



St. Francis, servant of Christ, coming late at eve to the house 
of a great and potent nobleman, was received and entertained 
by him, both he and his companion, as had they been angels of 
God, with the greatest courtesy and devotion; wherefore St. 
Francis loved him much, considering that on entering the house 
he had embraced him and kissed him affectionately ; then had 
washed his feet and wiped them and humbly kissed them; and 
had kindled a great fire and made ready the table with many 
good viands; and while he ate, did serve him zealously with 
joyful countenance. Now when St. Francis and his companion 
had eaten, this nobleman said, " Lo, my father, I proffer myself 
and my goods to you; how many times soever you have need 
of tunic or cloak or aught else, buy them and I will pay for you ; 
nay, look you, I am ready to provide for all your needs, for 
by God's grace I am able so to do, inasmuch as I have abundance 
of all worldly goods; therefore, for love of God, that hath 
bestowed them on me, I willingly do good to His poor." St. 
Francis, beholding such great courtesy and loving-kindness in 
him, and his bounteous offerings, conceived for him love so 
great that when he afterwards departed from him he spake 
thus to his companion as they journeyed together, " Verily 
this noble gentleman, that is so grateful and thankful to God 
and so kind and courteous to his neighbour and to the poor, 
would be a good companion for our Order. Know, dearest 
friar, that courtesy is one of the attributes of God, who of His 
courtesy giveth His sun and His rain to the just and to the 
unjust: and courtesy is sister to charity, that quencheth hatred 
and kindleth love. And since I have found in this good man 
such divine virtue, fain would I have him for companion: 
therefore I will that one day we return to him, if haply God 
may touch his heart and bend his will to accompany us in the 
service of God. Meanwhile, pray we unto God that He may 
set this desire in his heart and give him grace to attain thereto." 
Marvellous to tell! a few days after St. Francis had made this 

Conversion of a Noble Knight 67 

prayer, God put these desires into this nobleman's heart, and 
St. Francis said to his companion, " Let us go, my brother, to 
the abode of that courteous gentleman, for I have a certain hope 
in God that, with the same bounty he hath shown in temporal 
things, he will give himself also, and will be our companion." 
And they went. And coming nigh unto his house, St. Francis 
said to his companion, " Tarry a while for me; I desire first to 
pray to God that He may prosper our way, and that it may 
please Jesus Christ to grant unto us, poor and weak men, the 
noble prey we think to snatch from the world by virtue of His 
most holy Passion." This said, he went forth to pray in a 
place where he might be seen of that same courteous gentleman. 
Now, as it pleased God, he, looking hither and thither, had 
perceived St. Francis most devoutly in prayer before Jesus 
Christ, who with great splendour had appeared to him and stood 
before him during the said prayer; and as he thus gazed he 
beheld St. Francis lifted up a great space bodily from the earth. 
Whereat he was so touched by God and inspired to forsake the 
world that he straightway came forth from his mansion and ran 
in fervour of spirit towards St. Francis, and coming to him, 
who still remained in prayer, knelt down at his feet, and with 
great instance and devotion prayed that it might please him 
to receive him and do penance with him together. Then St. 
Francis, seeing his prayer was heard of God, and that what he 
himself desired, that noble gentleman was craving with much 
importunity, lifted himself up, and in fervour and gladness of 
heart embraced and kissed him, devoutly giving thanks to God, 
who had increased his company by so great a knight. And that 
gentleman said to St. Francis, " What dost thou command me 
to do, my father ? Lo, I am ready to do thy bidding and give all 
I possess to the poor, and thus disburdened of all worldly things 
to follow Christ with thee." Thus did he, according to the 
counsel of St. Francis, for he distributed all his goods among 
the poor, and entered the Order and lived in great penitence 
and holiness of life and godly conversation. 

68 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



On a time when St. Francis and Friar Elias were dwelling in a 
friary together, it was revealed by God to St. Francis that 
Friar Elias was damned, and was to become a runagate and in 
the end, die outside the Order. Whereat St. Francis conceived 
so great a displeasure towards him that he never spake nor held 
converse with him; and if it befell that Friar Elias came towards 
him at any time, he turned aside and went another way that he 
might not encounter him; whereby Friar Elias began to per- 
ceive and comprehend that St. Francis was displeased with him. 
And desiring one day to know the cause thereof, he accosted 
St. Francis and would speak with him; and as St. Francis 
turned from him he gently held him back by force, and began 
to entreat him earnestly to be pleased to signify to him the 
reason why he thus shunned his company and forbore to speak 
with him. And St. Francis answered, " The cause is this: It 
hath been revealed to me by God that thou, for thy sins, shalt 
become a runagate and shalt die outside the Order; and God 
hath likewise revealed to me that thou art damned." Hearing 
these words, Friar Elias spake thus, " My reverend father, I 
pray thee for the love of Jesus Christ that for this cause thou 
shun me not, nor cast me from thee; but as a good shepherd, 
after the example of Christ, thou seek out and receive again the 
sheep that will perish except thou aid him, and that thou wilt 
pray to God for me, if haply He may revoke the sentence of my 
damnation; for it is written that God will remit the sentence, 
if the sinner amend his ways ; and I have such great faith in thy 
prayers, that if I were in the midst of hell, and thou didst pray 
to God for me, I should feel some refreshment : wherefore yet 
again I beseech thee that thou commend me, a sinner, unto God, 
who came to save sinners, that He may receive me to His mercy- 
seat." This, Friar Elias said with great devotion and tears; 
whereat St. Francis, even as a compassionate father, promised 
he would pray for him. And prayi&g most devoutly to God for 
him, he understood by revelation that his prayer was heard of 

Friar Elias 69 

God in so far as concerned the revocation of the sentence of 
damnation passed on Friar Elias, and that at the last his soul 
should not be damned ; but that of a surety he would forsake 
the Order and, outside the Order, would die. And so it came to 
pass. For when Frederick, King of Sicily, rebelled against the 
church and was excommunicated by the pope, he and whosoever 
gave him aid or counsel, the said Friar Elias, that was reputed one 
of the wisest men in the world, being entreated by the said King 
Frederick, went over to him, and became a rebel to the church 
and a runagate from the Order. Wherefore he was banned by 
the pope and stripped of the habit of St. Francis. And being 
thus excommunicate, behold he fell grievously sick; and his 
brother, a lay friar who had remained in the Order, and was a 
man of good and honest life, went to visit him, and among 
other things spake to him thus, " Dearest brother mine, it 
grieveth me sorely that thou art excommunicate and cast out 
of thine Order and even so shall die : but if thou seest any way 
or means whereby I may deliver thee from this peril, willingly 
will I undertake any toil for thee." Friar Elias answered, 
" Brother mine, no other way do I see but that thou repair to 
the pope and beseech him, for the love of God and of St. Francis 
His servant, at whose teachings I forsook the world, that he 
assoil me from his ban and restore to me the habit of the Order." 
And his brother answered that willingly would he labour for 
his salvation: and departing from him he went to the footstool 
of the holy father and humbly besought him that he would 
grant this grace to his brother, for love of Christ and of St. 
Francis His servant. And as it pleased God, the pope con- 
sented that he should return; and that if he found Friar Elias 
yet living, he should assoil him in his name from the ban and 
restore the habit to him. Whereat he departed joyfully, and 
returned in great haste to Friar Elias, and, finding him alive, 
but well-nigh at the point of death, assoiled him from the ban; 
and Friar Elias, putting on the habit again, passed from this 
life, and his soul was saved by the merits of St. Francis and by 
his prayers, wherein Friar Elias had placed hope so great. 

jo The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



That wondrous vessel of the Holy Spirit, St. Anthony of Padua, 
one of the chosen disciples and companions of St. Francis, he 
that St. Francis called his vicar, was once preaching in the 
consistory before the pope and the cardinals, in which con- 
sistory were men of divers nations, to wit, French, Germans, 
Sclavonians, and English, and divers other tongues throughout 
the world. Inflamed by the Holy Spirit, he expounded the 
word of God so effectually, so devoutly, so subtly, so sweetly, 
so clearly, and so wisely, that all they that were in the con- 
sistory, albeit they were of divers nations, clearly understood 
all his words distinctly, even as though he had spoken to each 
one of them in his native tongue; and all were filled with 
wonder, for it seemed that that miracle of old were renewed 
when the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, spake, by the 
power of the Holy Spirit, in every tongue. And marvelling, 
they said one to another, " Is not he that preacheth a Spaniard ? 
How then hear we all the tongue of our native land in his 
speech ? " The pope likewise, considering and marvelling at the 
depth of his words, said, " Verily this friar is the ark of the 
covenant and the treasury of divine scriptures." 



Christ the blessed, being pleased to show forth the great holiness 
of His most faithful servant, St. Anthony, and with what 
devotion his preaching and his holy doctrine were to be heard, 
one time, among others, rebuked the folly of infidel heretics by 
means of creatures without reason, to wit, the fishes; even as 
in days agone, in the Old Testament, he rebuked the ignorance 
of Balaam by the mouth of an ass. Wherefore it befell, on a 
time when St. Anthony was at Rimini, where was a great multi- 
tude of heretics whom he desired to lead to the light of the 

St. Anthony Preaches to the Fishes 71 

true faith and to the paths of virtue, that he preached for many- 
days and disputed with them concerning the faith of Christ and 
of the Holy Scriptures: yet they not only consented not unto 
his words, but even hardened their hearts and stubbornly 
refused to hear him. Wherefore St. Anthony, by divine inspira- 
tion, went one day to the bank of the river, hard by the sea- 
shore, and standing there on the bank of the river, between it 
and the sea, began to speak to the fishes after the manner of 
a preacher sent by God, " Hear the word of God, ye fishes of 
the sea and of the river, since the miscreant heretics scorn to 
hear it." And when he had thus spoken, anon there came 
towards the bank such a multitude of fishes, great and small, 
and middling, that never before in those seas, nor in that river, 
had so great a multitude been seen; and all held their heads 
out of the water in great peace and gentleness and perfect order, 
and remained intent on the lips of St. Anthony: for in front of 
him and nearest to the bank were the lesser fishes ; and beyond 
them were those of middling size; and then behind, where the 
water was deepest, were the greater fishes. The fishes being 
then mustered in such order and array, St. Anthony began to 
preach to them solemnly, and spake thus, " Ye fishes, my 
brothers, much are ye held, according to your power, to thank 
God our Creator, who hath given you so noble an element for 
your habitation; for at your pleasure have ye waters, sweet and 
salt, and He hath given you many places of refuge to shelter 
you from the tempests; He hath likewise given you a pure 
and clear element, and food whereby ye can live. God, your 
Creator, bountiful and kind, when He created you, commanded 
you to increase and multiply, and gave you His blessing; then, 
in the universal deluge and when all other animals were perish- 
ing, you alone did God preserve from harm. Moreover, He hath 
given you fins that ye may fare whithersoever it may please 
you. To you was it granted, by commandment of God, to 
preserve Jonah the prophet, and after the third day to cast him 
forth on dry land, safe and whole. Ye did offer the tribute 
money to Christ our Lord, to Him, poor little one, that had not 
wherewithal to pay. Ye, by a rare mystery, were the food of 
the eternal King, Christ Jesus, before the resurrection and after. 
For all those things much are ye held to praise and bless God, 
that hath given you blessings so manifold and so great; yea, 
more even than to any other of His creatures." At these and 
the like words and admonitions from St. Anthony, the fishes 
began to open their mouths and bow their heads, and by these 

72 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

and other tokens of reverence, according to their fashion and 
power, they gave praise to God. Then St. Anthony, beholding 
in the fishes such great reverence towards God their Creator, 
rejoiced in spirit, and said with a loud voice, " Blessed be God 
eternal, since the fishes in the waters honour Him more than do 
heretic men ; and creatures without reason hear His word better 
than infidel men." And the longer St. Anthony preached, the 
greater the multitude of fishes increased, and none departed 
from the place he had taken. And the people of the city began 
to run to behold this miracle, among whom the aforesaid heretics 
were also drawn thither; and when they beheld a miracle so 
marvellous and manifest, they were pricked in their hearts, and 
cast themselves all at the feet of St. Anthony to hear his words. 
Then St. Anthony began to preach the catholic faith, and so 
nobly did he expound the faith that he converted all those 
heretics, and they turned to the true faith of Christ; and all the 
faithful were comforted and filled with joy exceeding great, 
and were strengthened in the faith. This done, St. Anthony 
dismissed the fishes, with God's blessing, and all they departed 
with wondrous signs of gladness, and the people likewise. And 
then St. Anthony sojourned in Rimini many days, preaching 
and gathering much spiritual fruit of souls. 



In the early days of the Order of St. Francis, and while the saint 
was yet alive, a youth of Assisi came to the Order that was called 
Friar Simon, whom God adorned and endowed with such grace 
and such contemplation and elevation of mind that all his life 
he was a mirror of holiness, even as I heard from those that were 
with him a long time. Very seldom was he seen outside his cell, 
and if at any time he was seen with the friars, he was ever dis- 
coursing of God. He had never been through the schools, yet 
so profoundly and so loftily spake he of God, and of the love 
of Christ, that his words seemed supernatural; wherefore one 
evening being gone into the wood with Friar James of Massa to 
speak of God, they spent all the night in that discourse; and 
when the dawn came it seemed to them they had been together 


Friar Simon 73 

but for a very brief space of time, as the said Friar James related 
to me. And the said Friar Simon received the divine and loving 
illuminations of God to such a degree of pleasantness and sweet- 
ness that ofttimes when he felt them coming he lay down on his 
bed ; for the gentle sweetness of the Holy Spirit required of him, 
not only rest of soul, but also of body, and in divine visitations, 
such as these, he was many times rapt in God and became 
insensible to corporeal things. Wherefore on a time when he 
was thus rapt in God and insensible to the world, and burning 
inwardly with divine love, so that he felt naught of outward 
things with his bodily senses, a friar, desiring to have experience 
thereof and prove if it were verily as it seemed to be, went and 
took a coal of fire and laid it on his naked foot. And Friar 
Simon felt naught, nor made it any scar on the foot, albeit it 
remained there a great space, so great that it went out of itself. 
The said Friar Simon, when he sat down at table, before he par- 
took of bodily food was wont to take to himself and give to 
others spiritual food, discoursing of God. By his devout speech 
a young man of San Severino was once converted, that in the 
world was a most vain and worldly youth, and of noble blood 
and very delicate of body ; and Friar Simon receiving this youth 
into the Order, put aside his worldly vestments and kept them 
near himself, and he abode with Friar Simon to be instructed 
by him in the observances of the Order. Whereat the devil, that 
ever seeketh to thwart every good thing, set within him so 
mighty a thorn and temptation of the flesh that in no wise could 
he resist; wherefore he repaired to Friar Simon and said to him, 
" Restore to me my clothes that I brought from the world, for I 
can no longer endure the temptation of the flesh." And Friar 
Simon, having great compassion on him, spake to him thus, 
" Sit thou here, my son, a while with me." And he began to 
discourse to him of God, in such wise that all temptation left 
him; then after a time the temptation returned, and he asked 
for his clothes again, and Friar Simon drave it forth again by 
discoursing of God. This being done many times, at last the 
said temptation assailed him so mightily one night, even more 
than it was wont to do, that for naught in this world was he able 
to resist it; and he went to Friar Simon and demanded from 
him yet again all his worldly clothes, for in no wise could he 
longer remain. Then Friar Simon, according as he was wont 
to do, made him sit beside him ; and as he discoursed to him of 
God, the youth leaned his head on Friar Simon's bosom for very 
woe and sadness. Then Friar Simon, of his great compassion, 


74 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

lifted up his eyes to heaven and made supplication to God ; and 
as he prayed most devoutly for him, the youth was rapt in God 
and Friar Simon's prayers were heard: wherefore the youth 
returning to himself was wholly delivered from that temptation, 
even as though had he never felt it: yea, the fire of tempta- 
tion was changed to the fire of the Holy Spirit, forasmuch as he 
had sat beside that burning coal, Friar Simon, who was all in- 
flamed with the love of God and of his neighbour, in such wise 
that on a time, when a malefactor was taken that was to have 
both his eyes plucked out, the said youth for very pity went 
boldly up to the governor, and in full council and with many 
tears and devout prayers entreated that one of his own eyes 
might be plucked out, and one of the malefactor's, in order that 
the wretch might not be deprived of both. But the governor 
and his council, beholding the great fervour and charity of the 
friar, pardoned both of them. One day as Friar Simon was in 
the wood at prayer, feeling great consolation in his soul, a flock 
of rooks began to do him much annoy by their cawing : whereat 
he commanded them in the name of Jesus to depart and return 
no more; and the said birds departing thence were no more 
seen nor heard, neither in the wood nor in all the country round 
about. And the miracle was manifest over all the custody of 
Fermo wherein the said friary stood. 



The province of the Marches of Ancona was adorned of old, 
after the manner of the starry firmament, with holy and exem- 
plary friars who, like the shining lights of heaven, have adorned 
and illumined the Order of St. Francis and the world by their 
example and doctrine. Among others there was, in the early 
days, Friar Lucido Antico, that was truly lucent by his holiness 
and burning with divine charity, whose glorious tongue, in- 
formed of the Holy Spirit, brought forth marvellous fruit by his 

Holy Friars of Ancona 75 

preaching. Another was Friar Bentivoglia of San Severino, 
who was seen by Friar Masseo to be lifted up in the air for a 
great space while he was at prayer in the wood; for which 
miracle the devout Friar Masseo, being then a parish priest, left 
his parish and became a friar minor; and he was of holiness so 
great that he wrought many miracles during his life and after 
his death, and his body lies at Murro. The aforesaid Friar 
Bentivoglia, when he sojourned alone at Ponte della Trave, 
tending and serving a leper, was commanded by his superior 
to depart thence and go to another friary that was fifteen miles 
away; and not being willing to forsake the leper, he laid hold 
of him, and with great fervour of charity lifted him on to his 
shoulder and carried him between dawn and sunrise the whole 
of those fifteen miles as far as the place whither he was sent, that 
was called Monte Sancino: which distance, even had he been 
an eagle, he could not have flown in so short a time; and in all 
that country was much wonder and amazement at this divine 
miracle. Another was Friar Peter of Monticello, who was seen 
by Friar Servodio of Urbino, then warden of the old friary of 
Ancona, to be lifted bodily up from the ground full five or six 
cubits, as far as the foot of the crucifix before which he was in 
prayer. And this Friar Peter, while keeping the forty days' 
fast of St. Michael the Archangel with great devotion, and being 
in church at prayer on the last day of that fast, was heard by a 
young friar speaking with St. Michael the Archangel, for he had 
hidden himself under the high altar to behold somewhat of his 
sanctity ; and the words he spake were these. Said St. Michael, 
" Friar Peter, thou hast faithfully travailed for me, and in many 
ways hast afflicted thy body: lo, I am come to comfort thee, 
and that thou mayest ask whatsoever grace thou desirest I will 
promise to obtain it of God." Friar Peter answered, " Most 
holy prince of the host of heaven, and faithful zealot of divine 
love and compassionate protector of souls, this grace do I ask 
of thee: that thou obtain from God the pardon of my sins." 
St. Michael answered, " Ask some other grace, for this shall I 
obtain for thee right easily." But Friar Peter asking naught 
else, the archangel made an end, saying, "For the faith and 
devotion thou hast in me I will obtain this grace for thee and 
many others." And their discourse being ended, that endured 
a great space, the archangel Michael departed, leaving him 
comforted exceedingly. In the days of this holy Friar Peter 
lived the holy Friar Conrad of Offida, who, dwelling with him 
together at the friary of Forano in the custody of Ancona, went 

y6 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

forth one day into the wood for divine contemplation; and 
Friar Peter secretly followed after him to see what should befall 
him. And Friar Conrad betook himself to prayer and most 
devoutly besought the Virgin Mary, of her great compassion, 
that she would obtain this grace from her blessed Son: to wit, 
that he might feel a little of that sweetness that St. Simeon felt 
on the day of Purification when he bore Jesus the blessed Saviour 
in his arms. And his prayer ended, the merciful Virgin Mary 
granted it. And lo, the Queen of Heaven appeared with re- 
splendent clarity of light, with her blessed Son in her arms, and 
drawing nigh to Friar Conrad, laid her blessed Son in his arms, 
who, receiving Him, devoutly embraced and kissed Him, then 
clasping Him to his breast, was wholly melted and dissolved in 
love divine and unspeakable consolation: and Friar Peter like- 
wise, who secretly beheld all these things, felt great sweetness 
and consolation in his soul. And when the Virgin Mary had 
departed from Friar Conrad, Friar Peter returned in haste to 
the friary that he might not be seen of him. But thereafter 
when Friar Conrad returned, all joyous and glad, Friar Peter 
said to him, " celestial soul, great consolation hast thou had 
this day." Said Friar Conrad, " What say est thou, Friar 
Peter? How knowest thou what I may have had? " " Full 
well I know, full well I know," said Friar Peter, " that the 
Virgin Mary with her blessed Son hath visited thee." Then 
Friar Conrad, who with true humility desired that this grace of 
God should be hidden, besought him to speak no word of these 
things. And so great thenceforth was the love between these 
two friars that they seemed to be of one heart and one mind in 
all things. And the said Friar Conrad on a time in the friary of 
Siruolo delivered a woman possessed of a devil by praying for 
her the whole night through, and being seen of her mother on 
the morrow, he fled lest he might be found and honoured by 
the people. 

Friar Conrad of Offida 77 



The said Friar Conrad of Offida, wondrous zealot of gospel 
poverty and of the Rule of St. Francis, was of so religious a life, 
and of such great merit before God, that Christ the blessed, 
honoured him in his life and after his death with many miracles, 
among which, being come on a time to the friary of Offida as 
a guest, the friars prayed him for love of God and of his charity 
to admonish a young friar that was in the settlement, who 
bore himself so childishly, so disorderly and dissolutely, that he 
disturbed both old and young of that community during the 
divine offices, and recked little or naught of the observances of 
the Rule. Whereupon Friar Conrad, in compassion for that 
youth, and at the prayers of the friars, called the said youth 
apart one day, and in fervour of charity spake to him words of 
admonition, so effectual and so divine, that by the operation of 
divine grace he straightway became changed from a child to an 
old man in manners, and grew so obedient and benign and dili- 
gent and devout, and thereafter so peaceful and obedient, and so 
studious of every virtuous thing, that even as at first the whole 
community were perturbed because of him, so now all were con- 
tent with him, and comforted, and greatly loved him. And it 
came to pass, as it pleased God, that some time after this con- 
version, the said youth died, whereat the said friars mourned; 
and a few days after his death, his soul appeared to Friar 
Conrad, while he was devoutly praying before the altar of the 
said friary, and saluted him devoutly as a father; and Friar 
Conrad asked him, " Who art thou? " And he answered and 
said, " I am the soul of that young friar that died these latter 
days." And Friar Conrad said, " O my dearest son, how is it 
with thee? " He answered, " By God's grace, and your teach- 
ing, 'tis well; for I am not damned, but for certain of my sins, 
whereof I lacked time to purge me sufficiently, I suffer grievous 
pains in purgatory; but I pray thee, father, that as of thy com- 

yS The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

passion thou didst succour me while I lived, so may it please 
thee to succour me now in my pains, and say some paternosters 
for me; for thy prayers are very acceptable before God." Then 
Friar Conrad consented kindly to his prayers and recited the 
paternoster, with the requiem ceternum, once for him. Said that 
soul, " dearest father, what great good and what great 
refreshment do I feel ! Now, prithee recite it once again." And 
Friar Conrad recited it, and when it was repeated again, that 
soul said, " Holy father, when thou prayest for me I feel all my 
pains lightened, wherefore I beseech thee that thou stay not thy 
prayers for me." Then Friar Conrad, beholding his prayers 
availed that soul so much, said a hundred paternosters for her. 
And when they were recited, that soul said, " I thank thee, 
dearest father, in God's name, for the charity thou hast had for 
me : for by thy prayers am I freed from all the pains of purga- 
tory, and am on my way to the kingdom of heaven." This said, 
the soul departed. Then Friar Conrad, to give joy and comfort 
to the friars, related to them all this vision in order; and thus 
the soul of that youth went to paradise through the merits of 
Friar Conrad. 



In the days when the aforesaid Friar Conrad and Friar Peter 
abode together at the friary of Forano, in the district of Ancona 
— those two friars that were bright twin stars in the province 
of the Marches, and two most godly men — forasmuch as they 
seemed of one heart and one mind, they, in their love and 
charity, bound themselves together in this covenant: That 
they would reveal to each other in charity every consolation 
that God in His mercy bestowed on them. This covenant being 
made between them, it befell on a day when Friar Peter was at 
prayer and pondering most devoutly on the Passion of Christ, ;| 
and how that the most blessed Mother of Christ, and John the 
Evangelist, the most beloved disciple, and St. Francis, were all 
painted at the foot of the cross, crucified in dolour of soul with 
Christ, a desire came upon him to know which of those three 
had suffered greatest sorrow in the Passion of Christ — the Mother 


Friar John of La Penna 79 

that had begotten Him, or the disciple that had slept on His 
breast, or St. Francis, crucified with the wounds of Christ. And 
being thus absorbed in meditation, the Virgin Mary appeared 
to him, with St. John the Evangelist and St. Francis, clothed 
in noblest raiment of beatific glory; but St. Francis seemed 
arrayed in a fairer garment than St. John. And Peter being 
sore afeard at this vision, St. John comforted him and said to 
him, " Fear not, dearest brother, for we are come to console thee 
in thy doubt. Know then that the Mother of Christ and I 
sorrowed above all other creatures at the Passion of Christ; but 
after us St. Francis felt greater sorrow than any other: therefore 
thou seest him in such glory." And Friar Peter asked, " 
holiest Apostle of Christ, wherefore doth the raiment of St. 
Francis seem fairer than thine?" St. John answered, "The 
reason is this : that in the world he wore viler garments than I." 
These words said, St. John gave Friar Peter a glorious robe that 
he bore in his hand, and said to him, " Take this robe which I 
have brought to give thee." And when St. John was about to 
clothe him with it, Friar Peter fell dazed to the ground and began 
to cry, " Friar Conrad, dearest Friar Conrad, succour me 
quickly; come and behold marvellous things." And at these 
holy words the saintly vision vanished. Then when Friar 
Conrad came he told him all things in order, and they gave 
thanks to God. 



One night, in the province of the Marches, a child, exceeding 
fair, appeared to Friar John of La Penna, when he was yet a 
lad in the world, and called him, saying, " John, go to the church 
of St. Stephen, where one of my friars minor is preaching; 
believe in his teaching and give heed to his words, for I have 
sent him thither; this done, thou shalt take a long journey and 
thou shalt come to me." Whereat, anon he rose up, and felt a 
great change in his soul, and going to St. Stephen's, he found a 
great multitude of men and women that were assembled there 
to hear the sermon. And he that was to preach there was a 
friar, called Friar Philip, who was one of the first friars that had 
come to the Marches of Ancona; and as yet few friaries were 

80 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

established in the Marches. Up climbs this Friar Philip to 
preach, and preaches most devoutly, and not in words of human 
wisdom; but by virtue of the spirit of Christ he announced 
the kingdom of life eternal. The sermon ended, the lad went 
to the said Friar Philip and said to him, " Father, an it please 
you to receive me into the Order, fain would I do penance and 
serve our Lord Jesus Christ." Friar Philip, beholding and 
knowing the wondrous innocence of the said lad and his ready 
will to serve God, spake to him thus, " Thou shalt come to me 
on such a day at Ricanati, and I will have thee received." Now 
the provincial Chapter was to be held in that city, wherefore the 
lad, being very guileless, thought this was the great journey he 
was to make, according to the revelation he had had, and then 
was to go to paradise; and this he thought to do straightway 
after he was received into the Order. Therefore he went and 
was received: and then, seeing his thought was not fulfilled, 
and hearing the minister say in the Chapter that whosoever 
would go to the province of Provence, through the merit of holy 
obedience, he would freely give him leave, there came to him a 
great desire to go thither, believing in his heart that that was 
the great journey he must take ere he went to paradise. But 
he was ashamed to say so, and confided at last in the aforesaid 
Friar Philip, that had had him received into the Order, and 
gently prayed him to obtain that grace for him, to wit, that he 
should go to the province of Provence. Then Friar Philip, 
beholding his innocency and his holy intent, obtained leave for 
him to go ; whereupon Friar John set forth on his way with great 
joy, believing that, the journey accomplished, he would go to 
paradise. But it pleased God that he should remain in the 
said province five -and -twenty years in this expectancy and 
desire, a pattern of sanctity and walking in great godliness ; and 
increasing ever in virtue and in the favour of God, and of the 
people, he was greatly loved by the friars and by the world. 
And Friar John, being one day devoutly in prayer, weeping and 
lamenting that his desire was not fulfilled and that his earthly 
pilgrimage was too prolonged, the blessed Christ appeared to 
him, at whose aspect his soul was all melted, and. said to him, 
" My son, Friar John, ask of Me what thou wilt." And he 
answered, " My Lord, I know not what to ask of Thee save 
Thyself, for naught else do I desire; this alone I pray — that Thou 
forgive me all my sins, and give me grace to behold Thee once 
again when I may have a greater need of Thee." Said Christ, 
" Thy prayer is granted." After these words He departed, 

Friar John of La Penna 8 i 

and Friar John remained all comforted. At last the friars of 
the Marches, hearing of the fame of his holiness, wrought so 
with the general of the Order that he bade him by obedience 
return to the Marches; and when Friar John received this 
command, joyously he set forth on his way, thinking that this 
journey being accomplished he should go to heaven, according 
to the promise of Christ. But when he was returned to the 
province of the Marches, he abode there yet thirty years, and 
none of his kinsfolk knew him : and every day he waited for the 
mercy of God and that He should fulfil the promise made to 
him. And during these years he filled the office of warden 
many times with great discretion, and through him God wrought 
many miracles. Now among other gifts he had of God was the 
spirit of prophecy. Wherefore, on a time when he was gone 
forth from the friary, one, his novice, was assailed by the devil 
and tempted so mightily that he consented to the temptation, 
and purposed within himself to leave the Order as soon as 
Friar John had returned. But this temptation and purpose 
being known to Friar John by the spirit of prophecy, he straight- 
way returned to the friary and called the said novice to him and 
bade him confess: and before he confessed he related all the 
temptation to him in order, even as God had revealed it to him, 
and ended thus, " Son, forasmuch as thou didst wait for me, 
and wouldst not depart without my blessing, God hath granted 
thee this grace — that thou shalt never issue forth from this 
Order, but by divine grace shalt die in the Order." Then the 
said novice was strengthened in his good will, and remaining in 
the Order, became a holy friar. And all these things Friar 
Hugolin related to me. The said Friar John, that was a man 
of joyful and tranquil mind, spake but rarely, and was given to 
great meditation and devotion: and above all, after matins he 
never returned to his cell, but remained in church at prayer 
until the day broke. And he, being at prayer one night after 
matins, the angel of God appeared to him and said, " Friar 
John, thy journey is accomplished for which thou hast waited 
so long: therefore I announce to thee in God's name that thou 
mayst ask whatsoever grace thou desirest. And likewise I 
announce to thee that thou mayst choose which thou wilt — 
either one day in purgatory or seven days' pain on earth." And 
Friar John, choosing rather seven days' pain on earth, anon 
fell sick of divers infirmities; for a violent fever took him, and 
gout in his hands and feet, and colic, and many other ills; but 
what wrought him greatest pain was, that a devil stood before 

82 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

him, holding in his hand a great scroll, whereon were written 
all the sins he had ever done or thought, and spake to him thus, 
" For those sins that thou hast done, either in thought, or word, 
or deed, thou art damned to the lowest depths of hell." And 
he remembered naught of good that he had ever done, nor that 
he was in the Order, nor ever had been therein ; but he believed 
he was thus damned, even as the devil told him. Wherefore, 
when he was asked how it went with him, he answered, " 111, 
for I am damned." The friars, seeing this, sent for an aged 
friar, whose name was Friar Matthew of Monte Rubbiano, that 
was a holy man and dear friend of this Friar John: and the 
said Friar Matthew, being come to him on the seventh day of 
his tribulation, gave him salutation and asked how it was with 
him. He answered, that it fared ill with him because he was 
damned. Then said Friar Matthew, " Rememberest thou not 
that many times thou hast confessed to me, and I have wholly 
assoiled thee of thy sins? Rememberest thou likewise that 
thou hast ever served God in this holy Order many years? 
Moreover, rememberest thou not that God's mercy exceedeth 
all the sins of this world, and that Christ, our blessed Saviour, 
paid an infinite price to redeem us ? Therefore be of good hope, 
for of a surety thou art saved ; " and with these words, foras- 
much as the term of his purgation was accomplished, temptation 
vanished and consolation came. And with great gladness Friar • 
John said to Friar Matthew, " Because thou art weary and the 
hour is late, I pray thee, go to rest." And Friar Matthew 
would not leave him; but at last, at his urgent prayers, he 
departed from him and went to rest: and Friar John remained 
alone with the friar that tended him. And lo, Christ the 
blessed came, in great splendour and in fragrance of exceeding 
sweetness, even as He had promised to appear to him again when 
he should have greater need, and healed him perfectly from all 
his infirmities. Then Friar John, with clasped hands giving 
thanks to God that he had accomplished the great journey of 
this present miserable life with so good an end, commended 
his soul to the hands of Christ and rendered it up to God, passing 
from this mortal life to life eternal with Christ the blessed, that 
he so long a time had desired and waited to behold. And the 
said Friar John is laid to rest in the friary of La Penna di San 

Friar Pacifico and Friar Umile 83 



In the said province of the Marches there lived two brothers 
in the Order, after the death of St. Francis, the one called 
Friar Umile, the other Friar Pacifico, and they were men of 
the greatest holiness and perfection. And one, to wit, Friar 
Umile, was in the friary of Sofhano, and there died; the other 
belonged to the community of another friary in a far country. 
It pleased God, that as Friar Pacifico was at prayer one day, 
in a solitary place, he was rapt in ecstasy and saw the soul of his 
brother, Friar Umile, which but then had left his body, ascend- 
ing straight to heaven without any let or hindrance. It befell 
that after many years this Friar Pacifico, who was left on earth, 
went to the community of the said friary of Sofhano, where his 
brother had died; and in those days the friars, at the petition 
of the lords of Bruforte, moved from the said friary to another; 
and among other things, they translated the relics of the holy 
friars that had died there. And Friar Pacifico, coming to the 
sepulchre of Friar Umile, took away his bones and washed them 
with good wine and then wrapped them in a white napkin, 
and with great reverence and devotion kissed them, weeping. 
Whereat the other friars marvelled and held it no good example, 
for he, being a man of great holiness, did seem, out of carnal 
and worldly affection, to weep for his brother, and show forth 
more devotion for his relics than for those of the other friars 
that had been of no less sanctity than Friar Umile, and were as 
much worthy of reverence as his. And Friar Pacifico, knowing 
the sinister imaginings of the friars, satisfied them humbly, and 
said to them, " Friars mine, most dear, marvel not if I have 
done this to the bones of my brother and have done it not to the 
others, because, blessed be God, carnal affection hath not urged 
me to this, as ye believe, for when my brother passed from this 
life, I was at prayer in a desert place far away from him, and I 
beheld his soul ascend by a straight way into heaven : therefore 
am I sure that his bones are holy and ought to be in paradise. 
And if God had vouchsafed to me such certainty of the other 
friars, that selfsame reverence would I have shown to their 

84 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

bones." Wherefore the friars, seeing his holy and devout 
intent, were much edified by him, and praised God that worketh 
such wondrous things for His holy friars. 



In the aforesaid friary of Soffiano there was of old a friar minor 
of such great holiness and grace that he seemed wholly divine, 
and ofttimes was rapt in God. This friar, being on a time 
wholly lifted up and ravished in God, for he had notably the 
grace of contemplation, certain birds of divers kinds came to 
him and settled themselves tamely upon his shoulders, upon his 
head, and in his arms, and in his hands, and sang wondrously. 
Now this friar loved solitude and spake but seldom; yet, when 
aught was asked of him, he answered so graciously and so wisely 
that he seemed an angel rather than a man; and he excelled in 
prayer and in contemplation, and the friars held him in great 
reverence. The friar, having run the course of his virtuous 
life, according to divine disposition, fell sick unto death, so that 
he could take naught; and withal he would receive no carnal 
medicine, but all his trust was in the heavenly physician, Jesus 
Christ the blessed, and in his blessed Mother, by whom, through 
divine clemency, he was held worthy to be mercifully visited 
and healed. Wherefore, lying on a time in his bed, and prepar- 
ing for death with all his heart, the glorious Virgin Mary, Mother 
of Christ, appeared to him in wondrous splendour, with a great 
multitude of angels and holy virgins, and drew nigh to his bed ; 
and he, gazing at her, took great comfort and joy, both of soul 
and body; and he began to make humble supplication that she 
would pray her beloved Son to deliver him, through His merits, 
from the prison of this miserable flesh. And persevering in this 
supplication, with many tears, the Virgin Mary answered him, 
calling him by name, and said, " Fear not, my son, for thy 
prayer is heard, and I am come to comfort thee a while ere thou 
depart from this life." Beside the Virgin Mary were three holy 
virgins that bore three boxes in their hands of an electuary of 
surpassing fragrance and sweetness. Then the glorious Virgin 
took one of these boxes and opened it, and the whole house was 

Vision of Friar James 85 

filled with fragrance; then, taking of that electuary with a 
spoon, she gave it to the sick friar. And no sooner had the sick 
man savoured it than he felt such comfort and such sweetness 
that it seemed as though his soul could not remain in his body. 
Wherefore he began to say, " No more, most holy and blessed 
Virgin Mother; blessed physician and saviour of human kind, 
no more, for I cannot endure such sweetness." But the com- 
passionate Mother and kind, again and again offering of that 
electuary to the sick man and making him partake thereof, 
emptied the whole box. Then the first box being void, the 
blessed Virgin takes the second and puts the spoon therein to 
give him thereof, whereat he, complaining, saith, " most 
blessed Mother of God, if my soul is well-nigh all melted with 
the ardour and sweetness of the first electuary, how shall I endure 
the second? I pray thee, thou blessed above all the other 
saints and above all the angels, that thou wilt give me no more." 
The glorious Virgin Mary makes answer, " Taste, my son, taste 
yet a little of this second box," and giving him a little thereof, 
she said to him, " This day, son, thou hast enough to satisfy 
thee; be of good cheer, for soon will I come for thee and lead 
thee to the kingdom of my Son, that thou hast ever sought 
after and desired." This said, and taking leave of him, she 
departed, and he remained so comforted and consoled, through 
the sweetness of this confection, that for many days he lived on, 
sated and strong, without any corporeal food. And some days 
thereafter, while blithely speaking with the friars, he passed 
from this miserable life in great jubilation and gladness. 



1 Friar James of La Massa, to whom God opened the door of 
His mysteries and gave perfect knowledge and understanding 
of the divine scripture and of future things, was of such sanctity 

1 that Friar Giles of Assisi, and Friar Mark of Montino, and Friar 
Juniper and Friar Lucido, said of him, that they knew no one in 

I the world greater in the sight of God than this Friar James. I 

I had great desire to behold him; for on praying Friar John, the 

86 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

companion of the said Friar Giles, to expound to me certain 
spiritual things, he answered, " If thou wouldst be well informed 
in matters of the spiritual life, strive to speak with Friar James 
of La Massa (for Friar Giles was fain to be instructed by him), 
and to his words naught can be added nor taken away; for his 
mind hath penetrated the mysteries of heaven, and his words 
are words of the Holy Ghost, and there is no man on earth that 
I have so great a desire to see." This Friar James, when Friar 
John of Parma took up his office as minister of the Order, was 
rapt in God while at prayer, and remained thus rapt in ecstasy 
three days, bereft of all bodily senses, and was so insensible that 
the friars doubted lest he were truly dead: and in this ecstasy 
it was revealed to him by God what things were to come to pass 
in our Order. Wherefore, when Friar Giles said those words, 
my desire to hear him and to speak with him increased within 
me. And when it pleased God that I should have opportunity 
to speak with him, I besought him thus, " If this that I have 
heard tell of thee be true, prithee keep it not hidden from me. 
I have heard that when thou remained well-nigh dead for three 
days, God revealed to thee, among other things, what should 
come to pass in this our Order; for this was related to me by 
Friar Matthew, minister of the Marches, to whom thou didst 
reveal it by obedience." Then Friar James confessed to him, 
with great humility, that what Friar Matthew said was true. 
And his words, to wit, the words of Friar Matthew, minister of 
the Marches, were these, " I know a friar to whom God hath 
revealed what shall hereafter come to pass in our Order; for 
Friar James of La Massa hath made known to me and said, that 
after many things God revealed to him touching the state of 
the Church Militant, he beheld in a vision a tree, fair and very 
great, whose roots were of gold, and whose fruits were men, and 
all they were friars minor; and the chief branches thereof were 
marked out according to the number of the provinces of the 
Order, and each branch had as many friars as there were in the 
province marked on that branch. And so he knew the numbers 
of all the friars in the Order, and of each province, and likewise 
their names, and the ages and the conditions and the high offices 
and the dignities and the graces of all, and their sins. And he 
beheld Friar John of Parma in the highest place on the mid- 
most branch of this tree; and on the top of the branches that 
were round about this branch were the ministers of all the 
provinces. And thereafter he beheld Christ seated on a pure 
white throne exceeding great, whereunto Christ called St. Francis 

Vision of Friar James 87 

ard gave him a cup, full of the spirit of life, and sent him forth, 
sajing, " Go and visit thy friars and give them to drink of this 
cup of the spirit of life; for the spirit of Satan shall rise up 
against them and shall smite them, and many of them shall fall 
and aot rise again." And Christ gave two angels to St. Francis 
to bear him company. And then St. Francis came and held 
forth the cup of life to his friars : and he began to hold it forth 
first to Friar John of Parma, who, taking it, drank it all devoutly 
and in great haste; and forthwith he became all bright and 
shining as the sun. And after him St. Francis held it forth to 
all the others in due order, and few were they among these that 
took it and drank it all with meet reverence and devotion. 
They that took it devoutly and drank it all became straightway 
bright and shining as the sun; and they that poured it away, 
and took it not with devotion, became black or dark and mis- 
shapen and horrible to behold : and they that drank a part and 
threw a part away became in part bright and shining, in part 
dark and tenebrous, more or less, according to the measure of 
their drinking or pouring away the cup. But, resplendent 
above all the others, was the aforesaid Friar John, that most 
completely had drunk of the cup of life, whereby he had most 
deeply fathomed the abyss of the infinite light divine; and 
therein he had foreseen the adversity and storms that were to 
rise up against the said tree, and buffet it and make the branches 
thereof to shake. Wherefore the said Friar John descended 
from the top of the branch whereon he was, and climbed down 
all the branches and hid himself beneath them against the 
knotted bole of the tree, and there remained deep in thought. 
And a friar that had drunken part of the cup and part had 
poured away, climbed up that branch and to that place whence 
Friar John had descended. And while he stood in that place 
the nails of his fingers became of steel, sharp and cutting as 
razors; whereat he came down from that place whither he had 
climbed, and with rage and fury would have flung himself 
against Friar John to do him hurt. But Friar John, beholding 
this, cried out amain and commended himself to Christ that was 
seated on the throne : and Christ, at his cries, called St. Francis 
to him and gave him a sharp flintstone, and said to him, " Go, 
and with this stone cut the nails of that friar, wherewith he would 
fain rend Friar John, so that they may do him no hurt." Then 
St. Francis came and did as Christ had commanded him. This 
done, there arose a storm of wind and smote against the tree so 
mightily that the friars fell to the ground; and first fell they 

88 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

that had poured out all the cup of the spirit of life, and ware 
carried away by devils into places of darkness and torment. 
But Friar John, together with those others that had drunk all 
the cup, were translated by angels into a place of eternal life and 
light and beatific splendour. And the aforesaid Friar James, 
that beheld the vision, discerned and understood particularly 
and distinctly all he saw touching the names and conditioas and 
state of each one, and that clearly. And so mightily d:d that 
storm prevail against the tree that it fell : and the wind bore it 
away. And then, no sooner had the storm ceased, than from 
the root of this tree, which was all of gold, another tree sprung 
up all of gold, that put forth golden leaves and flowers and fruit. 
Touching which tree and the growth and the deep roots thereof, 
the beauty and fragrance and virtue, 'twere fitter to keep silence 
than to tell thereof at this season. 



Among the other wise and holy friars and sons of St. Francis 
who, according as Solomon saith, are the glory of their father, 
there lived in our time in the province of the Marches the 
venerable and holy Friar John of Fermo; and he, for that he 
sojourned a long time in the holy place of La Verna and there 
passed from this life, was likewise called Friar John of La Verna; 
and he was a man of great and singular holiness of life. This 
Friar John, while yet a boy in the world, desired with all his 
heart to follow the ways of penance, that ever preserveth the 
purity of the body and of the soul. Wherefore, when he was 
quite a little child, he began to wear a breastplate of mail x and 
iron rings on his naked flesh, and to practise great abstinence; 
and above all, when he abode with the canons of St. Peter's 
at Fermo, who fared sumptuously, he eschewed all carnal 
delights, and mortified his body with great and severe fastings ; 
but his companions, being much set against these things, took 
from him his breastplate and thwarted his abstinence in divers 
ways; wherefore he purposed, being inspired of God, to forsake 
the world and those that loved worldly things and cast himself 
wholly into the arms of the Crucified with the habit of the 
crucified St. Francis ; and this he did. And being thus received 

1 See note, p. 34. 

Friar John of La Verna 89 

into the Order while yet a boy, and committed to the care of 
the master of the novices, he became so spiritual and devout, 
that hearing the master once discoursing of God, his heart was 
melted as wax before a fire; and with such exceeding sweetness 
of grace was he kindled by divine love, that unable to remain 
still and endure such great sweetness, he arose, and as one 
inebriated with spiritual things, ran hither and thither, now in 
the garden, now in the wood, now in the church, according as 
the fire and spur of the spirit drave him. Then in process of 
time this angelic man, by divine grace, so continually increased 
from virtue to virtue, and in celestial gifts and divine exaltation 
and rapture, that at one time his soul was lifted up to the 
splendours of the cherubim, at another to the flaming seraphim, 
yet another to the joys of the blessed; yea, even to the loving 
and ineffable embraces of Christ. And notably, on a time, his 
heart was so mightily kindled by the flames of love divine, that 
this flame endured full three years, in which time he received 
wondrous consolations and divine visitations, and ofttimes was 
he rapt in God ; and for a brief space, in the said time, he seemed 
all aflame and burning with the love of Christ; and this was 
on the holy mount of La Verna. But forasmuch as God hath 
singular care of His children, and giveth them according to 
divers seasons, now consolation, now tribulation, now prosperity, 
now adversity, even as He seeth their need, either to strengthen 
them in humility, or to kindle within them greater desire for 
celestial things; now it pleased divine goodness to withdraw, 
after three years, from the said Friar John this ray and this 
flame of divine love, and to deprive him of all spiritual consola- 
tion. Whereat Friar John remained bereft of the light and the 
love of God, and all disconsolate and afflicted and sorrowing. 
Wherefore, in this anguish of heart, he wandered about the 
wood, running to and fro, calling with a loud voice and with 
tears and sighs on the beloved spouse of his soul, who had 
withdrawn and departed from him, and without whose presence 
his soul found neither peace nor rest. But in no place nor in 
any wise could he find the sweet Jesus again, nor taste again, as 
he was wont to do, of those sweetest spiritual savours of the 
love of Christ. And the like tribulation he endured many days, 
wherein he persevered continually in tears and sighs, and in 
supplication to God, that of His pity He would restore to him 
the beloved spouse of his soul. At the last, when it had pleased 
God to prove his patience enough and fan the flame of his 
desire, one day, as Friar John was wandering about the said 

90 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

wood, thus afflicted and tormented, he sat him down a-wearied 
and leaned against a beech tree, and with his face all bathed in 
tears gazed towards heaven; and behold, Jesus Christ appeared 
suddenly nigh to him, in the path whereby this Friar John had 
come, but spake no word. And Friar John, beholding Him 
and knowing full well that it was the Christ, straightway flung 
himself at His feet, and with piteous tears entreated Him most 
humbly and said, " Help me, my Lord, for without Thee, my 
sweetest Saviour, I wander in darkness and in tears; without 
Thee, most gentle Lamb, I dwell in anguish and in torments and 
in fear; without Thee, Son of God, most high, I remain in 
shame and confusion; without Thee I am stripped of all good, 
and blind, for Thou art Christ Jesus, true light of souls ; without 
Thee I am lost and damned, for Thou art the Life of souls and 
Life of life; without Thee I am barren and withered, for Thou 
art the fountain of every good gift and of every grace; without 
Thee I am wholly disconsolate, for Thou art Jesus our Re- 
deemer, our love and our desire, the Bread of consolation and 
the Wine that rejoiceth the hearts of the angels and of all the 
saints. Let Thy light shine upon me, most gracious Master, 
and most compassionate Shepherd, for I am Thy little sheep, 
unworthy tho' I be." But because the desires of holy men, 
which God delayeth to grant, kindle them to yet greater love 
and merit, the blessed Christ departed without hearing him, 
without uttering one word, and went away by the said path. 
Then Friar John rose up and ran after Him, and again fell at 
His feet, and with holy importunity held Him back and en- 
treated Him, with devoutest tears, saying, " Jesus Christ, 
most sweet, have mercy on me in my tribulation; hear me by 
the multitude of Thy mercies, and by the verity of Thy salva- 
tion restore to me the joy of Thy countenance and of Thy pitying 
eye, for all the earth is full of Thy mercy." And again Christ 
departed and spake him no word, nor gave aught of consolation, 
and did after the way of a mother with her child, when she 
maketh him to yearn for the breast, and causeth him to follow 
after her weeping, that he may take it the more willingly. 
Whereupon Friar John, yet again, with greater fervour and 
desire, followed Christ, and no sooner had he come up to Him 
than the blessed Christ turned round to him, and looked upon 
him with joyful and gracious countenance; then, opening His 
most holy and most merciful arms, He embraced him very 
sweetly, and as He thus opened His arms, Friar John beheld 
rays of shining light coming from the Saviour's most holy 

Friar John of La Verna 91 

breast, that illumined all the wood, and himself likewise, in soul 
and body. Then Friar John kneeled down at the feet of Christ; 
and the blessed Jesus, even as He did to the Magdalen, graciously 
held forth His foot that he might kiss it; and Friar John, 
taking it with highest reverence, bathed it with so many tears 
that he verily seemed to be a second Magdalen, and devoutly 
said, " I pray Thee, my Lord, that Thou regard not my sins, 
but by Thy most holy Passion, and by the shedding of Thy 
most holy and precious blood, Thou mayst make my soul to 
live again in the grace of Thy love, forasmuch as this is Thy 
commandment: that we love Thee with all our hearts and all 
our affections, which commandment none can keep without 
Thy aid. Help me, then, most beloved Son of God, that I may 
love Thee with all my heart and with all my might." And 
Friar John, standing as he thus spake at the feet of Christ, was 
heard of Him, and he regained the former state of grace, to wit, 
the flame of divine love, and he felt himself all consoled and 
renewed; and when he knew that the gift of divine grace was 
restored to him, he began to give thanks to Christ the blessed 
and to kiss His feet devoutly. And then, rising up to gaze on 
the face of Christ, Jesus Christ stretched forth and offered him 
His most holy hands to kiss. And when Friar John had kissed 
them, he drew nigh and leaned on Christ's bosom and em- 
braced Him and kissed Him, and Christ likewise embraced and 
kissed him. And in these embraces and kisses Friar John 
perceived such divine fragrance, that if all the sweet-smelling 
graces and all the most fragrant things in the world had been 
gathered together, they would have seemed but a stink com- 
pared with that fragrance; and thereby was Friar John ravished 
and consoled and illumined; and that fragrance endured in his 
soul many months. And thenceforward there issued from his 
mouth, that had drunk at the fountain of divine wisdom in the 
sacred breast of the Saviour, words so wondrous and so heavenly, 
that they changed all hearts and brought forth great fruit in 
the souls of those that heard him. And in the pathway of the 
wood, whereon the blessed feet of Christ had trod, and for a 
good space round about, Friar John perceived that same 
fragrance and beheld that splendour for a long time thereafter, 
v/hensoever he went thither. And Friar John, coming to him- 
self after that rapture and after the bodily presence of Christ 
had vanished, remained so illumined in his soul and in the 
abyss of the divine nature, that albeit he was not a learned man, 
by reason of human study, nevertheless, he solved wondrously 

92 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

and made plain the most subtle and lofty questions touching 
the divine Trinity and the profound mysteries of the Holy 
Scriptures. And many times thereafter, when speaking before 
the pope and the cardinals and the king, and barons and masters 
and doctors, he set them all in great amaze at the lofty words 
and most profound judgments he uttered. 



On a time when Friar John was saying mass, the day after 
All Saints, for the souls of all the dead, according as the church 
hath ordained, he offered up with such great affection and 
charity and with such pitying compassion that most high 
sacrament (which, by reason of its efficacy, the souls of the dead 
desire above all other benefits we can bestow upon them), that 
he seemed all melted with the sweetness of pity and of brotherly 
love. Wherefore, as he devoutly elevated the body of Christ in 
that mass and offered it up to God the Father, and prayed that, 
for love of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who was nailed on 
the cross to redeem souls, He would be pleased to deliver from 
the pains of purgatory the souls of the dead by Him created and 
redeemed, he straightway beheld a multitude of souls, well-nigh 
infinite, come forth from purgatory, after the manner of count- 
less sparks issuing from a fiery furnace; and he beheld them 
ascend to heaven through the merits of Christ's Passion, that 
each day is offered up for the living and the dead in that 
most sacred Host which is worthy to be worshipped world 
without end. 

Friar James of Falterone 93 



At the time when Friar James of Falterone, a man of great 
holiness, lay grievously sick at the friary of Moliano in the 
custody of Fermo, Friar John of La Verna, who then abode in 
the friary of La Massa, heard of his sickness; and, for that he 
loved him as a dear father, he betook himself to pray for him, 
devoutly beseeching God with all his heart that if it were good 
for his soul He would restore him to health of body. And 
while thus devoutly praying he was rapt in ecstasy, and beheld 
in the air, above his cell in the wood, a great host of angels and 
saints, of such dazzling splendour that the whole country round 
about was illumined thereby ; and in the midst of these angels 
he beheld this sick Friar James, for whom he was praying, all 
resplendent in pure white robes. He saw likewise among them 
the blessed father, St. Francis, adorned with the sacred stigmas 
of Christ and with much glory. And he beheld also and knew 
the saintly Friar Lucido, and the ancient Friar Matthew of 
Monte Rubbiano, and many other friars that in this life he had 
never seen nor known. And as Friar John was thus gazing, 
with great delight, on that blessed company of saints, it was 
revealed to him that of a surety the soul of that sick friar was 
saved, and that he was to die of that sickness ; but that he was 
not to ascend straightway after his death to paradise, for that 
it behoved him to purge himself a while in purgatory. At this 
revelation Friar John felt such exceeding joy because of the 
salvation of his soul, that he grieved not for the death of the 
body, but with great sweetness of spirit called him within him- 
self, saying, " Friar James, sweet father mine; Friar James, 
sweet brother; Friar James, faithfullest servant and friend of 
God; Friar James, companion of the angels and consort of the 
blessed ! " and in this certitude and joy he came to himself again. 
And anon he departed from that place and went to visit the said 
Friar James at Moliano, and finding the sickness so heavily 
upon him that scarce could he speak, he announced to him the 
death of the body and the salvation and glory of his soul, 
according to the certitude he had had by divine revelation. 
Whereat Friar James rejoiced gladly in spirit and in coun- 

94 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

tenancy and received him with great gladness, and with jocund 
mien gave thanks to him for the good tidings he had brought, 
commending himself devoutly to him. Then Friar John be- 
sought him dearly that he would return to him after his death 
and speak to him of his state: and Friar James promised this, 
if God so pleased. These words said, the hour of his passing 
away drew nigh, and Friar James began to recite devoutly that 
verse from the Psalms : In pace in tdipsum dormiam et requiescam, 
which is to say, " I will both lay me down in peace and sleep." 
This verse said, he passed from this life with glad and joyful 
countenance. And after he was buried, Friar John returned to 
the friary of La Massa and waited for the promise of Friar 
James, that he would return to him on the day he had said. 
But while he was at prayer on that day, Christ appeared to him 
with a great company of angels and saints, and among them 
Friar James was not : whereupon Friar John, marvelling greatly, 
commended him devoutly to Christ. Then on the day follow- 
ing, as Friar John was praying in the wood, Friar James ap- 
peared to him accompanied by the angels, all glorious and all 
glad; and Friar John said to him, " dearest father, wherefore 
hast thou not returned to me the day that thou didst promise? " 
Friar James answered, " Because I had need of some purgation; 
but in that same hour when Christ appeared to thee, and thou 
didst commend me to Him, Christ heard thee and delivered me 
from all pain. And then I appeared to the holy lay Friar 
James of La Massa, that was serving mass, and saw the conse- 
crated Host, when the priest elevated it, converted and changed 
into the form of a living child most fair; and I said to him, 
1 This day do I go with that child to the realm of life eternal, 
whither none can go without him. 5 " These words said, Friar 
James vanished and went to heaven with all that blessed com- 
pany of angels; and Friar John remained much comforted. 
And the said Friar James of Falterone died on the vigil of St. 
James the Apostle, in the month of July, in the aforesaid friary 
of Moliano, wherein, through his merits, divine goodness 
wrought many miracles after his death. 

Friar John of La Verna 95 



The aforesaid Friar John of La Verna, for that he had wholly 
smothered all worldly and temporal joys and consolations, and 
in God had placed all his joys and all his hopes, the divine good- 
ness gave him wondrous consolations and revelations, and, 
above all, in the solemn festivals of Christ; wherefore on a time 
when the feast of the Nativity was drawing nigh, whereon he 
had the expectancy of certain consolation from God in the sweet 
humanity of Christ, the Holy Spirit set in his mind such exceed- 
ing great love and fervour for the charity of Christ whereby He 
had abased Himself to take our humanity upon Him, that it 
verily seemed to him as were his soul ravished from his body, 
and that it burned like a furnace. And being unable to endure 
this burning, and being in sore distress of soul, he cried out with 
a loud voice; for by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the 
exceeding fervour of his love he could not withhold his cry. 
And at the hour when that consuming fervour came* upon him, 
there came withal so strong and sure a hope of his salvation, 
that in no wise could he believe that, had he then died, he would 
need to pass through the pains of purgatory; and this love 
endured within him full six months, albeit that excessive fervour 
possessed him not continuously, but came upon him only at 
certain hours of the day, and then in these times he received 
wondrous visitations and consolations from God. And ofttimes 
was he rapt in ecstasy, even as that friar saw who first wrote 
down these things ; among which, one night, he was so lifted up 
and rapt in God that he beheld in Him, the Creator, all created 
things in heaven and on earth, and all their perfections and 
degrees and their several orders. And then he perceived clearly 
how every created thing was related to its Creator, and how God 
is above, is within, is without, is beside all created things. 
Thereafter he perceived one God in three Persons, and three 
Persons in one God, and the infinite love that made the Son of 
God become flesh in obedience to the Father. And at the last 
he perceived, in that vision, how that no other way was there 
whereby the soul might ascend to God and have eternal life 
save through the blessed Christ, that is the Way, the Truth, and 
the Life of the soul. 

96 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 



On a time, as the friars that were present were wont to tell, a 
wondrous case befell the said Friar John in the aforesaid friary 
of Moliano; for, on the first night after the octave of St. Law- 
rence, and within the octave of the Assumption of Our Lady, 
having said matins in church with the other friars, and the 
unction of divine grace falling upon him, he went forth into the 
garden to meditate on the Passion of Christ and to prepare him- 
self, with all devotion, to celebrate the mass that it was his turn 
to sing that morning. And while he was meditating on the 
words of the consecration of the body of Christ, to wit, while 
he was considering the infinite love of Christ, and that He had 
been willing to redeem us, not only with His precious blood, but 
likewise to leave us His most worthy body and blood for food 
of souls, the love of sweet Jesus began so to wax within him, 
and with such great fervour and tenderness, that his soul could 
no longer endure such sweetness ; and he cried out with a loud 
voice, and as one inebriate in spirit, ceased not to repeat to 
himself, Hoc est corpus meum: for as he spake these words 
himseemed to behold the blessed Christ, with the Virgin Mother 
and a multitude of angels; and he was illumined by the Holy 
Spirit in all the deep and lofty mysteries of that most high 
sacrament. And when the dawn was come, he went into the 
church, with that same fervour of spirit, and with that same 
absorption, and believing he was neither heard nor seen of 
men, went on repeating those words; but there was a certain 
friar at prayer in the choir that saw and heard all. And, 
unable to contain himself in that fervour of spirit by reason of 
the abundance of grace divine, he cried out with a loud voice, 
and so continued until the hour of mass was come. Wherefore 
he went to vest himself for the altar. And when he began the 
mass, the farther he proceeded the more the love of Christ and 
that fervour of devotion increased within him, whereby an 
ineffable sense of God's presence was given to him, which he 
could neither comprehend nor thereafter express with his lips. 
Wherefore, fearing lest that fervour and sense of God's presence 
should so wax within him that he must needs leave the altar, 
he fell into great perplexity, and knew not what he should do — 

Friar John of La Verna 97 

whether to go on with the mass, or stay and wait. But, foras- 
much as at other times a like case had befallen him, and the 
Lord had so far tempered that fervour that he had needed not 
to leave the altar, he trusted He might do the like this time; 
so he set himself with fear and trembling to go forward with the 
mass: and when he came as far as the preface of the " Our 
Lady," the divine illumination of the gracious sweetness of the 
love of God began so to increase within him, that coming to the 
Qui pridie, scarce could he endure such ravishing sweetness. 
At last, when he came to the act of consecration, and had said 
the first half of the words over the Host, to wit, Hoc est, in no 
wise could he go farther, but only repeated those selfsame 
words, to wit, Hoc est enim. And the cause wherefore he could 
go no farther was, that he felt and beheld the presence of Christ, 
with a multitude of angels, whose majesty he could not endure. 
And he saw that Christ entered not into the Host, or, in sooth, 
that the Host would not become changed into the body of 
Christ, except he uttered the other half of the words, to wit, 
corpus meum. Whereupon, while he stood thus perplexed and 
could proceed no farther, the warden and the other friars, and 
many lay folk likewise that were in the church hearing mass, 
drew nigh to the altar, and were filled with horror when they 
beheld and considered the acts of Friar John : and many of them 
wept through devotion. At the last, after a great space, to wit, 
when it pleased God, Friar John uttered, with a loud voice, Enim 
corpus meum ; and straightway the form of the bread vanished, 
and Jesus Christ the blessed appeared, incarnate and glorified, 
in the Host, and showed forth to him the humility and charity 
that made Him become incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and that 
every day maketh Him to come into the hands of the priest, 
when he consecrateth the Host: for which thing he was the 
more exalted in sweetness and contemplation. And no sooner 
had he elevated the consecrated Host and cup than he was 
ravished out of himself, and his soul, being lifted up above all 
bodily senses, his body fell backwards; and had he not been 
held up by the warden that stood behind him, he had fallen 
supine on the ground. Whereat the friars hastened towards 
him, and the lay folk that were in the church, both men and 
women; and he was carried into the sacristy as one dead; for 
his body had grown cold, and the fingers of his hands were so 
tightly clenched that scarce could they be opened or moved. 
And in this manner he lay between life and death, or ravished, 
until the hour of tierce; for it was summer time. And since I, 

98 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

that was present at all these things, desired much to know what 
God had wrought in him, I went straightway to him when his 
senses had returned to him, and besought him, for love of God, 
that he would tell me all things. Wherefore, because he had 
great trust in me, he related all to me in order; and, among 
other things, he told me that while meditating on the body and 
blood of Jesus Christ before him, his heart was melted like 
heated wax, and his flesh seemed to be without bones, in such 
wise that scarce could he lift up arm or hand to make the sign 
of the cross over the Host, or over the cup. He likewise told 
me that before he was made a priest, God had revealed to him 
that he was to swoon away in the mass ; but seeing that he had 
since said many masses, and this thing had not befallen him, 
he believed the revelation was not of God. And nevertheless, 
about fifty days before the Assumption of Our Lady, whereon 
the aforesaid case befell him, God had again revealed to him 
that this thing was to come to pass about the feast of the 
Assumption; but that thereafter he no longer remembered the 
said vision, or revelation, made to him by our Lord. 

Here endeth the -first part of the book of the venerable St. Francis, 
and of many of the holy friars his companions. Herefolloweth the 
second part concerning the sacred stigmas. 

Touching the Sacred and Holy Stigmas of St. Francis 
and some Considerations thereon 

In this part we will treat, with devout consideration, of the 
glorious, sacred, and hallowed stigmas of our blessed father, 
St. Francis, that he received from Christ on the holy mount 
of La Verna. And forasmuch as the said stigmas were five, 
according to the five wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ, this 
treatise shall be divided into five considerations. 

The first consideration shall be touching the manner of the 
coming of St. Francis to the holy mount of La Verna. 

The second consideration shall be touching the life he lived, 
and the discourse he held with his companions on the said 
holy mountain. 

The third consideration shall be touching the seraphic vision 
and the impression of the most holy stigmas. 

The fourth consideration shall be, how that St. Francis came 
down from the mount of La Verna after he had received the 
sacred stigmas and returned to St. Mary of the Angels. 

Roland of Chiusi 99 

The fifth consideration shall be touching certain divers visions 
and revelations of the said sacred and hallowed stigmas to holy 
friars and other devout persons after the death of St. Francis. 

I. Touching the first consideration of the sacred, hallowed 

Be it known, touching the first consideration, that when St. 
Francis was forty-three years of age, in the year one thousand 
two hundred and twenty-four, he was inspired by God to set 
forth from the vale of Spoleto and journey into Romagna, with 
Friar Leo his companion; and as they went they passed by 
the foot of the burg of Montefeltro, wherein a great banquet and 
a great procession were made by reason of the knighting of one 
of those counts of Montefeltro. And St. Francis, hearing of 
this solemn festival and that many noblemen of divers countries 
were assembled together there, said to Friar Leo, " Let us go up 
thither to this festival, for with God's help we shall gather some 
good spiritual fruit." Now among the other nobles that were 
come to that festival from the country round about was a certain 
rich and mighty nobleman of Tuscany, called Roland of Chiusi 
di Casentino, who, because of the wondrous things he had heard 
of the holiness and of the miracles of St. Francis, held him in 
great devotion, and had a very great desire to behold him and 
to hear him preach. And St. Francis came up to that burg and 
entered within, and went to the market-place, where all the host 
of those nobles was gathered together, and in fervour of spirit 
climbed on to a low wall and began to preach, taking for the 
text of his sermon these words in the vulgar tongue — 

" A joy to me is every pain, 
For I await a greater gain." 

And upon this text he preached so devoutly and so profoundly 
by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, proving it by divers pains and 
martyrdoms of the holy apostles and the holy martyrs, and by 
the hard penances of the holy confessors, and the many tribula- 
tions and temptations of the holy virgins and other saints, that 
all the people stood with eyes and minds lifted up towards him, 
and hearkened as if an angel of God were speaking. And among 
them was the said Roland, who, touched to the heart by God 
through the wondrous preaching of St. Francis, was minded to 
confer and take counsel with him, after the sermon, touching the 
state of his soul. Wherefore, the sermon ended, he drew St. 
Francis aside and said to him, " O father, fain would I take 
counsel with thee touching the salvation of my soul." St. 

i oo The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

Francis answered, " It pleaseth me well; but go this morning, 
honour thy friends that have bidden thee to this feast, and dine 
with them, and after thou hast dined, we will speak together as 
long as it shall please thee." Roland therefore went away to 
dine, and after he had dined, returned to St. Francis and thus 
conferred and discoursed with him fully, touching the state of 
his soul. And at last this Roland said to St. Francis, " I have 
a mountain in Tuscany most proper for devout contemplation 
that is called the mount of La Verna, and is very solitary and 
meet for those that desire to do penance in a place far away 
from the world, or to lead a solitary life; and if it so please thee, 
fain would I give it to thee and to thy companions for the salva- 
tion of my soul." St. Francis, hearing this bounteous offer of 
a thing he so much desired, rejoiced with exceeding great joy, 
and praising and giving thanks, first to God and then to Roland, 
spake to him thus, " Roland, when you are returned to your 
house I will send some of my companions to you, and you will 
show this mountain to them; and if it seem to them a proper 
place for prayer and penance, from this time forth I accept your 
charitable offer." This said, St. Francis departed, and when he 
had made an end of his journey he returned to St. Mary of the 
Angels; and Roland likewise, when he had celebrated the end 
of that festival, returned to his castle that was called Chiusi, 
and was distant a mile from La Verna. And St. Francis, being 
returned to St. Mary of the Angels, sent forth two of his com- 
panions to the said Roland, who, when they were come to him, 
received them with the greatest joy and charity. And being 
fain to show them the mount of La Verna, he sent with them 
full fifty men-at-arms to be their defence against the wild beasts ; 
and these friars, thus escorted, ascended to the top of the moun- 
tain and sought diligently about, and at the last they came to a 
part of the mountain that was meet for a holy place and most 
proper for contemplation, in which place was an open plain: 
this spot they chose for the habitation of them and of St. Francis, 
and there, with the help of the men-at-arms that were in their 
escort, they made some little cells of the branches of trees. And 
thus in the name of God they accepted and took possession 
of the mount of La Verna, and of the friary on that 
mountain, and departed and returned to St. Francis. And 
when they were come to St. Francis they related to him how 
and in what manner they had taken a place on the mount of La 
Verna most meet for prayer and contemplation. Hearing these 
tidings, St. Francis rejoiced greatly, and praising and giving 

St. Francis at La Verna 101 

thanks to God, spake to these friars with a glad countenance, 
and said, " My sons, we are drawing nigh to our lent of St. 
Michael the Archangel, and I steadfastly believe that it is God's 
will we should keep this fast on the mount of La Verna, that by 
divine providence hath been prepared for us, in order that we 
may merit from Christ the joy of consecrating that blessed mount 
to the honour and glory of God and of His Mother, the glorious 
Virgin Mary, and the holy angels." This said, St. Francis took 
with him Friar Masseo of Marignano d'Assisi, that was a man 
of great wisdom and great eloquence; and Friar Angelo Tan- 
credi of Rieti, that was a very noble gentleman, and in the world 
had been a knight; and Friar Leo, that was a man of great 
simplicity and purity, and therefore much beloved of St. 
Francis. And St. Francis with these three friars set himself to 
pray, and commended himself and the aforesaid companions to 
the prayers of the friars that were left behind; and then set 
forth, in the name of Jesus Christ crucified, with those three to 
go to the mount of La Verna. And as St. Francis went forth, 
he called one of those three companions, and he was Friar 
Masseo, and spake to him thus, " Thou, Friar Masseo, shalt be 
our warden and our superior on this journey, I say, while we go 
and remain together; and thus we will observe our Rule, for 
whether we say the office, or discourse of God, or keep silence, 
we will take no thought for the morrow, neither what we shall 
eat, nor what we shall drink, nor where we shall sleep ; but when 
the hour of rest cometh we will beg a little bread, and then will 
stay our steps and rest ourselves in the place that God shall 
prepare for us." Then did these three companions bow their 
heads, and making the sign of the cross, journeyed on; and the 
first evening they came to a friary and there lodged. The second 
evening, by reason of the bad weather and of being so weary they 
were not able to come to a friary, nor to any burg, nor to any 
hamlet, and night falling after the bad weather, they took 
refuge in a deserted and ruined church and there lay down to 
rest. And while his companions were sleeping, St. Francis 
betook himself to prayer, and lo, at the first watch of the night 
there came a great host of fiercest devils with a great noise and 
tumult and began to do him mighty battle and annoy : for one 
plucked him here, another there; one pulled him down, another 
up; one threatened him with one thing, and one rebuked for 
another; and thus in divers ways they strove to disturb his 
prayers; but they could not, for God was with him. And when 
St. Francis had endured these assaults of the devils a long space, 

102 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

he began to cry with a loud voice, " ye damned spirits, naught 
can ye avail except in so far as the hand of God suff ereth you : 
therefore in the name of the omnipotent God I say unto you, do 
ye unto my body whatsoever is permitted you by God, for I 
suffer all willingly, since no greater enemy have I than my body ; 
therefore, if ye avenge me of mine enemy, ye do me too great a 
service." Then the devils seized him and with great violence 
and fury began to drag him about the church and to wreak on 
him more grievous hurt and annoy than before. Whereat St. 
Francis began to cry aloud and say, " My Lord Jesus Christ, I 
thank Thee for the great love and charity Thou hast shown 
toward me; for 'tis a token of great love when the Lord well 
punisheth His servant for all his faults in this world, in order 
that he be not punished in the next. And I am prepared to 
endure joyfully every pain and every adversity that Thou, my 
God, art willing to send for my sins." Then the devils, con- 
founded and vanquished by his constancy and patience, de- 
parted, and St. Francis came forth from the church in fervour of 
spirit and entered into a wood that was nigh and betook him to 
prayer, and with prayers and with tears, and with smitings of 
the breast, sought Jesus Christ, the beloved spouse of his soul. 
And at last, finding Him in the secret places of his soul, now 
he spake with Him reverently as his Lord ; now he gave answer 
to Him as his Judge; again he besought Him as a father, and 
yet again he reasoned with Him as a friend. On that night, 
and in that wood, his companions, after they awoke, stood 
hearkening and considering what he was doing, and they beheld 
and heard him with tears and cries devoutly entreat God's 
mercy for sinners. Then was he heard and seen to bewail, with 
a loud voice, the Passion of Christ, even as if he beheld it with 
corporeal eyes. And in that selfsame night they saw him 
praying with his arms held in the form of a cross, and lifted up 
from the ground and suspended for a great space, and sur- 
rounded by a bright and shining cloud. And thus he passed all 
that night in these holy exercises, without sleep ; and in the morn- 
ing his companions, knowing that St. Francis, by reason of the 
fatigues of that night passed without sleep, was very feeble in 
body, and would have ill borne to go afoot, went to a poor 
peasant of that country-side, and, for love of God, craved the 
loan of his ass for St. Francis, their father, that could not go 
afoot. This man, hearing the name of Friar Francis, asked of 
them, " Are ye of those friars of that friar of Assisi whereof so 
much good is told? " The friars answered, " Yea," and that 

St. Francis at La Verna 103 

verily it was for him they craved the sumpter beast. Then 
this honest fellow saddled the ass with great devotion and 
solicitude ; and led him to St. Francis, and with great reverence 
bade him mount thereon; and so they went their way, the 
peasant with them, behind his ass. And after they had jour- 
neyed on a while, the peasant said to St. Francis, " Tell me, 
art thou that Friar Francis of Assisi? " And St. Francis 
answered, " Yea." " Now strive, then," said the peasant, " to 
be as good as thou art held to be by all folk, for many have 
great faith in thee; therefore I admonish thee that thou betray 
not the hopes men cherish of thee." St. Francis, hearing these 
words, disdained not to be admonished by a peasant, nor said 
within himself, " What beast is this that doth admonish me? " 
as many proud fellows that wear the cowl would say nowadays, 
but straightway flung himself off the ass and alighted on the 
ground and knelt down before him, and kissed his feet, and 
humbly thanked him for that he had deigned to admonish him 
thus charitably. Then the peasant, together with the com- 
panions of St. Francis, raised him up from the ground, with 
great devotion, and set him again on the ass and journeyed on. 
And when they had climbed about half-way up the mountain, 
a great thirst came upon this peasant, for the heat was very 
great, and toilsome the ascent; whereat he began to cry behind 
St. Francis, saying, " Ah me ! I die of thirst, for if I have not 
water to drink I shall forthwith choke." Wherefore St. Francis 
got down from the ass and fell to prayer, and so long he knelt, 
with hands lifted up to heaven, until he knew by revelation 
that his prayer was heard of God. Then said St. Francis 
to the peasant, " Haste; hie thee quickly to that rock, there 
shalt thou find running water that Jesus Christ in this hour 
hath, in His mercy, made to issue from that rock." Now runs 
he to the place that St. Francis had shown to him, and there 
finds a fair spring which St. Francis, by virtue of his prayers, 
had made to gush forth from that hard rock; and he drank 
thereof abundantly, and was comforted. And well it appeareth 
that that spring was made to flow by God miraculously, at the 
prayers of St. Francis, for neither before nor after was ever a 
spring of water seen in that place, nor running water near that 
place for a great distance. This done, St. Francis, with his 
companions, and with the peasant, gave thanks to God for the 
miracle He had shown them, and then journeyed on. And 
when they were come nigh to the foot of the very rock of La 
Verna, it pleased St. Francis to rest a while under the oak tree 

1 04 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

that stood by the way, and there standeth to this day; and 
resting beneath it, St. Francis began to consider the lay of the 
place and of the country round about. And lo, while he was 
thus pondering there came a great multitude of birds from 
divers parts that, with singing and fluttering of their wings, 
showed forth great joy and gladness, and surrounded St. Francis, 
in such wise that some settled on his head, some on his shoulders, 
and some on his arms, some on his bosom, and some around his 
feet. His companions and the peasant, beholding this, mar- 
velled greatly, and St. Francis rejoiced in spirit, and spake thus, 
" I do believe, dearest brothers, that it is pleasing to our Lord 
Jesus Christ that we abide on this solitary mountain, since our 
sisters and brothers, the birds, show forth such great joy at our 
coming." These words said, they rose up and journeyed on; 
and at last they came to the place that his companions had 
taken at first. And this is all that concerns the first considera- 
tion, to wit, how St. Francis came to the holy mount of La 

II. Touching the second consideration of the sacred, hallowed 

The second consideration is touching the discourse of St. 
Francis with his companions on the said mount of La Verna. 
And as for this, be it known that when Roland heard that 
St. Francis, with his three companions, had gone up to dwell 
on the mount of La Verna, he rejoiced exceedingly, and the day 
following set forth with many of his friends, and came to visit 
St. Francis; and they brought with them bread and wine, and 
other necessaries of life for him and his companions. And when 
they came to the top of the mountain they found them at 
prayer, and drawing nigh, gave them salutation. Then St. 
Francis rose up and received Roland and his company with 
great joy and love; and this done, they began to discourse 
together. And after they had discoursed a while, and St. Francis 
had thanked Roland for the holy mountain he had given them, 
and for his coming, he besought him to have a poor little cell 
built at the foot of a very fair beech tree that stood about a 
stone's - throw from the friary; for that seemed to him a 
place most solemn and meet for prayer. And anon Roland had 
it made; and this done St. Francis, seeing that the evening was 
drawing nigh, and it was time to depart, preached to them a 
little ere they took leave; and after he had preached and had 
given them his blessing, it behoved Roland to depart; where- 
fore he called St. Francis and his companions aside, and said to 

St. Francis at La Verna 105 

them, " My dearest friars, I am not minded that ye should 
endure any bodily want on this wild mountain top, and so be 
less able to give heed to spiritual things. Therefore I desire, 
and this I say once for all, that ye send confidently to my house 
for all things needful to you, and if ye did not so I should take 
it very ill of you." This said, he set forth with his company 
and returned to his castle. Then St. Francis made his com- 
panions sit down, and instructed them touching the manner 
of the life that they, and whoso would desire to live like religious, 
in hermitages, should lead. And, among other things, he laid 
upon them the single-minded observance of holy poverty, 
saying, " Heed not overmuch Roland's charitable offer, lest ye 
in any way offend our lady, madonna holy Poverty Be 
ye sure that the more we despise poverty, the more the world 
will despise us, and the greater need we shall suffer; but if we 
embrace holy poverty, full straitly the world will follow after us 
and feed us abundantly. God hath called us to this holy Rule 
of life for the salvation of the world, and hath made this 
covenant between us and the world, that we give good example 
to the world and the world provide for our needs. Let us 
persevere, then, in holy poverty, because that is the way of 
perfection, and the earnest and pledge of everlasting riches." 
And after many fair and devout words, and admonitions of this 
sort, he made an end, saying, " This is the manner of life that 
I lay on myself and on you ; and for that I see me drawing nigh 
unto death, I purpose to withdraw to a solitary place and make 
my peace with God, and weep for my sins before Him; and 
let Friar Leo, when it shall seem good to him, bring me a little 
bread and water, and on no account to suffer any lay folk to 
come to me: do ye answer them for me." These words said, he 
gave them his blessing, and went to the cell under the beech 
tree, and his companions remained in their habitation with 
the steadfast purpose to obey the commands of St. Francis. A 
few days thereafter, as St. Francis was standing beside the said 
cell, considering the form of the mountain, and marvelling at 
the exceeding great clefts and caverns in the mighty rocks, he 
betook himself to prayer; and then it was revealed to him by 
God that these clefts, so marvellous, had been miraculously 
made at the hour of the Passion of Christ, when, according to 
the gospel, the rocks were rent asunder. And this, God willed, 
should manifestly appear on the mount of La Verna, because 
there the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ was to be renewed, 
through love and pity, in the soul of St. Francis, and in his 

1 06 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

body by the imprinting of the sacred, hallowed stigmas. No 
sooner had St. Francis received that revelation than he forth- 
with locked himself in his cell, and retired wholly into himself, 
and made him ready for the mystery of this revelation, and 
from that hour St. Francis, through his unceasing prayers, 
began to taste more often of the sweetness of divine contempla- 
tion; wherefore many times was he so rapt in God that he 
was seen of his companions to be lifted up bodily from the 
ground and ravished out of himself. And in these contempla- 
tive ecstasies, not only were things present and future revealed 
to him, but likewise the secret thoughts and appetites of the 
friars, even as Friar Leo, his companion, made proof of that 
day. Now to this Friar Leo, while enduring a mighty tempta- 
tion of the devil, and not a carnal one, but a spiritual one, there 
came a great desire to have some pious words written by the 
hand of St. Francis; for he thought within himself, that if he 
had them, that temptation would leave him, either wholly or in 
part; yet, through shame or reverence, he had not the heart to 
tell of this desire to St. Francis. But the desire that Friar Leo 
spake not of, was revealed by the Holy Spirit to St. Francis : 
whereat he called Friar Leo to him, and made him bring pen 
and ink and paper, and with his own very hand did write a 
laud of Christ, according to the friar's desire. And at the end 
thereof he made the letter Tau, 1 and he gave the writing to him, 
saying, " Dearest friar, take this paper and keep it diligently 
until thy death. God bless thee and keep thee from all tempta- 
tion. Be not afraid that thou art tempted, for the more thou 
art assailed by temptations the greater friend and servant of 
God do I hold thee, and the greater love do I bear thee. Verily 
I say unto thee, let no man deem himself the perfect friend of 
God until he have passed through many temptations and 
tribulations." When Friar Leo received this writing, with 
exceeding devotion and faith, straightway every temptation 
departed, and returning to the friars, he related to them, with 
great joy, what grace God had bestowed upon him when he 
received that writing from St. Francis ; and putting it away and 
keeping it diligently, the friars wrought many miracles by means 
thereof. 2 And from that hour the said Friar Leo began to : 
watch closely and meditate with great purity and good intent 

1 See Ezekiel ix. 4 (in the Vulgate). According to St. Jerome, Tau (T), 
which is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, was used in the Samaritan 
language to represent the cross, of which it had the form. 

2 This precious relic of St. Francis is still preserved in the sacristy of the 
great church of S. Francesco at Assisi. 

St. Francis at La Verna 107 

on the life of St. Francis; and because of his purity it was 
vouchsafed to him many times and oft, to behold St. Francis 
rapt in God and lifted up from the earth: sometimes to the 
height of three cubits, sometimes four, sometimes as high as 
the top of the beech tree; and sometimes he saw him lifted up 
in the air so high, and surrounded by such dazzling splendour, 
that scarce could the eye behold him. Now what was this 
simple friar wont to do when St. Francis was lifted up but a 
little space from the earth so that he could reach him? He 
went softly and embraced his feet and kissed them, and said, in 
tears, " My God, have mercy on me, a sinner, and through the 
merits of this holy man give me to find grace with Thee." And 
one time, among others, while thus standing beneath the feet 
of St. Francis, when he was so far lifted up from the earth that 
he could not touch him, he saw a scroll descend from heaven, 
writ with letters of gold, and rest on the head of St. Francis; 
and on this scroll these words were writ, Behold the Grace of 
God. And after he had read it he saw it return to heaven. 
Through this gift of God's grace within him, St. Francis was 
not only rapt in God by ecstatic contemplation, but many times 
was likewise comforted by visits of angels. Wherefore, as 
St. Francis one day was meditating on his death, and on the 
state of his Order after his death, and saying, " Lord God, what 
will become of Thy poor little household, that Thou of Thy 
goodness hast committed to me, a sinner? Who shall comfort 
them? Who shall correct them? Who shall pray to Thee for 
them? " And while he was uttering such words, the angel sent 
of God appeared to him, and comforted him with these words, 
" I say unto thee, in God's name, that the profession of thy 
Order shall not fail until the Judgment Day; and none shall 
be so great a sinner, but that if he love thy Order in his heart, 
the same shall find mercy in God's sight; and none that evilly 
persecuteth thy Order shall have length of life. Moreover, no 
wicked member of thy Order shall long continue therein, except 
he amend his life. Therefore be not cast down if thou seest 
some that are not good friars in thy Order, and that observe not 
the Rule as they ought; think not that for this thy Order shall 
perish; for ever shall there be of them — and they shall* be many 
and many — that will observe perfectly the life of the gospel of 
Christ, and the purity of the Rule; and such as these shall go 
straightway to life everlasting after the death of the body, 
without passing through any purgatory. And some shall 
observe the Rule, but not perfectly; and they, ere they go to 

108 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

paradise, shall pass through purgatory, but the time of their 
purgation shall be committed to thee by God. But touching 
those that observe not the Rule at all — have no care of them, 
saith God, because He careth not." These words said, the 
angel departed, and St. Francis remained comforted and 
consoled. As the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady was 
now drawing nigh, St. Francis seeketh the opportunity of a 
more solitary and more secret place, wherein he may keep the 
fast of St. Michael the Archangel, that beginneth with the said 
feast of the Assumption. Wherefore he calls Friar Leo, and 
speaks to him thus, " Go and stand at the doorway of the 
oratory of the friary, and when I call thee do thou return to 
me." Friar Leo goes and stands at the doorway, and St. Francis 
withdrew a space and called loudly. Hearing himself called, 
Friar Leo returns to him, and St. Francis saith, " Son, let us 
seek a more secret place, whence thou canst not hear me when 
I call." And, in their search, they caught sight of a secret 
place on that side of the mountain that looketh to the south, 
and only too meet for his purpose; but they could not get 
there, because in front thereof was a horrible and fearful and 
very great chasm in the rock; wherefore, with great labour, 
they laid some logs across this chasm, after the manner of a 
bridge, and passed over. Then St. Francis sent for the other 
friars, and tells them how that he purposed to keep the lent of 
St. Michael in that solitary place, and therefore prays them to 
make a little cell there, so that no call of his might be heard by 
them. And the little cell of St. Francis being made, he saith 
to them, " Go ye to your dwelling, and leave me here alone, for 
with God's help I purpose to keep the fast here, with mind 
undistraught or unperturbed: therefore let none of you come 
to me, nor suffer any worldly folk to come to me. But thou 
only, Friar Leo, shalt come to me, once a day, with a little bread 
and water, and once again, by night, at the hour of matins : then 
shalt thou come to me in silence, and when thou art at the foot 
of the bridge thou shalt say to me, Domine labia mea aperies, 
and if I answer ' Come,' pass thou on to the cell, and we will 
say matins together; but if I answer not, return thou straight- 
way." And St. Francis said this because sometimes he was so 
rapt in God that he neither heard nor perceived aught with his 
bodily senses. This said, St. Francis gave them his blessing, 
and they returned to the friary. And the feast of the Assump- 
tion being come, St. Francis began the holy fast with great 
abstinence and severity, mortifying his body and comforting 

Temptation of St. Francis 109 

his spirit with fervent prayers, watchings, and scourgings; and 
ever waxing from virtue to virtue in these prayers, he made 
ready his soul to receive the divine mysteries and divine 
splendours, and his body to endure the cruel assaults of the 
devils, wherewith he was ofttimes smitten corporeally; and 
among other times, on a day during that fast, as St. Francis 
issued from his cell in fervour of spirit, and went to pray hard 
by in a hollow cave in the rock, at a great height from the 
ground and looking on a horrible and fearful abyss, suddenly 
the devil cometh in a terrible form, with tempest and mighty 
ruin, and smiteth him to thrust him down the abyss. Whereat 
St. Francis, having no whither to flee, and being unable to suffer 
the cruel aspect of the devil, anon turned with hands and face 
and all his body close to the rock, commending himself to God, 
and groping about with his hands, if haply he might find aught 
to cling to. But, as it pleased God, who never letteth His 
servants be tempted beyond what they can endure, straightway 
the rock, whereto he clung, was hollowed out by a miracle to 
the form of his body, and received him into itself, in such wise 
that the said rock was imprinted with the form of the face and 
the hands of St. Francis, as if he had pressed his hands and face 
against melted wax; and thus, with God's help, he escaped from 
the devil. But what the devil was unable to do then to St. 
Francis, to wit, thrust him down thence, was done a long time 
after the death of St. Francis to one, a dear and devoted friar, 
who was at that place, laying down some planks of wood, in 
order that he might go thither without peril, out of devotion to 
St. Francis, and in memory of the holy miracle there wrought; 
for on a day, as he was carrying a big log of wood on his head 
to lay across the chasm, he was pushed by the devil and thrust 
down and made to fall with that log on his head. But God, 
who had saved and preserved St. Francis from falling, saved 
and preserved that devout friar by his merits from the peril of 
his fall; for as the friar was falling he commended himself with 
a loud voice and with great devotion to St. Francis; and he 
straightway appeared to him, and grasping him, placed him 
down on the rocks, so that he felt neither shock nor wound. 
But the other friars, having heard the cry of this friar as he fell, 
and deeming him dead, and all dashed to pieces on the sharp 
rocks, by the great depth of his fall, took up the bier, and with 
1 great grief and many tears went to the other side of the moun- 
t tain to seek the fragments of his body and bury them. And 
1 when they were come down to the foot of the rock, lo, that friar 

1 1 o The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

who had fallen met them, carrying the log on his head and 
singing Te Deum laudamus with a loud voice. And seeing the 
friars marvel greatly, he related to them, in order, all the manner 
of his fall, and how St. Francis had delivered him from all peril. 
Then all the friars came with him together to that place, singing 
most devoutly the aforesaid psalm, Te Deum laudamus, praising 
and giving thanks to God, and to St. Francis, for the miracle 
he had wrought for one of his friars. 

St. Francis then, as hath been told, persevered in that fast, 
and albeit he endured many assaults of the devil, none the less 
did he receive many consolations from God, not only by visits 
of angels, but likewise of wild birds ; for all the time of that lent, 
a falcon that had built her nest hard by his cell awoke him 
every night, a little before matins, by her singing and by beating 
her wings against his cell, and she departed not until he had 
risen up to say matins. And when St. Francis was more weary 
at one time than another, or more sick, or more feeble, this 
falcon, after the manner of a discreet and compassionate person, 
sang later. And so St. Francis had great pleasure of this clock; 
for the great solicitude of this falcon drove all sloth away from 
him and urged him to prayer, and beyond this, she ofttimes by 
day dwelt familiarly with him. Finally, as to this second con- 
sideration, St. Francis, being much weakened in body, in part 
by his great abstinence, and in part by the assaults of the devil, 
and being fain to comfort his body with the spiritual food of the 
soul, began to meditate on the ineffable glory and joy of the 
blessed in the life eternal; and he began to beseech God to 
grant him the grace of some foretaste of that joy. And while 
he remained thus meditating, anon an angel appeared to him 
with exceeding great splendour, that held a viol in his left hand 
and a bow in his right; and as St. Francis stood all dazed at this 
vision, the angel drew his bow once upwards across the viol; 
and straightway St. Francis heard such sweet melody that it 
ravished his soul and lifted him beyond all bodily sense, so that, 
as he afterwards related to his companions, he doubted lest his 
soul had wholly parted from his body, by reason of the unbear- 
able sweetness, if the angel had drawn the bow downwards 
again. And this is all that concerneth the second consideration. 

III. Touching the third consideration of the sacred, hallowed 

Coming to the third consideration, to wit, of the seraphic 
vision, and of the imprinting of the sacred, hallowed stigmas, be 
it known that the feast of the Most Holy Cross in the month of 

The Divine Vision 1 1 1 

September drawing nigh, Friar Leo went one night at the 
wonted hour to the wonted place, in order to say matins with 
St. Francis, and having cried from the foot of the bridge, 
Domine labia mia aperies, as he was used to do, St. Francis did 
not answer. And Friar Leo turned not back, as St. Francis had 
bidden him, but passed over the bridge, with good and holy- 
intent, and entered softly into his cell, and finding him not, 
thought he might be somewhere in the wood at prayer. 
Whereat he comes forth and goes about the wood in search of 
him by the light of the moon. And at last he heard the voice of 
St. Francis, and drawing nigh, beheld him on his knees in 
prayer with face and hands lifted up to heaven, saying in fervour 
of spirit, " Who art Thou, my God most sweet? What am I, 
Thy unprofitable servant and vilest of worms ? " And these self- 
same words he again repeated and said naught besides. Whereat 
Friar Leo, marvelling greatly, lifted up his eyes and looked 
heavenward; and as he looked, he beheld a flaming torch 
coming down from heaven, most beautiful and resplendent, 
which descended and rested on the head of St. Francis ; and from 
the said flame he heard a voice come forth which spake with St. 
Francis, but the words thereof this Friar Leo understood not. 
Hearing this, and deeming himself unworthy to remain so near 
the holy place where that wondrous vision was seen, and fear- 
ing likewise to offend St. Francis, or disturb him in his medita- 
tion if he were heard of him, he stole softly back, and standing 
afar off, waited to see the end. And as he gazed steadfastly, he 
beheld St. Francis stretch forth his hands thrice towards the 
flame; and at last, after a great space of time, he saw the 
flaming torch return to heaven. Whereupon he bestirred him- 
self and returned secretly to his cell, glad in heart at the vision. 
And as he was going confidently away, St. Francis heard him by 
the rustling of the leaves under his feet, and bade him stay his 
steps and await him. Then Friar Leo, obedient, stood still and 
awaited him, with such great fear that, as he afterwards told 
his companions, at that moment he would rather the earth had 
swallowed him up than await St. Francis, who he thought would 
be displeased with him ; for he guarded himself with the greatest 
diligence against offending his father, lest through his own fault 
St. Francis should deprive him of his companionship. Then 
St. Francis, as he came up to him, asked, " Who art thou? " 
. And Friar Leo, all trembling, answered, " I am Friar Leo, my 
I father." And St. Francis said to him, " Wherefore earnest 
t thou hither, friar, little sheep ? Have I not told thee not to go 

1 1 2 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

spying on me ? Tell me, by holy obedience, if thou didst see or 
hear aught? " Friar Leo answered, " Father, I heard thee 
speak and say many times, ' Who art Thou, my God most 
sweet? What am I, thy unprofitable servant and vilest of 
worms? ' " And then Friar Leo knelt down before St. Francis 
and confessed his sin of disobedience, for that he had done con- 
trary to his commands, craving forgiveness of him with many 
tears. And thereafter he entreated him devoutly to interpret 
to him those words he had heard, and tell him those he had not 
understood. Then St. Francis, seeing that God had revealed 
to this lowly Friar Leo, because of his purity and simplicity, or 
in sooth had suffered him to hear and behold certain things, 
deigned to reveal to him and interpret to him all those things he 
asked of him. And he spake thus, " Know thou, friar, little 
sheep of Jesus Christ, that when I was saying those words that 
thou didst hear, two lights were shown to me within my soul — 
one, the knowledge and understanding of myself; the other, 
the knowledge and understanding of the Creator. When I 
said, ' Who art Thou, my God most sweet? ' then was I illumined 
by the light of contemplation, whereby I beheld the depths of 
the infinite goodness and wisdom and power of God. And 
when I said, ' What am I, etc. ? ' I was in the light of contempla- 
tion, whereby I beheld the deplorable depths of my own vile- 
ness and misery; and therefore I said, ' Who art Thou, Lord, 
infinite in goodness and wisdom, that deignest to visit me that 
am a vile and abominable worm ? ' And God was in that flame 
thou sawest, who spake to me in that vision even as of old He 
had spoken to Moses. And among other things He said, He 
asked of me to make Him three gifts ; and I answered, ' My 
Lord, I am wholly Thine; well Thou knowest I have naught 
save tunic, cord, and breeches, and even these three things are 
Thine; what, then, can I offer or give unto Thy Majesty?' 
Then God said, ' Search in thy bosom and offer Me what thou 
findest there.' I sought there and found a ball of gold, and 
this I offered to God; and thus did I thrice, according as God 
had thrice bidden me. And then thrice knelt I down, and 
blessed and gave thanks to God that had given me wherewithal 
to offer to Him. And straightway it was given me to know that 
those three offers signified holy obedience, most exalted poverty, 
and most resplendent chastity, which God had vouchsafed to 
me by His grace to observe so perfectly that my conscience 
reproved me of naught. And even as thou sawest me place my 
hands in my bosom and offer to God those three virtues signified 

The Angel of God 1 1 3 

by the three balls of gold that God had placed in my bosom, 
even so hath God given me this virtue in my soul — that for all 
the good and for all the grace He hath bestowed upon me by 
His most holy goodness, I ever in my heart and with my lips 
do praise and magnify Him. These are the words thou didst 
hear when thou sawest me lift up my hands thrice. But 
beware, friar, little sheep; go thou not spying upon me, but 
return to thy cell with God's blessing, and have diligent care of 
me: for yet a few days and God shall work such great and 
wondrous things on this mountain that all the world shall 
marvel thereat; for He shall do things, new and strange, such 
as never hath He done to any creature in this world." These 
things said, St. Francis had the book of the gospels brought to 
him, for God had put it into his soul that by opening the book 
of the gospels thrice, those things that God was pleased to do 
with him should be shown forth. And when the book was 
brought, St. Francis betook himself to prayer, and the prayer 
ended, he had the book opened thrice by the hand of Friar Leo, 
and in the name of the most holy Trinity; and even as it pleased 
the divine providence, ever in those three openings the Passion 
of Christ was displayed to him. Through which thing it was 
given him to understand that even as he had followed Christ in 
the acts of his life, so was he to follow Him and conform himself 
unto Him in the afflictions and sorrows of the Passion, ere he 
passed from this life. And from that time forth St. Francis 
began to taste and feel more bounteously the sweetness of 
divine contemplation and of divine visitations. Among which, 
he had one, immediate and preparatory to the imprinting of the 
divine stigmas, in this form. The day that goeth before the 
feast of the Most Holy Cross in the month of September, as 
St. Francis was praying in secret in his cell, the angel of God 
appeared to him and spake thus to him in God's name, " I am 
come to comfort and admonish thee that thou humbly prepare 
thee and make thee ready, with all patience, to receive that 
which God willeth to give thee and to work in thee." St. 
Francis answered, " I am ready to endure patiently all things 
that my Lord would do with me." This said, the angel de- 
parted. The day following, to wit, the day of the Most Holy 
Cross, St. Francis, on the morn before daybreak, knelt down 
betimes in prayer before the door of his cell; and turning his 
face eastwards, prayed in this wise, " O my Lord Jesus Christ, 
two graces do I pray Thee to grant unto me ere I die: the 
first, that while I live I may feel in my body and in my soul, so 

1 14 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

far as is possible, that sorrow, sweet Lord, that Thou didst 
suffer in the hour of Thy bitterest Passion; the second is, that 
I may feel in my heart, so far as may be possible, that exceed- 
ing love wherewith, Son of God, Thou wast enkindled to 
endure willingly for us sinners agony so great." And remain- 
ing a long time thus praying, he knew that God would hear him ; 
and that, so far as might be possible to a mere creature, thus 
far would it be vouchsafed to him to suffer the aforesaid things. 
St. Francis, having this promise, began to contemplate most 
devoutly the Passion of Christ and His infinite love; and the 
fervour of devotion waxed so within him that through love and 
through compassion he was wholly changed into Jesus. And 
being thus inflamed by this contemplation, he beheld, that 
same morning, a seraph with six resplendent and flaming wings 
come down from heaven; which seraph, with swift flight, drew 
nigh to St. Francis so that he could discern him, and he knew 
clearly that he had the form of a man crucified ; and thus were 
his wings disposed: two wings were extended over his head; 
two were spread out in flight; and the other two covered the 
whole of the body. St. Francis, beholding this, was sore afeard, 
and yet was he filled with sweetness and sorrow mingled with 
wonder. Joy had he, exceeding great, at the gracious aspect 
of Christ that appeared to him thus familiarly and looked on 
him so graciously; but, on the other hand, seeing him nailed 
upon the cross, he suffered unspeakable grief and compassion. 
Thereafter, he marvelled greatly at so stupendous and un- 
wonted a vision, well knowing that the infirmity of the Passion 
doth not accord with the immortality of the seraphic spirit. 
And being in this wonderment, it was revealed by the seraph 
who appeared to him, that that vision had been shown to him 
in such form, by divine providence, in order that he might 
understand he was to be changed into the express similitude of the 
crucified Christ in this wondrous vision, not by bodily martyr- 
dom but by spiritual fire. Then the whole mount of La Verna 
seemed to flame forth with dazzling splendour, that shone and 
illumined all the mountains and the valleys round about, as 
were the sun shining on the earth. Wherefore when the 
shepherds that were watching in that country saw the mountain 
aflame and so much brightness round about, they were sore 
afraid, according as they afterwards told the friars, and affirmed 
that that flame had endured over the mount of La Verna for 
the space of an hour and more. Likewise, certain muleteers 
that were going to Romagna, arose up at the brightness of this 

Imprinting of the Holy Stigmas 115 

light which shone through the windows of the inns of that 
country, and thinking the sun had risen, saddled and loaded 
their beasts. And as they went their way, they saw the said 
light wane and the real sun rise. Now Christ appeared in that 
same seraphic vision, and revealed to St. Francis certain secret 
and high things that St. Francis would never, during his life, 
disclose to any man; but, after his death, he revealed them, 
according as is set forth hereafter. And the words were these, 
" Knowest thou," said Christ, " what I have done to thee? I 
have given thee the stigmas that are the marks of my Passion, 
in order that thou be My standard-bearer. And even as I, on 
the day of my death, descended into limbo and delivered all 
the souls I found there by virtue of these My stigmas, so do I 
grant to thee that every year, on the day of thy death, thou 
mayst go to purgatory and deliver all the souls thou shalt find 
there of thy three orders — Minors, Sisters, and Penitents — 
and others likewise that shall have had great devotion to thee, 
and thou shalt lead them up to the glory of paradise in order 
that thou be conformed to Me in thy death, even as thou art in 
thy life." This wondrous vision having vanished, after a great 
space, this secret converse left in the heart of St. Francis a 
burning flame of divine love, exceeding great, and in his flesh, 
a marvellous image and imprint of the Passion of Christ. For 
the marks of the nails began anon to be seen on the hands and 
on the feet of St. Francis, in the same manner as he had then 
seen them in the body of Jesus Christ crucified that had 
appeared to him in the form of a seraph: and thus his hands 
and feet seemed nailed through the middle with nails, the heads 
whereof were in the palms of his hands and in the soles of his feet, 
outside the flesh; and the points came out through the backs of 
the hands and the feet, so far, that they were bent back and 
clinched in such wise that one might easily have put a finger of 
the hand through the bent and clinched ends outside the flesh, 
even as through a ring: and the heads of the nails were round 
and black. In like fashion, the image of a lance-wound, un- 
healed, inflamed, and bleeding, was seen in his right side, whence 
thereafter blood came out many times from the holy breast of 
St. Francis and stained his tunic and his nether garments with 
blood. Wherefore his companions, before they learned these 
things from him, perceiving nevertheless that he never un- 
covered his hands or his feet, and that he could not put the soles 
of his feet to the ground, and finding thereafter that his tunic 
and nether garments were all bloody when they washed them, 

1 1 6 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

knew of a surety that he had the image and similitude of our 
Lord Jesus Christ crucified, expressly imprinted on his hands and 
feet, and likewise on his side. And albeit he strove much to 
conceal and to hide those glorious, sacred, and hallowed stigmas, 
thus clearly marked on his flesh; yet on the other hand, seeing 
that he could ill conceal them from his familiar companions, 
and fearing to publish abroad the secrets of God, he remained 
in great doubt whether he ought to reveal the seraphic vision 
and the imprint of the sacred, hallowed stigmas. At last, 
pricked by conscience, he called to him certain of his most 
familiar friars and propounded his doubts to them in general 
terms, without giving expression to the fact and asked counsel 
of them. Now among these friars was one of great holiness 
called Friar Illuminatus, and he, verily illumined by God, under- 
stood that St. Francis must have beheld wondrous things, and 
answered him thus, " Friar Francis, know that not for thee 
alone, but also for others, God showeth to thee at divers times 
his holy mysteries ; therefore hast thou reason to fear lest thou 
be worthy of reproof if thou keep this thing hidden that God 
hath shown to thee for profit of others." Then St. Francis, 
moved by these words, laid before them, with exceeding great 
fear, all the manner and form of the aforesaid vision, and added 
that Christ when He appeared to him, had said certain things 
that he would never tell while he lived. And albeit those most 
holy wounds, in so far as they were imprinted by Christ, gave 
him great joy in his heart, nevertheless to his flesh and to his 
bodily senses they gave unbearable pain. Wherefore, being 
constrained by necessity, he chose Friar Leo, simplest and 
purest among the friars, and to him revealed all things; and 
he suffered him to see and touch those holy wounds and bind 
them with kerchiefs to ease the pain and staunch the blood that 
issued and ran therefrom: which bands, at the time of his 
sickness, he suffered often to be changed, yea, even every day, 
save from Thursday evening to Saturday morning; for he would 
not that the pains of the Passion of Christ, that he bore in his 
body, should be eased in any way by human remedies and 
medicines during the time our Saviour Jesus Christ had been 
taken and, for our sakes, crucified and slain and buried. It 
befell on a time when Friar Leo was changing the swathings of 
the wound in his side, that St. Francis, by reason of the pain 
he felt in the loosing of the blood-stained kerchief, laid his hand 
on Friar Leo's breast; and at the touch of those holy hands, 
Friar Leo felt such great sweetness of devotion in his heart that, 

St. Francis Returns to St. Mary i 17 

a little more, and he had fallen swooning on the ground. And 
finally, as to this third consideration: St. Francis having com- 
pleted the forty days' fast of St. Michael the Archangel, made 
ready by divine revelation to return to St. Mary of the Angels. 
Wherefore he called Friar Masseo and Friar Angelo to him, and 
after many words and many holy admonitions, commended the 
holy mountain to them with all the zeal in his power, saying 
that it behoved him, together with Friar Leo, to return to St. 
Mary of the Angels. This said, he took leave of them and 
blessed them in the name of the crucified Jesus ; and deigned, in 
answer to their prayers, to stretch forth to them his most holy 
hands, adorned with those glorious and sacred and hallowed 
stigmas, that they might see them and touch them and kiss 
them, and leaving the friars thus comforted he departed from 
them and descended the holy mountain. 

IV. Touching the fourth consideration of the sacred, hallowed 

Touching the fourth consideration, be it known, that after 
the true love of Christ had perfectly transformed St. Francis 
into God and into the true image of Christ crucified, that angelic 
man, having completed the fast of forty days in honour of 
St. Michael the Archangel on the holy mount of La Verna, came 
down from the mountain with Friar Leo and a devout peasant 
on whose ass he rode, because, by reason of the nails in his feet, 
he could not well go a-foot. And when he was come down from 
the mountain, forasmuch as the fame of his sanctity was noised 
abroad throughout the land (because the shepherds that had 
seen the mount of La Verna all aflame had said it was a sign 
of some great miracle God had wrought on St. Francis), the folk 
of that country-side all flocked to behold him as he passed by: 
men and women, small and great, all with great devotion and 
desire, strove to touch him and to kiss his hands. And St. 
Francis, being unable to deny his hands to the devotion of the 
people, albeit he had bound up the palms, nevertheless bound 
them over again, and covered them with his sleeves, and only 
held forth his uncovered fingers for them to kiss. But albeit 
he sought to conceal and hide the sacred mystery of the holy 
stigmas, that he might flee all occasion of worldly glory, it 
pleased God to show forth many miracles for His own glory, by 
virtue of the said sacred, hallowed stigmas, and notably on 
that journey from La Verna to St. Mary of the Angels. And 
very many other miracles thereafter were wrought in divers 
parts of the world, both during his life and after his glorious 

1 1 8 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

death; and this to the end that their hidden and wondrous 
virtue, and the exceeding love and mercy of Christ, so won- 
drously vouchsafed to him, might be made manifest to the 
world through clear and evident miracles, whereof we here set 
down a few. 

When St. Francis was drawing nigh to a village which was 
on the confines of the district of Arezzo, a woman came before 
him, weeping greatly, and bearing her son in her arms, that was 
eight years of age; and this child for four years had been sick 
of the dropsy; and his belly was so swollen and so deformed 
that when he stood up he could not see his feet; and placing 
this child before him, this woman besought St. Francis to pray 
to God for him. And St. Francis first betook himself to prayer, 
and then, the prayer ended, laid his holy hands on the child's 
belly, and straightway all the swelling was down, and he was 
wholly healed; and St. Francis gave him back to his mother, 
who received him with the greatest joy, and led him home, 
giving thanks to God and to St. Francis; and willingly she 
showed her son healed to all those of the country-side that came 
to her house to behold him. The same day, St. Francis passed 
by Borgo di San Sepolcro, and before he came nigh to the burg, 
the crowds therefrom and from the villages made towards him; 
and many of them went before him, bearing olive branches in 
their hands, crying with a loud voice, "Behold the saint! 
Behold the saint ! " And by reason of the devotion and desire 
that the folk had to touch him, they made a great throng and 
press about him; but he went on with mind uplifted and rapt 
in God, through contemplation; and albeit he was touched and 
held and dragged about, yet as one insensible he felt, naught 
that was done or said to him; nay, he perceived not even that 
he was passing by that burg or through that land. Wherefore, 
having passed through the Borgo, and the crowds being gone 
to their homes, he came to a leper house, a good mile beyond, 
and this celestial contemplative then returned to himself, as 
were he come back from another world; and he asked his 
companions, " When shall we be nigh the Borgo? " For of a 
truth his soul, fixed and rapt in contemplation of celestial 
things, had been sensible of no earthly thing; neither variety 
of place, nor change of time, nor of persons he passed. And 
this befell many other times, even as his companions proved 
by clear experience. On that evening, St. Francis came to the 
friary of Monte Casale, wherein a friar lay so cruelly sick and 
so horribly tormented by his sickness that his ill seemed rather 

Miracles of St. Francis 119 

a tribulation and torment of the devil than a natural sickness; 
for sometimes he flung himself on the ground in a mighty 
trembling and foaming at the mouth; now he contracted all the 
limbs of his body, now he thrust them forth; now he bent his 
body, now he writhed; now bending back his heels to the 
nape of his neck, he sprang high up into the air, and straightway 
fell again on his back. And St. Francis, hearing from the other 
friars, as he sat at table, of this miserably sick and incurable 
friar, had compassion on him; and taking a slice of the bread 
he was eating, he made thereon the sign of the most holy cross 
with his holy wounded hands, and sent it to the sick friar; and 
no sooner had he eaten thereof than he was perfectly healed, 
and never more felt that sickness. The next morning being 
come, St. Francis sent two of the friars that were in that house 
to dwell at La Verna, and sent back with them the peasant that 
had followed behind the ass he had lent him, desiring that he 
should return home with them. St. Francis, after he had 
sojourned some days in that friary, departed and went to Citta 
di Castello. And behold, many of the townsfolk brought before 
him a woman that for a long time had been possessed by a 
devil, and besought him humbly to deliver her, for that she, 
now with grievous howlings, now with cruel shrieks, now with 
barks like a dog, disturbed the whole country-side. Then St. 
Francis, having first prayed and made the sign of the most holy 
cross over her, commanded the devil to depart from her, and 
straightway he departed, leaving her whole in body and mind. 
And this miracle being noised abroad among the people, another 
woman, with great faith, brought to him her child, that was 
grievously sick of a cruel wound, and devoutly besought him 
that he would be pleased to make the sign over him with his 
hands. Then St. Francis, granting her prayer, takes this child 
and unbinds the wound and blesses him, making thrice the sign 
of the most holy cross over the wound ; then with his own hand 
he binds the wound up again, and restores him to his mother. 
And because it was evening, she straightway laid him in his bed to 
sleep. In the morning she goes to take her child from the bed 
and finds the wound unbound, and looks and finds him per- 
fectly healed, as if he had never had any ill, save that the flesh 
had grown over the place where the wound was, in the form of a 
red rose; and this was to bear witness to the miracle rather 
than in token of the wound; for the said rose remaining there 
all the days of his life, did oft move him to a special devotion 
for St. Francis, who had made him whole. In that same city 

1 20 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

St. Francis, at the prayers of the devout townsfolk, abode a 
month, in which time he wrought very many other miracles, 
and departed thence, to go to St. Mary of the Angels with Friar 
Leo and an honest fellow that lent him his ass whereon he rode. 
Now it befell, that what with the bad roads and what with the 
great cold, they could not, even by journeying the whole day, 
come to any place where they might lodge. Wherefore, con- 
strained by the darkness and by the bad weather, they took 
shelter under the hollow cliff of a rock, to escape the snow and 
the darkness that had overtaken them. And being thus in 
sorry plight, and but ill sheltered, the man that had lent the ass 
was unable to sleep, and having no means of kindling a fire, 
he began to complain softly within himself and to weep, mur- 
muring at St. Francis that had brought him to such a pass. 
Then St. Francis, hearing this, had compassion on him, and in 
fervour of spirit, stretched forth his hand and laid it upon him 
and touched him. Marvellous to tell ! no sooner had he touched 
him with his hand, pierced and enkindled by the fire of the 
seraph, than all the cold vanished, and so much heat warmed 
him from within and without, that himseemed to be nigh to a 
fiery furnace; wherefore, comforted in body and soul, anon he 
fell asleep; and, according as he was wont to say, he slept all 
that night till morn, amid rocks and snow, better than he had 
ever slept in his own bed. On the morrow, they journeyed on 
and came to St. Mary of the Angels; and when they were nigh 
thereto Friar Leo lifted up his eyes and looked towards the said 
friary of St. Mary of the Angels; and he beheld a cross, exceed- 
ing beautiful, whereon was the figure of the Crucified, going 
before St. Francis, who was riding in front of him; and so 
closely did that cross conform to the movements of St. Francis, 
that when he stopped, it stopped; and when he went on, it 
went on: and that cross shone with such exceeding brightness 
that not only did the face of St. Francis shine resplendent, but 
likewise the whole way around him was illumined. And that 
brightness endured even up to the time that St. Francis entered 
the friary of St. Mary of the Angels. St. Francis then being 
come with Friar Leo, they were received with the greatest joy 
and charity, and from that hour St. Francis abode the most of 
his time in the friary of St. Mary of the Angels, even until his 
death. And ever more the fame of his holiness and of his 
miracles was spread abroad throughout the Order and through- 
out the world, albeit he, of his deep humility, concealed, so far 
as he could, the gifts and the graces of God, and called himself 

St. Francis Resigns His Office 121 

the greatest of sinners. Whereat Friar Leo marvelled, and on 
a time thought within himself thus foolishly, " Lo, this man 
calleth himself in public places the greatest of sinners; he is 
grown great in the Order, and is much honoured of God ; never- 
theless, in secret he never confessed any carnal sin: could he 
be a virgin? " And a very great desire came upon him to 
know the truth of this thing; but he had not dared to ask St. 
Francis. Wherefore, having recourse to God, and beseeching 
with great insistence that He would certify to him, through the 
many prayers and the merits of St. Francis, that which he 
desired to know, his prayer was heard, and he was certified by a 
vision that St. Francis was verily a virgin in body: for in a 
dream he beheld St. Francis standing on a high and exalted 
place, whereunto none could go nor attain; and it was revealed 
to him in spirit that that place, so high and exalted, betokened 
in St. Francis the high excellence of virginal chastity, that 
rightly was in accord with the flesh that was to be adorned with 
the sacred, hallowed stigmas of Christ. Now St. Francis, seeing 
that by reason of the stigmas of Christ his bodily strength was 
little by little ebbing away, and that he could no longer have 
care for the government of the Order, hastened to summon the 
Chapter-General; and when all were assembled he humbly 
excused himself to the friars for his waning strength, whereby 
he was no longer able to give heed to the cares of the Order, nor 
fill the office of General; albeit he might not lay down the 
generalship, for he could not, since he was made general by the 
pope; therefore, he could not leave the office nor appoint 
another in his place without the express licence of the pope; 
but he instituted Friar Peter Cattani as his vicar, and com- 
mended the Order to him and to the ministers of the provinces 
with all the affection he could. This done, St. Francis was 
comforted in spirit, and lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, 
spake thus, " To Thee, my Lord God, to Thee I commend Thy 
household, that until this hour Thou hast committed to my 
charge, and now, because of my infirmities, whereof Thou 
knowest, my sweetest Lord, no more can I have the care thereof. 
Likewise I commend it to the ministers of the provinces; let 
them answer to Thee for it, on the Day of Judgment, if any 
friar perish through their negligence, or through their evil 
example, or through their too harsh correction." And with 
these words, as it pleased God, all the friars at the Chapter 
understood that he spake of the sacred, hallowed stigmas, in 
that he excused himself because of his infirmities ; and of their 

122 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

devotion none could henceforth keep back his tears. And, 
from that time forth, he left the care and government of the 
Order in the hands of his vicar and of the ministers of the 
provinces, and then he said, " Now since I have laid aside the 
cares of the Order, because of my infirmities, I am henceforth 
held to naught save to pray to God for our Order, and to give 
a good example to the friars. And well I know, and truly, that 
if my sickness left me, the greatest aid I could give to the Order 
would be to pray unceasingly to God for it, and that He would 
defend it and guide it and preserve it." Now, as hath been said 
above, albeit St. Francis strove with all his might to conceal 
the sacred, hallowed stigmas, and, after he had received them, 
ever went about or remained with his hands swathed and his 
feet shod, it availed not but that many friars, in divers ways, 
saw and felt them; and especially the wound in his side, that 
he strove to conceal with the greatest diligence. Wherefore, a 
friar that served him, craftily contrived on a time to induce him 
to take off his tunic, that the dust might be shaken therefrom; 
and it being taken off in his presence, that friar saw clearly the 
wound in the side; and, putting forth his hand quickly, he 
touched his breast with three fingers, and felt the width and 
depth thereof; and in like manner his vicar saw it at that time. 
But Friar Rufnno, a man of very great contemplation, was 
most clearly certified thereof — he of whom St. Francis said on 
a time that there was no saintlier man in the world, and whom, 
for his holiness, he loved tenderly and granted to him all he 
desired. This Friar Rufnno certified himself and others in 
three ways of the sacred, hallowed stigmas, and especially of the 
wound in the side. The first way was this: The said Friar 
Rufnno, when he was about to wash the hose (which St. Francis 
wore so large that by drawing them well up he could cover the 
wound in his right side), was wont to look at them and consider 
them diligently; and every time he did so he found them 
stained with blood on the right side; wherefore he perceived, 
of a surety, that blood issued from the said wound: and St. 
Francis chid him, when he saw him unfold the clothes he took 
away from him, in order to see the said stains. The second way 
was, that the said Friar Rufnno on a time purposely put his 
fingers in the wound in the side, whereat St. Francis, for the 
pain he felt, cried out loudly, " God forgive thee, Friar 
Rufnno, for that thou hast done this thing." The third way 
was, that on a time he craved with great earnestness that 
St. Francis would give him his cloak, as an exceeding great 

Removed from the Bishop's Palace 123 

favour, and take his in exchange, for love of charity; which 
petition the charitable father deigned to grant, albeit un- 
willingly, and took off his cloak and gave it to him, receiving his 
in return: and then, as he took it off and put on the other, 
Friar Ruffino clearly saw the wound. Friar Leo, likewise, and 
many other friars, saw the sacred, hallowed stigmas of St. 
Francis while he yet lived: which friars, albeit they were by 
their holiness worthy of faith, and to be believed on their 
simple word, nevertheless, to remove all doubt from men's hearts, 
did swear upon the sacred Book that they had clearly seen 
them. Certain cardinals likewise saw them that were very 
familiar with him, and composed and made fair and devout 
hymns and antiphones and rhymes 1 out of reverence for the 
said sacred and hallowed stigmas of St. Francis. The high 
pontiff, Pope Alexander, preaching to the people in the presence 
of the cardinals, and among them the saintly Friar Bonaventura, 
that was a cardinal, said and affirmed that he had seen with his 
own eyes the sacred and hallowed stigmas of St. Francis while 
he was alive. And the lady Jacqueline of Settesoli, that in her 
day was the greatest lady in Rome, and had a very great 
devotion to St. Francis, beheld them and kissed them many 
times with great reverence, both before he died and after his 
death; for she came from Rome to Assisi, by divine revelation, 
at the death of St. Francis, and it was in this wise : St. Francis, 
some days before his death, lay sick in the bishop's palace at 
Assisi with some of his companions; and notwithstanding his 
sickness, he ofttimes sang certain lauds of Christ. On a day, 
one of his companions said to him, " Father, thou knowest the 
men of this city have great faith in thee, and deem thee a 
holy man; and therefore they may think, that if thou art 
such as they believe thee to be, thou oughtest in this thy sick- 
ness to meditate on thy death, and weep rather than sing, since 
thou art so grievously sick; and know that this singing of 
thine, and ours that thou biddest, is heard of many, both 
within and without, since this palace is guarded by many 
men-at-arms by reason of thy presence, who haply may have 
evil example thereof. Wherefore," said this friar, " methinks 
thou wouldst do well to depart hence and all we return to St. 
Mary of the Angels, because it is not well with us here among 
worldly men." St. Francis answered, " Dearest brother, thou 

1 Prose. See Purg. xxvi. 118. The Anonimo fiorentino, commenting 
on this passage, says/cr prosa di romanzi means to compose in rhyme. The 
interpretation is, however, disputed. 

i 24 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

knowest that two years now agone, when we were at Foligno, 
God revealed to thee the term of my life; and even so hath He 
revealed again to me that, yet a few days and the said term 
shall end during this sickness; and in this revelation God hath 
certified me that all my sins are remitted, and that I shall go 
to paradise. Until that revelation I bewailed my death and 
my sins; but since I had that revelation I am so filled with joy 
that I can weep no more; therefore do I sing, and will sing, to 
God, that hath given me the joy of His grace, and hath made 
me certain of the joys of the glory of paradise. Touching our 
departure hence, it pleaseth me well, and I consent thereto ; but 
find ye some means to carry me, for by reason of my sickness I 
cannot walk." Then the friars took him in their arms, and so 
carried him, accompanied by many citizens. And when they 
came to an hospice that was on the way, St. Francis said to them 
that bore him, " Lay me down on the ground, and turn me 
towards the city." And when he was laid with his face towards 
Assisi, he blessed the city with many blessings, saying, " Blessed 
be thou of God, holy city, for many souls shall be saved because 
of thee, and in thee shall dwell many of God's servants; and 
from thee many shall be chosen to the kingdom of life ever- 
lasting." These words said, he had himself borne towards 
St. Mary of the Angels. And when they were come to St. Mary 
of the Angels they carried him to the infirmary, and there laid 
him down to rest. Then St. Francis called one of his com- 
panions to him, and spake to him thus, " Dearest friar, God 
hath revealed to me that on such a day in this sickness I shall pass 
from this life: and thou knowest that if the Lady Jacqueline of 
Settesoli, the dearest friend of our Order, came to hear of my 
death, and were not present, she would sorrow overmuch; 
therefore signify to her that she must straightway come hither, 
if she would see me alive." The friar answered, " Thou sayst 
but too true, father, for verily of the great devotion she hath 
for thee, it would be most unseemly if she were not present at 
thy death." " Go then," said St. Francis, " and fetch me 
ink and paper and pen, and write what I shall tell thee." And 
when he had brought them, St. Francis dictated the letter in 
this wise, " To the Lady Jacqueline, servant of God, greeting 
and fellowship of the Holy Ghost in our Lord Jesus Christ, 
from Friar Francis, Christ's poor little one. Know, dearest 
lady, that the blessed Christ hath revealed to me by His 
grace that the end of my life is at hand. Therefore, if thou 
wouldst find me yet alive, set forth when thou hast seen 

Visit of the Lady Jacqueline 125 

this letter, and come to St. Mary of the Angels; for if by- 
such a day thou art not come, thou shalt not find me alive; 
and bring sackcloth, wherein my body may be shrouded, and 
wax needful for my burial. Prithee, also, bring me of those 
meats to eat that thou wast wont to give me when I lay sick 
at Rome." And while this letter was writing, it was revealed 
by God to St. Francis that the lady Jacqueline was coming to 
him, and was near by, and had brought with her all those 
things he was sending to ask for in the letter. Whereupon, 
having had this revelation, St. Francis told the friar that was 
writing the letter to write no further, since there was n® need, 
but to lay the letter aside: whereat the friars marvelled greatly, 
because the letter was not finished, nor would he have it 
despatched. Then a little while, and a loud knocking was 
heard at the door, and St. Francis sent the doorkeeper to open 
it; and the door being opened, there was the Lady Jacqueline, 
the noblest lady of Rome, with her two sons, that were Roman 
senators, and with a great company of horsemen, and they 
entered in; and the Lady Jacqueline goes straight to the 
infirmary and comes to St. Francis. And at her coming St. 
Francis had great joy and consolation, and she likewise, when 
she beheld him living, and was able to speak with him. Then 
she recounted how that God had revealed to her at Rome, while 
she was at prayer, that the term of his life was at hand, and 
that he was to send for her and to ask of her all those things she 
had brought; and she bade them be carried in to St. Francis, 
and gave him to eat thereof. And when he had eaten, and was 
much comforted, the Lady Jacqueline knelt at the feet of 
St. Francis, and took those most holy feet, marked and adorned 
with the wounds of Christ, and kissed them, and bathed his 
feet with her tears, and this with such exceeding great devotion 
that the friars that stood around seemed to behold the Magdalen 
herself at the feet of Jesus Christ, and in no wise could they 
draw her away. Finally, after a great space, they led her 
thence and drew her aside; and they asked her how she had 
come thus in due time and provided with all those things that 
were necessary for the comfort and burial of St. Francis. The 
Lady Jacqueline answered, that one night, when she was 
praying at Rome, she heard a voice from heaven, saying, " If 
thou wouldst find St. Francis living, delay not, but haste to 
Assisi, and bear with thee those things thou art wont to give 
him when he is sick, and the things needful for his burial; " 
" And," said she, " thus have I done." The said Lady Jac- 

126 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

queline abode there until such time as St. Francis passed from 
this life and was buried, and she and all her company did very 
great honour to his burial, and paid the cost of all that was 
needed. And then, being returned to Rome, this noble lady, 
in a short time, died a holy death; and, through devotion to 
St. Francis, she appointed St. Mary of the Angels to be her 
burial-place: thither was she borne, and even there was buried. 

V. How Jerome, that believed not therein, touched and saw the 
sacred and hallowed stigmas. 

Not only did the said Lady Jacqueline and her sons and her 
company see and kiss the glorious and sacred stigmas of St. 
Francis at his death, but likewise many men of the city of 
Assisi; and among them a knight of much renown and a mighty 
man, called Jerome, that was incredulous and doubted much, 
even as St. Thomas the Apostle doubted of the wounds of 
Christ; and to certify himself and others thereof, he boldly 
moved the nails in the hands and feet, and openly felt the 
wound in the side in the presence of the friars and of lay folk. 
Wherefore he was ever after a constant witness of the truth, 
and sware on the gospel that thus it was and thus he had seen 
and touched. St. Clare also, with her nuns that were present 
at the burial, saw and kissed the glorious and hallowed stigmas 
of St. Francis. 

VI. Touching the day and the year of the death of St. Francis. 
St. Francis, glorious confessor of Christ, passed from this life 

in the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and twenty- 
six, on Saturday, the fourth day of October, and was buried 
on the Sunday. And that year was the twentieth year of his 
conversion, to wit, when he had begun to do penance; and it 
was the second year after the imprinting of the sacred and 
hallowed stigmas, and the forty-fifth year of his life. 

VII. Of the canonisation of St. Francis. 

St. Francis was thereafter canonised by Pope Gregory IX., 
in the year one thousand two hundred and twenty-eight, and 
he came in person to Assisi to canonise him. And let this 
suffice for the fourth consideration. 

VIII. Touching the fifth and last consideration of the sacred 
and hallowed stigmas. 

The fifth and last consideration is of certain visions and 
revelations and miracles that God wrought and showed forth 
after the death of St. Francis, in confirmation of his sacred and 
hallowed stigmas, and in certification of the day and the hour 
when Christ gave them to him. And touching this be it re- 

St. Francis Appears to Friar Matthew 127 

membered that in the year of our Lord one thousand two 
hundred and eighty-two, on the . . . day of October, Friar 
Philip, minister of Tuscany, by command of Friar John Buona- 
grazia, the minister-general, bade by holy obedience Friar 
Matthew of Castiglione Aretino, a man of great devotion and 
sanctity, tell him what he knew touching the day and the hour 
whereon the sacred and hallowed stigmas were imprinted by 
Christ on the body of St. Francis : for he had heard that of this 
he had a divine revelation. This Friar Matthew, constrained 
by holy obedience, answered him thus, " When I was sojourn- 
ing at La Verna, this past year, in the month of May, I betook 
me one day to prayer in my cell, which is on the spot where it is 
believed that the vision of the seraph was seen. And in my 
prayers I besought God, most devoutly, that it would please 
Him to reveal to some person the day and the hour whereon 
the sacred and hallowed stigmas were imprinted on the body of 
St. Francis. And I, persevering in prayer and in this petition 
beyond the first sleep, St. Francis appeared to me in a great 
light and spake to me thus, ' Son, wherefore prayest thou to 
God ? ' And I said to him, ' Father, I pray for such a thing.' 
And he to me, ' I am thy father, Francis, knowest thou me 
well ? ' ' Father,' said I, ' yea ! ' Then he showed to me the 
sacred and hallowed stigmas in his hands and feet and in his 
side, and said, ' The time is come when God willeth that to His 
glory those things shall be made manifest that the friars in the 
past have not cared to know. Know that He who appeared to 
me was no angel, but Jesus Christ in the form of a seraph, that 
with His hands imprinted these wounds on my body, even as 
He received them in His body on the cross; and it was in this 
manner — the day before the exaltation of the holy cross, an 
angel came to me and in God's name bade me make ready to 
suffer and receive that which God willed to send me. And I 
answered that I was ready to receive and endure all things at 
God's pleasure. Then on the morrow, to wit, the morning of 
Holy Cross day, which in that year fell on a Friday, I came forth 
from my cell at the dawn in exceeding great fervour of spirit, 
and I went to pray in this place where thou now art, in which 
place I was ofttimes wont to pray. And while I was at prayer, 
lo, there came down through the air from heaven a youth cruci- 
fied, in the form of a seraph, with six wings; and he came with 
great swiftness; at whose wondrous aspect I knelt me down 
humbly and began to meditate devoutly on the ineffable love 
of Jesus Christ crucified, and on the unspeakable pain of His 

128 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

Passion. And His aspect begat in me compassion so great that 
meseemed verily to feel this passion in mine own body; and at 
His presence all the mountain shone, bright as the sun: and 
thus descending from heaven He came nigh to me. And stand- 
ing before me He spake to me certain secret words that I have 
not yet revealed to any man; but the time is at hand when they 
shall be revealed. Then after some space Christ departed and 
went back to heaven, and I found me thus marked with these 
wounds. 'Go then/ said St. Francis, 'and tell these things 
confidently to thy minister, for this is the work of God and not 
of man.' These words said, St. Francis blessed me and returned 
to heaven with a great multitude of youths in shining raiment." 
All these things Friar Matthew said he had seen and heard, not 
sleeping, but waking. And even so he sware that he had said 
really and truly to the minister in his cell at Florence when he 
required him thereof by obedience. 

IX. How a holy friar was reading in the legend about the secret 
words that the seraph said when he appeared to St. Francis as set 
forth in the chapter touching the sacred and hallowed stigmas, and 
how the said friar prayed to God so fervently that St. Francis 
revealed them to him. 

Another time, when a devout and holy friar was reading the 
chapter of the sacred and hallowed stigmas in the Legend of St. 
Francis, he began to think with great anxiety of mind what 
those words, so secret, might have been that St. Francis said he 
would reveal to no man while he lived, and that the seraph had 
spoken when he appeared to him. And this friar said within 
himself, " St. Francis would never tell those words to any man 
while he lived, but now after his bodily death haply he might 
tell them if he were devoutly entreated." And thenceforth the 
devout friar began to pray to God and to St. Francis that they 
would be pleased to reveal those words; and this friar, per- 
severing for eight years in this prayer, on the eighth year, by 
his merits, his prayer was answered in this wise : One day after 
he had eaten and had returned thanks in church, he was at 
prayer in another part of the church, beseeching God and St. 
Francis to grant his prayer more devoutly than he was wont to 
do, and with many tears, when he was called by another friar 
and bidden by order of the warden to bear him company to the 
city on the business of the Order. Wherefore, doubting not 
that obedience was more meritorious than prayer, on hearing the 
command of the prelate, he forthwith ceased to pray and 
humbly went forth with that friar who had called him. And, 

St. Francis Appears to the Friars 129 

as it pleased God, in that act of ready obedience he merited 
what by long years of prayer he had failed to merit. Wherefore 
no sooner were they outside the friary door than they encountered 
two stranger friars that seemed to have come from a far country; 
and one of them seemed young in years, the other aged and 
lean; and by reason of the bad weather, they were all bemired 
and wet. And this obedient friar, having great compassion on 
them, said to the companion with whom he went, " O my dearest 
brother, if the business wherefore we go may be delayed a while, 
forasmuch as these stranger friars have great need of being 
charitably received, prithee let me first go and wash their feet, 
and especially the feet of that aged friar that hath the greater 
need thereof, and you can wash the feet of this younger one : and 
then we will go our way on the affairs of the Order." This friar 
then consenting to the charity of his companion, they returned 
within, and receiving these stranger friars very charitably, 
they led them to the kitchen fire to warm and dry themselves; 
and at this fire eight other friars were warming themselves. 
And after they had stood a while at the fire, they drew them 
aside to wash their feet, according as they had agreed together. 
And as that obedient and devout friar was washing the feet of 
the aged stranger, and cleansing them from the mire, he looked., 
and beheld his feet marked with the sacred and hallowed 
stigmas; and straightway embracing them tenderly, for very 
joy and amazement, he began to cry, " Either thou art Christ, or 
thou art St. Francis." At this cry and at these words the friars 
that were by the fire rose up and with great trembling and 
reverence drew nigh to behold those glorious stigmas. And at 
their entreaties this aged friar suffered them to see them clearly 
and to touch them and kiss them. And as they marvelled yet 
more for very joy, he said to them, " Doubt not, nor fear, 
dearest friars, my children; I am your father, Friar Francis, 
who, according to God's will, established three Orders. And 
forasmuch as I have been entreated, these eight years past, by 
this friar that washeth my feet, and this day more fervently 
than ever, that I would reveal to him those secret words the 
seraph said to me, when he gave me the stigmas, which words I 
would never reveal during my life, this day, by commandment 
of God, and because of his perseverance and his ready obedience, 
when he renounced the sweetness of contemplation, I am sent 
by God to reveal to him, in your sight, what he asked of me." 
And St. Francis, turning towards that friar, spake thus, " Know, 
dearest friar, that when I was on the mount of La Verna, all 

130 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

rapt in the contemplation of the Passion of Christ, in this 
seraphic vision I was by Christ thus stigmatised in my body; 
and then Christ said to me, ' Knowest thou what I have done 
to thee? I have given thee the marks of my Passion in order 
that thou mayst be My standard-bearer. And even as I, on the 
day of My death, descended into limbo and drew thence all the 
souls I found therein, by virtue of my stigmas, and led them up 
to paradise, so do I grant to thee from this hour (that thou 
mayst be conformed to Me in thy death as thou hast been in thy 
life) that after thou hast passed from this life thou shalt go 
every year, on the day of thy death, to purgatory, and shalt 
deliver all the souls thou shalt find there of thy three Orders, to 
wit, Minors, Sisters, and Penitents, and likewise the souls of thy 
devoted followers, and this, in virtue of thy stigmas that I have 
given thee; and thou shalt lead them to paradise.' And those 
words I told not while I lived in the world." This said, St. 
Francis and his companion vanished; and many friars there- 
after heard this from those eight friars that were present at the 
vision and heard the words of St. Francis. 

X. How St. Francis appeared after his death to Friar John of 
La Verna while he was at prayer. 

On the mount of La Verna, St. Francis appeared on a time to 
Friar John of La Verna, a man of great sanctity, while he was at 
prayer, and remained and held converse with him a very long 
space; and at last being willed to depart, he spake thus, " Ask 
of me what thou wilt." Said Friar John, " Father, I pray thee, 
tell me that which for a long time I have desired to know, to 
wit, what you 1 were doing, and where you were, when the seraph 
appeared to you." St. Francis answers, " I was praying in that 
place where the chapel of Count Simon of Battifolle now stands, 
and I was craving two graces of my Lord Jesus Christ. The 
first was, that he would vouchsafe to me, during my life, to feel 
in my soul and in my body, so far as might be, all that pain He 
had felt in Himself at the time of His bitterest Passion. The 
second grace I asked of Him was that I should likewise feel in 
my heart that exceeding love wherewith he was enkindled to 
endure that Passion so great, for us sinners. And then God put 
in my heart that He would grant me to feel the one and the 
other, so far as might be possible to a mere creature: which 
thing was well fulfilled in me by the imprinting of the stigmas." 
Then Friar John asks of him if those secret words that the 
seraph said to him were after the manner that the aforesaid holy 

1 See note, p. 3. 

St. Francis Appears to Friar John i 3 1 

friar had recited, who had affirmed he had heard them from St. 
Francis in the presence of eight friars. St. Francis answered 
that the truth was even as that friar had said. Then Friar John 
takes heart from the freedom of his condescension and says 
thus, " father, thee I pray most earnestly, suffer me to behold 
and kiss thy sacred and glorious stigmas; not because I doubt 
aught thereof, but only for my consolation, for this have I ever 
desired." And St. Francis, freely showing them and holding 
them forth to him, Friar John beheld them clearly, and touched 
them, and kissed them. And finally he asked of him, " Father, 
what consolation did your soul feel on beholding the blessed 
Christ coming to give you the signs of His most holy Passion? 
Would to God that I now might feel a little of that sweetness ! " 
Then St. Francis answers, " Seest thou these nails?" Saith 
Friar John, " Yea, father." " Touch yet again," saith St. 
Francis, " this nail in my hand." Then Friar John with great 
reverence and fear touched that nail, and anon, as he touched 
it, a great fragrance issued forth like to a column of incense, and, 
entering the nostrils of Friar John, filled his soul and his body 
with such sweetness that straightway he was rapt in God and 
became senseless in ecstasy, and he remained thus ravished 
from that hour, which was the hour of tierce, until vespers. 
And this vision and familiar converse with St. Francis, Friar 
John told to no man save to his confessor, until he came to die; 
but, being nigh unto death, he revealed it to many friars. 

XI. Of a holy friar who beheld a wondrous vision of one of his 
companions that was dead. 

A most devout and holy friar saw this wondrous vision in the 
province of Rome. A very dear friar, his companion, having 
died one night, was buried on the morrow before the entrance 
to the chapter-room ; and on that same day this friar withdrew, 
after dinner, into a corner of the chapter-room to pray devoutly 
to God and to St. Francis for the soul of the dead friar, his 
companion. And as he persevered in prayer with supplication 
and tears, lo, at noon, when all the other friars were gone to 
sleep, he heard a great moving about in the cloister. Whereat, 
greatly afeard, anon he turned his eyes towards the grave of this 
his companion, and beheld St. Francis at the entrance of the 
chapter, and behind him a great multitude of friars all standing 
round the said grave; and he saw a fire with great tongues of 
flame in the middle of the cloister, and in the midst of the 
flames stood the soul of his dead companion. He looks around 
the cloister and sees Jesus Christ going around the cloister with 

132 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

a great company of angels and saints. And gazing at these 
things with great amaze he sees that when Christ passes before 
the chapter, St. Francis and all those friars kneel down; and St. 
Francis saith these words, " I pray Thee, my dearest Father and 
Lord, by that inestimable love Thou didst show forth to the 
generations of men when Thou didst die on the wood of the 
cross, have mercy on the soul of this my friar that burnetii in this 
fire." And Christ answered naught but passed on. And He 
returns a second time, and passing before the chapter-room, St. 
Francis again kneels down with his friars as before and entreats 
Him in this wise, " I pray Thee, pitying Father and Lord, by 
the ineffable love Thou didst show to the generations of men 
when Thou didst die on the wood of the cross, have mercy on 
the soul of this my friar." And Christ, in like manner, passed 
on and heard him not. And going round the cloister He re- 
turned a third time and passed before the chapter-room; and 
then St. Francis, kneeling down as before, showed Him his hands 
and feet and breast, and spake thus, " I pray Thee, pitying 
Father and Lord, by that great pain and great consolation I felt 
when Thou didst imprint these stigmas on my flesh, have mercy 
on the soul of this my friar that is in this purgatorial fire." 
Marvellous to tell! Christ, being entreated this third time by 
St. Francis, in the name of his stigmas, straightway stays His 
steps and looks on the stigmas and answers his prayer and 
saith these words, " To thee, Francis, I grant the soul of thy 
friar." And thereby of a surety He willed to confirm and 
honour the glorious stigmas of St. Francis and openly signify that 
the souls of his friars that go to purgatory are delivered from 
their pains in no other way more readily than by virtue of his 
stigmas, and led to the glories of paradise; according to the 
words that Christ said to St. Francis when He imprinted them 
upon him. Wherefore, these words said, straightway that fire 
in the cloister vanished, and the dead friar came to St. Francis, 
and all that company of the blessed ascended to heaven with 
him, and with Christ their glorious King. Whereat this friar, 
his companion, that had prayed for him, had exceeding great 
joy when he beheld him delivered from the pains of purgatory 
and taken up to heaven; and thereafter he related this vision 
in due order to the other friars, and together with them gave 
praise and thanks to God. 

XII. How a noble knight, that had devotion to St. Francis, was 
certified of his death and of the sacred and hallowed stigmas. 

A noble knight of Massa di San Pietro, named Rudolph, that 

The Devil Bears Witness to St. Francis 133 

had a great devotion to St. Francis, and who at length had 
received the habit of the third Order at his hands, was thus- 
wise certified of the death of St. Francis and of his sacred and 
hallowed stigmas: When St. Francis was nigh unto death, the 
devil at that time entered into a woman of the said burg and 
tormented her cruelly, and withal made her speak with such 
subtle learning that she overcame all the wise men and learned 
doctors that came to dispute with her. And it fell out that the 
devil departed from her and left her free two days: and the 
third day he returned to her and afflicted her more cruelly than 
before. Rudolph, hearing this, goes to this woman, and asks 
of the devil that possessed her, for what cause he had departed 
from her two days, and then returned and tormented her more 
harshly than before. The devil answers, " When I left her, it 
was because I, with all my companions that are in these 
parts, assembled together and went in mighty force to the 
death-bed of the beggar Francis, to dispute with him and 
capture his soul; but his soul being surrounded and defended 
by a multitude of angels, greater than we were, was carried by 
them straight to heaven, and we went away confounded; so 
I restore and make up to this miserable woman what I let pass by 
during those two days." Then Rudolph conjured him in God's 
name to tell the whole truth of the holiness of St. Francis, 
who he said was dead, and of St. Clare that was alive. The 
devil answers, " Willy-nilly, I will tell thee what there is of 
truth in this. God the Father was so wroth against the sinners 
of this world that it seemed He would, in brief time, give His 
last judgment against men and women, and, if they did not 
amend, destroy them from the face of the earth. But Christ, 
His Son, praying for sinners, promised to renew His life and 
His Passion in a man, to wit, in Francis, the poor little one and 
a beggar, through whose life and teaching He would bring back 
many from all over the world to the way of truth, and msmy 
also to repentance. And now, to show forth to the world what 
He had wrought in St. Francis, He hath willed that the stigmas 
of His Passion that He had imprinted on St. Francis's body 
during his life, might, at his death, be seen and touched by 
many. Likewise, the Mother of Christ promised to renew her 
virginal purity and her humility in a woman, to wit, in Sister 
Clare, in such wise that by her example she would deliver many 
thousands of women from our hands. And thus God the Father, 
being softened, did delay His final sentence." Then Rudolph, 
desiring to know of a surety if the devil, that is the abode and 

i 34 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

father of lies, spake truth in these things, and especially as to 
the death of St. Francis, sent one, his trusty squire, to St. Mary 
of the Angels at Assisi, to learn if St. Francis were alive or 
dead ; which squire, coming thither, found of a surety it was so, 
and returning to his lord, reported that on the very day and | 
at the very hour that the devil had said, St. Francis had passed 
from this life. 

XIII. How Pope Gregory IX. , doubting of the stigmas of 
St. Francis, was certified thereof. 

Setting aside all the miracles of the sacred and hallowed 
stigmas of St. Francis, which may be read in his legend, be it 
known, in conclusion of this fifth consideration, that St. Francis 
appeared one night to Pope Gregory IX., as he afterwards told, 
when he was in some doubt touching the wound in the side of 
St. Francis, and lifting up a little his right arm, discovered the 
wound in his side, and asked for a vase, and he had it brought to 
him; and St. Francis had it held under the wound in his side, 
and verily it seemed to the pope that he saw the vase filled to 
the brim with blood mingled with water, that issued from the 
wound: and thenceforth all doubt departed from him. Then, 
in council with all the cardinals, he approved the sacred and 
hallowed stigmas of St. Francis, and thereof gave special privilege 
to the friars by a sealed Bull; and this he did at Viterbo, in the 
eleventh year of his pontificate; and then, in the twelfth year, 
he issued another Bull yet more fully indited. Pope Nicholas III. 
likewise, and Pope Alexander, gave abundant privileges whereby 
whosoever denied the sacred and hallowed stigmas of St. Francis 
should be proceeded against as a heretic. And let this suffice 
as to the fifth consideration of the glorious, sacred, and hallowed 
stigmas of St. Francis our father. And may God give us the 
grace to follow after his life, in this world, so that, through 
the virtue of his glorious stigmas, we may merit salvation, and 
be with him in paradise. To the praise of Jesus Christ and of 
the poor little one, St. Francis. Amen. 

Here beginneth the Life of Friar Juniper 

I. How Friar Juniper cut the foot off a pig only to give it to 
a sick man. 

Friar Juniper was one of the most chosen disciples and first 
companions of St. Francis. He was a man of deep humility 
and of great zeal and charity; and of him St. Francis said, 
speaking on a time with those holy companions of his, " He 

Friar Juniper 135 

were a good friar that had so overcome himself and the world 
as Friar Juniper hath." One day, as he was visiting a sick 
friar at St. Mary of the Angels, all aflame with charity, he asked 
with great compassion, " Can I serve thee in aught? " The 
sick man answers, " Much comfort and great solace would it 
be to me if I might have a pig's foot." And Friar Juniper said, 
" Trust to me, for I will get one forthwith." And off he goes 
and snatches up a knife (I believe 'twas a kitchen knife) and 
goes in fervour of spirit about the wood, where certain pigs 
were feeding, and falling on one of them, cuts off a foot and runs 
away with it, leaving the pig maimed; he returns, washes and 
dresses and cooks this foot, and having well dished it up, carries 
the said foot to the sick man with much charity. And the sick 
friar ate thereof greedily, to the great consolation and joy of 
Friar Juniper, who told the story of the assaults he had made 
on the pig with great glee, to rejoice the heart of the sick man. 
Meanwhile the swineherd, that saw this friar cut the foot off, 
told over the whole story with much bitterness to his master. 
And he, being informed of this deed, comes to the friary and 
calls the friars hypocrites, thieves, false knaves, and wicked 
rogues, exclaiming, " Wherefore have ye cut off my pig's foot? " 
Hearing the great uproar he made, St. Francis and all the friars 
hurried along, and St. Francis made excuse for his friars, saying, 
with all humility, that they knew naught of the deed; and to 
pacify the man, promised to make amends for every wrong done 
to him. But for all this he was not to be appeased, but de- 
parted from the friary in great wrath, uttering many insults and 
threats, repeating over and over again how that they had 
wickedly cut off his pig's foot, and accepting neither excuses 
nor promises, he hastened away greatly scandalised. But St. 
Francis, full of prudence, bethought him the while the other 
friars stood all stupefied, and said in his heart, " Can Friar 
Juniper have done this thing out of indiscreet zeal? " So he 
bade call Friar Juniper secretly to him, and asked him, saying, 
" Hast thou cut off that pig's foot in the wood? " To whom 
Friar Juniper answered, right gleefully, and not as one having 
committed a fault, but as one that believed he had done a deed 
of great charity, and spake thus, " My sweet father, true it is 
I have cut off a foot from that said pig; and the cause thereof, 
my father, hear, if thou wilt, compassionately. I went out of 
charity to visit a certain friar that was sick; " and then he 
related the whole story in order, and added, " I tell thee this 
much, that considering the consolation this friar of ours felt, 

136 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

and the comfort he took from the said foot, had I, cut off the 
feet of a hundred pigs as I did this one, I believe of a surety 
God would have looked on it as a good deed." Whereupon 
St. Francis, with righteous zeal, and with great bitterness, said, 
" Friar Juniper, wherefore hast thou wrought this great 
scandal ? Not without cause doth that man grieve, and thus rail 
against us; and perchance even now, as I speak, he is going about 
the city defaming us of evil, and good cause hath he. Where- 
fore I command thee, by holy obedience, run after him until 
thou overtake him, and cast thyself on the ground prostrate 
before him and confess thy fault, and promise to make him 
such full amends as that he shall have no cause to complain of 
us: for of a surety this hath been too monstrous an offence." 
Friar Juniper marvelled much at the aforesaid words, and was 
filled with amaze, being astonished that there should be any 
disturbance over such an act of charity; for these temporal 
things seemed to him naught, save in so far as they were charit- 
ably shared with one's neighbour. And Friar Juniper answered, 
" Fear not, father mine, for anon will I repay him and make him 
content. And wherefore should he be so troubled, seeing that 
this pig, whose foot I have cut off, was God's rather than his own, 
and a very charitable use hath been made thereof? " And so 
he sets forth at a run, and cometh up with this man that was 
raging beyond all measure and past all patience; and he told 
him how, and for what cause, he had cut off the said pig's foot, 
and withal in such great fervour and exultation and joy, even 
as one that had done him a great service for which he ought to 
be well rewarded. But the man, boiling with anger, and over- 
come with fury, heaped many insults on Friar Juniper, calling 
him a mad fellow and a fool, a big thief, and the worst of 
scoundrels. But Friar Juniper cared naught for these abusive 
words, and marvelled within himself, for he rejoiced in being 
reviled, and believed that he had not heard aright; for it 
seemed to him matter for rejoicing, and not for spite: and he 
told the story anew, and fell on the man's neck and embraced 
him and kissed him, and told him how that this thing had been 
done for charity's sake alone, inviting him and entreating him 
to give likewise what was left of the pig; and all with such 
charity and simplicity and humility that the man, being come 
to himself, fell on the ground before him, not without many 
tears; and asking pardon for the wrong he had said and done 
to these friars, he goes and takes this pig and kills it, and having 
cooked it, he carries it, with much devotion and many tears, to 

Friar Juniper 137 

St. Mary of the Angels, and gives it to these holy friars to eat, 
out of compassion for the said wrong he had done them. And 
St. Francis, considering the simplicity and the patience under 
adversity of this said holy friar, said to his companions and to 
the others that stood by, " Would to God, my brethren, that I 
had a whole forest of such junipers ! " 

II. An ensample of Friar Juniper's great power against the 

That the devil was unable to endure the purity of the inno- 
cence of Friar Juniper and his deep humility appeareth in this. 
On a time, a man possessed with a devil, flung out of the way he 
was going, and, beyond his wont and with much fury, all of a 
sudden fled full seven miles by divers paths. And being over- 
taken and questioned by his kinsfolk who followed after him 
with bitter grief, wherefore in his flight he had taken such 
devious ways, he answered, " The reason is this : forasmuch as 
that fool Juniper was passing by that way, being unable to endure 
his presence, nor to encounter him, I fled through these woods." 
And certifying themselves of this truth, they found that Friar 
Juniper had passed along at that hour even as the devil had 
said. Wherefore St. Francis, when the possessed were brought 
to him that they might be healed, was wont to say, if the devils 
departed not straightway at his command, " An thou depart 
not forthwith from this creature I will bring Friar Juniper up 
against thee." And then the devil, fearing the presence of 
Friar Juniper and unable to endure the virtue and humility of 
St. Francis, would straightway depart. 

III. How at the instigation of the devil Friar Juniper was con- 
demned to the gallows. 

On a time, the devil, desiring to affright Friar Juniper and to 
vex and trouble him, went to a most cruel tyrant named Nicholas 
that was then at war with the city of Viterbo, and said, " My 
lord, guard this your castle well, for anon a false traitor is to 
come hither, sent by the men of Viterbo, that he may slay you 
and set fire to your castle. And, in token of the truth of this, 
I give you these signs. He goeth about after the fashion of a 
poor wight, with garments all tattered and patched, and with a 
ragged cowl falling on his shoulders; and with him he beareth 
an awl wherewith he is to kill you, and he hath a flint and steel 
with him to set fire to this castle. And if you find I speak not 
sooth, deal with me as you will." At these words Nicholas 
was filled with amaze and grew sore afraid, because he that 
spake these words seemed an honest fellow. And he com- 


138 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

manded diligent watch and ward to be kept, and that if this 
man, with the aforesaid tokens came, he should be straightway 
brought into his presence. Meanwhile Friar Juniper comes 
alone, for because of his perfection he had licence to go forth 
and stay alone, even as it pleased him. Now Friar Juniper 
happened on certain evil youths that began to mock and abuse 
him shamefully; and at all these things he was not troubled, 
but rather led them to deride him the more. And when he 
came up to the door of the castle, the guards seeing him thus I 
ill favoured and in a scant habit all in rags (for he had given I 
part thereof to the poor by the way), and seeing he had no 
semblance of a friar minor, and that the tokens given them were 
manifestly apparent, dragged him, with great fury, before this 
tyrant Nicholas. And being searched by his servants for 
hidden weapons, they found an awl in his sleeve wherewith he 
was wont to mend his sandals; likewise they found a flint and 
steel, which he carried with him to kindle fire; for his time was 
his own, and oft he abode in woods and desert places. Nicholas, 
beholding these signs on him, in accord with the testimony of 
the accusing devil, commanded his servants to bind a rope about 
his neck, and this they did, with such great cruelty that the 
rope entered into his flesh; and then they put him on the rack 
and stretched his arms and racked his whole body without any 
mercy. And being asked who he was, he answered, " I am the 
greatest of sinners." And when asked if he had purposed to 
betray the castle and give it over to the men of Viterbo, he 
answered, " I am the greatest of traitors, and unworthy of any 
good thing." And asked if he purposed to kill Nicholas the 
tyrant with that awl and set fire to the castle, he answered that 
he would do even worse things and more monstrous, if God per- 
mitted. This Nicholas, maddened with rage, would suffer no 
more questioning of him, but, without any term or delay, con- 
demned Friar Juniper, in his fury, as a traitor and manslayer, 
to be tied to the tail of a horse and dragged along the ground to 
the gallows and there straightway hanged by the neck. And 
Friar Juniper made no defence, but, as one that was content to 
suffer tribulation for love of God, was all joyous and glad. And 
the sentence of the tyrant being put in execution, Friar Juniper 
was bound by his feet to the tail of a horse and dragged along! 
the ground; and he complained not, nor lamented, but as a 
gentle lamb led to the slaughter, went with all humility. At 
this spectacle and swift justice all the people ran to behold 
him executed thus hastily and thus cruelly: and they knew 

Friar Juniper 139 

him not. But, as God willed, a good man that had seen Friar 
Juniper taken and thus quickly dragged to execution, runs to 
the house of the friars minor, and saith, " For love of God, I 
pray you, come quickly, for a poor wretch hath been taken and 
straightway condemned and led forth to die: come that at 
least he may give his soul into your hands; for he seemeth to 
me an honest fellow, and hath had no time wherein he may con- 
fess; lo, he is led forth to the gallows and seemeth to have no 
care for death, nor for the salvation of his soul : ah ! I beseech 
you, deign to come quickly." The warden, that was a com- 
passionate man, goes forthwith to provide for the salvation of 
his soul, and coming up to the place of execution, finds that the 
multitudes who had come to see were so increased that he could 
not pass through: and he stood and watched for an opening. 
And as he waited, he heard a voice in the midst of the crowd 
that cried, " Don't, don't, ye bad men; ye hurt my legs." At 
this voice a suspicion took the warden that this might be Friar 
Juniper, and in fervour of spirit he flung himself among them 
and tore aside the wrappings from the face of him; and there 
truly was Friar Juniper. Wherefore the compassionate warden 
was minded to take off his cloak to clothe Friar Juniper withal; 
but he, with joyous countenance and half laughing, said, " 
warden, thou art fat, and it were an ill sight to see thy naked- 
ness. I will not have it." Then the warden, with many tears, 
besought the hangmen and all the people for pity's sake to wait 
a while until he should go and entreat the tyrant for Friar 
Juniper, that he might grant him pardon. The hangmen 
and certain bystanders consenting thereto (for they truly be- 
lieved he was a kinsman), the devout and compassionate warden 
goes to Nicholas the tyrant, and with bitter tears saith, " My 
lord, I am in such great bitterness and wonderment of soul that 
tongue cannot tell thereof, for meseems that the greatest sin 
and the greatest wickedness ever wrought in the days of our 
forefathers is this day being done in this city: and I believe it 
is done in ignorance." Nicholas hears the warden patiently, 
and asks of him, " What is the great wrong and evil deed com- 
mitted this day in our city? " The warden answers, " My lord, 
you have condemned one of the holiest friars in the Order of St. 
Francis, for whom you have singular devotion, to a cruel death, 
and, as I verily believe, without cause." Saith Nicholas, " Now 
tell me, warden, who is this? for perchance knowing him not 
I have committed a great wrong." Saith the warden, " He that 
you have doomed to death is Friar Juniper, the companion of 

140 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

St. Francis." Nicholas the tyrant, stupefied, for he had heard 
of the fame and of the holy life of Friar Juniper, runs, astonied 
and all pale, together with the warden, and coming up to Friar 
Juniper looseth him from the tail of the horse and sets him free; 
then, in the presence of all the people, flings himself prostrate 
on the ground before Friar Juniper, and with many tears con- 
fesses his guilt, and bewails the wrong and the villainy he had 
done to this holy friar, and cried, " Verily I believe that the 
days of my evil life are numbered, since I have thus tortured 
the holiest of men without cause. God will appoint an end to 
my wicked life, and in brief time I shall die an evil death, albeit 
I have done this thing in ignorance." Friar Juniper freely 
forgave Nicholas the tyrant; but God suffered, ere a few days 
were passed, that this Nicholas the tyrant should end his life 
and die a very cruel death. And Friar Juniper departed, 
leaving all the people edified. 

IV. How Friar Juniper gave to the poor all he could lay hands 
on for love of God. 

So much pity and compassion had Friar Juniper for the poor 
that when he saw any one ill clad or naked, anon he would take 
off his tunic, and the cowl from his cloak, and give them to poor 
souls such as these. Therefore the warden commanded him, 
by obedience, not to give away the whole of his tunic, nor any 
part of his habit. Now it fell out that Friar Juniper, ere a 
few days had passed, happened on a poor creature, well-nigh 
naked, who asked alms of him for love of God, to whom he said 
with great compassion, " Naught have I, save my tunic, to give 
thee; and this my superior hath laid on me, by obedience, to 
give to no one; nay, nor even part of my habit; but if thou 
wilt take it off my back, I will not gainsay thee." He spake 
not to deaf ears, for straightway this poor man stripped him of 
his tunic and went his way with it, leaving Friar Juniper naked. 
And when he was back at the friary, he was asked where his 
tunic was, and he answered, " An honest fellow took it from my 
back and made off with it." And the virtue of pity increasing 
within him, he was not content with giving away his tunic, but 
likewise gave books and church ornaments and cloaks, or any- 
thing he could lay hands on, to the poor. And for this reason 
the friars never left things lying about the friary, because Friar 
Juniper gave all away for love of God and in praise of Him. 

V. How Friar Juniper stripped certain little bells from the 
altar, and gave them away for love of God. 

Friar Juniper, being on a time in Assisi, at the Nativity of 

Friar Juniper 141 

Christ, engaged in deep meditation at the altar of the friary, 
which was richly decked and adorned, was asked by the sacristan 
to guard the said altar while he went to eat. And while he was 
in devout meditation, a poor little woman begged alms of him 
for love of God: to whom Friar Juniper thus answered, " Tarry 
a while and I will see if I can give thee aught from this altar so 
rich." Now there was on that altar a hanging of gold, richly 
and sumptuously adorned with little silver bells of great worth. 
Saith Friar Juniper, " These bells are a superfluity." So he 
takes a knife and cuts them all from the hanging, and gives them, 
out of compassion, to this poor little woman. No sooner had 
the sacristan eaten three or four mouthfuls than he remembered 
the ways of Friar Juniper, and was sore afeard lest out of his 
zealous charity he might work some mischief to the rich altar 
he had left in his charge. And straightway he rose from the 
table, in much dread, and went to the church and looked to see 
if any of the ornaments of the altar had been removed or taken 
away; and lo, he beheld the hanging hacked about and the 
bells cut off: whereat he was beyond all measure perturbed and 
scandalised. And Friar Juniper, beholding him thus agitated, 
saith, "Be not troubled about those bells, for I have given them 
to a poor woman that had very great need of them, and here 
they were of no use, save that they made a show of worldly 
pomp." Hearing this, the sacristan ran straightway through 
the church and about the whole city, in great affliction, to see 
if haply he might find her. But so far from finding her, he 
could not even find any one that had seen her. Returning to 
the friary, he took the hanging from the altar, in a great rage, 
and carried it to the general that was at Assisi, and said, 
" Father-general, I demand of you justice on Friar Juniper, 
who hath spoiled this hanging for me, that was the most precious 
thing in our sacristy; look now how he hath destroyed it and 
stripped off all the little silver bells, and he saith he hath given 
them away to a poor woman." The general answered, " Friar 
Juniper hath not done this, rather hath thy folly done it, for 
thou oughtest by this time to know his ways well; and I say 
unto thee, I marvel that he hath not given away all the rest; 
but none the less will I correct him for this fault." And having 
called all the friars together in Chapter, he bade call Friar 
Juniper, and in the presence of the whole house rebuked him 
very harshly because of the aforesaid little bells; and he waxed 
so furious in his wrath, that by raising his voice so high he 
grew quite hoarse. Friar Juniper heeded those words little or 

142 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

naught, for he rejoiced in contumely and when he was well 
abased ; but returning good for evil, he began to think only how 
he might find a remedy for his general's hoarseness. So having 
endured the general's scolding, Friar Juniper goes to the city 
and orders a good dish of porridge and butter; and a good part 
of the night being spent, he goes and lights a candle and comes 
back with this mess of porridge and takes it to the general's 
cell and knocks. The general opens to him, and, beholding him 
with a lighted candle in one hand and the dish of porridge 
in the other, asks softly, "What is this?" Friar Juniper 
answered, " My father, to-day, when you chid me for my faults, 
I perceived that your voice was growing hoarse, and, as I ween, 
from over-fatigue; therefore I bethought me of a remedy, and 
I had this porridge made for thee; pray eat thereof, for I tell 
thee it will ease thy chest and throat." Said the general, 
"What hour is this for thee to go disturbing folk?" Friar 
Juniper answered, " Look now, for thee 'tis made; prithee 
make no more ado, but eat thereof, for 'twill do thee much 
good." And the general, angry at the late hour and at his 
importunity, bade him begone, for at such an hour he had no 
desire to eat, and called him a base fellow and a caitiff. Friar 
Juniper, seeing that neither prayer nor coaxing was of any 
avail, spake thus, " My father, since thou wilt not eat of this 
porridge that was made for thee, at least do me this favour: 
hold the candle for me, and I will eat it." And the pious and 
devout general, bearing in mind Friar Juniper's compassion and 
simplicity, and knowing that all this was done by him out of 
devotion, answered, " Look now, since thou wilt have it so, let 
us eat, thou and I, together." And both ate of this dish of 
porridge, because of his importunate charity. And much more 
were they refreshed by their devotion than by the food. 

VI. How Friar Juniper kept silence for six months. 

Friar Juniper, on a time, made a vow to keep silence for six 
months, in this manner. The first day, for love of the Heavenly 
Father. The second day, for love of His Son, Jesus Christ. 
The third day, for love of the Holy Ghost. The fourth day, 
for reverence of the most holy Virgin Mary; and so in this order, 
every day, for six months, he observed silence for love of some 

VII. How to resist temptations of the flesh. 

Friar Giles and Friar Simon of Assisi, and Friar Ruffino and 
Friar Juniper, being on a time gathered together to discourse of 
God and of the salvation of the soul, Friar Giles said to the 

Friar Juniper 143 

others, "How do ye with temptations to carnal sin?" Said 

Friar Simon, " I consider the baseness and turpitude of the sin, 

and then ariseth within me a great horror thereof, and thus I 

escape." Saith Friar Ruffino, " I cast me prostrate on the 

ground, and so fervently do I continue in prayer, beseeching 

God's mercy and the Mother of Jesus Christ, until I feel me 

wholly delivered therefrom." Friar Juniper answers, " When 

I feel the tumult of this devilish suggestion, straightway I run 

and close the door of my heart, and for defence of the fortress 

of my heart I occupy me in holy meditations and in holy desires; 

so that when the temptation cometh and knocketh at the door 

of my heart, I, as 'twere from within, answer, ' Begone ! for 

the hostel is already taken, and herein no more guests can 

enter; ' and thus I suffer no thought to enter within my heart: 

whereat the devil, seeing himself vanquished, departeth as one 

discomfited, not only from me, but from the whole country." 

"^riar Giles answers, " Friar Juniper, I hold with thee: against 

^ enemy of the flesh one cannot fight, but only flee; for 

within, through the traitorous appetite, and without, through 

the sense., f the \ )0( {y } the enemy feeleth himself so mighty 

that one cam^ overcome him save by flight. And, therefore, 

he that would i^-ht otherwise seldom hath the victory after 

the toil of battle. p^ t hen, from vice, and thou shalt be 


VIII. How Friar Jii-if) er abased himself to the glory of 

On a time Friar Juniper, ^ s i r i ng truly to abase himself, 
stripped him of all save his breech^. an d having made a bundle 
of his habit, placed his clothes on hisy, ea( ^ and entering Viterbo, 
went to the market-place to be deride _ And standing there 
the children and youths of the city, deei»{ n g hi m bereft of his 
senses, reviled him sorely, casting much mire a t him and pelting 
him with stones. Hither and thither they i* s hed him with 
many mocking words; and thus persecuted ai^ scorned he 
remained for the greater part of the day: then he vent to' the 
friary. And when the friars beheld him they we^ f u ll of 
wrath, most of all for that he had come through the whu e city 
with his bundle on his head; and they rebuked him very 
severely, uttering great threats. And one said, " Let us cast 
him into prison." And another said, " Let us hang him." 
And the others said, "We cannot inflict too great a punishment 
for so evil an example as this friar hath made of himself this 
day and of all the Order." And Friar Juniper, right glad, 

144 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

answered with great humility, " Ye say well, for I am worthy 
of all these pains and many more." 

IX. How Friar Juniper, to abase himself, played at see-saw. 
On a time as Friar Juniper was journeying {p Rome, where 

the fame of his holiness was already noised abroad, many 
Romans, of their great devotion, went out to meet him; and 
Friar Juniper, beholding so many people coming, imagined how 
he might turn their devotion into sport and mockery. Now 
there were two children playing at see-saw, to wit, they had placed 
one log of wood across another, and each of them sat at his end 
of the log and see-sawed up and down. Away goes Friar 
Juniper and takes off one of these children from the log, and 
mounting thereon begins to play see-saw. Meanwhile the 
people came up and marvelled to see Friar Juniper see-sawing, 
yet, with great devotion, they greeted him and waited for him 
to end the game of see-saw, in order to accompany him honour- 
ably as far as the friary. And Friar Juniper heeded little thei*- 
greetings, their reverence, and their waiting, but held very Al }~ 
gently to his see-sawing. And waiting thus a long space - ertain 
of them began to weary thereof, and said, " What a bl^head • 
Others, knowing his ways, waxed in greater dev«~ l0n - Never- 
theless all departed and left Friar Juniper on ^ iS see-saw. And 
when they were all gone, Friar Juniper v~ s l 6 ** wholly com- 
forted, because he saw that certain of tb' m had mocked at him. 
He then set forth and entered Rome, « nd wlth a11 meekness and 
humility came to the house of the £iars minor. 

X. How Friar Juniper once cooked enough food to last the 
friars a fortnight. 

Friar Juniper, being or a time left alone m a sma11 fnai 7, 
inasmuch as all the fria^ for a certain reasonable cause, had to 
go out from the friarv, the warden saith to him, " Friar Juniper, 
all we have to go abroad ; look to it, therefore, that when we 
return thou hav some dish ready cooked for the refreshment 
of the friars." Friar Juniper answers, " Right gladly, leave it 
to me ! " lnd a ^ tne fri ars being gone forth, as hath been told, 
Friar Tu^P er saith, " What unprofitable care is this, for one 
friar t^ be lost in the kitchen and far away from all prayer! 
Cer*es, if I am left here to cook, this time will I cook so much 
that all the friars, and even more, shall have enough to eat for a 
fortnight." And so he goes very diligently to the city and begs 
several great cooking pots and pans, and procures fresh meat 
and salt, fowls and eggs and pot herbs, and begs much firewood, 
and puts everything on the fire, to wit, the fowls with their 

Friar Juniper 145 

feathers on, and eggs in their shells, and all the other things 
one after the other. When the friars came home, one that was 
ware of Friar Juniper's simplicity entered the kitchen and 
beheld many great pots and pans on a raging fire. And he sat 
him down and looked on with wonderment and said no word, 
but watched with what great diligence Friar Juniper went 
about his cooking. Now the fire was very fierce, and since he 
could not get very close to his pots to skim them, he took a 
wooden board and bound it closely to his body with his cord, 
and then leapt from one pot to another, so that it was a joy to 
behold. Thinking over these things, with great delight, this 
friar comes from the kitchen and seeks the other friars, and 
saith, " Friar Juniper is making a wedding feast, I can tell you ! " 
But the friars took this for a jest. And Friar Juniper lifted 
his pots from the fire and bade ring the bell for supper. And 
the friars, having taken their places at table, Friar Juniper 
comes into the refectory, all ruddy with his toil and the heat of 
the fire, with that meal of his, and saith to the friars, " Eat well, 
and then let us all to prayers; and let no one have any care 
about cooking for days to come, because I have cooked so much 
to-day that I shall have enough for more than a fortnight." 
And he served up this hotch-potch to the friars at table, and 
there is no hog in the whole of Rome hungry enough to have 
eaten thereof. Friar Juniper, to push his wares, cries up his 
cooking, but seeing that the other friars eat naught thereof, 
saith, " Now look you, fowls such as these are comforting to the 
brain, and this mess will keep the body moist, for 'tis right 
good." And while the friars were lost in wonderment and 
devotion at the simplicity and devotion of Friar Juniper, lo, the 
warden, angry at such folly and at the waste of so much good 
food, rebuked Friar Juniper very harshly. Then Friar Juniper 
dropped straightway on his knees before the warden and 
humbly confessed his fault to him and to all the friars, saying, 
" I am the worst of men : such a one committed such a crime, 
and therefore his eyes were plucked out, but I was more worthy 
thereof than he: such a one was hanged for his sins, but I 
deserve it far more for my wicked deeds: and now have I 
wasted so much of God's bounty and of the good things of the 
Order." And thus he departed, all sorrowing, and all that day 
was not seen of any friar. And then the warden said, " My 
dearest friars, I would that every day this friar should spoil, 
even as he hath now, as many more of our good things, if we 

146 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

had them, solely for our edification; for he hath done this thing 
out of his great simplicity and charity." 

XI. How Friar Juniper went on a time to Assisi jor his con- 

On a time, when Friar Juniper was dwelling in the vale of 
Spoleto, seeing that there was a solemn festival at Assisi, and 
that much people were going thither with great devotion, a 
desire took him to go to that festival: and hear how he went. 
Friar Juniper stripped himself to his breeches, and thus fared 
forth, passing through the midst of the city of Spoleto and comes 
to the friary. The friars, much perturbed and scandalised, 
rebuked him very harshly, calling him a mad fellow and a fool 
that brought confusion to the Order of St. Francis; and they 
would have put him in chains as a madman. And the general, 
that was then in the house, bade call Friar Juniper and all the 
friars, and in the presence of the whole community gave him 
a hard and bitter reproof. And after many words of vigorous 
condemnation, he spake thus to Friar Juniper, " Thy fault is 
such, and so heavy, that I know not what penance to lay upon 
thee." Friar Juniper answers, even as one that rejoiced in his 
own confusion, " Father, I will tell thee: for penance bid me 
return, in the same guise as I came hither, to the place whence I 
set forth to come to this festival." 

XII. How Friar Juniper was rapt in God as he was celebrating 

Friar Juniper, on a time, while hearing mass with great 
devotion, was rapt in God through the elevation of his mind, 
and for a long space. And being left in the room, far away from 
the other friars, he began, when he came to himself, to say with 
great devotion, " my brethren, who is there in this life so 
noble that would not fain carry a bushel of dung through the 
whole earth, if a house filled with gold were given to him? " 
And he said, " Ah me! wherefore are we not willing to endure a 
little shame, in order that we may win the blessed life? " 

XIII. Of the grief that Friar Juniper felt at the death of his 
companion, Friar Amazialbene. 

Friar Juniper had a companion friar that he dearly loved, 
whose name was Amazialbene. And truly had this friar the 
virtue of highest patience and obedience; for if he were beaten 
the whole day long never did he utter one single word of lamen- 
tation or complaint. Often was he sent to friaries where the 
whole community was ill to get on with, and from whom he 
suffered much persecution; and this he endured very patiently 

Friar Juniper 147 

and without murmuring. He, at the bidding of Friar Juniper, 
was wont to laugh and to weep. Now, as it pleased God, this 
Friar Amazialbene died in the highest repute; and Friar Juniper, 
hearing of his death, felt such great sadness of spirit as he never 
in his life had felt for the loss of any material thing. And he 
showed forth outwardly the great bitterness that was within 
him, and said, " Woe is me ! poor wretch ! now no good thing is 
left to me, and all the world is out of joint at the death of my 
sweet and most beloved brother Amazialbene. Were it not 
that I should have no peace with the other friars, I would go to 
his grave and take away his head, and with the skull I would 
make me two bowls: and from one I would ever eat for devout 
memory of him; and from the other would I drink whenever 
I were athirst or had desire to drink." 

XIV. Of the hand that Friar Juniper saw in the air. 

Friar Juniper, being on a time at prayer, and haply thinking 
on the great works he would do, himseemed to behold a hand in 
the air, and he heard with his bodily ears a voice that spake to 
him thus, " Friar Juniper, without this hand thou canst do 
naught." Whereat he straightway arose and lifted up his eyes 
to heaven and ran through the friary crying with a loud voice, 
"True indeed! True indeed!" And this he repeated for a 
good space. 

XV. How St. Francis bade Friar Leo wash the stone* 

When St. Francis was speaking with Friar Leo on the mount 
of La Verna, St. Francis said, " Friar, little sheep, wash this 
stone with water." And Friar Leo was quick to wash the stone 
with water. Saith St. Francis with great joy and gladness, 
" Wash it with wine." And 'twas done. Saith St. Francis, 
" Wash it with oil." And this was done. Saith St. Francis, 
" Friar, little sheep, wash that stone with balm." Friar Leo 
answers, " sweet father, how shall I obtain balm in this 
wilderness? " St. Francis answered, " Know, friar, thou little 
sheep of Christ, that this is the stone whereon Christ sat when 
He appeared to me here: therefore have I bidden thee four 
times; wash it, and hold thy peace, for Christ hath promised 
me four singular graces for my Order. The first is, that all those 
who shall love my Order with all their hearts, and all steadfast 
friars, shall, by grace divine, make a good end. The second is, 
that the persecutors of this holy Order shall be notably punished. 
The third is, that no evil-doer who remaineth in his perversity 
can endure long in this Order. The fourth is, that this Order 
shall endure until the last judgment." 

148 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

Here beginneth the Life of the Blessed Friar Giles, 
the Companion of St. Francis 

I. How Friar Giles and three companions were received into the 
Order of the friars minor. 

Forasmuch as the example of holy men on the minds of devout 
hearers, is to make them despise fleeting pleasures and to beget 
a desire for eternal salvation, I will recite, to the honour of God 
and of His most reverend Mother, Madonna St. Mary, and for 
the profit of all hearers, certain words touching the work that 
the Holy Ghost wrought in our holy Friar Giles, who, while 
yet wearing the secular habit, was touched by the Holy Ghost, 
and began to ponder in his heart how in all his works he might 
please God alone. In those days St. Francis, a new herald of 
God, sent as an exemplar of the life of humility and of holy 
penitence, drew and led, two years after his conversion, Master 
Bernard, a man adorned with wondrous prudence and very 
rich in worldly goods, and likewise Peter Cattani, to the observ- 
ance of the gospel and of holy poverty. And they, by the 
counsel of St. Francis, gave away all their worldly treasures to 
the poor, for love of God, and put on the glory of meekness and 
of gospel perfection with the habit of the friars minor; and they, 
with the greatest fervour, promised to keep their vows all the 
days of their life: and even so did they with great perfection. 
A week after their conversion and the distribution of their 
goods, Friar Giles, while yet in the secular habit, beholding such 
contempt of earthly things in these two noble knights of Assisi 
that the whole city was in amaze thereat, went betimes on the 
day following (that was the feast of St. George in the year one 
thousand two hundred and nine) to the church of St. Gregory, 
where the convent of St. Clare was, all enkindled with divine 
love and careful for his salvation. And having prayed, he had 
a great desire to behold St. Francis, and went towards the 
lazar-house, where he was dwelling apart in a hovel, in great 
humility, with Friar Bernard and Friar Cattani. And being 
come to a crossway, and knowing not whither to turn, he 
directed his prayer to Christ, our precious Guide, who led him 
to the said hovel by the straight way. And while he was 
pondering on the reason of this his coming, St. Francis met him 
as he was returning from the wood wherein he had gone to pray; 
whereupon, anon, he fell on his knees on the ground before 
St. Francis, and humbly besought him to receive him into his 

Conversion of Friar Giles 149 

company, for love of God. St. Francis, gazing on the devout 
aspect of Friar Giles, answered and said, " Dearest brother, 
God hath wrought in thee a very great grace. If the emperor 
came to Assisi, and would make one of the men of this city his 
knight, or private chamberlain, ought he not to rejoice greatly? 
How much greater joy oughtest thou to receive in that God 
hath chosen thee for His knight and most beloved servant, to 
observe the perfect way of the holy gospel? Therefore, be 
steadfast and constant in the vocation whereto God hath called 
thee." And he takes him by the hand and raises him up, and 
leads him into the aforesaid hovel; and he calls Friar Bernard 
and saith, " Our Lord and Master hath sent us a good friar, 
wherefore rejoice we all in the Lord and eat together in charity." 
And after they had eaten, St. Francis went with this Giles to 
Assisi, to get cloth to make Friar Giles's habit. And they found 
a poor woman by the way, that begged alms of them for love of 
God; and knowing not how to minister to the poor little woman's 
needs, St. Francis turned to Friar Giles with an angelic coun- 
tenance and said, " For love of God, dearest brother, let us give 
this cloak to the poor creature." And Friar Giles obeyed the 
holy father with so ready a heart, that himseemed to behold 
that alms fly forthwith to heaven; and Friar Giles flew with it 
straightway to heaven, whereat he felt unspeakable joy, and a 
renewed heart within him. And St. Francis, having procured 
the cloth and made the habit, received Friar Giles into the Order; 
and he was one of the most glorious religious in the contempla- 
tive life the world had ever seen in those days. After the 
reception of Friar Giles, anon St. Francis went with him into 
the Marches of Ancona, singing with him and magnifying with 
praise the Lord of heaven and earth; and he said to Friar Giles, 
" Son, our Order shall be like unto the fisher that casteth his net 
into the water and taketh a multitude of fishes: and the big 
fish he holds, and puts the little ones back into the waters." 
Friar Giles marvelled at this prophecy, because there were not 
yet in the Order more than St. Francis and three friars; and 
albeit St. Francis had not preached to the people in public 
places, yet as he went by the way he admonished and corrected 
both men and women, saying, with loving simplicity, " Love 
and fear God, and do fitting penance for your sins." And 
Friar Giles said, " Do that which my spiritual father telleth 
you, for he speaketh excellently well." 

II. How Friar Giles went to St. James the Great. 

Once in the course of time, Friar Giles went, by leave of St. 
Francis, to St. James the Great in Galicia; and in the whole 

150 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

of that way only once did he satisfy his hunger, by reason of the 
great poverty of all that land. Wherefore, asking alms and 
finding none that would give him charity, he happened by 
chance that evening on a threshing floor, where some few grains 
of beans were left: these he gathered up, and these were his 
supper. And here he slept that night, for he was ever fain to 
abide in solitary places, far from the haunts of men, that he 
might the better give himself up to prayer and to vigils. And 
in that supper he was so greatly comforted by God, that if he 
had eaten of divers viands he deemed he would not have eaten 
so full a meal. And journeying on, he finds by the way a poor 
man that craves alms, for love of God; and Friar Giles, most 
charitable of men, having naught save his habit to cover his 
body, cut off the cowl from his cloak, and gave it to that poor 
man for love of God; and thus, sans cowl, he journeyed for 
twenty days together. And returning by way of Lombardy, he 
was hailed by a man, to whom he went right gladly, thinking 
to receive some alms of him : and stretching forth his hand, 
this man put a pair of dice therein, and invited him to play a 
game. Friar Giles answered, very humbly, " God forgive thee 
this, my son." And so journeying through the world, he was 
much mocked at, and endured all these things meekly. 

III. Of Friar Giles's way of life when he went to the Holy 

Friar Giles went, by leave of St. Francis, to visit the Holy 
Sepulchre of Christ, and came to the port of Brindisi, and there 
stayed over many days, for there was no ship ready. And Friar 
Giles, desiring to live by his labour, begged a pitcher, and filling 
it with water, went about the city crying, " Who lacks water? " 
And for his toil he received bread and things needful for the 
life of the body, both for himself and for his companion. And 
then he crossed the seas, and visited the Holy Sepulchre of 
Christ, and the other holy places, with great devotion. And 
journeying back, he abode many days in the city of Ancona; 
and forasmuch as he was wont to live by the labour of his hands, 
he made baskets of rushes and sold them, not for money, but 
for bread for himself and for his companion; and he carried the 
dead to burial for the aforesaid price. And when these things 
failed him, he returned to the table of Jesus Christ, asking alms 
from door to door. And thus, with much toil and poverty, he 
came back to St. Mary of the Angels. 

IV. How Friar Giles praised obedience more than prayer. 

A friar on a time was at prayer in his cell, and his warden 

Friar Giles 151 

bade tell him, by obedience, to go questing for alms. Where- 
upon he straightway went to Friar Giles and said, " Father 
mine, I was at prayer, and the warden hath bidden me go for 
bread, and meseems 'twere better to remain at prayer." Friar 
Giles answered, " My son, hast thou not yet learned or known 
what prayer is ? True prayer is to do the will of our superior; 
and it is a token of great pride in him who, having put his neck 
under the yoke of holy obedience, refuseth it for any cause, in 
order to work his own will, even though it may seem to him 
that he is working more perfectly. The perfectly obedient 
religious is like unto a knight mounted on a mighty steed, by 
whose power he passeth fearlessly through the midst of the fray; 
and contrariwise, the disobedient and complaining and un- 
willing religious is like unto one that is mounted on a lean and 
infirm and vicious horse, because with a little striving he is lain 
or taken by the enemy. I say unto thee, were there a man of 
such devotion and exaltation of mind that he spake with angels, 
and while thus speaking he were called by his superior, straight- 
way he ought to leave his converse with the angels and obey his 

V. How Friar Giles lived by the labour of his hands. 

Friar Giles, being on a time in the friary at Rome, was minded 
to live by bodily toil, even as he was ever wont to do since he 
entered the Order, and he wrought in this wise: Betimes, in 
the morning, he heard mass with much devotion, then he went 
to the wood that was eight miles distant from Rome and carried 
a faggot of wood back on his shoulders, and sold it for bread, or 
aught else to eat. One time, among others, when he was return- 
ing with a load of wood, a woman asked to buy it; and being 
agreed on the price, he carried it to her house. The woman, 
notwithstanding the bargain, gave him much more than she 
had promised, for she saw he was a religious. Saith Friar Giles, 
" Good woman, I would not that the sin of avarice overcame me, 
therefore I will not take a greater price than I bargained with 
thee." And not only would he take no more, but he took only 
the half of the price agreed upon, and went his way; wherefore 
that woman conceived a very great devotion for him. Friar 
Giles did any honest work for hire, and always gave heed to 
holy honesty; he gave a hand to gather olives and to tread the 
wine-press for the peasants. Standing on a day in the market- 
place, a certain man sought hands to beat down his walnuts, 
and begged one to beat them down for him, at a price; but he 
made excuse, saying it was very far away, and the trees were 

152 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

very hard to climb. Saith Friar Giles, " Friend, an thou wilt 
give me part of the walnuts I will come with thee and beat them 
down." The bargain made, he went his way, and, first making 
the sign of the holy cross, he climbed up to beat a tall walnut tree 
with great fear. And after he had beaten the branches thereof 
so many walnuts were due to him for his share that he could not 
carry them away in his lap. Wherefore he took off his habit 
and bound up the sleeves and the cowl, and made a sack thereof, 
and having filled this his habit with walnuts, he lifted it on to 
his shoulder and carried the walnuts to Rome; and he gave all 
to the poor, with great joy, for love of God. When the corn was 
cut, Friar Giles went with the other poor folk to glean some ears; 
and if any one offered him a handful of corn he answered, 
" Brother, I have no granary wherein to store it." And the 
ears of wheat he gleaned he gave away, more often than not, 
for love of God. Seldom did Friar Giles work the whole day 
through, for he always bargained to have some space of time 
to say the canonical hours and not fail in his mental prayers. 
Once on a time Friar Giles went to the fountain of San Sisto to 
draw water for the monks, and a man asked him for a drink. 
Friar Giles answers, " And how shall I carry this vessel half 
filled to the monks ? " And this man angrily spake many 
words of contumely and abuse to Friar Giles: and Friar Giles 
returned to the monks grieving much. Begging a large vessel 
anon he returned to the said fountain for water, and finding 
that man again, said to him, " My friend, take and drink as 
much as thy soul desireth, and be not angry, for methinks 'tis a 
base thing to take water that hath been drunk of, to those 
holy monks." He, pricked and constrained by the charity and 
humility of Friar Giles, confessed his fault, and from that hour 
forth held him in great veneration. 

VI. How Friar Giles was miraculously provided for in a 
dire need when, because of the heavy snow, he could not quest 
for alms. 

Friar Giles, when dwelling with a cardinal at Rome, foras- 
much as he had not the peace of mind he desired, said to the 
cardinal, as the time of the greater lent drew nigh, " My father, 
with your leave I would go, for my peace, with this my com- 
panion, to keep this lent in some solitary place." The cardinal 
answers, " Prithee, my dearest friar, whither wouldst thou go? 
There is a sore famine in these parts, and ye are strangers. Ah ! 
be pleased to remain at my court, for to me 'twill be a singular 
grace to have you given whatsoever ye may need for love of 

Friar Giles 153 

God. 1 ' But Friar Giles was minded to go forth, and he went out 
of Rome to the top of a high mountain where in days of old 
stood a, burg, and he found there a deserted church that was 
called St. Lawrence, and therein he and his companion entered, 
and renamed in prayer and in many meditations; and for that 
they were not known, small reverence or devotion was shown 
to them. Wherefore they suffered great want; and moreover 
there fell a great snowstorm that endured many days. They 
could not issue from the church, and naught was sent them to 
live upon, and of themselves they had no store; and so they 
remained, shut in for three mortal days. Friar Giles, seeing he 
could not ive by his labour, and for alms could not go forth, 
said to his companion, " My dearest brother, let us call on our 
Lord Jesus Christ with a loud voice, that of His pity He may 
provide for us in this sore extremity and need; for certain 
monks, being in dire need, have called on God, and divine 
providence did provide for them in their needs." And after the 
example of these, they betook them to prayer, and besought 
God, with all affection, that He would provide a remedy in so 
sore a need. God, that is all-pitiful, had regard to their faith 
and devotion and simplicity and fervour in this wise : A certain 
man was looking towards the church where Friar Giles and his 
companion were, and being inspired by God, said within him- 
self, " Haply in that church there be some good souls doing 
penance and, in this season of heavy snows, have naught for 
their needs, and by reason thereof may die of hunger." And 
urged by the Holy Ghost he said, " Certes, I will go and learn 
if my foreboding be true or not." And he took some loaves 
and a vessel of wine and set forth on his journey, and with very 
great difficulty he won his way to the aforesaid church, where 
he found Friar Giles and his companion devoutly engaged in 
prayer; and they were so ravaged by hunger that in their aspect 
they had the semblance of dead rather than of living men. He 
had great compassion on them, and having refreshed and com- 
forted them, he returned and told his neighbours of the extreme 
poverty and need of these friars, and besought them, for love 
of God, to provide for them; whereupon many, after the 
example of this man. brought them bread and wine and other 
necessaries to eat, for love of God; and through all that lent 
they ordered among themselves that the needs of these friars 
should be provided for. And Friar Giles, considering the great 
mercy of God and the charity of these folk, said to his com- 
panion, " My dearest brother, but now have we prayed to God 

154 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

to provide for us in our need, and we have been heard; therefore 
it is meet that we return thanks and glory to Him and pray for 
those that have fed us with their alms, and for all Christian 
folk." And by his great fervour and devotion, so much grace 
was given by God to Friar Giles that many, by his example, 
forsook this blind world, and many others that were not called 
to take up the religious life did very great penance in their 

VII. Touching the day of the holy Friar Giles's death. 

On St. George's eve, at the hour of matins, these fifty-two 
years agone, the soul of Friar Giles, for that he had received the 
habit of St. Francis in the first days of the month, was received 
by God into the glory of paradise, to wit, on the feast of St. 

VIII. How a holy man being at prayer saw the soul of Friar 
Giles go to life everlasting. 

A good man being at prayer when Friar Giles passed from 
this life, saw his soul, together with a multitude of souls, come 
out of purgatory and ascend to heaven; and he beheld Jesus 
Christ come forth to meet the soul of Friar Giles, and with a 
multitude of angels, and with all those souls ascend with sweet 
melody into the glory of paradise. 

IX. How the soul of a friar -preacher's friend was delivered from 
the pains of purgatory through the merits of Friar Giles. 

When Friar Giles lay sick so that in a few days he died, a 
Dominican friar fell sick unto death. And he had a friend that 
was also a friar, who, seeing him draw nigh unto death, said to 
the sick man, " My brother, I desire, if it be God's will, that after 
thy death thou return to me and tell me in what state thou 
mayst be." The sick friar promised to return whensoever it 
might be possible. The sick man died on the self-same day as 
Friar Giles, and after his death he appeared to the living friar 
preacher, and said, " 'Twas God's will that I should keep my 
promise to thee." Saith the living friar to the dead, " How 
fares it with thee? " The dead friar answered, " 'Tis well 
with me, for I died on a day whereon a holy friar minor passed 
from this life whose name was Friar Giles, and to him for his 
great holiness Christ granted that he should lead all the souls 
that were in purgatory to holy paradise, among which souls was 
I, in great torments; and through the merits of the holy Friar 
Giles I am delivered therefrom." This said, he forthwith 
vanished; and the friar revealed that vision to no man. This 
said friar fell sick; and anon deeming that God had smitten 

Friar Giles on Vice and Virtue 155 

him because he had not revealed the virtue and the glory of 
Friar Giles, he sent for the friars minor, and there came to him 
five couples of them; and having called them, together with 
the preaching friars, he declared the aforesaid vision to them 
with great devotion, and seeking very diligently they found 
that on that selfsame day these twain had passed from this life. 

X. How God had given certain graces to Friar Giles and of the 
day of his death. 

Friar Bonaventura of Bagnoreggio was wont to say of Friar 
Giles that God had given and vouchsafed singular grace to him 
for all those that commended themselves to him, with devout 
intent, in the things that appertained to the soul. He wrought 
many miracles during his life and after his death, as appeareth 
from his legend; and he passed from this life to supernal glory, 
in the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and fifty- 
two, on the day of the feast of St. George; and he is buried at 
Perugia in the house of the friars minor. 

Here beginneth the Chapters of Certain Doctrines 
and Notable Sayings of Friar Giles 

I. Chapter of vices and virtues. 

The grace of God and the virtues are the way and the ladder 
whereby we ascend to heaven; but the vices and the sins are 
the way and the ladder whereby we descend to the depths of 
hell. Vices and sins are poison and deadly venom ; but virtues 
and good works are healing treacle. 1 One grace bringeth and 
draweth after it another. Grace desireth not to be praised, 
and vice cannot endure to be despised. The mind is at peace 
and resteth in humility : patience is her daughter. Holy purity 
of heart seeth God ; but true devotion savoureth him. If thou 
lovest, thou shalt be loved. If thou servest, thou shalt be 
served. If thou fearest, thou shalt be feared. If thou bearest 
thyself well towards others, it behoves that others bear them- 
selves well towards thee. But blessed is he that truly loveth and 
desireth not to be loved. Blessed is he that serveth and de- 
sireth not to be served. Blessed is he that feareth and desireth 
not to be feared. Blessed is he that beareth himself well towards 
others, and desireth not that others bear themselves well towards 
him. But forasmuch as these things are exceeding high, and 

1 Compare Chaucer, " Christ which that is to every harm treacle." The 
Venetians were famed for their skilful preparation of this medicinal com- 
pound, which was universally regarded in the Middle Ages as an antidote 
against snake bites and other poisons. 

156 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

of great perfection, the fool can neither know them nor attain 
to them. Three things are exceeding high and useful, and he 
that shall have attained to them shall never fall. The first is, 
if thou endure willingly, and with gladness, every tribulation 
that shall befall thee, for love of Jesus Christ. The second is, 
if thou humble thyself every day in all things thou doest, and 
in all things thou seest. The third is, if thou love steadfastly, 
and with all thy heart, that highest celestial and invisible good, 
which cannot be seen with mortal eyes. Those things that are 
most despised and most reviled by worldly men are verily most 
acceptable and pleasing to God and to His saints; and those 
things that are most honoured and most loved and are most 
pleasing to worldly men, those are most despised and scorned 
and most hated by God and by His saints. This foul unseemli- 
ness proceedeth from the ignorance and the wickedness of men, 
for the wretched man loveth most those things he should hate, 
and hateth those things he should love. Once on a time, Friar 
Giles asked another friar, saying, " Tell me, dearest, is thine a 
good soul? " That friar answered, " This I know not." Then 
said Friar Giles, " My brother, I would have thee to know that 
holy contrition and holy humility and holy charity and holy 
devotion and holy joy make the good and blessed soul." 

II. Chapter of faith. 

All things whatsoever that can be thought in the heart or 
told with the tongue, or seen with the eyes, or touched with 
the hands — all are as naught in respect of, and in comparison 
with, those things that cannot be thought, nor seen, nor touched. 
All the saints and all the sages that have passed away, and all 
those that are in this present life, and all that shall come after 
us, that spake or wrote, or that shall speak or write, of God, 
ne'er told nor e'er can tell of God so much as a grain of millet 
would be in respect of, or in comparison with, the heavens and 
the earth, nay, even a thousand thousandfold less. For all 
scripture that speaketh of God, speaketh of Him with stammer- 
ing voice, as the mother doth who prattles with her child, that 
could not understand her words if she spoke in other fashion. 
Friar Giles said, on a time, to a worldly judge, " Believest thou 
that the gifts of God are great? " The judge answered, " Yea, 
I believe." Whereat Friar Giles said, " I will show thee how 
that thou believest not faithfully." And then he said to him, 
" What price is all thou possessest in this world worth? " The 
judge answered, " 'Tis worth, perchance, a thousand pounds." 
Then said Friar Giles, " Wouldst thou give those thy possessions 

On Faith 157 

for ten thousand pounds ? " The judge answered, without 
delay, " Verily, that would I." And Friar Giles said, " Certain 
it is that all the possessions of this world are as naught in 
respect to heavenly things; therefore, why givest thou not 
these thy possessions to Christ, that thou mayst buy those 
possessions that are celestial and eternal? " Then that judge, 
wise with the foolish wisdom of the world, made answer to the 
pure and simple Friar Giles, " God hath filled thee with wise 
and divine foolishness. Thinkest thou, Friar Giles, that there 
lives a man whose outward works accord with all he believes in 
his inmost heart? " Friar Giles answered, " Look now, my 
dearest, it is very truth that all the saints have striven to fulfil 
by their works those things they were able to comprehend or to 
know were the will of God, according to their power. And all 
those things they were not able to fulfil by their works, these 
they fulfilled by the holy desire of their will ; in such wise, that 
what was lacking in their works by reason of their defect of 
power, this they fulfilled by the desire of their soul: and they 
were not found wanting." Yet again Friar Giles said, " If any 
man could be found of perfect faith, in short time he would attain 
to the perfect state, whereby full assurance of his salvation 
would be given him. What hurt or what ill could any temporal 
adversity in this present life do to that man who, with steadfast 
faith, awaiteth this eternal and supreme and highest good? 
And the miserable man, that awaiteth everlasting torment, 
what could any prosperity, or temporal possession, in this 
world avail him ? Yet how grievous a sinner soever a man may 
be, let him not despair, while he yet liveth, of the infinite 
mercy of God ; for there is no tree in this world so full of thorns, 
nor so knotted nor so gnarled, but that men cannot plane it 
and polish it and adorn it, and make it fair to look upon. Even 
so, there is no man in this world so sunk in iniquity, nor so 
great a sinner, but that God can convert him and adorn him 
with peculiar grace, and with many virtuous gifts." 

III. Chapter of holy humility. 

No man can attain to any knowledge or understanding of 
God, save by the virtue of holy humility : for the straight way 
upward is the straight way downward. All the perils and the 
great falls that have come to pass in this world have come about 
for no cause save the lifting up of the head, to wit, of the mind, 
in pride; and this is proven by the fall of the devil, that was 
cast out of heaven; and by the fall of our first parent, Adam, 
that was driven out of paradise through the exaltation of the 

158 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

head, to wit, through disobedience; and again by the Pharisee, 
whereof Christ speaketh in the gospel, and by many other 
ensamples. And so contrariwise: for all the great and good 
things that have e'er come to pass in this world, have come to 
pass through the abasement of the head, to wit, through the 
humility of the mind, even as is proven by the blessed and most 
humble Virgin Mary, and by the publican, and by the holy 
thief on the cross, and by many other ensamples in the scrip- 
tures. And, therefore, it were well if we could find some great 
and heavy weight that we might ever hang about our necks, 
in order that it might ever bear us down, to wit, that it might 
ever make us humble ourselves. A friar asked Friar Giles, 
" Tell me, father, how shall we flee from this sin of pride? " 
To whom Friar Giles answered, " My brother, be persuaded of 
this : never hope to be able to flee from pride, except thou first 
place thy mouth where thou hast set thy feet; but if thou wilt 
consider well the blessings of God, then shalt thou know that 
of thy duty thou art held to bow thy head. And, again, if thou 
wilt think much on thy faults and on thy manifold offences 
against God, most of all wilt thou have cause to humble thyself. 
But woe unto those that would be honoured for their wicked- 
ness! One degree in humility hath he risen that knoweth 
himself to be the enemy of his own good; another degree in 
humility is to render to others those things that are theirs, 
and not to appropriate them to ourselves, to wit, that every 
good thing and every virtue a man findeth in himself, he 
ought not to own it to himself, but to God alone, from whom 
proceedeth every grace and every virtue and every good thing; 
but all sin or passion of the soul, or whatsoever vice a man 
find in himself, this should he own to himself, since it proceedeth 
from himself and from his own wickedness, and not from others. 
Blessed is that man that knoweth himself, and deemeth himself 
vile in the sight of God, and even so in the sight of men. 
Blessed is he that ever judgeth himself and condemneth himself, 
and not others, for he shall not be judged at that dread and 
last judgment eternal. Blessed is he that shall bend diligently 
under the yoke of obedience and under the judgment of others, 
even as the holy apostles did before and after they received the 
Holy Spirit." Likewise said Friar Giles, " He that would gain 
and possess perfect peace and rest must needs account every 
man his superior; he must ever hold himself the subject and 
inferior of others. Blessed is that man who in his deeds and 
in his words desireth not to be seen or known, save only in that 

On Holy Humility 159 

unalloyed being, and in that simple adornment which God 
created and adorned him with. Blessed is the man that 
knoweth how to treasure up and hide divine revelations and 
consolations, for there is nothing so hidden but that God shall 
reveal it, when it pleaseth Him. If a man were the most 
perfect and the holiest man in the world, and yet deemed 
and believed himself the most miserable of sinners and the 
vilest wretch on the earth — therein is true humility. Holy 
humility knoweth not how to prate, and the blessed fear of God 
knoweth not how to speak." Said Friar Giles, " Methinks 
humility is like unto a thunderbolt; for even as the bolt maketh 
a terrible crash, breaking, crushing, and burning all that it 
findeth in its path, and then naught of that bolt is found, so, in 
like manner, humility smiteth and scattereth and burneth and 
consumeth every wickedness and every vice and every sin; and 
yet is found to be naught in itself. The man that possesseth 
humility findeth grace in the sight of God, through that 
humility, and perfect peace with his neighbour." 

IV. Chapter of the holy fear of God. 

He that feareth naught showeth that he hath naught to lose. 
The holy fear of God ordaineth, governeth, and ruleth the soul 
and maketh it to come to a state of grace. If any man possess 
any grace or divine virtue, holy fear is that which preserveth 
it. And he that hath not yet gained virtue or grace, holy fear 
maketh him to gain it. The holy fear of God is the bringer of 
divine graces, for it maketh the soul, wheresoever she abideth, 
to attain quickly to holy virtue and divine graces. All creatures 
that have fallen into sin would never have fallen if they had had 
the holy fear of God. But this holy gift of fear is given only to 
the perfect; for the more perfect a man is, the more godfearing 
and humble he is. Blessed is he that knoweth he is in a dungeon 
in this world, and ever remembereth how grievously he hath 
offended his Lord. A man ought ever to fear pride with a great 
fear, lest it thrust against him and make him fall from the state 
of grace wherein he standeth; for a man can never stand secure 
being girt about with enemies; and our enemies are the seduc- 
tions of this miserable world and our own flesh that, together 
with the devil, is ever the enemy of the soul. A man hath need 
of greater fear lest his own wickedness overcome him and beguile 
him than of any other of his enemies. It is impossible that a 
man can rise and ascend to any divine grace, or virtue, or 
persevere therein, without holy fear. He that feareth not God 
goeth in danger of perishing, and in yet greater peril of ever- 

160 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

lasting perdition. The fear of God maketh a man to obey 
humbly, and maketh him bow down his head under the yoke 
of obedience; and the greater the fear a man hath, the more 
fervently doth he worship. Not a little gift is prayer to who- 
soever it is given. The virtuous words of men, however great 
they may appear to me, are not therefore accounted nor rewarded 
according to our measure, but according to the measure and 
good pleasure of God; for God regardeth not the sum of our 
toils, but the sum of our love and humility. Therefore, the 
better part for us is to love always, and fear with great humility, 
and never put trust in ourselves for any good thing; ever 
having suspicion of those thoughts that are begotten in the 
mind under the semblance of good. 

V. Chapter of holy patience. 

He that with steadfast humility and patience suffereth and 
endureth tribulation, through fervent love of God, soon shall 
attain to great grace and virtues, and shall be lord of this world, 
and shall have a foretaste of the next and glorious world. 
Everything that a man doeth, good or evil, he doeth it unto 
himself; therefore, be not offended with him that doeth thee 
an injury, for rather oughtest thou to have humble patience 
with him, and only grieve within thee for his sin, taking com- 
passion on him and praying God earnestly for him. The 
stronger a man is to endure and suffer patiently injuries and 
tribulations, for love of God, the greater is he in the sight of God, 
and no more; and the weaker a man is to endure pain and 
adversity, for love of God, the less is he in the sight of God. If 
any man praise thee, speaking well of thee, render thou that 
praise to God alone; and if any man speak evil of thee, or 
revile thee, aid thou him, speaking evil of thyself, and worse. 
If thou wilt make good thine own cause, strive ever to make it 
appear ill, and uphold thy fellow's cause, ever imputing guilt 
to thyself, and ever praising and truly excusing thy neighbour. 
When any man would contend or have the law of thee, if thou 
wouldst win, lose; and then shalt thou win; but if thou wouldst 
go to law to win, when thou thinkest to win, then shalt thou 
find thou hast lost heavily. Therefore, my brother, believe of 
a surety, the straight way of salvation is the way to perdition. 
But when we are not good bearers of tribulation, then we cannot 
be seekers after everlasting consolations. Much greater con- 
solation and a more worthy thing it is to suffer injuries and 
revilings patiently, without murmuring, for love of God, than 
to feed a hundred poor folk and fast continually every day. 

On Holy Patience 161 

But how shall it profit a man, or what shall it avail him, to 
despise himself and afflict his body with great fastings and 
vigils and scourgings, if he be unable to endure a small injury 
from his neighbour? For which thing, a man shall receive a 
much greater reward and greater merit chan for all the afflictions 
a man can give to himself of V* own will; because to endure 
the revilings and injuries of one's neighbour, with humble 
patience and without murmuring, purgeth sin away much more 
quickly than doth a fount of many tears. Blessed is the man 
that ever ho 1flfet ^ before the eyes of the mind the memory of 
his sins ? xl d the good gifts of God; for he will endure with 
patier' e every tribulation and adversity, whereby he looketh 
f ^ great consolations. The truly humble man looketh for no 
reward nor merit from God, but striveth ever only how he can 
give satisfaction in all things, owning himself God's debtor: and 
every good thing he hath, that, he knoweth he hath through 
the goodness of God, and not through any merit of his own; 
and every adversity he endureth, he knoweth it to be truly 
because of his sins. A certain friar asked Friar Giles, saying, 
"If in our time any great adversity, or tribulation, should 
befall, what should we do in that case ? " To whom Friar Giles 
answered, saying, " My brother, I would have thee know that 
if the Lord rained down stones and arrows from heaven, they 
could not injure nor do any hurt to us, if we were such men 
as we ought to be ; for if a man were verily what he ought to be, 
he would transmute every evil and every tribulation into good ; 
for we know what the apostle said, that all things work together 
for good to them that love God: even so all things work 
together for ill and to the condemnation of him that hath an 
evil will. If thou wilt save thyself and go to celestial glory, 
thou shalt desire no vengeance nor punishment of any creature; 
for the heritage of the saints is ever to do good and ever to 
suffer evil. If thou knewest in very truth how grievously thou 
hast offended thy Creator, thou wouldst know that it is a worthy 
and just thing that all creatures should persecute thee and 
give thee pain and tribulation, in order that these creatures 
might take vengeance for the offences thou hast done to their 
Creator. A high and great virtue it is for a man to overcome 
himself; for he that overcometh himself shall overcome all his 
enemies, and attain to all good. And yet a greater virtue 
would it be if a man suffered himself to be overcome by all men; 
for he would be lord over all his enemies, to wit, his vices, the 
devil, the world, and his own flesh. If thou wilt save thyself, 

i 62 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

renounce and despise all consolation that the things of this 
world and all mortal creatures can give thee; for greater and 
more frequent are the falls that come through prosperity and 
through consolation than are those that come through adversity 
and tribulation.'' Once on a time a religious was murmuring 
against his superior, in the pre^nce of Friar Giles, by reason of 
a harsh obedience he had laid upon qfm • to whom Friar Giles 
said, " My dearest, the more thou murm^rest the heavier is the 
weight of thy burden, and the harder shall Uhe to thee to bear- 
and the more humbly and devoutly thou shalt p.l ace thy neck 
under the yoke of holy obedience, the lighter and eas'i« r w {\\ t na t 
obedience be to bear. But methinks thou wouldst ^ ^ b e 
rebuked in this world, for love of Christ, and yet wouldst v^ 
with Christ in the next world; thou wouldst not be persecuteo 
or cursed for Christ's sake in this world, and in the next, wouldst 
be blessed and received by Christ; thou wouldst not labour in 
this world, and in the next, wouldst rest and be at peace. I 
tell thee, friar, friar, thou art sorely beguiled; for by the way 
of poverty and of shame and of reviling a man cometh to true 
celestial honour; and by enduring patiently mocking and 
cursing, for love of Christ, a man shall come to the glory of 
Christ. Therefore, well saith a worldly proverb, 

He whose gifts cost him no woe, 
Good gifts from others must forgoe. 

How useful is the nature of the horse! for how swiftly soever 
the horse runneth, he yet letteth himself be ruled and guided, 
and leapeth hither and thither, and forward and backward, 
according to the will of his rider: and so, likewise, ought the 
servant of God to do, to wit, he should let himself be ruled, 
guided, turned aside, and bent, according to the will of his 
superior, or of any other man, for love of Christ. If thou 
wouldst be perfect, strive diligently to be full of grace and 
virtue, and fight valiantly against vice, enduring patiently 
every adversity for the love of thy Lord, that was mocked and 
afflicted and reviled and scourged and crucified and slain for 
love of thee, and not for His own sin, nor for His glory, nor for 
His profit, but only for thy salvation. And to do all this that 
I have told thee, above all things it is necessary that thou 
overcome thyself; for little shall it profit a man to lead and 
draw souls to God, if first he overcome not himself, and lead and 
draw himself to God." 

On Sloth 163 

VI. Chapter of sloth. 

The slothful man loseth both this world and the next; for 
himself beareth no fruit and he profiteth not another. It is 
impossible for a man to gain virtue without diligence and great 
toil. When thou canst abide in a safe place stand not in a 
perilous place: he abideth in a safe place who striveth and 
suffereth and worketh and toileth through God, and for the 
Lord God; and not through fear of punishment, or for a price, 
but for love of God. The man that refuseth to suffer and labour 
for love of Christ, verily he refuseth the glory of Christ; and 
even as diligence is useful and profitable to us, so is negligence 
ever against us. Even as sloth is the way that leads to hell, so 
is holy diligence the way that leads to heaven. A man ought to be 
very diligent to gain and keep virtue and the grace of God, ever 
labouring faithfully with this grace and virtue; for many times 
it befalleth that the man who laboureth not faithfully loseth the 
fruit for the leaves, or the grain for the straw. To some God 
giveth of His grace good fruit with few leaves; to others He 
giveth fruit and leaves together; and there are others that have 
neither fruit nor leaves. Methinks 'tis a greater thing to know 
how to guard and keep well the good gifts and graces given to us 
by the Lord, than to know how to gain them. For albeit a 
man may know well how to gain, yet if he know not how to 
save and treasure up, he shall never be rich; but some there be 
that make their gains little by little, and are grown rich because 
they save well their gains and their treasure. Oh, how much 
water would the Tiber have stored up if it flowed not away to 
the sea! Man asketh of God an infinite gift, that is without 
measure and without bounds, and yet will not love God, save 
with measure and with bounds. He that would be loved of God 
and have infinite reward from Him, beyond all bounds and 
beyond all measure, let him love God beyond all bounds and 
beyond all measure, and ever serve Him infinitely. Blessed is 
he that loveth God with all his heart and with all his mind, and 
ever amicteth his body and his mind for love of God, seeking no 
reward under heaven, but accounting himself only a debtor. If 
a man were in sore poverty and need, and another man said to 
him, " I will lend thee a very precious thing for the space of 
three days: know that if thou use well this thing within this 
term of three days thou shalt gain an infinite treasure, and be 
rich evermore," is it not a sure thing that this poor man would 
be very careful to use well and diligently this thing so precious, 
and would strive much to make it fruitful and profit him well: 

1 64 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

so do I say likewise that this thing lent unto us by the hand of 
God is our body, which the good God hath lent us for three days ; 
for all our times and years are but as three days in the sight of 
God. Therefore if thou wouldst be rich and enjoy the divine 
sweetness everlastingly, strive to labour well and make this 
thing, lent by the hand of God, bear good fruit; to wit, thy 
body, in this space of three days; to wit, in the brief time of thy 
life: for if thou art not careful of gain in this present life, while 
thou hast yet time, thou shalt not enjoy that everlasting riches 
nor find holy rest in that celestial peace everlastingly. But if 
all the possessions of the world were in the hands of one person 
that never turned them to account himself, nor put them out 
for others to use, what fruit or what profit would he have of 
those things? Of a surety, neither profit nor fruit would he 
have. But it might well be that a man, having few possessions 
and using them well, should have much profit and a great 
abundance of fruit for himself and for others. A worldly 
proverb saith, " Never set an empty pot on the fire hoping thy 
neighbour will come and fill it." And so likewise God willeth 
that no grace be left empty; for the good God never giveth a 
grace to any man that it be kept empty, rather doth he give it 
that a man may use it and bring forth fruit of good works; for 
good-will sufficeth not except a man strive to pursue it and 
use it to a profit of holy words. On a time a wayfarer said to 
Friar Giles, " Father, I pray thee give me some consolation. 5 ' 
Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My brother, strive to stand 
well with God and straightway shalt thou have the consolation 
thou needest; for if a man make not a pure dwelling-place ready 
in his soul, wherein God may abide and rest, never shall he find 
an abiding place nor rest nor true consolation in any creature. 
When a man would work evil he never asketh much counsel for 
the doing thereof; but, ere they do good, many folk seek much 
counsel and make long delay." Once Friar Giles said to his 
companions, " My brethren, methinks, in these days, one findeth 
no man that would do those things that he seeth are most pro- 
fitable, and not only for the soul but also for the body. Believe 
me, my brethren, I can swear, of a truth, that the more a man 
flees and shuns the burden and the yoke of Christ the more 
grievous he maketh it to himself and the more heavily it weigheth 
upon him, and the greater is the burden; but the more ardently 
a man taketh up his burden, ever heaping up more weight of 
his own will, the lighter and the more pleasant he feeleth it to 
bear. Would to God that men would labour to win the good 

On Contempt of Temporal Things 165 

things of the body, since they would win also those of the soul; 
forasmuch as the body and the soul, without any doubt, must 
ever be joined together, either to suffer or to enjoy; to wit, 
either ever to suffer together in hell everlasting pains and bound- 
less torments, or, through the merits of good works, to enjoy 
perpetual joys and ineffable consolations with the saints and 
angels in paradise. Because, if a man laboured well, or forgave 
well, yet lacked humility, his good deeds would be turned to 
evil; for many have there been that have wrought many works 
that seemed good and praiseworthy, but since they lacked 
humility they were discovered and known to be done through 
pride; and their deeds have shown this, for things done through 
humility are never corrupted." A friar said to Friar Giles, 
" Father, methinks we know not yet how to understand our 
own good." To whom Friar Giles answered, " My brother, of 
a surety each man worketh the art he hath learned, for no man 
can work well except he have first learned: wherefore I would 
have thee know, my brother, that the noblest art in this world 
is the art of working well; and who could know that art except 
first he learn it ? Blessed is that man in whom no created thing 
can beget evil; but yet more blessed is he that receiveth in him- 
self good edification from all things he sees or hears." 

VII. Chapter of the contempt of temporal things. 

Many sorrows and many woes will the miserable man suffer 
that putteth his desire and his heart and his hope in earthly 
things, whereby he forsaketh and loseth heavenly things, and 
at last shall e'en lose also these earthly things. The eagle 
soareth very high, but if she had tied a weight to her wings she 
would not be able to fly very high: and even so for the weight 
of earthly things a man cannot fly on high, to wit, he cannot 
attain to perfection; but the wise man that bindeth the weight 
of the remembrance of death and judgment to the wings of his 
heart, could not for the great fear thereof go astray nor fly at the 
vanities nor riches of this world, which are a cause of damna- 
tion. Every day we see worldly men toil and moil much and 
encounter great bodily perils to gain these false riches; and 
after they have toiled and gained much, in a moment they die 
and leave behind all that they gained in their lives; therefore 
put not thy trust in this false world that beguileth every man 
that believeth therein, for it is a liar. But whoso desireth and 
would be great and truly rich, let him seek after and love ever- 
lasting riches, and good things that ever savour sweetly and 
never satiate and never grow less. If we would not go astray, 

1 66 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

let us take pattern from the beasts and the birds, for these, when 
they are fed, are content and seek not their living save from 
hour to hour when their need cometh: even so should a man 
be content with satisfying his needs temperately, and not seek 
after superfluities. Friar Giles said that the ant was not so 
pleasing to St. Francis as other living things because of the 
great diligence she hath in gathering together and storing up, in 
the time of summer, a treasure of grain for the winter; but he 
was wont to say that the birds pleased him much more, because 
they laid not up one day for the next. But yet the ant teacheth 
us that we ought not to be slothful in the summer of this present 
life, so that we be not found empty and barren in the winter of 
the last day and judgment. 

VIII. Chapter of holy chastity. 

Our miserable and frail human flesh is like unto the swine 
that ever rejoiceth to wallow and bemire himself in filth, choosing 
the mire for his own delight. Our flesh is the devil's knight- 
errant, for it fighteth and resisteth all those things that pertain 
to God and to our salvation. A friar asked Friar Giles, saying 
unto him, " Father, teach me in what manner we may guard 
ourselves from carnal sin." To whom Friar Giles answered, 
" My brother, he that would move any great weight or any great 
stone from one place to another, it behoveth him to strive to 
move it by skill rather than by force. And so likewise, if we 
will overcome carnal sin and gain the virtue of chastity, we shall 
rather gain it by humility and by good and discreet spiritual 
guidance, than by our presumptuous austerities and by the 
violence of penance. Every sin cloudeth and darkens holy and 
shining chastity, for chastity is like unto a bright mirror that 
is clouded and darkened, not only by the touch of foul things, 
but also by the breath of man. It is impossible for a man to 
attain to any spiritual grace so long as he findeth him inclined 
to carnal lust; therefore, thou mayst turn and turn again, as it 
please thee, and thou shalt find no other remedy, nor be able to 
attain to spiritual grace, except thou trample under foot every 
carnal sin. Therefore, fight valiantly against thy sensual and 
frail flesh, thy proper enemy, that ever striveth against thee, 
day and night; let him that overcometh this flesh, our mortal 
foe, know of a surety that he hath "overcome and routed all his 
enemies, and soon shall attain to spiritual grace and to every 
good state of virtue and of perfection." Said Friar Giles, 
" Among all the other virtues I most do prize the virtue of 
chastity; for sweetest chastity hath in itself alone some per- 

On Holy Chastity 167 

fection; but no other virtue can be perfect without chastity." 
A friar asked Friar Giles, saying, " Father, is not charity a 
greater and more excellent virtue than chastity? " And Friar 
Giles said, " Tell me, brother, what thing in this world is found 
more chaste than holy charity? " Many a time did Friar 
Giles chant this little song — 

O holy chastity, 

How great a good thou holdest! 

How precious to possess! 

For such sweet fragrance issueth forth from thee, 

The taste thereof the wise alone can know: 

Therefore the foolish never learn thy worth. 

A friar asked Friar Giles, saying, " Father, thou that com- 
mendest so the virtue of chastity, prithee make plain to me what 
chastity is." Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My brother, I 
tell thee that the diligent custody and continual watching of 
our bodily and spiritual senses, keeping them pure and spotless 
before God — that is truly called chastity." 

IX. Chapter of temptations. 

The great graces that a man receiveth from God cannot be 
possessed in peace and quietness, for many contrary things 
and many tribulations and many adversities rise up against 
these graces, because the more acceptable a man is in the sight 
of God, the more mightily is he assailed and warred against by 
the devil. Therefore it behoveth a man never to cease from 
fighting, that he may pursue that grace he hath received from 
God; for the fiercer the battle the more precious shall be the 
crown, if he conquers in the fight. But we have not many 
battles, nor many hindrances, nor many temptations; for we 
are not such as we ought to be in the spiritual life. But, never- 
theless, true it is that if a man walk warily and well in the way 
of God, he shall have neither toil nor weariness on his journey; 
but the man that walketh in the way of the world shall ne'er be 
able to flee from the many toils, the weariness, the anguish, the 
tribulations, and sorrows, even to the day of his death. Said a 
friar to Friar Giles, " My father, methinks thou say est two 
things, one contrary to the other; for thou didst first say that 
the more acceptable and the more virtuous a man is in the sight 
of God, the more hindrances and the more battles he hath in 
the spiritual life, and then thou saidst the contrary; to wit, that 
the man who walked warily and well in the way of God would 
feel neither toil nor weariness on his journey." Whereto Friar 
Giles made plain the contrariness of these two sayings, and 

1 68 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

answered thus, " My brother, of a surety the devils assail men 
of good will with mightier temptations than they do others that 
have not good will, I mean, in the sight of God. But the man 
that walketh warily and fervently in the way of God, what toil, 
what weariness, and what hurt can the devils and all the adver- 
sities of the world bring on him? Doth he not know and see 
that he selleth his wares for a price a thousandfold higher than 
they are worth? But I tell thee more : of a surety he that were 
kindled with the fire of divine love, the more mightily he were 
assailed by sins, the more would he hate and abominate them. 
The worst devils are wont to pursue and tempt a man when 
he is weighed down by some infirmity or bodily weakness, or by 
great cold, or anguish, or when he is ahungered or athirst, or 
when he hath suffered some injury, or shame, or temporal or 
spiritual hurt; for these evil spirits know that it is in hours and 
moments such as these that a man is more apt to receive tempta- 
tions. But I say unto thee that for every temptation and for 
every sin thou overcomest thou shalt gain a virtue; and that if 
thou conquer that sin that warreth against thee, thou shalt 
receive therefore the greater grace and a greater crown of 
victory." A friar asked counsel of Friar Giles, saying, " Father, 
ofttimes am I tempted by a sore temptation, and oft have I 
prayed to God to be delivered therefrom, and yet the Lord 
taketh it not away from me. Give me thy counsel, father, 
what ought I to do ? " Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My 
brother, the more richly a king harnesseth his knights with 
noble armour and strong, the more valiantly he desireth they 
should fight against his enemies, for love of him." A friar asked 
Friar Giles, saying, " Father, what remedy can I find that I 
may go more willingly to prayer and with a more fervent 
desire ? for when I go to pray, I am hard, slothful, withered, and 
slack." Whereto Friar Giles answered, saying, " A king hath 
two servants, and the one is armed for battle, but the other hath 
no arms wherewith to fight; and both would go forth to battle 
and fight against the enemies of the king. He that is armed 
goeth forth to battle and fighteth valiantly; but the other 
that is unarmed saith thus to his lord, ' My lord, thou seest I am 
naked and without arms, but for love of thee fain would I join 
the battle and fight thus unarmed as I am.' And then the 
good king, beholding the love of his trusty servant, saith to his 
ministers, ' Go with this my servant, clothe him with all those 
arms that are needful for the fight, in order that he may hie 
securely forth to battle; and mark ye all his arms with my 

On Temptation 169 

royal scutcheon, that he be known as my trusty knight.' And 
even so, ofttimes it befalleth a man, when he goeth forth to 
pray and findeth himself naked, indevout, slothful, and hardened 
in spirit; but, nevertheless, let him gird himself, for love of the 
Lord, and go forth to the battle of prayer; and then our good 
King and Lord, beholding the wrestling of his knight, giveth 
him fervent devotion and good will by the hands of his minister- 
ing angels. Some time this befalleth: a man setteth about some 
great work of heavy labour, as to clear and till the ground, or a 
vineyard, that in due season he may be able to gather the fruit 
thereof. And many men, because of the great labour and the 
many toils, grow a-weary and repent them of the work they 
have begun; but if a man sweat and toil till the time of harvest, 
then he forgetteth all his heaviness; he is consoled and glad, 
beholding the fruit he shall enjoy. Even so, a man that is 
strong under temptations shall attain to many consolations: 
for after tribulation, saith St. Paul, cometh consolation and the 
crown of eternal life: and not only in heaven shall the reward 
be given to them that resist temptation, but also in this life, 
even as the psalmist saith, '■ Lord, in the multitude of my 
temptations and my sorrows thy comforts delight my soul ; ■ so 
that the greater the temptation and the fight, the more glorious 
shall be the crown." A friar asked counsel of Friar Giles touch- 
ing a temptation, saying, " O father, I am tempted by two sore 
temptations: one is, that when I do some good thing, anon I 
am tempted by vainglory; the other is, when I work any evil 
I fall into such sadness and such dejection that I well-nigh 
sink into despair." Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My brother, 
well dost thou and wisely to grieve for thy sin, but I counsel 
thee to grieve temperately and discreetly, and ever shouldst 
thou remember that God's mercy is greater than thy sin. But 
if, in His infinite mercy, God accepteth the repentance of a man 
that is a great sinner and one that sinneth wilfully, when he 
repents, thinkest thou this good God will forsake the good 
sinner that sinneth against his will, when he is contrite and 
repentant ? I counsel thee, also, faint not in well-doing through 
fear of vainglory; for if a man said, when he should sow his 
seed, ' I will not sow, for if I were to sow, haply the birds would 
come and eat thereof; and, if saying thus, he sowed not 
his seed, of a surety he would gather no corn that year. But if 
he sowed his seed, albeit the birds did eat of that seed, yet the 
labourer would reap the greater part; even so a man, assailed 
by vainglory, if he do good not for the sake of vainglory, but 


170 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

ever fighteth against it, I say he shall not lose the merit of the 
good he hath done, because he is tempted." A friar said to 
Friar Giles, " It is told that St. Bernard once recited the seven 
penitential psalms with such peace of mind and such devotion 
that he thought of naught save the proper meaning of the 
aforesaid psalms." Whereto Friar Giles thus made answer, 
" My brother, I deem there is much more prowess in a lord that 
holdeth his castle when it is besieged and assaulted by his 
enemies, defending it so valiantly that he letteth not one of his 
enemies enter therein, than there is in one that liveth in peace 
and hath no enemy." 

X. Chapter of holy penitence. 

A man ought ever to afflict himself much and mortify his 
body, and suffer willingly every injury, tribulation, anguish, 
sorrow, shame, contempt, reproach, adversity, and persecution, 
for love of our good Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, who gave 
us the example in Himself; for from the first day of His glorious 
Nativity, until His most holy Passion, He ever endured anguish, 
tribulation, sorrow, contempt, pain, and persecution, solely for 
our salvation. Therefore, if we would attain to a state of grace, 
above all things it is necessary that we walk, as far as lieth in us, 
in the paths and in the footsteps of our good Master, Jesus Christ. 
A secular once asked of Friar Giles, saying, " Father, in what 
way can we men in the world attain to a state of grace? " 
Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My brother, a man ought first 
to grieve for his sins, with great contrition of heart, and then 
he should confess to the priest with bitterness and sorrow of 
heart, accusing himself sincerely, without concealment and 
without excuse: then he must fulfil the penance perfectly that 
is given and laid upon him by his confessor. Likewise, he must 
guard himself against every vice and every sin, and against 
every occasion of sin; and also he must exercise himself in good 
and virtuous works before God and towards his neighbour; and, 
doing these things, a man shall attain to a state of grace and of 
virtue. Blessed is that man that hath continual sorrow for 
his sins, bewailing them ever, day and night, in bitterness of 
heart, solely for the offences he hath done to God! Blessed is 
the man that hath ever before the eyes of his mind the afflictions 
and the p?dns and the sorrows of Jesus Christ, and that for love 
of Him neither desireth nor receiveth any temporal consolation 
in this bitter and stormy world, until he attain to that heavenly 
consolation of life eternal, where all his desires shall be fully 
satisfied with gladness." 

On Holy Prayer 171 

XI. Chapter of holy prayer. 

Prayer is the beginning, middle, and end of all good : prayer 
illumines the soul, and through prayer the soul distinguishes 
good from evil. Every sinful man ought to make this prayer 
with a fervent heart, every day unceasingly; to wit, let him 
pray humbly to God to give him a perfect knowledge of his own 
misery and of his sins and of the blessings he hath received, and 
doth receive, from this good God. But the man that knoweth 
not how to pray, how shall he know God? All those that 
would be saved, if they are persons of true understanding, above 
all things it is necessary that they be at last converted to holy 
prayer. Friar Giles said, " If a man had a son, guilty of so many 
offences that he was condemned to death, or to be banished 
from the city, of a surety this man would be very diligent, and 
strive with all his might, both day and night, and at every hour, 
to obtain pardon for this his son, and save him from death or 
banishment^ making earnest prayers and supplications, and 
giving presents or paying fines, to the uttermost of his means, 
both of himself or through his friends and kinsfolk. Therefore, 
if a man do this for his son that is mortal, how much more 
diligent ought a man to be in beseeching God, by his own 
prayers and through the prayers of good men in this world, and 
through His saints in the other world, for his own soul that is 
immortal, when she is banished from the celestial city, or doomed 
to everlasting death for sin and wickedness." A friar said to 
Friar Giles, " Father, methinks a man ought to grieve much, 
and be exceeding sorrowful, when he cannot have the grace of 
devotion in his prayers." Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My 
brother, I counsel thee, go very gently about thy business; for 
if thou hadst a little good wine in a cask, and in that cask the 
lees were still below this good wine, of a surety thou wouldst 
not shake or move that cask about, lest thou mingle the good 
wine with the lees. And so I say: as long as prayer is not free 
from all carnal and sinful lust it shall receive no divine consola- 
tion; for that prayer which is mingled with the lees of fleshly 
lusts is not clear in the sight of God. Therefore, a man ought 
to strive, with all his might, to free himself from all lees of 
vicious lusts, in order that his prayers be pure in the sight of 
God, and that he receive devotion and divine consolation there- 
from." A friar asked Friar Giles, saying, " Father, wherefore 
doth this thing come to pass: that when a man is worshipping 
God he is more sorely tempted, assailed, and troubled in his 
mind than at any other time? " Whereto Friar Giles thus 

172 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

answered, " When any man hath a suit to further before a 
judge, and he goeth to plead his own cause, as 'twere asking 
counsel and aid, and his adversary heareth this, doth he not 
straightway appear before the judge and oppose and gainsay 
the petition of that man, and so give him great hindrance, as 
'twere disproving all he said? Even so it befalleth when a 
man goeth forth to pray; forasmuch as he asketh God's help 
in his cause, straightway his adversary, the devil, appeareth 
with his temptations and maketh great resistance and opposi- 
tion, and striveth, with all his might and cunning and devices, 
to hinder this prayer, so that it be not acceptable in God's sight, 
and that the man may have neither merit nor consolation from 
his prayers. And this we can see clearly, for when we speak of 
worldly things, then do we suffer no temptation nor distraction 
of mind, but if we go to prayer to delight and comfort the soul 
with God, anon we feel our soul smitten with divers arrows, to 
wit, divers temptations, which the devils put in our way to 
warp our minds, in order that the soul have neither joy nor 
consolation from those things that the said soul hath uttered 
to God." Friar Giles said that a prayerful man was like unto 
a good knight at battle, who, albeit he were pierced or smitten 
by his enemy, departeth not straightway from the battle, but 
rather resisteth manfully to gain the victory over his enemy, 
in order that the victory won, he may be comforted and rejoice 
in that victory; but if he departed from the battle when he was 
smitten or wounded, of a surety he would suffer confusion and 
shame and dishonour. And so should we do likewise; to wit, 
never depart from prayer for any temptation, but rather resist 
stoutly; for blessed is the man that endureth temptations, as 
the Apostle saith, for by overcoming them he shall receive the 
crown of eternal life; but if a man cease from prayer because of 
temptations, of a surety he shall suffer confusion, defeat, and 
discomfiture at the hands of his enemy, the devil." A friar said 
to Friar Giles, " Father, I have seen certain men that have 
received from God the grace of devotion and tears in their 
prayers, and none of these graces can I feel when I pray unto 
God." Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My brother, I counsel 
thee, labour faithfully and humbly in thy prayers, for the fruits 
of the earth are not to be had without much toil and labour before- 
hand; and even after this labour the desired fruit followeth not 
straightway, before the time and season are come: even so 
God giveth not this grace forthwith to a prayerful man until 
the convenient time be come, and the mind be purged from 

On Holy Prayer 173 

every carnal affection and sin. Therefore, my brother, labour 
humbly in thy prayer; for God, who is all-good and all-gracious, 
knoweth all things and discerneth the better way: when the 
time and the season are come, He, of His loving-kindness, will 
give much fruit of consolation." Another friar said to Friar 
Giles, "What art thou doing, Friar Giles? What art thou 
doing? " He answered, " I am doing ill." And that friar 
said, " What ill art thou doing? " Then Friar Giles turned to 
another friar and bespake him thus, " Tell me, my friar, who 
thinkest thou is the readier, our God to grant us His grace, or 
we to receive it?" And that friar answered, " Of a surety, 
God is more ready to give us His grace than we are to receive it." 
And then Friar Giles said, "Then do we well?" And that 
friar said, " Nay, we do ill." And then Friar Giles turned to the 
first friar and said, " Behold, friar, it is clearly shown that we 
do ill; and what I answered was true, to wit, that I am doing 
ill." Said Friar Giles, " Many works are commended and 
praised by Holy Scripture, to wit, the works of mercy and other 
holy works ; but when the Lord spake of prayer, He spake thus, 
1 Your heavenly Father seeketh and desireth of men that they 
worship Him on earth in spirit and in truth.' " Friar Giles said 
likewise that the true religious are like unto wolves; for they 
seldom issue forth in public places save for hard necessity, and 
incontinently do strive to return to their hiding-place without 
much converse or dwelling with men. Good works adorn the 
soul, but, above all other works, prayer adorns and illumines 
the soul. A friar, the companion and familiar of Friar Giles, 
said, " Father, wherefore goest thou not sometimes to discourse 
of the things of God, and teach and win the salvation of Christian 
souls? " Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My brother, I desire 
to fulfil my duty to my neighbour with humility and without 
hurt to my soul, I mean by prayer." And that friar said to 
him, " At least if thou went sometimes to visit thy kinsfolk! " 
And Friar Giles answered, " Knowest thou not that Christ saith 
in the gospel, ' Every one that hath forsaken father or mother, 
or brethren or sisters, or possessions, for My name's sake, shall 
receive a hundredfold.' " Again he said, " A man of noble birth 
entered the Order, whose riches were worth perchance sixty 
thousand pounds: therefore, great rewards await them that 
forsake great riches, for love of God; since God giveth them a 
hundredfold more. But blind are we that when we behold 
any man virtuous and gracious in the sight of God, we cannot 
understand his perfection because of our own imperfection and 

174 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

blindness. But if a man were truly spiritual, hardly would he 
desire to behold or to hear any man save for great necessity; 
for the truly spiritual man desireth ever to dwell apart from men, 
and to be one with God through contemplation." Then said 
Friar Giles to another friar, " Father, fain would I know, what 
is contemplation? " And that friar said, " Father, that truly 
know not I." And then Friar Giles said, " Methinks the high 
grace of contemplation is a divine flame and a sweet emanation 
of the Holy Ghost, and a rapture and an exaltation of the mind, 
which is inebriated in the contemplation of that ineffable savour 
of divine sweetness ; 'tis a sweet and peaceful and gentle delight 
of the soul that is lifted up and rapt in great marvel at the 
glory of supernal and celestial things — a burning inward sense 
of celestial and unspeakable glory." 

XII. Chapter of holy spiritual prudence. 

servant of the King of heaven, thou that wouldst learn the 
mysteries and the profitable and virtuous lessons of holy spiritual 
doctrine, open well the ears of the understanding of thy soul, 
and receive with thy heart's desire, and carefully keep in the 
chamber of thy memory, the precious treasure of these doctrines 
and precepts and spiritual admonitions which I declare to thee: 
thereby shalt thou be illumined and guided on thy journey — 
the journey of the spiritual life — and shalt be defended from the 
wicked and cunning assaults of thine enemies, real and shadowy, 
and shalt walk securely, with humble boldness, voyaging on this 
stormy sea, to wit, of this present life, until thou come to the 
longed-for haven of salvation. Therefore, my son, hearken and 
mark well what I say unto thee. If thou wouldst see well, 
pluck out thine eyes and be blind; if thou wouldst hear well, 
be deaf; if thou wouldst speak well, be dumb; if thou wouldst 
walk well, stand still and walk with thy mind; if thou wouldst 
work well, cut off thy hands and work with thy heart; if thou 
wouldst love well, hate thyself; if thou wouldst live well, 
mortify thyself; if thou wouldst gain well and grow rich, lose 
and be poor; if thou wouldst enjoy well and take thine ease, 
afflict thyself and be ever sorrowful; if thou wouldst dwell 
secure, be ever afeard and in dread of thyself; if thou wouldst 
be exalted and have great honour, abase and decry thyself; if 
thou wouldst be held in great reverence, despise thyself and do 
reverence unto them that revile thee and spitefully use thee; 
if thou wouldst have good always, suffer ill always; if thou 
wouldst be blessed, desire that all men curse thee and speak 
evil of thee; if thou wouldst have true and everlasting peace, 

On Knowledge 175 

labour and afflict thyself, and desire every temporal affliction. 
0, how great is the wisdom that knoweth and doeth these 
things! But because these things are great and very lofty, 
therefore are they vouchsafed by God to few men. But, verily, 
whoso striveth well after all the aforesaid things, and doeth 
them, I say he will need to go neither to Bologna nor to Paris 
to learn other theology; for if a man lived a thousand years, 
and had naught to do with outward things and naught to say 
with his tongue, I say he would have enough to do with the in- 
ward discipline of his heart, labouring within him for the purgation 
and ruling and justification of his mind and of his soul. A man 
should neither desire, nor behold, nor hear, nor discourse of 
aught save in so far as it may be profitable to his soul. The 
man that knoweth not himself is not known; therefore, woe 
unto us that receive gifts and graces from the Lord and under- 
stand them not; but woe, and greater woe, unto those that 
neither receive them nor know them, nor even care to gain 
them or possess them ! Man that is made in the image of God 
changeth even as he willeth, but the good God never changeth, 

XIII. Chapter of profitable and unprofitable knowledge. 

The man that would know much, should work much and 
humble himself much, abasing himself and bowing down his 
head, so that his belly goeth on the ground : then the Lord will 
give him much knowledge and wisdom. The highest wisdom 
is to be steadfast in well-doing, working virtuously and well, 
guarding oneself against every sin and every occasion of sin, ever 
meditating on the judgments of God. Friar Giles said, on a 
time, to one that would go -to the schools to get knowledge, 
" My brother, wherefore wouldst thou go to the schools ? I 
would have thee know that the sum of all knowledge is to fear 
and to love: let these two things suffice thee. For sufficient for 
a man's works shall his knowledge be, and no more. Vex thee 
not overmuch for the profit of others, but ever strive and further 
and do those things that are profitable to thyself; for ofttimes 
this befalleth: we would gain much knowledge to help others 
and little to help ourselves. I say unto thee, the word of God 
is not in the speaker, nor in the hearer, but in the true worker. 
Men there have been that knew not how to swim and entered 
the water to help those that were drowning; and it came to 
pass that they were all drowned together. If thou canst not 
save thine own soul, how shalt thou save the souls of thy neigh- 
bours ? If thou canst not profit thyself, how shalt thou profit 
another? for it cannot be that thou lovest another's soul more 

176 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

than thine own. The preacher of God's word ought to be the 
standard-bearer, the torch and the mirror of the people. 
Blessed is the man that in such wise guideth others in the way 
of salvation and himself ceaseth not to walk in that way of 
salvation ! Blessed is the man that in such wise inviteth others 
to run and himself ceaseth not to run 1 But more blessed is he 
that in such wise aideth others to gain and be rich, and him- 
self ceaseth not to gain riches. I believe the good preacher 
admonishes and preaches more unto himself than to others. 
Methinks, the man that would convert and draw sinners to the 
paths of God should ever fear lest he be evilly perverted by 
them and drawn astray to the paths of sin and of the devil and 
of hell." 

XIV. Chapter of good and of evil speaking. 

The man that uttereth good words and profitable to souls is 
verily as 'twere the mouth of the Holy Spirit; and likewise the 
man that uttereth evil and unprofitable words is, of a surety, 
the mouth of the devil. Whenever good and spiritual men are 
assembled to discourse together they ought ever to speak of the 
beauty of virtue, in order that virtue be more pleasing to them, 
and that they may delight the more therein; for by delighting 
and taking more pleasure in virtue, the more they will be dis- 
ciplined therein, and by exercising themselves therein they will 
be kindled to greater love thereof; and by that unceasing love 
and exercise of virtue, and by pleasure therein, they will ever 
rise to more fervent love of God and to a higher state of the 
soul; for which cause more gifts and more divine graces shall 
be vouchsafed to them by the Lord. The more a man is tempted 
the greater heed hath he to discourse of the holy virtues; for 
even as a man ofttimes falleth lightly into sinful deeds through 
evil and sinful talk, so ofttimes through discoursing of virtue a 
man is lightly led and disposed to the holy works of virtue. 
But how shall we tell of the good that cometh from virtue? 
For it is so exceeding great that we cannot speak worthily of its 
marvellous and infinite excellence. And also, what shall we 
say of the evil and everlasting torments that proceed from sin ? 
For it is an evil so great, and an abyss so deep, that it is impos- 
sible for us to comprehend or to fathom it, or, in sooth, to speak 
thereof. I deem it no lesser virtue to know how to keep silence 
well than to know how to speak well : therefore methinks a man 
hath need of a neck as long as the crane's, so that when he would 
speak, his words should pass through many joints before they 
came to his mouth, I mean that when a man would speak, it 
were needful that he should think and think again, and examine 

On Perseverance 177 

and discern right well, the how and the why, the time and the 
manner, and the condition of his hearers and the effect on his 
own self and his purpose and motives. 

XV. Chapter of good perseverance. 

What doth it profit a man to fast much and pray and give 
alms and afflict himself with the overpowering sense of heavenly 
things if he come not to the blessed haven of the salvation he 
desireth; to wit, the haven of good and steadfast perseverance? 
Some time this cometh to pass: a certain ship, very fair and 
mighty and strong and new, and filled with great riches, is seen 
on the seas; and it befalleth that through some tempest, or 
through the fault of the helmsman, this ship perisheth and is 
wrecked, and miserably sunk, and cometh not to the desired 
haven. What then availed all her beauty and goodness and 
riches since she perished thus miserably in the great waters of 
the sea? And, likewise, on a time, some little ship and old 
appeareth on the sea, with small merchandise; but having a 
good and skilful helmsman, she weathers the storm and escapeth 
from the deep waters of the sea and cometh to the desired 
haven: and so it befalleth men in this stormy sea of the world. 
Therefore, said Friar Giles, a man ought ever to fear; and albeit 
he abide in great prosperity, or in high estate, or in great 
dignity, or in great perfection, if he have not a good helmsman, 
to wit, a wise rule over himself, he may miserably perish in the 
deep waters of sin. Therefore, above all things, perseverance is 
needful for well-doing, as the Apostle saith, " Not he that be- 
ginneth, but he that persevereth to the end shall win the crown." 
When a tree springeth up, it doth not straightway wax great; 
and after it hath become great, it doth not forthwith yield 
fruit; and when it beareth fruit, not all that fruit cometh to the 
mouth of the lord of that tree ; for much of that fruit f alleth on 
the ground, or rots, or is spoiled; and such as this is eaten by the 
beasts: but yet, persevering until the proper season, the lord 
of that tree gathereth the greater part of the fruit thereof. 
Again, Friar Giles said, "What would it profit me if I tasted 
full a hundred years of the kingdom of heaven, if thereafter I 
came not to a good end? " Arid also he said, " I deem that 
these are the two greatest graces and gifts of God to him that 
can gain them in this life, to wit, to persevere with love in the 
service of God and ever guard himself from falling into sin." 

XVI. Of the true religious life. 

Friar Giles was wont to say, speaking of himself, " I would 
rather, as a religious in the Order, have a little of the grace of 

178 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

God than I would, as a secular, living in the world, have many 
graces of God; for many more are the perils and hindrances in 
the world, and much less the healing and the help than in the 
religious life." Friar Giles also said, " Methinks the sinful man 
is more afraid of his good than he is of his hurt and his evil; for 
he fears to enter the religious life and do penance, but fears not 
to offend God and injure his own soul by remaining in the hard 
and stubborn world and in the filthy mire of his own sins, 
awaiting his eternal doom at last." A secular asked Friar Giles, 
saying, " Father, what dost thou counsel me to do? Shall I 
enter the religious life, or shall I remain in the world and do good 
works? " Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My brother, if any 
needy man knew that a great treasure lay hidden in the common 
field, of a surety he would not ask counsel of any man to know 
whether it were good to dig it out and carry it to his own house; 
how much the more ought a man to strive and make haste, with 
all care and diligence, to search out that heavenly treasure 
which is found in the holy orders of religion, and in spiritual 
communities, without so much asking of counsel? " And that 
secular, when he heard this answer, anon gave away all he 
possessed to the poor, and thus, stripped of everything, entered 
the Order. Friar Giles was wont to say that many men entered 
the religious life and yet put not those things into practice and 
into operation that pertain to the perfect state of the holy 
religious life ; but that such as these are like unto that plough- 
man that armed himself with the arms of Roland, and knew not 
how to fight or wield them. Not every man knoweth how to 
ride a restive and vicious horse, and if he yet bestrode it, per- 
chance he would know not how to save himself from falling 
when the horse ran or reared. Again, Friar Giles said, " I deem 
it no great thing that a man may know how to enter the court 
of the king, nor do I esteem it a great thing that a man may 
know how to win some of the king's graces or favours ; but the 
great thing is, that he know how to stand well, and abide in, and 
frequent the king's court, while persevering in prudence accord- 
ing to what is meet and fitting. The state of the court of that 
great King of heaven, is the holy religious life, wherein is n 
great labour to enter and receive some gifts and graces from 
God ; but the great thing is that a man shall know how to live j 
well and persevere therein discreetly, even unto death." Yet 
again, Friar Giles said, " I would rather live in the world, and 
hope and desire unceasingly and devoutly to enter the religious; 
life, than be clothed in the habit of the holy religious life without 
the practice of virtuous works, and continue in sloth anc 

On Holy Obedience 179 

negligence. Therefore, the religious ought ever to strive to 
live well and virtuously, knowing that he cannot live in any- 
other state than in his professed vows." Once Friar Giles said, 
" Methinks the Order of the friars minor was truly sent of God 
for the profit and the edification of the people; but woe unto 
us friars if we be not such men as we ought to be. Of a surety, 
in this life no more blessed men than we could be found ; for he 
is holy that followeth holiness, and he is truly good that walketh 
in the way of the good, and he is rich that goeth the way of the 
rich; for the Order of the friars minor, more than any other 
Order, followeth the footsteps and the ways of the best, the 
richest, and the holiest that ever was or ever shall be, to wit, 
our Lord Jesus Christ. 

XVII. Chapter of holy obedience. 

The more bound under the yoke of holy obedience the religious 
is, for love of God, the greater fruit of himself he will yield unto 
God; and the more he is subject to his superior, for God's 
honour, the more free and more cleansed shall he be from his 
sins. The truly obedient religious is like unto a knight well 
armed and well horsed that breaks fearlessly through the ranks 
of his enemies and scatters them, because none of them can do 
him hurt. But he that obeys with murmurings, and as one 
driven, is like unto an unarmed and ill-horsed knight, that when 
he joineth battle shall be dragged to the ground by his enemies 
and wounded and taken by them and sometimes cast into 
prison and slain. The religious that would live according to 
the determination of his own will, showeth that he would build a 
perpetual habitation in the abyss of hell. When the ox putteth 
his neck under the yoke, then he plougheth the earth well, so that 
it bringeth forth good fruit in due season; but when the ox 
goeth wandering around, the ground is left untilled and wild, 
and giveth not fruit in its season. Even so the religious that 
bendeth his neck under the yoke of obedience yieldeth much 
fruit to the Lord God in its time; but he that is not obedient 
with a good heart to his superior, is barren and wild and without 
any fruit from his vows. Wise and great-hearted men bend 
their necks readily, without fear and without doubt, under the 
yoke of holy obedience; but foolish and faint-hearted men 
strive to wrest their necks from under the yoke of holy obedience, 
and then would obey no creature. I deem it a greater perfec- 
tion in the servant of God to obey his superior with a pure 
heart, for reverence and love of God, than it would be to obey 
God in person if He commanded him: for he that is obedient 
to the Lord's vicar would surely obey sooner the Lord Himself 

180 The Little Flowers of St. Francis 

if He commanded him. Methinks also that if any man having 
the grace of speaking with angels had promised obedience to 
another, and it befell that while he was standing and discours- 
ing with these angels this other man to whom he had promised 
obedience called him, I say, that straightway he ought to leave 
his converse with the angels and run to do that obedience, for 
honour of God. He that hath put his neck under the yoke of 
holy obedience, and then would draw back his neck from under 
that obedience, that he might follow a life of greater perfection, 
I say, that if he be not first perfect in the state of obedience, it is 
a sign of great pride that lieth hidden in his soul. Obedience 
is the way that leadeth to every good and every virtue, and 
disobedience is the way to every evil and every vice. 

XVIII. Chapter of the remembrance of death. 

If a man had the remembrance of his death and of the last 
eternal judgment and of the pains and the torments of damned 
souls ever before the eyes of his mind, of a surety, nevermore 
would the desire come upon him to sin or to offend God. But 
if it were possible that any man had lived from the beginning of 
the world, even to the time that now is, and during all this time 
had endured every adversity, tribulation, pain, affliction, and 
sorrow, and if he were to die, and his soul should go to receive 
everlasting reward in heaven, what hurt would all that ill he 
had endured, in past times, do him ? And so, likewise, if a man 
during all the aforesaid time had had every good thing and every 
joy and pleasure and consolation the world could give, and then 
when he died his soul should receive the everlasting pains of 
hell, what would all the good things he had received, during 
that past time, profit him? An unstable man said to Friar 
Giles, " I tell thee, fain would I live much time in this world 
and have great riches and abundance of all things, and I would 
be greatly honoured." Whereto Friar Giles answered, " My 
brother, but if thou wert lord of all the world, and shouldst 
live therein for a thousand years in every joy and delight and 
pleasure and temporal consolation, ah, tell me, what reward or 
what merit wouldst thou expect to have from this thy miserable 
flesh which thou hadst served and pleased so greatly! I say 
unto thee, that the man who liveth well in the sight of God, and 
guardeth him well from offending God, he shall surely receive 
from God the highest good and an infinite and everlasting 
reward, and great bounty and great riches, and great honour and 
long life eternal in that perpetual glory of heaven, whereunto 
may the good God, our Lord and King Jesus Christ, bring us, to 
the praise of Jesus Christ and of His poor little one, Francis." 




This book was compiled as a legend from certain ancient ones which the 
fellows of blessed Francis wrote ana caused to be written in diverse 
places: and note that blessed Francis made three Rules, namely that 
which Pope Innocent III. confirmed without a bull. Again, he made 
another, shorter, namely that which he made on account of the vision 
revealed to him of the small host he was bidden to make from the 
fragments offered him and share out to those who would eat, and this 
Rule was lost, as is told after. Then he made another which Pope 
Honorius confirmed with a bull, from which Rule many things were 
removed by the Ministers against the will of blessed Francis as is 
contained hereafter 



After the second Rule which blessed Francis made had been 
lost, he went up into a certain mountain with Brother Leo of 
Assisi and Brother Bonyzo of Bologna to make another Rule, 
which, by the teaching of Christ, he caused to be written down. 
But many Ministers being gathered together to Brother Elias 
(who was the vicar of blessed Francis) said to him, " We have 
heard that this Brother Francis maketh a new Rule, but we fear 
lest he make it so harsh that we may not observe it. Therefore 
we will that thou go to him and say that we will not be bound to 
that Rule; let him make it for himself and not for us." To 
whom Brother Elias answered that he would not go without 
them, and then all went together. And when Brother Elias was 
near the place where blessed Francis was, Brother Elias called 
him. To whom answering, and beholding the foresaid Ministers, 
the blessed Father said, " What would these brethren? " And 
Brother Elias said, " These are Ministers, who hearing that thou 
art making a new Rule, and fearing lest thou shouldst make it 
too harsh, do say and protest that they will not be bound to it: 
make it for thyself and not for them." Then blessed Francis 


1 84 

The Mirror of Perfection 

turned his face to heaven and spoke thus to Chris t, " Lord, said 
I not well to Thee that they would not believe me? " Then all 
heard the voice of Christ answering in the air, "So do it, there 
is nought of thine in the Rule, but whatever is there is Mine, and 
I will that the Rule should thus be observed to the letter, with- 
out a gloss, without a gloss ! " And He added, " What human 
weakness can, do I know, and how much I wish to help them; 
let those therefore who will not obey it, go oat from the Order! " 
Then blessed Francis turned himself to those brethren and said 
to them, " Will you that I should cause it to be said to you 
again? " Then the Ministers, looking upon one another, went 
back confused and terrified. 




Brother Richard of March, noble by birth and more noble by 
holiness, whom blessed Francis did love with great affection, on 
a certain day visited blessed Francis in the palace of the Bishop 
of Assisi, and amongst other things of which they conversed con- 
cerning the state of the Religion and the observance of the Rule, 
asked him specially of this matter, saying, " Tell me, Father, thy 
intention which thou hadst from the beginning when thou didst 
begin to have brethren, and the intention which thou now hast 
and dost think to have unto the day of thy death, that I may 
bear witness of thy intention and will, first and last, whether, for 
example, we friars who be clerks, and have many books, may 
have them, provided we say that they belong to the Order." 
Blessed Francis said to him, " I tell thee, Brother, that this was 
and is my first intention and last desire, if the brethren would 
have believed me, that no friar should have anything save a 
robe, as our Rule allows, with a girdle and breeches." 

But if any friar should be minded to say, " Why did not 
blessed Francis in his own time make the Rule and Poverty to 
be as strictly observed by the friars as he said to Richard, nor 
command it should thus be observed? " we who were with him 
answer to this as we have heard from his own mouth, since he 
himself said these and many other things to the brethren, and 
also made many of these things to be written in the Rule which 
he had besought of the Lord with earnest prayer and meditation 
for the benefit of the Order, affirming them to be altogether 
according to the will of God; but after he showed these things 
to the brethren they seemed to them burdensome and not to be 
borne, not knowing then what things should come to pass in 
the Order after his death. And because he greatly feared 
scandal both towards himself and the brethren, he would not 


1 86 The Mirror of Perfection 

strive with them, but suffered, unwillingly, their will, and 
excused himself before the Lord. But that the word which the 
Lord had put into his mouth for the benefit of the brethren 
might not return unto Him empty, he wished to fulfil it in him- 
self that from thence some reward might be obtained from the 
Lord, and in the end his spirit found rest herein and was consoled. 



But on a time, when blessed Francis was returned from over- 
sea, a certain Minister was speaking with him of the Chapter of 
Poverty, wishing to know his will and understanding thereon, 
and chiefly — for at that time a certain chapter of the Prohibitions 
of the Holy Gospel was written in the Rule, namely, " Take 
nothing with ye in the way." And the blessed Father answered, 
" I understand it thus, that friars should possess naught save 
a robe with a cord and breeches, as says the Rule, and if they 
are forced by necessity they may wear sandals." And the 
Minister said to him, " What shall I do, who have so many 
books that they be worth more than fifty pounds ? " (but this he 
said for that he would have them with a good conscience, since 
against it he had owned so many books, knowing that blessed 
Francis understood the Chapter of Poverty so strictly). And 
blessed Francis said to him, " I neither will, nor ought, nor can, 
go against my conscience and the perfection of the Holy Gospel 
which we have professed." Hearing these things the Minister 
became sad. But the blessed one, seeing him thus troubled, 
with great fervour of spirit said to him in the presence of all the 
brethren, " You would be seen of men as Friars Minor, and be 
called observants of the Holy Gospel, but for your works you 
wish to have store-chests ! " 

Yet though the Ministers knew that according to the Rule 
friars were bound to observe the Holy Gospel, nevertheless they 
caused that chapter to be removed from the Rule, " Take 
nothing with you in the way," believing that therefor they 
would not be held to the observance of the perfection of the 
Gospel. Knowing which by the Holy Spirit, blessed Francis 

The Perfection of Poverty 187 

said therefore before certain brethren, " The brothers Ministers 
think to deceive God and me; though they know that all friars 
are bound to observe the perfection of the Holy Gospel. I will 
that it be written in the beginning and in the end of the Rule 
that friars are bound to strictly observe the Holy Gospel of our 
Lord Jesus Christ; and that the brethren be for ever without 
excuse, since I have announced and do announce to them those 
things which the Lord for their and my salvation placed in my 
mouth. I wish to show it by my works in the presence of God, 
and with His aid to observe it for ever." Whence he observed 
to the letter all the Holy Gospel from the first time when 
brethren began to join themselves to him unto the day of his 



On another time a certain brother novice who knew how to 
read the psalter, though not well, obtained from the Minister- 
General leave to have one; yet, because he heard that blessed 
Francis wished his brethren not to desire knowledge and books, 
he was not content to have it without the leave of blessed Francis. 
When therefore blessed Francis had come to the place where 
that novice was, the novice said, " Father, it would be a great 
solace to me to have a psalter, but though the General has con- 
ceded it to me, yet I wish to have it, Father, with thy know- 
ledge." To whom the blessed Francis answered, " Charles the 
Emperor, Roland and Oliver, and all the Paladins and strong 
men, being mighty in war, chasing the infidels with much 
travail and sweat to the death, had over them notable victory, 
and at the last themselves did die in battle, holy martyrs for 
the faith of Christ; but now there are many who would fain 
receive honours and human praise for the mere telling of the 
things which those others did. So also amongst ourselves are 
many who would fain receive honours and praise by reciting 
and preaching only the works which the saints did." (As if he 
would say, " Books and science should not be esteemed, but 
rather virtuous labours, since knowledge puffeth up, but charity 
edifieth.") But after a few days, when blessed Francis was 
sitting at the fire, the same novice spoke to him again of the 

1 88 The Mirror of Perfection 

psalter. And blessed Francis said to him, " After you have a 

psalter, you will desire and wish to have a breviary. Then you 

will sit in your chair, like a great prelate, and say to your 

brother, ' Bring me the breviary ' ? " So saying, blessed 

Francis with great fervour of spirit took up some ashes and put 

them on his head, and drawing his hand over his head in a 

compass like one who washes the head, said, " I, a breviary, I, a 

breviary! " And he repeated it thus many times, drawing his 

hand over his head. And that brother was amazed and ashamed. 

Afterwards blessed Francis said to him, " Brother, I likewise 

was tempted to have books, but when I might not know the 

will of the Lord concerning this, I took up a book wherein the 

Gospels of the Lord were written, and I prayed the Lord that 

in the first opening of the book He would show me His will 

concerning this thing. And when the prayer was finished in 

the first opening of the book I lighted on that saying of the 

Holy Gospel: Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the 

Kingdom of God, but unto others in parables." And he said, 

" There are so many who willingly rise unto knowledge, that he 

shall be blessed who makes himself barren for the love of God." 

But many months having passed, when blessed Francis was 

at the dwelling of St. Mary of the Portiuncula, near the cell 

beyond the house in the street, the aforesaid brother spoke 

again to him of the psalter. To whom blessed Francis said, 

" Go and do concerning this what thy Minister tells thee." And 

when he heard this, that brother began to return by the road 

whence he had come. And blessed Francis remaining in the 

street began to consider what he had said to that brother, and 

immediately called after him, saying, " Wait for me, brother, 

wait! " And he came up to him, and said to him, " Turn back 

with me, brother, and show me the place where I said unto thee 

that thou shouldst do in the matter of the psalter as thy Minister 

should say." When therefore they had arrived at the place, 

blessed Francis kneeled before that brother, and said, " Mea 

culpa, brother, mea culpa, for whosoever will be a Friar Minor 

should have nothing except a tunic, as the Rule concedes to him, 

and a cord and breeches, and those who are forced by manifest 

necessity, sandals." Whence as often as friars came to him to 

have his counsel on these matters, he used to answer them on 

this wise, because, as he often used to say, " As much knowledge 

hath a man as he doth work, and a Religious is as good a speaker 

as his works proclaim, for the worker is known by his fruit." 

The Perfection of Poverty 189 



The most blessed Father used to say that we should look for 
proof and not price in books, edification not ornament. He 
wished that few be owned and those in common, befitting the 
poverty and necessity of friars. In beds and bedding so great 
poverty abounded, that he who had half-worn-out rags over his 
chaff reputed them mattresses. 

He taught further his friars to make their huts poor and their 
little cabins of wood, not of stone, and he would have them be 
constructed and built of mean appearance, and not only did he 
hate pride in dwellings, but also he did much abhor many or 
choice utensils. He loved that they should preserve in their 
tables or in their vessels nothing of worldly seeming, by which 
they should recall the world, so that all things should end 
in poverty, should sing out to them of their pilgrimage and 



When he was passing through Bologna he heard that a House 
of Friars had been newly builded there. And immediately 
when he had heard that house called the House of the Friars, he 
turned on his steps and went out of the city, and ordered most 
strictly that all the friars should depart in haste, and no longer 
dwell therein. Therefore all the friars went out, so that even 
the sick did not remain there, but were turned out with the 
others, until Dom Hugo, Bishop of Ostia, and Legate in Lom- 
bardy, publicly announced that the said house belonged to him. 
And a sick friar who was turned out from that same house bears . 
witness to these things and wrote these words. 

190 The Mirror of Perfection 



When the Chapter-General was drawing near which took place 
each year at St. Mary of the Portiuncula, the people of Assisi, 
considering that the friars were daily multiplying, and that 
every year all were used to assemble together there, although 
they had but one small cell thatched with straw whose walls 
were of wattle and mud, having held their council, did in a 
few days with very great devotion and respect build there a 
great house of stone and lime, without the consent of blessed 
Francis, and in his absence. And when the blessed Father re- 
turned from a certain province and came thither for the Chapter, 
he marvelled greatly at that house constructed there, and 
fearing lest by occasion of that house other friars would cause 
to be made likewise great houses in the places in which they 
dwelt and should dwell, and because he wished that place to be 
the form and example of all other places of the Order, before 
the Chapter was finished he went up on the roof of that house, 
and ordered the friars to come up with him, and together with 
those friars he began to throw down on the ground the laths 
with which the house had been covered, being fain to destroy 
it even to the foundations. But certain men-at-arms of Assisi 
who were there to guard the place on account of the crowds 
of rabble who had come together to see the Chapter of the 
Friars, seeing that blessed Francis with other friars wished to 
pull the house to pieces, forthwith went to him and said, 
" Brother, this house belongs to the Commune of Assisi, and we 
be here on the part of that Commune. Whence we forbid thee 
to destroy our house." Hearing this, blessed Francis said 
to them, " Therefore if it be yours, I will not touch it." And 
straightway he and the friars came down from it. (For which 
cause the folk of the City of Assisi made a law that from that 
time forth their Podesta, whoever he should be, should cause 
that house to be repaired. And every year for a long time this 
law was observed.) 

The Perfection of Poverty 191 



On another time the Vicar of blessed Francis began to have 
built in that place a little house where the friars might rest and 
say their Hours, since for the multitude of friars who came to 
that place they had no place wherein to say the Office. For 
all the brethren of the Order came together there, because no 
one was received into the Order save only there. And now, 
when the house was complete, blessed Francis returned to that 
place, and being in that cell heard the noises of those labouring 
there, and calling to him his companion he asked him what those 
brethren were doing. To whom his companion told all things 
as they were. Then forthwith he caused the Vicar to be called, 
and said to him, " Brother, this place is the form and example 
of the whole Order, and I would therefore rather that the friars 
of this place should bear tribulation and inconveniences for the 
love of the Lord God, and that other friars who come hither 
should carry away with them a good example of poverty to their 
own place, than that they should have their consolations fully, 
and that others should take an example of building in their own 
places, saying, ' In this place of Blessed Mary of the Portiuncula, 
which is the chief place of the Order, there are such and so great 
buildings; we also may well build in our own places.' " 



A certain brother, right spiritual and much familiar with 
blessed Francis, caused to be made in the hermitage wherein 
he was staying, a certain cell a little remote, wherein blessed 
Francis might stay at prayer when he should come thither. 
But when the holy Father came to that place that friar led him 
to the cell; to whom said blessed Francis, " This cell is too fair." 
(But it was only made of planks, rough hewn with an axe and 
a hatchet.) " If therefore thou wouldst that I should remain 
there, cause to be made for it a covering within and without, 

192 The Mirror of Perfection 

of withies and branches of trees." (For the more poverty 
stricken were houses and cells, so much the more gladly would 
he remain there.) Which when that brother had done, blessed 
Francis remained there for some days. But on a day, when he 
had gone out of that cell, a certain friar went to see it, and 
afterward came to the place where blessed Francis was. And 
when the blessed Father saw him he said to him, " Whence 
comest thou, brother? " And he said, " I come from thy cell." 
And blessed Francis said, " For that thou hast called it mine, 
another shall stay there henceforth, and not I." But we who 
were with him often heard him saying that word, The foxes 
have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man 
hath not where to lay His head. And again he said, " The Lord, 
when He remained in the open air and fasted forty days and 
forty nights, did not cause a cell to be made for Him there or a 
house, but lay under the rocks of the mountains." And there- 
fore by His example he would have neither house nor cell which 
could be called his own, nor ever did he cause one to be made at 
all. If sometimes it happened that he said to the brethren, 
" Go and make ready that cell," he would not afterwards abide 
in it, because of that saying of the Holy Gospel, Be ye not anxious, 
etc. For even at the time of his death he made it to be written 
in his will that all the cells and houses of the friars should be of 
wood and mud only; for the better safeguard of poverty and 



On a certain time when he was at Siena for the weakness of his 
eyes, Dom Bonaventura, who gave the land to the brethren on 
which the friary was built, said to him, " What thinkest thou of 
this place? " And blessed Francis said to him, " Wilt thou 
that I tell thee how the dwellings of friars should be built? " 
He answered, " I do wish it, Father." And the holy Father 
said, " When friars go to any city where they have no dwelling, 
and come upon any one willing to give them a place to build a 
house, and have a garden and all things necessary, they should 
firstly consider how much land is sufficient for them, having 

The Perfection of Poverty 193 

regard always to the poverty and the good example which in 
all things we are bound to show." (But this he said because he 
was in no wise willing that friars should possess any places by 
right of ownership, in the houses or churches or gardens or other 
things which they used, but should sojourn therein as travellers 
and pilgrims ; and therefore he wished that friars should not be 
gathered together in great numbers in their dwellings, because 
it seemed to him difficult to observe poverty in a great multi- 
tude. And his intention from the beginning of his conversion 
even unto the end was that poverty should be altogether 
observed in all things.) " Having considered therefore the land 
necessary for a dwelling, the friars should go to the Bishop of 
the city and say unto him, ' Lord, such an one would give us so 
much land for the love of God, and for his soul's health, that 
we may build therein a dwelling. Wherefore we come to you, 
in the first place, because you are father and lord of souls of all 
the flock committed unto you, and of all our brethren who shall 
sojourn in that place; we would fain therefore, with God's 
blessing and yours, build there.' " (But this he said because 
the harvest of souls which the friars would fain reap they do 
better obtain when they are in harmony with the clergy, profit- 
ing them even as the lay folk, than by causing them scandal, 
even though the people should be won thereby.) And he said, 
" The Lord hath called us to the aid of His faith, and of the 
clergy and prelates of the Holy Roman Church. And therefore 
we are bound, as much as we may, always to love and to honour 
and to reverence them." (For he called them Friars Minor that 
they should be humble like their name both in example and 
labour beyond other men of this age.) " And because from the 
beginning of my conversion He placed in the mouth of the 
Bishop of Assisi His words, that he should counsel me and well 
strengthen me in the service of Christ; on account of this and 
many other excellent things which I behold in prelates, I wish 
to love and venerate not only the bishops but also the poor 
priests, and to hold them for my lords." 

Then, having received a blessing from the Bishop, let them go 
and make a great trench in the circuit of the land which they 
have received for building the dwelling, and let them set there 
a good hedge as their wall, as a sign of holy poverty and humility. 
Afterwards let them make poor little houses of wattle and dab, 
and some little cells in which from time to time the friars may 
pray and work, for greater seemliness, and to avoid sloth. Let 
them also build small churches, for they ought not to make 

194 The Mirror of Perfection 

great churches, neither to preach to the people, nor for any 
other reason, since their humility is greater and their example 
better when they go to other churches to preach. And if at any 
time prelates and clergy, regular or secular, come to their dwell- 
ings; the poor little houses, the little cells, and tiny churches 
will preach to them, and they will be more edified by these than 
by words." And he said, " Many times friars build great build- 
ings, breaking our holy poverty, and cause an evil example and 
a murmuring and sometimes by occasion of a better and more 
holy dwelling, or of a greater congregation of the people, through 
their covetousness and avarice they leave their former dwellings 
or buildings and destroy them and make others great and exces- 
sive, whence those who have given their alms there, and others 
likewise seeing this be scandalised and troubled therefor. For 
which cause it is better for friars to make small and poor little 
buildings, observing their profession and giving a good example 
to their neighbours, than that they should act against their 
promise, giving to others an evil example. For if the friars 
should on a time leave a lowly place by occasion of one more 
fitting, the scandal would be less." 



But when blessed Francis had ordered that the friars' churches 
should be small, and their house be builded only of wattle and 
dab, in token of holy poverty and humility, wishing this pattern 
to be set in the dwelling of St. Mary of the Portiuncula, that the 
houses should be constructed of wood and clay, so that it should 
be an everlasting memorial to all friars, present and to come, 
since that it was the first and principal place of the whole Order, 
certain friars were against him in this matter, saying that in 
some provinces beams were dearer than stones, so that it seemed 
not good to them that their houses should be made of wood and 
clay. But the blessed Father would not contend with them, 
the more because he was near death and was sore sickening. 
Wherefore he caused it to be written in his will, " Let friars 
beware of receiving churches and dwellings and all other build- 
ings which be constructed for them save as becometh holy 

The Perfection of Poverty 195 

poverty; living there ever as guests and strangers and pilgrims." 
But we who were with him when he wrote the Rule and well- 
nigh all his other writings bear testimony that he made many 
things to be written in the Rule and in his other writings (wherein 
many of the friars were against him, notably our prelates and 
learned folk) which would to-day have been very useful and 
necessary to the whole Order: but for that he greatly feared 
scandal, he suffered, though not willingly, the wishes of his 
brethren. Yet often he was used to say these words, " Woe to 
those friars who are contrary to me in this matter, which I 
firmly know to be of the Will of God for the greater usefulness 
and necessity of the whole Order, though unwillingly I bend 
myself to their will." Whence often he used to say to us, his 
fellows, " Herein is my grief and my affliction; that in those 
things which with much labour of prayer and meditation I 
obtain of God through His mercy, for the benefit, present and 
future, of the whole Order, and which I am assured by Him are 
according to His will, some brethren by the authority of their 
knowledge and false foresight are against me and make them 
void, saying, ' These things are to be held and observed, and 
these not.' " 



Blessed Francis was used to say these words to his brethren, 
" I have never been a thief concerning alms, in getting them or 
using them beyond necessity. Always have I taken less than 
I needed, lest I should defraud other poor folk of their portion, 
for to do the contrary would have been theft." 



When the Ministers would have persuaded him that he should 
allow something to the friars in common at the least, so that the 
multitude should have that to which it might have recourse, 
blessed Francis called upon Christ in prayer and took counsel 


The Mirror of Perfection 

with Him thereon. Who straightway answered him, saying, 
" I confer all things in general and in special; I shall always be 
ready to provide for this family, however much it may increase, 
and ever will I cherish it as long as it shall hope in Me." 




As a true friend and imitator of Christ, Francis, despising per- 
fectly all things which are of this world, did above all things 
execrate money; and by word and example urged his brethren 
to flee it as it were the devil. For this maxim had been given 
by him to the friars, that they should measure with one price 
of love, dung and money. Now it happened on a day that a 
certain layman entered the church of St. Mary of the Portiun- 
cula to pray, and put some money for an offering near the cross, 
which when he had departed, a certain friar taking innocently 
in his hand, threw into the window. But when this was told to 
blessed Francis, that friar seeing himself taken in a fault, sought 
pardon, and throwing himself on the ground, offered himself to 
punishment. The holy Father reproved him, and very severely 
blamed him for moving the money, and bade him lift the money 
from the window with his mouth, and convey it without the 
hedge of the dwelling, and put it with his own mouth on the 
dung of an ass. And all they that did see and hear were filled 
with very great fear, and from that time forth did despise money 
more than the dung of an ass, and daily were they animated 
with new examples to contemn it altogether. 



This man, being clothed with virtue from on high, was warmed 
more within by a divine, than without by a bodily garment. 
He execrated those in the Order who were clad in threefold 
garments, and those who used softer clothing than was needful. 
But he was used to say that a necessity pointed out by will only 

The Perfection of Poverty 197 

and not by reason was a sign of a dead spirit, " For with luke- 
warm spirit and one cooling from grace, little by little flesh and 
blood must seek their own." And he used to say, " For what 
remaineth when the wish for spiritual delight is wanting, except 
that the flesh should turn to its own." And when animal 
appetite pleadeth the article of necessity, then the sense of the 
flesh fashioneth the conscience. But if true necessity is on my 
brother, and straightway he maketh haste to satisfy it, what 
reward shall he receive? For an occasion of merit hath arisen, 
but he hath studiously proved that it displeased him. For not 
to bear patiently those wants is nothing other than to seek 
Egypt again." Never on any account would he that friars 
should have more than two tunics, though these he used to allow 
to be lined with pieces sewn together. He was accustomed to 
say that choice cloths were horrible, and he used to find fault 
very bitterly with those contrary to him, and that he might 
excite such by his own example, he was always used to sew 
rough sack upon his own tunic. Whence even in death he 
ordered his burial tunic to be covered with sackcloth. But to 
those friars whom infirmity or any other necessity compelled, he 
allowed another soft tunic next the skin, but yet so that out of 
doors roughness and vileness should always be preserved in 
their bearing. For he was accustomed to say with very great 
grief, " Now shall rigour be so much relaxed and sloth shall rule, 
that the sons of a beggar father shall not be ashamed to wear 
even scarlet cloths, its colour only being changed." 



But when blessed Francis was staying at the hermitage of 
St. Eleutherius, over against Rieti, on account of the great cold 
he lined his tunic and the tunic of his fellow Richer with some 
patches (because of custom he carried but one tunic), so that 
his body thence began to be some little cherished. And a little 
after when he had returned from prayer, he said with great joy 
to his fellow, " It behoves me to be the form and example of all 
the friars, and therefore though it be necessary to my body to 
have a lined tunic, yet must I consider my other brethren to 
whom the same is necessary, and who perchance have it not 
and cannot have it. Whence it behoves me to consider them, 


The Mirror of Perfection 

and bear the necessities they bear, that seeing this in me, they 
may be strong to suffer with great patience." But how many 
and how great necessities he denied his body that he might give 
a good example to his brethren, and that they might more 
patiently bear their needs, we who were with him can neither 
by words or by writing set forth. For after the friars began to 
be multiplied he set his chief and highest study in this, to teach 
his brethren rather by works than by words what they had to 
do or avoid. 



Once when he had come on a certain poor man, considering his 
poverty, he said to his fellow, " The poverty of that man brings 
great shame upon us, and much rebukes ours. For very great 
shame it is to me when I find any one poorer than I am: since 
I have chosen holy poverty for my Lady, and for my spiritual 
and bodily riches: and this saying has gone out into the whole 
world, that I have professed poverty before God and man." 



When blessed Francis first began to have friars he rejoiced so 
much at their conversion, and that God had given to him a 
goodly fellowship, and loved and venerated them so much, that 
he did not bid them go for alms, and the more because it seemed 
to him that they were ashamed to go, for which reason their 
father went alone for alms. But when he was greatly fatigued 
by this, especially because he was well nurtured while he was 
in the world, and feeble of nature, and by too great abstinence 
and affliction up to that time was still more weakened, and 
considering that he could not bear such labour alone, and that 
they themselves were called to it, though they were ashamed to 
do it, because they did not yet fully know nor were they so 
discreet as to say, " We also wish to go seek alms." Therefore he 
said to them, " Dearest brethren and my little children, be not 

The Perfection of Poverty 199 

ashamed to go, for this is our heritage which our Lord Jesus 
Christ acquired and left to us and to all who wish by His example 
to live in holy poverty. In truth I say to you, that many of 
the more noble and more holy of this world shall come to this 
congregation, and shall hold it for great honour and grace to go 
seek alms. Go, therefore, confident in mind and rejoicing with 
the benediction of God for alms ; and ye ought the more willingly 
and rejoicingly to go for alms, than he who for one piece of 
money should return an hundred pence, since ye offer to them 
from whom you seek an alms the love of God, saying, ' For the 
love of God do us an alms-deed, in comparison with Whom 
heaven and earth are as nought.' " But because the brethren 
were so few, he could not send them two by two, but sent them 
one by one through villages and towns. And so it was that 
when they returned with the gifts which they had found, each 
of them showed to blessed Francis his alms which he had 
collected. And one used to say to another, " I have received 
more alms than thou." And at this time the blessed Father 
was rejoiced, seeing them so merry and jocund. And from that 
time forward each of them more willingly sought leave to go 
beg alms. 



At that same time, when blessed Francis was living with the 
brethren whom he then had, he lived in such poverty with them, 
that they observed the Holy Gospel in and through all things 
to the letter, from that day in which the Lord revealed to him 
that he and his brethren should live according to the form of 
the Holy Gospel. Whence he forbade the brother who used to 
cook for the friars to put dried beans in warm water when they 
were to be given to the friars to eat on the following day, as the 
custom is, so that they might observe that saying of the Holy 
Gospel, Take no thought for the morrow. And so that brother 
put off setting them to soften till after Matins, because by then 
the day in which they were to be eaten had begun. (On account 
of which many friars observed this rule in many places for a 
long time and would neither ask nor accept more alms than were 
necessary to them for one day; and this especially in cities.) 

200 The Mirror of Perfection 



When a certain Minister of the friars had come to blessed Francis 
to celebrate the feast of Christmas with him in the friars' dwell- 
ing at Rieti, the friars, because of the Minister and the feast, 
laid out the table a little worshipfully and choicely on that 
Christmas Day, putting on fair and white napery and glass 
vessels. But the blessed Father coming down from his cell to 
eat, saw the tables placed on high, and so choicely laid out. 
Then forthwith he went secretly, and took the staff and wallet 
of a certain poor man who had come thither that day, and calling 
to him with a low voice one of his fellows, went out to the door of 
the dwelling, the brethren of the house not knowing of it. But 
his fellow remained inside near the door. The friars in the 
meantime had entered to the table. For the blessed Father 
had ordered that the friars should not wait for him, when he did 
not come straightway at meal-time. And when he had stood 
a little while outside, he knocked at the door, and forthwith his 
fellow opened to him, and coming with his wallet behind his 
back and his stick in his hand, he went to the door of the room 
in which the friars were eating like a pilgrim and a pauper, and 
called out, saying, " For the love of the Lord God, give an alms 
to this poor and infirm pilgrim." But the Minister and the 
other friars knew him straightway. And the Minister answered 
him, " Brother, we also be poor, and since we be many, the alms 
we have be necessary to us. But for the love of that Lord Whom 
thou hast named, enter the house, and we will give you of the 
alms which the Lord hath given to us." And when he had 
entered and stood before the table of the friars, the Minister gave 
him the platter in which he was eating, and bread likewise. 
And humbly accepting it he sat down next the fire in the presence 
of the friars sitting at the table. And sighing, he said to the 
friars, " When I saw the table worshipfully and sumptuously 
laid out, I thought within myself it was not the table of poor 
religious who daily go from door to door for alms. For it becomes 
us, dearest, more than other religious to follow the example of 
the humility and poverty of Christ, because we are professed and 
called to this before God and men. Whence it seems that I now 
sit as a Friar Minor, for the feasts of the Lord and of other saints 

The Perfection of Poverty 201 

are rather honoured with the want and poverty by which those 
saints conquered heaven for themselves, than with the elegance 
and superfluity by which they be made distant from heaven." 
But the friars were ashamed., considering he was speaking the 
pure truth. And some of them began to weep greatly, seeing 
how he was sitting on the earth, and that he would correct and 
instruct them in so holy and pure a wise. For he admonished 
the friars that they should have such humble and decent tables 
that by them the worldly might be edified. And if any poor 
man should come and be invited by the friars that he might sit 
as an equal beside them, and not the poor man on the earth, 
and the friars on high. 



My Lord of Ostia, who was afterwards Pope Gregory, when he 
had come to the chapter of the friars of St. Mary of the Portiun- 
cula, entered the house to see the dormitory of the friars, with 
many knights and clerks. And seeing that the friars used to lie 
on the earth, and had nothing under them except a little straw 
and some pallets as if all broken, and no pillows, he began to 
weep sore before them all, saying, " Behold, here sleep the friars, 
but we wretched ones, how many superfluities do we use! 
What therefore shall happen to us ? " Whence he and all others 
were much edified. Also he saw no table there, for that in 
that dwelling the friars were accustomed to eat on the earth. 



When blessed Francis was in the dwelling of Bagni, over the 
city of Nocera, his feet began to swell sore by reason of his 
ailment of dropsy; and sore sick was he there. Which, when 
they of Assisi had heard, certain men-at-arms came hastily to 
that place to bring him back to Assisi, fearing lest he should 
die there, and that others should have his most holy body. 


202 The Mirror of Perfection 

But while they were bringing him home, they rested in a certain 
fortified place of the lordship of Assisi, to break their fast, and 
the blessed Father rested in the house of a certain poor man, 
who willingly received him. But the soldiers went through the 
place to buy themselves necessaries, and found none. And they 
returned to blessed Francis, saying to him as if making pastime, 
" You, Brother, must give us of your alms, since we can get 
nothing to eat." And blessed Francis said to them with great 
fervour of spirit, " You have not found, because you confided 
in your fly-gods and pence, and not in God. But return now to 
the houses whither you went seeking to buy, and laying aside your 
shame, ask alms there for the love of the Lord God; and the 
Holy Spirit inspiring them, they shall give to you abundantly." 
They went therefore and sought alms as the blessed Father said 
to them, and those from whom they sought alms gave to them 
joyfully and with abundance of the things which they had. 
And knowing this to have happened to them as by a miracle, 
the soldiers praising God returned with great joy to blessed 

Thus verily the blessed Father held it for great nobility and 
dignity before God and the world, to seek alms for the love of 
the Lord God; because all things which the Father of Heaven 
had created for the use of man on account of His beloved Son 
are granted freely to the worthy and the unworthy alike by 
charity since their sin. For he was wont to say that the servant 
of God ought more willingly and joyfully to seek alms for the 
love of the Lord God, than he who of his own bounty and 
courtesy should go, saying, " Whoever shall give to me a coin 
worth one single penny, I will give to them one thousand marks 
of gold." " For the servant of God when seeking an alms offers 
the love of God to those from whom he begs, in comparison 
with which reward all things which are in heaven and in earth are 
nothing." Whence before the friars were multiplied, and even 
after they were multiplied, when they went through the world 
preaching and were invited by any one, however noble and rich, t 
to eat and guest with them, always at the hour of eating they 
were accustomed to go for alms before they would go to his 
house, on account of the good example of the brethren and the 
dignity of the Lady Poverty. And many times he who had 
invited him would say to him that he ought not to go, to whom 
he answered, " I will not put off my royal dignity and heirship, 
and my profession and that of my brethren, namely, to go for i 
alms from door to door." And sometimes he who had invited 

The Perfection of Poverty 203 

him used to go with him himself, and took to him the alms 
which blessed Francis obtained, and on account of his devotion 
kept them for relics. He who has written this saw this many- 
times, and bears testimony concerning these things. 



On a certain time when the blessed Father had visited my Lord 
of Ostia (who was afterwards Pope Gregory), at the hour of 
meals he went as if by stealth for alms from door to door. And 
when he had returned, my Lord of Ostia had already gone in 
to table with many knights and nobles. But blessed Francis 
approaching placed those alms which he had received on the 
table beside him, for he would that the blessed Father should 
always sit near him. And the Cardinal was a little ashamed 
because he went for alms and put them on the table, but he 
said nothing to him then on account of his guests. And when 
blessed Francis had eaten a little, he took of his alms and sent a 
little to each of the knights and chaplains of my Lord Cardinal 
on behalf of the Lord God. Who all received them with great 
joy and devotion, stretching out to him cowls and sleeves. 
And some did eat while others put it aside, out of their great 
devotion to him. But my Lord of Ostia rejoiced greatly at 
their devotion, chiefly because those alms were not of wheaten 
bread. After the meal he entered his chamber, taking with him 
blessed Francis, and lifting up his arms he embraced him with 
great joy and exultation, saying to him, " Why, my most simple 
brother, hast thou done me this shame to-day, that coming to 
my house, which is the home of thy brethren, thou shouldst 
go begging alms? " The blessed Father answered him, " Nay, 
my Lord, I have done you great honour, for when a servant 
does his duty and fulfils his obedience to his lord, he does honour 
to his lord." And he said, " It behoves me to be a form and 
example to my poor ones, especially because I know that in this 
order of friars there will be Friars Minor in name and in deed, 
who for the love of the Lord God and the unction of the Holy 
Spirit Who shall teach them concerning all things, shall be 
humiliated to all humility and subjection and service of their 
brethren. But there are, and will be, some amongst them who, 

204 The Mirror of Perfection 

held back by shame or evil usage, disdain and will disdain to 
humiliate themselves and to stoop to go begging alms and to 
do other servile work; wherefore it behoves me by my deeds 
to teach those who are and will be in the Order, that they shall 
be without excuse in this life and the next before God. Being 
therefore with you, who are our lord and our apostle, and with 
other magnates and rich men of the world, who for the love of 
the Lord God not only receive me with much devotion into your 
houses, but also compel me to sit at your table, I will not be 
ashamed to beg alms, nay, I would fain have and hold this a 
very great nobility and royal dignity before God, and in honour 
of Him Who, when He was Lord of all, wished for our sakes to 
become servant of all, and when He was rich and glorious in His 
majesty became poor and despised in our humility. Whence 
let those who are and shall be friars know that I hold it for 
greater consolation of soul and body to sit at the sorry table 
of the friars, and see before me the wretched alms which they 
beg from door to door for the love of the Lord God, than to sit 
at your table, or that of other lords, abundantly prepared with 
diverse dainties. For the bread of charity is holy bread, which 
the praise and love of the Lord God sanctifies, since when a 
brother ask an alms he should first say, ' Praised and blessed be 
the Lord God,' afterwards he should say, ' Do to us an alms for 
the love of the Lord God/ " And the Cardinal was much 
edified at this conversation of the blessed Father, and said to him, 
" My son, do that which is good in thine eyes, since God is with 
thee, and thou with Him." For this was the oft-repeated desire 
of blessed Francis, that a friar ought not to remain long without 
going out for alms, both on account of the great merit of the 
act and lest he should afterwards be ashamed to go. Nay, the 
more noble and great in this world was the friar, so much the 
more was he rejoiced and edified with him, when he went to 
seek alms and did other servile work, as at that time the friars 
were wont to do. 

The Perfection of Poverty 205 



In the first days of the Order, when the friars dwelt at Rivo 
Torto near Assisi, there was amongst them a certain friar who 
prayed little and did not work, who would not ask for alms 
and used to eat well. Considering these things, blessed Francis 
knew by the Holy Spirit that he was a carnal man, and said to 
him, " Go thy way, friar fly, since thou wilt eat of the labour of 
thy brethren and be idle in the work of God, like a lazy and 
sterile drone which profiteth nothing and laboureth not, but 
eateth the labour and profit of the good bees." And so he 
went his way. And because he was carnal, he sought not for 
mercy nor found it. 



On another time also, when the blessed Father was at St. Mary 
of the Portiuncula, a certain very spiritual poor man was coming 
through the street returning from Assisi with alms, and went 
along praising God in a loud voice with much joyfulness. But 
when he drew near the church of blessed Mary, blessed Francis 
heard him, and straightway with great fervour and joy went out 
to him, running up to him in the way, and with great joyfulness 
kissing the shoulder whereon he carried the scrip with alms. 
And he took the wallet from his shoulder and put it on his own 
shoulder, and thus brought it into the house of the friars, and 
in their presence said, " Thus I would that a brother of mine 
should go and return with alms, glad and joyful and praising 



On a certain day blessed Francis said, " The order and life 
of the Friars Minor is a certain little flock which the Son of 
God in these last times asked of His Heavenly Father, saying, 

206 The Mirror of Perfection 

' Father, I would that Thou shouldst make and give to Me 
a new and humble folk in these last times, unlike to all others 
who have gone before them, in humility and poverty, and 
content to possess Me alone.' And the Father said, having 
heard the Son, ' My Son, that which Thou hast asked is done.' " 
Whence the blessed Father used to say that for this reason 
God willed and revealed to him that they should be called 
Friars Minor, because this is that poor and humble folk which 
the Son of God demanded of His Father. Of which folk 
the Son Himself speaks in the Gospel, Fear not, little Hock, 
for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 
And again, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of 
these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. And the Lord 
understood this of all spiritual poor men, yet He spake it more 
especially of the Order of Friars Minor, which was to be in His 
Church. Whence, as it was revealed to blessed Francis that it 
should be called the Order of Friars Minor, so he made it to be 
written in his testament and the first Rule which he took to 
the Lord Pope, Innocent III., who approved and conceded it, 
and afterwards announced it to all in Consistory. Likewise 
the Lord revealed to him the salutation which the friars should 
use, as he caused to be written in his testament, saying, " The 
Lord revealed to me that I should say for a greeting: The Lord 
give thee peace." Whence, in the first days of the Order, when 
he would go with a certain friar who was one of the first twelve, 
he saluted the men and women on the road, and those who 
were in the fields, saying, " The Lord give you peace." And 
for that men had not heard up to then such a salutation from 
any religious they wondered greatly. Nay, some used to say 
to them with great indignation, " What does this salutation of 
yours mean? " So that that brother began to be ashamed of 
it, whence he said to blessed Francis, " Let me use another 
greeting." And the holy Father said to him, " Let them talk, 
since they perceive not those things which are of God. But be 
not ashamed, because from henceforth the nobles and princes 
of this world shall show reverence to thee and other friars for 
this salutation. For it is no great thing if the Lord should wish 
to have a new and little flock, singular and unlike all those who 
have come before them in life and work, a folk which should be 
content to have Him alone most sweet." 





On a certain time when blessed Francis began to have friars, 
dwelling with them at Rivo Torto near Assisi, it fell on a night, 
all the friars being at rest, about the middle of the night, one of 
them called out, saying, " I am dying! I am dying! " whereon 
all the friars woke up amazed and affrighted. And the holy 
Father, rising, said, "Rise, brothers, and kindle the light!" 
And when it was lit he said, " Who is he that said, ' I am 
dying ' ? " The brother answered, "It is I." And he said to 
him, "What is the matter, brother? How dost thou die?" 
And he said, " I die of hunger." Then the blessed Father 
caused the table to be laid straightway, and like a man full of 
charity and discretion, ate with him lest he should be put to 
shame by eating alone, and by his will, all the other friars ate 
likewise. For that brother and all the other friars who had 
newly turned to the Lord, used to inflict their bodies even 
beyond measure. And after the meal the holy Father said to 
the other friars, " Dearest, I bid you, each of you, consider 
his nature, because though one of you may be able to sustain 
himself on less food, yet I will that another who requires more 
food shall not be bound to imitate the first in this thing, but 
shall, considering his own nature, give his body what it requires, 
so that it may be able to serve the spirit. For as we are bound 
to beware of superfluity of eating, which harms body and soul, 
so also must we beware of too great abstinence, nay, even more, 
since the Lord will have mercy and not sacrifice." And he said, 
" Dearest brothers, this which I have done, to wit, that on 
account of charity towards my brother, we have eaten together 
with him, lest he should be ashamed to eat alone, necessity and 
charity rather forced me to do. But I say to you that I would 


208 The Mirror of Perfection 

not so do again, seeing it would be neither religious nor becoming. 
But I will and command you that each of our brethren according 
to our poverty satisfy his body as it shall be necessary for him." 
For the first friars, and the others who came after them for a 
long time, afflicted their bodies beyond measure with abstinence 
from food and drink, with vigils, with cold, with roughness of 
raiment, and the labour of their hands; they wore next their flesh 
very strong iron belts and coats, and hair shirts; on which 
account, seeing by occasion of this the friars might become 
weak, and that some were already in that short time ill, he 
forbade in a certain chapter any friar to wear anything next the 
skin except a tunic. 

But we who were with him bear testimony of him, that though 
in the whole time of his life he was thus discreet and temperate 
concerning his brethren, yet it was so that they should at no time 
deviate from the way of poverty and the decorum of our Order. 
Nevertheless the most holy Father himself, from the beginning 
of his conversion unto the end of his life, was austere to his own 
body, although he was by nature feeble, and could not have 
lived in the world, except delicately. Whence, considering on 
a certain day, that the friars were exceeding the measure of 
poverty and of decency in their food and in other things, in a 
certain sermon which he made to sundry brethren, in the presence 
of all the friars he said, " Let not the brethren think that some 
allowance is necessary to my body, for because it behoves me 
to be the form and example of all friars, I wish to use and be 
content with few and very wretched meats, and to use all other 
things according to poverty, and utterly to turn in disgust 
from things rare and delicate." 



On another time when the blessed Father was at the same place, 
a certain friar, spiritual and old in the Order, was there infirm 
and very feeble. And when he saw him blessed Francis was 
moved with pity for him. But because then the friars, both 
well and ill, with great joy were using poverty for their abund- 
ance, and not using in their sickness medicines nor even asking 

Charity and Compassion 209 

for them, but on the other hand taking by choice those things 
which were contrary to the body, blessed Francis said within 
himself, " If that brother would eat some ripe grapes early in 
the morning I believe it would do him good." And as he 
thought so he did in its turn. 

For he rose on a certain day, very early, and called to him 
that friar privately, and led him into a certain vineyard which 
was near the dwelling. And he chose a vine whereon the grape? 
were good to eat, and sitting near the vine with that friar, 
began to eat of the grapes, lest the brother himself should be 
ashamed to eat alone. And while they were eating, the friar 
was cured, and together they praised the Lord. Whence that 
friar for the whole time of his life, remembered this the mercy 
and piety which the most holy Father showed and did unto 
him, and often with great devotion and shedding of tears was 
wont to relate this among the brethren. 



At Celano in the winter time, when blessed Francis had a cloth 
folded like a mantle which a certain friend of the friars had 
lent to him, there came to him an old woman seeking alms. 
Who forthwith loosed the cloak from his neck, and though it 
belonged to another, gave it to the poor old woman, saying, 
" Go and make a tunic for yourself, because you want it 
enough." The old woman laughed, and astonished, I know not 
whether from fear or joy, took the cloth from his hands, and lest 
delay should bring about a danger of his taking it back, ran 
very swiftly, and fell upon the cloth with her scissors. But 
when she found the cloth was not enough for a tunic, she came 
back to the first kindness of the holy Father, pointing out to 
him that the cloth was not large enough for a tunic. The saint 
turned his eyes to his fellow who wore such another cloth on 
his back, and said to him, " Hearest thou what this poor woman 
says. For the love of God let us bear the cold, and give that 
cloth to the poor woman that her tunic may be finished." 
And forthwith as he had given it so also did his fellow. Thus 
both of them remained bare that the poor woman might be 

2 1 o The Mirror of Perfection 



Once when he was returning from Siena, he came across a poor 
man on the way, and said to his fellow, " We ought to return 
this mantle to its owner. For we received it only as a loan, 
until we should come upon one poorer than ourselves." But 
his fellow, considering the necessity of the holy Father, main- 
tained that he ought not to neglect himself to provide for 
another. To whom the saint answered, " I will not be a thief. 
For it would be counted to us for a theft if we should not give 
to him who is more needy." And so the pious Father handed 
over the mantle to the poor man. 



At the Cell of Cortona, the blessed Father was wearing a new 
mantle which the friars had been at some trouble to obtain for 
him. A poor man came to the dwelling, weeping for his dead 
wife and his wretched orphaned family. To whom the com- 
passionate saint said, " I give thee this mantle on condition 
that you will not give it up to any one except he buy it from 
you and pay you well." The friars, hearing this, ran together 
to the poor man to take away that mantle from him. But the 
poor man, gathering boldness from the face of the holy Father, 
with clasped hands was carrying it away as his own. At last 
the friars redeemed the mantle, procuring that the due price 
should be given to the poor man. 



At the hill of the lordship of Perugia, blessed Francis met a 
certain poor man whom he had known before in the world, and 
said to him, " Brother, how is it with thee? " But he with 
angry mind began to utter curses on his lord, saying, " By the 

Charity and Compassion 21 1 

grace of my lord, whom may the Lord curse, I can be nothing 
but ill, since he has taken away from me all my goods." But 
blessed Francis, seeing that he persisted in mortal hatred, 
having pity on his soul, said to him, " Brother, forgive thy lord 
for the love of God, and free your own soul; it may be that he 
will restore what he has taken away; otherwise thou hast lost 
thy goods and wilt lose thy soul." And he said, " I cannot 
forgive him at all, unless he first return what he has taken away 
from me." Then the holy Father answered, " Behold, I give 
thee this mantle; I beg thee to forgive thy lord for the love of 
the Lord God." And immediately his heart was sweetened, 
and moved by this good deed he forgave his lord his injuries. 



A certain poor woman of Machilone came to Rieti for a disease 
of the eyes; and when the doctor came to blessed Francis, he 
said to him, " Brother, a certain woman diseased in the eyes 
has come to me, who is so poor that I have had to pay her 
charges for her." And when he had heard this, he was forth- 
with moved with pity for her, and calling one of the friars who 
was his Warden, he said to him, " Brother Warden, we must 
return what we borrowed." Who answered, " What is that 
loan, brother?" But he said, "This mantle which we have 
received as a loan from that poor sick woman, we should return 
to her." And his Warden said to him, " Brother, what seemeth 
best to thee to be done, so do." Then the holy Father called 
with glee a certain spiritual man familiar with him, and said 
to him, " Take this mantle, and twelve loaves with it, and go 
to the poor woman sick of her eyes whom the doctor shall show 
thee, and say to her, ' The poor man to whom you entrusted 
this mantle gives thanks to thee for the loan of the mantle, take 
that which is thine own.' " He went therefore and said to the 
woman all the things that blessed Francis had said to him. But 
she, thinking he was making game of her, said to him with fear 
and modesty, " Leave me in peace, for I know not what thou 
say est." But he put the mantle and the twelve loaves in her 
hands. She then, considering that he must have spoken this 
in truth, accepted it with fear and reverence, rejoicing and 

212 The Mirror of Perfection 

praising the Lord. And fearing lest it should be taken away 
from her, she rose secretly by night and returned to her home 
with gladness. But blessed Francis had arranged with the 
Warden to give her her charges every day while she abode there. 
Whence we who were with him bear testimony of him that he 
was of so much charity and pity to the sick and the whole, not 
only toward his brethren but also toward other poor folk, well 
or ill, that he used to give to the poor those necessaries of his 
body which the brethren used sometimes to acquire with great 
solicitude and labour, first soothing us lest we should be troubled 
by it, with great joy inward and outward, taking away those 
things from himself even which were very necessary to him. 
And on account of this thing the General Minister and his 
Warden had ordered him not to give his tunic to any friars 
without their leave. For the friars of their devotion used 
sometimes to beg a tunic of him, who immediately gave it to 
them, and sometimes he divided it and gave them a part, and 
kept a part for himself, because he only carried one tunic. 



Whence on a time, when he was going through a certain 
province preaching, two French-born friars met him. Who when 
they had had great consolation from him, finally begged his tunic 
of him for the love of God. But he, when he heard " for the 
love of God " forthwith took off his tunic and gave it to them, 
remaining bare for some hours. For when the love of God was 
named to him, he never denied to any one his cord, or his tunic, 
or anything whatever that was asked for; nay, he greatly mis- 
liked it and often reproved the friars when he heard them for 
anything whatever name uselessly " for the love of God." For 
he was wont to say, " So very high and very precious is the love 
of God, that it should never be named save seldom and in 
great necessity, and with much reverence." 

But one of those friars took off his own tunic, and gave it to 
him. When he gave a tunic or part of it to any one he suffered 
thence great necessity and tribulation, since he could not very 
quickly have another, especially because he always wished to 

Charity and Compassion 213 

wear a sorry tunic patched with pieces of cloth sometimes both 
within and without; nay, he would never or rarely wear a tunic 
of new cloth, but he used to get from another friar his tunic 
which he had already worn for some time, and sometimes he 
would take from one brother a part of his tunic and from another 
a part. But on account of his many infirmities and chills of 
the stomach and the spleen, he used sometimes to patch it on 
the inside with new cloth. And this manner of poverty in his 
clothes he held and observed until the year in which he passed 
to the Lord; for a few days before his death, because he was 
dropsical, and as if all dried up, and on account of the many 
other infirmities which he had, the friars made for him several 
tunics, for that of necessity his tunic should be changed every 
day and night. 



Another time a certain poor man came to the place where 
blessed Francis was, and begged a piece of cloth for the love of 
God. Hearing which, blessed Francis said to a certain friar, 
" Seek through the house if thou canst find some cloth or any 
piece, and give it to that poor man." And that friar, running 
through the whole of the house, said that he could not find any. 
Then that the poor brother should not go away empty, blessed 
Francis went by stealth lest his Warden should forbid him, 
and took a knife, and sitting in his hiding-place, began to cut 
off that part of his tunic which was sewed on in the inside, 
wishing to give that piece to the poor man by stealth. But the 
Warden learning this, went forthwith to him, and forbade him 
to give it, especially because there was then a great frost, and 
he was very ill and cold. Then blessed Francis said to him, 
" If thou wilt not that I should give that piece to him, thou 
must arrange that some piece be given to that poor brother." 
And so the friars gave to that poor man some cloth from their 
own clothing, for the sake of blessed Francis. When he went 
through the world to preach, either on his feet or on an ass 
(after he began to grow sick), or on a horse in the greatest and 
strictest necessity (because otherwise he would not ride, and 
this only a little before his death), if any brother used to lend 

2 1 4 The Mirror of Perfection 

him a mantle, he would not receive it unless he might give it 
to any poor man meeting him or coming to him, so only that 
the testimony of his spirit showed him that it was necessary 
to him. 



In the first days of the Order, when he was staying at Rivo 
Torto, with the two companions whom he then had, alone, 
behold, a certain man, by name Giles, who was the third friar, 
came from the world to him, to receive his life. And after he 
abode there for some days clothed with the garments he had 
brought from the world, it happened that a certain poor man 
came to the place, seeking an alms from blessed Francis. 
Turning to Giles, blessed Francis said to him, " Give thy mantle 
to thy poor brother." Who forthwith with great joy took it 
from his back and gave it to the poor man. And then it was 
seen that God had put a new grace into his heart, for that he 
had given with joy his mantle to the poor. And so he was 
received by blessed Francis, and ever went forward virtuously 
to the greatest perfection. 



When blessed Francis had gone to preach at a certain dwelling 
of the friars near Rocca Brizzi, it happened that on that day 
on which he should preach a certain poor and infirm man came 
unto him. On whom having much compassion, he began to 
speak to his fellow of his poverty and sickness, and his fellow 
said to him, " Brother, it is true that he seems poor enough; but 
it may be that in the whole province there is no one who wishes 
more to be rich than he." And being immediately severely 
reproved by blessed Francis, he confessed his fault. And blessed 
Francis said, " Wilt thou for this do the penance which I shall 
bid thee? " Who answered, " I will do it willingly." And he 
said to him, " Go and put off your tunic, and throw yourself 

Charity and Compassion 2 1 5 

naked at the poor man's feet, and tell him how thou hast sinned 
against him in speaking evil in that matter, and ask him to 
pray for you." He went therefore and did all the things which 
blessed Francis had told him. Which done, he arose and put 
on his tunic and returned to blessed Francis. And blessed 
Francis said to him, " Wouldst thou know how thou hast sinned 
against him, nay, against Christ ? When thou seest a poor man, 
thou oughtest to consider Him in Whose Name he cometh, 
namely, Christ. Who took our poverty and infirmity on Him: 
for the infirmity and poverty of this man, is as it were a mirror 
to us, wherein we may see and consider with pity, the sickness 
and poverty of our Lord Jesus Christ." 



Another time, when he was abiding at St. Mary of the 
Portiuncula, a certain woman, poor and old, who had two sons 
in the order, came to the dwelling seeking an alms from the holy 
Father. Immediately blessed Francis said to Friar Peter of 
Catana, who was then the Minister General, " Have we aught 
which we can give to this our mother? " (For he was wont to 
say that the mother of any friar was the mother of him and of all 
friars.) Friar Peter answered him, " We have nothing in the 
house which we can give her, for she would have an alms to 
sustain her body. But we have in the church one only New 
Testament wherein we read the lessons at Matins." (For in 
that time the friars had no breviaries nor many psalters.) 
Blessed Francis said to him therefore, " Give the Testament to 
our mother, that she may sell it for her necessity. For I believe 
firmly that it will please the Lord and the Blessed Virgin more, 
than if we were to read in it." And so he gave it her. For 
that can be said and written of him, which is read of blessed 
Job: For from my youth {charity) was brought up with me . . . 
and from my mother's womb. Whence unto us who were with 
him not only what we have learned from others of his charity 
and pity toward friars and other poor men, but also those things 
which our eyes have seen would be very difficult to write or tell. 





To observe the virtue of holy humility, a few years after his 
conversion he resigned the office of his prelacy in a certain 
Chapter before the friars, saying: " From henceforth am I dead 
to you, but behold Brother Peter of Catana, whom both I and 
we all will obey." And throwing himself on the earth before 
him, he promised him obedience and reverence. Thereupon all 
the friars wept, and their exceeding great grief forced from 
them deep sighs, when they saw themselves in a manner become 
orphans of such a father. But the holy Father rising, with his 
eyes raised to heaven and his hands joined, said, " Lord, I 
commend to Thee Thy family which hitherto Thou hast com- 
mitted to me; and now on account of the infirmities which 
Thou knowest, most sweet Lord, being unable to have the care 
of it, I commend it to its Ministers, who shall be held in the day 
of judgment to show cause before Thee, O Lord, if any brother 
should perish through their negligence, or evil example, or bitter 

He remained therefore from that time a subject unto the day 
of his death, bearing himself more humbly in all things thai} any 
of the others. 



At another time he gave up all his fellows to his Vicar, saying, 
" I will not seem singular in this prerogative of liberty to have 
a special fellow, but let friars join me from place to place as the 
Lord shall have inspired them." And he added, " I saw just 


Holy Humility and Obedience 217 

now a blind man who had but a puppy as a guide on his way, 
and I will not seem better than he." But this was always his 
glory, that having left behind him all appearance of singularity 
or boasting, there should dwell in him the virtue of Christ. 



Once having been asked by a certain friar, why he had thus 
cast off his brethren from his care, and handed them over into 
strange hands, as if they did not belong to him in the smallest 
degree, he answered, " My son, I love the brethren as I am able, 
but if they would follow in my footsteps, I would love them still 
more, nor would I make myself strange to them. For there are 
certain of the prelates, who draw them to other things, proposing 
to them the example of the ancients, and little considering my 
warnings. But what and how they do shall appear more clearly 
in the end." And a little after, when his exceeding great 
infirmity weighed upon him, in the vehemence of his spirit he 
rose in his bed, and crying out, said, " Who are they who snatch 
my Order and my brethren from my hands? If I come to the 
General Chapter, I will show them what will they have." 



The blessed Father was not ashamed to obtain flesh meat for 
a sick friar in the public places of the cities, yet he warned them 
that lay sick to bear want patiently, and not to rise in scandal 
when they were not fully satisfied. Whence in the first Rule 
he caused it to be written thus, " I beseech my brethren that in 
their infirmities they grow not angry, nor be disturbed against 
God or their brethren, nor demand medicines too eagerly, nor 
desire too greatly to set free the flesh that so soon shall die, 
which is the enemy of the spirit. But let them give thanks for 
all things, and desire to be such as God would have them to be. 
For those, whom the Lord hath preordained to life eternal, He 
teaches with the stings of scourges and infirmities, as He Himself 
says, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." 

2 1 8 The Mirror of Perfection 



In the city of Rome when those two renowned lights, blessed 
Francis and blessed Dominic, were together before my Lord of 
Ostia, who was afterwards Pope, and each in turn had poured 
forth sweet things concerning God, then my Lord of Ostia said 
to them, " In the primitive church the pastors and prelates were 
poor, and men fervent in charity, not greed. Why therefore 
should we not make bishops and prelates of your friars, who 
should prevail over all others for a document and example? " 
Then was there between the saints a humble and devout con- 
tention concerning their answer, not indeed a pushing forward, 
but each in turn turning to the other, and forcing him to answer. 
Eut at the last the humility of Francis conquered, so that he did 
not answer first, and Dominic conquered, who by answering first 
did humbly obey. Blessed Dominic therefore answering said, 
■" My Lord, my brethren have been exalted to a good condition 
if they will but know it, and, as far as lies in my power, I shall 
never permit them to attain any form of dignity." Then blessed 
Francis, inclining himself before the aforesaid Lord, said, " My 
Lord, my brethren be called Minors for this reason, that they 
should not presume to become greater. For their vocation 
teaches them to remain lowly, and to imitate the footsteps of 
the humility of Christ, that hereby at last .they may be exalted 
more than others in the sight of the saints. For if you would 
that they bring forth fruit in the Church of God, hold and keep 
them in the state of their calling, and if they strive for high 
things, cast them down violently to the ground, and never 
permit them to rise to any prelacy." These were the answers of 
the saints. And when they were ended, my Lord of Ostia, much 
edified by the responses of them both, gave exceeding great 
thanks to God. Both going away together, blessed Dominic 
asked blessed Francis to deign to give him the cord by which 
he was girded. And blessed Francis denied it him from humility, 
as he had demanded it from charity. Yet the happy devotion 
of him who asked did conquer, and blessed Dominic having 
ireceived the cord of blessed Francis by the violence of his charity, 

Holy Humility and Obedience 219 

girded it under his tunic, and from that time forth devoutly wore 
it. Then either of them placed his hands between the hands of 
the other, and commended each to the other with the sweetest 
mutual commendations. And so holy Dominic said to holy 
Francis, " I would, brother Francis, that thine and mine should 
make one Order, and that we should live in like manner in the 
church." Then when they were separated from one another, 
Dominic said to several who were standing by, " In truth I say 
unto you, that all religious ought to imitate this holy man Francis, 
so great is the perfection of his holiness," 



Blessed Francis, from the beginning of his conversion, the 
Lord aiding him, founded himself like a wise builder upon the 
rock, that is, on the exceeding great humility and poverty of 
the Son of God, calling his Order that of the Friars Minor by 
cause of his great humility. Whence in the beginning of the 
Order he wished that the friars should abide in leper houses to 
serve them, and there lay a foundation of holy humility. For 
when gentle and simple came to the Order, amongst the other 
things which were announced to them, he was wont to say that 
it behoved them to serve lepers, and abide in their houses; 
as it was contained in the first Rule, " Willing to have naught 
under heaven except holy poverty, whereby they may be fed 
by the Lord in this world with bodily and spiritual food, and 
in the life to come attain their heavenly heritage." And thus 
he chose for himself and others a foundation on the greatest 
humility and poverty, inasmuch as when he might have been a 
great prelate in the Church of God, he chose and wished to be 
lowly, not only in the Church, but also among his brethren. 
For this lowliness, in his opinion and desire, was very great 
exaltation in the sight of God and man. 

2 20 The Mirror of Perfection 



When he had been preaching to the people in Rieti in the 
market place of the city, after the preaching was finished, the 
bishop of that city straightway rose up, a man both discreet 
and spiritual, and said to the people, " The Lord, from the first 
day in which He planted and built up His church, has always 
adorned it with holy men, to nourish it by word and example. 
But now, in this latest hour, He has adorned it with this poor 
and despised and unlettered man, Francis, and therefore are we 
bound to love and honour the Lord, and beware of sin. For 
he hath not done after this manner to any nation." Having 
finished these words, the bishop came down from the place 
where he had preached, and entered the Cathedral. And blessed 
Francis coming to him, throwing himself at his feet, bowed 
down before him, and said, " In truth I say unto you, my Lord 
Bishop, that no man has done so much honour to me in this 
life, as you have done to me to-day, for those men say, ' This 
is a holy man,' attributing to me glory and sanctity, and not to 
the Creator. But you, as one discreet, have separated the 
precious from the vile." 

For when the holy Father used to be praised and called holy, 
he was wont to answer to such speeches, saying, " I am not 
yet so secure, that I ought not to have sons and daughters. For 
at whatever hour the Lord should take away from me the 
treasure which He has commended to me, what else would 
remain to me but body and soul, which even infidels have? 
Nay, I ought to believe that if the Lord should have granted 
so many and so great gifts to a thief or an infidel as to me they 
would have been more faithful to their Lord than I. For, as 
in the picture of the Lord and the Blessed Virgin painted on 
wood, the Lord and the Blessed Virgin are honoured, and yet 
the wood and the picture take nothing of it to themselves, so 
the servant of God is in a manner a picture of God, wherein God 
is honoured on account of His goodness. But he ought to take 
nothing of this to himself, since in respect of God, he is less than 
the wood and the picture, nay, he is pure nothing. And there- 
fore unto God alone must the glory and honour be rendered, 
but unto him only shame and tribulation while he lives among 
the miseries of this life." 

Holy Humility and Obedience 221 



But wishing to remain in perfect humility and subjection unto 
death; some time before his death he said to the Minister- 
General, " I would that thou shouldst commit thy rule over me 
to one of my fellows, to whom I may do obedience in thy place, 
for on account of the merit of obedience I desire that in life 
and in death it should ever remain with me." And from that 
time forward he had one of his fellows as a Warden, whom he 
obeyed in the stead of the Minister-General, nay, on a time 
he said to his fellows, " The Lord has granted me this grace 
amongst others, to obey as diligently the novice who enters the 
Order to-day, if he were assigned to me for Warden, as he who 
is foremost and ancient in life and in the Order. For a subject 
ought to look upon his superior, not as a man, but as that God 
for Whose love he is subject to him." Afterwards he said, 
" There is no prelate in the whole world who is so much feared 
as the Lord would make me to be feared, if so I wished it, by 
my brethren. But the Lord has granted me this grace, that 
I wish to be content with all, as he that is least in the Order." 
This also we have seen with our eyes who were with him, as 
also he himself testified, that when certain of the friars did not 
satisfy him in his necessities, or said to him some word by which 
a man is wont to be disturbed, straightway he went to prayer, 
and on his return he would remember nothing, nor ever said, 
" Such an one did not satisfy me," or, " Such an one said to 
me such a word." And thus persevering in this wise, by so 
much the more as he drew near to death was he solicitous to 
consider how he might live and die in all humility and poverty, 
and in all perfection of virtues. 



The most holy Father was wont to say to his brethren, 
" Brothers most dear, fulfil a command at the first word, nor 
wait till what was said to you is repeated. Do not argue or 

222 The Mirror of Perfection 

judge, for there is no impossibility in the command, for even if 
I were to order you aught above your strength, holy obedience 
will not be wanting to aid your weakness." 



But on a time before his fellows he uttered this sigh, " Hardly 
is there one Religious in the world who obeys his superior well." 
Immediately his fellows said to him, " Tell us, Father, what is 
the perfect and highest obedience ? " But he answering, de- 
scribed true and perfect obedience under the figure of a dead 
body, thus, " Take a lifeless body and put it where it shall 
please thee, you will see that it will not resist moving, nor 
change its place, nor claim dismissal. But if it be exalted on a 
throne, it looks not on high things but low. If it be lapped in 
purple, it grows doubly pale. He therefore is truly obedient 
who judges not why he is moved, takes no thought where he is 
placed, and asketh not that he should be moved; promoted to 
office he keeps his unwonted humility, while the more he is 
honoured, the more he reputes himself unworthy." 

Things ordered purely and simply, not asked of him, he 
called holy obediences. But he believed that the highest 
obedience, that in which flesh and blood had no part, was 
when men should go by divine inspiration among the infidels, 
either for the good of their fellows, or for the desire of martyr- 
dom, and he judged that to seek this was right acceptable. 



And so the blessed Father thought that an order should be 
given by virtue of obedience seldom, nor should that weapon 
be used first which should be the last; for said he, " The hand 
should not be laid readily on the sword." But he was wont to 
say that he who did not immediately obey the precept of 
obedience, neither feared God nor revered man (so long, namely, 

Holy Humility and Obedience 223 

as there was no necessary cause for delay). Nor is there any- 
thing more true, for what else is the power of command in a rash 
governor than a sword in the hand of a wrathful man? But 
who more hopeless than the Religious who neglects and con- 
temns obedience? 



Certain friars said to blessed Francis, " Father, dost thou not 
see that sometimes the bishops will not permit us to preach, 
and make us stand idle many days in one place before we can 
announce the word of the Lord. It were better that thou 
shouldst obtain from the Lord Pope a privilege concerning this 
matter, as it would be for the salvation of souls." To whom he 
answered with sore rebuke, saying, " You, Friars Minor, know 
not the will of God, and do not allow me to convert the whole 
world as God willeth. For I wish by perfect humility and 
reverence first to convert the prelates. Who, when they shall 
see our holy life and humble reverence towards them, shall 
beseech you to preach and convert the people, and they shall 
call them to the preaching better than your privileges which 
would lead you into pride. And if you be separated from all 
avarice, and persuade the people to give to the churches their 
due, they themselves would ask you to hear the confession of 
their flock, though of this you need not take heed, for if these 
were converted they should well find confessors. But as for me, 
I desire this privilege from the Lord, that never may I have any 
privilege from man, except to do reverence to all, and to convert 
the world by obedience to the holy Rule rather by example than 
by word." 



He was wont to affirm that the Friars Minor had been sent by 
the Lord in these last times, that they might show examples to 
those bound up in the darkness of sinners. He was wont to say 
that he was filled with the sweetest odours and anointed with 

224 The Mirror of Perfection 

the virtue of precious ointment, when he heard great things of 
the holy friars dispersed through the world. It fell on a day 
that a certain friar, in the presence of a nobleman of the Island 
of Cyprus, reproached another, but when he perceived that his 
brother was somewhat disturbed thereby, being wrathful with 
himself, he straightway took the dung of an ass and put it in his 
own mouth, breaking it small with his teeth, saying, " Eat dung, 
O tongue, which poured out the venom of wrath on my brother." 
But he who beheld these things, being astonished to stupor, went 
his way much edified, and from that time forth submitted himself 
and all he had to the will of the friars. And this custom all the 
friars observed that if one of them should have uttered a word of 
injury or trouble to another, having thrown himself prostrate 
upon the earth, he kissed the foot of his angered brother straight- 
way, and humbly asked forgiveness. The holy Father was 
rejoiced in such things when he heard that his sons had drawn 
examples of holiness for themselves from him, and he loaded 
those friars with most worthy benedictions of all acceptation, 
who by word or work should lead sinners to the love of Christ. 
For in the zeal of souls wherewith he himself was perfectly filled, 
he wished his sons to resemble him with a perfect similitude. 



On a certain time the Lord Jesus Christ said to Brother Leo, 
the fellow of blessed Francis, " Brother Leo, I lament for the 
friars." To Whom answered Brother Leo, " Wherefore, O 
Lord? " And the Lord answered, " For three things: namely, 
because they do not recognise My benefits which so largely and 
abundantly I shower on them, as thou knowest; while they sow 
not neither do they reap. And because the whole day they 
murmur, and are idle. And for that they provoke each other 
often to anger, and do not return to love, and do not forgive 
the injury they receive," 

Holy Humility and Obedience 225 



But while he was abiding at Siena, there came to him a certain 
doctor of divinity of the Order of Preachers, a man both humble 
and right spiritual. When he had discussed with blessed 
Francis for some time together the words of the Lord, the said 
master asked of him concerning that word of Ezekiel : If thou 
speakest not to warn the wicked from his wicked ways, his blood 
will I require at thine hand. For he said, " I know many, how- 
ever, good Father, that be in mortal sin, to whom I do not speak 
to warn them of their impiety, will their souls therefore be 
required at my hands? " To whom blessed Francis humbly 
said that he was a simpleton, and that therefore he should rather 
be taught of him than answer concerning the meaning of 
Scripture. Then that humble master added, " Brother, though 
I have heard an exposition of this text from sundry wise men, 
yet would I willingly learn your understanding of it." There- 
fore blessed Francis said, " If the text is to be understood 
generally, I take it thus, that the servant of God should so burn 
and shine forth by life and holiness in himself, that by the light 
of his example and by the speech of his holy conversation he 
should reprove all the impious. Thus, say I, his splendour and 
the odour of his fame will announce to all their iniquities." 
And so that doctor, going away much edified, said to the fellows 
of the blessed Father, " My brethren, the theology of this man, 
founded on purity and contemplation, is a flying eagle, while 
our science crawls on its belly on the earth." 



Blessed Francis would that his sons should have peace with all 
men, and hold themselves lowly to all. Yet he taught them by 
word and showed them by example to be chiefly humble to the 
clergy. For he was wont to say, " We have been sent in aid of 
the clergy for the salvation of souls, and that whatsoever is 

226 The Mirror of Perfection 

found wanting in them may be supplied by us, but each will 
receive his reward, not according to his authority, but according 
to his labour. Learn, brethren, that the gain of souls is most 
pleasing to God, and this we can better obtain when in peace, 
than in discord with the clergy. But if these hinder the welfare 
of the people, revenge is of God, and He will reward them in His 
time. And therefore be ye subject to superiors, nor let any evil 
emulation arise from you. For if you shall have been sons of 
peace, you will gain clergy and people, and this is more acceptable 
to God, than to gain the people alone with a scandalised clergy. 
Cover," he said, " their lapses and supply their manifold defects, 
then when ye have done this, be the more humble." 



Blessed Francis, seeing that the Lord wished to multiply the 
number of his friars, said to them, " Dearest brethren and my 
little sons, I see that the Lord wills to multiply us, whence it seems 
good and religious to me that we should obtain either from the 
canons of St. Rufinus, or from the Abbot of St. Benedict some 
church where the friars may say their Hours, and only have near 
it some small sorry hut constructed from mud and branches, 
where the brethren may rest and work. For this place is not 
fitting nor sufficient to the friars, since the Lord wishes to 
multiply them, and especially since we have here no church 
wherein the friars may say their Hours. And if any friar should 
die, it would not be fitting to bury him here, nor in a church of 
the secular clergy." And this speech pleased all the friars. 

He went therefore to the Bishop of Assisi, and laid the afore- 
said request before him. Unto whom said the Bishop, " Brother, 
I have no church which I can give you," and the canons also 
answered the same. Then he went to the Abbot of St. Benedict 
of Monte Subasio, and laid the same proposition before him. 
But the Abbot, moved with piety, having taken counsel with 
his monks, the divine grace and will operating, conceded to 
blessed Francis and to his friars the church of Blessed Mary of 
Portiuncula, as the smallest and the poorest church they had. 
And the Abbot said to blessed Francis, " Behold, brother, we 

Holy Humility and Obedience 227 

have granted what thou hast asked. But if the Lord shall 
multiply this congregation, we would that this place should be 
the chief of all your dwellings." And the speech pleased blessed 
Francis and his brethren, and the blessed Father rejoiced 
greatly concerning the place conceded to the friars, especially 
on account of the name of the church, of the Mother of Christ, 
and because it was so small and poor a church, and also because 
it was named the Portiuncula, in which it was prefigured that 
it should be the head and the mother of the poor Friars Minor. 
For the Church was called the Portiuncula, because of that 
court which was formerly called " the little portion." Whence 
the blessed Father was wont to say, " The Lord wished that no 
other church should be conceded to the friars, and that the first 
friars should not as then build a new church nor have any other 
except that, since by this, through the advent of the Friars 
Minor, a certain prophecy was fulfilled." And though it was 
poor and now destroyed, yet for a great time the men of the 
city of Assisi and of all its lordship had had great devotion to 
that church, and they have a greater to-day, and daily doth it 
wax. Whence as the brethren went there to dwell, forthwith 
the Lord multiplied their number almost daily, and the odour 
of their fame was wonderfully scattered through all the valley 
of Spoleto, and many parts of the land. Yet of old it was 
called St. Mary of the Angels because, as it was said, the songs 
of Angels and of celestial spirits were there heard of those coming 
to the place. 

(But now, because the friars are colder in prayer and virtuous 
works and more lax and idle, and given to uttering idle words 
and the news of this world, than they were used, that place 
itself is not held in so great reverence and devotion, as hereto- 
fore it has been of custom, and as I would wish it to be.) 

When the blessed Father had said these words, forthwith 
with great fervour he concluded, saying, " I would that this 
place should always be immediately under the power of the 
Minister-General and servant, for the reason that he should 
have greater care and solicitude in providing there a good and 
holy family. Let clerks be chosen among the better and more 
holy and more fitting friars, those of the whole Order who can 
best say the Office, that not only lay folk but also the other 
friars may willingly and with great devotion see and hear them. 
But of the lay brothers, let holy men discreet and humble and 
decent be chosen, who may serve them. I will also that no 
woman and no friar enter that place except the General Minister 

228 The Mirror of Perfection 

and the friars who serve them. And they shall not speak with 
any person, except with the friars who serve them and with the 
Minister who shall visit them. I will, likewise, that the lay 
brothers themselves who serve them, be bound never to say to 
them idle words or this world's news, or anything not useful 
to their souls. And on account of this, I especially will that 
no one shall enter into the dwelling, that they the better pre- 
serve its purity and sanctity, and that in that place nothing be 
said or done uselessly, but the whole place itself be preserved 
pure and holy in hymns and the praises of the Lord. And when 
any of those friars shall have passed away to the Lord, I will 
that in his place another holy friar, wherever he may be, be 
sent thither by the Minister-General. For if the other friars 
shall have fallen off somewhat from purity and honesty, I will 
that this place be blessed, and that it remain for ever a mirror 
and a good example of the whole Order, and like a candlestick 
before the throne of God and the blessed Virgin, always burning 
and shining. On account of which the Lord will have mercy 
on the defects and faults of all friars, and always preserve and 
protect this Order and this His tender plant." 



On a time when he was staying at St. Mary of the Portiuncula, 
and there were as yet but few friars, blessed Francis went by 
those villages and churches in the neighbourhood of Assisi 
announcing and preaching to men that they should do penance, 
and he carried a broom to sweep out unclean churches. For 
the holy Father grieved much when he saw any church not so 
clean as he wished. And therefore, when the preaching was 
finished, he always made all the priests who were there gather 
together in some remote place, lest he should be overheard by 
the lay folk, and preached to them of the salvation of souls, 
and especially that they should be careful to keep clean the 
churches and altars, and all things which pertained to the 
celebration of the divine mysteries. 

Holy Humility and Obedience 229 



But when he had gone to a certain village belonging to the city 
of Assisi, he began to sweep it and clean it. And immediately a 
rumour of him went through the whole village, for he was gladly 
seen of those men and more willingly heard. But when a certain 
rustic of strange simplicity, who was ploughing in his field, John 
by name, heard this he went straightway to him and found him 
sweeping the church humbly and devoutly. And he said to 
him, " Brother, give me the broom, for I wish to help thee." 
And taking the broom from his hands he swept out the re- 
mainder. And while they were sitting together he said to 
blessed Francis, " Brother, it is now a long time that I have had 
the will to serve God, and especially after I have heard the 
rumour of thee and thy brethren, but I knew not how to come 
to thee. Now therefore, since it has pleased the Lord that I 
should see thee, I have the will to do whatever shall be pleasing 
to thee." But the blessed Father, considering his fervour, 
rejoiced in the Lord, especially for that he had then few brethren, 
and it seemed to him that for his simplicity and purity this 
should be a good Religious. But he said to him, " Brother, if 
thou wilt be of our life and society, thou must strip thee of all 
that which thou mayest not own without scandal, and give it to 
the poor, according to the counsel of the Holy Gospel, since all 
my brethren that were able have done the same." When he 
had heard this, he went straightway to the field where he had 
left his cattle, and loosened them and led one of them before 
blessed Francis, and said to him, " Brother, so many years have 
I served my father and all them of my house, and though this 
portion of my heritage be small, I wish to take this ox for nty 
part, and give it to the poor as may seem best to thee." But 
his parents and his brothers, who were still little, and all of his 
house, seeing that he would leave them, began to weep so sore 
and to utter such plaintive noises with grief, that blessed Francis 
was moved by it to pity, because it was a large family, and 
feeble. And blessed Francis said to them, " Prepare a feast 
for us all, and let us all eat together, and weep not, for I will 
make you truly joyful." So they prepared it forthwith, and 

230 The Mirror of Perfection 

all together with great joy did eat. But after meat blessed 
Francis said, " This, your son, wishes to serve God, and ye ought 
not to be saddened because of this, but rather to rejoice. For 
not only as regards God, but also according to this life it shall 
be reputed to you great honour and profit of souls and bodies, 
that God is honoured of your flesh, and all our brothers will be 
your sons and brothers. And because he is a creature of God, 
and wishes to serve his Creator, to serve Whom is to reign, I 
cannot nor ought not to return him unto you, but that ye may 
have consolation concerning him, I will that he give you that 
ox as to the poor, though he ought to give it to other poor folk 
according to the Gospel." And all were consoled with the 
words of St. Francis, and chiefly they rejoiced on account of 
the ox, because it was returned to them, since they were very 
poor. And because pure and holy simplicity in himself and in 
others greatly pleased blessed Francis, he clothed him with the 
garments of religion straightway, and led him with him humbly 
for his fellow. For he was of so great simplicity, that he believed 
himself bound to all things which blessed Francis did. Whence 
when the blessed Father stood in any church or in any place to 
pray, he also wished to see him, that he might conform himself 
in all his acts and gestures to him. And so if the blessed Father 
bent his knees, or raised his hands to heaven, or spat, or sighed, 
he himself did all these things in like manner. But when 
blessed Francis perceived this, he began with great gladness 
to reprove him for simplicity of this kind. To whom he 
answered, " Brother, I promised to do all things which thou 
didst, and therefore I must conform to thee in all things." And 
at this the blessed Father wondered and rejoiced wonderfully, 
beholding in him such purity and simplicity. But he after- 
wards began to profit so much that blessed Francis and all the 
other friars wondered greatly at his perfection. And after a 
little time he died in that holy profit of virtues. Whence 
afterwards blessed Francis with joy of mind and body was 
wont to tell amongst the friars of his conversion, naming him 
not Brother, but Holy, John, 

Holy Humility and Obedience 231 



But blessed Francis, having returned to the church of blessed 
Mary of the Portiuncula, found Brother James the Simple with 
a certain leper much ulcerated. For the blessed Father had 
commended that leper and all the others to him, because he 
was as it were their physician, and he freely touched their 
wounds and cleansed them and took care of them, for then the 
friars used to abide in the hospitals of the lepers. The holy 
Father therefore said to Brother James, as if reproving him, 
" You ought not to lead out these Christians, because it is 
neither decent for you nor for them." For though he wished 
to serve them, yet he was unwilling that he should take those 
who were much afflicted out of the hospital, because men are 
accustomed to hold such in abhorrence, and Brother James 
himself was so simple, that he used to go with them from the 
hospital up to the church of St. Mary of the Portiuncula, as he 
would have gone with the friars. But blessed Francis used to 
call the lepers themselves Christian brothers. And when he 
had said these things, the blessed Father immediately blamed 
himself, believing that the leper had been put to shame for the 
blame which he had thrown on Brother James. And therefore 
being fain to satisfy God and the leper, he told his fault to 
Brother Peter of Catana, who was then Minister-General. And 
he said, " I will that thou shouldst confirm to me the penance 
which I have chosen to do for this fault, and that thou shouldst 
in no respect contradict me." Who answered, " Brother, do 
that which shall please thee." For Brother Peter so much 
venerated and feared him that he did not presume to contradict 
him, though he was often thence afflicted. Then said the 
blessed Father, " Let this be my penance, that I eat in one dish 
with my Christian brother." When therefore blessed Francis 
sat down to table with the leper and with the other friars, one 
dish was placed between blessed Francis and the leper. But 
he was all ulcerated and loathsome, and especially he had his 
fingers shrivelled and bleeding with which he took up lumps 
from the dish, so that when he put them in the dish the blood 
and matter of the fingers flowed into it. And seeing this Brother 
Peter and the other friars were much saddened, but did not dare 

232 The Mirror of Perfection 

to say anything on account of the fear and reverence of the holy 
Father. He who saw this wrote it down, and bears testimony of 
these things. 



On a certain time blessed Francis went to the church of blessed 
Peter of Bovara near the castle of Trevi in the valley of Spoleto, 
and with him went Brother Pacificus, who in the world used to 
be called the King of Verse, a noble and courtly doctor of 
singers. But that church was abandoned. Therefore the 
blessed Father said to Brother Pacificus, " Return to the leper 
hospital, for I wish to remain here alone to-night, and to-morrow 
very early return to me." But when he had been left alone 
there, and had said complines and other prayers, he wished to 
be quiet and to sleep, but he was not able. For his spirit began 
to fear and to feel diabolical suggestions, and immediately he 
went out of the church and crossed himself, saying, " On the 
part of Almighty God I say unto you, Demons, that ye may 
work on my body whatever is given to you to do by the Lord 
Jesus Christ, since I am ready to sustain all things. For since 
I hold that my body is my greatest enemy, ye shall but avenge 
me on my adversary and worst enemy." And immediately 
those suggestions altogether ceased, and having returned to the 
place where he was lying, he slept in peace. 



But when it was morn Brother Pacificus returned to him. He 
was then standing before the altar in prayer, and Brother 
Pacificus waited for him without the choir praying likewise 
before a crucifix. And when he began to pray, he was raised 
up and snatched into Heaven, whether in the body or out of the body 
God only knoweth. And he saw in Heaven many seats, among 
which he saw one more notable than the others, and beyond 

Holy Humility and Obedience 233 

all the rest glorious, shining and adorned with every precious 
stone. And admiring its beauty, he began to wonder in himself 
whose that seat should be. And immediately he heard a voice 
saying unto him, " This was the seat of Lucifer, and in his 
stead shall the humble Francis sit." And when he returned to 
himself, blessed Francis forthwith came out to him, at whose 
feet that brother fell in the shape of a cross with his arms 
extended. And looking upon him as if he were already in 
Heaven sitting in that seat, he said to him, " Father, do me this 
grace, and ask the Lord that He may have mercy on me, and 
forgive me my sins." But the blessed Father stretching out 
his hands raised him, and forthwith knew that he had seen 
something in prayer, for he seemed all transfigured, and he 
spoke to blessed Francis as one not living in the flesh, but as 
already reigning in Heaven. But after, because he was un- 
willing to tell the vision to the blessed man, he began to speak 
with himself words as if from afar, and amongst other things 
he said to him, "What thinkest thou of thyself, Brother?" 
The blessed Father answered and said unto him, " It seems to 
me that I am a greater sinner than any one in the whole world." 
And immediately it was revealed to the soul of Brother Pacificus, 
" By this thou may knowest that the vision which thou hast 
seen was true, since as Lucifer was ejected from his place on 
account of his pride, so Francis on account of his humility shall 
merit to be exalted, and to sit in it." 



But on a certain time when he had got a little stronger from 
a certain very great infirmity of his, it seemed to him that he 
had had some allowance in that weakness, though he had eaten 
but little. And rising on a certain day, though he was not 
entirely freed from the quartan fever, he made the people of 
the city of Assisi be called together in the market place, for 
preaching. But when the sermon was done he warned the 
people that no one should go away from thence until he should 
return to them. And entering the cathedral of St. Rufinus 
with many friars and with Brother Peter of Catana who had 
been canon of that church and was chosen first Minister- 

234 The Mirror of Perfection 

General by blessed Francis, he spoke to that brother Peter, 
ordering him by obedience, that he should without contradiction 
do whatever he should say to him. Brother Peter answered 
him, " Brother, I neither may nor ought, will or do anything 
concerning thee and me, except as it may please thee." Casting 
off therefore his tunic, blessed Francis bade him drag him 
unclad before the people with a cord bound round his neck to 
the place where he had preached. He bade another friar that 
he should take a dish full of ashes and should go up to the place 
where he had preached, and when he should have been drawn 
up to that place to throw the ashes over his face. Yet this 
last did not obey him in this on account of the great compassion 
by which he was moved towards him. And Brother Peter, 
taking the cord bound to his neck, dragged him after him as he 
had ordered him. But he was weeping very sore, and the other 
friars with him shed tears of compassion and of bitterness. 
When he was thus led naked in the sight of all men up to the 
place where he had preached, he said, " You, and all those 
who, after my example, leave this world and enter religion and 
the life of the friars, believe me to be a holy man, but I confess 
to God and to you that I have eaten in this my infirmity flesh 
and broth made with flesh." And all began to weep over him 
for great pity and compassion, especially because it was then 
winter time and a very intense frost, and he was not yet re- 
covered from the quartan fever. And striking their breasts 
they accused themselves, saying, " If this saint, for just and 
manifest necessity, accuses himself with so much shame of 
body, whose life we know to be holy, whom even we know to 
be living in the flesh as if almost dead on account of the great 
abstinence and austerity which he has made to his body from 
the beginning of his conversion to Christ, what shall we wretched 
ones do, who for the whole time of our life have lived and still 
live according to the desires of the flesh." 



Likewise on a certain time when he had eaten in a certain 
hermitage in the Advent fast (St. Martin's Lent), cakes cooked 
with lard on account of his infirmities, for which oil was very 

Holy Humility and Obedience 235 

unwholesome; Lent being finished, when he should preach to 
a great crowd, he said to them in the first word of his sermon, 
" You come to me with great devotion, believing me to be 
a holy man, but I confess to God and to you, that I have eaten 
in this Lent cakes cooked with lard." Nay, well-nigh always 
when he used to eat with any seculars, or when any bodily 
comfort was given him by the friars on account of his infirmities, 
immediately in the house and outside, before those friars who 
did not know of it, and the seculars, he was accustomed to say 
openly, " I have eaten such and such a food." For he was 
unwilling to hide from men what was laid open to God. Like- 
wise also, wherever, in the presence of whatever Religious and 
laymen, his spirit was moved to pride or vainglory, or to any 
fault, he confessed it immediately in their presence openly, 
without any veil. Whence once he said to his companions, 
" Thus would I live in hermitages and in the other places where 
I abide, as if all men could see me. For if they think me to be 
a holy man, and I lead not the life which becomes a holy man, 
I should be a hypocrite." And thus, when on account of the 
weakness of the spleen and coldness of the stomach, one of his 
fellows who was his Warden wished to sew under his tunic a little 
foxskin opposite his spleen and stomach, especially as there was 
then a great cold, blessed Francis answered him, " If you would 
that I have foxskin under my tunic you must put a piece of 
that skin outside, so that every one may know by this that I 
have foxskin inside." And so he caused it to be done, but he 
wore it very little, though it would have been very necessary 
to him. 



When he went through the city of Assisi, a certain poor old 
woman begged an alms of him for the love of God. And he 
immediately gave her the mantle which he had on his back, 
and forthwith without delay he confessed in the presence of 
those who followed how he had thence vainglory. And we 
have seen and heard so many other examples like to these of 
his very great humility, we who were always in his company, 
that neither with words nor with letters can we narrate them. 


The Mirror of Perfection 

For in this blessed Francis had his chief and highest study, 
that he should not be a hypocrite before God, and though on 
account of his infirmity an allowance would have been necessary 
to him, yet he took thought with himself, always to show a good 
example to the friars and to others, whence he sustained all 
poverty patiently that he might take away from all any occasion 
of murmuring. 




When the time of the Chapter was drawing near, the holy 
Father said to his fellow, " It seemeth not to me that I am a 
Friar Minor, unless I be in the state which I will tell thee. 
Behold, the friars invite me with great devotion to the Chapter, 
and moved by their devotion I go to the Chapter with them. 
But they, being gathered together, ask me to announce to them 
the Word of God, and to preach amongst them. And rising up, 
I preach to them as the Holy Spirit shall have taught me. 
Having finished therefore my sermon, put it that all cry out 
against me, ' We will not have thee to reign over us, for thou 
art not eloquent, as is becoming, and thou art too simple and 
idiotic, and we fear greatly to have so simple and despised a 
superior over us, whence henceforth, presume not to call thyself 
our prelate ! ' And so they cast me out with blame and re- 
proach. It would seem to me that I was not a Friar Minor, if 
I did not rejoice to the same extent when they reproached me 
and cast me out with shame, unwilling that I should be their 
prelate, as when they venerate and honour me; holding their 
profit and usefulness to be equal in either case. For if I am 
glad when they exalt and honour me on account of their profit 
and devotion, where yet there may be a danger to my soul, 
much more ought I to rejoice and be glad of the profit and 
salvation of my soul when they blame me, where is certain 
gain of my soul." 

Holy Humility and Obedience 237 



When that Chapter was finished in which many friars were sent 
to certain provinces over sea, blessed Francis, remaining with 
certain friars, said to them, " Dearest brethren, it behoves me 
to be the form and example of all friars. If therefore I have 
sent some of them to distant parts to bear labours and shame, 
hunger and thirst, and other privations; it is just, and holy 
humility requires it, that I should go likewise to some distant 
province, so that the friars may the more patiently sustain 
adversity when they shall have heard that I bear the same. 
Go, therefore, and pray the Lord that He may give me to choose 
that province which should be most to His praise and the profit 
of souls and the good example of our body." (For it was the 
manner of the most holy Father when he would go to any 
province, to pray first the Lord, and to set the friars to pray 
that the Lord would direct his heart to that same place which 
was most pleasing to Him.) The brethren therefore went to 
pray, and when it was finished they returned to him, and 
straightway he said to them, " In the name of Our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and of the glorious Virgin Mary His Mother, and of all 
saints, I choose the province of France in which is a Catholic 
folk, especially because amongst all other Catholics they show 
great reverence to the Body of Christ, wherefore I shall converse 
with them most willingly." 

For the holy Father had so much reverence and devotion to 
the Body of Christ, that he wished it to be written in the Rule 
that friars should have care and solicitude in the provinces 
where they should stay concerning this thing; and that they 
should admonish clerks and priests, to keep the Body of Christ in 
a good and decent place, which if they neglected, the friars should 
do it. He wished it also to be placed in the Rule that wherever 
friars should find the names of the Lord, and these words by 
which the body of the Lord is made, not well and decently 
placed, that they themselves should collect them and decently 
put them away, honouring the Lord in His words. And though 
these things were not written in the Rule, because it did not seem 
good to the Ministers that the friars should have this in com- 

2 3 8 

The Mirror of Perfection 

mand, yet he wished to leave his will to the friars concerning 
these things in his testament and in his other writings. Nay, 
on a certain time, he wished to send some friars through all the 
provinces carrying many fair and clean pyxes; and wherever 
they should find the Body of the Lord unsuitably preserved, 
they should put it honourably in those pyxes. Also he wished 
to send some other friars with good and new wafer-irons to make 
fair and clean hosts. 

When therefore the holy Father chose those brethren whom 
he wished to take with him, he said to them, " In the name of 
the Lord, go two and two on the way humbly and decently, and 
especially with strict silence from the dawn till past the hour of 
tierce, praying the Lord in your hearts, and let not idle and use- 
less words be so much as named amongst you. For though you 
walk, let your conversation be as humble and seemly as if you 
were in a hermitage or in a cell. For wherever we are and walk, 
we may have always our cell with us. For Brother Body is our 
cell; and our soul is the hermit, who remains within his cell, to 
pray to God and to meditate on Him. Whence if the soul does 
not remain in quiet in its cell, little profits the Religious a cell 
made with hands? " And when he had arrived at Florence 
he found there Lord Hugo, the Bishop of Ostia, who was after- 
wards Pope Gregory. Who, when he had heard from the 
blessed man, that he wished to go into France, forbade him to 
go, saying, " Brother, I do not wish you to go beyond the 
mountains, because there are many prelates who would willingly 
hinder the good of thy fellowship in the Roman Court. But I 
and the other Cardinals, who love that body, will more gladly 
protect and aid it, if you remain in the circuit of this province." 
And blessed Francis said to him, "My Lord, it is great shame to 
me to send my other brethren to remote provinces if I remain in 
these provinces, and am not partaker of the tribulations which 
they shall suffer on the Lord's behalf." But the Bishop said to 
him, as if reproving him, " Why hast thou sent thy brethren so 
far to die with hunger and to sustain other tribulations? " 
Blessed Francis answered him with great fervour and with the 
spirit of prophecy, saying, " My Lord, think you that the Lord 
sent the friars on account of these provinces alone ? But I say 
unto you in truth, that God chose out and sent the friars for the 
profit and welfare of the souls of all men of this world ; and they 
shall be received, not only in the lands of the faithful, but even 
among the infidels, and shall gain many souls." Then thei 
Bishop of Ostia wondered at his words, affirming that he spoke 

Holy Humility and Obedience 259 

the truth. And thus he did not permit him to go into France, 
though blessed Francis sent thither Brother Pacificus with many 
other friars, but he himself returned to the valley of Spoleto. 



To a certain hermitage of friars above the Borgo San Sepolcro 
there came from time to time thieves, who used to lie in the 
woods and spoil the passers-by. And some of the friars used 
to say that it was not good to give them charity, but others gave 
out of compassion, that they might admonish them to penitence. 
In the meantime blessed Francis came to that place, whom the 
friars asked whether it were right to give charity to them. And 
the holy Father said to them, " If you will do as I will tell you, 
I trust in the Lord that you shall gain their souls. Go therefore 
and get some good bread and good wine, and carry them into the 
wood where they dwell, and shout, saying, ' Brother thieves, 
come to us, because we are friars, and we bring you good bread 
and good wine.' They will come forthwith, but you spread a 
cloth on the earth, and place on it the bread and wine, and serve 
them humbly and joyfully until they have eaten. But after 
the meal ye shall speak to them of the Word of the Lord, and 
finally ye shall ask of them for the love of God that they will 
promise you this first petition, that they shall not strike nor do 
evil to any one, in his body. For if ye ask all things at once, 
they will not hear you, but on account of your humility and 
charity they will immediately promise you this. Then on 
another day on account of their good promise, you will carry 
to them with the bread and wine some eggs and cheese; and 
ye shall serve them until they have eaten, and after the meal 
ye shall say to them, ' Why stay ye here all the day to die of 
hunger and to bear so much adversity, and do many evil things 
for the which ye shall lose your souls except ye be converted to 
the Lord? Better is it that ye should serve the Lord, Who will 
give you in this life the necessities of the body, and in the end 
will save your souls.' Then the Lord shall inspire them; so 
that for your humility and charity that ye have shown them 
they shall be converted." And so the friars did all these things 
as the holy Father bade them; and those robbers, through the 

240 The Mirror of Perfection 

grace and mercy of God, heard and kept letter by letter and 
point by point all things which the friars humbly asked of them. 
Nay, on account of the humility and kindliness of the friars 
towards them, they began to humbly serve the friars themselves, 
carrying on their shoulders their wood up to the hermitage. 
And some of them at last entered religion. But the others, 
confessing their faults, did penance for their sins, promising 
in the hands of the friars for the future that they would live by 
the labour of their hands, and never again do such deeds. 



On a certain time blessed Francis went to Rome to visit my 
Lord of Ostia. And when he had remained some days with 
him, he visited also my Lord Leo the Cardinal, who was very 
devoted to the blessed men. And because it was then winter, 
and altogether unfit for going on foot because of the cold and 
the winds and the rain, he asked him to abide with him some 
days, and as a beggar to receive his food from him, with the 
other beggars who daily used to eat in his house. But this he 
said, because he knew that the blessed man ever would be 
received like a beggar wherever he was guested, though the 
Cardinals and the Lord Pope would receive him with the greatest 
devotion and reverence, and would venerate him as a saint. 
And he added, " I will give thee a good house apart where thou 
mayest abide and where thou canst pray and eat as thou 
wishest." Then Friar Angelo Tancredi, who was one of the 
twelve first friars, who also abode with the said Cardinal, said 
to the blessed man, " Brother, there is near here a certain tower 
right spacious and apart, where thou mayest abide as if in a 
hermitage." And when the blessed man had seen it, it pleased 
him, and returning to the Lord Cardinal he said to him, " My 
Lord, perchance I will stay with you for some days." And 
my Lord Cardinal rejoiced greatly. So Brother Angelo went 
and prepared the place in the tower for the blessed man and his 
fellow. And because blessed Francis would not come down 
from thence as long as he should remain with the Cardinal nor 
wish any one to enter to him, Brother Angelo promised and took 

Holy Humility and Obedience 241 

orders to daily carry food to him and his fellow. And when the 
blessed Father had gone there with his fellow; on the first night 
when he would sleep there, came demons and beat him very 
sore. And calling his fellow he said to him, " Brother, demons 
have beaten me very sore, and therefore I will that thou remain 
with me, for I fear to stay alone." And that night his fellow 
abode near him. For blessed Francis trembled as a man who 
suffers fever, wherefore both watched through the whole night. 
In the meantime the holy Father said to his fellow, " Why have 
the demons beaten me, and why is that power of hurting me 
given them by the Lord? " And he said, " The demons are the 
sergeants of our Lord. For as the Podesta sends his sergeants 
to punish him who has sinned, so the Lord by sergeants, that is, 
by the demons who in this world are His ministers, corrects and 
chastens those whom He loves. For many times he who is a 
perfect Religious sins ignorantly; whence since he knows not 
his sin, he is chastened by demons, that he may diligently see 
and consider, within and without, those things in which he has 
offended, for whom the Lord loves with a true love, nothing in 
them He leaves unpunished. But by the mercy and grace of 
God, I know not that I have offended in anything which I have 
not amended by confession and satisfaction, nay, by His mercy 
God has granted me this gift that I may receive in prayer a 
clear knowledge of all things in which I may please or displease 
Him. But it may be that He now chastises me by His sergeants 
for that though my Lord Cardinal willingly showed me mercy, 
and though it is necessary to my body to receive this rest, yet 
my brethren who go through the world bearing hunger and 
many tribulations and the other friars who live in hermitages 
and poor little dwellings, when they shall hear that I live with 
my Lord Cardinal, may have an occasion of murmuring, saying, 
' We bear so many adverse things, and he has his consolations/ 
But I am bound always to give them a good example, because 
for this reason I was given unto them. For the brethren are 
more edified when I abide in their own poor little dwellings 
amongst them, than in others; and they bear their tribulations 
more patiently when they hear that I bear also the same." 
And it was, therefore, the highest and continual study of our 
Father, that in all things he might afford a good example, and 
that he might take away any occasion of murmuring concerning 
him from other friars. And on account of this, well or ill, he 
suffered so much, that whichever friars knew him as we who 
were with him to the day of his death did, as often as they read 

242 The Mirror of Perfection 

those things or call them to memory, cannot contain themselves 
from tears, and they sustain all their tribulations and necessities 
with greater patience and joy. Therefore blessed Francis came 
down very early from the tower, and went to my Lord Cardinal; 
telling him all things that had befallen him and what he had 
borne with his fellow: nay, he said to him, " Men think me to 
be a holy man, and behold demons have cast me out of a cell ! " 
And my Lord Cardinal was much rejoiced with him. Yet 
because he knew and venerated him as a saint, he would not 
contradict him after he was unwilling to remain there. And 
so the holy man bidding him farewell, returned to the hermitage 
of Fonte Palumbo, near Rieti. 


how he blamed friars wishing to go by the way of their 
wisdom and knowledge, and not by the way of 
humility; and foretold the reformation of the 
order to its first state 

When blessed Francis was in the Chapter-General at St. Mary 
of the Portiuncula (which was called the Chapter of the Mats, 
because there were no dwellings there except made of mats, 
and there were five thousand friars there), several wise and 
learned friars went to my Lord of Ostia who was there and said 
to him, " My Lord, we wish thee to persuade Brother Francis 
to follow the counsel of wise brethren, and to allow himself now 
and then to be led by them." And they quoted the Rule of 
St. Augustine, of St. Benedict, and of St. Bernard, who taught 
thus and thus to live in order. And when the Cardinal had 
repeated this to the holy man, by way of admonition, blessed 
Francis answered him nothing, but took him by the hand and 
led him to the friars assembled in the Chapter, and spoke thus 
to the friars in the fervour and power of the Holy Spirit, " My 
brethren, my brethren, the Lord called me by the way of 
simplicity and humility, and this way hath He shown me in 
truth for me and those who will believe and imitate me. And 
therefore I would that ye name not to me any rule, neither of 
St. Augustine, nor St. Benedict, nor of Bernard, nor any way 
or form of living, but that which was mercifully shown and given 
me by the Lord. And the Lord said to men that He wished me 
to be a new covenant in this world, and He would lead me by 

Holy Humility and Obedience 243 

another way than by this science. But God will confound you 
through your wisdom and knowledge, and I trust in the sergeants 
of the Lord that God will punish you by them, and that you will 
yet return to your state with reproach, willye, nillye." Then 
the Cardinal was much amazed; and answered nothing, and all 
the friars feared greatly. 



Blessed Francis grieved greatly if any one, neglecting virtue, 
sought after the science which puffeth up, especially if any one 
did not persist in that vocation to which he was called from the 
beginning. For he was wont to say, iC My brethren who are led 
by desire of learning shall find their hands empty in the day of 
tribulation. I would therefore, that they be rather strengthened 
in virtues, that when the time of tribulation shall come they 
shall have the Lord with them in their straits. For a time of 
tribulation is to come, when books shall be useful for nothing, 
and shall be thrown in windows and cupboards." (This he did 
not say, for that the reading of Holy Scriptures displeased him, 
but that he might draw back all from overmuch care of learning. 
For he wished them rather to be good by charity than smatterers 
through the desire of knowledge. For he weighed beforehand 
the time shortly to come, in which already he foreknew that 
knowledge which puffeth up should be an occasion of ruin. 
Whence appearing after his death to one of his fellows too 
intent on the study of preaching, he reproved and prohibited 
him, and ordered him that he should study to tread the path of 
humility and simplicity.) 



Blessed Francis used to say, " The time shall come in which 
this Order beloved by God shall be so defamed by the bad 
example of evil friars, that it will be ashamed to go forth in 

244 The Mirror of Perfection 

public. But they who in that time shall come to join the Order, 
shall be led only by the working of the Holy Spirit, and flesh 
and blood shall raise no stain on them, and they shall be blessed 
by the Lord. Though meritorious deeds be not found in them, 
since charity grows cold which made the saints work fervently, 
very great temptations shall come upon them; and those who 
in that time shall have been found worthy shall be better than 
their predecessors. But woe unto those, who, with the form 
and appearance only of religious conversation, applauding 
themselves in their wisdom and confident in their learning, be 
found idle (that is, not exercising themselves in virtuous works, 
in the way of penitence, and in the pure observance of the 
Gospel; which by their profession they are bound to observe 
pure and simply). For these will not resist with constancy the 
temptation which shall be permitted to happen for the proving 
of the elect; but those who have been tried and approved shall 
receive the crown of life, to which in the meantime the malice 
of the reprobate urges them on." 



A certain companion once said to blessed Francis, " Father, 
forgive me that I would say unto you, which already many have 
thought." And he said, " Thou knowest how formerly through 
the grace of God, the whole Order flourished in the purity of 
perfection; how all friars with great fervour and solicitude 
observed holy poverty in everything, in small and poor buildings 
and garniture, in few and poor books and clothes; and as in 
these so in all other externals they were of one will and fervour, 
and in the solicitude of observing all things which pertain to 
our profession and vocation and the example of all; and thus 
they were of one mind in the love of God and their neighbour, 
as men truly apostolical and evangelical. But now of late this 
purity and affection begin to change, though many speak and 
excuse the friars on account of their multitude, saying that on 
this account the Rule cannot be observed by them. Nay, many 
friars have come to such blindness that they think that people 
will be edified and turn to devotion by this rather than by the 

Holy Humility and Obedience 245 

former way, and it seems to them that they on this account live 
more decently, despising and counting for naught the way of 
holy simplicity, humility, and poverty, which was the beginning 
and foundation of our Order. Whence we, considering these 
things, believe that they are displeasing to thee ; but we wonder 
much if they do displease thee, why thou dost allow and not 
correct them." The holy man answered and said to him, 
" May the Lord have mercy on thee, brother, since thou wilt 
be contrary and adversary to me, and mix me up in those things 
which pertain not to my office. For as long as I had the office 
of prelacy over the friars, and they remained in their vocation 
and profession, though from the beginning of my conversion I 
was always infirm, yet with my small solicitude I satisfied them 
by example and preaching. But after I saw that the Lord 
multiplied the number of the friars, and that they, on account 
of their lukewarmness and want of spirit,, began to depart from 
the right and secure way by which they had been used to walk, 
and entering on the broader way which leads to death, were not 
following their vocation and profession and a good example, 
nor did they wish to abandon that dangerous and deadly journey 
which they had begun for my preaching and admonition and 
the example which I showed to them continually, therefore, 
I handed over the rule of the Order to the Lord and the Ministers. 
Whence, though at the time when I gave up the office of the 
prelacy of the friars, I excused myself before them in the Chapter- 
General, that on account of my infirmities I was not able to 
have the charge of them, yet if the friars wish to walk according 
to my will even now, for their consolation and utility, I would 
not that they should have any other Minister except me until 
the day of my death." (For from when a faithful and good 
subject knows and observes the will of his superior, the prelate 
need have little solicitude concerning him.) "Nay, so much 
would I rejoice at the profit and the welfare of the brethren on 
account of their and my gain, that if I were lying ill in bed I 
should not be ashamed to satisfy them, because my office (that 
is of prelacy) is spiritual only (namely, to keep under faults and 
to correct and amend them spiritually). But since I am not 
able to correct and amend them by preaching, admonition, and 
example, I will not become an executioner, punishing and 
flogging them, like the magistrates of this world. For I trust 
in the Lord that the invisible enemies, who are the sergeants of 
the Lord for punishment in this world and the next, will take 
vengeance on those who have transgressed the commands of 


The Mirror of Perfection 

God and the vow of their profession, and will make them to be 
corrected by the men of this world to their disgrace and shame, 
and thus shall they return to their vocation and profession. 
Yet truly, until the day of my death I will not cease at once 
by example and the good works which the Lord has shown me 
to teach the brethren, and walk by that way which I have 
taught and shown them by word and example; that they may 
be inexcusable before God ; and I am not bound to give account 
of them in the presence of God." 

After this are written the words which Brother Leo, the companion 
and confessor of St. Francis, wrote for Brother Conrad of 
Offida, at Saint Damian near Assisi, saying that he had them 
from the mouth of the blessed man, the which holy Father was 
standing near Assisi behind the pulpit of the church of St. 
Mary of the Angels in prayer, lifting his hands on high to 
Christ, that He should have mercy on the people, in the great 
tribulation which must needs come. 

And the Lord said, " Francis, if thou wouldst that I should 
have mercy on the Christian people, do this for Me, that thy 
Order may remain in that state in which it was placed, because 
of the whole world there will remain nothing more to Me, and 
I promise thee, that for the love of thee and of thine Order, I 
will not permit the world to suffer any tribulation. But I say 
unto thee, that they must needs go back from the way in which 
I have placed them, and they will provoke Me to such wrath, 
that I shall rise against them, and I shall call the demons and I 
shall give them the power which they have desired, and they 
shall place such a scandal between them and the world, that 
there shall be no one who may wear thy habit except in the 
woods. And when the world loses faith there will not remain 
any other light except that of thine Order, because I have placed 
them for a light to the world." And St. Francis said, " On 
what shall my brethren live who shall dwell in the woods ? " 
And Christ said, " I will feed them as I fed the sons of Israel, 
with manna in the desert; because they will be like them, and 
then shall they return to the first state, in which thy Order was 
founded and begun." 

Holy Humility and Obedience 247 



The most holy Father was unwilling that his friars should be 
desirous of knowledge and books, but he willed and preached to 
them that they should desire to be founded on holy humility, 
and to imitate pure simplicity, holy prayer, and our Lady 
Poverty, on which the saints and first friars did build. And 
this, he used to say, was the only safe way to one's own salva- 
tion and the edification of others, since Christ, to Whose imita- 
tion we are called, showed and taught us this alone by word 
and example alike. For the blessed Father himself, looking 
forward to the future, knew by the Holy Spirit, and many 
times used to say to the brethren, that friars by occasion of 
teaching others, lose their own vocation, that is, holy humility, 
pure simplicity, prayer, and devotion, and our Lady Poverty. 
" And it will happen to them, that they will think themselves 
to be more filled with devotion and fired with love, and illumi- 
nated with the knowledge of God on account of their under- 
standing of the Scriptures. Thence on occasion they will 
remain cold and empty within, and they cannot return to their 
first vocation, because they have wasted their time of living 
according to their vocation in vain and false study. And I fear 
that that which they seem to have will be taken away from 
them; because that which was given to them, that is, to hold 
and to imitate their vocation, they have altogether neglected." 
And he said, " There are many friars who place all their study 
and care in acquiring knowledge, leaving their holy vocation, 
and wandering with mind and body out of the way of humility 
and of holy prayer. Who, when they shall have preached to 
the people, and shall have learnt that some are thence edified 
or turned to penitence, will be puffed up or extol themselves 
for their work and another's profit, as for their own; when yet 
they have preached rather to their own condemnation and 
prejudice, and have done nothing more in truth, except as instru- 
ments of those by whom the Lord truly acquired this fruit. For 
those whom they believe to be edified and converted to penitence 
by their knowledge and preaching, the Lord has taught and 

2 4 8 

The Mirror of Perfection 

converted by the prayers and tears of holy, poor, and hunble 
and simple friars, though those holy friars, for the most part, 
know not of it. For thus it is the will of God that they hiow 
it not lest they grow proud. These are my brethren of the 
Table Round, who lie hidden in deserts and hidden places, that 
more diligently they may give place to prayer and meditation, 
deploring their own and others' sins, living simply and con- 
versing numbly, whose sanctity is known of God, even when 
it is unknown to their brethren and to men. And when their 
souls are brought by the angels to the Lord, then the Lord shall 
show them the fruit of their labours, namely the many souls 
which by their example, prayers, and tears, are saved. And 
He shall say to them, ' My beloved sons, such and so many souls 
have been saved by your prayers, tears, and example; and 
because ye have been faithful over few things I will make 
you rulers over many things. Others, indeed, have preached 
and have laboured by the speeches of their wisdom and know- 
ledge, and I, by your merits, have brought about the fruit of 
salvation. Therefore receive the reward of their labours and 
the fruit of your merits, which is an everlasting kingdom; which 
you have taken by the force of the violence of your humility 
and simplicity, and of your prayers and tears.' And thus these, 
carrying their sheaves (that is, the fruits and merits of their 
holy humility and simplicity), shall enter into the joy of the 
Lord rejoicing and exulting. But they who have taken no 
thought except to know and to show to others the way of 
salvation, doing nothing for themselves, shall stand naked and 
empty before the tribunal of Christ, bringing only sheaves of 
confusion, shame, and grief. Then shall the truth of holy 
humility and simplicity, and holy prayer and poverty, which 
is our vocation, be exalted and glorified and magnified, which 
truth those puffed up with the wind of science condemned with 
their life, and with the vain speeches of their wisdom, saying 
that the truth was falsehood, and like blind men, persecuting 
cruelly those who have walked in the truth. Then the error 
and falsity of their opinions by which they have walked, which 
they have preached for truth, by which they have thrown many 
into the pit of blindness, shall be ended in grief, confusion, and 
shame, and they themselves with their opinions shall be plunged 
in outer darkness with the spirits of darkness." Whence blessed 
Francis often used to say concerning that word : then the barren 
hath bom many, and she that hath many children is waxed feeble : 
" the barren is a good Religious, simple, humble, poor, and 

Holy Humility and Obedience 249 

despised, who by his holy prayers and virtues continually 
edifies others, and brings forth good fruit with dolorous sighs." 
This word he used to say very often before the Ministers and 
other friars, especially in the Chapter-General. 



The faithful servant and perfect imitator of Christ, Francis, 
feeling himself to be most thoroughly transformed by the virtue 
of holy humility in Christ: above all other virtues desired this 
humility in his brethren, and that they might love, desire, 
acquire, and preserve this grace, he animated them incessantly 
both with word and example, and especially did he admonish 
and induce the Ministers and preachers to exercise works of 
humility. For he used to say that they ought not on account 
of the duty of their prelacy and their solicitude of preaching to 
neglect holy and devout prayer, or going for alms, working 
sometimes with their hands, and doing other works like the rest 
of the friars, for the sake of the good example and the profit 
of their own and others' souls. And he said, " For subject 
friars are much edified, when their Ministers and preachers 
spend time in prayer, and bend themselves willingly to works 
of utility, and lightly-esteemed duties. But otherwise they 
cannot without confusion, prejudice, and condemnation of 
themselves, admonish other friars concerning works; for it 
becomes us by the example of Christ rather to do than to teach, 
and to do and teach together." 



Blessed Francis once called together many friars, and said to 
them, " I have asked the Lord, that He would deign to show 
me when I am His servant. But the most gracious Lord in 
His condescension answered me, ' I know that thou art truly 

250 The Mirror of Perfection 

My servant when thou thinkest, speakest, and doest holy things/ 
Therefore have I called you, brethren, and have shown this to 
you, that I may be put to shame before you, when you shall 
see me wanting in any of the aforesaid things." 



He used to say that lukewarm ones who did not apply them- 
selves to any task busily and humbly would quickly be spewed 
out from the mouth of the Lord; so that no idle man could 
appear before him, without being immediately attacked with 
biting tooth. And thus he, the example of all perfection, 
laboured humbly with his hands, permitting nothing of the 
best gift of time to flow to waste. For he said, " I wish all my 
friars to labour and be exercised humbly in good works, that 
we be the less burdensome to men, and that neither heart nor 
tongue may wander in ease. But let those who know nothing 
learn to work." For he used to say that the profit and reward 
of the labour should not be left to the will of the labourer, but to 
the judgment of the warden or the community. 





Blessed Francis, perfectly zealous and a lover of the Observance 
of the Holy Gospel, was most ardently zealous for the common 
profession of our Rule, which is none other than the perfect 
Observance of the Gospel; and he endowed those who are and 
shall be true enthusiasts for it with his singular benediction. 
For he used to say to his imitators that this our profession was 
the book of life, the hope of salvation, the foretaste of Glory, 
the marrow of the Gospel, the way of the cross, the state of 
perfection, the key of Paradise, and the pact of the eternal 
covenant. This he wished to be held and known of all, and he 
wished his brethren to confer concerning it very often in their 
conversation against weariness, and in memory of their first 
oath full often to talk of it with their inner man. He taught 
them also that it should always be carried before their eyes in 
commemoration and memory of leading the life, and of the due 
Observance of the Rule, and what is more, he wished and taught 
that the friars should die with it. 



Not unmindful therefore of the teaching of the most blessed 
Father, a certain lay brother, whom we believe undoubtedly to 
have been taken into the choir of martyrs, when he was amongst 
the infidels for the desire of martyrdom, and while he was being 
led to martyrdom by the Saracens, holding the Rule with great 


252 The Mirror of Perfection 

fervour in both his hands, his knees humbly bent, said to his 
fellow, " I confess myself guilty, dearest brother, before the eyes 
of the Divine Majesty and before thee, of all things which I have 
done against this Rule." To this short confession succeeded 
the sword, by which, finishing his life, he attained the crown 
of martyrdom. For he had entered the Order so young, that 
he was hardly able to bear the yoke of the Rule, and yet a 
youth he bore a shirt of mail next his flesh. Happy boy, who 
happily began, and more happily ended ! 



Blessed Francis used to say, " I will go and commend the 
Order of the Friars Minor to the holy Roman Church, by whose 
mighty rod its evil wishers may be terrified and kept in check, 
and the sons of God may rejoice everywhere with full liberty, 
to the increase of their eternal salvation. Let my sons recognise 
from this the sweet benefits of their mother, and ever embrace 
her reverend footsteps with spiritual devotion towards her. 
For under her protection, no evil son of Belial shall come into the 
Order, the impious shall pass through the vineyard of the Lord. 
That mother shall gather up the glory of our poverty and will 
not permit the joy of obedience and the reward of humility in 
any way to be darkened by the cloud of pride. She will preserve 
untouched the bonds of charity and of peace among us ; striking 
with her strictest censure the unwilling, and the holy Observation 
of Evangelical purity shall continually flourish in her sight, nor 
will she suffer the odour of good fame and holy conversation to 
be lost at any time." 



Blessed Francis said that he had obtained from the Lord these 
four things, announced to him by an angel: namely, that the 
Order and profession of Friars Minor should never fail even to 

The Rule and the Order 253 

the Day of Judgment. Also that no one setting himself with 
all his might to persecute the Order should live long. Also that 
no evil man, wishing to live evilly in the Order, should be able 
to remain in it long. Also whoever from his heart should love 
the Order, although he should be a sinner, yet he should at the 
last obtain mercy. 



Such was the zeal which he had for the preservation of perfection 
in the Order, and such seemed to him the perfection of the pro- 
fession of the Rule, that he often used to consider who would 
be sufficient after his death for the governance of the whole 
Order, and to the conservation of perfection in it with the help 
of God; and he could come upon none fit. 

Whence near the end of his life, a certain friar said to him, 
" Father, thou wilt pass away to the Lord, and this family 
which has followed thee will remain in the vale of tears. Point 
out any one in the Order, if thou knowest one, in whom thy 
mind might be at rest, on whom the burden of the Minister- 
General may be worthily imposed." Blessed Francis answered, 
pointing all his words with sighs, " My son, I behold no sufficient 
leader of so great and various an army, no shepherd of so wide 
and scattered a flock, but I will paint to you one in whom should 
shine out how the leader and shepherd of this family ought to 
be. This man (he said) ought to be of most grave life, of great 
discretion, of laudable report, without private affections, lest 
while he loves more dearly on one side, scandal may grow in the 
whole body. There should be in him friendly zeal for prayer, 
yet so that he distribute certain hours to his own soul, and 
certain to his flock. For early in the morning, he should put 
before all things the most holy sacrifice of the Mass, and there, 
with long devotion, most earnestly commend himself and his 
flock to the divine protection. But after prayer he shall place 
himself in the midst that he may be questioned by all, answer 
to all, to provide for all with charity and patience and gentleness. 

" For he should be no acceptor of persons, so that he should 
take no less heed of the simple and foolish than of the wise and 
learned. To whom if the gift of learning be granted, yet let 
him bear in his manner the stamp of piety and simplicity, of 

254 The Mirror of Perfection 

patience and humility, and let him cherish these virtues, in 
himself and in others, and continually exercise himself in 
preaching them, inciting others more by example than by 
speech. Let him be a hater of money, which is the chief cor- 
ruption of our profession and perfection, and as the head and 
example to be imitated by all, let him in no wise be wasted by 
many store-chests. 

" Let a habit and a book be sufficient for himself, but for others 
his pencase with a reed and writing tablets, and a seal. Let 
him not be a collector of books nor much given to reading, lest 
haply that be taken from his office which is given to study. 
Let him console piously the afflicted, since he is the last resort 
of those in tribulation, lest if the remedies of health be wanting 
with him, despair of disease should prevail in the infirm. That 
he may bend the violent to gentleness, let him bear himself 
humbly, and relax something of his own rights that he may 
have profit of their soul. To the runaways of the Order, as to 
sheep who have perished, let him extend the bowels of pity, 
and let him never deny mercy to them ; knowing those tempta- 
tions to be very great which could compel to such a fall, which 
temptations if the Lord should permit to him, he himself might 
haply fall into a greater precipice. 

" I will that he, as vicar of Christ, be honoured by all with 
devotion and reverence and that he be provided for by all and 
in all things with all good-will, according to his necessity and the 
lowliness of our condition. Yet it will behove him not to smile 
on honours; nor to rejoice more in favours than in injuries, so 
that his manners be not changed by honours except for the 
better. But if sometimes he may need pleasanter and better 
food; let him not take it privately but in a public place, that 
the shame may be taken from others of providing them in their 
infirmities and weaknesses. It behoves him chiefly to distinguish 
hidden knowledge, and to search out the truth from secret veins. 
Let him hold all accusations suspect in the beginning, until the 
truth begin to appear by diligent examination. Let him not 
lend his ear to much speakers, and let him hold them especially 
suspect in accusations, nor lightly believe them. He should be 
such as would, for the desire of retaining vile honour, never 
injure nor relax the form of justice and equity. Yet so, that 
out of too much rigour the soul of no one may be destroyed, and 
out of superfluous gentleness sloth be not generated, and out 
of lax indulgence the dissolution of discipline come not: and 
thus that he be feared by all, and loved of those that fear him. 

The Rule and the Order 255 

Let him always think and feel the office of his prelacy rather a 
burden than an honour to him. I wish also that he have for 
fellows men well spoken of for honesty, rigid against their own 
wills, strong in need, pious and compassionate to delinquents, 
having equal affection to all, receiving nothing of their labour 
except the pure necessity of the body; and desiring nothing 
except the praise of God, the welfare of the Order, the merit of 
their own souls, and the perfect health of all the brethren; 
suitably affable to all, and receiving those coming to them with 
holy joy, and showing the form and Observance of the Gospel, 
according to the profession of the Rule, in themselves purely 
and simply to all. Behold, I say, such should be the Minister- 
General of this Order, and such the fellows he should have." 



Since, according to the measure of zeal which he continually 
had for the perfection of the Order, he must needs be sad if he 
saw or heard any imperfection therein, when he began to under- 
stand that some friars were giving an evil example to the Order, 
and that the friars (now at the highest point of their perfection 
and profession) had begun to decline, touched inwardly with 
too great sorrow of heart, on a time he said to the Lord in 
prayer, " Lord, I give back to Thy charge the family which 
Thou hast given me ! " And immediately the Lord said to him, 
" Tell Me, oh simple and feeble-minded mannikin, why thou art 
so sad when any man goes out of the Order, and when the friars 
do not walk by the way which I have shown thee? Also, tell 
Me Who has planted this order of friars ? Who has made man 
to be converted to penitence; Who gives the virtue of per- 
severance? Is it not I? I have not chosen thee over My 
household as a learned and eloquent man, because I wish neither 
thee nor those that were true friars and true observers of the 
rule which I have given thee, to walk by the way of science and 
eloquence. But I have chosen thee a simple and unlearned man 
that thou mayest know, both thou and others, that I will watch 
over My flock, and I have placed thee for a sign to them, that 
the works which I work in thee, they may work in themselves. 


The Mirror of Perfection 

For those who walk in the way I have shown thee, have Me more 
abundantly. But those who wish to walk by another way, even 
that which they seem to have shall be taken away from them. 
Wherefore I say unto thee, for the rest, be not so sad, but do 
what thou doest, work what thou workest, since I have planted 
in perpetual charity the Order of Friars. Whence thou art to 
know that because I love them so much if any friar, having 
returned to his vomit, should die outside the Order, I will send 
another into the Order, who in his place shall have his crown. 
And if he be not born, I will make him to be born. And that 
you may know how freely I love the life and Order of Friars; 
let it be granted that in the whole Order there should not remain 
except three, yet .even then it shall be My Order, and I will not 
give it up for ever." And when he heard these words his mind 
remained wonderfully consoled. And though on account of the 
great zeal which he always had for the perfection of the Order 
he was not able wholly to contain himself from growing 
vehemently sad when he heard of any imperfection done by the 
friars by which evil example or scandal might arise, yet after he 
was thus strengthened by the Lord he recalled to memory that 
word of the psalm : / have sworn and I will perform it, that I will 
keep thy righteous judgments : " and to preserve the rule which 
the Lord Himself gave to me, and to those who would wish to 
imitate me." 

" But all those friars have obliged themselves to this as I; 
and therefore since I have put off me the burden of the brethren 
by reason of my infirmities and other reasonable causes, I am 
not bound further than to pray for the Order, and to show a 
good example to the brethren. For this I have from the Lord 
and know for truth, that if infirmities did not excuse me, the 
greatest help which I could give the Order is, to spend the time 
daily in prayer for it to the Lord, because He governs, keeps, 
and protects it. For in this, I have bound myself to the Lord 
and to the brethren; that if any friar should perish by my evil 
example, I will be bound to render reason for him to the Lord." 
These words he used to speak within himself to quiet his heart, 
and he also used to explain it right often to the friars in his dis- 
courses and at Chapters. Whence if any friar said at any time 
to him, that he ought to interfere with the governance of the 
Order, he used to answer saying, " The friars have their Rule, 
and have sworn to keep it. And that they may not have any 
excuse on my account, after it pleased the Lord to command 
me to be their prelate, I swore before them likewise to observe 

The Rule and the Order 257 

it. Whence, since the friars know what they ought to do, and 
what also to avoid, there remains nothing, except that I should 
teach them by my works; since for this cause I am given to 
them, in my life and after my death." 



Above the other dwellings of the Order, he had a singular zeal 
and especial desire always, while he lived, to observe all per- 
fection of life and conversation in the holy dwelling of St. Mary 
of the Angels, as toward the head and mother of the whole 
Order; intending and willing that place to be the form and 
example of humility and poverty and all Evangelical Perfection 
for all places, and that the friars staying there should ever be, 
beyond other friars, circumspect and solicitous in doing and 
avoiding all things which tend to the perfection of the Observance 
of the Rule. Whence on a certain time, to avoid idleness which 
is the root of all evils, especially in a Religious, he ordained that 
each day after meals the friars should engage with him in some 
work lest they should lose altogether or in part, the good which 
they had gained in the time of prayer by useless and idle words, 
to which man is especially disposed after food. Also he ordered 
and commanded it to be firmly observed; that if any of the friars 
idling or working amongst the brethren, should utter any idle 
word, he should be bound to say one Pater Noster, praising God 
in the beginning and the end of the prayer. Yet so, that if by 
chance he, conscious of his fault, should have confessed that 
which he had done, he should say the Pater Noster for his own 
soul, together with the Laudes Domini as has been said. But if 
he were first blamed by any other friar, then he should be bound 
to say the Pater Noster as aforesaid for the soul of the brother 
rebuking him. But if he who was blamed excused himself, 
and would not say the Pater Noster, he should be bound in the 
same way to say it twice for the soul of the brother reproving 
him. But if, by the testimony of himself or of another, it should 
prove to be true that he had said that idle word, then he should 
say also the said Laudes at the beginning and end of his prayer, 
so loudly that he may be heard or understood by all friars 

2 5 8 

The Mirror of Perfection 

standing round about. Which friars, while he is saying it, shall 
hold their peace and listen. But if anybody seeing and hearing 
a brother say an idle word shall keep silent and shall not reprove 
him, he shall be bound in the same way to say the Pater Noster 
with the Laudes for his soul. And any friar whatever entering 
a cell or a house, or any place, who shall find there a friar or friars, 
should immediate devoutly thank and praise the Lord. The 
most holy Father was always solicitous to repeat these Laudes, 
and he taught other friars with a most ardent will and desire 
and excited them to saying those Laudes carefully and devoutly. 



Though blessed Francis knew that the kingdom of Heaven was 
established in every place of the earth, and though he believed 
that in every place the divine grace could be given to the elect 
of God, yet he had found the dwelling of blessed Mary of the 
Portiuncula to be filled with richer grace, and to be frequented 
by the heavenly visitations of celestial spirits. For this reason 
he used often to say to the friars, " See, oh my sons, that ye 
never leave this place, if you are thrown out on one side enter 
by another, for this place is holy, and the habitation of Christ 
and of the Virgin His mother. Here, when we were few, the 
Most High increased us, here He enlightened the souls of His 
poor by the light of His wisdom, here He inflamed our wills by 
the fire of His love. Here he who shall pray with a devout 
heart shall obtain what he seeks, and an offender shall be more 
heavily punished. For which cause, sons, hold this dwelling 
most worthy with reverence and honour as truly the dwelling 
of God, singularly beloved by Him and His mother, and therein 
with your whole heart with the speech of exultation and con- 
fession, confess to God the Father and to His Son Our Lord 
Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit." 

The Rule and the Order 259 



Holy of holies truly is this place of places. 

Worthily held worthy of great honours. 

Happy its surname more happy is its name. 

And now its third name arises, omen of the gift. 

The Angelic presence here casts abroad the light. 

Here watches oft by night sounding hymns with the voice. 

Afterward all fell to ruin Francis raised it up again. 

Out of the three it was one which the Father himself repaired. 

This the Father chose when with sackcloth he clothed his 

Here he broke the body and forced it to obey the mind. 
Here by the fire of his love he kindled our wills. 
Here within the temple was begotten the Order, of Minors. 
While the Father's example a crowd of men doth follow. 
Clara, the spouse of God was here the first time shorn. 
Cast off the pomps of the world and followed Christ. 
Here the renowned birth of brothers at once and of sisters. 
The holy mother bare by whom she brought back Christ to the 

Here was made narrow the broad road of the old world. 
And virtue made wider for the chosen race. 
Here grew the Rule Holy Poverty reborn. 
Pride smitten down the cross called back among us. 
Thus where was troubled Francis, and sore wearied. 
Here was he rested his death here was renewed. 
Here was he shown the truth whereof he doubted. 
Nay, here was granted whatever that Father desired. 





The most blessed Father, having transformed in some sort his 
brethren into saints by the ardour of the love and the fervour 
of the zeal which he had for their perfection, often thought 
within himself, by what conditions and virtues a good Friar 
Minor should be adorned. And he used to say that he would 
be a good Friar Minor who should have the life and conditions of 
these holy friars, to wit: the faith of Brother Bernard, which he 
had most perfectly, with the love of poverty: the simplicity 
and poverty of Brother Leo, who was truly of the holiest purity : 
the courtesy of Brother Angelo, who was the first knight who 
came to the Order, and who was adorned with all courtesy and 
benignity: the gracious and natural sense, with the fair and 
devout eloquence, of Brother Masseo: the mind raised in con- 
templation, which Brother Giles had in the highest perfection: 
the virtuous and continual labour of holy Rufinus, who without 
intermission prayed always, for even when sleeping or doing 
anything, his mind was always with the Lord: the patience of 
Brother Juniper, who arrived at the perfect state of patience, 
because of the perfect truth of his own vileness which he had 
before his eyes : and the desire in the highest degree of imitating 
Christ through the bodily and spiritual strength of the cross, of 
Brother John of the Lauds, who in his time was strong of body 
above all men: the charity of Brother Roger, whose whole life 
and conversation was in the fervour of charity: and the solici- 
tude of Brother Lucido, who was of the greatest solicitude, and 
was unwilling to stay in one place for a month, but when it 
pleased him to stay in any place, immediately he went away 
from there, and said, " We have no dwelling-place here but in 


His Zeal for Perfection of Brethren 261 



Amongst the other virtues which he loved and desired to be in 
the brethren, after the foundation of holy humility, he specially 
loved the fairness and cleanness of decency. Whence wishing 
to teach the friars to have shamefast eyes, he was accustomed 
to represent wanton eyes by this tale: A pious and powerful 
king sent to the queen two messengers successively. The first 
returns and brings back word for word, and speaks nothing of 
the queen. For he had held his eyes in his head wisely, nor had 
cast them at all upon the queen. The other returned and 
after a few words wove a long history of the beauty of the 
queen: " Truly," said he, " Lord, I have seen a most beautiful 
woman; happy is he who enjoys her! " And the king said to 
him, " Thou, wicked servant, hast cast shameless eyes on my 
wife; it is plain that thou hast wished subtily to obtain that 
thou hast seen." He ordered the first therefore to be called 
again, and said to him, " What thinkest thou of the queen? " 
" She seems," said he, " to me right good, because she listened 
willingly and patiently " (and he answered wisely). And the 
king said to him, " But what of the beauty which is in her?" 
He answered, " My Lord, it is thine to behold it, it was mine 
to carry tlry words." The sentence was given by tha king: 
" Thou," said he, " having chaste eyes, be of chaster body in 
my chamber, and enjoy my delights, but let this shameless one 
go out from my house, lest he should pollute my bed." There- 
fore he used to say, " Who would not fear to look upon the 
spouse of Christ? " 



On a certain time when on account of the weakness of his 
stomach he desired to vomit, on account of the great violence 
he did to himself, he vomited blood for the whole night until 
the morning. And when his companions saw him ready to die, 

262 The Mirror of Perfection 

through his great weakness and affliction, they said to him 
with the greatest grief and shedding of tears, " Father, what 
shall we do without thee? Thou wast ever our father and 
mother, begetting and bringing us forth in Christ. Thou wast 
a leader and a shepherd to us, a master and a corrector, teaching 
and correcting us more by example than by word. Whither 
therefore shall we go, sheep without a shepherd, orphans without 
a father, rude and simple men without a leader? Where shall 
we go to seek thee, glory of poverty, praise of simplicity, and 
honour of our vileness ? Who shall show us, blind ones, hence- 
forth the way of truth; where will the speaking mouth be, and 
the tongue that counselled us ? Where will be the fervent spirit, 
directing us in the way of the cross; and strengthening us to 
evangelical perfection? Where wilt thou be that we may come 
to thee, light of our eyes; that we may seek thee, consoler of 
our souls? Behold, Father, thou diest; behold, thou desertest 
us thus desolate, leaving us thus sad and bitter; behold, that 
day, the day of weeping and bitterness, the day of desolation 
and sadness draweth near! Behold the bitter day which we 
have always been fearing to see since we have been with thee; 
even when we were not able to think of it. Nor is it strange, 
truly, because thy life is a continuous light to us, and thy 
words were torches, burning and guiding us continually to the 
way of the cross and evangelical perfection, to the love and 
imitation of the most sweet Crucified One! And therefore, 
Father, forthwith bless us and thy other friars whom thou hast 
begotten in Christ; and leave to us some memorial of thy 
will; that thy brethren may have thee always in memory, and 
that they may say, ' These words our Father left to his brethren 
and his sons at his death.' " Then the most pious Father, 
turning his paternal eyes on his sons, said to them, " Call to 
me Brother Benedict of Pirato." For that brother was a 
priest, holy and discreet, who celebrated for blessed Francis 
while he lay there infirm (because always when he was able, | 
he wished to have or hear a mass as long as he was sick). And 
when he had come to him, he said to him, " Write how I bless 
my brethren who are in the Order, and who shall come, unto the 
end of the world. And since on account of my weakness and 
the pain of my infirmity I may not speak, in these three words 
I make plain my will and intention briefly to all my brethren, 
present and to come; namely, that in token of my memory and 
benediction and will, they should always love one another like as 
I have loved and do love them; that they should always love 

His Zeal for Perfection of Brethren 263 

and observe our Lady Poverty, and always remain faithful 
subjects to the prelates and clergy of holy Mother Church." 

For thus in the Chapter of the friars our Father had always 
been anxious at the end of the Chapter to bless and absolve 
all friars present and to come in the Order, and even out of 
Chapter he did the same many times in the fervour of his 
charity. But he used to warn the friars, that they should fear 
and guard themselves from evil example ; and he cursed all those 
who by evil example provoked men to blaspheme the Order 
and life of the friars, because good and holy poor men are 
shamed by this and much afflicted. 



On a certain night blessed Francis was so weighed upon by the 
pains of his infirmities, that he could neither rest nor sleep that 
whole night. But in the morning, when his pains had a little 
ceased, he caused all the friars in the dwelling to be called. And 
placing his right hand on the head of each of them, he blessed 
them all, present and absent, and those who should come to the 
Order up to the end of the world ; and he seemed to have com- 
passion on himself, because he was not able to see all his brethren 
and his sons before his death. But wishing in his death to imitate 
his Lord and Master, as he had perfectly imitated Him in his 
life, he ordered loaves to be brought to him, and blessed them, 
and made them to be broken into portions ; because on account 
of his great weakness he was not strong enough to break it. 
And taking it, he handed to each of the friars a portion, bidding 
him eat the whole of it. Whence as the Lord before His death 
wished in token of His love to eat with His disciples on the 
Thursday, so blessed Francis, His perfect imitator, wished to 
show the same sign of love to his brethren. And that he wished 
to do this in the likeness of Christ appears manifestly, because 
he afterwards asked if it were then Thursday. But one of those 
friars kept back a particle of that bread, and after the death of 
blessed Francis, many sick who tasted thereof were immediately 
liberated from their infirmities.- 

264 The Mirror of Perfection 



When, on account of the pain of his infirmities he was not able 
to rest, and had seen that thereby the friars were much dis- 
tracted and fatigued on his account, since he loved the souls of 
his brethren more than his own body, he began to fear lest from 
their too great labour on his account the friars should incur even 
the least offence before God on account of some impatience. 
Whence on a time he said with piety and compassion to his 
companions, " Dearest brethren, and my little sons, let it not 
weary you to labour for my infirmity ; since the Lord will return 
to you all the fruit of your works for His humble servant in this 
world and in the future; and those things which ye may not do 
now on account of the care of my infirmity, ye shall acquire 
even greater profit than if you had done them for yourself, since 
he who aids me, aids the whole religion and life of the friars. 
Nay more, ye ought to say thus, ' We will make our expense 
over thee, and the Lord will be our debtor on your account.' " 
(But the holy Father said this wishing to assist and raise the 
cowardice of their spirits, on account of the great zeal which 
he had for the perfection of their souls. He feared also lest 
sometimes tempted by that labour they might say, " We cannot 
pray nor suffer such labour," and thus they should become 
wearied and impatient of such small labour, and lose great fruit.) 



After blessed Francis made his " Praises to the Lord concerning 
His creatures," he made also certain holy words with a song 
for the consolation and edification of the poor ladies, knowing 
them to be greatly troubled concerning his infirmity; and when 
he could not visit them in person he sent those words to them 
by his companions. For he wished to make plain his will to 
them in those words, namely, how they should live and converse 
humbly, and be of one mind in charity. For he saw that their 

His Zeal for Perfection of Brethren 265 

conversion and holy conversation was not only an exaltation of 
the Order of the friars but also a very great edification of the 
Church Universal. But knowing that in the beginning of their 
conversion they had led a very narrow and poor life, he was 
always moved to pity and compassion for them. Whence he 
asked them in those same words that as the Lord had gathered 
them together from many places into one, to holy charity, holy 
poverty, and holy obedience, so they should always live and 
die in them. And strictly did he warn them, that they should 
provide for their bodies discreetly out of the alms which the 
Lord should give to them, with joyfulness and giving of thanks ; 
and especially that they should ever be patient in the labours 
which they sustained for their infirm sisters, and that the infirm 
themselves should be likewise patient in their infirmities. 





So great was the fervour of love and compassion of blessed 
Francis for the pains and sufferings of Christ, and so much was 
he daily afflicted on account of that passion, within and without, 
that he took no care of his own infirmities. Whence, though 
for a long time, up to the day of his death, he had suffered 
ailments of the stomach and liver and spleen, and from the time 
when he returned from over-sea he had had very great pains 
of his eyes continually, yet he would not on that account take 
any pains to make himself be made whole. Whence my Lord 
of Ostia, seeing that he was and ever had been austere to his 
body, and especially as he had now begun to lose the light of 
his eyes ; and because he would not be made whole, admonished 
him with great pity and compassion, saying, " Brother, thou 
dost not well, because thou dost not get thyself cured, though 
thy life and health be very useful to friars and seculars, and the 
whole church. For if thou hadst compassion on thy infirm 
brethren, and wert always pious and merciful to them, thou 
shouldst not be cruel to thyself in so great a necessity. For 
which reason I command thee to cause thyself to be cured and 
assisted." (For that most holy Father ever took that which 
was bitter for sweet, because he drew immense sweetness from 
the humility and footsteps of the Son of God.) 



On a certain time a little after his conversion, when he was 
walking alone on the road not very far from the church of 
St. Mary of the Portiuncula, he went with a loud voice lament- 


Love for the Passion of Christ 267 

ing. But a certain spiritually-minded man met him, and fearing 
lest he had pain of some ailment, said to him, " What is the 
matter, Brother? " But he answered, " Thus I go through the 
world without shame, lamenting the Passion of my Lord." 
Then they both began to weep together, and shed many tears. 
This man we have known, and have learnt this from him, who 
also showed much consolation and mercy to the blessed man and 
to us his fellows. 



Drunken with the love and compassion of Christ, blessed Francis 
on a time did things such as these. For the most sweet melody 
of spirit boiling up within him frequently broke out in French 
speech and the veins of murmuring which he heard secretly with 
his ears, broke forth into French-like rejoicing. And sometimes 
he picked up a branch from the earth, and laying it on his left 
arm, he drew in his right hand another stick like a bow over it, 
as if on a viol or other instrument, and making fitting gestures, 
sang with it in French unto the Lord Jesus Christ. But all this 
playing ended in tears, and this joy dissolved in compassion for 
the Passion of Christ. In these times he would draw sighs 
continually; and with deep-drawn groans, forgetful of those 
things which he held in his hands, he was raised to Heaven. 





Though for many years he had been afflicted with the aforesaid 
infirmities, yet was he so devout and reverent at prayer and the 
Divine Office, that every time he was praying or repeating the 
canonical Hours, he would never lean on the wall or doorpost. 
For he generally stood erect and bareheaded, though he was 
sometimes on his knees; more especially because he spent the 
greater part of the day and the night in prayer; nay, when 
he went through the world afoot he always stayed his steps 
when he wished to say his Hours. But if he were riding, on 
account of his ailment, he always alighted to say the Office. 
On a certain time it was raining very much, and he was riding 
by reason of his infirmity and very great necessity, and though 
he was wholly soaked through, he got off the horse when he 
wished to say his Hours, and said his Office with as great a 
fervour of devotion and reverence thus, standing on the road 
with the rain falling on him continually, as if he had been in a 
church or a cell. And he said to his companion, " If the body 
wishes to eat its food in peace and quietness, when both are but 
the food of worms, with how much quiet and peace, with how 
great a reverence and devotion, should the mind receive that 
food which is God Himself." 



The blessed Father ever used to have his highest and especial 
study in this, that apart from prayer and the Divine Office, he 
should continually have spiritual gladness; and this likewise 


His Zeal for the Order 269 

he singularly loved in his brethren, nay, he often reproved them 
for sadness and outward grief. For he used to say that " if 
the servant of God would study to preserve within and without 
the spiritual joy which comes of cleanness of heart and is 
acquired by devoutness of prayer, the demons would not be 
able to harm him, for they would say, ' Since this servant of 
God has joy in tribulation as in prosperity, we can find no way 
of entering to him nor of hurting him.' But the demons exult 
when they can quench or hinder in any way the devotion and 
joy which arises from prayer and other virtuous works. For 
if the devil may have aught of his own in the servant of God, 
except he be a wise man and solicitous to take away and destroy 
it as soon as possible by the virtue of holy prayer, contrition, 
confession, and satisfaction, in a short time he will make from 
one hair a beam to throw upon him. Since, therefore, my 
brethren, this spiritual joy comes of cleanness of heart and the 
purity of continual prayer, ye should be first and foremost 
desirous to acquire and conserve these two things, that ye may 
have, within and without, that joy which with the greatest 
longing I desire and wish to know and feel in you and myself, 
to the edification of our neighbours and the reproach of the 
enemy. For it pertaineth to him and to his members, to grow 
sad, but to you ever to rejoice and be glad in the Lord." 



The holy Father used to say, " Although I know the demons 
envy me the blessings which the Lord has given me; yet I 
know and see that they cannot hurt me by myself, and they 
intend and desire to hurt me by my fellows. But if they cannot 
harm me by myself, or by my fellows, they retire with great 
confusion. Nay, if I am sometimes tempted or full of grief, 
when I perceive the gladness of my fellows immediately on 
account of their joy I return from my temptation and grief to 
my interior and exterior joy." On account of these things, 
the Father himself used often to blame those who made a show 
of sadness. For on a certain time he blamed one of his fellows 
who appeared sad of face, and said to him, " Why dost thou 

270 The Mirror of Perfection 

make an outward show of sorrow and sadness for thy offences ? 
Keep thou this sadness between thee and thy God, and pray to 
Him that by His mercy He may spare thee, and restore to thy 
soul the gladness of His salvation, which is taken away from 
thee on account of sin; but before me and others, study always 
to have joy, for it befits not the servant of God to show before 
his brother or another sadness or a troubled face." 

Not that it should be thought or believed that our Father, 
a lover of all gravity and decency, would have wished this 
gladness to be shown by laughing or by the least vain word; 
since by this not spiritual gladness but rather vanity and folly 
is shown; nay, he even singularly abhorred laughing and idle 
words in the servant of God; since not only did he wish that 
he should not laugh, but not even afford to others the slightest 
occasion for laughing. Whence in a certain admonition of his, 
he laid down more clearly what should be the joy of the servant 
of God. For he said, " Blessed is that Religious, who has no 
joy nor gladness except in the most holy words and works of 
the Lord, and with these provokes man to the love of the Lord 
in joy and gladness. And woe to that Religious who rejoices 
in idle and vain words, and with these provokes men to laughter." 

By gladness of face, therefore, he understood fervour and 
solicitude and the disposition and preparation of mind and 
body to doing freely all good works, because by fervour and 
disposition of this kind others are more provoked sometimes 
than by the good deed itself; nay, if an act, however good, does 
not seem to be done willingly and fervently, it rather causes 
disgust than provokes to good. And so he did not wish to see 
sadness in the face, which most often represents melancholy 
and indisposition of mind and idleness of body to all good. 
But he ever loved above all things gravity and maturity in face 
and in all the members of the body and the senses in himself and 
in others, and he induced others to do this as much as he could 
by word and example. For he had found out that gravity and 
modesty of manners of this kind was like a wall and a very 
strong shield against the shafts of the devil; and that the soul 
without the protection of this wall and shield was like a naked 
knight amongst very strong and well-furnished enemies, con 
tinually intent on his death. 

His Zeal for the Order 271 



Our most holy Father, considering that the body was created 
for the soul, and that bodily acts should be wrought on account 
of spiritual, used to say, " The servant of God, in eating and 
drinking and sleeping and satisfying the other necessities of the 
body, ought to satisfy his body with discretion, so that Brother 
Body may not be able to murmur against him, saying, ' I cannot 
stay erect and remain at prayer, nor rejoice in tribulations of 
the mind, nor work any other good works, because you do not 
satisfy my need.' For if the servant of God would satisfy his 
body with discretion and in a sufficiently good and fitting 
manner, and Brother Body should wish to be negligent and fat 
and sleepy in prayer, vigils, and good works, then he ought to 
punish it like a bad and fat beast for that he would eat and not 
be of profit, and bear a load. But if on account of want and 
poverty Brother Body cannot have his necessities in health and 
weakness, when he shall have humbly and honestly asked it 
from his brother or from his prelate for the love of God, and it 
is not given to him; let him bear it patiently for the love of 
God, Who should console him, Who sought it and also found 
it not; and this necessity with patience shall be counted to him 
by the Lord for martyrdom. And because he has done that 
which was his to do (that is, has humbly asked his need), 
he shall be excused, even if his body were thence made sore 





When blessed Francis was staying in the hermitage of Greccio 
for prayer in the last cell beyond the greater cell, on a certain 
ni*ht in his first slumber he called his fellow who was sleeping 
near him. And this fellow, rising, went to the door of the cell 
where the blessed man was sleeping. And the saint said to him, 
" Brother I have not been able to sleep this night, neither to 
stand erect at prayer, for my head and my legs tremble very 
much and it seems to me that I must have eaten some darnel 
bread " And when his fellow spoke to him in compassionate 
words, the holy man said, " But I believe that the devil is m 
that pillow which I have at my head." (For though he had 
never wished to sleep on feathers, or to have a feather pillow 
since he left the world; yet against his will the friars forced him 
to have that pillow then on account of the weakness of his eyes.) 
So he threw it to his fellow. His fellow, taking it, set it on his 
left shoulder, and when he had gone out of the porch of that 
cell forthwith he lost his speech, and was not able to put down 
the' pillow or move his arms, but stood there erect, unable to 
move himself from that place, and feeling nothing in him. But 
when for some space of time he had stood thus, by the grace of 
God the holy Father called him; and immediately he returned 
to himself, letting the pillow fall behind his back. And when 
he had returned to the blessed man, he told him all things that 
had happened to him. And the saint said, " In the evening, 
when I was saying Complines, I felt the devil come into the 
cell • whence I see that this devil is very astute, because when 
he could not hurt my soul, he wished to hinder the necessity of 
the body; so that I could not sleep nor stand erect at prayer, 
and that thus he would hinder the devotion and joy oi my 
heart, and through this I should murmur at my infirmity." 


Certain Temptations 273 



When he was staying in the dwelling of St. Mary, a very grave 
temptation of spirit was sent to him for the profit of his soul. 
Thereby he was so much afflicted in mind and body that many 
times he drew himself away from the company of the friars, 
because he was not able to show himself joyful to them as he 
was accustomed. He afflicted himself nevertheless by abstin- 
ence from food and drink and words; and he prayed more 
instantly and shed tears more abundantly, that the Lord would 
be pleased to send to him a sufficient remedy in such a tribula- 
tion. But when he had been thus afflicted for more than two 
years, it happened on a certain day, while he was praying in the 
church of St. Mary, that the word of the Gospel was spoken to 
him in his spirit: If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed ye 
shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and 
it shall remove. Immediately the holy Father answered to 
Him, " Lord, what is that mountain? " And it was answered, 
" That mountain is thy temptation." The holy Father said, 
" Therefore, Lord, it is done unto me as Thou hast said." And 
immediately he was so perfectly set free, that it seemed to him 
that he had never had any temptations. Likewise in the holy 
mountain of Alverna, at the time when he received the stigmata 
of the Lord in his body, he suffered such trials and temptations 
from the demons that he was not able to show himself joyful 
to his brethren as he was used, and he used to say to his fellows, 
" If the friars knew how many and what afflictions the demons 
cause me, there is not one of them who would not be moved to 
compassion and pity on me." 



Two years before his death, while he was at St. Damian in a 
certain cell made of reeds, and was very greatly afflicted by the 
infirmity of his eyes, so that for more than sixty days he was 

274 The Mirror of Perfection 

not able to see the light of day, or even the light of the fire, 
it happened, by the Divine permission, that so many mice came 
into his cell for the increase of his affliction and of his merit, 
that they, running about over him in that cell by day and by 
night, allowed him neither to pray nor to remain quiet, nay, 
when he was eating they climbed up on his table, and worried 
him very much. Whence it appeared manifest both to himself 
and to his fellows, that it was a diabolical temptation. The 
blessed man therefore, seeing himself to be punished with so 
many afflictions, on a certain night, moved with compassion, 
said within himself, " Lord, look down on my infirmities in my 
help, that I may be able to bear them patiently." And imme- 
diately it was said to him in the spirit, " Tell me, my brother, 
if any one should give to thee for these thy infirmities and 
tribulations so great and precious a treasure, that if the whole 
earth should be compared to it, it would be nothing in respect 
of that great treasure; would you not rejoice greatly? " And 
blessed Francis answered, " Lord, great would be that 
treasure and very precious, and much admirable and desirable." 
And he heard again One saying unto him, " Therefore, brother, 
rejoice and be glad in thy infirmities and tribulations; and for 
the rest hold thyself as secure as if thou wert now in My king- 
dom." And rising early, he said to his companion, " If the 
Emperor should give to any slave a whole kingdom; ought not 
that slave to rejoice greatly? If he should give his whole 
empire to him, ought he not much more to rejoice? " And he 
said to them, " Therefore I should rejoice greatly in my in- 
firmities and tribulations, and be strong in the Lord, and always 
give thanks to God the Father and to His only Son our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, for such grace given me 
by the Lord, namely, that He has deigned to certify me His 
unworthy servant, yet living in the flesh, of His kingdom. 
Whence I wish to make to His praise and to our consolation 
and to the edification of our neighbour a new Praise of the 
Creatures of the Lord, which we daily use and without which 
we cannot live, and in whom the human race much offends 
their Creator; and we are continually ungrateful for so much 
grace and benefit, not praising God, the Creator and Giver of 
all things, as we ought. And sitting down, he began to meditate 
a little, and afterwards he said, " Most high, omnipotent good 
Lord," etc. And he sang a song over this, and taught his 
fellows to say and sing it. For his spirit was then in so great 
consolation and sweetness; that he wished to send for Brother 

Certain Temptations 275 

Pacifico, who in the world used to be called the King of Verses, 
and was a truly courteous teacher of singers, and he wished 
some friars to be given to him that they should go together with 
him through the world preaching and singing praises of the 
Lord. For he said that he wished that he who knew how to 
preach best among them should first preach to the people, and 
after the preaching they should all sing together the praises of 
the Lord like minstrels of the Lord. But when the praises were 
finished, he wished that the preacher should say to the people, 
" We are the minstrels of the Lord, and for these things we 
wish to be paid by you, that is, that you should remain in true 
penitence." And he said, " For what are the servants of the 
Lord but His minstrels, who should raise the hearts of men and 
move them to spiritual joy." And this he used to say specially 
of the Friars Minor, who were given to the people of God for 
their welfare. 




After blessed Francis had composed the aforesaid Praises of 
the Creatures, which he called the " Canticle of Brother Sun/' 
it happened that a great discord arose between the Bishop and 
the Podesta of the city of Assisi, so that the Bishop excom- 
municated the Podesta of the city, and the Podesta warned 
every one that no one should buy or sell anything with him, or 
make any contract with him. 

Blessed Francis, although he was sick when he heard this, 
was moved with compassion on them, especially as no one 
interfered to make peace between them. And he said to his 
fellows, "It is great shame to us, servants of God, that the 
Bishop and the Podesta should hate one another thus, and that 
no one should concern himself with their peace." And so 
he made immediately a verse in the aforesaid Praises on that 
occasion and said: 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of those who pardon for Thy love 
and endure sickness and tribulations. 

Blessed are they who will endure it in peace, 
for by Thee, Most High, they shall be crowned. 

Afterwards he called one of his fellows, and said to him, " Go 
to the Podesta and tell him on my part to go to the Bishop's 
palace with the magnates of the city and what others he may 
take with him." And when that brother had gone, he said to 
two others of his fellows, " Go and sing the Canticle of Brother 
Sun before the Bishop and the Podesta and the others who are 
with them, and I trust in the Lord that He will immediately 
humble their hearts, and they will return to their first love and 
friendship." But when they were all gathered together in the 


The Spirit of Prophecy 277 

open court of the cloister of the Bishop's palace, those two friars 
arose, and one of them said, " Blessed Francis has made in his 
weakness the Praise of the Lord concerning his Creatures, to the 
praise of the said Lord, and the edification of his neighbour. 
Whence he asks of you that you should hear him with great 
devotion." And thus they began to speak and to sing. But 
the Podesta immediately rose and with joined hands and arms 
listened intently to those verses as to the Gospel of the Lord 
with very great devotion and even with many tears, for he had 
great faith and devotion to blessed Francis. When the Praises 
of the Lord were finished, the Podesta said before them all, 
" In truth, I say unto you, that not alone my Lord the Bishop, 
whom I wish and ought to have for my Lord, but if any one 
should have slain my blood-friend or my son I will forgive him," 
and so saying he threw himself at the feet of the Bishop and said 
to him, " Behold, I am ready to make satisfaction for every- 
thing as it shall please you, for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 
and of His servant blessed Francis." But the Bishop taking 
him with his hands, raised him and said to him, " My office bids 
me be humble, yet because I am naturally prompt to wrath, it 
behoves that thou shouldst pardon me." And thus with much 
benignity and love they embraced and kissed each other. But 
the friars seeing what the blessed man had predicted of their 
concord fulfilled to the letter, were amazed and rejoiced. And 
all the others who were present held this for a very great miracle, 
ascribing the whole to the merits of the blessed man; because 
the Lord had so quickly visited them, and that they had turned 
away without the uttering of any word from such discord and 
scandal to such harmony. But we who were with the blessed 
Father bear testimony that when he said of any one, " thus it 
is," or, "thus it will be," always it happened thus to the letter. 
And we have seen so often and so much of this that it would be 
long to write or to tell it. 



There was a certain friar outwardly of honest and holy con- 
versation, who by day and night seemed solicitous concerning 
prayer, and in such wise observed continual silence, that some- 


The Mirror of Perfection 

times when he would confess to the priest he used to confess 
by signs only and not by words. For he seemed so devout and 
fervent in the love of God that sometimes sitting with his 
brethren even though he did not speak, yet he rejoiced greatly 
within and without on hearing such good words, so that from this 
he drew other friars to devotion. But when he had remained some 
years in this kind of life, it happened that blessed Francis came 
to the habitation where he was staying. Who, when he heard 
from the friars his conversation, said to them, " Know in truth 
that it is because of a diabolical temptation that he does not 
wish to confess." In the meantime the Minister-General came 
there to visit the holy man and began to commend that one to 
the blessed man. And the blessed one said to him, " Believe 
me, brother, that friar, since he is led by an evil spirit, will be 
deceived." The Minister-General said, " It seems strange to 
me, and almost incredible, that this could be of a man who has 
so many signs and works of holiness." And the holy man said 
to him, " Prove him," saying to the friar, " Brother, I wish that 
you should confess twice in a week." But he placed his finger 
over his mouth, shaking his head and showing by signs that he 
did not wish to do this for the love of silence. But the Minister, 
fearing to scandalise him, let him go. And not many days after, 
that friar left the Order of his own will, and returned to the 
world, wearing the secular dress. 

But so it was, that while on a day two of the companions of 
the blessed man were walking by a certain road, they came upon 
him walking alone like a very poor pilgrim. And having com- 
passion on him, they said, " Oh wretched one, where is thy 
honest and holy conversation? For thou wast unwilling to 
speak and to show thyself to thy brethren, and now thou goest 
wandering through the world, like a man ignorant of God." 
But he began to speak to them, swearing often " by his faith,"' 
like the men of this world. And they said to him, " Wretched 
man, why dost thou swear by thy faith like lay-folk, thou who 
was wont to be silent, not only from idle words, but from all 
speech? " And so they left him, and a little after he died. 
And we wondered greatly, seeing what blessed Francis had 
predicted of him in the time when the wretched one was reputed 
a saint by the friars to be true to the letter. 

The Spirit of Prophecy 279 



At the time when no one was received into the Order except 
by the leave of the blessed man ; the son of a noble citizen of 
Lucca with many others, wishing to enter the Order, came to 
blessed Francis, who was then sick in the palace of the Bishop 
of Assisi. And when they all presented themselves to the 
blessed man, he bowed down before him and began to weep 
greatly, begging him to receive him. The blessed Father look- 
ing upon him said to him, " Oh wretched and carnal man; why 
dost thou lie to the Holy Spirit and to me? Thou weepest 
carnally and not spiritually." And as these things were said, 
his relations came on horseback outside the palace, wishing to 
take him away, and carry him off by force. But he, hearing 
the noise of the horses, looked through a window and saw his 
kinsmen and straightway went down to them, and as the 
blessed man had foreseen, returned to the world with them. 



Blessed Francis abode a while by reason of the weakness of his 
eyes at the church of St. Fabian, which is near Rieti, with a poor 
priest. For my Lord Pope Honorius was then at that city with 
all his court; whence many Cardinals and other great clerks 
used to visit blessed Francis almost daily, on account of the 
devotion which they had towards him. Now that church had 
a little vineyard next the house in which the blessed Francis 
was : and in that house was a door by which well-nigh all who 
visited him entered the vineyard, especially as the grapes were 
then ripe and the place was very pleasant; so that for that 
reason the whole vineyard was stripped and spoiled of its grapes. 
On account of which that priest began to be scandalised, saying, 
" Though it was a small vineyard, yet I used to collect thence 
as much wine as was sufficient for my need, and behold I have 
lost it all for this year! " Hearing which blessed Francis made 

280 The Mirror of Perfection 

him to be called and said to him : " Be not any further disturbed, 
because we cannot do anything else now. But trust in the Lord, 
since He is able to make up thy loss by His servant to thee in 
full. Tell me, how many measures of wine thou hadst, when 
thou hadst most from thy vineyard ? " The priest answered, 
" Father, thirteen measures." Blessed Francis said to him, 
" Be no more sad, nor say any injurious word to any one on 
account of this, but have faith in the Lord and in my word, and 
if thou hast less than twenty measures of wine I will cause it 
to be made up to thee." And from that time forward the priest 
held his tongue and was quiet, and in the time of the vintage he 
had from that vineyard twenty measures of wine and not less. 
And all those who heard this wondered greatly, saying that if 
the vineyard had been full of grapes it would have been im- 
possible that there should have been twenty measures of grapes 
there. But we who were with him bear testimony that what 
he said of this and of all things was fulfilled to the letter. 



While blessed Francis was preaching in the place of Perugia 
to a great crowd of people congregated there, behold, some 
knights of Perugia began to run through the place on horseback 
and hinder his preaching. And though they were reproved by 
those who were present, yet they did not cease on account of 
this. Therefore the holy Father, turning towards them, said 
to them with fervour of spirit, "Hear and understand what the 
Lord announces to you by me the least of His servants, nor say, 
* this man is of Assisi.' " (But this he said, because there is an 
old hatred between them of Perugia and the men of Assisi.) 
And he said to them, " The Lord has exalted you over all your 
neighbours, on account of which ye ought rather to recognise 
your Creator by humiliating yourself not only to God but also 
to your neighbours. But your heart is lifted up in pride, and 
ye lay waste your neighbours and slay many of them. Where- 
fore I say unto you, that unless ye be quickly converted to God, 
satisfying those whom ye have offended, the Lord, Who leaves 
nothing unpunished, will cause you to rise one against the other 
to your shame, for your greater vengeance and punishment, 

The Spirit of Prophecy 281 

and, moved by sedition and internal war, ye shall suffer greater 
tribulation than your neighbours could bring upon you." (For 
thus the holy Father never held his peace on the faults of the 
people, when he used to preach, but reproved them all, publicly 
and manfully. But the Lord gave so much grace to him, that 
all, of whatever state and condition they were, who saw and 
heard him, feared and venerated him on account of the abundant 
grace of God which he had; so that however often they were 
reproved by him they were always edified by his words, and were 
converted to the Lord or inwardly struck with penitence.) And 
so it was, by divine permission, that a few days after a dissension 
arose between the knights and the people, so that the people 
turned the knights out of the city, and the knights, with the 
Church which assisted them, laid waste their fields and vine- 
yards and trees, and did all the evil which they could do to the 
people. And the people likewise destroyed all the goods of the 
knights. And so, according to the word of the blessed man, 
the people and the knights were punished. 



A certain friar, right spiritual and familiar with the blessed 
man, had suffered for many days most grievous suggestions of 
the devil, so that he was like to fall into the depths of despair, 
and every day he was so tormented that he was ashamed to 
confess so often, and afflicted himself greatly for this reason 
by fasting, vigil, tears, and disciplines. And it happened, by 
the divine dispensation, that blessed Francis went to that place. 
And while on a certain day that friar was walking with the 
blessed man, blessed Francis knew through the Holy Spirit his 
tribulation and temptation, and drawing himself a little apart 
from the friar who was walking with him, he turned to that 
afflicted brother and said to him, " Dearest brother, I will that 
henceforth thou shalt not feel thyself bound to confess these 
diabolical suggestions. And fear not, for nothing shall hurt 
thy soul. But, with my leave, you shall say seven Paternoster? 
as often as you are troubled by them. ' ' And that brother re j oiced 
greatly at the words which he had said to him (namely, that he 
should not be bound to confess these temptations), for he had 

282 The Mirror of Perfection 

been greatly afflicted by this. Nevertheless he was greatly 
stupefied, seeing that blessed Francis knew that which was 
known only by the priest to whom it had been confessed. And 
immediately he was set free from that tribulation by the grace 
of God and the merits of St. Francis ; and from that time forward 
remained in great peace and quiet. (And it was because the 
saint had hoped this, that he had securely absolved him from 



When near his death a certain dainty dish was prepared for 
him, he remembered Brother Bernard who was the first friar 
that he had, and said to his companions, " This dish is good for 
Brother Bernard," and forthwith he made him be called to him. 
Who, when he had come, sat near the bed whereon the saint 
was sitting. And Brother Bernard said, " Father, I ask thee 
that thou shouldst bless me, and show me thy benediction; for 
if thou shouldst show me thy paternal benediction, I believe 
that God Himself and all men will love me more." But the 
blessed man was not able to see him, because he had lost the light 
of his eyes for many days before. But stretching out his right 
hand he placed it on the head of Brother Giles who was the third 
friar, believing that he had put it on the head of Brother 
Bernard, who was sitting next to him. And immediately know- 
ing it by the Holy Spirit, he said, " This is not the head of my 
brother Bernard." Then Brother Bernard drew nearer, and the 
blessed Father putting his hand on his head blessed him, saying 
to one of his fellows, " Write what I say to thee: Bernard was 
the first friar, who first began and completed the most perfect 
perfection of the Holy Gospel, by distributing his goods to the 
poor: on account of which, and on account of many other pre- 
rogatives, I am bound to love him more than any other friar of 
the whole Order. Whence I will and command as far as I am 
able, that whoever shall be Minister-General should love and 
honour him as myself. But let the Minister and all friars of 
the whole Order hold him as myself." And with this Brother 
Bernard and the other friars were greatly consoled. For the 

The Spirit of Prophecy 283 

blessed Father, considering the very great perfection of that 
Brother Bernard, had prophesied before certain friars, saying, 
" I say unto you that some of the great and most subtle demons 
are allotted to Brother Bernard for his warfare, who shall bring 
many tribulations and temptations upon him. But the merciful 
i Lord will take away from him near his end all tribulation and 
temptation, and will set his spirit in such peace and consolation, 
that all friars who shall see these things shall wonder greatly and 
shall hold it for a great miracle; and in that quiet and consola- 
tion of soul and body he shall pass away to the Lord." 

But all these things, not without very great wonder of all the 
friars who heard these things from the blessed Father, were 
afterwards fulfilled to the letter in that brother Bernard. For 
Brother Bernard in the bitterness of death was in so much peace 
and consolation of spirit that he was unwilling to lie down. 
And if he lay down, he lay as if sitting, nor even the slightest 
humour ascending to his head was able to hinder meditation 
concerning God, through sleep or any imagination. And if this 
in any way happened, immediately he rose up and struck him- 
self, saying, "What was it? Why did I thus think?" He 
wished to take no medicine, but said to him that offered it, 
" Do not hinder me." And thenceforward, that he might 
more freely and peacefully die, he put all the duties of his body 
in the hands of a certain brother who was a physician, saying 
to him, " I wish to have no care of eating or drinking, but I 
commit them to thee; if thou givest I will take, if thou dost not 
give I will not ask." But when he began to grow weak, he 
wished to have near him a priest unto the hour of his death, and 
when anything came into his mind which burdened his con- 
science, he confessed it immediately. But after his death, his 
body became white and soft, and he seemed to smile. Whence 
he was fairer dead than alive; and all rejoiced more to look 
upon him dead than alive, for he seemed rightly " a smiling 

284 The Mirror of Perfection 



In that week in which blessed Francis passed away, the lady 
Clare, the first offshoot of the poor sisters of St. Damian of 
Assisi, the foremost rival of the holy man in preserving Evan- 
gelical Perfection, fearing to die before him, because both were 
then sore sick, wept most bitterly and would not be consoled, 
for that she thought that she should not see before her death 
blessed Francis, her consoler and master and her first founder 
in the grace of God, and therefore she signified this by a certain 
friar to the blessed Father. Hearing which the saint was moved 
with compassion, for he loved her singularly with fatherly 
affection. But considering that that could not be which she 
wished (that is to see him), he wrote to her by letters for the 
consolation of her and all her sisters his benediction; and 
absolved her from all defect, if she had been guilty of any, 
against the admonition and against the mandates and counsels 
of the Son of God; and that she should lay aside all sadness and 
sorrow, he said to that friar whom she had sent, " Go and bid 
sister Clare put aside all sorrow and sadness on account of not 
being able to see me. But let her know in truth that before her 
death, she and her sisters shall see me, and shall be much con- 
soled concerning me." But so it was, that when a little later 
blessed Francis passed away in the night, there came early the 
whole of the people and clergy of the town of Assisi, and bore his 
holy body from the place where he had died, with hymns and 
praises, carrying each of them branches of trees, and thus they 
bore him, by the will of God, to St. Damian, that the word 
might be performed which the Lord had said through blessed 
Francis to console His daughters and His handmaids. And 
having moved the iron grating by which they were accustomed 
to communicate and hear the Word of God, the friars took the 
holy body from the bier, and held it between their arms to the 
window for a great space; until lady Clare and her sisters were 
consoled concerning him, though they were full and stricken 
with many sorrows and tears, seeing themselves deprived of 
the consolations and admonitions of such a father. 

The Spirit of Prophecy 285 



On a certain day when he was lying ailing in the Bishop's 
palace at Assisi, a certain spiritually-minded friar said to him, 
as if in sport, and smiling, " For how much wouldst thou sell 
to the Lord all thy sackcloths? Many baldachinos and silken 
palls shall be placed over this little body of thine, which now is 
clothed with sackcloth." For then he was bandaged with sack- 
cloth, and had a garment also of sackcloth. And blessed 
Francis answered (but not he but the Holy Spirit through him) 
and said, with great fervour and joy of spirit, " Thou sayest 
truth, since so it will be for the praise and grace of my God." 




When blessed Francis was at the hermitage of Fonte Palumbo 
near Rieti, on account of the weakness of his eyes there visited 
him on a certain day an eye-doctor. When he had stayed with 
him for some time and now wished to depart, the blessed Father 
said to one of his companions, " Go and give the doctor some- 
thing of the best to eat." And his fellow answered him, saying, 
" Father, we say it with shame, we are so poor that we should 
be ashamed to invite him now to eat." Blessed Francis said 
to his companion, " ye of little faith, say no more to me of 
it." And the doctor said to blessed Francis, " Brother, for that 
the friars are poor, I will the more willingly eat with them." 
For that physician was very rich. And though the blessed 
Father and his fellows had often invited him, yet he had never 
wished to eat there. Therefore the friars went and prepared 
the table; and with shame set thereon a little bread and wine, 
and some cabbage which they had got ready for themselves. 
And sitting down to that poor table they had begun to eat, 
when behold there was a knock at the door of the dwelling. So 
one of the friars, rising, went to open the door. And behold, 
there was a certain woman there, carrying a great vessel full of 
good bread and fishes, and crayfish patties, and honey, and 
grapes; which the lady of a castle about seven miles off had 
sent to blessed Francis. Having seen which, the friars and the 
doctor rejoiced greatly, considering the sanctity of the holy 
Father, and ascribing all to his merits. And the doctor said 
to the friars, " My brethren, neither you nor we know as we 
ought the holiness of this man ! " 


Divine Providence 287 



On another time when he was grievously sick in the palace of 
the Bishop of Assisi, the friars besought him to eat. And he 
answered, " I have no will to eat; but if I could have some of 
the fish called squail, perhaps I could eat it." And as he said 
this, behold, some one came carrying a wicker basket in which 
there were three great squails well prepared, and some crayfish, 
which the holy Father did willingly eat. And this, Brother Gerard, 
the Minister of Rieti, had sent to him. And they praised God 
for the divine providence, Who had provided for His servant 
those things which were impossible to be had then at Assisi, 
since it was winter. 



When he was ailing in the habitation of St. Mary of the Angels 
with the last sickness by which he died, on a certain day he 
called his fellow to him, saying, " You know how the lady 
Jacqueline of Settesoli was and is very faithful and devoted to 
our Order. And therefore I believe that she will hold it for a 
great grace and consolation if you would signify my state to her, 
and send specially to her to send me some religious garments in 
colour like to ashes, and that with the cloth she should send 
also some of that sweetmeat which she has often made for me in 
the City." But the Romans call that sweetmeat mostaccioli, 
which is made of almonds and sugar and other things. For 
that lady was truly spiritual, and one of the richest and best- 
born widows of all Rome: who, by the merits and preaching of 
blessed Francis, had received so much grace from the Lord, that 
she seemed like another Magdalene, ever full of tears and devo- 
tion for the love and sweetness of Christ. They wrote therefore 
a letter as the holy man said, and a certain friar went seeking 
some brother to carry the letter to the aforesaid lady. And 
immediately there was a knock at the door of the habitation. 
And when the door was opened by a friar, behold the ladv 

288 The Mirror of Perfection 

Jacqueline was there, who had come in great haste to visit 
blessed Francis; and with great pleasure he told him how lady 
Jacqueline had come from Rome, with her son, and many- 
others, to visit him. And he said, " What shall we do, Father? 
Shall we allow her to enter and come to thee? " (But this he 
said, because it had been ordered that at that place, with the 
will of St. Francis, no woman should enter, on account of the 
great seemliness and devotion of it.) And the holy Father said, 
" This rule is not to be observed with that Lady, seeing that her 
great faith and devotion has made her come hither from distant 
parts." The dame entered therefore to the blessed man, 
shedding many tears before him. And behold a wonder ! She 
brought a shroud cloth (that is, of ashen colour) for a tunic, 
and all the things which were contained in the letter she had 
fetched with her, as if she had received it. And the dame said 
to the friars, " My brethren, it was said unto me in the spirit 
when I was praying, " Go and visit thy Father, blessed Francis, 
and delay not, for if thou delayest much, thou wilt not find him 
alive; and carry with thee such a cloth for a tunic, and such 
and such things; and thou shalt make him that sweetmeat. 
Take with thee likewise a great quantity of wax for lights, and 
also of incense." (But this was not contained in the letter that 
should have been sent.) And thus it was that He Who inspired 
kings to go with gifts to honour His Son in the time of His 
nativity, inspired also that noble and holy lady to go with 
gifts to honour His most beloved servant in the day of his 
death, nay, of his true birth. That lady, therefore, prepared 
the dish of which the holy Father had desired to eat. But he 
ate little thereof, because he grew continually weaker, and drew 
nearer to death. She caused also many candles to be made 
which should burn after his death before his most holy body. 
But of the cloth, the friars made for him a tunic, in which he 
was buried. But he himself ordered the friars to sew a sack 
over him, in token and in example of humility and Lady 
Poverty. And in that week in which dame Jacqueline came, 
our most holy Father passed away to the Lord. 





Blessed Francis, wholly wrapped up in the love of God, dis- 
cerned perfectly the goodness of God not only in his own soul, 
now adorned with the perfection of virtue, but in every creature. 
On account of which he had a singular and intimate love of 
creatures, especially of those in which was figured anything 
pertaining to God or the Order. Whence above all other birds 
he loved a certain little bird which is called the lark, or by the 
people, the cowled lark. And he used to say of it, " Sister 
Lark hath a cowl like a Religious; and she is a humble bird, 
because she goes willingly by the road to find there any food. 
And if she comes upon it in foulness, she draws it out and eats 
it. But flying she praises God very sweetly like a good Religious, 
despising earthly things, whose conversation is always in the 
heavens, and whose intent is always to the praise of God. Her 
clothes are like to the earth (that is her feathers), and she gives 
an example to Religious that they should not have delicate and 
coloured garments, but vile in price and colour, as earth is viler 
than the other elements." And because he perceived this in 
them, he looked on them most willingly. Therefore it pleased 
the Lord, that these most holy little birds should show some 
sign of affection towards him in the hour of his death. For 
late in the Sabbath day, after vespers, before the night in which 
he passed away to the Lord, a great multitude of that kind of 
birds called larks came on the roof of the house where he was 
lying; and flying about, made a wheel like a circle round the 
roof, and sweetly singing, seemed likewise to praise the Lord. 


290 The Mirror of Perfection 



We, who were with blessed Francis, and have written these 
things, bear testimony that many times we have heard him 
say, " If I were to speak to the Emperor, I would, supplicating 
and persuading him, tell him for the love of God and me to make 
a special law that no man should take or kill sister Larks, nor 
do them any harm. Likewise, that all the Podestas of the 
towns, and the Lords of castles and villages, should be bound 
every year on Christmas day to compel men to throw wheat and 
other grains outside the cities and castles, that our sister Larks 
may have something to eat, and also the other birds, on a day 
of such solemnity. And that for the reverence of the Son of 
God, Who rested on that night with the most blessed Virgin 
Mary between an Ox and an Ass in the manger, whoever shall 
have an Ox and an Ass shall be bound to provide for them on 
that night the best of good fodder. Likewise on that day, all 
poor men should be satisfied by the rich with good food." For 
the blessed Father had a greater reverence for Christmas day 
than for any other festival, saying, " Since the Lord had been 
born for us, it behoves us to be saved," and on account of which 
he wished that on that day every Christian should rejoice in the 
Lord ; and for His love who gave Himself for us, that all should 
provide largely not only for the poor, but also for the animals 
and birds. 



When he came to the hermitage of Fonte Palumbo near Rieti, 
for the cure of his ailment of the eyes, to which cure he had been 
forced by obedience to my Lord of Ostia, and by Brother Elias, 
the Minister-General, on a certain day the physician came to 
him, who, considering the disease, said to blessed Francis that 
he would make a cautery over the jaw up to the eyebrow of 

His Love for Creatures 291 

that eye which was weaker than the other. But blessed Francis 
was unwilling to begin the cure unless Brother Elias was there; 
because he had said that he wished to be present when the 
physician began that operation, and because he himself feared, 
and it was grave to him, to have so much solicitude for himself; 
and so he wished that the Minister-General should cause all to 
be done. When therefore they had waited for him, and he did 
not come, on account of the many impediments which he had, 
at last he permitted the physician to do what he would. And 
having placed the iron in the fire to make the cautery, blessed 
Francis, wishing to strengthen his spirit, lest he should faint, 
spoke thus to the fire, " My Brother Fire, noble and useful 
among all other creatures, be kindly to me in this hour, because 
formerly I have loved thee for the love of Him Who created 
thee. But I pray our Creator Who created us, that He will so 
temper thy heat that I may be able to sustain it." And the 
prayer finished, he signed the fire with the sign of the cross. But 
we who were with him then did all flee, out of pity and com- 
passion for him, and the physician alone remained with him. 
But when the cautery was made we returned to him, who said 
to us, " cowards, and of little faith, why did you fly? In 
truth I say unto you, that I have felt neither any pain nor the 
heat of the fire; nay, if it be not well burnt now, let him burn 
it better." And the physician marvelled greatly, saying, " My 
brethren, I say unto you that I should fear not only for him 
who is so weak and ailing, but for even the strongest man, lest 
he should not be able to suffer so great a cautery. But this 
man neither moved nor showed the least sign of pain." For 
all the veins from the ear to the eyebrow had to be cut open, 
and it did him no good. Likewise another physician bored 
through both his ears with a red-hot iron, and it benefited him 
nothing. Nor is it strange, if the fire and the other creat i res were 
obedient to him and venerated him, for, as we who were with 
him have very often seen, he was so much drawn to them, and 
rejoiced in them so much, and his spirit was moved with so 
much pity and compassion for them, that he would not see them 
badly treated, and he used to speak with them with inward 
gladness, as if they had reason, whence by their occasion, he 
was ofttimes wrapt up to God. 

292 The Mirror of Perfection 



Amongst all the lower and insensible creatures he was singu- 
larly drawn to fire on account of its beauty and use, wherefore 
he never wished to hinder its office. For on a time, when he 
was sitting next the fire, without his knowledge it caught hold 
of his linen clothes or hosen near the knee. When he felt the 
heat of the fire he did not wish to put it out. But his fellow 
seeing his clothes burn, ran to him wishing to quench the fire. 
But he forbade him, saying, " Nay, dearest brother, harm not 
the fire," and thus he would by no means let him quench it. 

Then he hurriedly went to the friar who was his Warden, and 
led him to blessed Francis, and straightway, against the will of 
the blessed Father, put out the fire. For whatever necessity 
urged him, he would never extinguish a fire or a lamp or a 
candle, with so much pity was he moved towards it. Also he 
would not that a friar should throw out fire or smoking wood 
from place to place, as is wont to be done; but they should 
simply set it on the ground, on account of the reverence for Him 
of Whom it is the creature. 



When he was keeping Lent in Mont Alverna, on a certain day 
his fellow at the hour of eating prepared a fire in the cell where 
he was used to eat. And when the fire was alight he went to 
another cell for the blessed man, where he was praying, carrying 
with him the Missal that he might read the Gospel for that 
day to him, for he always wished to hear the Gospel which was 
read for the Mass of that day before he ate, when he was not 
able to hear Mass. And when he came to that cell where the 
fire was alight, behold, the flame of the fire had ascended to 
the roof and was burning it. But his fellow as he was able began 
to put out the fire, but could not do it alone. However, holy 
Francis was unwilling to help him; yet he took up a certain 

His Love for Creatures 293 

skin which he wore over him at night and went away with it 
to the wood. But the friars of the place, who dwelt far from 
that cell, when they learnt that it was being burnt, immediately 
came and extinguished the fire. Afterwards blessed Francis 
returned to meat, and when he had eaten he said to his fellow, 
" I will not have that skin over me again, since by reason of 
my avarice I would not that Brother Fire should eat it." 



After fire, he most singularly loved water, by which is figured 
holy penitence and tribulation, whereby the filth of the soul is 
washed away, and because the first ablution of the soul is by 
the water of baptism. Whence, when he washed his hands, 
he used to choose such a place that the water which fell should 
not be trodden by his feet; when he would walk over stones, 
moreover, he used to walk with great fear and reverence, for 
the love of Him Who is called " The Rock." Whence when he 
used to say that verse of the Psalm, Thou didst exalt me on a 
rocky he used to say, out of his great reverence and devotion, 
" Under the foot of the rock hast thou exalted me." He used 
also to say to the friar who made ready the wood for the fire, 
that he should never cut down a whole tree; but so that always 
some part of a tree should remain whole for the love of Him 
Who did work out our salvation on the wood of the cross. 
Likewise he used to say to the friar who did the garden, not to 
till the whole ground for pot-herbs; but to leave some part of 
it to produce green herbs, which in their time should produce 
flowers for the friars, for the love of Him Who is called the 
" flower of the field " and " the lily of the valley." Nay, he 
used to say to that brother gardener that he ought always to 
make a fair pleasaunce in some part of the garden; setting and 
planting there all sweet-smelling herbs and all herbs which bring 
forth fair flowers, that in their time they might call them that 
looked upon those herbs and flowers to the praise of God. For 
every creature cries aloud, " God made me for thee, man! " 
Whence we who were with hirn used to see him rejoice, within 
and without, as it were, in all things created; so that touching 
or seeing them his spirit seemed to be not on earth but in heaven. 

294 The Mirror of Perfection 

And by reason of the many consolations which he used to have 
in things created, a little before his death he composed certain 
Praises of the Lord for His creatures, to incite the hearts of those 
who should hear them to the praise of God, and that the Lord 
Himself might be praised by men in His creatures. 



Above all other creatures wanting reason, he loved the sun and 
fire with most affection. For he was wont to say, " In the 
morning when the sun rises, every man ought to praise God, 
Who created it for our use, because through it our eyes are 
enlightened by day. Then in the even when it becomes night, 
every man ought to give praise on account of Brother Fire, 
by which our eyes are enlightened by night; for we be all as 
it were blind, and the Lord by these two, our brothers, doth 
enlighten our eyes. And therefore we ought specially to praise 
the Creator Himself for these and the other creatures which we 
daily use." The which he himself always did to the day of his 
death, nay, when he was struck down with great infirmity he 
begun to sing the Praises of the Lord which he had made con- 
cerning created things, and afterwards he made his fellows sing, 
so that in considering the praise of the Lord, he might forget 
the bitterness of his pains and infirmities. And because he 
deemed and said that the sun is fairer than other created things, 
and is more often likened to our Lord, and that in Scripture the 
Lord Himself is called " the Sun of Righteousness," therefore 
giving that name to those Praises which he had made of the 
creatures of the Lord, what time the Lord did certify him of 
His kingdom, he called them " The Song of Brother Sun." 



Most High, Omnipotent, Good Lord. 

Thine be the praise, the glory, the honour, and all benediction. 
To Thee alone, Most High, they are due, 
and no man is worthy to mention Thee. 

His Love for Creatures 295 

I Be Thou praised, my Lord, with all Thy creatures, 
above all Brother Sun, 
who gives the day and lightens us therewith. 

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour, 
of Thee, Most High, he bears similitude. 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of Sister Moon and the stars, 

in the heaven hast Thou formed them, clear and precious 
and comely. 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of Brother Wind, 
and of the air, and the cloud, and of fair and of all weather, 
by the which Thou givest to Thy creatures sustenance. 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of Sister Water, 

which is much useful and humble and precious and pure. 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of Brother Fire, 
by which Thou hast lightened the night, 
and he is beautiful and joyful and robust and strong. 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of our Sister Mother Earth, 
which sustains and hath us in rule, 
and produces divers fruits with coloured flowers and herbs. 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of those who pardon for Thy love 
and endure sickness and tribulations. 

Blessed are they who will endure it in peace, 
for by Thee, Most High, they shall be crowned. 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of our Sister Bodily Death, 
from whom no man living may escape, 
woe to those who die in mortal sin: 

Blessed are they who are found in Thy most holy will, 
for the second death shall not work them ill. 

Praise ye and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks, 
and serve Him with great humility. 







When he was lying sick in the palace of the Bishopric of Assisi 
and the hand of the Lord did seem to be more than of wont 
heavy upon him, the people of Assisi, fearing lest if he should 
die by night the friars would bear away his holy body to another 
city, ordered that every night ward should be diligently kept 
in the circuit outside the wall of the palace. But the most holy 
Father himself, that he might comfort his spirit lest it should 
at any time give way by reason of the violence of the pain by 
which he was daily and continually afflicted, made the Praises of 
the Lord to be sung by his companions often in the day, and 
thus he did also in the night, for the edification and consolation 
of the lay-folk who were keeping watch in the palace. But 
Brother Elias, considering that blessed Francis thus comforted 
himself in the Lord and rejoiced in the midst of such sickness, 
said to him, " Dearest brother, I am greatly consoled and edified 
by all the gladness which thou showest, for thee and thy fellows 
in thine ailments. But though the men of this city venerate 
thee as a holy man, yet for that they believe firmly that thou 
art nigh unto death because of thine incurable sickness, hearing 
these Praises sung by day and night, they may say within 
themselves, ' Why doth this man show such light-heartedness, 
who is near death? He ought to be thinking of death.' " 
Blessed Francis said to him, " Dost thou remember when thou 
didst see the vision at Foligno, and didst tell me that a certain 
man had said unto thee that I should not live more than two 
years ; before that vision thou sawest how, by the grace of God 
Who suggests all good things to the heart and puts it in the 
mouth of His faithful, I used often to consider my end, both 
by day and by night; but from that hour in which thou hadst 


His Death 297 

seen the vision, I was more solicitous to daily consider the day 
of my death." And straightway he said with great fervour of 
spirit, " Suffer me, brother, to rejoice in the Lord, both in His 
praises and in my infirmities; since by the grace of the Holy 
Spirit helping me, I am so united and joined to my Lord, that 
by His mercy may I well rejoice in the Most High." 



In those days there visited him in the same palace a certain 
physician of Arezzo, by name Good John, who was very familiar 
with blessed Francis. And blessed Francis questioned him, 
saying, " What thinkest thou, Bembenignate, of this my infirmity 
of dropsy? " For he would not call him by his name; for that 
he would never name anybody who was called " Good," out of 
reverence to the Lord, Who said, There is none good but one, 
that is God. Likewise he would never call any one " father " or 
" master," nor write it in his letters, out of reverence to the Lord, 
Who said, And call no one man father on earth nor be ye called 
masters, etc. And the physician said to him, " Brother, it shall 
be well with thee, by the grace of God." And blessed Francis 
said again, " Tell me the truth; what do you think? Fear not, 
since by the grace of God I am no faint-heart that I should fear 
death. For by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am so made one 
with my Lord, that I am equally content with death as with 
life." Then the physician said to him openly, " Father, accord- 
ing to our medicine-craft thine infirmity is incurable, and I 
believe that either in the end of September or on the fourth of 
the Nones of October, thou wilt die." Then blessed Francis, 
lying on his bed, spread his hands out to the Lord with very 
great devotion and reverence, and said with great joy of mind 
and body, " Welcome, my Sister Death." 

298 The Mirror of Perfection 



After these things a certain friar said to him, " Father, thy life 
and conversation was and is a light and a mirror, not only to 
thy brethren, but also to the whole Church, and thy death shall 
be the same. And though thy death will be a matter of sadness 
and grief to thy brethren, and to many others, yet it will be to 
thee consolation and infinite joy. For thou shalt pass from 
great labour to the greatest rest, from many pains and tempta- 
tions to eternal peace, from the earthly poverty which thou 
hast ever loved and perfectly observed to endless true riches, 
and so from temporal death to perpetual life, where thou shalt 
see thy Lord God face to face, Whom thou hast loved in this 
life with so much fervour and desire." And having said these 
things, he said openly to him, " Father, thou knowest in truth 
except the Lord should send thee His medicine from heaven 
thine infirmity is incurable, and thou hast little longer to live, 
as the physicians but now foretold thee. Now I have said this 
to thee, that thy spirit may be made strong, and that thou 
mayst rejoice in the Lord within and without, so that thy 
brethren and the others who visit thee may find thee always 
rejoicing in the Lord, and that to those who see, and to others 
who hear it after thy death, thy death may be a perpetual 
memorial, as thy life and conversation was and ever shall be." 
Then blessed Francis, even though his infirmities were more than 
usually heavy upon him, was seen from these words to derive 
a new joy to his mind, hearing that Sister Death threatened him 
so nearly, and with great fervour of spirit he praised the Lord, 
saying to him, " Therefore, if it pleases my Lord that I must 
quickly die, call to me Brother Angelo and Brother Leo, that 
they may sing to me of Sister Death." And when those two 
brethren had come to him, they sang, with many tears, the 
" Song of Brother Sun," and of the other created things of the 
Lord, which the saint himself had made. And then before the 
last verse of the Canticle he added some verses of Sister Death, 

His Death 299 

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of our Sister Bodily Death, 
from whom no man living can escape, 
woe to those who die in mortal sin: 

Blessed are they who are found in Thy most holy will, 
for the second death shall not work them ill. 

Praise ye, and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks, 
and serve Him with great humility. 



Now when the most holy Father was made certain, as much 
by the Holy Spirit, as by the sentence of the physician, that his 
death was near, seeing that up to then he had been in the palace, 
and feeling that he grew continually worse, and that the forces 
of his body were leaving him, he made himself be carried in 
his bed to St. Mary of the Portiuncula, that there he might 
finish the life of his body, where he had begun to find the light 
and life of his soul. But when those who were carrying him 
had come to the Hospice which is in the midst of the way by 
which one goes from Assisi to St. Mary, he bade his bearers lay 
down the bed on the ground. And though on account of his 
long and very great disease of the eyes, he was not able to see it, 
he made his bed be turned so that he should hold his face 
towards Assisi. And raising himself a little in his bed, he blessed 
the city, saying, " Lord, like as this city of old was, as I believe, 
a place and a habitation of wicked men, so I see that on account 
of the abundance of Thy mercy, in the time which hath pleased 
Thee, Thou hast singularly shown it the multitude of Thy 
mercies. On account of Thy goodness alone, Thou hast chosen 
it to Thyself, that it might be the place and habitation of those 
who should know Thee in truth, and should give glory to Thy 
Holy Name, and should show forth the odour of good fame, of 
holy life, of most true doctrine, and of Evangelical Perfection 
to all Christian People. I ask of Thee therefore, Lord Jesus 
Christ, Father of mercies, that Thou shouldst not consider our 
ingratitude, but be ever mindful of Thy most abundant pity 
which Thou hast shown towards it, that it may be ever the 

300 The Mirror of Perfection 

place and habitation of those who know Thee truly, and glorify 
Thy most blessed and glorious Name, for ever and ever, Amen." 
And having said this he was carried to St. Mary of the Angels, 
where, having completed forty years of his age and twenty years 
of perfect penitence, he, in the year of Our Lord 1227, on the 
fourth of the Nones of October, passed away to the Lord Jesus 
Christ, Whom he loved with his whole heart, with his whole 
mind, his whole soul, his whole strength, his most ardent desire, 
and fullest affection, following Him most perfectly, running 
after Him most swiftly, and at the last reaching Him most 
gloriously, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and 
reigns, for ever and ever, Amen. 

Here endeth the Mirror of perfection of the state of the Friar 
Minor, in which one can sufficiently behold the perfection of 
his vocation and profession. All praise, all glory be to God the 
Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Alleluia ! Alleluia ! 
Alleluia ! 




i. The grace of God our Saviour hath in these latter days 
appeared in His servant Francis unto all such as be truly 
humble, and lovers of holy Poverty, who, adoring the over- 
flowing mercy of God seen in him, are taught by his ensample 
to utterly deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live after 
the manner of Christ, thirsting with unwearied desire for the 
blessed hope. For God Most High regarded him, as one that 
truly was poor and of a contrite spirit, with so great condescen- 
sion of His favour as that not only did He raise him up in his 
need from the dust of his worldly way of life, but also made him 
a true professor, leader, and herald of Gospel perfection. Thus 
He gave him for a light unto believers, that by bearing witness 
of the light he might prepare for the Lord the way of light and 
peace in the hearts of the faithful. For Francis, even as the 
morning star in the midst of a cloud, shining with the bright 
beams of his life and teaching, by his dazzling radiance led into 
the light them that sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, 
and, like unto the rainbow giving light in the bright clouds, set 
forth in himself the seal of the Lord's covenant. He preached 
the gospel of peace and salvation unto men, himself an Angel 
of the true peace, ordained of God to follow in the likeness of 
the Forerunner, that, preparing in the desert the way of sublimest 
Poverty, he might preach repentance by his ensample and words 
alike. For, firstly, he was endowed with the gifts of heavenly 
grace; next, enriched by the merits of triumphant virtue; filled 
with the spirit of prophecy and appointed unto angelic minis- 
tries; thereafter, wholly set on fire by the kindling of the Seraph, 
and, like the prophet, borne aloft in a chariot of fire ; wherefore 
it is reasonably proven, and clearly apparent from the witness of 
his whole life, that he came in the spirit and power of Elias. 

In like wise, he is thought to be not unmeetly set forth in 
the true prophecy of that other friend of the Bridegroom, the 
Apostle and Evangelist John, under the similitude of the Angel 
ascending from the sunrising and bearing the seal of the Living 
God. For at the opening of the sixth seal, I saw, saith John 


304 Life of St. Francis 

in the Apocalypse, another Angel ascending from the sun- 
rising and bearing the seal of the Living God. 

2. Now that this Angel was indeed that messenger of God, 
beloved of Christ, our ensample and the world's wonder, Francis, 
the servant of God, we may with full assurance conclude, when 
we consider the heights of lofty saintliness whereunto he attained, 
and whereby, living among men, he was an imitator of the 
purity of the Angels, and was also set as an ensample unto them 
that do perfectly follow after Christ. That this belief should 
be faithfully and devoutly held we are convinced by the voca- 
tion that he showed to call to weeping and to mourning, and to 
baldness, and to girding with sackcloth, and to set a mark upon 
the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry, by the sign of 
his penitent's Cross and habit fashioned like unto a Cross. 
Moreover, it is further confirmed, with unanswerable witness 
unto its truth, by the seal of the likeness of the Living God, to 
wit, of Christ Crucified, the which was imprinted on his body, 
not by the power of nature or the skill of art, but rather by the 
marvellous might of the Spirit of the Living God. 

3. Feeling myself unworthy and insufficient to relate the life 
most worthy of all imitation of this most venerable man, I 
should have in no wise attempted it, had not the glowing love 
of the Brethren moved me thereunto, and the unanimous 
importunity of the Chapter-General incited me, and that 
devotion compelled me, which I am bound to feel for our holy 
Father. For I, who remember as though it happened but 
yesterday how I was snatched from the jaws of death, while yet 
a child, by his invocation and merits, should fear to be convicted 
of the sin of ingratitude did I refrain from publishing his praises. 
And this was with me the chief motive for undertaking this 
task, to wit, that I, who own my life of body and mind to have 
been preserved unto me by God through his means, and have 
proved his power in mine own person, and knew the virtues of 
his life, might collect as best I could, albeit I could not fully, his 
deeds and words — fragments, as it were, overlooked in part, 
in part scattered — that they might not be utterly lost on the 
death of those that lived with the servant of God. 

4. Accordingly, that the true story of his life might be handed 
down unto posterity by me the more assuredly and clearly, I 
betook me unto the place of his birth, and there did hold diligent 
converse with his familiar friends that were yet living, touching 
the manner of life of the holy man and his passing away; and 
with those in especial that were well acquainted with his holiness, 

Prologue 305 

and were his chief followers, who may be implicitly believed by 
reason of their well-known truthfulness and approved upright- 
ness. But in relating the things that through His servant God 
vouchsafed to work, I deemed it best to shun all fantastic 
ornaments of style, forasmuch as that the devotion of the reader 
increaseth more by a simple than by an ornate speech. Nor 
have I always woven together the history according unto 
chronology, that I might avoid confusion, but I rather en- 
deavoured to preserve a more coherent order, setting down 
sometimes facts of divers kinds that belong unto the same 
period, sometimes facts of the same kind that belong unto divers 
periods, as they seemed best to fit in together. 

5. Now the beginning of the life of Francis, its course, and 
its consummation, are divided into fifteen chapters, as set 
down below, and thuswise described. 

The first treateth of his manner of life in the secular state. 

The second, of his perfect conversion unto God, and of the 
repairing of the three churches. 

The third, of the founding of his Religion, and sanction of 
the Rule. 

The fourth, of the advancement of the Order under his hand, 
and of the confirmation of the Rule already sanctioned. 

The fifth, of the austerity of his life, and of how all created 
things afforded him comfort. 

The sixth, of his humility and obedience, and of the divine 
condescensions shown unto him at will. 

The seventh, of his love for Poverty, and of the wondrous 
supplying of his needs. 

The eighth, of the kindly impulses of his piety, and of how 
the creatures lacking understanding seemed to be made subject 
unto him. 

The ninth, of his ardent love, and yearning for martyrdom. 

The tenth, of his zeal and efficacy in prayer. 

The eleventh, of his understanding of the Scriptures, and of 
his spirit of prophecy. 

The twelfth, of the efficacy of his preaching, and of his gift of 

The thirteenth, of the sacred stigmata. 

The fourteenth, of his sufferings and death. 

The fifteenth, of his canonisation, and the translation of his 

Thereafter is added some account of the miracles shown after 
his blessed departure. 




i. There was a man in the city of Assisi, by name Francis, 
whose memory is blessed, for that God, graciously preventing 
him with the blessings of goodness, delivered him in His mercy 
from the perils of this present life, and abundantly filled him 
with the gifts of heavenly grace. For, albeit in his youth he 
was reared in vanity amid the vain sons of men, and, after 
gaining some knowledge of letters, was appointed unto a 
profitable business of merchandise, nevertheless, by the aid of 
the divine protection, he went not astray among the wanton 
youths after the lusts of the flesh, albeit given up unto pleasures ; 
nor among the covetous merchants, albeit intent on his gains, 
did he put his trust in money and treasure. For there was 
divinely implanted in the heart of the young Francis a certain 
generous compassion toward the poor, the which, growing up 
with him from infancy, had so filled his heart with kindliness 
that, when he came to be no deaf hearer of the Gospel, he was 
minded to give unto all that asked of him, in especial if they 
pleaded the love of God. But once on a time, when he had been 
busied with the cares of his trading, and, contrary unto his wont, 
had sent empty away a certain beggar who besought an alms 
for the love of God, he forthwith, returning unto his pitiful 
mind, ran after him, and bestowed alms in merciful wise upon 
him; promising unto the Lord God that thenceforward he would 
never, while he could, refuse any that asked of him, pleading the 
love of God. And this promise with unwearied goodness he 
did observe until his death, thereby winning abundant increase 
of the love and grace of God. For he was wont to say in after 
time, when he had perfectly put on Christ, that, even while he 
was in the secular state, he could scarce ever hear words telling 
of the love of God, and remain unmoved in heart. Assuredly 
the charm of his gentleness and his courtly bearing, his sub- 
missiveness and docility surpassing men's wont, his open-handed 



Life of St. Francis 

largesse even beyond his means, were all clear tokens of the fair 
disposition of the youth, and seemed to be a presage of the 
abundance of divine blessing that should thereafter be poured 
out more richly upon him. 

A certain citizen of Assisi, a simpleton as was believed, yet 
one taught of God, whensoever he met Francis going through 
the city, would doff his cloak and spread the garment before his 
feet, declaring that Francis was worthy of all honour, as one 
that should ere long do mighty deeds, and was on this account 
to be splendidly honoured by all the faithful. 

2. But as yet Francis knew not the intent of God concerning 
him, forasmuch as he was both drawn away unto external things 
by his father's calling, and weighed down toward earthly things 
by the corruption inborn in our nature, and had not yet learned 
to contemplate heavenly things, nor accustomed himself to taste 
of divine. And, because the infliction of tribulation giveth 
understanding unto the spirit, the hand of the Lord was upon 
him and the changes of the right hand of the Most High, afflicting 
his body with protracted sickness, that so He might prepare his 
soul for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Now when he had 
regained his bodily strength, and had made ready for himself 
in his wonted fashion meet apparel, he met a certain soldier, of 
noble birth, but poor and ill-clad; whereupon, compassionating 
his poverty, with a kindly impulse he forthwith did off his 
garments and put them on him, thus in one act fulfilling a two- 
fold ministry of kindliness, insomuch as he both covered the 
shame of a noble knight, and relieved the destitution of a poor 

3. Now on the night following, when he had yielded himself 
unto sleep, the divine mercy showed him a fair and great palace, 
together with military accoutrements adorned with the sign of 
the Cross of Christ, thus setting forth unto him that the mercy 
he had shown unto the poor soldier for the love of the King 
Most High was to be recompensed by this peerless reward. 
Accordingly, when he enquired whose were these things, answer 
was made him by a divine declaration that they all were his 
own and his soldiers'. Then, waking at early morn — since he 
had not yet practised his mind in examining the divine mysteries, 
and knew not how to pass through the appearance of things seen 
unto the beholding of the truth of things unseen — he accounted 
this strange vision a token of great good fortune. Wherefore he 
purposed, being as yet ignorant of the divine counsel, to betake 
himself into Apulia, unto a certain munificent Count, hoping in 

His Life in the World 309 

his service to win glory in arms, as the vision shown unto him 
had betokened. With but little delay, he set forth on his 
journey and had gone as far as the neighbouring city ; there he 
heard the Lord speaking unto him by night as with the voice of 
a friend, and saying, " Francis, who can do better for thee, the 
lord or the servant, the rich man or the poor? " And when 
Francis had made reply that alike the lord and the rich man 
could do the best, the Voice answered forthwith, " Why, then, 
dost thou leave the Lord for the servant, the rich God for a poor 
mortal? " And Francis said, " Lord, what wilt Thou have me 
to do?" And the Lord said unto him, "Return unto thy 
country, for the vision that thou hast seen betokeneth that 
which shall be spiritually wrought, and is to be fulfilled in thee 
not by mortal counsel, but by divine." So, when it was morn- 
ing, he returned in haste toward Assisi, confident and rejoicing, 
awaiting the will of the Lord. 

4. Thenceforward he withdrew him from the stir of public 
business, devoutly praying the heavenly mercy that it would 
deign to show him that which he ought to do. And so by the 
constant practice of prayer the flame of heavenly yearning was 
mightily kindled within him, and for the love of his heavenly 
fatherland he now contemned all earthly things as naught; for 
he felt that he had found the hid treasure and, like a wise 
merchant man, meditated selling all that he had to buy the 
pearl that he had found. But he knew not yet how to compass 
this, except that it was whispered unto his spirit that spiritual 
merchandise hath its beginning in the contempt of the world, 
and that the warfare of Christ is to be begun by victory over 

5. Now on a day while he was riding over the plain that lieth 
beneath the city of Assisi, he met a certain leper, and this unfore- 
seen meeting filled him with loathing. But when he recalled 
the purpose of perfection that he had even then conceived in 
mind, and remembered that it behoved him first of all to conquer 
self, if he were fain to become the soldier of Christ, he leapt from 
his horse and ran to embrace him. When the leper stretched 
forth his hand as though to receive an alms, he kissed it, and 
then put money therein. Then forthwith mounting his horse, 
he looked round him on all sides, and the plain was spread before 
him unbroken, and no trace of that leper might he see. Then, 
filled with wonder and joy, he began devoutly to chant praises 
unto the Lord, purposing from this to rise ever unto greater 

3 1 o Life of St. Francis 

From that time forth, he would seek lonely places, dear unto 
mourners, and there he devoted himself without ceasing unto 
groanings which cannot be uttered, and, after long importunity in 
prayer, won an ajiswer from the Lord. For while one day he 
was thus praying in seclusion, and in his exceeding fervour was 
wholly absorbed in God, there appeared unto him Christ Jesus 
in the likeness of One Crucified. Beholding Him, his soul was 
melted within him, and so deeply was the remembrance of 
Christ's Passion imprinted inwardly on his heart that from that 
hour, whensoever he recalled the Crucifixion of Christ, he could 
scarce refrain from tears and from groaning aloud; even as he 
himself in after time told his friends, when he was drawing nigh 
his end. For in sooth by this vision the man of God understood 
that Gospel saying to be addressed unto him, {! If thou wilt 
come after Me, deny thyself, and take up thy cross, and follow 

6. From that time forth, he put on the spirit of poverty, the 
feeling of humility, and the love of inward godliness. For 
whereas aforetime not only the company, but even the distant 
sight, of lepers had inspired him with violent loathing, now, for 
the sake of Christ Crucified — Who, saith the prophet, appeared 
despised, and marred as a leper — and that he might fully 
vanquish self, he would render unto the lepers humble and kindly 
services in his benevolent goodness. For he would often visit 
their dwellings, and bestow alms upon them with a bountiful 
hand, and with a deep impulse of pity would kiss their hands and 
faces. Unto poor folk that begged of him, he was fain to give 
not his goods alone, but his very self, at times stripping off his 
garments, at times tearing or cutting them, to bestow upon 
them, when he had naught else at hand. Poor priests, more- 
over, he would succour reverently and piously, more especially 
with ornaments for the altar, whereby he both became a sharer 
in the divine worship, and supplied the needs of the worshippers. 

Now about this time he was visiting, with devout reverence, 
the shrine of the Apostle Peter, and beheld a host of beggars 
before the doors of the church; thereupon, constrained in part 
by gentle piety, in part led by the love of poverty, he bestowed 
his own garments on one of the neediest, and, clad in his rags, 
passed that day in the midst of the beggars, with unwonted 
gladness of spirit; that so, despising worldly repute, he might 
attain by gradual steps unto Gospel perfection. He kept right 
strict watch over the mortification of the flesh, that he might 
bear the Cross of Christ, the which he bore inwardly in his 

His Perfect Conversion 311 

heart, outwardly also in his body. So all these things were 
wrought by the man of God, Francis, ere yet he had separated 
himself from the world in habit or way of life. 



i. Forasmuch as the servant of the Most High had none to 
instruct him in this way except Christ, His mercy was now 
further vouchsafed unto him in visitations of His sweet grace. 
For on a certain day, when he had gone forth to meditate in the 
fields, he was walking nigh the church of Saint Damian, which 
from its exceeding great age was threatening to fall, and, at 
the prompting of the Spirit, went within to pray. Prostrating 
himself before an Image of the Crucified, he was filled with no 
small consolation of spirit as he prayed. And as with eyes full of 
tears he gazed upon the Lord's Cross, he heard with his bodily 
ears a Voice proceeding from that Cross, saying thrice, " Francis, 
go and repair My House, which, as thou seest, is falling utterly 
into ruin." Francis trembled, being alone in the church, and 
was astonied at the sound of such a wondrous Voice, and, 
perceiving in his heart the might of the divine speech, was carried 
out of himself in ecstasy. When at length he came unto himself 
again, he prepared to obey, and devoted himself wholly unto 
the behest to repair the material church ; howbeit, the principal 
intent of the message had regard unto that Church which Christ 
had purchased with His own blood, even as the Holy Spirit 
taught him, and as he himself afterward revealed unto the 

Accordingly he rose up, and, fortifying himself with the sign 
of the Cross, he put together cloth stuffs for sale, and hastened 
unto the city that is called Foligno, and there sold the goods 
that he had brought and the horse whereon he had ridden. 
Then this joyful merchant, putting together his gains, departed 
on his return for Assisi, and there did reverently enter the church 
concerning whose repair he had received the command. Finding 
there a poor priest, he showed him due reverence, and proffered 
him the money for the repair of the church, and the use of the 
poor, humbly petitioning that he would permit him to sojourn 
with him for a time. The priest granted him to sojourn there, 

312 Life of St. Francis 

but, for fear of his parents, refused the money, whereupon that 
true despiser of monies threw it on a window-ledge, valuing it 
no more than dust that is trodden under foot. 

2. But when his father learnt that the servant of God was 
tarrying with the priest aforesaid, he was sore vexed in spirit, 
and ran unto the place. And Francis, being yet but a newly- 
recruited soldier of Christ, when he heard the threats of them that 
pursued him, and knew beforehand of their coming, was fain to 
give place unto wrath, and hid himself in a certain secret pit; 
therein for some days he lay concealed, beseeching the Lord 
without ceasing, and with floods of tears, that He would deliver 
his soul from the hands of them that pursued him, and would 
by His gracious favour fulfil the holy purposes wherewith He 
had inspired him. Then, filled with an overflowing joy, he 
began to blame himself for his craven sloth, and, leaving his 
hiding-place, and casting aside his fear, he took his way toward 
the city of Assisi. But when the townsfolk beheld him unkempt 
in appearance, and changed in mind, and on this account deemed 
him to have lost his senses, they rushed upon him with mud of 
the streets and stones, and mocked him with loud shouts as a 
fool and madman. But the servant of the Lord, not moved or 
overborne by any insults, passed through all as one deaf unto 
them. When his father heard these outcries, he ran out at once, 
not to deliver him, but rather to destroy him; laying aside all 
compunction, he dragged him into the house, and there afflicted 
him first with words, then with stripes and bonds. But Francis 
was thereby rendered but the more eager and valiant to carry 
out that which he had begun, remembering that saying of the 
Gospel, " Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' 
sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." 

3. After a little space, on his father's departure from the 
country, his mother — who misliked her husband's dealings, and 
deemed it hopeless to soften the unyielding constancy of her son 
— freed him from his bonds, and let him go forth. Then he, 
giving thanks unto the Lord Almighty, returned unto the place 
where he had been afore. When his father returned, and found 
him not in the house, heaping reproaches on his wife, he ran in 
fury unto that place, intending, if he could not bring him back, at 
least to drive him from the province. But Francis, strengthened 
of God, of his own accord came forth to meet his raging father, 
crying aloud that he cared naught for his bonds and stripes, yea 
more, protesting that he would gladly endure all hardships for the 
sake of Christ. Accordingly, when his father saw that he could 

His Perfect Conversion 313 

not bring him back, he turned his thoughts unto the recovery of 
the money, the which, when he had at length found it on the 
window-ledge, somewhat soothed his rage, the thirst of avarice 
being relieved, as it were, by a draught of money. 

4. Then this father according unto the flesh was fain to take 
this son of grace, now stripped of his wealth, before the Bishop 
of the city, that into his hands he might resign his claim unto 
his father's inheritance, and render up all that had been his. 
This that true lover of poverty showed himself right ready to do, 
and coming into the Bishop's presence, he brooked no delays, 
he was kept back of none, tarried for no speech, nor spake 
himself, but at once did off all his garments, and restored them 
unto his father. Then was the man of God seen to have a hair- 
shirt next his skin under his rich apparel. Yea more, as one 
drunk with wondrous fervour of spirit, he threw aside even his 
breeches, and stood up naked in the presence of all, saying unto 
his father, " Hitherto I have called thee my father on earth, 
but henceforth I can confidently say ' Our Father, Which art in 
heaven,' with Whom I have laid up my whole treasure, and on 
Whom I have set my whole trust and hope." The Bishop, seeing 
this, and marvelling at such exceeding fervour in the man of 
God, rose forthwith, and, weeping, put his arms round him; 
then, devout and kindly man as he was, covered him with the 
cloak wherewith he himself was clad, bidding his servants give 
him something to clothe his limbs withal, and there was brought 
unto him a mean and rough tunic of a farm-servant of the 
Bishop. This Francis gladly received, and with his own hand 
marked it with the sign of the Cross, with a piece of chalk that 
he chanced upon, thus making it a garment meet for a man 
crucified, poor, and half naked. Thus, then, the servant of the 
Most High King was left despoiled, that he might follow the 
Lord Whom he loved, Who had been despoiled and crucified; 
thus he was fortified with the Cross, that he might entrust his 
soul unto that wood of salvation, that should bring him forth 
unscathed from the shipwreck of the world. 

5. Thereafter, this despiser of the world, loosed from the 
bonds of worldly desires, left the city, and, glad and free, sought 
an hidden solitude where he might hearken in loneliness and 
silence unto the hid treasures of the divine converse. And 
while the man of God, Francis, was making his way through a 
certain wood, chanting praises unto the Lord in the French 
tongue, and rejoicing, it chanced that some robbers rushed out 
on him from their hiding-places. With fierce mien they asked 

3 1 4 Life of St. Francis 

the man of God who he was, and he, full of confidence, gave a 
prophetic answer, saying, " I am a herald of the great King." 
Then they fell upon him, and cast him into a ditch full of snow, 
crying, " Lie there, lout, thou herald of God ! " But he, on 
their departure, climbed out of the ditch, and, uplifted with 
exceeding gladness, with yet louder voice began to make the 
woods echo with praises unto the Creator of all. 

6. When he came unto a neighbouring monastery, he asked 
an alms as a beggar, and received it as one unrecognised and 
despised. Departing thence, he came unto Gubbio, where he 
was recognised and entertained by a friend of former days, and 
was clad by him with a poor tunic, such as became the little 
poor one of Christ. 

Thence that lover of utterest humility betook himself unto 
the lepers, and abode among them, with all diligence serving 
them all for the love of God. He would bathe their feet, and 
bind up their sores, drawing forth the corrupt matter from their 
wounds, and wiping away the blood; yea, in his marvellous 
devotion, he would even kiss their ulcerated wounds, he that was 
soon to be a Gospel physician. Wherefore he obtained from the 
Lord such power as that he received a marvellous efficacy in 
marvellously cleansing both soul and body from disease. I will 
relate one instance out of many, whereby the fame of the man of 
God was afterward bruited abroad. 

A man in the county of Spoleto had his mouth and jaw 
eaten away by the ravages of a loathsome disease, and received 
no succour from any remedy of the physicians. It chanced 
that, after visiting the shrines of the holy Apostles to implore 
their merits, he was returning from his pilgrimage, and met 
the servant of God. When out of devotion he was fain to kiss 
his footprints, Francis in his humility would not brook it, but 
kissed on the mouth him that had been fain to kiss his feet. 
Lo, as in his wondrous goodness the servant of the lepers, 
Francis, touched that loathsome sore with his holy lips, the 
disease utterly vanished, and the sick man at once regained 
his longed-for health. I know not which of these twain is the 
more rightly to be marvelled at, the depth of humility in such 
a gracious embrace, or the excellence of power in such an 
astounding miracle. 

7. Francis, now stablished in the humility of Christ, recalled 
unto mind the obedience laid upon him by the Crucifix as to 
the repairing of the church of Saint Damian, and like one truly 
obedient returned unto Assisi, that he might, if even by begging, 

His Perfect Conversion 315 

obtain means to accomplish the divine behest. Laying aside all 
shamefastness for the love of the Poor Man Crucified, he went 
about begging from those who had known him in his affluence, 
bearing the loads of stones on his frail body, worn with fasting. 
When the church aforesaid had been repaired, the Lord helping 
him, and the devotion of the citizens coming unto his aid — 
that his body after its toil might not relax in sloth, he turned 
to repair the church of Saint Peter, at some distance from the 
city, by reason of the especial devotion that in the purity of 
his candid faith he had for the Prince of the Apostles. 

8. When this church too was at length finished, he came 
unto the place that is called The Little Portion, wherein a 
church had been reared in days of old in honour of the most 
Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, but which was then deserted 
and cared for by none. When the man of God beheld it thus 
abandoned, by reason of the ardent devotion that he had toward 
the Sovereign Lady of the world, he took up his abode there, 
that he might diligently labour to repair it. Perceiving that 
Angels ofttimes visited it — according unto the name of that 
church, that from old time was called Saint Mary of the Angels 
— he abode there by reason of his reverence for the Angels, and 
his especial love for the Mother of Christ. This place the holy 
man loved before all other places in the world; for here he 
began in humility, here he made progress in virtue, here he 
ended in happiness, and, dying, commended it unto the Brethren 
as a place most beloved of the Virgin. Concerning this place 
a certain devout Brother, before his conversion, beheld a 
vision right worthy to be recounted. He beheld a countless 
host of men stricken with blindness, with their faces uplifted 
unto heaven, on bended knees, encircling this church, and they 
all, stretching out their hands on high, cried unto God with 
tears, beseeching His mercy and light. And lo, there came a 
great radiance from heaven, illumining all, and this gave light 
unto each one of them, and granted the longed-for salvation. 
This is the place wherein the Order of Brothers Minor was 
begun by Saint Francis according unto the impulse of the 
divine revelation. For at the bidding of the divine providence, 
by the which the servant of Christ was guided in all things, he 
built three material churches before that, instituting the Order, 
he preached the Gospel; thus not only did he make progress 
i in ordered course from things perceived by the senses unto 
: things perceived by the understanding, and from lesser things 
unto greater, but he did also prefigure in mystic wise by his 


Life of St. Francis 

material labours the work that should be wrought thereafter. 
For, like the thrice-repeated repairing of the material fabric, 
the Church, under the guidance of the holy man, was to be 
renewed in threefold wise, according unto the pattern given 
by him, and the Rule, and teaching of Christ; and a triple army 
of such as should be saved was to be triumphant, even as we 
now perceive to be fulfilled. 



i. Now Francis, the servant of God, abiding at the church of 
the Virgin Mother of God, with continuous sighing besought 
her that had conceived the Word full of grace and truth that 
she would deign to become his advocate; and, by the merits 
of the Mother of Mercy, he did himself conceive and give birth 
unto the spirit of Gospel truth. For while on a day he was 
devoutly hearing the Mass of the Apostles, that Gospel was 
read aloud wherein Christ gave unto His disciples that were 
sent forth to preach the Gospel pattern for their life, to wit, 
that they should -possess neither gold, nor silver, nor money in 
their purses, nor scrip for their journey, neither two coats, 
neither shoes, nor yet staves. Hearing this, and understanding 
it, and committing it unto memory, the lover of Apostolic 
poverty was at once filled with joy unspeakable. " This," 
saith he, " is what I desire, yea, this is what I long for with my 
whole heart." Forthwith he loosed his shoes from off his feet, 
laid down his staff, cast aside his purse and his money, con- 
tented him with one scanty tunic, and, throwing aside his belt, 
took a rope for girdle, applying all the care of his heart to 
discover how best he might fulfil that which he had heard, 
and conform himself in all things unto the rule of Apostolic 

2. From this time forward, the man of God began, by divine 
impulse, to become a jealous imitator of Gospel poverty, and 
to invite others unto penitence. His words were not empty, nor 
meet for laughter, but full of the might of the Holy Spirit,! 
penetrating the heart's core, and smiting all that heard them 
with mighty amaze. In all his preaching, he would bring] 
tidings of peace, saying, " The Lord give you peace," and thus) 

The Founding of His Religion 317 

he would greet the folk at the beginning of his discourses. This 
greeting he had learnt by revelation from the Lord, even as he 
himself did afterward testify. Whence it befell, according unto 
the prophet's words, that he — himself inspired by the spirit of 
the prophets — brought tidings of peace, and preached salvation, 
and by salutary admonitions allied many unto the true peace 
who aforetime were at enmity with Christ, far from salvation. 

3. Accordingly, as many remarked in the man of God alike 
the truth of his simple teaching and of his life, certain of them 
began by his ensample to turn their thoughts unto penitence, 
and, renouncing all, to join themselves unto him in habit and 
life. The first of these was that honour-worthy man, Bernard, 
who, being made a partaker in the divine calling, earned the 
title of the firstborn son of the blessed Father, both by being 
first in time, and by being of an especial holiness. For he, having 
proved the saintliness of the servant of Christ, was minded 
after his ensample to utterly despise the world, and sought 
counsel from him how he might accomplish this. Hearing this, 
the servant of God was filled with consolation by reason of his 
first offspring conceived of the Holy Spirit. " From God," 
saith he, " behoveth us seek this counsel." Forthwith, when 
it was morning, they entered into the church of Saint Nicholas, 
and, having first prayed, Francis, the worshipper of the Trinity, 
did thrice open the book of the Gospels, seeking by a threefold 
witness from God to strengthen the holy purpose of Bernard. 
In the first opening of the book was discovered that saying, 
" If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give 
to the poor." In the second, " Take nothing for your journey." 
And in the third, " If any man will come after Me, let him deny 
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." " This," saith 
the holy man, " is our life and Rule, and that of all that shall 
be minded to join our fellowship. Do thou go, then, if thou 
wilt be perfect, and fulfil that which thou hast heard." 

4. Not long after, five men were called by the same Spirit, and 
thus the sons of Francis numbered six; the third place among 
them fell unto the holy Father Giles, a man verily filled with 
God and worthy to be famed in remembrance. For he became 
afterward noted for the practice of lofty virtues, even as the 
servant of the Lord had foretold concerning him, and, albeit he 
was ignorant and simple, he was exalted unto the peak of 
sublime contemplation. For while for a long space of time 
he was continuously absorbed in uplifting of the heart unto 
God, he was so often snatched up unto Him in ecstasies — even 


Life of St. Francis 

as I myself beheld with, the witness of mine own eyes — as that 
he might be deemed to live among men an angelic rather than 
a mortal life. 

5. Moreover, about that same time, a certain priest of the 
city of Assisi, Silvester by name, a man of honourable life, 
received of the Lord a vision not to be passed over in silence. 
For since, in his finite judgment, he had looked askance at the 
manner of life of Francis and his Brethren, he was visited — lest 
he should be imperilled by his rash verdict — by the regard of 
the heavenly grace. For in a dream he beheld the whole city 
of Assisi beset by a great dragon, whose huge bulk seemed to 
threaten all the countryside with destruction. Then he saw a . 
Cross of gold proceeding out of the mouth of Francis, the top 
whereof touched heaven, and its arms outstretched at the side 
seemed to reach unto the ends of the world, and at its glittering 
aspect that foul and loathly dragon was utterly put to flight. 
When this had been thrice shown unto him, he deemed it a 
divine portent, and related it in order unto the man of God 
and his Brethren; and no long time thereafter he left the world, 
and clave so constantly unto the footsteps of Christ as that 
his life in the Order rendered true the vision that he had received 
while yet in the world. 

6. When this vision was related unto him, the man of God 
was not puffed up with the glorying of men, but, recognising 
the goodness of God in the favours shown unto him, he was the 
more keenly incited to repel the craft of the ancient enemy, and 
to preach the glory of the Cross of Christ. Now on a day, while 
in a certain lonely place he was bitterly bewailing the remem- 
brance of past years, the joy of the Holy Spirit came upon him, 
and he was assured of the full remission of all his offences. 
Then, carried out of himself, and wholly wrapt into a marvellous 
light, the horizons of his mind were enlarged, and he clearly 
beheld the future story of himself and of his sons. Returning 
after this unto the Brethren, " Be consoled," saith he, " my 
dearest, and rejoice in the Lord, and be not sad for that ye be 
few in number, nor let my simpleness nor your own make you 
afeared, for the Lord hath verily shown me that God will cause 
us to wax into a great host, and will enlarge us in manifold wise 
with the grace of His blessing.", 

7. Whereas about this time another good man did enter the 
Religion, the blessed family of the man of God reached the 
number of seven. Then the holy Father called all his sons unto 
him and told them many things concerning the Kingdom of 

The Founding of His Religion 319 

God, the contempt of the world, the sacrifice of their own 
wills and the chastisement of the body, and did lay before 
them his intent of sending them forth into the four quarters 
of the world. For now the barren and poor humble simpleness 
of the holy Father had brought forth seven sons, and he was 
fain to give birth unto the whole company of the faithful in 
the Lord Christ, calling them unto the mourning of penitence. 
" Go ye," saith the sweet Father unto his sons, " bringing 
tidings of peace unto men, and preach repentance for the 
remission of sins. Be ye patient in tribulation, watchful unto 
prayer, zealous in toil, humble in speech, sober in manner, and 
thankful for kindnesses, seeing that for all these an everlasting 
kingdom is prepared for you." Then they, humbly prostrating 
themselves on the ground before the servant of God, received 
with gladness of spirit the behest of holy obedience. And 
Francis said unto each one singly, " Cast thy burden upon the 
Lord, and He shall sustain thee." He was wont to say these 
words whensoever he was guiding any Brother unto obedience. 
Then he himself, knowing that he was set as an ensample unto 
the rest, that he might first do that which he had taught, set 
forth with one companion toward one quarter of the world, the 
remaining six being apportioned, after the fashion of a Cross, 
unto the other three parts. After some little time had passed, 
the kindly Father, longing for the presence of his beloved family 
— since he could not of himself call them together into one place 
— prayed that this might be accomplished by Him Who 
gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. And this came to 
pass. For, with no mortal summoning, and all unexpectedly, 
within a short time all came together according as he had 
desired, by the effectual working of the divine goodness, and 
to their no small marvel. Moreover, as four other honourable 
men joined them about that time, their number increased unto 

8. Now when the servant of Christ perceived that the number 
of the Brethren was gradually increasing, he wrote for himself 
and for his Brethren a Rule for their life, in simple words. 
Herein the observance of the Holy Gospel was set as the 
inseparable foundation, and some few other points were added 
that seemed necessary for a consistent manner of life. But 
he was fain that what he had written should be approved by 
the Supreme Pontiff, wherefore he purposed to approach the 
Apostolic See with that his company of simple men, relying only 
on the divine guidance. God from on high had regard unto 

320 Life of St. Francis 

his desire, and fortified the minds of his companions, that were 
afeared at the thought of his simpleness, by a vision shown 
unto the man of God after this wise. It seemed unto him that 
he was walking along a certain road, near by which stood a 
very lofty tree. When he had drawn nigh unto it, and was 
standing beneath it, wondering at its height, on a sudden he 
was so raised on high by the divine might as that he touched 
the top of the tree, and bent down its highest branches unto its 
roots right easily. The portent of this vision Francis, filled 
with the Spirit of God, understood to refer unto the stooping of 
the Apostolic See unto his desire; wherefore he was gladdened 
in spirit, and his Brethren were strengthened in the Lord, and 
thus he set forth with them on the journey. 

9. Now when he had come unto the Roman Curia, 1 and 
had been introduced into the presence of the Supreme Pontiff, 
he expounded unto him his intent, humbly and earnestly 
beseeching him to sanction the Rule aforesaid for their life. 
And the Vicar of Christ, the lord Innocent the Third, a man 
exceeding renowned for wisdom, beholding in the man of God 
the wondrous purity of a simple soul, constancy unto his 
purpose, and the enkindled fervour of a holy will, was disposed 
to give unto the suppliant his fatherly sanction. Howbeit, he 
delayed to perform that which the little poor one of Christ 
asked, by reason that unto some of the Cardinals this seemed a 
thing untried, and too hard for human strength. But there was 
present among the Cardinals an honour-worthy man, the lord 
John of Saint Paul, Bishop of Sabina, a lover of all holiness, 
and an helper of the poor men of Christ. He, inflamed by the 
Divine Spirit, said unto the Supreme Pontiff, and unto his 
colleagues, "If we refuse the request of this poor man as a 
thing too hard, and untried, when his petition is that the pattern 
of Gospel life may be sanctioned for him, let us beware lest 
we stumble at the Gospel of Christ. For if any man saith that 
in the observance of Gospel perfection, and the vowing thereof, 
there is contained aught that is untried, or contrary unto 
reason, or impossible to observe, he is clearly seen to blaspheme 
against Christ, the author of the Gospel." When these argu- 
ments had been set forth, the successor of the Apostle Peter, 
turning unto the poor man of Christ, said, " Pray unto Christ, 
my son, that He may show us His will through thee, and when 

1 A paragraph inserted here in some editions, relating how the Pope 
at first repulsed Francis, but was converted by a vision, is not from 
Bonaventura's pen, but from that of the Minister-General who succeeded 
him (vide Quaracchi text, p. 29, note). 

The Founding of His Religion 321 

we know it more surely, we will more confidently assent unto 
thy holy desires." 

10. Then the servant of God Almighty, betaking himself 
wholly unto prayer, gained by devout intercession that which 
he might set forth outwardly, and the Pope feel inwardly. For 
when he had narrated a parable of a rich King that had of free 
will espoused a fair woman that was poor, and how the children 
she bare showed the likeness of the King that begat them, and 
so were brought up at his table, even as he had learnt this of 
the Lord — he added, as an interpretation thereof, "It is not 
to be feared that the sons and heirs of the everlasting King 
will perish of hunger, even they that have been born of a poor 
mother in the likeness of the King, Christ, by the power of the 
Holy Spirit, and that shall themselves beget sons through the 
spirit of Poverty in a little poor Religion. For if the King of 
heaven hath promised an everlasting kingdom unto them that 
follow Him, how much more shall He provide for them those 
things that He bestoweth alike on the good and on the evil? " 
When the Vicar of Christ had diligently hearkened unto this 
parable, and the interpretation thereof, he marvelled greatly, 
and perceived that Christ had of a truth spoken through a man. 
Moreover, he maintained, by the inspiration of the Divine 
Spirit, that a vision that at that time was shown unto him 
from heaven would be fulfilled in Francis. For in a dream he 
saw, as he recounted, the Lateran Basilica about to fall, when a 
little poor man, of mean stature and humble aspect, propped it 
with his own back, and thus saved it from falling. " Verily," 
saith he, "he it is that by his work and teaching shall sustain 
the Church of Christ." From this vision, he was filled with an 
especial devotion unto him, and in all ways disposed himself 
unto his supplication, and ever loved the servant of Christ with 
an especial affection. Then and there he granted his request, 
and promised at a later day to bestow yet more upon him. He 
sanctioned the Rule, and gave him a command to preach 
repentance, and made all the lay Brethren that had accom- 
panied the servant of God wear narrow tonsures, that they might 
preach the word of God without hindrance. 

322 Life of St. Francis 



i. Thenceforward Francis, relying on the favour of heaven 
and on the Papal authority, took his way with all confidence 
toward the valley of Spoleto, that he might both live and teach 
the Gospel of Christ. While he was holding converse with his 
companions on the road, as to how they might observe in 
sincerity the Rule that they had professed, and how in all 
holiness and righteousness they might walk before God, how 
they might progress among themselves, and be an ensample 
unto others, their discussion was prolonged, and the hours 
slipped by. And at last they found themselves, wearied with 
the length of their toilsome way, and an hungered, in a certain 
lonely place. Then verily, when there was no means whereby 
they might provide them with the needful food, the providence 
of God came speedily unto their aid. For, on a sudden, there 
appeared a man carrying bread in his hand, the which he gave 
unto the little poor ones of Christ, and, also on a sudden, vanished, 
without any man knowing whence he came or whither he went. 
Hereby the Brethren in their poverty perceived that the guardian 
care of heaven was about the company of the man of God, and 
were refreshed more by the gift of the divine bounty than by 
the food of the body ; moreover, they were filled with heavenly 
comfort, and firmly resolved, and strengthened themselves in 
the irrevocable determination, never to retreat from their vow 
of holy poverty for any goad of necessity or affliction. 

2. Thus they returned in their holy intent unto the valley of 
Spoleto, and began to discuss whether they ought to live among 
men, or to betake them unto lonely places. But Francis, the 
servant of Christ, trusting not in his own efforts or those of his 
Brethren, with importunate prayer enquired the pleasure of the 
divine will concerning this. Then he was illumined by a divinely 
revealed oracle, and understood that he had been sent of the 
Lord unto this end, that he might win for Christ the souls that 
the devil was striving to carry off. Wherefore he chose to live 
rather for all men than for his single self, inspired by the 
ensample of Him Who brooked to die, One Man for all. 

3. Accordingly, the man of God returned with the rest of his 
companions unto a certain deserted hut nigh the city of Assisi, 

Advancement of the Order 323 

wherein, after the pattern of Holy Poverty, they lived in much 
toil and necessity, seeking to be refreshed rather with the bread 
of tears than of luxury. For they gave themselves up con- 
tinuously unto divine prayers, being earnest in the practice of 
devout intercession — of the heart rather than of the lips — for 
they had not yet any ecclesiastical books wherein they might 
chant the Canonical Hours. Howbeit, in the place of such, they 
meditated day and night on the book of the Cross of Christ, 
continuously looking thereupon, by the ensample of their Father, 
and taught by his discourse, for he continually spake unto them 
concerning the Cross of Christ. When the Brethren besought 
him to teach them to pray, he said, " When ye pray, say ' Our 
Father,' and, ' We adore Thee, Christ, in all Thy churches that 
be in the whole world, and we bless Thee for that by Thy holy 
Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.'" Moreover, he taught 
them to praise God in all things and through all His creatures, 
to reverence priests with an especial honour, to firmly hold and 
simply confess the true faith, according as the Holy Roman 
Church doth both hold and teach it. The Brethren observed 
the instructions of the holy Father in all things, and, using the 
form of prayer that he had given unto them, would humbly 
prostrate themselves before all churches and crosses that they 
beheld, were it even from a distance. 

4. Now while the Brethren were abiding in the place aforesaid, 
the holy man one Saturday entered the city of Assisi, to preach 
' early on the Sunday, as was his wont, in the Cathedral Church. 
While the man devoted unto God was passing the night, after 
his wonted manner, in a hut within the Canons' garden, praying 
unto God, and absent in the body from his sons — lo, about mid- 
night, while some of the Brethren were taking rest, others keeping 
vigil in prayer, a chariot of fire of marvellous brightness, entering 
by the door of the house, turned thrice hither and thither through 
the dwelling, and over the chariot a shining ball of fire rested, 
in appearance like unto the sun, making the night radiant. 
The watchful Brethren were astounded, they that slept were 
awakened and alarmed at the same moment, and felt the light 
no less in their hearts than with their bodies, while by the power 
of that marvellous brightness the conscience of each was laid 
bare unto his fellow. For they all understood alike — all seeing 
in turn the hearts of each — that their holy Father was absent 
from them in body, but present in spirit, and that, transformed 
into such a likeness, illumined with heavenly rays, and flaming 
with ardent heat, he was shown unto them of the Lord with 

324 Life of St. Francis 

supernatural might in a shining chariot of fire ; so that they, as 
Israelites indeed, might follow after him who, like another Elias, 
had been made by God the chariot and the horseman of spiritual 
men. We must verily believe that He opened the eyes of those 
simple men at the prayers of Francis, that they might see the 
mighty deeds of God, Who aforetime opened the eyes of the 
young man that he might see the mountain full of horses and 
chariots of fire round about Elisha. When the holy man 
returned unto the Brethren, he began to scrutinise the secret 
things of their consciences, to console them with that marvellous 
vision, and to foretell many things that should come to pass 
concerning the progress of the Order. And as he revealed many 
things surpassing mortal sense, the Brethren perceived of a 
truth that the Spirit of the Lord had rested upon His servant 
Francis in such fulness as that they would walk most securely 
in following his teaching and life. 

5. After this, Francis, shepherd of a little flock, led his band 
of twelve Brethren unto Saint Mary of the Little Portion — the 
favour of heaven going before him — that in the place wherein, 
by the merits of the Mother of God, the Order of Minors had 
taken its beginning, it might by her aid gain an increase. There 
too he became an herald of the Gospel, going round among cities 
and fortified places, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, not in 
the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy 
Ghost teacheth. He seemed unto them that beheld him a man 
of another world, one, to wit, that had his heart ever set on 
heaven, and his face turned toward it, and that endeavoured 
to draw all men upwards. From this time, the vine of Christ 
began to bring forth pleasant savour of the Lord, and the 
flowers produced therefrom became the rich fruit of sweetness, 
honour, and righteousness. 

6. For, enkindled by the fervour of his preaching, very many 
folk bound themselves by new rules of penitence, after the 
pattern received from the man of God, and that same servant of 
Christ ordained that their manner of living should be called the 
Order of the Brethren of Penitence. Of a truth, even as the way 
of penitence is known to be common unto all that strive after 
heaven, so it is noted of how much worth in the sight of God 
was this Order, embracing clerks and laymen, virgins, and 
married folk of either sex, by the many miracles wrought by 
some of its members. And there were maidens converted unto 
lifelong virginity, among whom that virgin dearest unto God, 
Clare, the first plant among them, like a snowy spring blossom, 

Advancement of the Order 325 

breathed fragrance, and shone like a star exceeding bright. She 
is now glorified in heaven, and rightly honoured by the Church 
on earth, she that was the daughter in Christ of the holy Father 
Francis, the little poor one, and herself the Mother of the Poor 


7. Now many were not only smitten with devotion, but also 
kindled by yearning after the perfection of Christ, and, despising 
all the vanity of worldly things, followed in the footsteps of 
Francis; and these, increasing by daily additions, speedily 
reached unto the ends of the earth. For Holy Poverty, whom 
alone they took with them for their charges, made them swift 
unto all obedience, strong to labour, and speedy in journeying. 
And since they possessed no earthly things they set their 
affections on naught, and had naught that they feared to lose; 
they were everywhere at ease, weighed down by no fear, harassed 
by no care; they lived like men who were removed from 
vexations of the mind, and, taking no thought for it, awaited 
the morrow, and their night's lodging. Many reproaches were 
hurled upon them in divers regions of the world, as on men 
contemptible and unknown; howbeit, their love for the Gospel 
of Christ rendered them so longsuffering as that they sought 
rather to be in places where they would endure persecution in 
the body, than in those where their saintliness was recognised, 
and where they might be purled up by the applause of the world. 
Their very destitution of possessions seemed unto them over- 
flowing wealth, while, according unto the counsel of the Wise 
King, they were better pleased with little than with much. 

On a time when some of the Brethren had come unto the 
regions of the infidels, it chanced that a certain Saracen, moved 
by kindly feeling, offered them money for their needful food. 
And when they refused to take it, the man marvelled, perceiving 
that they were penniless. But when at last he understood that 
they had become poor for the love of God, and were resolved 
not to own money, he associated himself with them in such 
affection as that he offered to supply all their needs, so long as 
! he should have aught in his possession. priceless value of 
poverty, by whose marvellous power the mind of a fierce bar- 
barian was changed into such compassionate gentleness ! How 
appalling and scandalous a crime it is, that any Christian should 
trample on this rare pearl, that a Saracen exalted with such 
honour ! 

8. About that time, a certain Religious of the Order of Cross- 
bearers, Morico by name, was lying in an hospital hard by Assisi 


Life of St. Francis 

suffering from an infirmity so serious and so protracted as that 
he was given up unto death by the physicians; he became a 
suppliant of the man of God, beseeching him earnestly through 
a messenger that he would deign to intercede with the Lordj 
on his behalf. The blessed Father graciously acceded there- 1 
unto, and, having first prayed, took some crumbs of bread, and 
mixed with them some oil taken from the lamp that burned 
before the altar of the Virgin, and sent it by the hand of the 
Brethren unto the sick man, as though it were an electuary, 
saying, " Carry this medicament unto our brother Morico, by 
the which the power of Christ shall not only restore him unto 
full health, but shall also render him a hardy warrior, who shall 
cleave with constancy unto our ranks." Forthwith, so soon as 
the sick man tasted of that remedy made by inspiration of the 
Holy Spirit, he rose up healed, and gained from God such 
strength of mind and body as that shortly thereafter he entered 
the Religion of the holy man, and, clothing himself with one 
tunic alone — beneath the which he wore for a long space of time 
a shirt of mail — and satisfied with but uncooked fare — herbs 
to wit, and vegetables and fruits — he thus for many years 
tasted neither bread nor wine, and yet remained strong and 

9. As the merits of the virtues of these little ones of Christ 
waxed greater, the fragrance of their good repute was spread 
on all sides, and drew much folk from divers parts of the world 
to see the holy Father in person. Among whom was a certain 
skilled composer of secular songs, who by reason of this gift had 
been crowned by the Emperor, and thence called " King of 
Verse," and he now was minded to seek the man of God, the 
despiser of worldly things. And when he had found him 
preaching in a Monastery at Borgo San Severino, the hand of 
the Lord was upon him, and he beheld that same preacher of 
the Cross of Christ, Francis, marked after the likeness of a 
Cross with two exceeding shining swords set crosswise, whereof 
the one reached from his head unto his feet, the other across 
his breast from hand to hand. He had not known the servant 
of Christ by face, but speedily recognised him when signalled 
out by so great a portent. Forthwith, all astonied at this sight, 
he began to resolve on better things, and, at length, pricked by 
the power of his words, and pierced as though by the sword of 
the Spirit proceeding out of his mouth, he did utterly despise 
worldly glories, and clave unto the blessed Father, professing 
his vows. Wherefore the holy man, seeing that he had utterly 

Advancement of the Order 327 

turned from the disquiet of the world unto the peace of Christ, 
called him Brother Pacifico. He afterward made progress in 
all holiness, and, before that he became Minister in France — 
being the first who held the office of Minister there — he merited 
to behold once more a great T on the forehead of Francis, the 
which, marked out by a diversity of colours, adorned his face 
with its marvellous beauty. This sign, in sooth, the holy man 
revered with deep affection, praised it often in his discourse, 
and, in the letters that he dictated, signed it with his own hand 
at the end, as though all his care was, in the prophet's words, 
to set a mark x upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and 
that cry, and that be truly converted unto Christ Jesus. 

10. Now as time went by, and the Brethren were multiplied, 
their watchful shepherd began to call them together unto 
Chapters-General in the place of Saint Mary of the Little Portion, 
so that, God dividing them an inheritance by line in the land of 
poverty, he might allot unto each his portion of obedience. 
Here, albeit there was destitution of all things needful, a com- 
pany of more than 5000 Brethren came together at one time, 
and, the divine mercy succouring them, there was both a suffi- 
ciency of victual, and bodily health together with it, while 
gladness of spirit abounded. In the provincial Chapters, albeit 
Francis could not there show himself present in the body, yet 
in spirit — by his zealous care for their ruling, by his urgency 
in prayer, and the efficacy of his blessing — he was present 
there; yea, and once, by the operation of God's marvellous 
power, he did visibly appear. For while that glorious preacher, 
who is now a noted Confessor of Christ, Antony, was preaching 
unto the Chapter of the Brethren at Aries on the title inscribed 
on the Cross, " Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," a 
certain Brother of proved uprightness, Monaldo by name, 
looking, by a divine impulse, toward the door of the Chapter- 
house, beheld with his bodily eyes the Blessed Francis uplifted 
in the air, his hands outstretched after the manner of a Cross, 
blessing the Brethren. All the Brethren felt that they had 
been filled with a consolation of spirit so great and so new as 
that the Spirit bore indubitable witness within them of the true 
presence of the holy Father, albeit this was further assured, not 
alone by manifest tokens, but also by external testimony through 
the words of that same holy Father. We must verily believe 
that the almighty power of God — that vouchsafed unto the 

1 Vulg. Ezek. ix. 4. Signa thau (T) super frontes, etc., the letter T 
being in form like a Cross. 


Life of St. Francis 

holy Bishop Ambrose to be present at the burial of the glorious 
Martin, that he might honour the holy Pontiff with his holy 
ministry — did also make His servant Francis to appear at the 
preaching of His true herald Antony, that he might sanction 
his preaching of the truth, and in especial his preaching of the 
Cross of Christ, whereof he was a supporter and servant. 

ii. Now as the Order was spreading abroad, Francis was 
minded to make the Rule of their life, that the lord Innocent 
had sanctioned, be confirmed in perpetuity by his successor 
Honorius, and he was admonished by a revelation from God 
on this wise. He seemed unto himself to have gathered from 
the ground some very small crumbs of bread, and to have to 
part them among many famished Brethren that stood round 
about him. While he hesitated, fearing to part among them 
such minute crumbs, lest haply they might slip between his 
hands, a Voice from above said unto him, " Francis, make one 
Host out of all the crumbs, and give it unto these that would 
fain eat." This he did, and such as did not receive it devoutly, 
or despised the gift as they received it, were speedily stricken 
with leprosy, and so marked out from the rest. At morn, the 
holy man narrated all these things unto his companions, grieving 
that he could not interpret the mystic meaning of the vision. 
But on the day following, as he kept prayerful vigil, he heard a 
Voice speaking unto him from heaven on this wise, " Francis, 
the crumbs of the night past are the words of the Gospel, the 
Host is the Rule, the leprosy is sin." Being fain, therefore, to 
reduce unto more convenient form the Rule that was to be con- 
firmed — it having been somewhat diffusely compiled by putting 
together the words of the Gospel — and being directed there- 
unto by the vision that had been shown him, he went up into 
a certain mountain with two companions, the Holy Spirit 
leading him. There, fasting, or living on bread and water alone, 
he made the Rule be compiled, according unto what the 
divine Spirit had taught him in prayer. When he came down 
from the mountain, he entrusted this Rule unto the keeping of 
his Vicar, who, when a few days had gone by, affirmed that he 
had lost it through negligence. Then the holy man returned 
unto the lonely place, and there drew up the Rule again, like 
the former one, as though he had received the very words from 
the mouth of God; and he obtained its confirmation, as he had 
desired, from the lord Pope Honorius aforesaid, in the eighth 
year of bis pontificate. When persuading the Brethren with 
ardour to observe this Rule, he would say that he had set naught 

The Austerity of His Life 329 

therein of his own devising, but that he had made all things 
be written according as they had been divinely revealed unto 
him. And that this might be more assuredly confirmed by the 
witness of God, it was but a few days thereafter that the stig- 
mata of the Lord Jesus were imprinted upon him by the finger 
of the Living God — the seal, as it were, of the Chief Pontiff, 
Christ, to sanction in all ways the Rule, and to approve its 
author, even as is described in its own place below, after the 
recital of his virtues. 



i. When therefore the man of God, Francis, perceived that by 
his ensample many were incited to bear the Cross of Christ with 
fervour of soul, he himself was incited, like a good leader of the 
army of Christ, to reach unto the palm of victory by the heights 
of unconquered valour. For, considering that saying of the 
Apostle, " They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with 
the affections and lusts," and being fain to wear the armour of 
the Cross upon his body, he restrained his sensual appetites with 
such strict discipline as that he would barely take what was 
necessary to support life. For he was wont to say that it was 
difficult to satisfy the needs of the body without yielding unto 
the inclinations of the senses. Wherefore he would hardly, and 
but seldom, allow himself cooked food when in health, and, 
when he did allow it, he would either sprinkle it with ashes, or by 
pouring water thereupon would as far as possible destroy its 
savour and taste. Of his drinking of wine what shall I say, 
when even of water he would scarce drink what he needed, while 
parched with burning thirst ? He was alway discovering methods 
of more rigorous abstinence, and would daily make progress in 
their use, and albeit he had already attained the summit of 
perfection, yet, like a novice, he was ever making trial of some 
new method, chastising the lusts of the flesh by afflicting it* 
Howbeit, when he went forth abroad, he adapted himself — as 
the Gospel biddeth — unto them that entertained him, in the 
quality of their meats, yet only so as that, on his return unto 
his own abode, he strictly observed the sparing frugality of 
abstinence. In this wise he showed himself harsh toward his 


330 Life of St. Francis 

own self, gracious toward his neighbour, and in all things subject 
unto the Gospel of Christ, and did thus set an ensample of 
edification, not alone by his abstinence, but even in what he 
ate. The bare ground for the most part served as a couch unto 
his wearied body, and he would often sleep sitting, with a log 
or a stone placed under his head, and, clad in one poor tunic, he 
served the Lord in cold and nakedness. 

2. Once when he was asked how in such scant clothing he 
could protect him from the bitterness of the winter's cold, he 
made answer in fervour of spirit, " If through our yearning for 
the heavenly fatherland we have been inwardly kindled by its 
flame, we can easily endure this bodily cold." He abhorred 
softness in clothing, and loved harshness, declaring that for this 
John the Baptist had been praised by the divine lips. In sooth, 
if ever he perceived smoothness in a tunic that was given him, 
he had it lined with small cords, for he would say that, according 
unto the Word of Truth, it was not in poor men's huts, but in 
Kings' houses, that softness of raiment was to be sought. And 
he had learnt by sure experience that the devils be afeared of 
hardness, but that by luxury and softness they be the more 
keenly incited to tempt men. 

Accordingly, one night when by reason of an infirmity in hi? 
head and eyes he had, contrary unto his wont, a pillow of feathers 
placed beneath his head, the devil entered thereinto, and vexed 
him until the morning hour, distracting him in divers way? 
from his exercise of holy prayer; until, calling his companion 
he made the pillow and the devil withal be carried afar from 
the cell. But as the Brother was leaving the cell, carrying the 
pillow, he lost the power and use of all his limbs, until, at the 
voice of the holy Father, who perceived this in spirit, his formei 
powers of mind and body were fully restored unto him. 

3. Stern in discipline, Francis stood continually upon the 
watch-tower, having especial care unto that purity that shoulc 
be maintained in both the inner and the outer man. Wherefore 
in the early days of his conversion, he was wont in the wintei 
season to plunge into a ditch full of snow, that he might both 
utterly subdue the foe within him, and might preserve his white 
robe of chastity from the fire of lust. He would maintain tha 
it was beyond compare more tolerable for a spiritual man t( 
bear intense cold in his body, than to feel the heat of carna 
lust, were it but a little, in his mind. 

4. When he was at the hermitage of Sartiano, and had on< 
night devoted himself unto prayer in his cell, the ancient enenr 

The Austerity of His Life 331 

called him, saying thrice, " Francis, Francis, Francis." When 
he had enquired of him what he sought, that other made reply- 
to deceive him, " There is no sinner in the world whom God 
would not spare, should he turn unto Him. But whoso killeth 
himself by harsh penance, shall find no mercy throughout 
eternity." Forthwith the man of God perceived by revelation 
the deceits of the enemy, and how he had striven to render him 
once more lukewarm. And this the following event proved. 
For but a little after this, at the instigation of him whose breath 
kindleth coals, a grievous temptation of the flesh laid hold on 
him. When the lover of chastity felt its oncoming, he laid aside 
his habit, and began to scourge himself severely with a cord, 
saying, " Ah, brother ass, thus must thou be led, thus must thou 
submit unto the lash. The habit is the servant of Religion, it is 
a token of holiness, the sensual man may not steal it; if thou 
art fain to go forth any whither, go ! " Then, impelled by a 
marvellous fervour of spirit, he threw open the door of his cell, 
and went out into the garden, where, plunging his now naked 
body into a great snow-heap, he began to pile up therefrom with 
full hands seven mounds, the which he set before him, and thus 
addressed his outer man, " Behold (saith he), this larger heap 
is thy wife, these four be two sons and two daughters, the other 
twain be a serving man and maid, that thou must needs have to 
serve thee. Now bestir thee and clothe them, for they be 
perishing with cold. But if manifold cares on their behalf 
trouble thee, do thou be careful to serve the one Lord." Then 
the tempter departed, routed, and the holy man returned unto 
his cell victorious, in that, by enduring the external cold in right 
penitent fashion, he had so extinguished the fire of lust within 
that thereafter he felt it no whit. Now a Brother, who at the 
time was devoting himself unto prayer, beheld all these things 
by the light of a clear shining moon. When the man of God 
discovered that he had seen these things on that night, he 
revealed unto him how that temptation had befallen him, and 
bade him tell no man, so long as he himself lived, the thing that 
he had seen. 

5. And not only did he teach that the appetites of the body 
must be mortified, and its impulses bridled, but also that the 
outer senses, through the which death entereth into the soul, 
must be guarded with the utmost watchfulness. He bade that 
intimate intercourse with women, holding converse with them, 
and looking upon them — the which be unto many an occasion 
of falling — should be zealously shunned, declaring that by 

332 Life of St, Francis 

such things a weak spirit is broken, and a strong one ofttimes 
weakened. He said that one who held converse with women 
— unless he were of an especial uprightness — could as little avoid 
contamination therefrom as he could, in the words of Scripture, 
go upon hot coals and his feet not be burned. He himself so 
turned away his eyes that they might not behold vanity after 
this sort that he knew the features of scarce any woman — thus 
he once told a companion. For he thought it was not safe to 
dwell on the appearance of their persons, that might either 
rekindle a spark of the vanquished flesh, or spot the radiance of 
a chaste mind. For he maintained that converse with women 
was a vain toy, except only for confession or the briefest 
instruction, such as made for salvation, and was in accord with 
decorum. " What dealings," saith he, " should a Religious 
have with a woman, except when she seeketh, with devout 
supplication, after holy penitence, or counsel anent a better 
life? In overweening confidence, the enemy is less dreaded, 
and the devil, if so be that he can have a hair of his own in a 
man, soon maketh it wax into a beam." 

6. He taught the Brothers zealously to shun sloth, as the sink 
of all evil thoughts, showing by his ensample that the rebellious 
and idle body must be subdued by unceasing discipline and 
profitable toil. Wherefore he would call his body " brother 
ass," as though it were meet to be loaded with toilsome burdens, 
beaten with many stripes, and nourished on mean fare. If he 
beheld any man wandering about in idleness, and fain to feed 
on the toil of others, he thought he ought to be called " brother 
fly," for that, doing no good himself, and spoiling the good done 
by others, he made himself an hateful pest unto all. Wherefore 
he ofttimes said, " I would that my Brethren should labour and 
employ themselves, lest, being given up unto sloth, they should 
stray into sins of heart or tongue." He was minded that a 
Gospel silence should be observed by the Brethren, such as, to 
wit, that they should at all times diligently refrain from every 
idle word, as those that shall give account thereof in the Day 
of Judgment. But if he found any Brother prone unto vain 
words, he would sharply chide him, declaring a shamefast 
sparingness of speech to be the guard of a pure heart, and no 
small virtue, seeing that death and life are in the power of the 
tongue, not so much with regard unto taste as with regard unto 

7. But albeit he sought with all his might to lead the Brethren 
unto the austere life, yet the utmost rigour of severity pleased 

The Austerity of His Life 333 

him not — such rigour as hath no bowels of compassion, nor is 
flavoured with the salt of discretion. Thus, on a certain night, 
when one of the Brethren by reason of his excessive abstinence 
was so tormented by hunger that he could take no repose, the 
kindly shepherd, perceiving the danger that threatened his 
sheep, called the Brother, set bread before him, and, that he 
might remove any cause for his confusion of face, began first 
to eat himself, then gently bade him partake. The Brother, 
laying aside his shamefastness, took the food, rejoicing exceed- 
ingly that, through the wise kindliness of his shepherd, he had 
both escaped that bodily peril, and had received no small en- 
sample of edification withal. When morning came, and the 
Brethren had been called together, the man of God related that 
which had befallen in the night, adding the sage exhortation, 
"Be the act of love, not the food, an ensample unto you, my 
Brethren." Moreover, he taught them to follow discretion, as 
the charioteer of the virtues — not that discretion unto which 
the flesh persuadeth, but that which Christ taught, Whose most 
holy life is acknowledged to be the express image of perfection. 

8. And since it is not possible for a man beset with the 
infirmity of the flesh so perfectly to follow the Crucified Lamb 
without spot as to escape contracting some defilement, by his 
own firm ensample he made declaration that they who keep 
watch over the perfection of their life ought to cleanse them- 
selves daily with floods of tears. For, albeit he had already 
attained a wondrous purity of heart and body, yet would he 
not abstain from continual floods of tears whereby to cleanse 
the mental vision, not weighing the detriment unto his bodily 
sight. For when by incessant weeping he had sustained a very 
grievous injury unto the eyes, and the physician would fain 
have persuaded him to refrain from tears, if he wished to escape 
blindness of his bodily sight, the holy man made answer, " It 
is not meet, brother physician, that for the love of that light 
that we have in common with the flies, the visitation of the 
eternal light should be impaired, be it but by little. For the 
spirit did not receive the blessing of light for the sake of the 
flesh, but the flesh for the sake of the spirit." He preferred 
rather to lose the light of his bodily vision than, by thwarting 
the devotion of the spirit, to check the tears whereby the inner 
eye is cleansed, that it may avail to see God. 

9. Now on a time when he was counselled by the physicians,, 
and urgently importuned by the Brethren, to permit himself to* 
be succoured by the remedy of a cautery, the man of God did 

334 Life of St. Francis 

humbly assent thereunto, forasmuch as he perceived it to be 
alike salutary and arduous. The surgeon, then, was summoned, 
and, having come, laid his iron instrument in the fire to prepare 
for the cautery. Then the servant of Christ — consoling his 
body that at the sight shuddered in fear — began to address 
the fire as a friend, saying, " My brother fire, the Most High 
hath created thee beyond all other creatures mighty in thine 
enviable glory, fair, and useful. Be thou clement unto me in 
this hour, and courteous. I beseech the great Lord, Who 
created thee, that He temper thy heat unto me, so that I may 
be able to bear thy gentle burning." His prayer ended, he 
made the sign of the Cross over the iron instrument, that was 
glowing at white heat from the fire, and then waited fearlessly. 
The hissing iron was impressed on the tender flesh, and the 
cautery drawn from the ear unto the eyebrow. How much 
suffering the fire caused him, the holy man himself told : " Praise 
the Most High," saith he unto the Brethren, " for that of a 
truth I say unto you, I felt neither the heat of the fire, nor any 
pain in my flesh." And, turning unto the surgeon, " If," saith 
he, " the cautery be not well made, impress it again." The 
surgeon, finding such mighty valour of spirit in his frail body, 
marvelled, and exalted this divine miracle, saying, " I tell ye, 
Brethren, I have seen strange things to-day." For, by reason 
that Francis had attained unto such purity that his flesh was 
in harmony with his spirit, and his spirit with God, in marvellous 
agreement, it was ordained by the divine ruling that the creature 
that serveth its Maker should be wondrously subject unto his 
will and command. 

10. At another time, when the servant of God was afflicted 
by a very grievous sickness, at the hermitage of Saint Urban, 
and, feeling his strength failing, had asked for a draught of 
wine, answer was made him that there was no wine there that 
could be brought unto him; whereupon he bade that water 
should be brought, and, when brought, he blessed it, making 
the sign of the Cross over it. At once that which had been pure 
water became excellent wine, and that which the poverty of the 
lonely place could not provide was obtained by the purity of 
the holy man. Tasting thereof, he forthwith so easily recovered 
his strength as that the new flavour and the renewed health, by 
the sense of taste and by the miracle renewing him that tasted, 
attested, with twofold witness, his perfect laying aside of the 
old man and putting on of the new. 

ii. Nor did created things alone obey the servant of God at 

The Austerity of His Life 335 

his beck, but everywhere the very providence of the Creator 
stooped unto his good pleasure. Thus, on a time when his body 
was weighed down by the suffering of many infirmities together, 
he had a yearning for some tuneful sound that might incite him 
unto gladness of spirit, yet discreet decorum would not allow 
this to be rendered by human agency — then the Angels gave 
their services to fulfil the good pleasure of the holy man. For 
one night while he was wakeful, and meditating on the Lord, 
on a sudden was heard the sound of a lyre of wondrous harmony 
and sweetest tune. No one was to be seen, but the coming and 
going of a lyrist was betokened by the volume of sound, now 
here, now there. With his mind uplifted unto God, he enjoyed 
such sweetness from that melodious strain as that he thought 
him to have exchanged this world for another. This was not 
hidden from the Brethren that were his close companions, who 
ofttimes perceived, by assured tokens, that he was visited of 
the Lord with such exceeding and continual consolations as 
that he could not utterly hide them. 

12. On another time, while the man of God, with a Brother 
for companion, was making his way to preach between Lom- 
bardy and the March of Treviso, and was nigh the Po, the 
shadowy darkness of night surprised them. And since their 
way was beset by many and great dangers by reason of the 
darkness, the river, and the marshes, his companion said unto 
the holy man, " Pray, Father, that we be delivered from instant 
peril." Unto whom the man of God made answer with great 
confidence, " God is able, if it be His sweet will, to put to flight 
the thick darkness, and to grant us the blessing of light." Scarce 
had he ended his speech ere, lo! such a great light began to 
shine around them with heavenly radiance that, while for others 
it was dark night, they could see in the clear light not their 
road only, but many things round about. By the leading of 
this light they were guided in body and consoled in spirit, until 
they arrived safely, singing divine hymns and lauds, at their 
place of lodging that was some long way distant. Consider 
how wondrous was the purity of this man, how great his merits, 
that at his beck the fire should temper its heat, water should 
change its flavour, angelic music should afford him solace, and 
light from heaven leading; thus it was evident that the whole 
frame of the world was obedient unto the consecrated senses of 
the holy man. 

336 Life of St. Francis 



i. Humility, the guardian and glory of all virtues, abounded 
in rich fulness in the man of God. In his own estimation, he 
was naught but a sinner, whereas in very truth he was the 
mirror and brightness of all saintliness. In humility he strove 
to build himself up, as a wise masterbuilder laying the founda- 
tion that he had learnt of Christ. He would say that for this 
end the Son of God had come down from the heights, and from 
His Father's bosom, unto our mean estate, to wit, that both 
by ensample and precept our Lord and Master might teach 
humility. Wherefore Francis, as a disciple of Christ, strove 
ever to make himself of no esteem in his own and other men's 
eyes, mindful of that saying of the greatest Teacher, " That 
which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight 
of God." This too he was wont to say, " A man's worth is 
what he is in the sight of God, and no more." Accordingly, 
he deemed it a fool's part to be uplifted by the applause of the 
world, but he rejoiced in railings, and was saddened by praise. 
He would liefer hear himself reviled than praised, knowing that 
reviling leadeth unto amendment, while praise impelleth toward 
a fall. Wherefore ofttimes when folk exalted the merits of his 
saintliness, he would bid one of the Brethren offer him a con- 
trast, by pouring contemptuous words into his ears. And when 
that Brother, albeit against his will, called him a lout and an 
liireling, one unskilled and unprofitable, he would rejoice in 
spirit and in countenance alike, and would make answer, " The 
Lord bless thee, dearest son, for thou hast spoken words most 
true, and such as it becometh the son of Peter Bernardone to 

2. Now that he might make himself contemned of others, he 
spared not his shamefastness, but in preaching before the whole 
folk laid bare his failings. It befell once that, while weighed 
down by sickness, he had some little relaxed the strictness of 
his abstinence, with the intent of regaining his health. But 
when that he had recovered his bodily strength, this true 
despiser of self was inspired to rebuke his own flesh. " It is 
not fitting," saith he, " that the folk should believe me to 
■observe abstinence while that I, on the contrary, do refresh my 

His Humility and Obedience 337 

body in secret." Accordingly, he arose, kindled with the spirit 
of holy humility, and, calling the folk together in an open space 
of the city of Assisi, he, together with many Brethren that he 
had brought with him, made a solemn entrance into the Cathe- 
dral Church, and then, with a rope tied round his neck, and naked 
save for his breeches, bade them drag him in the sight of all 
unto the stone whereupon criminals were wont to be set for 
punishment. Mounting it, albeit he was suffering from quartan 
fever and weakness, and the season was bitterly cold, he preached 
with much power of spirit, and, while all gave ear, declared 
that he ought not to be honoured as a spiritual man, but that 
rather he ought to be despised of all as a fleshly glutton. Then 
they that were present and beheld this amazing sight, marvelled, 
and, for that they had long known his austerities, were devoutly 
pricked to the heart, exclaiming that humility after this sort 
were easier admired than imitated. Yet, albeit this seemed 
rather like unto the prodigy foretold of the prophet than an 
ensample, it set forth a pattern of perfect humility, whereby the 
follower of Christ was taught that he ought to despise the 
vaunting of a transient praise, and restrain the pomp of swelling 
pride, and refute the lies of a deceitful semblance. 

3. Many things after this sort he ofttimes did, that outwardly 
he might become as it were a vessel that perisheth, while 
inwardly he possessed the spirit of sanctification. He sought to 
hide in the secret places of his heart the favours of his Lord, 
loth to reveal them and so gain praise, that might be an occasion 
of falling. Ofttimes, when he was glorified of many, he would 
speak after this wise, " I may yet have sons and daughters, 
praise me not as one that is safe. No man should be praised 
before that his end be known." This unto them that praised 
him, unto himself this, " Had the Most High shown such 
favours unto a robber, he would have been better pleasing than 
thou, Francis." Ofttimes he would say unto the Brethren, 
" Concerning all that a sinner can do, none aught to flatter 
himself with undeserved praise. A sinner (he saith) can fast, 
pray, lament, and mortify his own body — this one thing he 
cannot do, to wit, be faithful unto his Lord. In this, then, we 
may glory, if we render unto the Lord the glory that is His due, 
and if, while serving Him faithfully, we ascribe unto Him 
whatsoever He giveth." 

4. Now this Gospel merchant — that he might in many ways 
make profit, and make the whole time that now is be turned 
into merit — was fain not so much to be set in authority as to 


Life of St. Francis 

be set under authority, not so much to command as to obey. 
Wherefore, giving up his office unto the Minister-General, he 
sought a Warden, unto whose will he might submit him in all 
things. For he maintained that the fruit of holy obedience 
was so rich as that they who placed their necks under her yoke 
spent no portion of their time without profit; wherefore he was 
ever wont to promise and to render obedience unto the Brother 
that was his companion. He said once unto his companions, 
" Among other gifts that the divine goodness hath deigned to 
bestow upon me, it hath conferred this grace, that I would as 
needfully obey the novice of an hour, were he appointed unto 
me for Warden, as I would the oldest and wisest Brother. The 
subordinate (saith he) ought to regard him that is set in 
authority over him not as a man, but as Him for love of Whom 
he doth make himself subject. And the more despicable is he 
that commandeth, the more acceptable is the humility of him 
that obeyeth." 

When once it was enquired of him what man should be 
esteemed truly obedient, he set before them as an ensample the 
similitude of a dead body. " Lift up," saith he, " a dead body, 
and place it where thou wilt. Thou shalt see it will not murmur 
at being moved, it will not complain of where it is set, it will 
not cry out if left there. If it be set in a lofty seat, it will look 
not up, but down. If it be clad in purple, it but redoubleth 
its pallor. This (saith he) is the truly obedient man, who 
reasoneth not why he is moved, who careth not where he be 
placed, who urgeth not that he should be transferred; who, 
when set in authority, preserveth his wonted humility, and 
the more he is honoured, considereth himself the more 

5. He said once unto his companion, " I esteem not myself 
to be a Brother Minor unless I be in the state that I shall 
describe unto thee. Lo now, I suppose me to be one set in 
authority over the Brethren; I go unto the Chapter, I preach 
unto the Brethren and exhort them, and at the end they speak 
against me, saying, ' Thou mislikest us, for that thou art un- 
lettered, slow of speech, a fool, and simple,' and thus I am cast 
forth with reviling, little esteemed of all. I tell thee — unless 
I can hear such words with unchanged countenance, with 
unchanged gladness of spirit and unchanged holy intent — I 
am vainly called a Brother Minor." And he added, " In 
exalted place there is the fear of fall, in praises a precipice, in 
the humility of a submissive spirit there is profit. Why, then, 

His Humility and Obedience 339 

do we look for perils rather than profits, when we have had 
time bestowed on us that we may make profit therein ? " 

From this same reason of humility, Francis was minded that 
his Brethren should be called by the name of Minors, and that 
the rulers of his Order should be called Ministers, that thus he 
might employ the very words of the Gospel that he had vowed 
to observe, and that his followers might learn from their very 
name that they had come to learn humility in the school of the 
humble Christ. For that Teacher of humility, Christ Jesus, 
when He would teach His disciples what was perfect humility, 
said, " Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your 
minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be 
your servant." 

When therefore the lord Bishop of Ostia, the protector and 
chief helper of the Order of Brothers Minor (he that afterward, 
as the holy man had foretold, was raised unto the dignity of 
the Supreme Pontificate, under the name of Gregory the Ninth), 
enquired of him whether it would be his will for his Brethren 
to be promoted unto high places in the Church, he made answer, 
" Lord, my Brethren be called Minors with this very intent, that 
they may not arrogate unto themselves to be called greater. If 
thou art fain (saith he) that they should bear fruit in the 
Church of God, maintain and keep them in the state of their 
calling, and in no wise suffer them to rise unto rulership in the 

6. Now since in himself as well as in them that obey he set 
humility before all honours, God, Who loveth the humble, 
deemed him worthy of loftier heights, as a vision sent from 
heaven made evident unto a Brother that was of an especial 
holiness and devoutness. For he had been in the company of 
the man of God, and, together with him, had been praying with 
fervour of spirit in a certain deserted church, when, falling into 
an ecstasy, he beheld among many seats in heaven one that 
was more honourable than the rest, adorned with precious 
stones, and shining with utmost splendour. Marvelling within 
himself at the splendour of this exalted throne, he began to 
consider with anxious thought who should be deemed worthy 
to sit thereon. Then, as he considered, he heard a voice saying 
unto him, " This seat pertained unto one of the fallen Angels, 
and is now kept for the humble Francis." At length, when 
the Brother had come back unto himself from that trance of 
prayer, he followed the holy man as he went forth, as was his 
wont. And as they walked by the way, conversing of God 

340 Life of St. Francis 

each in turn, that Brother, not unmindful of his vision, enquired 
of him discreetly what he thought of himself. And the humble 
servant of Christ answered him, " I think myself the chief of 
sinners." When the Brother said in opposition that he could 
not, with a sound conscience, say or feel this, Francis added, 
" If any man, howsoever guilty, had received such mercy from 
Christ as I, I verily think he would have been far more accept- 
able unto God than I." Then, by the hearing of such marvel- 
lous humility, the Brother was assured of the truth of the vision 
that had been shown him, knowing by the witness. of the Holy 
Gospel that the truly humble shall be exalted unto that excellent 
glory wherefrom the proud is cast down. 

7. On another time, when that he was praying in a deserted 
church in the province of Massa, nigh Monte Casale, he learnt 
through the Spirit that certain holy relics had been deposited 
there. Perceiving with sorrow that for a long time past they 
had been deprived of the reverence due unto them, he bade the 
Brethren bring them unto the place, with all honour. But 
when, need arising, he had departed from them, his sons were 
forgetful of their Father's behest, and neglected the merit of 
obedience. Then on a day, when they were fain to celebrate 
the holy mysteries, and the upper covering of the altar was 
removed, they found, not without amazement, some bones right 
fair and fragrant, beholding the relics that the power of God, 
not men's hands, had brought thither. Returning shortly after, 
the man devoted unto God began to make diligent enquiry 
whether his behest concerning the relics had been carried out. 
The Brethren humbly confessed their sin of neglected obedience, 
and gained pardon, with an award of penance. And the holy 
man said, " Blessed be the Lord my God, Who Himself hath 
fulfilled that which ye ought to have done." Consider needfully 
the care of the divine providence for our dust, and weigh the 
goodness of the humble Francis, that did excel in the sight of 
God. For when man obeyed not his bidding, God fulfilled his 

8. Coming on a time unto Imola, he approached the Bishop 
of the city, and humbly besought him that, with his sanction, 
he might call the people together to preach unto them. The 
Bishop answered him harshly, saying, " It sufficeth, Brother, 
that I myself preach unto my people." Francis, in his true 
humility, bowed his head, and went forth; howbeit, after a short 
space, he returned into the house. When the Bishop, as one 
in wrath, asked of him what he meant by coming again, he 

His Humility and Obedience 341 

replied, with humility alike of heart and voice, " Lord, if a 
father drive his son forth by one door, he must enter again by 
another." Vanquished by his humility, the Bishop embraced 
him with eager mien, saying, " Thou and all thy Brethren shall 
from henceforward have a general licence to preach throughout 
my diocese, for this thy holy humility hath earned." 

9. It befell once that he came unto Arezzo at a time when 
the whole city was shaken by a civil war that threatened its 
speedy ruin. As he was lodging in the outskirts of the city, he 
beheld the demons exulting above it, and inflaming the angry 
citizens unto mutual slaughter. Then, that he might put to 
flight those powers of the air that were stirring up the strife, 
he sent forward as his herald Brother Silvester, a man of dovelike 
simplicity, saying, " Go out before the city gate, and, on behalf 
of God Almighty, command the demons in the power of obedience 
to depart with all speed." The Brother, in his true obedience, 
hastened to perform his Father's behests, and, coming before 
the presence of the Lord with thanksgiving, began to cry with a 
loud voice before the city gate, " On behalf of God Almighty, 
and at the bidding of His servant Francis, depart far from hence, 
all ye demons ! " At once the city was restored unto a state 
of peace, and all the citizens peacefully and quietly began to 
fashion anew their civil laws. Thus when the raging arrogance 
of the demons had been driven out, that had held the city as it 
were in a state of siege, the wisdom of the poor, to wit, the 
humility of Francis, came unto its aid, and restored peace, and 
saved the city. For by the merit of the difficult virtue of 
humble obedience, he obtained so powerful an authority over 
those rebellious and insolent spirits as that he could restrain 
their fierce arrogance, and put to flight their lawless molestation. 

10. The proud demons flee before the lofty virtues of the 
humble, save when at times the divine mercy permitteth them 
to buffet them that humility may be preserved, even as the 
Apostle Paul writeth concerning himself, and as Francis learnt 
by experience. For when the lord Cardinal of Sta. Croce, Leo, 
did invite him to tarry for a while with him in Rome, he humbly 
agreed thereunto, for the reverence and love that he bore him. 
When on the first night, his prayers ended, he was fain to sleep, 
the demons rose up against the soldier of Christ, cruelly attack- 
ing him, and, when they had beaten him long and sorely, at the 
last left him as it were half dead. On their departure, the man 
of God called his companion, and when he came, related unto 
him the whole affair, adding, " I believe, Brother, that the 

342 Life of St. Francis 

demons, who can avail naught save in so far as the divine 
providence permitteth them, have now assailed me thus furiously 
because that my lodging in the palaces of the great affordeth 
no good ensample. My Brethren that sojourn in poor little 
abodes, when they hear that I lodge with Cardinals, will per- 
chance surmise that I am being entangled in worldly affairs, 
that I am carried away by honours paid me, and that I am 
abounding in luxuries. Wherefore I deem it better that he 
who is set for an ensample should shun palaces, and should walk 
humbly among the humble in humble abodes, that he may make 
those that bear poverty strong, by himself bearing the like." 
At morn, then, they came and, humbly excusing themselves, 
took farewell of the Cardinal. 

ii. The holy man did in truth loathe pride — the root of all 
evils — and disobedience, its most evil offspring, yet none the 
less he would alway receive the humility of the penitent. It 
befell once that a certain Brother was brought unto him who 
had transgressed against the rule of obedience, and deserved 
correction by a just discipline. But the man of God, perceiving 
by manifest tokens that that Brother was truly contrite, was 
moved by his love of humility to spare him. Howbeit, that the 
easiness of gaining pardon should not be a pretext unto others 
for wrong-doing, he bade that his hood should be taken from 
that Brother, and cast into the midst of the flames, that all 
might take note by what grave punishment sins of disobedience 
were to be chastised. When the hood had lain for some time 
in the midst of the fire, he bade that it should be withdrawn 
from the flames, and restored unto the Brother that was humbly 
penitent. Marvellous to relate, the hood, when withdrawn 
from the midst of the flames, showed no trace of burning. Thus 
it came to pass that, through this one miracle, God commended 
both the virtue of the holy man, and the humility of penitence. 

Thus the humility of Francis is meet to be imitated, that even 
on earth gained such wondrous honour as that God condescended 
unto his desires, and changed the feelings of men, drove forth 
the arrogance of demons at his bidding, and by a mere gesture 
bridled the ravenous flames. Verily, this humility it is that 
exalteth them that possess it, and that, while paying respect 
unto all, from all gaineth honour, 

His Love for Poverty 343 



i. Among other gifts of graces that Francis had received from 
the bounteous Giver, he merited to abound, as by an especial 
prerogative all his own, in the riches of simplicity, through his 
love of sublimest Poverty. The holy man regarded Poverty 
as the familiar friend of the Son of God, and as one now rejected 
by the whole world, and was zealous to espouse her with such a 
constant affection as that not only did he leave father and 
mother for her sake, but he did even part with all that might 
have been his. For none was ever so greedy of gold as he of 
poverty, nor did any man ever guard treasure more anxiously 
than he this Gospel pearl. One thing more than aught else was 
displeasing in his eyes, to wit, if he beheld aught in the Brethren 
that was not wholly in accord with poverty. He himself, verily, 
from his entrance into the Religion until his death was content 
with, and counted himself rich with, a tunic, a cord, and breeches. 
Ofttimes with tears he would recall unto mind the poverty of 
Christ Jesus, and of His Mother, declaring Poverty to be the 
queen of virtues inasmuch as she shone forth thus excellently 
in the King of Kings and in the Queen His Mother. And when 
the Brethren in council asked of him which virtue would render 
a man most pleasing unto Christ, he answered, as though laying 
bare the secret thought of his heart, " Ye know, Brethren, that 
poverty is an especial way of salvation, being as it were the food 
of humility, and the root of perfection, and her fruits are mani- 
fold, albeit hidden. For poverty is that treasure hid in a field 
of the Gospel, which to buy a man would sell all that he hath, 
and the things that cannot be sold are to be despised in com- 
parison therewith." 

2. He also said, " He that would attain this height must needs 
in all ways renounce, not alone the wisdom of the world, but even 
knowledge of letters, so that, dispossessed of such an inheritance, 
he may go in the strength of the Lord, and give himself up naked 
into the arms of the Crucified. For in vain doth he utterly 
renounce the world who keepeth in the secret places of his heart 
a shrine for his own senses." Ofttimes indeed would he dis- 
course of poverty, impressing on the Brethren that saying of the 
Gospel, " The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have 

344 Life of St. Francis 

nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His Heac" 
Wherefore he would teach the Brethren that, after the fashion 
of the poor, they should build poor little houses, wherein they 
should dwell, not as their owners, but as pilgrims and strangers 
dwell in other men's houses. For he said that the rules of 
pilgrims were to abide under a strange roof, to thirst for their 
fatherland, and to pass on their way in peace. More than once, 
he bade houses that had been built be pulled down, or the 
Brethren removed thence, if he saw in them aught that by reason 
of ownership or of magnificence was opposed unto Gospel 
poverty. Poverty he declared to be the foundation of his Order, 
and, with this first laid as a basis, he said the whole edifice of 
the Religion would so rest upon it as that, while it stood firm, 
the Religion stood firm ; were it overthrown, that other likewise 
would be overthrown from the foundations. 

3. Furthermore, he taught, as he had learnt by revelation, 
that the entrance into holy Religion must be made through that 
saying of the Gospel, " If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that 
thou hast, and give to the poor; " and accordingly he would 
admit none into the Order that had not dispossessed themselves, 
keeping absolutely naught back, both because of the saying of 
the Holy Gospel, and that there might be no treasure-chests 
laid up to cause scandal. Thus, when a certain man, in the 
March of Ancona, sought to be received into the Order, the true 
patriarch of the poor made answer, " If thou art fain to be joined 
unto the poor of Christ, part thy goods among the poor of this 
world." Hearing this, the man arose, and, led by carnal 
affection, bequeathed his goods unto his own kin, and naught 
unto the poor. But when the holy man heard of this from his 
own mouth, he chid him with stern reproofs, saying, " Go thy 
way, brother fly, for thou hast not yet gotten thee out from thy 
kindred and from thy father's house. Thou hast given thy 
goods unto thy kin, and hast cheated the poor, thou art not meet 
for the holy poor. Thou hast begun in the flesh, and hast laid 
but a shaking foundation for a spiritual edifice." Then that 
carnal man returned unto his kin, and sought again his goods, 
the which he was not minded to bequeath unto the poor; thus 
quickly he abandoned his virtuous intent. 

4. At another time, there was in the place of Saint Mary of 
the Little Portion such scarcity as that they could not provide 
for the guest Brethren as their needs demanded. Accordingly, 
his Vicar went unto the man of God, pleading the destitution of 
the Brethren, and begging that he would permit some portion 

His Love for Poverty 345 

of the novices' goods to be retained on their entrance, so that 
the Brethren might resort thereunto for their expenditure in 
times of need. Unto whom Francis, instructed in the heavenly- 
counsels, made reply, " Far be it from us, dearest Brother, to 
act wickedly against the Rule for the sake of any man whom- 
soever. I had liefer that thou shouldst strip the altar of the 
glorious Virgin, when our need demandeth it, than that thou 
shouldst attempt aught, be it but a little thing, against our vow 
of poverty and the observance of the Gospel. For the Blessed 
Virgin would be better pleased that her altar should be despoiled, 
and the counsel of the Holy Gospel perfectly fulfilled, than that 
her altar should be adorned, and the counsel given by her Son 
set aside." 

5. When on a time the man of God was passing, with a com- 
panion, through Apulia, and was nigh unto Bari, he found in 
the road a great purse, swelling as though full of coins, such as 
in the common speech is called funda. The poor man of Christ 
was exhorted, and earnestly besought, by his companion, to 
lift the purse from the ground, and distribute the money among 
the poor. But the man of God refused, declaring that there was 
some devilish contrivance in the purse that they had found, and 
that what the Brother was proposing was no good deed but a sin, 
to wit, taking goods not their own and giving them away. They 
left the spot, and hastened to complete the journey on which 
they had entered. Howbeit, that Brother would not hold his 
peace, deceived by an empty piety, but still vexed the man of 
God, as though he were one who cared naught for relieving the 
destitution of the poor. At length the gentle Francis consented 
to return unto the spot, not to fulfil the desire of the Brother, 
but to unmask the wiles of the devil. Accordingly, returning 
where the purse lay, with the Brother and with a youth who 
was on the road, he first prayed, and then bade his companion 
take it up. The Brother trembled and was adread, now pre- 
saging some devilish portent; nevertheless, by reason of the 
command of holy obedience, he conquered the doubts of his 
heart, and stretched forth his hand unto the purse. Lo! a 
serpent of no mean size leapt forth from the purse, and at once 
vanished together with it, showing that it had been a snare of 
the devil. The wiles of the enemy's cunning being thus apparent, 
the holy man said unto his companion, " Money, my brother,, 
is unto the servants of God naught else than the devil and a 
poisonous serpent." 

6. After this, a wondrous thing befell the holy man while that., 


Life of St. Francis 

at the call of a pressing need, he was betaking him unto the city 
of Siena. Three poor women, alike in all respects as to height, 
age, and countenance, met him on the wide plain between 
Campiglio and San Quirico, proffering a new greeting by way 
of gift: "Welcome," said they, "Lady Poverty!" At these 
words, that true lover of poverty was filled with joy unspeakable, 
inasmuch as there was naught in him that he would so lief have 
saluted by men as that whereof they had made mention. On 
a sudden the women vanished, whereupon the Brethren that 
were his companions pondered on their wondrous resemblance 
each unto the other, and on the newness of their greeting, their 
appearing, and their vanishing, and deemed, not without reason, 
that some mystery was thereby signified concerning the holy 
man. Verily, by those three poor women — for such they 
seemed — with such resemblance in countenance, that met him, 
that gave him such unwonted greeting, and that so suddenly 
vanished, it was fittingly shown that the beauty of Gospel 
perfection — touching chastity, to wit, and obedience, and 
poverty — shone forth perfectly in kindred form in the man of 
God; howbeit, he had chosen to make his chief boast in the 
privilege of Poverty, whom he was wont to name now his 
mother, now his bride, now his lady. In this, he was greedy to 
surpass others, he who thereby had learnt to think himself of 
less account than all others. Accordingly, if ever he saw any 
man who, judging by his outward appearance, was poorer than 
himself, he would forthwith blame himself, and stir himself 
up unto the like, as though, striving jealously after poverty, he 
feared to be outdone by that other. 

It chanced once that he met a poor man on the road, and, 
beholding his nakedness, was stricken to the heart, and said with 
a sighing voice unto his companion, " This man's destitution 
hath brought on us great reproach, for we have chosen Poverty 
as our great riches, and lo! she shineth forth more clearly in 

7. By reason of his love for holy Poverty, the servant of 
Almighty God had far liefer partake of alms begged from door 
to door than of food set before him. Thus, if ever he was invited 
by great folk, who would fain honour him by a well-spread board, 
he would first beg crusts of bread from the neighbouring houses, 
and then, thus enriched in his poverty, sit down at the board. 
Once he did thus when he had been invited by the lord Bishop of 
Ostia, who loved the poor man of Christ with an especial affection, 
and when the Bishop complained that it brought shame upon 

His Love for Poverty 347 

him that a guest at his table should go forth for alms, the sen/ant 
of God made answer, " My lord, I have done you a great honour, 
while honouring a greater Lord. For poverty is well-pleasing 
unto the Lord, and that before all which is a free-will beggary 
for the sake of Christ. This royal dignity — that the Lord Jesus 
took upon Him when for our sakes He became poor, that we 
through His poverty might be rich, and that He might make 
them that be truly poor in spirit kings and heirs of the Kingdom 
of Heaven — I am not minded to abandon for a fee of deceptive 
riches lent unto you for an hour." 

8. Ofttimes when he was exhorting the Brethren to go forth 
for alms, he would speak on this wise, " Go forth," saith he, 
" since at this eleventh hour the Brothers Minor have been lent 
unto the world, that the number of the elect may be in them 
fulfilled ; wherefore they shall be praised by the Judge, and shall 
hear those most delectable words, ' Inasmuch as ye have done 
it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it 
unto Me.' " Accordingly, he would say it was a delightsome 
thing to beg under the name of Brothers Minor, since the Master 
of Gospel truth had with His own mouth thus spoken of that 
name — " the least " — in the rewarding of the just. 

Moreover, on the chief Feasts, when opportunity offered, he 
was wont to go begging, saying that in the holy poor was fulfilled 
that prophecy, " Man did eat Angels' food." For he said that 
bread was truly Angels' food that was begged for the love of 
God, and with the aid of the blessed Angels, and that holy 
Poverty gathered from door to door, where it was bestowed for 
love of her. 

9. Accordingly, when he was once sojourning on the holy 
Easter Day in an hermitage so distant from the dwellings of 
men as that he could not conveniently go forth to beg, mindful 
of Him Who on that day had appeared unto the disciples going 
unto Emmaus in the guise of a pilgrim, he, as a pilgrim and 
beggar, did ask alms from the Brethren themselves. And, 
having humbly received them, he taught them in holy discourse 
that while passing through the wilderness of the world as pilgrims 
and strangers, and Israelites indeed, they might celebrate 
continually, as those poor in spirit, the Lord's Passover, to wit, 
His departure from this wcrld unto the Father. And since in 
asking alms he was moved, not by desire for gain, but by a free 
spirit, God, the Father of the poor, seemed to have an especial 
care of him. 

10. It chanced once that the servant of the Lord had been 


Life of St. Francis 

weighed down by sickness in the place called Nocera, and was 
being brought back unto Assisi by an honourable escort, sent 
for this purpose by the devotion of the people of Assisi. And 
they, escorting the servant of Christ, reached a poor little hamlet, 
Satriano by name, whither, since their hunger and the hour 
demanded it, they went to seek food, but, finding naught that 
they could buy, returned empty handed. Then the holy man 
said unto them, " Naught have ye found, for that ye put more 
trust in your flies than in God " — for he was wont to call money 
flies. " But go back (saith he) among the houses that ye have 
visited, and, offering the love of God as your payment, humbly 
ask an alms. And do not by a false reckoning esteem this a 
thing shameful or base, since the great Almsgiver hath in His 
abounding goodness granted all things as alms unto the worthy 
and unworthy alike, after we have sinned." Then those knights 
laid aside their shamefastness, and of their own accord asked for 
alms, and bought more for the love of God than they had been 
able to for money. For the poor inhabitants of the place, 
stricken to the heart by a divine impulse, freely proffered not 
only their goods, but their very selves. Thus it befell that the 
necessity, which money had not availed to relieve, was supplied 
by the rich poverty of Francis. 

ii. On a time when he was lying sick in an hermitage nigh 
Rieti, a certain physician did oft visit him with welcome minis- 
tries. And since the poor man of Christ was unable to give him 
a recompense meet for his toil, the most bountiful God, on 
behalf of His poor, rewarded his kindly service by this singular 
benefit, that he might not depart with no immediate fee. The 
house of the physician, which he had at that time built anew 
with the whole of his savings, by a gaping cleavage of the walls 
from top to bottom threatened so speedy a collapse as that it 
seemed impossible that any mortal skill or toil should avert its 
fall. Then the physician, entirely trusting in the merits of the 
holy man, with great faith and devotion besought from his 
companions the gift of some thing that that same man of God 
had touched with his hands. Accordingly, having with much 
importunity of pleading gained a few of his hairs, he laid them 
at even in the cleavage of the wall; then, rising next morn, he 
found the opening so firmly sealed as that he could not withdraw 
the relics he had placed therein, nor find any trace of the former 
cleavage. Thus it came to pass that he who had diligently 
tended the frail body of God's servant was able to avert the 
danger from his own frail house. 

His Love for Poverty 349 

12. On another time, when the man of God was fain to betake 
him unto a certain solitude, where he might more freely give 
himself up unto contemplation, he rode, being weak in body, 
upon the ass of a poor man. While this man was following the 
servant of Christ in the summer heat, and up mountain ways, he 
became worn out by the journey, as the path grew ever rougher 
and longer, and, fainting with exceeding and burning thirst, he 
began to cry aloud with importunity after the saint, "Lo! 
(saith he) I shall die of thirst, if I be not at once refreshed by 
the help of some draught! " Without delay, the man of God 
got off the ass, fell on his knees, and, raising his hands unto 
heaven, ceased not to pray until he knew that he had been 
heard. His prayer at length ended, he said unto the man, 
" Hasten unto yonder rock, and there thou shalt find a spring of 
water, that Christ in His mercy hath at this hour caused to 
flow from the rock for thee to drink." marvellous condescen- 
sion of God, that doth so readily incline unto His servants ! The 
thirsty man drank the water produced from the rock by the 
power of him that prayed, and drained a draught from the flinty 
rock. Before that time there had been no flowing water there, 
nor from that time — as hath been carefully ascertained — hath 
any been found there. 

13. Now in what manner, by the merits of His poor one, 
Christ multiplied provisions at sea, shall be related in its own 
place hereafter; suffice it to note this only, that by the scanty 
alms brought unto him he saved the sailors from the peril of 
famine and of death during many days; thus it may be clearly 
seen that the servant of God Almighty, as he was made like unto 
Moses in the drawing of water from the rock, was made like also 
unto Elias in the multiplying of food. Wherefore let all anxious 
thought be far removed from the poor ones of Christ. For if 
the poverty of Francis was of such an abundant sufficiency as 
that it supplied by its wondrous power the needs of them that 
assisted him — so that neither food, nor drink, nor house failed 
them, when the resources of money, of skill, and of nature had 
proved of none avail — much more shall it merit those things 
that in the wonted course of the divine providence are granted 
unto all alike. If, I say, the stony rock, at the prayer of one 
poor man, poured forth a copious draught for another poor man 
in his thirst, naught in the whole creation will refuse its service 
unto those who have left all for the sake of the Creator of all. 

350 Life of St. Francis 



i. That true godliness which, according unto the Apostle, is 
profitable unto all things, had so filled the heart of Francis and 
entered into his inmost parts as that it seemed to have estab- 
lished its sway absolutely over the man of God. It was this 
piety that, through devotion, uplifted him toward God; through 
compassion, transformed him into the likeness of Christ; through 
condescension, inclined him unto his neighbour, and, through his 
all-embracing love for every creature, set forth a new picture of 
man's estate before the Fall. And as by this piety he was 
touched with kindly feeling for all things, so above all, when 
he beheld souls redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ Jesus 
being defiled by any stain of sin, he would weep over them with 
such tenderness of compassion as that he seemed, like a mother 
in Christ, to be in travail of them daily. And this was with 
him the chief cause of his veneration for the ministers of the 
word of God, to wit, that with devout care they raise up seed 
unto the Brother which is dead, that is, unto Christ crucified for 
sinners, by converting such, and cherish the same seed with 
careful devotion. This ministry of compassion he maintained 
was more acceptable unto the Father of mercies than all sacrifice, 
in especial if it were performed with the zeal of perfect charity, 
so that this end might be striven after by ensample rather than 
by precept, by tearful prayer rather than by eloquent speech. 
2. Accordingly, he would say that that preacher should be 
deplored as one without true piety, who in his preaching did not 
seek the salvation of souls, but his own glory, or who by the 
sins of his life pulled down that which he built up by the truth 
of his teaching. He would say that the Brother simple and 
unready of speech, who by his good ensample inciteth others 
unto good, should be preferred before such an one. That saying, 
moreover, " The barren hath borne many," he would thus 
expound, " The barren (saith he) is the little poor Brother, who 
hath not the function of begetting sons in the Church. He in 
the Judgment shall bear many, for that those whom he now 
converteth unto Christ by his secret prayers shall be then added 
unto his glory by the Judge. And ' she that hath many children 

His Kindly Piety 351 

is waxed feeble/ for that the empty preacher of many words 
who now boasteth in many begotten, as it were, by his power, 
shall then perceive that there is naught of his own in them." 

3. Since then with heartfelt piety and glowing zeal he sought 
after the salvation of souls, he would say that he was filled with 
the sweetest fragrance and anointed as with precious ointment 
whensoever he heard of many being led into the way of truth 
by the sweet savour of the repute of the holy Brethren scattered 
throughout the world. Hearing such reports, he would rejoice 
in spirit, heaping with blessings most worthy of all acceptance 
those Brethren who, by word or deed, were bringing sinners unto 
the love of Christ. In like wise, those who were transgressing 
against holy Religion by their evil works, fell under the heaviest 
sentence of his curse. " By thee," saith he, " Lord most 
holy, by the entire company of heaven, and by me, Thy little 
one, be they accursed who by their evil ensample do bring unto 
naught and destroy that which through the holy Brethren of 
this Order Thou hast built up, and dost not cease to build." 
Ofttimes he was affected by such sadness, by reason of the 
stumbling-block unto the weak brethren, that he thought his 
strength would have failed him, had he not been sustained by 
the comfort of the divine mercy. 

But when once on a time he was disquieted because of evil 
ensamples, and with troubled spirit was beseeching the merciful 
Father for his sons, he obtained an answer on this wise from the 
Lord, " Why dost thou fret thee, poor little mortal? Have I 
set thee as shepherd over My Religion that thou shouldst forget 
I am its chief Protector? I have appointed thee, simple as 
thou art, for this very end, that the things that I shall perform 
through thee may be ascribed, not unto man's working, but 
unto grace from above. I have called this Religion, I will keep 
it and feed it, and, when some fall off, I will raise up others in 
their place, yea, so that, were none born, I would even cause 
them to be born. And by whatsoever shocks this little poor 
Religion may be shaken, it shall alway abide unscathed under 
My guard." 

4. The vice of slander, hateful unto the fount of goodness 
and grace, Francis would shrink from as from a serpent's tooth, 
declaring it to be a most hateful plague, and an abomination 
unto the most holy God, forasmuch as the slanderer feedeth 
on the blood of those souls that he hath slain by the sword of 
his tongue. Hearing once a certain Brother blacken the repute 
of another, he turned unto his Vicar, and said, " Rise, rise, 

352 Life of St. Francis 

make careful enquiry, and, if thou findest the accused Brother 
to be guiltless, with stern discipline make the accuser to be 
marked of all." At times, indeed, he would sentence him who 
had despoiled his Brother of the praise of his good repute to 
be himself despoiled of his habit, and deemed that he ought not 
to be able to lift up his eyes unto God unless first he had exerted 
himself to restore, as best he might, that which he had taken 
away. " The sin of slanderers," he would say, " is more heinous 
than that of robbers, inasmuch as the law of Christ — that is 
fulfilled in the observance of godliness — bindeth us to desire 
more the salvation of the soul than of the body." 

5. Unto them that were afflicted with bodily suffering of any 
sort he would condescend with a marvellous tenderness of 
sympathy ; if he perceived in any aught of destitution, aught of 
lack, he would in the gentleness of his devout heart carry it 
unto Christ. Mercy, verily, was inborn in him, and redoubled 
by the shedding upon it of the piety of Christ. Thus his soul 
was melted over the poor and the weak, and, when he could not 
open his hand unto any, he opened his heart. It chanced on 
a time that one of the Brethren had made somewhat harsh reply 
unto a poor man that importunately asked an alms. When the 
devout lover of the poor heard it, he bade that Brother throw 
himself, naked, at the poor man's feet, declare himself in fault, 
and beg the favour of his prayer and his pardon. When he had 
humbly done this, the Father gently added, " When thou seest 
a poor man, Brother, a mirror is set before thee of the Lord, 
and of His Mother in her poverty. In the infirm, do thou in 
like manner think upon the infirmities that He took upon Him." 
In all the poor he — himself the most Christ-like of all poor 
men — beheld the image of Christ, wherefore he judged that all 
things that were provided for himself — were they even the 
necessaries of life, — should be given up unto any poor folk whom 
he met, and that not only as largesse, but even as if they were 
their own property. 

It befell on a time that a certain beggar met him, as he was 
returning from Siena, when by reason of sickness he was wrapped 
in a cloak over his habit. Beholding with pitiful eye the poor 
man's misery, " It behoveth us," said he unto his companion, 
" to restore the cloak unto this poor man, for his own it is. For 
we received it but as a loan, until it should be our hap to find 
another poorer than ourselves." But his companion, having 
regard unto the need of the kindly Father, did urgently seek to 
refrain him from providing for another, leaving himself uncared 

His Kindly Piety 353 

for. Howbeit, " I think/' saith he, " the great Almsgiver 
would account it a theft in me did I not give that I wear unto 
one needing it more." Accordingly he was wont to ask from 
those that had given him necessities for the succour of his body 
permission to give them away, did he meet a needier person, so 
that he might do so with their sanction. Naught would he 
withhold, neither cloak, nor habit, nor books, nor the very 
ornaments of the altar, but all these he would, while he could, 
bestow upon the needy, that he might fulfil the ministry of 
charity. Ofttimes whenas he met on the road poor folk carrying 
burdens, he would lay their burdens on his own weak shoulders. 

6. When he bethought him of the first beginning of all things, 
he was filled with a yet more overflowing charity, and would 
call the dumb animals, howsoever small, by the names of brother 
and sister, forasmuch as he recognised in them the same origin 
as in himself. Yet he loved with an especial warmth and 
tenderness those creatures that do set forth by the likeness of 
their nature the holy gentleness of Christ, and in the interpreta- 
tion of Scripture are a type of Him. Ofttimes he would buy 
back lambs that were being taken to be killed, in remembrance 
of that most gentle Lamb Who brooked to be brought unto the 
slaughter for the redemption of sinners. 

On a time when the servant of God was lodging at the Monas- 
tery of San Verecondo in the diocese of Gubbio, an ewe gave 
birth unto a lamb one night. There was hard by a very fierce 
sow, and she, sparing not the innocent life, slew him with her 
greedy jaws. When the gentle Father heard thereof, he was 
moved with wondrous pity, and, remembering that Lamb 
without spot, mourned over the dead lamb in the presence of all, 
saying, " Woe is me, brother little lamb, innocent creature, 
setting forth Christ unto men ! Cursed be that evil beast that 
hath devoured thee, and of her flesh let neither man nor beast 
eat." Marvellous to relate, the cruel sow forthwith began to 
languish, and in three days paid the penalty in her own body, 
and suffered death as her retribution. Her carcase was cast 
forth into a ditch near the Monastery, and there lay for a long 
time, dried up like a board, and food for no famished beast. 
Let human evil-doing, then, take note by what a punishment 
it shall be overtaken at the last, if the savageness of a brute 
beast was smitten by a death so awful: let faithful devotion 
also consider how in the servant of God was shown a piety of 
such marvellous power and abundant sweetness, as that even 
the nature of brute beasts, after their own fashion, acclaimed it. 

354 Life of St. Francis 

7. While he was journeying nigh the city of Siena, he came 
on a great flock of sheep in the pastures. And when he had 
given them gracious greeting, as was his wont, they left their 
feeding, and all ran toward him, raising their heads, and gazing 
fixedly on him with their eyes. So eagerly did they acclaim him 
as that both the shepherds and the Brethren marvelled, behold- 
ing around him the lambs, and the rams no less, thus wondrously 
filled with delight. 

At another time, at Saint Mary of the Little Portion, a lamb 
was brought unto the man of God, the which he thankfully 
received, by reason of the love of guilelessness and simplicity 
that the lamb's nature doth exhibit. The holy man exhorted 
the lamb that it should be instant in the divine praises, and 
avoid any occasion of offence unto the Brethren; the lamb, on 
its part, as though it had observed the piety of the man of God, 
diligently obeyed his instructions. For when it heard the 
Brethren chanting in the choir, it too would enter the church, 
and, unbidden of any, would bend the knee, bleating before the 
altar of the Virgin Mother of the Lamb, as though it were fain 
to greet her. Furthermore, at the elevation of the most holy 
Body of Christ in the solemn Mass, it would bend its knees and 
bow, even as though the sheep, in its reverence, would reprove 
the irreverence of the undevout, and would incite Christ's devout 
people to revere the Sacrament. 

At one time he had with him in Rome a lamb, by reason of 
his reverence for that Lamb most gentle, and it he entrusted unto 
a noble matron, to wit, the lady Jacoba di Settesoli, to be cared 
for in her bower. This lamb, like one instructed in spiritual 
things by the Saint, when the lady went into church, kept 
closely by her side in going and in returning. If in the early 
morning the lady delayed her rising, the lamb would rise and 
would butt her with its little horns, and rouse her by its Heat- 
ings, admonishing her with gestures and nods to hasten unto 
church. Wherefore the lamb, that had been a pupil of Francis, 
and was now become a teacher of devotion, was cherished by 
the lady as a creature marvellous and loveworthy. 

8. At another time, at Greccio, a live leveret was brought unto 
the man of God, the which — when set down free on the ground 
that it might escape whither it would — at the call of the kindly 
Father leapt with flying feet into his bosom. He, fondling it 
in the instinctive tenderness of his heart, seemed to feel for it 
as a mother, and, bidding it in gentle tones beware of being 
recaptured, let it go free. But albeit it was set on the ground 

His Kindly Piety 355 

many times to escape, it did alway return unto the Father's 
bosom, as though by some hidden sense it perceived the tender- 
ness of his heart; wherefore at length, by his command, the 
Brethren carried it away unto a safer and more remote spot. 

In like manner, on an island of the lake of Perugia, a rabbit 
was caught and brought unto the man of God, and, albeit it fled 
from others, it entrusted itself unto his hands and bosom with 
the confidence of a tame creature. 

As he was hastening by the lake of Rieti unto the hermitage 
of Greccio, a fisherman out of devotion brought unto him a 
water-fowl, the which he gladly received, and then, opening 
his hands, bade it depart; howbeit, it would not leave him. 
Then he, lifting his eyes unto heaven, remained for a long space 
in prayer, and, after a long hour returning unto himself as 
though from afar, gently bade the little bird depart; and praise 
the Lord. Then, having thus received his blessing and leave, 
it flew away, showing joy by the movement of its body. 

In like manner, from the same lake there was brought unto 
him a fine, live fish, which he called, as was his wont, by the 
name of brother, and put back into the water nigh the boat. 
Then the fish played in the water nigh the man of God, and, as 
though drawn by love of him, would in no wise leave the boat- 
side until it had received his blessing and leave. 

9. On another time, when he was walking with a certain 
Brother through the Venetian marshes, he chanced on a great 
host of birds that were sitting and singing among the bushes. 
Seeing them, he said unto his companion, " Our sisters the birds 
are praising their Creator, let us too go among them and sing 
unto the Lord praises and the Canonical Hours." When they 
had gone into their midst, the birds stirred not from the spot, 
and when, by reason of their twittering, they could not hear 
each the other in reciting the Hours, the holy man turned unto 
the birds, saying, " My sisters the birds, cease from singing, 
while that we render our due praises unto the Lord." Then the 
birds forthwith held their peace, and remained silent until, 
having said his Hours at leisure and rendered his praises, the 
holy man of God again gave them leave to sing. And, as the 
man of God gave them leave, they at once took up their song 
again after their wonted fashion. 

At Saint Mary of the Little Portion, hard by the cell of the 
man of God, a cicada sat on a fig-tree and chirped; and right 
often by her song she stirred up unto the divine praises the 
servant of the Lord, who had learnt to marvel at the glorious 

35 6 

Life of St. Francis 

handiwork of the Creator even as seen in little things. One day- 
he called her, and she, as though divinely taught, lighted upon 
his hand. When he said unto her, " Sing, my sister cicada, and 
praise the Lord thy Creator with thy glad lay," she obeyed forth- 
with, and began to chirp, nor did she cease until, at the Father's 
bidding, she flew back unto her own place. There for eight days 
she abode, on any day coming at his call, singing, and flying 
back, according as he bade her. At length the man of God said 
unto his companions, " Let us now give our sister cicada leave to 
go, for she hath gladdened us enough with her lay, stirring us 
up these eight days past unto the praises of God." And at once, 
his leave given, she flew away, nor was ever seen there again, as 
though she dared not in any wise transgress his command. 

10. Once while he was lying ill at Siena a fresh-caught pheasant 
was sent unto him, alive, by a certain nobleman. The bird, so 
soon as it saw and heard the holy man, pressed nigh him with 
such friendliness as that it would in no wise brook to be parted 
from him. For, albeit it was several times set down in a vine- 
yard outside the abode of the Brethren, so that it might escape 
if it would, it still ran back in haste unto the Father as though 
it had alway been brought up by his hand. Then, when it was 
given unto a certain man who was wont out of devotion to visit 
the servant of God, it seemed as though it grieved to be out of 
the sight of the gentle Father, and refused all food. At length, 
it was brought back unto the servant of God, and, so soon as it 
saw him, testified its delight by its gestures, and ate eagerly. 

When he had come unto the solitudes of Alverna, to keep a 
Lent in honour of the Archangel Michael, birds of divers sort 
fluttered about his cell, and seemed by their tuneful chorus and 
joyous movements to rejoice at his coming, and to invite and 
entice the holy Father to tarry there. Seeing this, he said unto 
his companion, " I perceive, Brother, that it is in accord with 
the divine will that we should abide here for a space, so greatly do 
our sisters the little birds seem to take comfort in our presence." 
While, accordingly, he was sojourning in that place, a falcon 
that had its nest there bound itself by close ties of friendship 
unto him. For alway at that hour of night wherein the holy 
man was wont to rise for the divine office, the falcon was before- 
hand with its song and cries. And this was most acceptable 
unto the servant of God, the more so as that the great concern 
which the bird showed for him shook from him all drowsiness 
of sloth. But when the servant of Christ was weighed down 
beyond his wont by infirmity, the falcon would spare him, and 

His Kindly Piety 357 

would not mark for him so early an awakening. At such times, 
as though taught of God, he would about dawn strike the bell 
of his voice with a light touch. Verily, there would seem to 
have been a divine omen, alike in the gladness of the birds of 
myriad species, and in the cries of the falcon, inasmuch as that 
praiser and worshipper of God, upborne on the wings of con- 
templation, was at that very place and time to be exalted by the 
vision of the Seraph. 

n. At one time while he was sojourning in the hermitage of 
Greccio, the natives of that place were plagued by manifold evils. 
For an herd of ravening wolves was devouring not beasts alone, 
but men also, and every year a hailstorm laid waste their corn 
and vineyards. Accordingly, when the herald of the Holy 
Gospel was preaching unto them under these afflictions, he said, 
" I promise you — pledging the honour and glory of Almighty 
God — that all this plague shall depart from you, and that the 
Lord will look upon you, and multiply your temporal goods if 
only, believing me, ye will take pity on your own selves, and will 
first make true confession, then bring forth fruits worthy of 
repentance. But again, I declare unto you that if, unthankful 
for His benefits, ye shall turn again unto your vomit, the plague 
will be renewed, the punishment will be redoubled, and greater 
wrath will be shown upon you." Then from that very hour 
they turned at his admonition unto repentance, and the disasters 
ceased, the perils passed over, nor was aught of havoc wrought 
by wolves or hailstorms. Nay more, what is yet more marvel- 
lous, if a hailstorm ever fell upon their neighbours' lands, as it 
neared their borders it was there stayed, or changed its course 
unto some other region. The hail observed, yea, and the wolves 
observed, the pact made with the servant of God, nor did they 
essay any more to break the law of natural piety by raging 
against men that had turned unto piety, so long as men in their 
turn, according unto the agreement, did not act wickedly against 
the most holy laws of God. 

With holy affection, then, must we think on the holiness of 
this blessed man, that was of such wondrous sweetness and might 
as that it conquered wild beasts, tamed woodland creatures, 
and taught tame ones, and inclined the nature of the brutes, 
that had revolted from fallen man, to obey him. For of a truth 
it is this piety which, allying all creatures unto itself, is profitable 
unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of 
th#t which is to come. 


Life of St. Francis 



i. Of the ardent love that glowed in Francis, the friend of the 
Bridegroom, who can avail to tell? He seemed utterly con- 
sumed, like unto a coal that is set on fire, by the flame of the love 
divine. For, at the mere mention of the love of the Lord, he 
was aroused, moved, and enkindled, as though the inner chords 
of his heart vibrated under the bow of the voice from without. 
He would say that it was a magnificent largesse to offer such 
wealth in exchange for alms, and that those who esteemed it of 
less worth than money were verily fools, for that the priceless 
price of the divine love alone availeth to purchase the kingdom 
of heaven, and His love Who hath loved us much is much to be 

That he might by all things be stirred up unto the divine love, 
he triumphed in all the works of the Lord's hands, and through 
the sight of their joy was uplifted unto their life-giving cause 
and origin. He beheld in fair things Him Who is the most fair, 
and, through the traces of Himself that He hath imprinted on 
His creatures, he everywhere followed on to reach the Beloved, 
making of all things a ladder for himself whereby he might 
ascend to lay hold on Him Who is the altogether lovely. For 
by the impulse of his unexampled devotion he tasted that 
fountain of goodness that streameth forth, as in rivulets, in 
every created thing, and he perceived as it were an heavenly 
harmony in the concord of the virtues and actions granted unto 
them by God, and did sweetly exhort them to praise the Lord, 
even as the Prophet David had done; 

2. Christ Jesus Crucified was laid, as a bundle of myrrh, in 
his heart's bosom, and he yearned to be utterly transformed into 
Him by the fire of his exceeding love. By reason of his chief 
and especial devotion unto Him, he would betake him unto 
desert places, and seclude himself in a cell, from the Feast of 
the Epiphany until the end of the forty days following, to wit, 
for the space of time wherein Christ had sojourned in the wilder- 
ness. There with all the abstinence from food and drink that 
he might compass, he devoted himself without interruption unto 
fasting, prayer, and the praises of God.j With such glowing 
love was he moved toward Christ, yea, and with such intimate 
love did his Beloved repay his, that it seemed unto the servant 

His Ardent Love 359 

of God himself that he felt his Saviour almost continually present 
before his eyes, even as he once revealed unto his companions 
in intimate converse. 

Toward the Sacrament of the Lord's Body he felt a glowing 
devotion that consumed the very marrow of his bones, mar- 
velling with utmost amazement at that most loving condescen- 
sion and condescending love. Oft did he communicate, and so 
devoutly as to render others devout, while, as he tasted of the 
sweetness of that Lamb without spot, he became like one 
inebriated in spirit, and rapt out of himself in ecstasy. 

3. He loved with an unspeakable affection the Mother of the 
Lord Jesus Christ, forasmuch as that she had made the Lord 
of Glory our Brother, and that through her we have obtained 
mercy. In her, after Christ, he put his chief trust, making her 
his own patron and that of his Brethren, and in her honour he 
fasted most devoutly from the Feast of the Apostles Peter and 
Paul until the Feast of the Assumption. He was bound by 
ties of inseparable affection unto the Angelic spirits that do 
glow with wondrous fire to approach God, and in the kindling of 
elect souls, and out of devotion unto them he would fast for forty 
days from the Assumption of the glorious Virgin, remaining 
instant in prayer throughout that time. Unto the Blessed 
Michael Archangel — inasmuch as his is the ministry of bringing 
souls before God — he cherished an especial love and devotion, 
by reason of the ardent zeal that he had for the salvation of all 
such as should be saved. When he called to remembrance all 
the Saints, he was kindled afresh, as if they had been stones of 
fire, with the flame of heavenly love; he regarded with the 
utmost devotion all the Apostles, and in especial Peter and Paul, 
by reason of the glowing love that they bore toward Christ, and 
out of reverence and love for them he dedicated unto the Lord 
the fast of an especial Lent. The poor man of Christ had 
naught save two mites, to wit, his body and soul, that he could 
give away in his large-hearted charity. But these, for the love 
of Christ, he offered up so continuously as that at all seasons, 
through the rigour of his fasting, he made an offering of his 
body, and through the fervour of his yearnings, of his spirit, 
sacrificing in the outer court a whole burnt-offering, and within, 
in the Temple, burning sweet incense. 

4. Now this exceeding devotion of love uplifted him into the 
divine in such wise as that his loving goodwill extended unto 
those that had received with him a like nature and grace. For 
it is no wonder if he, whose affectionate heart had made him 

3 6 ° 

Life of St. Francis 

kin unto all created things, was by the love of Christ drawn into 
yet closer kinship with such as were sealed with the likeness of 
their Creator, and redeemed by the Blood of their Maker. He 
esteemed himself no friend of Christ did he not cherish the 
souls that He had redeemed. He would say that naught was 
to be preferred before the salvation of souls, proving this chiefly 
by the fact that the Only-Begotten Son of God deigned to hang 
on the Cross for the sake of men's souls. Unto this end he 
wrestled in prayer, this was the theme of his preaching, and 
this the cause of his exceeding zeal in setting an ensample. 
Wherefore, whensoever some excessive austerity was blamed 
in him, he would make answer that he had been given as an 
ensample unto others. For albeit his guileless flesh had already 
voluntarily subjected itself unto his spirit, and needed no 
chastisement by reason of transgressions, nevertheless, for the 
sake of ensample, he was ever renewing in it punishments and 
penances, walking in hard paths for the sake of others. For 
he would say, " Though I speak with the tongues of men and 
of Angels, and have not charity, I shall set no ensample of 
virtues unto my neighbours, I shall profit others little, and, 
mine own self naught." 

5. He emulated, with an ardent flame of love, the glorious 
victory of the holy Martyrs, whose burning love could not be 
quenched, nor their constancy broken down. Accordingly he 
too, kindled by that perfect love that casteth out fear, yearned 
to offer himself up as a living sacrifice unto the Lord in martyr 
flames, that he might pay back somewhat in his turn unto 
Christ Who died for us, and might stir up others unto the love 
of God. Wherefore, in the sixth year from his conversion, 
burning with desire for martyrdom, he was minded to cross 
unto the regions of Syria to preach the Christian faith, and 
penitence, unto the Saracens and other infidels. When he had 
embarked on a ship that he might voyage thither, contrary 
winds prevailed, and he had perforce to land on the coasts of 
Slavonia. When he had delayed there some time, nor could 
find any ship that was then crossing the sea, feeling himself 
cheated of his desire, he besought some sailors that were making 
for Ancona to take him aboard, for the love of God. When 
they persisted in their refusal because of his lack of money, the 
man of God, putting all his trust in the goodness of the Lord, 
embarked secretly on board the ship with his companion. A 
certain man was present — sent, as is believed, from God on 
behalf of His poor one — and he took with him the necessary 

His Ardent Love 361 

victual, and, calling unto him one on the ship that feared God, 
spake thus unto him, " Keep faithfully all these things for the 
poor Brethren that lie hid on the ship, and in their hour of need 
deal them out unto them as a friend." It befell that, owing 
unto strong winds, the sailors were unable for many days to 
touch land anywhere, and had consumed all their own provisions, 
and only the alms brought for the poor man Francis were left. 
These, though they had been but scanty, were by the divine power 
so multiplied as that, during many days' delay at sea by reason 
of incessant storms, they fully supplied the needs of all until 
they made the port of Ancona. Then the sailors, seeing that 
through the servant of God they had escaped manifold agonies 
of death — like men that had known the dire perils of the sea, 
and had seen the works of the Lord and His wonders in the 
deep — rendered thanks unto Almighty God, Who doth ever 
show Himself marvellous and loveworthy in His friends and 

6. When, leaving the sea behind, Francis began to travel 
through the land, sowing therein the seed of salvation, he gained 
rich sheaves. Then, because the fruit of martyrdom had so 
enchanted his heart that he preferred above all merits of virtues 
a costly death for Christ's sake, he took his way toward Morocco, 
that he might preach unto Miramolin and his people the Gospel 
of Christ, if by any means he might avail to gain the coveted 
palm. For he was borne along by so mighty a desire that, 
albeit weak in body, he outran the comrade of his pilgrimage, 
and flew with all speed to fulfil his purpose, like one inebriated 
in spirit. But when he had advanced as far as Spain, by the 
divine will, that reserved him for other ends, a very heavy 
sickness fell upon him, and hindered him so that he could not 
fulfil his desire. Then the man of God — perceiving that his 
life in the body was still needful for the family that he had 
begotten, albeit he deemed that for himself to die was gain — 
returned to feed the sheep that had been committed unto his 

7. Howbeit his glowing charity urged his spirit on unto 
martyrdom, and yet a third time he essayed to set forth toward 
the infidels, that by the shedding of his blood the Faith of the 
Trinity might be spread abroad. Thus in the thirteenth 3 3ar 
of his conversion he set forth for the regions of Syria, continually 
exposing himself unto many perils that so he might win entrance 
into the presence of the Soldan of Babylon. For at that time 
there was relentless war between the Christians and the Sarace 



Life of St. Francis 

and the camps of both armies were pitched each over against 
the other in the plain, so that none might pass from one unto 
the other without peril of death. Moreover, a cruel edict had 
gone forth from the Soldan that any who should bring the head 
of a Christian should receive a gold bezant as reward. Never- 
theless, the undaunted soldier of Christ, Francis, hoping that 
he was shortly about to gain his end, determined to continue on 
his way, not dismayed by the fear of death, but urged on by 
his yearning therefor. And as he prepared himself by prayer, 
he was strengthened of the Lord, and boldly chanted that verse 
of the Prophet, " Yea, though I walk through the valley of 
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." 
8. Then, taking the Brother that was his companion, Illumi- 
nate by name, a man verily of illumination and virtue, they 
started on their way. And, meeting two lambs, the holy man 
was gladdened at the sight, and said unto his companion, " Put 
thy trust, Brother, in the Lord, for in us that saying of the 
Gospel is fulfilled: Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the 
midst of wolves." When they had gone on further, the-hands 
of the Saracens met them, and they, like wolves making haste 
to fall upon sheep, brutally seized the servants of God, and 
cruelly and despitefully dragged them along, casting abuse at 
them, vexing them with stripes and binding them in fetters. 
Thus in manifold wise tormented and beaten down, they were 
brought before the Soldan, the divine counsel so disposing as 
the holy man had desired. When that prince demanded of 
them from whom, and for what purpose, and after what manner 
they had been sent, and how they had come thither, the servant 
of Christ, Francis, made answer with undaunted heart that he 
had been sent not by man, but by God Most High, that he 
might show unto him and his people the way of salvation, and 
might preach the Gospel of truth. With such firmness of mind, 
with such courage of soul, and with such fervour of spirit he 
preached unto the Soldan aforesaid God Three in One and the 
Saviour of all, Jesus Christ, that in him was manifestly and truly 
fulfilled that saying of the Gospel, " I will give you a mouth 
and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to 
gainsay nor resist." For, as the Soldan beheld the marvellous 
fervour of spirit and valour of the man of God, he heard him 
gladly and did right earnestly invite him to tarry with him. 
Then the servant of Christ, taught by the heavenly counsel, 
said, " If thou, together with thy people, wilt be converted unto 
Christ, for the love of Him I will right gladly tarry among you. 

His Ardent Love 363 

But if thou art hesitating whether to give up the law of Mahomet 
for the faith of Christ, do thou command that a great fire 
be kindled and I will enter the fire with thy priests, that even 
thus thou mayest learn which faith is the surer, and holier, and 
most worthy of being held. Unto whom the Soldan made 
answer, " I do not believe that any of my priests would be 
ready to expose himself unto the fire in defence of his faith, or 
to undergo any sort of torture." For he had seen that, so soon 
as mention of this was made, one of his priests, an aged man 
and one in authority, had fled from his presence. Unto whom 
the holy man replied, " If thou wilt promise me, on behalf of 
thyself and thy people, that thou wilt embrace the faith of 
Christ, if I come forth from the fire unscathed, I will enter the 
fire alone; if I am burned, let it be set down unto my sins, but 
if the divine might protect me, ye shall know that Christ, the 
power of God and the wisdom of God, is the true God and the 
Lord and Saviour of all." Howbeit, the Soldan replied that he 
dare not accede unto this proposition, for that he feared a 
revolt of his people. But he offered him many costly gifts, all 
of which the man of God, hungering, not for worldly goods, but 
for the salvation of souls, contemned like mire. The Soldan, 
perceiving the holy man to be so absolute a despiser of worldly 
things, was moved with amazement and conceived a greater 
devotion for him. And, albeit he would not, or perchance 
dared not, go over unto the Christian faith, he did nevertheless 
devoutly pray the servant of Christ to receive the gifts aforesaid, 
for his own salvation, and to bestow them upon Christian poor 
folk, or on churches. But Francis, for that he shunned the 
burden of money, and could not see in the soul of the Soldan 
any root of true piety, would not agree thereunto. 

9. Seeing, then, that he could neither make progress in the 
conversion of that people, nor attain his purpose, warned by a 
divine revelation, he returned unto the regions of the faithful. 
Now the mercy of God so ordained, and the virtue of the holy 
man merited, and mercifully and marvellously it befell, that 
the friend of Christ — who with all his might sought a death 
for His sake, and yet in no way could find it — nevertheless did 
not lose the coveted merit of martyrdom, and was reserved to 
be signalled out unto posterity by an especial distinction. 
Thus it befell that that divine fire glowed ever more hotly in 
his heart, so that afterward it was openly manifested in his flesh. 
O truly blessed man, whose flesh, albeit not stricken by the 
tyrant's steel, was nevertheless not left without the likeness of 

3 64 Life of St. Francis 

the Lamb that was slain! fully and truly blessed, I say, 
whose life, albeit not cut off by the sword of the persecutor, did 
yet not lose the palm of martyrdom! 



i. Francis, the servant of Christ, feeling himself in the body 
to be absent from the Lord, had now through the love of Christ 
become wholly untouched by earthly desires, wherefore — that 
he might not be without the consolation of his Beloved — he 
prayed without ceasing, striving ever to manifest a spirit present 
with God. Prayer was a consolation unto him in contemplation, 
while, being already made a fellow-citizen with the Angels in the 
circle of the heavenly mansions, with ardent yearning he sought 
his Beloved, from Whom the wall of the flesh alone parted him. 
It was, moreover, a defence unto him in his labours, while in all 
that he did, distrusting his own working, and relying on the 
heavenly goodness, he cast all his care upon the Lord in earnest 

He would confidently affirm that the grace of prayerfulness 
should be more desired than all others by the religious man, 
and — believing that without it no good could be wrought in the 
service of God — he would stir up his Brethren unto zeal therefor 
by all means that he could. For, whether walking or sitting, 
within doors or without, in toil or at leisure, he was so absorbed 
in prayer as that he seemed to have devoted thereunto not only 
his whole heart and body, but also his whole labour and time. 

2. Nor was he ever wont to pass over heedlessly any spiritual 
visitation. When it came unto him, he followed after it, and, 
for as long as the Lord granted it unto him, he rejoiced in its 
proffered sweetness. If, while absorbed in thought on a journey, 
he felt some breathings of the divine Spirit, he would let his 
companions go on before, and would himself stay his steps, and 
turn the new inspiration into fruitfulness, not receiving the grace 
in vain. Ofttimes he was rapt in such ecstasies of contempla- 
tion as that he was carried out of himself, and, while perceiving 
things beyond mortal sense, knew naught of what was happening 
in the outer world around him. 

Thus, when he was passing on a time through Borgo San 
Sepolcro, a very populous town, riding on an ass because of his 

His Zeal in Prayer 365 

bodily weakness, he met crowds of folk that ran together out 
of devotion unto him. Yet albeit they touched him, and 
delayed his progress, crowding round him and in many ways 
pressing upon him, he seemed as one that felt naught, and, even 
as though he had been a dead body, perceived no whit what 
was being done around him. Accordingly, when they had long 
since passed through the town and left the crowds behind them, 
and had come unto a certain leper settlement, that contem- 
plator of heavenly things, like one returning from another world, 
anxiously enquired when they would draw nigh unto Borgo. 
For his mind, intent on heavenly glories, had not perceived the 
changes of place and time, nor of the folk that met them. And 
that this oft befell him, the repeated experience of his com- 
panions attested. 

3. Moreover — as he had experienced in prayer that the 
longed-for presence of the Holy Spirit vouchsafed itself by so 
much the more intimately unto suppliants as it found them 
removed from the noise of worldlings — he would seek lonely 
places, going to pray by night in solitudes and in deserted 
churches. There ofttimes he endured dire assaults from demons, 
who, struggling with him in perceptible form, strove to disturb 
him in his exercise of prayer. But he, furnished with heavenly 
arms, the more desperate his enemies' attack, was rendered by 
so much the more strong in might and fervent in prayer, saying 
with confidence unto Christ, " Hide me under the shadow of 
Thy wings, from the wicked that oppress me." But unto the 
demons he would say, " Do unto me aught that ye can, evil 
and false spirits. For ye have no power, save that which is 
granted you from the divine hand, and here am I, ready to bear 
with all gladness all things whatsoever that has decreed to 
inflict upon me." Then the proud demons, not able to brook 
this constancy of mind, retreated in confusion. 

4. But the man of God, remaining alone and at peace, filled 
the woods with his sighing, bedewed the ground with his tears, 
and beat his breast with his hands, and, like one who hath 
gained a secret and hidden thing, spake familiarly with his Lord. 
There he made answer unto his Judge, there he made supplica- 
tion unto his Father, there he held converse with his Friend, 
there too he was at times heard by the Brethren, who out of 
filial piety watched him, to invoke the divine mercy for sinners 
with cries and wailings, yea, and to lament aloud as though the 
Lord's Passion were set before his eyes. There he was beheld 
praying by night, his hands stretched out after the manner of 


3 66 

Life of St. Francis 

a Cross, his whole body uplifted from the earth, and wrapt in a 
shining cloud, as though the wondrous illumination of the body 
were a witness unto the wondrous enlightenment of his mind. 
There, moreover, as is attested by sure signs, the unknown and 
hidden things of the divine wisdom were laid bare unto him, 
albeit he did not publish them abroad, save in so far as the love 
of Christ constrained him, and the profit of his neighbours 
demanded. For he would say, " For a trifling gain, one may 
chance to lose a priceless thing, and may easily provoke him 
that gave it to give no more." 

When he returned from his private prayers, in the which he 
became changed almost into another man, he endeavoured with 
all diligence to make himself like unto others, lest perchance 
that which was shown outwardly should by the breath of popular 
applause depart from the gain within. Whensoever he was rapt 
on a sudden in public, and visited of the Lord, he would alway 
make some pretext unto them that stood by, lest the intimate 
visitations of the Spouse should be published abroad. When 
that he was praying among the Brethren, he utterly avoided 
coughings, groanings, hard breathing, and outward gestures, 
either because he loved secrecy, or because, shutting himself 
up within himself, he was wholly borne away unto God. Oft- 
times he would speak on this wise unto his intimate companions, 
" When the servant of God is visited of God in prayer, he ought 
to say ' This comfort, Lord, Thou hast sent from heaven unto 
me, a sinner and unworthy, and I commit it unto Thy care, for 
that I feel me to be a thief of Thy treasure.' When, therefore, 
he returneth from praying, he ought thus to show himself as a 
little poor one and a sinner, not as one who hath attained unto 
any new grace." 

5. Once when the man of God was praying in the place of 
the Little Portion, it chanced that the Bishop of Assisi came to 
visit him, as was his wont. He at once on entering the place 
betook him unto the cell wherein the servant of Christ was 
praying, with more boldness than was seemly, and, knocking at 
the door, was about to enter; but, as he thrust in his head, and 
beheld the Saint in prayer, a sudden trembling gat hold of him, 
his limbs became rigid, and he lost the power of speech; then 
suddenly he was driven forth by force, by the divine will, and 
with returning steps was led afar off. All astonied, the Bishop 
hastened unto the Brethren with all the speed he might, and, 
God restoring unto him his speech, with his first words he 
declared his fault. 

His Zeal in Prayer 367 

It befell on a time that the Abbot of the Monastery of Saint 
Justin in the diocese of Perugia met the servant of Christ. 
Beholding him, the devout Abbot with all speed alighted from 
his horse, that he might both do reverence unto the man of God 
and hold some converse with him concerning his soul's welfare. 
At length, their sweet conf ei enee over, the Abbot, as he departed, 
humbly besought that prayers should be offered on his behalf. 
Unto whom the man dear unto God made answer, " I will pray 
for thee with goodwill." Accordingly, when the Abbot had 
departed a little space, the faithful Francis spake unto his 
companion, " Tarry for me awhile, Brother, for I am minded to 
pay the debt that I have promised." While, then, he was pray- 
ing, on a sudden the Abbot felt in his spirit an unwonted glow 
and a sweetness hitherto unknown, in such wise as that he was 
carried out of himself in an ecstasy, and wholly loosed from 
himself and absorbed in God. This lasted but for a brief space, 
after which he came unto himself again, and recognised the 
efficacy of the prayer of Saint Francis. Thenceforward he did 
alway burn with greater love toward the Order, and recounted 
this event unto many as a miracle. 

6. The holy man was wont to say the Canonical Hours before 
God not less reverently than devoutly. For albeit he suffered 
from infirmities of the eyes, the stomach, spleen, and liver, yet 
would he never lean against an outer or inner wall, while he was 
intoning them, but alway said the Hours standing upright, and 
without his hood, not letting his eyes roam about, nor cutting 
short his words. If he were on a journey, he would, when the 
time came, stay his steps, nor would he omit this reverent and 
holy habit for any storm of rain. For he would say, " If the 
body needeth quiet when it partaketh of the bread that, like 
itself, shall become food for worms, with how much peace and 
calm doth it behove the soul to receive the Bread of Life? " 
Grievously did he consider himself to have stumbled if ever, 
while giving himself unto prayer, his mind was led astray of 
empty fantasies. When anything of the like happened, he made 
mention thereof in confession, that he might forthwith atone for 
it. This earnestness he had so turned into an habit that right 
seldom did he suffer from flies of this sort. 

One Lent, he had made a little vase, that he might fill up his 
spare moments, and they not be utterly wasted. But forasmuch 
as while saying Tierce this came into his memory and a little 
distracted his mind, he, moved by the fervour of his spirit, burnt 
the little vase in the fire, saying, " I will sacrifice it unto the 

3 68 

Life of St. Francis 

Lord, Whose sacrifice it hath hindered." It was his wont to 
say the Psalms with mind and spirit as attent as though he saw 
God present before his eyes, and when the Name of the Lord 
occurred therein, he seemed to refresh his very lips with the 
savour of its sweetness. He was fain that that same Name of 
the Lord, not alone when it was meditated upon, but also when 
it was uttered or written, should be honoured with an especial 
reverence, and at times he would prevail on the Brethren to 
collect all papers with writing upon them, wheresoever they 
might find them, and to lay them in some seemly place, lest 
perchance that sacred Name might happen to be written thereon, 
and so trodden underfoot. And when he uttered or heard the 
Name of Jesus, he was filled with an inward rejoicing, and seemed 
all transfigured outwardly, as though some honey-sweet taste 
had soothed his palate, or some melodious sound his ear. 

7. Now three years before his death it befell that he was 
minded, at the town of Greccio, to celebrate the memory of the 
Birth of the Child Jesus, with all the added solemnity that he 
might, for the kindling of devotion. That this might not seem 
an innovation, he sought and obtained licence from the Supreme 
Pontiff, and then made ready a manger, and bade hay, together 
with an ox and an ass, be brought unto the spot. The Brethren 
were called together, the folk assembled, the wood echoed with 
their voices, and that august night was made radiant and solemn 
with many bright lights, and with tuneful and sonorous praises. 
The man of God, filled with tender love, stood before the manger, 
bathed in tears, and overflowing with joy. Solemn Masses were 
celebrated over the manger, Francis, the Levite of Christ, chant- 
ing the Holy Gospel. Then he preached unto the folk standing 
round of the Birth of the King in poverty, calling Him, when he 
wished to name Him, the Child of Bethlehem, by reason of his 
tender love for Him. A certain knight, valorous and true, 
Messer John of Greccio, who for the love of Christ had left the 
secular army, and was bound by closest friendship unto the man 
of God, declared that he beheld a little Child right fair to see 
sleeping in that manger, Who seemed to be awakened from 
sleep when the blessed Father Francis embraced Him in both 
arms. This vision of the devout knight is rendered worthy of 
belief, not alone through the holiness of him that beheld it, but 
is also confirmed by the truth that it set forth, and withal proven 
by the miracles that followed it. For the ensample of Francis, 
if meditated upon by the world, must needs stir up sluggish 
hearts unto the faith of Christ, and the hay that was kept back 

His Spirit of Prophecy 369 

from the manger by the folk proved a marvellous remedy for 
sick beasts, and a prophylactic against divers other plagues, 
God magnifying by all means His servant, and making manifest 
by clear and miraculous portents the efficacy of his holy prayers. 



i. Unto such a tranquillity of mind had his unwearied zeal for 
prayer and continuous practice of virtue brought the man of God 
that — albeit he had no instruction or learning in the sacred 
writings — yet, illumined by the beams of eternal light, he 
searched the deep things of the Scriptures with marvellous 
intellectual discernment. For his genius, pure from all stain, 
penetrated into the hidden places of the mysteries, and, where 
the learning of a theologian tarrieth without, the feelings of the 
lover led him in. At times he would read in the sacred books, 
and whatsoever had once been presented unto his mind became 
indelibly imprinted on his memory, for it was not in vain that 
he comprehended by hearing and by an attent mind that which 
he ever meditated upon with the love of an unceasing devotion. 
Once when the Brethren asked whether it were his will that the 
clerks that had been already received into the Order should 
devote themselves unto the study of Holy Scripture, he made 
answer, " It is indeed my will, yet for so long alone as they follow 
the example of Christ, Who, we read, prayed more than He read, 
and for so long as they do not lose their zeal for prayer, nor 
study only that they may know how they ought to speak; rather 
let them study that they may be doers of the word, and, when 
they have done it, may set forth unto others what they too 
should do. I am fain (saith he), that my Brethren should be 
learners of the Gospel, and thus make progress in knowledge of 
the truth, that they should grow in the purity of guilelessness, 
so that they sever not the harmlessness of the dove from the 
wisdom of the serpent, which twain the greatest Teacher hath 
joined together with His blessed mouth." 

2. Being asked at Siena by a certain devout man, a doctor of 
sacred theology, concerning sundry problems hard of under- 
standing, he laid bare the hidden things of the divine wisdom 
with such luminous exposition that that learned man was 

3 jo Life of St. Francis 

mightily astonied, and exclaimed in amazement, " Verily, the 
theology of this holy Father, borne aloft by purity and medita- 
tion as though by wings, is as a flying eagle, while our learning 
creepeth on its belly on the earth." For, albeit he were unskilled 
in speech, yet, full of learning, he unravelled the knots of 
problems, and the thing that was hid he brought forth into the 
light. Nor was it unfitting that the holy man should receive 
from God an understanding of the Scriptures, seeing that by 
the imitation of Christ he fulfilled and set forth in his deeds their 
perfect truth, and by the abundant anointing of the Holy Spirit 
had within him, in his own heart, an instructor therein. 

3. So mightily did the spirit of prophecy shine forth in him 
that he both foreknew what was to come, and beheld the secrets 
of men's hearts, and perceived absent things as though they 

: were present, and in wondrous wise manifested his own presence 
unto them that were absent. For on a time when the Christian 
army was besieging Damietta, the man of God was present, 
fortified not by arms but by faith. When on the day of battle 
the Christians were preparing them for the conflict, and the 
servant of Christ heard thereof, he groaned bitterly, and said 
unto his companion, " If they essay to join battle, the Lord 
hath shown me that it will not fare well with the Christians; 
but, if I say this, I shall be accounted a fool; if I keep silence, 
I shall not escape the reproaches of my conscience. What, then, 
dost thou advise? " His companion replied, " Brother, do 
thou esteem it but a light thing to be judged of men, for that 
thou dost not now make a beginning of being accounted a fool. 
Unburden thy conscience, and fear God rather than men." 
Hearing this, the herald of Christ hastened forth, and approached 
the Christians with salutary warnings, forbidding the battle, 
and prophesying its issue. The truth was unto them as a vain 
tale, they hardened their hearts and would not turn back. 
They went into the field, they joined battle, they fought, and the 
entire Christian host was put to the rout, thus winning shame, not 
triumph, as the ending of the warfare. In this dread defeat, the 
Christian host was so diminished that there were about six 
thousand slain or captured. Thereby was it clearly made 
manifest that the wisdom of the poor man, Francis, had not 
been meet for contempt, for the mind of a righteous man is 
sometime wont to tell him more than seven watchmen, that 
sit above in an high tower. 

4. At another time, when he was returned from beyond seas, 
and had come unto Celano to preach, a certain Knight with 

His Spirit of Prophecy 371 

humble devoutness and great importunity invited him to dine 
with him. He came accordingly unto the house of the Knight, 
and the whole household rejoiced over the coming of their poor 
guests. Before they partook of the meal, Francis, as he was 
wont, stood with eyes uplift to heaven, with a devout mind 
offering unto God prayers and praises. His prayer ended, he 
called aside his kindly host in familiar wise, and thus addressed 
him, " Lo, my brother and host, yielding unto thine impor- 
tunity I have come unto thy house to eat. Do thou now yield 
speedily unto my exhortations, forasmuch as thou shalt eat not 
here, but elsewhere. Confess now thy sins, and be contrite 
with the grief of a true repentance, nor let aught abide in thee 
that thou dost not lay bare in sincere confession. The Lord 
will reward thee this day for that thou hast received His poor 
with such devoutness." The Knight yielded forthwith unto 
the words of the holy man, unto whose companion he disclosed 
all his sins in confession, and then set his house in order, and 
prepared himself, in so far as he might, for death. At length 
they sat down to table, and, while the rest were beginning to 
eat, the host on a sudden gave up the ghost, carried off by a 
sudden death according unto the word of the man of God. 
And thus it befell, by the merits of his gracious hospitality, that, 
according unto the Word of truth, " He that receiveth a prophet 
shall receive a prophet's reward; " for by the prophetic pre- 
diction of the holy man that devout Knight made himself ready 
against the sudden onset of death, inasmuch as, fortified by the 
weapons of penitence, he was able to escape eternal condemna- 
tion and enter into the everlasting tabernacles. 

5. Once on a time, while the holy man was lying sick at Rieti, 
a prebendary, Gideon by name, a man unstable and worldly, 
that had been stricken with a sore disease and was lying in his 
bed, was brought unto him, and with tears besought him — as 
did the bystanders — that he would make over him the sign of 
the Cross. Unto him he said, " Since aforetime thou wert living 
after the lusts of the flesh, not fearing the judgments of God, 
how can I sign thee with the Cross? Howbeit, for the sake of 
the devout prayers of these that plead for thee, I will make 
over thee the sign of the Cross in the name of the Lord. Yet 
be thou well assured that a worse thing will befall thee if, when 
thou hast been set free, thou shalt return unto thy vomit. For 
the sin of ingratitude ever bringeth with it worse evils than 
were suffered afore." Then, when the sign of the Cross was 
made over him, at once he that had lain paralysed rose up 

372 Life of St. Francis 

whole, and, breaking forth into God's praises, " I" saith he, 
" am set free ! " His bones cracked within him, in the hearing 
of many, even as when dry wood is broken by the hand. Yet 
when but a short time had passed by, he forgat God, and again 
yielded his body unto unchastity. When one evening he had 
supped in the house of a certain Canon, and was sleeping there 
that night, on a sudden the roof of the house fell in above them 
all. But while the rest escaped death, that wretched man 
alone was overtaken and cut off. Thus by a righteous judg- 
ment of God the last state of that man was worse than the first, 
by reason of his sin of ingratitude, and contempt of God, since 
it had behoved him to be grateful for the pardon that he had 
gained, and since a crime when repeated is twofold an offence. 

6. On another time, a devout woman of noble birth came 
unto the holy man to unfold her grief unto him and to ask a 
remedy. Now she had a right cruel husband, from whom she 
suffered opposition in the service of Christ, wherefore she be- 
sought the holy man that he would pray for him that God 
would deign to soften his heart with His own mercy. Hearing 
this, Francis said unto her, " Go in peace, and confidently await 
from thine husband the comfort that he shall speedily afford 
thee." And he added, " Say unto him from God and from me 
that now is the day of mercy, hereafter that of justice." When 
he had blessed her, the woman returned, found her husband, 
and declared what had been spoken. Then the Holy Spirit fell 
upon him and changed him into a new man, making him in all 
gentleness reply thus, " Lady, let us serve the Lord, and save 
our souls." Then by the persuasions of his devout wife for 
many years they lived a life of continence, and both on the 
same day departed unto the Lord. Of a truth, we must marvel 
at the might of the spirit of prophecy that was found in the 
man of God, through the which he restored unto withered limbs 
their power, and impressed on hard hearts godliness; albeit no 
less must we be astonied at the clear perception of that spirit, 
whereby he so foreknew the issue of future events that he could 
search even the secret things of men's consciences, having 
obtained, like another Elisha, a double portion of the spirit of 

7. Once when at Siena he had decisively foretold unto a 
certain friend some events that should come to pass, that 
learned man — of whom mention hath been made above as to 
his conferring with him about the Scriptures — heard thereof, 
and, doubting, asked the holy Father whether he had said the 

His Spirit of Prophecy 373 

things that he had heard from the narration of that other. 
Then Francis not only declared that he had so spoken, but also 
foretold by prophecy that man's own end, who was thus asking 
concerning another. And that he might the more surely im- 
press this on his heart, he revealed unto him a certain hidden 
scruple of his conscience, which that man had never laid bare 
unto any living, and by thus marvellously revealing the same 
he explained it, and by his salutary counsels laid it low. To 
confirm the truth of all this, it befell that that same devout 
man came unto his end at the last in the manner foretold him 
by the servant of Christ. 

8. Once, moreover, when he was returning from beyond sea, 
with Brother Leonard of Assisi as his companion, it chanced 
that, worn out and weary as he was, he was riding on an ass. 
His companion, as he followed him — himself no little wearied — 
began to say within himself, with a touch of human weakness, 
" This man's family was not of equal standing with mine own. 
And now, look you, he rideth, and I on foot lead his ass." Even 
as he thus reasoned, the holy man forthwith dismounted from 
the ass, saying, "It is not fitting, Brother, that I should ride, 
and thou walk afoot, for that in the world thou wert of nobler 
birth and more standing than I." Then the Brother was dumb 
with amazement, and blushed for shame, and, perceiving his 
fault, fell at the other's feet, which he bedewed with tears, and 
laid bare what had been his thought, and implored pardon. 

9. A certain Brother, devoted unto God, and unto the servant 
of Christ, oft meditated in his heart how that one must be 
meet for the divine grace whom the holy man embraced with 
intimate friendship, yet nevertheless he thought himself con- 
sidered of God as a stranger, outside the number of the elect. 
Being, then, ofttimes harassed by the oncoming of such thoughts, 
he ardently desired the intimate friendship of the man of God, 
yet did not lay bare unto any the secret of his heart; him the 
kindly Father called gently unto him, and thus addressed, 
" Let no thoughts disturb thee, my son, for I hold thee most 
dear, and amongst those most especially dear unto me I do 
gladly bestow upon thee the gift of my friendship and my love." 
Thereat the Brother marvelled, and from being devout became 
ever more devout, and not only increased in love of the holy 
man, but was also laden, through the gift of the grace of the 
Holy Spirit, with greater endowments. 

Now while Francis was sojourning on Mount Alverna, secluded 
in his cell, one of his companions did mightily desire to possess 

N 3 

374 Life of St. Francis 

some of the words of the Lord written by his hand, and with 
brief notes thereupon. For, having it, he believed that he might 
escape a grievous temptation, not of the flesh, but of the spirit, 
by the which he was distressed, or assuredly might be enabled 
to bear it more easily. While he was pining with such a desire, 
he suffered torments within, being overcome with shamefastness, 
nor daring to lay the matter before his venerated Father. But 
though man told it not unto him, the Spirit revealed it. For 
he bade the Brother aforesaid bring unto him ink and parch- 
ment, and according unto the desire of the Brother he wrote 
with his own hand the praises of the Lord thereon, and finally, 
a blessing for him, saying, " Take unto thyself this parchment, 
and keep it with care until the day of thy death." The Brother 
received the gift he had so desired, and forthwith that tempta- 
tion utterly departed from him. The writing was preserved, 
and forasmuch as in later days it wrought miracles, it became a 
witness unto the virtues of Francis. 

10. Now there was a Brother eminent, in so far as outward 
appearance went, for his sanctity, distinguished in his converse, 
yet somewhat singular in bearing. Devoting his whole time 
unto prayer, he observed silence with such rigour as that he was 
wont to make his confession not by words, but by nods. Now it 
chanced that the holy Father came unto that place and beheld 
the Brother, and spake concerning him with the other Brethren. 
When they all praised and glorified him, the man of God made 
answer, " Beware, Brethren, lest ye praise unto me in him the 
deceitful semblances of the devil. Know in truth that this is a 
temptation of the devil, and a deceitful snare." The Brethren 
were loth to believe this, judging it almost impossible that the 
devices of a false seeming should adorn themselves with so many 
evidences of perfection. Yet of a truth, on his leaving the 
Religion not many days after, it was manifestly seen with what 
clearness of inward vision the man of God had discerned the 
secrets of his heart. 

After this manner he would predict with irrefragable truth the 
fall of many who seemed to stand, but also the conversion unto 
Christ of many who were turned aside, so that he seemed to have 
approached unto the mirror of eternal light to gaze therein, and 
by its wondrous radiance the sight of his mind surely perceived 
things that were absent in bodily form, even as though they were 

ii. Thus, on a time when his Vicar was holding a Chapter, 
and he himself was in his cell praying, he was a mediator between 

His Spirit of Prophecy 375 

the Brethren and God. For when one of them, sheltering him- 
self under some cloak of defence, would not yield himself up unto 
discipline, the holy man beheld this in spirit, and called one of 
the Brethren, and said unto him, " I saw, Brother, the devil 
sitting upon the back of that disobedient Brother, holding his 
neck gripped, for he, driven by such a master, spurning the bridle 
of obedience, had given the reins unto his instincts. And when 
I besought God for the Brother, at once the devil withdrew in 
confusion. Go then and bid the Brother yield his neck with 
all speed unto the yoke of holy obedience." The Brother, 
exhorted by the messenger, forthwith turned unto God, and 
humbly threw himself at the feet of the Vicar. 

12. Again, it befell on a time that two Brethren had come 
from afar unto the hermitage of Greccio, that they might behold 
the man of God, and carry away with them his blessing, the 
which they had long time coveted. They came and found him 
not, for that he had returned from the common dwelling-place 
unto his cell, wherefore they were departing disconsolately. 
Lo, as they were withdrawing, Francis, who could have known 
naught by human perception of their arrival or departure, 
contrary unto his wont came forth of his cell, called after them, 
and, according unto their desire, made the sign of the Cross over 
them, blessing them in the name of Christ. 

13. Once two Brethren were come from Terra di Lavoro, the 
elder of whom had given some offence unto the younger. But 
when they came before the Father, he asked of the younger how 
the Brother that was his companion had behaved toward him on 
the way. On his making answer, " Well enough," he responded, 
" Beware, Brother, that thou lie not under pretext of humility, 
for I know, I know — do thou wait a while and thou shalt see." 
The Brother was mightily astonied in what wise he had perceived 
in spirit what had taken place so far off. Accordingly, not many 
days after, he that had given the offence unto the Brother, 
spurning the Religion, went out utterly, not seeking pardon 
from the Father, nor submitting unto the discipline of correction 
that was his due. Thus two things were made manifest at the 
same time in the ruin of this one man, to wit, the justice of the 
divine judgments, and the clear vision of the spirit of prophecy. 

14. In what wise Francis showed himself present unto them 
that were absent, by the working of the divine power, is clearly 
apparent from what hath been afore related, if we recall unto 
mind how in his absence he appeared unto the Brethren as one 
transfigured, in a chariot of fire, and how at the Chapter of Aries 

37 6 

Life of St. Francis 

he showed himself with arms outstretched after the likeness of 
a Cross. This we must believe to have been wrought by the 
divine ruling, that by the miraculous appearance of his bodily 
presence it might be abundantly evident how that his spirit was 
present in and penetrated by the light of the eternal wisdom, 
which is more moving than any motion* and goeth through all 
things by reason of her pureness, and entering into holy souls 
maketh them friends of God, and prophets. For the most 
exalted Teacher is wont to reveal His mysteries unto the babes 
and simple, as was first seen in David, the most lofty of the 
Prophets, and afterward in the Prince of the Apostles, Peter, and 
lastly in Francis, the little poor one of Christ. For these, albeit 
they were simple, and unskilled in letters, were made famous by 
the teaching of the Holy Spirit; the first a shepherd, to feed the 
flock of the Synagogue that was brought forth out of Egypt; 
the second a fisher, to fill the great net of the Church with a 
multitude of believers ; the last a merchantman, to buy the pearl 
of Gospel life, when that he had sold and disposed of all things 
for the sake of Christ, 



i. The truly faithful servant and minister of Christ, Francis, 
that he might faithfully and perfectly fulfil all things, strove 
most chiefly to exercise those virtues that he knew, by the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit, were most pleasing unto his God. 
Wherefore it came to pass that he fell into great striving with 
himself by reason of a doubt, the which that he might end — on 
his return after many days of prayer — he set before the Brethren 
that were his intimates. " What," saith he, "do ye counsel, 
Brethren, what do ye commend? Shall I devote myself unto 
prayer, or shall I go about preaching? Of a truth, I that am 
little, and simple, and rude in speech have received more grace 
of prayer than of speaking. Now in prayer, there seemeth to 
be the gain and heaping up of graces, in preaching, a certain 
giving out of the gifts received from heaven; in prayer, again, 
a cleansing of the inward feelings, and an union with the one, 
true, and highest good, together with a strengthening of virtue; 
in preaching, the spiritual feet wax dusty, and many things 

His Preaching 377 

distract a man, and discipline is relaxed. Finally, in prayer, we 
speak with God and hear Him, and live as it were the life of 
Angels, while we converse with Angels; in preaching, we must 
needs practise much condescension toward men and living 
among them as fellow-men must think, see, say, and hear such 
things as pertain unto men. Yet one tiling is there to set 
against these, the which in God's sight would seem to weigh more 
than they all, to wit, that the only-begotten Son of God, Who 
is the highest wisdom, left His Father's bosom for the salvation 
of souls, that, instructing the world by His ensample, He might 
preach the word of salvation unto men, whom He both redeemed 
at the cost of His sacred Blood, and cleansed in a laver and gave 
them to drink, keeping back naught of Himself, but for our 
salvation freely bestowing all. And forasmuch as we ought to 
do all things after the pattern of those things that was shown 
us in Him as on the lofty mount, it seemeth that it might be 
more acceptable unto God that, laying aside leisure, I should go 
forth unto the work." And albeit for many days he pondered 
over such sayings with the Brethren, he could not of a surety 
discern whether of the twain he should choose as more truly 
pleasing unto Christ. For albeit he had known many wondrous 
things through the spirit of prophecy, he was not able thereby 
to resolve this question clearly, the providence of God better 
ordaining, so that the merit of preaching might be made evident 
by an heavenly oracle, and the humility of Christ's servant be 
kept intact. 

2. He, true Brother Minor, was not ashamed to ask little 
things from those less than himself, albeit he had learnt great 
things from the greatest Teacher. For with an especial zeal 
he was wont to enquire after what way and manner of life he 
might most perfectly serve God according unto His will. This 
was his highest philosophy, this his highest desire, so long as 
he lived, so that he would enquire of wise and simple, of perfect 
and imperfect, of young and old, in what wise he might with 
most holiness attain unto the summit of perfection. Therefore, 
calling unto him twain of the Brethren, he sent them unto 
Brother Silvester — he that had seen the Cross proceeding from 
his mouth, and was at that time giving himself up unto con- 
tinuous prayer in the mountain above Assisi — that he might 
seek an answer from God concerning this doubt, and announce 
it unto him from the Lord. This same bidding he laid upon the 
holy virgin Clare, that through some of the purer and simpler 
of the virgins that were living under her rule, yea, and through 


Life of St. Francis 

her own prayers united with those of the other Sisters, she 
might ascertain the will of the Lord touching this matter. The 
reverend priest and the virgin vowed unto God were marvel- 
lously in agreement concerning this, the Holy Spirit revealing 
it unto them, to wit, that it was the divine will that the herald 
of Christ should go forth to preach. When, therefore, the 
Brethren returned, and, according unto what they had heard, 
pointed out the will of God, Francis forthwith rose and girded 
himself, and without any delay set forth on his journey. And 
with such fervour did he go, to fulfil the divine behest, and with 
such speed did he hasten on his way, that he seemed — the hand 
of the Lord being upon him — to have put on new power from 

3. When he drew nigh unto Bevagna he came unto a spot 
wherein a great multitude of birds of divers species were 
gathered together. When the holy man of God perceived them, 
he ran with all speed unto the place and greeted them as if they 
shared in human understanding. They on their part all awaited 
him and turned toward him, those that were perched on bushes 
bending their heads as he drew nigh them, and looking on him 
in unwonted wise, while he came right among them, and dili- 
gently exhorted them all to hear the word of God, saying, " My 
brothers the birds, much ought ye to praise your Creator, Who 
hath clothed you with feathers and given you wings to fly, and 
hath made over unto you the pure air, and careth for you 
without your taking thought for yourselves." While he was 
speaking unto them these and other like words, the little birds — 
behaving themselves in wondrous wise — began to stretch their 
necks, to spread their wings, to open their beaks, and to look 
intently on him. He, with wondrous fervour of spirit, passed 
in and out among them, touching them with his habit, nor did 
one of them move from the spot until he had made the sign of 
the Cross over them and given them leave; then, with the 
blessing of the man of God, they all flew away together. All 
these things were witnessed by his companions that stood 
awaiting him by the way. Returning unto them, the simple 
and holy man began to blame himself for neglect in that he had 
not afore then preached unto the birds. 

4. Thence, while going among the neighbouring places to 
preach, he came unto a town named Alviano, where, when the 
folk were gathered together and silence had been bidden, he 
could yet scarce be heard by reason of the swallows that were 
there building their nests, and twittering with shrill cries. The 

His Preaching 379 

man of God, in the hearing of all, addressed them, and said, 
:< My sisters the swallows, 'tis now time that I too should speak, 
seeing that until now ye have said your say. Hearken unto 
the word of God, and keep silence, until the preaching of the 
Lord be ended." Then they, as though gifted with under- 
standing, on a sudden fell silent, nor moved from the spot until 
the whole preaching was finished. All they that saw it were 
filled with amazement, and glorified God. The report of this 
marvel spread on all sides, and kindled in many reverence for 
the Saint, and devotion unto the faith. 

5. Again, in the city of Parma, a scholar of good disposition 
that with his comrades was busily intent on study, was troubled 
by the importunate twittering of a certain swallow, and began 
to say unto his comrades, " This swallow is one of those that 
troubled the man of God, Francis, on a time when he was 
preaching, until he bade them be silent." Then, turning unto 
the swallow, with all confidence he said, " In the name of 
Francis, the servant of God, I bid thee come hither to me 
forthwith, and keep silence." Then the bird, hearing the name 
Francis, like one instructed by the teaching of the man of God, 
at once fell silent, and withal gave herself up into his hands as 
though into safe keeping. The scholar, in amazement, forth- 
with set her free again, and heard her twittering no more. 

6. On another time, when the servant of God was preaching 
on the seashore at Gaeta, crowds gathered about him out of 
devotion, that they might touch him; whereupon the servant 
of Christ, shrinking from such homage of the folk, leapt alone 
into a little boat that was lying by the beach. And the boat, 
as though impelled by a reasoning power from within, without 
any rowing put out unto some distance from land, while all 
beheld it and marvelled. But when it was withdrawn some 
little distance into deep water, it stayed motionless among the 
waves, while the holy man preached unto the waiting crowds 
upon the shore. When the discourse was ended, and the 
miracle perceived, and his blessing given, the throng gave 
place, in order that they might no more disturb him, and the 
little boat of its own guidance put in again unto land. 

Who then could be of so obstinate and wicked mind as to 
despise the preaching of Francis, by whose wondrous might it 
came to pass that not only creatures lacking reason were 
amenable unto his correction, but that even lifeless objects, as 
though they had life, ministered unto him while preaching? 

7. Thus there was ever present with His servant Francis, 

380 Life of St. Francis 

in whatsoever he did, He Who had anointed him and sent him, 
the Spirit of the Lord, yea, and Christ Himself, Who is the 
power of God and the wisdom of God, that he might abound in 
words of healthful teaching and shine in the light of miracles 
of great power. For his speech was as a burning fire, penetrating 
the secrets of the heart, and he filled the minds of all with 
amazement, since he set forth no adornments of men's invention, 
but savoured of the breath of divine revelation. Thus on a 
time, when he was about to preach in the presence of the Pope 
and the Cardinals, at the suggestion of the lord Bishop of Ostia 
he had committed unto memory a certain carefully prepared 
sermon, and, standing in the midst to set forth the words of 
edification, found that he had so utterly forgotten it all as that 
he knew not how to speak a word thereof. When with fruitful 
humility he had confessed this, he set himself to invoke the 
grace of the Holy Spirit, and forthwith began to pour forth 
words so mighty in effect, and of such wondrous power to move 
the minds of those illustrious men unto repentance, as that it 
was manifestly seen that it was not himself that spake, but the 
Spirit of the Lord. 

8. And forasmuch as he did himself first practise that which 
he afterward preached unto others, he feared none that might 
blame him, but did most faithfully preach the truth. It was 
not his way to smooth over the faults of any, but to smite them, 
nor to flatter the life of sinners, but rather to aim at it with 
stern reproofs. Unto great and small alike he spake with the 
same firm spirit, and he would as joyfully address him unto few 
as unto many. Folk of every age and either sex hastened to 
see and to hear this man, newly given unto the world from 
heaven. He, indeed, as he went throughout divers districts, 
preached the Gospel with fervour, the Lord working with him 
and confirming the word with signs following. For in the power 
of His Name Francis, the herald of the truth, did cast forth 
demons, heal the sick, and, what is more, by the might of his 
preaching did soften and make penitent hard hearts, restoring 
health unto body and mind at the same time, even as the 
instances of his working to be cited below give proof. 

9. In the city of Toscanella, he was devoutly entertained as 
guest by a certain Knight, whose only son was crippled from 
birth; at his own urgent entreaty, he raised him with his hands, 
and so suddenly made him whole that, in the sight of all, his 
limbs were all forthwith strengthened, and the boy, made whole 
and strong, rose up at once, walking and leaping and praising God. 

His Preaching 381 

In the city of Narni, when, at the entreaty of the Bishop, he 
had made the sign of the Cross from head to foot over a certain 
paralytic who had lost the use of all his limbs, he restored him 
perfectly unto health. 

In the diocese of Rieti, a boy that from the age of four had 
been so swollen that he could in no wise look on his own legs, 
was brought unto him by his mother with tears, and forthwith, 
when the Saint touched him with his holy hands, was healed. 

In the city of Orte, a boy was so deformed that his head 
rested on his feet, and some of his bones were broken; he, when 
Francis at the tearful entreaties of his parents had made the 
sign of the Cross over him, on a sudden stood upright and was 
from that moment unloosed. 

10. A certain woman in the city of Gubbio had both her 
hands so withered and paralysed that she could do no work 
with them; she, when Francis had made the sign of the Cross 
over her in the name of the Lord, gained such absolute healing 
that, returning home forthwith, she prepared with her own 
hands food for him and for the poor, even as Peter's wife's 
mother did. 

A girl in the town of Bevagna had lost her sight, but when 
her eyes had been thrice anointed with his spittle in the name 
of the Trinity she regained her longed-for sight. 

A woman in the city of Narni, stricken with blindness, when 
the sign of the Cross was made over her by Francis, recovered 
the sight she yearned for. 

A boy in Bologna had one of his eyes so clouded by a spot 
that he could see nothing therewith, nor find relief by any 
remedy; howbeit when the servant of the Lord had made the 
sign of the Cross over him from head to foot, he recovered his 
sight perfectly, insomuch as that, entering the Order of Brothers 
Minor thereafter, he affirmed that he saw far better with the eye 
that aforetime was clouded than with the eye that had been 
alway sound. 

In the town of San Gemini, the servant of God was received 
as guest by a certain devout man whose wife was tormented 
by a demon; after he had prayed, he commanded the demon 
on obedience to go out from her, and by the divine power put 
him so instantly to flight as that it became clearly evident that 
the audacity of demons availeth not to resist the power of holy 

In Citta di Castello, a raging and evil spirit possessed a woman; 
he, charged on obedience by the holy man, went out in wrath, 

3 82 

Life of St. Francis 

leaving the woman that had been possessed free alike in mind 
and body. 

ii. One of the Brethren was afflicted with such an horrible 
disease as that it was asserted of many to be rather a tormenting 
from demons than a natural sickness. For ofttimes he was 
quite dashed down on the ground, and wallowed foaming, with 
his limbs now drawn up, now stretched forth, now folded, now 
twisted, now become rigid and fixed. At times he was quite 
stretched out and stiff, and with his feet on a level with his head, 
would be raised into the air, and would then fall back again in 
dreadful fashion. The servant of Christ, full of compassion, 
pitied him in his so lamentable and incurable sickness, and sent 
unto him a morsel of the bread wherefrom he had been eating. 
When the sick man had tasted the bread, he received such power 
as that never thenceforward did he suffer trouble from that 

In the province of Arezzo, a woman for many days had laboured 
in childbirth, and was now nigh unto death; she was utterly 
despairing of her life, and no resource was left her but in God. 
Now the servant of Christ, by reason of his bodily weakness, 
had travelled on horseback through those regions, and it chanced 
that the beast was led back through the village wherein the 
woman lay suffering. The men of the place, seeing the horse 
whereon the holy man had sat, took off the bridle, that they 
might lay it on the woman, and at the marvellous touch thereof 
all danger was banished, and the woman forthwith was delivered 
in safety. 

A certain man of Citta della Pieve, devout and one that feared 
God, had by him a cord wherewith the holy Father had been 
girt. Whereas a great number of men and women in that city 
were afflicted by divers diseases, he went among the homes of 
them that were sick, and, dipping the cord in water, gave drink 
therefrom unto the sufferers, and thus by this means very many 
were cured. Moreover, the sick who tasted of bread touched 
by the man of God, by the efficacy of the divine power obtained 
right speedily healing cures. 

12. Forasmuch as the preaching of the herald of Christ was 
illuminated by these and many other portents and miracles, the 
words that fell from him were listened for as eagerly as though 
it were an Angel of the Lord speaking. For there was in him 
a surpassing excellence of the virtues, the spirit of prophecy, 
power of miracles, an eloquence in preaching inspired from 
heaven, the submission unto him of the creatures that lack 

The Sacred Stigmata 383 

reason, a mighty moving of men's hearts at the hearing of his 
words, a learning given him of the Holy Spirit beyond all human 
teaching, licence to preach granted him by the supreme Pontiff 
as the result of a revelation, yea, and the Rule too, wherein the 
manner of the preaching was set forth, confirmed by that same 
Vicar of Christ, and, finally, the signs of the King Most High 
imprinted on his body after the manner of a seal; these gave 
unanswerable evidence unto the whole world, as it were by ten 
witnesses, that Francis the herald of Christ was worthy of 
reverence in his ministry, was of authority in his teaching, and 
was to be marvelled at in his saintliness, and that through these 
virtues he had preached the Gospel of Christ like one that was 
indeed a messenger of God. 



i. It was the custom of that angelic man, Francis, never to be 
slothful in good, but rather, like the heavenly spirits on Jacob's 
ladder, to be ever ascending toward God, or stooping toward his 
neighbour. For he had learnt so wisely to apportion the time 
granted unto him for merit that one part thereof he would spend 
in labouring for the profit of his neighbours, the other he would 
devote unto the peaceful ecstasies of contemplation. Where- 
fore, when according unto the demands of time and place he had 
stooped to secure the salvation of others, he would leave behind 
the disturbances of throngs, and seek a hidden solitude and a 
place for silence, wherein, giving himself up more freely unto the 
Lord, he might brush off any dust that was clinging unto him 
from his converse with men. Accordingly, two years before he 
yielded his spirit unto heaven, the divine counsel leading him, 
he was brought after many and varied toils unto an high moun- 
tain apart, that is called Mount Alverna. When, according unto 
his wont, he began to keep a Lent there, fasting, in honour of Saint 
Michael Archangel, he was filled unto overflowing, and as never 
before, with the sweetness of heavenly contemplation, and was 
kindled with a yet more burning flame of heavenly longings, 
and began to feel the gifts of the divine bestowal heaped upon 
him. He was borne into the heights, not like a curious examiner 
of the divine majesty that is weighed down by the glory thereof, 
but even as a faithful and wise servant, searching out the will of 


Life of St. Francis 

God, unto Whom it was ever his fervent and chief desire to 
conform himself in every way. 

2. Thus by the divine oracle it was instilled into his mind 
that by opening of the Book of the Gospels it should be revealed 
unto him of Christ what would be most pleasing unto God 
in him and from him. Wherefore, having first prayed very 
devoutly, he took the holy Book of the Gospels from the altar, 
and made it be opened, in the name of the Holy Trinity, by his 
companion, a man devoted unto God, and holy. As in the 
threefold opening of the Book the Lord's Passion was each time 
discovered, Francis, full of the Spirit of God, verily understood 
that, like as he had imitated Christ in the deeds of his life, so it 
behoved him to be made like unto Him in the trials and suffer- 
ings of His Passion before that he should depart from this world. 
And, albeit by reason of the great austerity of his past life, and 
continual sustaining of the Lord's Cross, he was now frail in 
body, he was no whit afeared, but was the more valorously in- 
spired to endure a martyrdom. For in him the all-powerful 
kindling of love of the good Jesu had increased into coals of fire, 
which hath a most vehement flame, so that many waters could 
not quench his love, so strong it was. 

3. When, therefore, by seraphic glow of longing he had been 
uplifted toward God, and by his sweet compassion had been 
transformed into the likeness of Him Who of His exceeding love 
endured to be crucified — on a certain morning about the Feast 
of the Exaltation of Holy Cross, while he was praying on the side 
of the mountain, he beheld a Seraph having six wings, flaming 
and resplendent, coming down from the heights of heaven. 
When in his flight most swift he had reached the space of air 
nigh the man of God, there appeared betwixt the wings the 
Figure of a Man crucified, having his hands and feet stretched 
forth in the shape of a Cross, and fastened unto a Cross. Two 
wings were raised above His head, twain were spread forth to 
fly, while twain hid His whole body. Beholding this, Francis 
was mightily astonied, and joy, mingled with sorrow, filled his 
heart. He rejoiced at the gracious aspect wherewith he saw 
Christ, under the guise of the Seraph, regard him, but His 
crucifixion pierced his soul with a sword of pitying grief. He 
marvelled exceedingly at the appearance of a vision so un- 
fathomable, knowing that the infirmity of the Passion doth in 
no wise accord with the immortality of a Seraphic spirit. At 
length he understood therefrom, the Lord revealing it unto him, 
that this vision had been thus presented unto his gaze by the 

The Sacred Stigmata 385 

divine providence, that the friend of Christ might have fore- 
knowledge that he was to be wholly transformed into the like- 
ness of Christ Crucified, not by martyrdom of body, but by 
enkindling of heart. Accordingly, as the vision disappeared, 
it left in his heart a wondrous glow, but on his flesh also it im- 
printed a no less wondrous likeness of its tokens. For forthwith 
there began to appear in his hands and feet the marks of the 
nails, even as he had just beheld them in that Figure of the 
Crucified. For his hands and feet seemed to be pierced through 
the midst with nails, the heads of the nails showing in the palms 
of the hands, and upper side of the feet, and their points showing 
on the other side; the heads of the nails were round and black 
in the hands and feet, while the points were long, bent, and as 
it were turned back, being formed of the flesh itself, and pro- 
truding therefrom. The right side, moreover, was — as if it had 
been pierced by a lance — seamed with a ruddy scar, where from 
ofttimes welled the sacred blood, staining his habit and breeches. 
4. Now the servant of Christ perceived that the stigmata 
thus manifestly imprinted on his flesh could not be hidden from 
his intimate friends; nevertheless, fearing to make public the 
holy secret of the Lord, he was set in a great strife of questioning, 
to wit, whether he should tell that which he had seen, or should 
keep it silent. Wherefore he called some of the Brethren, and, 
speaking unto them in general terms, set before them his doubt, 
and asked their counsel. Then one of the Brethren, Illuminato 
b)'- name, and illuminated by grace, perceiving that he had 
beheld some marvellous things, inasmuch as that he seemed almost 
stricken dumb with amaze, said unto the holy man, " Brother, 
thou knowest that at times the divine secrets are shown unto 
thee, not only for thine own sake, but for the sake of others also. 
Wherefore, meseemeth thou wouldst have reason to fear lest 
thou shouldst be judged guilty of hiding thy talent, didst thou 
keep hidden that which thou hast received, which same would 
be profitable unto many." At this speech, the holy man was 
moved, so that, albeit at other times he was wont to say, " My 
secret to me," 1 he did then with much fear narrate in order the 
vision aforesaid, adding that He who had appeared unto him 
had said some words the which, so long as he lived, he would 
never reveal unto any man. Verily we must believe that those 
utterances of that holy Seraph marvellously appearing on the 
Cross were so secret that perchance it was not lawful for a man to 
utter them. 

1 Isa. xxiv. 16 (marg. A.V.). 

386 Life of St. Francis 

5. Now after that the true love of Christ had transformed 
His lover into the same image, and after that he had spent forty- 
days in solitude, as he had determined, when the Feast of Saint 
Michael Archangel came, this angelic man, Francis, descended 
from the mountain, bearing with him the likeness of the Cruci- 
fied, engraven, not on tables of stone or of wood, by the crafts- 
man's hand, but written on his members of flesh by the finger of 
the Living God. And forasmuch as it is good to keep close the 
secret of a King, the man that shared this so royal secret did 
ever hide those sacred signs as best he might. Howbeit, since 
it pertaineth unto God to reveal the great things that He doth 
for His glory, the Lord Himself, Who had imprinted those seals 
upon him in secret, wrought divers miracles openly by means 
thereof, that the hidden and wondrous power of those stigmata 
might be demonstrated by the well-known fame of the signs 
that followed. 

6. Thus, in the province of Rieti, there had prevailed a very 
grievous plague, the which devoured all oxen and sheep so 
cruelly that no succour had been of any avail. But a certain 
man that feared God was warned at night by a vision to go in 
haste unto an hermitage of the Brethren, and obtain some water 
that had washed the hands and feet of the servant of God, 
Francis, who at that time was sojourning there, and to sprinkle 
it over all the animals. Accordingly, he rose at dawn, and 
came unto the place, and, having secretly obtained this water 
from the companions of the holy man, he sprinkled therewith 
the sheep and oxen that were diseased. Wondrous to relate, 
so soon as the sprinkling, were it but a drop, fell upon the sick 
animals as they lay on the ground, they recovered their former 
strength, and got up forthwith, and, as though they had felt no 
sickness, hastened unto the pastures ! Thus it befell, through 
the marvellous virtue of that water that had touched the sacred 
wounds, that the whole plague was at once stayed, and the 
contagious sickness banished from the flocks and herds. 

7. In the neighbourhood of the aforesaid Mount Alverna, 
before that the holy man had sojourned there, a cloud was wont 
to arise from the mountain, and a fierce hailstorm to lay waste 
the fruits of the earth. But after that blessed vision, to the 
amazement of the inhabitants, the hail ceased, that the excel- 
lence of that heavenly apparition and the virtue of the stigmata 
that were there imprinted might be attested by the very face 
of the heavens, made calm beyond its wont. 

Moreover, it befell one winter season that, by reason of his 

The Sacred Stigmata 387 

bodily infirmity, and of the roughness of the roads, he was 
riding on a poor man's ass, and was obliged to pass the night 
under the edge of an overhanging rock, that he might by any 
means escape the inconveniences of the snow and night that 
had overtaken them, the which hindered him so that he was 
not able to reach the place wherein he was to lodge. And when 
Francis perceived that this man was muttering, sighing, and 
complaining, and was tossing himself to and fro, like one thinly 
clad, and unable to sleep by reason of the bitter cold — he, 
kindled with the glow of the love divine, touched him with his 
outstretched hand. Marvellous to relate, so soon as that holy 
hand that bore the burning of the live coal of the Seraph touched 
him, his sense of cold was utterly banished, and as great a 
warmth came upon him within and without as if the flaming 
breath from the mouth of a furnace had blown upon him. 
Strengthened thereby in mind and body, he slept more sweetly 
until the morning among the rocks and snow than he had ever 
done resting in his own bed, even as he himself did thereafter 

Wherefore it is proven by sure tokens that those sacred seals 
were imprinted by the might of Him Who doth by the ministry 
of Seraphs purify, enlighten, and kindle, seeing that they 
brought health out of pestilence by driving it forth, and with 
wondrous efficacy bestowed ease and warmth upon men's bodies, 
even as after his death was shown by yet more clear portents 
that shall be related hereafter in their own place. 

8. Francis himself, albeit he strove with great diligence to 
hide the treasure found in the field, could nevertheless not so 
conceal it as that some should not behold the stigmata in his 
hands and feet, although he almost always kept his hands 
covered, and from that time forth wore sandals on his feet. 
For, while he yet lived, many Brethren saw them, who, albeit 
they were men worthy of all trust by reason of their especial 
holiness, did yet for the removal of all doubt swear a solemn 
oath, laying their hands on thrice-holy things, that so it was, 
and that they had seen it. Moreover, some Cardinals, during 
the intimate intercourse that they held with the holy man, 
beheld them, and these composed truthful praises of the sacred 
stigmata, in prose, and verse, and antiphons, which they pub- 
lished in his honour, giving their witness alike in word and 
in writing unto the truth. The Supreme Pontiff, moreover, 
the lord Alexander, whenas he was preaching in the presence of 
many Brethren, myself among them, declared that he, during 

388 Life of St. Francis 

the lifetime of the Saint, had beheld with his own eyes those 
sacred stigmata. At the time of his death, more than fifty 
Brethren beheld them, as did Clare, that virgin most devoted 
unto God, with the rest of her Sisters, and countless seculars, 
many of whom, as shall be told in its own place, both kissed 
them with devout emotion, and touched them with their hands, 
to confirm their witness. 

Howbeit, the wound in his side he so needfully concealed 
as that during his lifetime none might behold it, save by stealth. 
Thus one of the Brethren, who was wont solicitously to tend 
him — having prevailed on him with holy caution to doff his 
habit that it might be shaken out — by looking closely, beheld 
the wound, and moreover, by laying three fingers upon it with 
an hasty touch, learnt the extent thereof alike by sight and by 
touch. With a like precaution the Brother that was then his 
Vicar beheld it. And a Brother of wondrous simplicity, that 
was his companion, while he was rubbing his shoulder-blades 
by reason of a pain and weakness that he suffered therein, put 
his hand within his hood, and by an accident let it fall on the 
sacred wound, inflicting great pain on him. Thenceforward he 
wore his under-garments so made as that they reached right 
unto his armpits, to cover the wound in the side. Moreover, 
the Brethren who washed these, or shook out his habit as 
occasion demanded, finding them stained with blood, by this 
manifest token arrived at an assured knowledge of the sacred 
wound, whose appearance, revealed thereafter at his death, 
they too, in company with very many others, gazed upon and 
venerated withal. 

9. Up then, most valiant knight of Christ ! Bear the armour 
of that most invincible Captain, equipped and adorned where- 
with thou shalt overcome all enemies. Bear the standard of 
the King Most High, the which to look upon inspireth all the 
warriors of the host of God. Bear no less the seal of the Chief 
Priest, Christ, whereby thy words and deeds shall be deservedly 
received as blameless and authoritative by all men. For from 
henceforth, by reason of the marks of the Lord Jesus, which 
thou dost bear in thy body, let no man trouble thee, nay rather, 
let whosoever is the servant of Christ be constrained unto deepest 
devotion and love for thee. For now by these most clear 
tokens — proven, not by the two or three witnesses that be 
enough to establish a matter, but by a multitude, over and 
above what was necessary — the witness of God in thee, and the 
things wrought through thee worthy of all belief, take from the 

The Sacred Stigmata 389 

infidels every pretext or excuse, while that they strengthen 
believers in faith, uplift them by confidence of hope, and kindle 
them with the fire of charity. 

10. Now, verily, is that first vision fulfilled, which thou sawest, 
to wit, that thou shouldst become a captain in the warfare 
of Christ, and shouldst be accoutred with heavenly armour, 
marked with the sign of the Cross. Now that vision of the 
Crucified, that, at the outset of thy conversion, pierced thy 
soul with a sword of pitying sorrow, yea, and the sound of the 
Voice from the Cross, proceeding as though from the exalted 
throne of Christ and His hidden place of atonement — as thou 
didst declare in thy holy converse — are shown to have been 
true beyond a doubt. Now, too, the Cross that, as thou madest 
progress in thy conversion, was seen of Brother Silvester mar- 
vellously coming forth from thy mouth — the swords, too, that 
the holy Pacifico saw laid crosswise upon thee, piercing thine 
heart — and thine appearance uplifted in the air with arms 
outstretched after the manner of a Cross, while the holy Antony 
was preaching on the title of the Cross, as that angelic man, 
Monaldo, beheld; — these all are verily shown and proven to 
have been seen, not in imaginations of the brain, but by revela- 
tion from heaven. Now, finally, that vision that was vouch- 
safed thee toward the end of thy life — to wit, the exalted like- 
ness of the Seraph, and the lowly Image of Christ shown in one 
— kindling thee inwardly and marking thee outwardly as another 
Angel ascending from the sunrising, having the seal of the 
Living God in thee — giveth a confirmation of faith unto those 
visions aforesaid, and likewise receiveth from them a witness 
unto its own truth. Lo, by these seven appearances of the 
Cross of Christ in thee and about thee, marvellously set forth 
and shown in order of time, thou hast attained, as though by 
six steps, unto that seventh, where thou dost make an end, and 
rest. For the Cross of Christ was at the outset of thy conver- 
sion both set before thee, and taken up by thee, and thence- 
forward as thou madest progress in thy conversion, it was 
unceasingly sustained by thee throughout thy most holy life, 
and was shown as an ensample unto others with such clearness 
and certainty that it demonstrateth that at the end thou didst 
arrive at the summit of Gospel perfection; thus none that is 
truly devout will reject this sho wing-forth of Christ-like wisdom 
written in thy mortal dust, none that is a true believer will 
impeach it, none that is truly humble will lightly esteem it, 
seeing that it is verily set forth of God, and right worthy of all 

390 Life of St. Francis 



i. Francis, now crucified with Christ alike in flesh and in 
spirit, while glowing with seraphic love toward God, did also 
thirst, even as did Christ Crucified, for the multitudes of them 
that should be saved. Wherefore, being unable to walk by 
reason of the nails protruding from his feet, he caused himself 
to be borne round cities and castled villages, emaciated as he 
was, that he might incite others to bear the Cross of Christ. 
And unto the Brethren also he would say, " Let us begin, 
Brethren, to serve our Lord God, for until now we have made 
but little progress." So mightily did he yearn to return unto 
the first beginnings of humility that he would serve the lepers 
as he had done at the outset, and would recall unto its early 
ministries his body that was now broken down by toils. Under 
Christ's leadership, he was minded to do mighty deeds, and, 
albeit his limbs were waxing feeble, yet, strong and glowing in 
spirit, he hoped in this new contest to vanquish the foe. For 
there is no room for languor or sloth where the spur of love ever 
urgeth on unto greater things. Yet in him the flesh was so 
much in agreement with the spirit, and so ready to obey, as 
that when the spirit strove to attain unto perfect holiness, the 
flesh not only refrained from thwarting it, but did even hasten 
to forestall it. 

2. Now in order that the merits of the man of God might be 
increased — merits that of a truth do all find their consumma- 
tion in endurance — he began to suffer from divers ailments so 
grievously that scarce one of his limbs was free from pain and 
sore suffering. At length by divers sicknesses, prolonged and 
continuous, he was brought unto such a point that his flesh 
was wasted away, and only as it were the skin clave unto his 
bones. While he was afflicted by such grievous bodily suffering, 
he would call his pangs not punishments, but sisters. And 
when once he was harassed more sorely than usual by sharp 
pains, a certain simple Brother said unto him, " Brother, pray 
the Lord that He deal more gently with thee, for meseemeth 
that His hand is laid more heavily on thee than is right." 
Hearing this, the holy man groaned, and cried out, saying, 
" Did I not know the simple purity that is in thee, I would from 
henceforth have shunned thy company, for that thou hast 

His Sufferings and Death 391 

dared to deem the divine counsels concerning me meet for blame." 
And albeit he was wholly worn out by the long continuance of 
his grievous sickness, he cast himself on the ground, jarring his 
frail bones in the hard fall. And, kissing the ground, he cried, 
" I give Thee thanks, Lord God, for all these my pains, and 
I beseech Thee, my Lord, that, if it please Thee, Thou wilt add 
unto them an hundredfold; for this will be most acceptable unto 
me if laying sorrow upon me Thou dost not spare, since the 
fulfilling of Thy holy will is unto me an overflowing solace." 
Thus he seemed unto the Brethren like another Job, whose powers 
of mind increased even as his bodily weakness increased. But 
he himself knew long before his death when it should be, and, 
when the day of his departure was at hand, said unto the 
Brethren that he was about to put off the tabernacle of his 
body, even as it had been revealed unto him of Christ. 

3. When, therefore, during the two years after the impression 
of the sacred stigmata, to wit, in the twentieth year from his 
conversion, he had been shaped by many trial blows of painful 
sicknesses, like unto a stone meet to be set in the building of the 
heavenly Jerusalem, and as it were an hammered work that 
under the mallet of manifold trials is brought unto perfection — 
he asked to be borne unto Saint Mary of the Little Portion, that 
he might yield up the breath of life there, where he had received 
the breath of grace. When he had been brought thither — that 
he might give an ensample of the truth that he had naught in 
common with the world — in that most severe weakness that 
followed after all his sickness, he prostrated himself in fervour 
of spirit all naked on the naked earth, that in that last hour, 
wherein the foe might still rise up against him, he might wrestle 
in his nakedness with that naked spirit. As he lay thus on the 
ground, his habit of haircloth laid aside, he lifted his face, as 
was his wont, toward heaven, and, wholly absorbed in that 
glory, covered with his left hand the wound in his right side, 
that it might not be seen, and said unto the Brethren, " I have 
done what was mine to do, may Christ teach you what is yours." 

4. While the companions of the Saint were weeping, stricken 
with keen pangs of pity, one of them, whom the man of God had 
said should be his Warden, knowing by divine inspiration his 
wish, rose in haste, and taking an habit, with the cord and 
breeches, brought it unto the little poor one of Christ, saying, 
" These I lend unto thee, as unto a beggar, and do thou receive 
them at the bidding of holy obedience." At this the holy man 
rejoiced, and exulted in gladness of heart, for that he saw that 

392 Life of St. Francis 

he had kept faith with the Lady Poverty even unto the end, 
and raising his hands unto heaven, he glorified his Christ for 
that, freed from all burdens, he was going unhindered unto Him. 
For all this he had done in his zeal for poverty, being minded to 
possess not even an habit, unless it were lent him by another. 
He was verily minded in all things to be made like unto Christ 
Crucified, Who had hung on the Cross in poverty, and grief, and 
nakedness. Wherefore, as at the outset of his conversion he 
had stood naked before the Bishop, so in the ending of his life 
he was minded to quit the world naked. He charged the 
Brethren that stood around him, on their loving obedience, 
that when they saw that he was dead, they should leave him 
lying naked on the ground for so long time as a man would take 
leisurely to compass the distance of a thousand paces. truly 
Christ-like man, who strove alike in life to imitate the life of 
Christ; in dying, His dying; in death, His death, by a perfect 
likeness, and was found worthy to be adorned with an outward 
likeness unto Him! 

5. Then, as the hour of his departure was fast approaching, he 
made all the Brethren that were in the place be called unto him 
and, consoling them for his death with words of comfort, ex- 
horted them with fatherly tenderness unto the love of God. 
He spake long of observing patience, and poverty, and fidelity 
unto the Holy Roman Church, placing the Holy Gospel before all 
other ordinances. Then as all the Brethren sat around him, 
he stretched his hands over them, crossing his arms in the like- 
ness of the Cross, for that he did ever love that sign, and he 
blessed all the Brethren, present and absent alike, in the might 
and in the Name of the Crucified. He added, moreover, " Be 
strong, all ye my sons, in the fear of the Lord, and abide therein 
for ever. And, since temptation will come, and trials draw 
nigh, blessed are they who shall continue in the works that they 
have begun. I for my part make haste to go unto God, unto 
Whose grace I commend you all." When he had made an end 
of gentle exhortations after this wise, this man most beloved of 
God asked them to bring him the book of the Gospels, and to 
read unto him from the Gospel according unto John, beginning 
at that place, " Before the feast of the Passover." Then he 
himself, as best he could, brake forth into the words of that 
Psalm, " I cried unto the Lord with my voice, with my voice 
unto the Lord did I make my supplication," and went through 
even unto the end, saying, " The righteous shall compass me 
about, for Thou shalt deal bountifully with me." 

His Sufferings and Death 393 

6. At length, when all the mysteries had been fulfilled in him, 
and his most holy spirit was freed from the flesh, and absorbed 
into the boundless depths of the divine glory, the blessed man 
fell on sleep in the Lord. One of his Brethren and disciples saw 
that blessed soul, under the likeness of a star exceeding bright, 
borne on a dazzling cloudlet over many waters, mounting in a 
straight course unto heaven, as though it were radiant with 
the dazzling whiteness of his exalted sanctity, and filled with 
the riches of divine wisdom and grace alike, by the which the 
holy man was found worthy to enter the abode of light and 
peace, where with Christ he resteth for evermore. Moreover, 
a Brother named Augustine, who was then Minister of the 
Brethren in Terra di Lavoro, an holy and upright man, having 
come unto his last hour, and some time previously having lost 
the power of speech, in the hearing of them that stood by did 
on a sudden cry out and say, " Tarry for me, Father, tarry for 
me, lo, even now I am coming with thee ! " When the Brethren 
asked and marvelled much unto whom he thus boldly spake, 
he made answer, " Did ye not see our Father, Francis, who goeth 
unto heaven? " And forthwith his holy soul, departing from 
the body, followed the most holy Father. 

The Bishop of Assisi at that time had gone on pilgrimage 
unto the Oratory of Saint Michael on Monte Gargano, and unto 
him the Blessed Francis, appearing on the night of his departure, 
said, " Behold, I leave the world and go unto heaven." The 
Bishop, then, rising at dawn, related unto his companions that 
which he had seen, and returned unto Assisi; there, when he had 
made diligent enquiry, he learnt of a certainty that in that hour 
whereof the vision had notified him, the blessed Father had 
departed from this world. 

At the hour of the passing of the holy man, the larks — birds 
that love the light, and dread the shades of twilight — flocked in 
great numbers unto the roof of the house, albeit the shades of 
night were then falling, and, wheeling round it for a long while 
with songs even gladder than their wont, offered their witness, 
alike gracious and manifest, unto the glory of the Saint, who had 
been wont to call them unto, the divine praises. 

394 Life of St. Francis 



i. Francis, then, the servant and friend of the Most High, the 
founder and leader of the Order of Brothers Minor, the professor 
of poverty, the pattern of penitence, the herald of truth, the 
mirror of holiness, and ensample of all Gospel perfection — the 
heavenly grace preventing him — did make progress in ordered 
course from the depths unto the heights. This wondrous man, 
in poverty exceeding rich, in humility exalted, in mortification 
full of life, in simplicity wise, and in every grace of character 
noteworthy, whom in life the Lord had marvellously made 
illustrious, was made of Him in death incomparably more illus- 
trious. For as that blessed man departed from this world, his 
holy spirit entered the eternal mansions and was made glorious 
by a full draught of the fountain of life, while he left set forth 
in his body certain tokens that were to be his glory, so that his 
most undefiled flesh, that had been crucified with its lusts, and 
had become a new creature, did both set forth the image of 
Christ's Passion by its unexampled distinction, and prefigure 
the semblance of the Resurrection by the newness of the 

2. For in those blessed limbs were seen the nails marvellously 
fashioned out of his flesh by the divine might, and so implanted 
in that flesh that if they were pressed on one side they at once 
sprang back unto the other, like nerves that be joined together 
and taut. Moreover, there was manifestly seen in his body the 
scar of the wound in the side, nor inflicted nor wrought by man, 
but like unto the wounded side of the Saviour, the which, in 
Our Redeemer Himself, afforded us the holy mystery of man's 
redemption and regeneration. The appearance of the nails was 
black like iron, but the wound in the side was ruddy, and by a 
contraction of the flesh shaped as it were into a circle, in appear- 
ance like a rose most fair. The rest of his flesh — which afore- 
time both from his infirmities and from natural complexion had 
tended toward swarthiness — now shone with a dazzling white- 
ness, and was a type of the beauty of its second state and royal 

3. His limbs were so soft and pliant when touched as that 
they seemed to have returned unto the softness of childhood, 

His Canonisation 395 

and were seen to be adorned by divers clear tokens of innocence. 
Since, then, the nails showed forth black on this most dazzlingly 
white flesh, and the wound in the side showed ruddy as a rosy 
flower in Spring, it is no wonder that so fair and marvellous a 
contrast filled the beholders with gladness and marvelling. His 
sons were weeping for the loss of so loveworthy a Father, and 
yet they were filled with no small joy as they kissed the seals of 
the Most High King in him. The newness of the miracle changed 
mourning into exultation, and turned the examination of the 
reason into dumb amazement. Verily, this sight so unparalleled 
and so noteworthy was, unto all that beheld it, alike a confirma- 
tion of faith and an incitement unto love, while unto them that 
heard thereof it was a subject for marvelling, and the kindling 
of a yearning to behold it withal. 

4. When the departure of the blessed Father became known, 
and the report of the miracle was spread abroad, the folk 
gathered in haste unto the spot, that with their bodily eyes they 
might behold that which should dispel all doubt from their 
reasons, and should add rejoicing unto their love. Accordingly, 
very many of the citizens of Assisi were admitted to behold 
and to kiss those sacred stigmata. Now one among them, a 
learned and wise Knight, Jerome by name, a man illustrious and 
renowned, having had doubts concerning these sacred tokens, 
and having been an unbeliever like Thomas, did very eagerly 
and boldly, in the presence of the Brethren and of the other 
citizens, move the nails, and touch with his own hands the 
hands, feet, and side of the Saint; and thus it befell that, while 
touching those authentic marks of the wounds of Christ, he cut 
away every wound of unbelief from his own heart and the hearts 
of all. Wherefore he became thereafter a constant witness, 
among others, unto this truth that he had learnt with such 
certainty, and confirmed it by an oath, laying his hands on 
thrice-holy things. 

5. Now his Brethren and sons, that had been summoned for 
the passing of their Father, together with the entire assembly 
of the folk, devoted that night wherein Christ's dear Confessor 
had departed unto divine praises, in such wise that they seemed 
no mourners for the dead, but a watch of Angels. When morn- 
ing came, the crowds that had come together, carrying branches 
of trees and many wax lights, brought the holy body unto the 
city of Assisi, with hymns and chants. Moreover, they passed 
by the church of Saint Damian, where at that time that noble 
virgin Clare, now glorified in heaven, abode cloistered with her 

396 Life of St. Francis 

Sisters; and there for a space they stayed, and set down the 
holy body, adorned with those heavenly pearls, that it might 
be seen and embraced by those holy virgins. Coming at length 
with rejoicing unto the city, they laid the precious treasure that 
they were bearing in the church of Saint George, with all 
reverence. In that very place, Francis as a little boy had learned 
his letters, and there it was that he first preached in after days, 
and there, finally, he found his first resting-place. 

6. Now the holy Father departed from the shipwreck of this 
world in the year 1226 of the Lord's Incarnation, on the fourth 
day of October, at late even of a Saturday, and on the Sunday 
he was buried. 

At once the holy man began to shine in the glory of many 
and great miracles, the light of the divine countenance being 
uplifted upon him, so that the loftiness of his holiness that, 
during his life, had been conspicuous in the world for the ruling 
of men's lives through its ensample of perfect uprightness, was, 
now that he himself was reigning with Christ, approved from 
heaven by miracles of divine power, so that belief might be 
thoroughly confirmed. And since in divers parts of the world 
the glorious marvels wrought by him, and the great blessings 
won through him, were kindling many unto devotion unto 
Christ, and inciting them unto veneration for the Saint himself 
— so that men's tongues, as well as these deeds, were loud in his 
praise — it came'unto the ears of the Supreme Pontiff, the lord 
Gregory the Ninth, what great things God was working through 
His servant Francis. 

7. Of a truth, that Shepherd of the Church had been fully 
assured of his marvellous holiness, not alone by hearing of the 
miracles wrought after his death, but also by proofs during his 
life of what he had seen with his own eyes, and handled with 
his own hands, and he had put perfect faith therein; so that, 
by reason of this, he now in no wise doubted but that Francis 
was glorified of the Lord in heaven. Wherefore, that he might 
act in accord with Christ, Whose Vicar he was, he was minded, 
with devout consideration, to make the Saint famous on earth, 
as one most worthy of all reverence. Moreover, to gain the 
fullest assurance throughout the whole world for the glorifica- 
tion of that most holy man, he caused the miracles that were 
known of him to be written and approved by trusty witnesses, 
and then examined by those of the Cardinals that seemed least 
favourable unto the business. When they had been diligently 
discussed and approved of all, with the unanimous counsel and 

His Canonisation 397 

consent of his Brethren, and of all the Prelates that were then 
in the Curia, he decreed that he should be canonised. Accord- 
ingly, he came in person unto the city of Assisi in the year of 
the Lord's Incarnation 1228, on the sixteenth day of July, a 
Sunday, and with rites exceeding solemn, that it would take 
long to narrate, he enrolled the blessed Father in the list of the 

8. Now in the year of the Lord 1230, the Brethren assembled 
for a Chapter-General that was held at Assisi, and his body 
consecrated unto the Lord was translated unto the Church built 
in his honour on the twenty-fifth day of May. While that holy 
treasure, signed with the seal of the Most High King, was being 
removed, He Whose image it set forth deigned to work many 
miracles, that by the fragrance of its healing power the hearts 
of the faithful might be drawn to follow after Christ. Verily, 
it was right fitting that the blessed bones of him, whom God 
had made well-pleasing unto Him and beloved of Him in life, 
and whom He had carried unto heaven by the grace of con- 
templation, like Enoch, and had borne aloft into the sky in a 
fiery chariot, by his fervour of love, like Elias — being now 
among the heavenly Spring flowers of the everlasting planting, 
should flourish out of their place with a marvellous fragrance. 

9. Furthermore, even as that blessed man in life had been 
distinguished by marvellous tokens of virtue, so too from the 
day of his departure unto this present time, he doth shine 
throughout the divers parts of the world in the light of famed 
marvels and miracles, the divine power glorifying him. For 
the blind and the deaf, the dumb and the lame, the dropsical 
and the paralysed, the possessed and the leper, the shipwrecked 
and the captive, have found succour by his merits, and in all 
diseases, needs, and perils he hath been an aid. But in that 
many dead have been miraculously raised through him, there 
is made manifest unto the faithful the glorious working of the 
power of the Most High, exalting His Saint, and His is the 
honour and glory throughout the endless ages of eternity. 






37-39. Robertson's Sermons. (3 vols.) Introduction by- 
Canon Barnett. 

These three volumes include the complete series of sermons of F. W« 
Robertson of Brighton (1816-1853). The original four volumes have 
been re-arranged by Canon Barnett, who supplies a " Commendation." 

40. Latimer's Sermons. Introduction by Canon Beeching. 

The powerful sermons of Hugh Latimer (1490- 155 5), Protestant 
Martyr and some time Bishop of Worcester, are here edited in one vol., 
which includes the very curious " Sermons on the Cards " — " Let 
therefore every Christian man and woman play at these cards." 

90. Butler's Analogy of Religion. Introduction by Rev. 

Ronald Bayne. 

By " The Analogy of Religion Natural and Revealed " Bishop Butler 
(1692-1752) is said to have done for theology what Bacon did for science. 
" Others had established the historical and prophetical grounds of the 
Christian religion " — the words are from the inscription written by 
Southey for his monument in Bristol Cathedral — " it was reserved for 
him to develop its analogy to the constitution and course of nature." 

91. Law's Serious Call to a Devout And Holy Life. 

The work of William Law (1686-1761) is still exercising the pro- 
found influence which it originally had on the Wesleys. Nor must we 
forget Dr. Johnson's tribute to the " Serious Call," that it was the first 
occasion of his " thinking in earnest of religion after he became capable 
of rational inquiry." 

92. Browne's Religio Medici, etc. Introduction by Prof. 

C. H. Herford. 

This volume contains not only the most famous work of Sir Thomas 
Browne (1605-1682), but also " Hydriotaphia: Urn Burial" (1658) 
(hardly less wonderful for the magnificence of its style), " Letter to a 
Friend upon the occasion of the death of his intimate Friend " (1690), 
" The Garden of Cyrus " (1658), and " Christian Morals " (1690). 

The volume contains a glossary. 

Everyman's Library 

93. The New Testament. 

The various books of the New Testament are here arranged by Prin- 
cipal Lindsay as far as possible in chronological order: that is, " in the 
order in which they came to those in the first century who believed in 
Our Lord." 

The arbitrary divisions into chapters and verses have been omitted, 
but are indicated at the top of the page. 

Italics have been used to denote quotations from the Old Testament. 

The sayings of Our Lord have been printed in shorter lines, and can 
be seen at a glance. 

146, 147. The Kingdom of Christ. (2 vols.) By F. D. 
" Hints on the Principles, Ordinances, and Constitution of the 
Catholic Church, in letters to a member of the Society of Friends." 
Frederick Denison Maurice (1805- 1872) was with Charles Kingsley the 
leader of the Christian Socialist movement, founder of the Working 
Men's College, and friend of Gladstone, Tennyson, and John Sterling. 

200. The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Translated with 

an Introduction by E. B. Pusey, D.D. 

" The greatest of the Latin fathers " was born in Numidia in 353 
a.d., baptised by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, in 387, and about ten 
years later produced the Confessions, a spiritual autobiography, which 
even in his own lifetime was deeply loved and studied. Dr. Pusey's 
translation, based on an earlier English version, first appeared in 1838. 

1201, 202. Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. (2 vols.) 

By Richard Hooker. Introduction by Rev. Ronald 


Richard Hooker (1554-1600), whose life was written by Izaak Walton, 

died before completing his great work on Church government and 

discipline, which was probably suggested by the Puritan attacks on 

the moderation of his own attitude. He is still an authority upon 

the whole range of moral and political principles, and his book is not 

only a masterpiece of English prose, but " one of the bulwarks of the 

Established Church of England." His style is stately and sonorous, 

though often laborious and involved. 

253-256. Ancient Hebrew Literature, being the Old Testa- 
ment and Apocrypha arranged with an Introduction by 
Rev. R. Bruce Taylor. (4 vols.) 

It was obviously impossible to adopt for the Old Testament and the 
Apocrypha, a national literature extending over a period of nearly a 
thousand years, the chronological arrangement adopted by Principal 
Lindsay in the New Testament (see vol. 93), " with the result that the 
New Testament has become for many almost a new book." 

The Rev. R. Bruce Taylor has followed a topical arrangement, 
grouping all the books of the Old Testament together with those of the 
Apocrypha according to their subjects, under the headings " Penta- 
teuch," " Early and Later Historical Books," " Prophets," " Apoca- 
lyptic Literature," " Poetry," " Wisdom Literature," " Homiletic 

The text of this edition is based on that of King James, the 
" Authorized " version; the editor has rarely accepted textual emenda- 
tions ; but has constantly referred to and sometimes adopted the inter- 
pretations given by the latest Hebrew scholarship. 

Works on Theology and Philosophy 

305. Ecce Homo : A survey of the life and work of Jesus Christ. 
By Sir J. R. Seeley. Introduction by Sir Oliver Lodge. 

Sir J. R. Seeley (1834-1895) became Professor of Modern History at 
Cambridge in 1869, four years after the anonymous publication of 
" Ecce Homo." 

The book is strictly orthodox, yet " forty years ago,'* says Sir 
Oliver Lodge, " the majority of reiigious people were surprised and 
somewhat shocked when a book was written to recall them to a recog- 
nition of the thorough humanity of Christ." Indeed, a notable article 
by Gladstone was only an exception to a storm of disapprobation. 

379. Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell (De Coelo et ejus 

Mirabilibus et de Inferno ex Auditis et Visis). 

The most notable work of Emanuel Swedenborg, who, born in Stock- 
holm 1688, died in London 177?, if it be judged by the extent of its 
influence, must rank as one of the great religious books of the world. 
Swedenborg, with his concise style and somewhat unusual diction, is 
by no means a simple author for beginners; and it is with the special 
view of meeting this difficulty that the present version, carefully 
simplified, has been prepared by Mr. F. Bayley, M.A. 

380. The Koran. Rodwell's Translation. Introduction by 

Rev. G. Margoliouth. 

The Koran is not only the Sacred Book of one of the great religions of 
the world, but the expression of the great personality of Mohammed, a 
Hero of