SIGNATURE OF SAN FRANCISCO
What emerges from the writings of St. Francis is an ‘I’ humble and secluded enough to fade into ‘us’ and the whole of humanity, even more, in the chorus of creatures.
Two letters presented together, Chartula of Assisi, and a Letter to Brother Leo that have the only two autographs of Saint Francis. The letter to Chartula is kept in the Chapel of the relics of the Lower Basilica and the letter to Leo is kept in the Cathedral of Spoleto.
The entire writings of Francis consists of the legislation: Rules and Exhortations ; by Prayers and Praises , bringing together the spiritual texts, and finally eleven letters written by Santo, impossible not to remember those sent to St. Anthony and the Rulers of the people.
What emerges from the writings of Francis is an “I” humble and secluded enough to fade into the “we” of all humanity and, even more, in the chorus of the creatures. By autograph texts, however, seems to emerge the willingness to listen, and respect for others.
They reveal a Francis, no if’s and but’s in the good will toward each other. What emerges is a stretch of extraordinary inner and outer freedom. It’s funny how the word freedom never appears in the writings, is never publicized, but lived. This is revealed by the words to Leo: “in whatever way seems best to please the Lord God and to follow in his footsteps and his poverty, do so with the blessing of the Lord God and my obedience.”
Here then, is the lyrics by Francis, written in his own hand, “is written to redeem the lost time, to rehabilitate the inflicted pain, to atone for guilt, to ask forgiveness, to compensate someone we robbed of his affections, or by an act of mercy toward you.”
One thing is certain: Francis of Assisi is known by everyone. His writings translated into all the languages from Chinese to Arabic, from Russian into Malagasy. It all started with the desire to live and share the Gospel in defiance of the manners and customs of the time, the habits and customs of the Church. Striving for the first time the language of the people. The 338 code with his “Canticle of the Creatures”, as well as being the foundation of the Italian language is a testimony.
Everyone, after all, beginning with his contemporary biographers, and Franciscan historians, has its Francis.
Enzo Fortunato ~ Director of Assisi Magazine
Franciscan History (The Franciscan Archive)
(All quotes from Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, New City Press, volume 1.)
“For what a person is before God, that he is and no more.” (Admonition XIX)
“A person sins who wishes to receive more from his neighbor than he wishes to give of himself to the Lord God.” (Admonition XVII)
“Nothing should displease a servant of God except sin.” (Admonition XI)
“Nothing belongs to you; you can boast of none of these things.” (Admonition V)
“Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out your hold and true command.” (Prayer before the Crucifix)
“We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake.” (Later Admonition and Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance)
“When the day of death does come, everything they think they have shall be taken from them. The wiser and more powerful they may have been in this world, the greater will be the punishment they will endure in hell.” (A Letter to the Rulers of the Peoples)
“It is a great misery and miserable weakness that when you have Him present in this way, you are concerned with anything else in the whole world!” (A Letter to the Entire Order)
“The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed to bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body. And afterwords I delayed a little and left the world.” (The Testament)
“Hail, O Lady, Holy Queen, Mary, holy Mother of God, who are the Virgin made Church, chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven whom he consecrated with His most holy beloved Son and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, in whom there was and is all fullness of grace and every good. Hail His Palace! Hail His Tabernacle! Hail His Dwelling! Hail His Robe! Hail His Servant! Hail His Mother! And hail all You holy virtues which are poured into the hearts of the faithful through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, that from being unbelievers, you may make them faithful to God.” (A Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
13 sentences of St. Francis of Assisi
1) How happy and blessed are those who love the Lord and do as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (FF 186 ).
2) We love God and adore Him with a pure heart and pure mind (FF 187).
3) We make fruits worthy of repentance. And we love our neighbors as ourselves. And if someone does not want to love them as himself, at least not do them any harm, but do good (FF 190).
4) We therefore do charity and humility and charity, because charity washes the soul from the ugliness of sins (FF 192).
5) We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from any excess of food and drink, and be Catholics. We must also frequently visit churches and venerate and use reverence clerics, not so much for themselves, if they are sinners, but for the office and the administration of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, which they sacrifice on the altar and receive and administer to others (FF 193).
6) For the sin of his brother not be angry at him, but him admonish and encourage him with all patience and humility (FF 198).
7) The body is sweet to sin and it is bitter to serve God, for all the bad things, vices and sins come out and carry the heart of men, as the Lord says in the Gospel. And so you do not have nothing, either in this world or the other. You think you have a long vanities of this world, but be deceived (FF 204).
8) Consider and see that the day of death approaches. Therefore I beg you with all the reverence of which I am capable, that because of the care and concerns of this world, that you have, do not want to forget the Lord, nor deviate from its commandments (FF 211).
9) All of humanity, concerned, the whole universe trembles and heaven exults, when on the altar, in the hand of the priest, there is Christ, the Son of the living God. O admirable height and stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity, that the Lord of the universe, God and Son of God humbles himself to the point of hiding, for our salvation, under an ordinary piece of bread! (FF 221).
10) Brothers, look at the humility of God, and open your hearts before him; Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him (FF 221).
11) High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart. And give me true faith, certain hope and perfect charity (FF 276).
12) Holy Humility confounds pride and all men that are in the world (FF 258).
13) The Holy Charity confounds all diabolical temptations and carnal (FF 258).
The Franciscan Peace Greeting
The greeting of peace defines the very identity of Francis, in fact, from the beginning, he and his brothers were involved in preaching peace, to make this a hallmark of their way of life, so that in Rule of 1223 as the “Unapproved” of 1221 appears the admonition of Jesus: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.” Even Thomas of Celano in his first biography (1228-1229) speaks of the young fraternity and Francesco as an ambassador of peace: “In every sermon, before communicating the word of God to the people, Francis wished peace. Obtained in this way often, with the grace of the Lord, to induce the enemies of peace and salvation of his own, to become themselves children of peace and desirous of eternal salvation the valiant soldier of Christ, Francis, passed through towns and villages announcing the kingdom of heaven, preaching peace, teaching the way of salvation and repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
The proclamation of the Gospel to the conversion is combined with the call to peace, a peace that must not only be proclaimed, but first it has to be lived, and this we find him in the Legend of the Three Companions (1276): “The peace you announce with your mouth, is even more abundant in your hearts. No one be provoked to anger or scandal, but all are drawn to peace, goodness and harmony through your gentleness. This is our vocation: to heal the wounds, heal the fractures, to reclaim the erring.”
In fact, peace was the theme in his preaching. Thomas of Split, which saw Francis preaching in Bologna August 15, 1222, said that “all the substance of his words was to extinguish enmities and building the foundations of new pacts of peace. His clothing was messy; the person was contemptible, his face without beauty. “The bishop and the mayor of Assisi taught to forgive for the love of God, and, in fact, in the Canticle of the Sun (1225) adds the verse of forgiveness: “Praised be ‘me’ Lord, for those who pardon for Your love.”
For the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, keep peace in ‘ soul and body. “This is the true and perfect joy explains Francis himself in the well-known fable that we could almost gloss with the words of St. Paul in the Letter to the Philippians (4,4-7): “Always be joyful in the Lord always; […] Do not be anxious about anything […] and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When Christ rediscovers man there he finds peace, because He is our peace. Then also found that harmony which makes it capable of constant praise and his heart ceases to be an arsenal ready to explode, to become a well of mercy: “Blessed is that servant – says Francesco – who is not proud for the good that the Lord says and works through him, rather than for the good he says and works through another.
If we were to list chronologically episodes that lead us to the origin of peace and good Franciscan we could list the following steps:
- “The Lord revealed to me that I say this greeting” (1208-1210). We find this passage in the Old Testament dated 1226
- “Health and holy peace in the Lord. Be well in the Lord”.Letter to the Custodians of 1220
- “For the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, keep peace in soul and body”. (1221) 4. “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house’”. Earlier Rule (1221) and Rule (1223)
- “True peace from heaven and sincere love of the Lord”. Letter to the faithful of 1224 the wave of peace and good is a greeting that we do not find in the writings of Francis, but only in the Legend of the Three Companions, not a biography itself, but a re-reading of his human and spiritual experience that comes close to ‘Francesco, man through his emotions and desires. The episode is placed at the beginning of the conversion of the saint. Francesco “inspired by God began to proclaim the perfection of the Gospel, preaching penance to all with simplicity.” At this point enters a character, of which the biographer notes the name, and that pearls streets of Assisi is aimed at all precisely with this greeting: Peace and Good!
How he himself confided later, he had learned by divine revelation this greeting: “The Lord give you peace!”. At the beginning of his sermons, offered to the people this message of peace. Extraordinary fact, that is miraculous, he had, before conversion, a precursor in the announcement of peace, who frequently walked Assisi saluting with the motto: “Peace and good! Peace and bread! “. He then formed the belief that, as John the Forerunner found himself on the sidelines just as Jesus began his mission, so that man, like a second John, preceded Francesco in wishing peace and disappeared after the arrival of the Holy”. Even Benedict XVI during the general audience of 12 October 2005, greeted everyone with “peace and good”. “Benedict XVI continues “We all have a little Franciscan soul’.
Writings of St. Francis of Assisi
The Life of Saint Francis
Thomas of Celano
– Francis was so filled with fire that, even if in preceding ages there had been someone with a purpose equal to his, no one has been found whose desire was greater than his. He found it easier to do what is perfect than to talk about it; so he was constantly active in showing his zeal and dedication in deeds, not in words, because words do not do what is good, they only point to it. Thus he remained undisturbed and happy, singing songs of joy in his heart to himself and to God. For this reason he was found worthy of a greater revelation, since he rejoiced over a small one; faithful in a small thing, he was placed over greater ones. (1C 93)
– Many people well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, driven by divine inspiration, began to come to Saint Francis, for they desired to serve under his constant training and leadership. All of these the holy one of God, like a fertile stream of heavenly grace, watered with showers of gifts and he adorned the field of their hearts with the flowers of perfection. He is without question an outstanding craftsman, for through his spreading message, the Church of Christ is being renewed in both sexes according to this form, rule and teaching. Furthermore, to all he gave a norm of life and to those of every rank he sincerely pointed out the way of salvation. (1C 37)
– When blessed Francis saw that the Lord God was daily increasing their numbers, he wrote for himself and his brothers present and future, simply and in few words, a form of life and a rule. He used primarily words of the holy gospel, longing only for its perfection. He inserted a few other things necessary for the practice of a holy way of life. Then he went to Rome with all his brothers, since he greatly desired that the Lord Pope Innocent the Third confirm for him what he had written. When Pope Innocent the Third recognized the wish of the men of God, he first considered the matter and then gave his assent to their request. (1C 32, 33)
– Often he sat down to dinner but on hearing or saying or even thinking “Jesus” he forgot bodily food. Often as he walked along a road, thinking and singing of Jesus, he would forget his destination and start inviting all the elements to praise Jesus. With amazing love he bore in his heart and always held onto Christ Jesus and Him crucified. (1C 115)
– Then the Lord looked down from the heavens and for the sake of His own name He removed His own anger far from him, and for His own glory he bridled Francis’ mouth so that he would not perish completely. The hand of the Lord was upon him, a change of the right hand of the Most High, that through him the Lord might give sinners confidence in a new life of grace; and that of conversion to God he might be an example. (1C 2)
– Immediately four other good and sound men were added to them as followers of the holy man of God. At that time Saint Francis and his brothers felt great gladness and unique joy whenever one of the faithful, led by the Spirit of God, came and accepted the habit of holy religion, whoever the person might be: rich or poor, noble or insignificant, wise or simple, cleric or illiterate, a layman of the Christian people. This was a great wonder to those of the world and an example of humility, challenging them to the way of a more reformed life and to penance for sins. (1C 31)
– A new spirit was placed in the hearts of the elect and a holy anointing has been poured out in their midst. This holy servant of Christ, like one of the lights of heaven, shone from above with a new rite and new signs. The ancient miracles have been renewed through him. (1C 89)
– There was in Francis such harmony of flesh with spirit and such obedience that, as the spirit strove to reach all holiness, the flesh did not resist but even tried to run on ahead, according to the saying: For you my soul has thirsted; and my flesh in so many ways! (1C 97)
– In a short time, the appearance of the entire region was changed and, once rid of its earlier ugliness, it revealed a happier expression everywhere. The former dryness was put to rout and a crop sprang up quickly in the untilled field. Even the uncultivated vine began to produce buds with a sweet-smell for the Lord, and when it had produced flowers of sweetness, it brought forth equally the fruit of honor and respectability. Thanks and the voice of praise resounded everywhere, as many, casting aside earthly concerns, gained knowledge of themselves in the life and teaching of the most blessed father Francis and aspired to love and reverence for their Creator
– Francis separated them into four groups of two each. “Go, my dear brothers,” he said to them, “two by two through different parts of the world, announcing peace to the people and penance for the remission of sins. Be patient in trials, confident that the Lord will fulfill His plan and promise. Respond humbly to those who question you. Bless those who persecute you. Give thanks to those who harm you and bring false charges against you, for because of these things an eternal kingdom is prepared for us.” (1C 29)
– After Francis had been there for some time, through unceasing prayer and frequent contemplation, he reached intimacy with God in an indescribable way. He longed to know what in him and about him was or could be most acceptable to the Eternal King. He sought this diligently and devoutly longed to know in what manner, in what way, and with what desire he would be able to cling more perfectly to the Lord. (1C 91)
– As followers of most holy poverty, since they had nothing, they loved nothing; so they feared losing nothing. They were satisfied with a single tunic, often patched both inside and out. Nothing about it was refined, rather it appeared lowly and rough so that in it they seemed completely crucified to the world. They held firmly to the holy intention of remaining this way and having nothing more. So they were safe wherever they went. Disturbed by no fears, distracted by no cares, they awaited the next day without any worry. (1C 39)
– When Francis and his brothers had fulfilled everything which had been commanded, they regarded themselves as useless servants. For a pure spirit so possessed that whole first school of blessed Francis that, though they knew how to carry out things that were useful, holy and just, they were completely ignorant of how to rejoice over them with vanity. No lowliness of birth, no weakness of poverty stood in the way of building up in God’s work the ones God wanted to build up, a God who delights to be with the simple and those rejected by the world. (1C 30, 31)
– While Francis lived in the flesh, this great lover of the things of heaven held nothing of the world as his own, so that he could possess the greatest good of all more fully and more joyfully. For this reason he has become in all things what he did not want to be in few things, and has exchanged time for eternity. He helps everyone, everywhere. Yet this lover of true unity is not divided by being shared.
– Conformed to the death of Christ Jesus by sharing in His sufferings, Francis displays His sacred wounds in his hands, feet, and side. He gladdens the whole world with the gift of new joy, and offers to all the benefits of true salvation. He floods the world with the brilliant light of miracles, a true star glowing brightly over the whole earth. The world once mourned when robbed of his presence and saw itself overwhelmed by the dark abyss at his setting, but now it seems like the light of midday. With new light rising, the world is growing bright in these shining rays and feels all the darkness leave. Now, all its complaints have stopped; Blessed be God! (1C 119)
– Then Francis ordered the book of the Gospels to be brought in. He asked that the Gospel according to John be read to him, starting with the passage that begins: “Six days before the Passover, Jesus, knowing that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father.” This was the very gospel his minister had planned to read, even before he was told to do so, that was the passage that met his eye as he first opened the book, although he had the complete Bible from which to read the gospel. Then he told them to cover him with sackcloth and to sprinkle him with ashes, as he was soon to become dust and ashes.
– Francis returned and said to the brothers with joy: “Be strong and rejoice in the Lord. Do not be sad, because you seem so few, and do not let my simplicity or yours discourage you. The Lord has shown me that God will make us grow into a great multitude, and will spread us to the ends of the earth. I must tell you what I saw about your future, though it would please me more to remain silent, if charity did not compel me to tell you. I saw a great multitude of people coming to us, wishing to live with us in the habit of a holy way of life and in the rule of blessed religion. (1C 27)
– As his illness grew worse, Francis lost all bodily strength, and deprived of his powers, he could not even move. One of the brothers asked him what he would prefer to endure: this long lasting illness or suffering a martyr’s cruel death at the hands of an executioner. “My son,” he replied, “whatever is more pleasing to the Lord my God to do with me and in me has always been and still is dearer, sweeter, and more agreeable to me. I desire to be found always and completely in harmony with and obedient to God’s will alone in everything.” (1C 107)
– Francis rose and set out for the city. Burning with holy fervor, he began to accuse himself of idleness and sloth. When all those who knew him saw him, they compared his latest circumstances with his former and they began to reproach him harshly. Shouting that he was insane and out of his mind, they threw mud from the streets and stones at him. They saw him as changed from his earlier ways and weakened by starving his body. They blamed everything he did on starvation and madness. But since the patient person is better than the proud, God’s servant showed himself deaf to all of them, and neither broken nor changed by any wrong to himself he gave thanks to God for all of them. (1C 11)
– Those taught to rejoice in suffering will not deviate from an upright intention and way of life nor be stolen from Christ’s flock because of beatings and chains. Nor will they fear in the flood of many waters whose refuge from oppression is the Son of God, who always shows them his sufferings, greater than those they endure. (1 C 12)
– When the prayer was finished, blessed Francis, in the power of the Spirit, approached the woman. “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said, I command you, demon, under obedience, to come out from her and not trouble her any more” He had scarcely uttered the words when the demon went out. On account of the sudden cure of the woman and the immediate obedience of the demon, the holy father thought he was deceived. So he left that place right away, ashamed. That is why when blessed Francis passed through that same place on another occasion and brother Elias was with him, that woman, hearing of his arrival, got up immediately, ran down the street, and cried out after him, asking him to speak to her. She then kissed his very footprints, giving thanks to God and his holy servant Francis, who had freed her from the hand of death (1C69)
– When he started thinking of holy and useful matters with the grace and strength of the Most High, while still in the clothes of the world, he met a leper one day. Made stronger than himself he came up and kissed him. He then began to consider himself less and less, until by the mercy of the Redeemer, he came to complete victory over himself. (1C 17)
– Francis burned with a great desire to return to his earliest steps toward humility; rejoicing in hope because of his boundless love, he planned to call his body back to its original servitude, although it had now reached its limit. He cut away completely the obstacle of all cares and silenced the noise of all concerns. When he had to relax this rigor because of illness, he used to say: “Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up until now we have done little or nothing.” He did not consider that he had already attained his goal, but tireless in pursuit of holy newness, he constantly hoped to begin again. (1C 103)
– In order to avoid the superfluous, Francis would not even permit a small plate to remain in the house if, without it, he could avoid dire need. He said it was impossible to satisfy necessity without bowing to pleasure. He rarely or hardly ever ate cooked foods, but if he did, he would sprinkle them with ashes or dampen the flavor of spices with cold water. Often, when he was wandering through the world to preach the gospel of God, he was called to a dinner given by great princes who venerated him with much fondness. He would taste some meat in order to observe the holy gospel. The rest, which he appeared to eat, he put in his lap, raising his hand to his mouth so that no one could know what he was doing. (1C 51)
– Changed in mind but not in body, Francis was anxious to direct his will to God’s. Thus he retired for a short time from the tumult and business of the world and was anxious to keep Jesus Christ in his inmost self. Like an experienced merchant, he concealed the pearl he had found from the eyes of mockers and, selling all he had, he tried to buy it secretly. He acted in such a way that no one would know what was happening within. Wisely taking the occasion of the good to conceal the better, he consulted God alone about his holy purpose. He prayed with all his heart that the eternal and true God guide his way and teach him to do God’s will. He endured great suffering in his soul, and was not able to rest until he accomplished in action what he had conceived in his heart.
– Then Francis, the holy lover of profound humility, moved to the lepers and stayed with them. For God’s sake he served all of them with great love. He washed all the filth from them, and even cleaned out the pus of their sores, just as he said in his Testament: “When I was in sin, it seemed to bitter for me to see lepers, and the Lord led me among them and I showed mercy to them.” For he used to say that the sight of lepers was so bitter to him that in the days of his vanity when he saw their houses even two miles away, he would cover his nose with his hands. (1C 17)
– Francis is without question an outstanding craftsman, for through his spreading message, the Church of Christ is being renewed in both sexes according to his form, rule and teaching, and there is victory for the triple army of those being saved. Furthermore, to all he gave a norm of life and those of every rank he sincerely pointed out the way of salvation.
– In his desire for holiness, Francis, was simple with the simple, humble with the humble, and poor with the poor. He was a brother among brothers, the least among the lesser, and in his life and habits strove to behave as one of them as much as was possible. The Lord gave him a learned tongue. With it he confounded the opponents of truth, refuted the enemies of the cross of Christ, led the strangers back to the way, made peace between those in conflict, and bound together those in peace in a stronger bond of love. (1C 99)
– As a young man, Francis was also a helper of the poor. He extended a hand out of mercy to those who had nothing and he poured out compassion for the afflicted. One day, contrary to his custom, he rebuked a poor person seeking alms from him, and he was immediately led to penance. He began to say to himself that to refuse what was asked by someone begging in the name of such a great King would be both a shame and a disgrace. And so he fixed in his heart never to deny anything to anyone begging from him for God’s sake. (1C 17)
– “Francis” was the name of this servant and friend of the Most High. Divine Providence gave him this name, unique and unusual, that the fame of his ministry should spread even more rapidly throughout the whole world. He was named John by his own mother when, being born again through water and the Holy Spirit he was changed from a child of wrath into a child of grace. (2C 3)
– When Solemn Mass was celebrated above the manger, the holy Levite of God, Francis, dressed in festive vestments, proclaimed the gospel with a sonorous voice and then with a voice flowing with honey he preached to the people about the poor king born in Bethlehem. It is therefore believed, and not without reason, that the Lord Jesus aptly revealed his infancy in a vision to the one who reflected upon it. He who was asleep or dead in the hearts of many, owing to forgetfulness, was awakened and recalled to memory by the teaching and example of Blessed Francis. The solemnities were completed with great exultation, and everyone happily returned to their homes. (LJS 10:54-55)
– Francis immediately exulted in the spirit of God. “This is what I want,” he said, “this is what I seek, this is what I desire with all my heart.” The holy father, overflowing with joy, hastened to implement the words of salvation, and did not delay before he devoutly began to put into effect what he heard. (1C 22)
– In all these things, they sought peace and meekness with all. Always doing what was modest and peaceful, they scrupulously avoided all scandal. Among them there was no envy, no malice, no rancor, no mocking, no suspicion, no bitterness. Instead, there was great harmony, constant calm, thanksgiving, and songs of praise. These are the lessons by which the devoted father, Francis, instructed his new followers, not so much in words and speech but in deed and truth.
– The holy father, Francis, overflowing with joy, hastened to implement the words of salvation, and did not delay before he devoutly began to put into effect what he heard. He set about doing them with great care and reverence. For he was no deaf hearer of the gospel rather he committed everything he heard to his excellent memory and was careful to carry it out to the letter. (1C 22)
– The noble building of charity rises upon the foundation of perseverance; and in it living stones, gathered from every part of the world, have been built into a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, What a great flame of charity burned in the new disciples of Christ! What great love of devout company flourished in them! When they all gathered somewhere or met each other on the road (which frequently happened), in that place a shoot of spiritual love sprang up, scattering over all love the seeds of real delight. (1C38)
– Since he was the most perfect among the perfect, he refused to think he was perfect and thought himself wholly imperfect. He could taste and see how pleasing, sweet and good the God of Israel is to those who are of sincere heart and who seek Him in true purity and in pure simplicity. (1C 92)
– Everyday, everywhere people rejoice anew as the world is filled to overflowing with holy gifts from him. From East and West they come, from North and South: those helped by his patronage come to attest to these things in witness to the truth. While he lived in the flesh, this great lover of the things of heaven held nothing of the world as his own, so that he could possess the greatest good of all more fully and more joyfully. For this reason he has become in all things what he did not want to be in a few things, and has exchanged time for eternity.
– In these last times, a new Evangelist, like one of the rivers of Paradise, has poured out the streams of the gospel in a holy flood over the whole world. Francis preached the way of the Son of God and the teaching of truth in his deeds. In him and through him an unexpected joy and a holy newness came into the world. A shoot of the ancient religion suddenly renewed the old and decrepit. A new spirit was placed in the hearts of the elect and a holy anointing has been poured out in their midst.
– At that time, through the presence of Saint Francis and through his reputation, it surely seemed anew light had been sent from heaven and earth, driving away all the darkness that had so nearly covered that whole region that hardly anyone knew where to turn. Deep forgetfulness of God and lazy neglect of God’s commandments overwhelmed almost everyone, so that they could barely be roused from old, deep-seated evils. Francis gleamed like a shining star in the darkness of night and like the morning spread over the darkness.
– In all of his preaching, before he presented the word of God to the assembly, Francis prayed for peace saying, “May the Lord give you peace.” He always proclaimed this to men and women, to those he met and to those who met him. Accordingly, many who hated peace along with salvation, with the Lord’s help wholeheartedly embraced peace. They became themselves children of peace, now rivals for eternal salvation.
– Thus in a short time, the appearance of the entire region was changed and, it revealed a happier expression everywhere. The former dryness was put to rout and a crop sprang up quickly in the untilled field. Even the uncultivated vine began to produce buds with a sweet-smell for the Lord, and when it had produced flowers of sweetness, it brought forth equally the fruit of honor and respectability. Thanks and the voice of praise resounded everywhere as many, casting aside earthly concerns, gained knowledge of themselves in the life and teaching of the most blessed father Francis and aspired to love and reverence for their Creator.
– More than anything else he desired to be set free and to be with Christ. Thus his chief object of concern was to live free from all things that are in the world, so that his inner serenity would not be disturbed even for a moment by contact with any of its dust. He made himself insensible to all outside noise, gathering his external senses into his inner being and checking the impetus of his spirit, he emptied himself for God alone. He often chose solitary places to focus his heart entirely on God.
– Who would be able to tell of the sweet tenderness he, Francis, enjoyed while contemplating in creatures the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator? From this reflection he often overflowed with amazing, unspeakable joy as he looked at the sun, gazed at the moon, or observed the stars in the sky, fields and vineyards, rocks and woods, and all the beauties of the field, flowing springs and blooming gardens, earth and fire, air and wind: all these he urged to love of God and to willing service.
– The father of the poor, the poor Francis, moved by a great feeling of pity, in order to help the poor in some way, used to approach the rich people of this world during the coldest times of the year, asking them to loan him their cloaks or furs. As they responded even more gladly than the blessed father asked, he use to say to them, “I shall accept this from you only on the condition that you never expect to have it returned.” The first poor man who happened to meet him, he would then clothe with whatever he had received, exulting and rejoicing. (1C 76)
– Francis found it easier to do what is perfect than to talk about it; so he was constantly active in showing his zeal and dedication in deeds, not in words, because words do not do what is good, they only point to it. Thus he remained undisturbed and happy, singing songs of joy in his heart to himself and to God. For this reason he was found worthy of a greater revelation, since he rejoiced over a small one; faithful in a small thing, he was placed over greater ones.
– Francis’ highest aim, foremost desire, and greatest intention was to pay heed to the holy gospel in all things and trough all things, to follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and to retrace His footsteps completely with all vigilance and all zeal, all the desire of his soul and all the favor of his hart. Francis used to recall with regular meditation the words of Christ and recollect His deeds with most attentive perception. Indeed so thoroughly did the humility of the Incarnation and the charity of the Passion occupy his memory that he scarcely wanted to think of anything else.
– One day the Gospel was being read in the church about how the Lord sent out his disciples to preach. The priest explained it all to Francis thoroughly line by line. Francis immediately exulted in the spirit of God. “This is what I want,” he said, “this is what I seek, this is what I desire with all my heart.” He set about doing these things with great care and reverence. For he was no deaf hearer of the gospel; rather he committed everything he heard to his excellent memory and was careful to carry it out to the letter. (1C 22)
– Francis, crowned with honor and glory and granted a place among the stones of fire, stands by the throne of God. He reflects the image of the One…Who is seated at the right hand of the majesty on high, the brightness of God’s glory and the image of the divine substance, Who cleanses us from all sin. He gladdens the whole world with the gift of new joy, and offers to all the benefits of true salvation. With new light rising, the world is growing bright in these shining rays and feels all the darkness leave. Now, all its complaints have stopped; blessed be God! (1C 119)
– While he, Francis, was staying in that hermitage called La Verna, he saw in the vision of God a man, having six wings like a Seraph, Standing over him, arms extended and feet joined, affixed too a cross. Two of his wings were raised up, two were stretched out over his head as if for flight, and two covered his whole body. When the blessed servant of the most High saw these things, he was filled with the greatest awe. While he was unable to perceive anything clearly understandable from the vision. Its newness very much pressed upon his heart. Signs of the nails began to appear on his hands and feet, just as he had seen them on the crucified man.
– Rising from prayer in a spirit of humility and with a contrite heart, Francis prepared himself with the sign of the holy cross. He took the book from the altar, and opened it with reverence and fear. … The first passage that met his eye was the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that ells of the suffering he was to endure. … He opened the book a second and a third time. Every time he found either the same text or one that was similar. This man filled with the spirit of God then understood that he would have to enter into the kingdom of God through many trials, difficulties and struggles.
– Swift to forgive, slow to grow angry, free in nature, remarkable in memory, subtle in discussing, careful in choices, he, Francis, simple in everything!… Because he was very humble, he showed meekness to all people, and duly adapted himself to the behavior of all. Holy among the holy, among sinners he was like one of them.
– More than anything else he desired to be set free and to be with Christ. Thus his chief object of concern was to live free from all things that are in the world, so that his inner serenity would not be disturbed even for a moment by contact with any of its dust. He made himself insensible to all outside noise, gathering his external senses into his inner being and checking the impetus of his spirit, he emptied himself for God alone. He often chose solitary places to focus his heart entirely on God.
– Francis had been taught not to seek his own salvation, but what he discerned would help the salvation of others. More than anything else he desired to be set free and to be with Christ. Thus his chief object of concern was to live free from all things that are in the world. He made himself insensible to all outside noise, gathering his external senses into his inner being and checking the impetus of his spirit, he empted himself for God alone.
– The first work that blessed Francis undertook, after he had gained his freedom from the hands of his carnally-minded father, was to build a house of God. He did not try to build a new one, but he repaired and old one, restored an ancient one. He did not tear out the foundation, but he build upon it, always reserving to Christ his prerogative, although unaware of it for no one can lay another foundation, but that which has been laid, which is Christ Jesus. (1C 18)
– Francis felt pouring down on him from above a sweetness and delight rarely given to even a few, and it made him lose himself completely. He was filed with such joy that he wished by any means to pass over entirely to that place where, in passing out of himself, he had already partially gone. This man, having the spirit of God, was ready to endure any suffering of mind and bear any affliction of the body, if at last he would be given the choice that the will of the heavenly Father might be fulfilled mercifully in him (1C 92)
– The man of God, the blessed Francis, had been taught not to seek his own salvation, but what he discerned would help the salvation of others. More than anything else he desired to be set free and to be with Christ. Thus his chief object of concern was to live free from all things that are in the world, so that his inner serenity would not be disturbed even for a moment. (1C 71)
– It was Francis’ custom to divide the time given him to merit grace and, as seemed best, to spend some of it to benefit his neighbors, and use the rest in the blessed solitude of contemplation. He took with him only a few companions – who knew his holy way of living better than others – so that they could shield him from the interruption and disturbance of people, respecting and protecting his silence in every way. After he had been there for some time, through unceasing prayer and frequent contemplation, he reached intimacy with God in an indescribable way.
– Francis knew that the kingdom of heaven was established in every corner of the earth and he believed that divine grace was given to God’s chosen ones in every place. Yet he knew from his own experience that the place of the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula was especially full of grace and filled with visits of heavenly spirits.
– The brothers who lived with Francis know that daily, constantly, talk of Jesus was always on his lips…Out of the fullness of the heart his mouth spoke. … He was always with Jesus: Jesus in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, he bore Jesus always in his whole body.
– He began to preach penance to all with a fervent spirit and joyful attitude. He inspired his listeners with words that were simple and a heart that was heroic. His word was like a blazing fire, reaching the deepest parts of the heart, and filling the souls of all with wonder. He seemed entirely different from what he had been.
– Francis and his brothers felt great gladness and unique joy whenever one of the faithful, led by the Spirit of God, came and accepted the habit of holy religion, whoever the person might be: rich or poor, noble or insignificant, wise or simple, cleric or illiterate, a layperson of the Christian people. This was a great wonder to those of the world and an example of humility, challenging them to the way of a more reformed life and to penance for sins. No lowliness of birth, no weakness of poverty stood in the way of building up in God’s work the ones God wanted to build up, a God who delights to be with the simple and those rejected by the world.
– According to the laws of nature and the human condition day by day the body must decay though the inner being is renewed. So the precious vessel in which the heavenly treasure was hidden began to shatter all over and lose all its strength. And so the spirit became willing in the flesh that was weak. Francis so desired the salvation of souls and longed to benefit his neighbors that, even though he could no longer walk on his own, he went through the towns riding on a little donkey. (Cf. 1C98)
– Francis … went around the cities and villages, proclaiming the kingdom of God and preaching peace and penance for the remission of sins, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom but in the learning and power of the Spirit. In acting confidently in all matters because of the apostolic authority granted him. Not fearing anyone’s rebuke, he spoke the truth boldly, so that even well-educated men, distinguished by fame and dignity, were amazed at his words. (1C 36)
– Truly, from the beginning of his religious life until his death, his poor clothing showed where he stored his riches. This was the reason he was happy; he was carefree. He was ready for the race. He was glad to exchange perishable treasure for the hundredfold. (2C 55)
The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul
Thomas of Celano
– Francis could not be identified as a prelate, except by the sparkling gem, of humility: he was the least among the lesser. This virtue, this title, this badge pointed him out as general minister. There was no arrogance in his mouth, no pomp in his gestures, no conceit in his actions. He learned by revelation the meaning of many things, but when he was conversing among others he put the opinions of others ahead of his own. (2C 140)
– As Francis slept one night, someone spoke to him in a vision and asked him with concern where he was going. He explained his plan and said he was going to Apulia to become a knight. The other questioned him anxiously “Who can do more for you, the servant or the lord?” “The lord! said Francis. “Then why do you seek the servant instead of the lord? Francis then asked: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” And the Lord said to him: “Go back to the land of your birth because I will fulfill your dream in a spiritual way.” He turned back without delay becoming even now a model of obedience. (2C 6)
– Francis embraced the Mother of Jesus with inexpressible love, since she made the Lord of Majesty a brother to us. He honored her with his own Praises, poured out prayers to her, and offered her his love in a way that no human tongue can express. But what gives us greatest joy is that he appointed her the Advocate of the Order. (2C 198)
– It would not be right to pass over in silence the memory of a spiritual building, much nobler than that earthy one, that the blessed father established in that place with the Holy Spirit leading for the increase of the heavenly city, after he had repaired the material church. We should not believe that for the sake of repairing a crumbling church and perishable building, that Christ spoke to him from the wood of the Cross and in such an amazing way that it strikes fear and inflicts pain upon anyone who hears of it. But, as earlier foretold by the Holy Spirit, an Order of holy virgins was to be established there to be brought one day as a polished collection of living stones for the restoration of the heavenly house. (2C 204)
– But, what could delight this little body already so ruined? What would uphold it, already broken in every way? Francis was already dead to the world, but Christ lived in him. The delights of the world were a cross to him, since he carried the cross of Christ rooted in his heart. And that is why the stigmata shone outwardly in his flesh, because inwardly that root was growing deep in his spirit. (2C 211)
– A pilgrim while in the body, away from the Lord, Francis, the man of God, strove to keep himself present in spirit to heaven, and, being already made a fellow-citizen of the angels, he was separated from them only by the wall of the flesh. With all his soul he thirsted for his Christ: to him he dedicated not only his whole heart but also his whole body. (2C 94) – Posted
– From that very hour his soul melted as the Beloved spoke to him. A little while afterward his heart’s love showed in the wounds of his body. From then on, he could not hold back his tears, even weeping loudly over the Passion of Christ, as if it were constantly before his eyes. He filled the roads with his sobbing, and, as he remembered the wounds of Christ, he would take no comfort. Once upon meeting a close friend, he explained the reason for this sorrow, moving him also to bitter tears. (2C 11)
– Once when he was sick and full of pain all over, his companion said to him: “Father, you have always taken refuge in the Scriptures, and they always have offered you relief from pain. Please, have something from the prophets also read to you now, and maybe your spirit will rejoice in the Lord.” The saint said to him: “It is good to read the testimonies of Scripture, and it is good to seek the Lord our God in them. But I have already taken in so much of Scripture that I have more than enough for meditating and reflecting. I do not need more, son; I know Christ, poor and crucified.”
– Francis used to observe the Nativity of the Child Jesus with an immense eagerness above all other solemnities affirming it was the Feast of Feasts, when God was made a little child He would kiss the images of the baby’s limbs thinking of hunger and the melting compassion of his heart toward the child also made him stammer sweet words as babies do. The name was to him like honey and honeycomb in his mouth. He could not recall without tears the great want surrounding the little, poor Virgin on that day.
– One day as he was riding his horse near Assisi, Francis met a leper on the road. He felt terrified and revolted, but not wanting to transgress God’s command and break the sacrament of His word, he dismounted from his horse and ran to kiss him. As the leper stretched out his hand, expecting something, he received both money and a kiss. Francis immediately mounted his horse and although the field was wide open, without any obstructions, when he looked around he could not see the leper anywhere.
The Legend for Use in the Choir
Thomas of Celano
– Francis was filled with a wonderful and unspeakable love owing to his love of the Creator whenever he used to gaze upon the sun, the moon, and the stars. In fact he used to urge earth and heaven, fire and air, to love of God with the most refined purity of heart. He found the name of our Lord sweeter than honey whenever he pronounced it with his mouth, in a manner that exceeded what people could understand. (LCh 3, 8)
Second Life of St. Francis
Thomas of Celano, 161.
– Francis used to say that the lukewarm who did not make themselves acquainted familiarly with work would be quickly vomited forth from the mouth of the Lord. No one could appear idle before him without being corrected by him with a sharp rebuke. For he himself worked and labored with his hands as an example of all perfection, allowing nothing of that greatest gift of time to escape. But he said once: “I want all my brothers to work and to be employed, and those who do not know how should learn some crafts.” And he gave this reason: “That we may be less burdensome to men,” he said, “and that the heart or tongue may not wander to unlawful things in idleness.” But the profit or the reward of labor he did not commit to the free dispositions of the guardian or of the family.
The Legend for Use in the Choir
Thomas of Celano
– As he was rendered more and more worthy of receiving divine grace, he was soon overflowing with the dew of the Holy Spirit. For example, appearing as the sun, borne by a chariot, he visited the brothers in the darkness of the middle of the night, examining their consciences, opening up the hidden recesses of their hearts; he knew the deeds of the brothers who were absent and foretold what good deeds they would perform in the future. Since this holy man attained the very summit of perfection and was filled with the simplicity of the dove, he urged all creatures toward the love of the Creator. (LCh 7)
The Major Legend of Saint Francs
– On a certain morning about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross while Francis was praying on the mountainside, he saw a Seraph having six wings, fiery as well as brilliant. There appeared between the wings the likeness of a man crucified, with his hands and feet extended in the form of a cross and fastened to a cross. Seeing this, Francis was overwhelmed and his heart was flooded with a mixture of joy and sorrow. Immediately the marks of nails began to appear in Francis’ hands and feet. Also his right side, as if pierced with a lance, was marked with a red wound from which his sacred blood often flowed. (LMj 13:3)
– Francis appeared to the brothers, although absent, transfigured in a fiery chariot. It should be believed that this was done by divine providence so that from his miraculous appearance in bodily presence it might clearly shine forth how present and open his spirit was to the light of eternal wisdom, which is mobile beyond all motion. Reaching everywhere because of its purity, spreading through the nations into holy souls, it makes them prophets and friends of God. (LMj 11:4)
– For the exalted Teacher is accustomed to opening his mysteries to the simple and the little ones as first appeared in David, the best of the prophets, and then in Peter, the prince of the apostles, and finally in Francis, the little poor man of Christ. For when these simple men were unskilled in letters, they were made illustrious by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. (LMj 11:14)
– Since the herald of Christ in his preaching brilliantly shone with these and many other marvelous miracles, people paid attention to what he said as if an angel of the Lord were speaking. For excelling in him were a privileged of virtues, a spirit of prophecy, a proficiency for miracles, a sign given by heaven to preach, an obedience of creatures lacking reason, a powerful change of hearts at the sound of his words, an erudition by the Holy Spirit beyond human teaching. (LMj 12:12)
– First endowed with the gifts of divine grace, Francis was then enriched by the merit of unshakable virtue; and filled with the spirit of prophecy, he was also assigned an angelic ministry and was totally aflame with a Seraphic fire. (LMj Prol 1)
– When the holy man Francis returned to the brothers, he began to probe the secrets of their consciences, to draw courage for them from this wonderful vision and to make many predictions about the growth of the Order. When he disclosed many things that transcended human understanding, the brothers completely realized the Spirit of the Lord had come to rest upon him in such fullness that it was absolutely safe for them to follow his life and teaching. (LMj 4:4)
– Francis was then enriched by the merit of unshakable virtue; and filled with the spirit of prophecy. While living among humans, he was imitator of angelic purity and was placed as an example for the perfect followers of Christ. The seal of the likeness of the living God, that is, of Christ crucified, was imprinted on his body, not by natural forces or human skill, but by the wondrous power of the Spirit of the living God. (LMj Prol 1-2)
– As they looked into each other’s hearts, they all understood together that the holy father, Francis, while away from them in body, was present in spirit. When he disclosed many things that transcended human understanding, the brothers completely realized the Spirit of the Lord had come to rest upon him in such fullness that it was absolutely safe for them to follow his life and teaching. (LMj 4-4)
– The Spirit of the Lord, who had anointed and sent Francis, and also Christ, the power and the wisdom of God, were with their Servant Francis wherever he went so that he might abound with words of sound teaching and shine with miracles of great power. (LMj 12:7)
– Francis’ word was like a blazing fire, reaching the deepest parts of the heart, and filling the souls of all with wonder, since it made no pretense at the elegance of human composition, but exuded the breath of divine revelation. He preached the Gospel ardently, as the Lord worked with him and confirmed his preaching with the signs that followed. (LMj 12:7-8)
– Francis was seen praying at night, with his hands outstretched in the form of a cross, his whole body lifted up from the ground and surrounded by a sort of shining cloud, so that the extraordinary illumination around his body was a witness to the wonderful light that shone within his soul. There too, as is proven by certain evidence, the unknown and hidden secrets of divine wisdom were opened up to him. (LMj 10:4)
– At that time, a certain religious of the Order of the Crosiers, Morico by name, was suffering from such a grave and prolonged illness in a hospital near Assisi that the doctors had already despaired of his life. In his need, he turned to Francis, urgently entreating him through a messenger to intercede for him before the Lord. Our blessed father kindly consented and said a prayer for him. Then he took some bread crumbs and mixed them with oil taken from a lamp that burned before the altar of the Virgin. He made a kind of pill out of them and sent it to the sick man through the hands of the brothers. When the sick man took the medicine, prepared under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was cured immediately. (LMj 4:8)
– Francis and his companions took the road to the Spoleto valley. The hour was already late as they continued their long discussion. Since they were exhausted from their prolonged activity, the hungry men stopped in a place of solitude. When there seemed to be no way for them to get the food they needed, God’s providence immediately came to their aid. For suddenly a man carrying bread in his hand appeared, which he gave to Christ’s little poor, and then suddenly disappeared. (LMj 4:1)
– When Francis saw that many were being inspired by his example to carry the cross of Christ with fervent spirit, he himself, like a good leader of Christ’s army, was encouraged to reach the palm of victory through the height of heroic virtue. He directed his attention to this text of the Apostle: Those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. (LMj 5:1)
– Thus it happened that, filled with the spirit of the prophets and according to the prophetic passage, he proclaimed peace, preached salvation, and, by counsels of salvation, brought to true peace many who had previously lived at odds with Christ and far from salvation. Therefore as the truth of the man of God’s simple teaching and life became known to many, some began to be moved to penance and abandoning all things, joined him in habit and life.
– Unflagging zeal for prayer with a continual exercise of virtue had led Francis to such serenity of mind that, although he had no expertise in Sacred Scripture through learning, his intellect nevertheless, enlightened by the splendor of eternal light, probed the depths of Scripture with remarkable incisiveness. For his genius, pure and unstained, penetrated hidden mysteries, and where the knowledge of teachers stands outside, the passion of the lover entered. (LMj 11:1)
– The Lord made incomparably more brilliant in death this marvelous man Francis, who had been made marvelously bright in life: rich in poverty, exalted in humility, vigorous in mortification, prudent in simplicity, distinguished in the integrity of his life. For after this blessed man left the world, that sacred spirit, entering a home of eternity, and made glorious by a full draught from the fountain of life, left certain signs of future glory imprinted on his body; so that, his most holy flesh, which crucified along with its vices, had already passed into a new creature, bore the likeness of Christ’s passion by a singular privilege and would offer by the newness of a miracle a glimpse of the resurrection. (Ct. LMj 15:1)
– One day, while Francis was weeping in a solitary place as he looked back over his past years in bitterness, the joy of the Holy Spirt came over him and he was assured of the complete forgiveness of all of his sins. Then he was caught up above himself and totally engulfed in a wonderful light, and, with his inmost soul opened wide, he clearly saw what would transpire for him and his sons and daughter in the future. (LMj 3:6)
– In all things he wished without hesitation to be conformed to Christ crucified, who hung on the cross poor, suffering, and naked, Francis strove by perfect imitation to be conformed while living to Christ living, dying to Christ dying and dead to Christ dead, and deserved to be adorned with an expressed likeness! (LMj 14:4)
– After true love of Christ transformed the lover into His image, when the forty days were over that he spent in solitude as he had desired, the angelic man Francis came down from the mountain bearing with him the likeness of the Crucified, depicted not on tablets of stone or on panels of wood carved by hand, but engraved on parts of his flesh by the finger of the living God. (LMj 13:5)
– True piety, which according to the Apostle gives power to all things, had so filled Francis’s heart and penetrated its depths that it seemed to have claimed the man of God completely into its dominion. That is what, through devotion, lifted him up into God; through compassion, transformed him into Christ; through self-emptying, turned him to his neighbor; through universal reconciliation with each thing, re-fashioned him to the state of innocence.
– As Francis was removing himself from the pressure of public business, he would eagerly beg the divine kindness to show him what he should do. When the flame of heavenly desire intensified in him by the practice of frequent prayer, and already, out of his love for a heavenly home, he despised all earthly things as nothing; he realized that he had found a hidden treasure, and, like a wise merchant, planned to buy the pearl he had found by selling everything. (Cf. LMj 1:4)
– Francis said: In preaching, it is necessary to practice great self-emptying for people and, by living humanly among them to think, see, speak, and hear human things. The only begotten Son of God, who is the highest wisdom, came down from the bosom of the Father for the salvation of souls in order to instruct the world by His example and to speak the word of salvation to people, whom He would redeem by the price of His sacred blood, cleanse with its washing and sustain with its draught, holding back for Himself absolutely nothing that He could freely give for our salvation.
– Francis had a manger prepared, hay carried in and an ox and an ass led to the spot. The brethren are summoned, the people arrive, the forest amplifies with their cries, and that venerable night is rendered brilliant and solemn by a multitude of bright lights and by resonant and harmonious hymns of praise. The man of God stands before the manger, filled with piety, bathed in tears, and overcome with joy. Francis’s example, when considered by the world, is capable of arousing the hearts of those who are sluggish in the faith of Christ. (LMj 10:7)
– In the church of the Virgin Mother of God, her servant Francis lingered and, with continuing cries, insistently begged her who had conceived and brought to birth the Word full of grace and truth, to becoming his advocate. Through the merits of the Mother of Mercy, he conceived and brought to birth the spirit of the Gospel truth.
– Through divine prompting the man of God, Francis, began to become a model of evangelical perfection and to invite others to penance. His statements, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrated the marrow of the heart, so that they moved those hearing them in stunned amazement. In all his preaching, he announced peace by saying: “May the Lord give you peace.” Thus he greeted the people at the beginning of his talk. As he later testified, he had learned this greeting by the Lord revealing it to him.
– In an outpouring of kindness, the Most High God looked upon Francis, a little poor, and contrite man, so that He not only lifted the needy man from the dust of a worldly life; but also gave him as a light for believers, a practitioner, a leader, and a herald of Gospel perfection, that by bearing witness to the light he might prepare for the Lord a way of light and peace to the hearts f his faithful.
– Humility, the guardian and embellishment of all the virtues, had filled the man of God, Francis, with abundance. In his own opinion he was nothing but a sinner, though in truth he was a mirror and the splendor of every kind of holiness. As he had learned from Christ, he strove to build himself upon this like a wise architect laying a foundation. He use to say that it was for this reason that the Son of God came down from the height of his Father’s bosom to our lowly estate so that our Lord and Teacher might teach humility in both example and word.
– Francis came upon a place where very large flock of birds of various kinds had gathered. Looking at them with affection, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he hurriedly ran to the spot, eagerly greeted them, and commanded them to be silent, so that they might attentively listen to the word of God. While he recounted many things about the benefits of God to these creatures, who were gathered together, and about the praises that should be returned to him by them, they began to flutter about in a wonderful way; they stretched their necks, spread out their wings, opened their beaks, and looked attentively at him, as if they were trying to experience the marvelous power of his words. (LMn 5:6)
– The servant of Christ, Francis, strove to keep his spirit present to God by praying without ceasing, and thus he would not be without the consolation of his Beloved. For whether walking or sitting, inside or outside, working or resting, he was so focused on prayer that he seemed to have dedicated to it not only whatever was in his heart and body but also his effort and time. Many times he was suspended in such an excess of contemplation that he was carried away above himself and, experiencing what is beyond human understanding, he was unaware of what went on about him.
– Francis would not consider himself a friend of Christ, unless he cared for the souls whom Christ had redeemed. He used to say that nothing should be preferred to the salvation of souls, demonstrating this forcefully with the fact that the Only-begotten Son of God saw fit to hang on the cross for the sake of souls. From this arose Francis’ effort in prayer, his travel in preaching, and his excess in giving example.
– Francis, enlightened by the splendor of eternal light, probed the depths of Scripture with remarkable incisiveness. For his genius, pure and unstained, penetrated hidden mysteries, and where he knowledge of teachers stands outside the passion of the lover entered.
– The grace of God our Savior has appeared in the last days in his servant Francis to all who are truly humble and lovers of holy poverty. In an outpouring of kindness, the Most High God looked upon him, a little poor, and contrite man, and not only lifted the needy man from the dust of a worldly life, but also gave him as a light for believers, a practitioner, a leader and a herald of Gospel perfection, that by bearing witness to the light he might prepare for the Lord a way of light and peace to the hearts of his faithful.
– Shining with the splendor of his life and teaching, like the morning star in the midst of clouds, by his resplendent rays he guided into the light those sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, and like the rainbow shining among the clouds of glory he made manifested in himself the sign of the Lords covenant. He preached to people the Gospel of peace. Like John the Baptist, he was destined by God to prepare in the desert a way of the highest poverty and to peach repentance by word and example.
– One time when Francis’ body was weighed down by many forms of illness, he had desire to hear some music to arouse the joy of his spirit. But since it seemed inappropriate that this should be done by a human ministry, the deference of angels came to indulge the holy man’s pleasure. One night, as he was keeping vigil and meditating about the Lord, suddenly a lute was playing some wonderful harmony and a very sweet melody. No one was seen, but the changes in his hearing suggested that the lute player was moving back and forth from one place to another. With his spirit turned to God, there was such delight in that sweet sounding song, that he thought he had exchanged this world for the other.
– If we consider the height of his extraordinary sanctity we can come to the conclusion, without any doubt, that this messenger of God – worthy of love by Christ, imitation by us and admiration by the world – was God’s servant, Francis. In this, while living among humans, he was an imitator of angelic purity and was placed as an example for the perfect followers of Christ
– At one time the holy man, Anthony, was preaching eloquently to the brothers at a provincial chapter at Aries. Francis appeared lifted up in the air at the door of the chapter. He filled their spirits with such manifold consolation that it was certain to them that this wonderful apparition had been endowed by the power of heaven. Francis’ spirit was open to the light of eternal wisdom which is mobile beyond all motion, reaching everywhere because of its purity, spreading through the nations into holy souls, making them prophets and friends of God.
– That Francis might receive the infusion of spiritual consolations more quietly, he went at night to pray in solitary places or abandoned churches. The man of God remaining alone and at peace, and, as if finding a more secret hiding place, would fill the forest with groans, water the places with tears, strike his breast with his hand. Now he entreated the Father, now he played with the Spouse; now he conversed with the Friend. There he was seen praying at night, with his hands and arms outstretched in the form of a cross, his whole body lifted up from the ground and surrounded by a sort of shining cloud, so that the extraordinary illumination around his body together with its elevation, was a witness to the wonderful light and elevation within his soul.
– Francis marveled exceedingly at the sight of so unfathomable a vision, knowing that the weakness of Christ’s passion was in no way compatible with the immortality of the seraphic spirit. Eventually he understood from this, through the Lord revealing it, that Divine Providence had shown him a vision of this sort so that the friend of Christ might learn in advance that he was to be totally transformed into the likeness of Christ crucified, not by the martyrdom of his flesh, but by the enkindling of his soul. As the vision was disappearing, it left in his heart a marvelous fire and imprinted in his flesh a likeness of signs no less marvelous.
– While Francis was praying and all of his fervor was totally absorbed in God, Christ Jesus appeared to him as fastened to a cross. His soul melted at the sight, and the memory of Christ’s passion was impressed on the innermost recesses of his heart. From that hour, whenever Christ’s crucifixion came to his mind, he could scarcely contain his tears and signs, as he later revealed to his companions when he was approaching the end of his life. Through this the man of God understood as addressed to himself the Gospel text: If you wish to come after me, deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. (Cf. LMJ 1:5)
– On one occasion, however, when Francis was caught up in the pressures of business, contrary to his usual manner of acting, he sent away empty-handed a poor man who had begged alms for the love of God. Immediately turning back to his heart, he ran after him, and, gently with extravagant alms, he promised God that from that moment, while he had the means, he would not refuse those who begged from him for the love of God. ILMj 1;1)
Sermon on the Feast of the Transferal of the Body of Saint Francis, May 1267
– Go up higher. Christ addresses Saint Francis in these words as if to say to him on the feast of the Ascension, “Go up with my help by calling on me in prayer. Go up after me, by following my example in your life. Go up to God’s presence by contemplating the divine splendor. Go up because of me whom you shall see at last in glory.” (FAED II, 744)
The Tree of Life
– Oh, if you could realize the great exaltation of the Virgin Mother, the ennobling of the human race, the condescension of the divine majesty; if you could hear the Virgin singing with joy; if you could go with your Lady into the mountainous region; if you could see the sweet embrace of the Virgin and the woman who had been sterile and hear the greeting in which the tiny servant recognized his Lord, the herald his Judge and the voice his Word, then I am sure you would sing in sweet tones with the Blessed Virgin that sacred hymn: My soul magnifies the Lord; and with the tiny prophet, you would exalt, rejoice and adore the marvelous virginal conception.
The Morning Sermon on Saint Francis
– We find Francis humblest of all despising himself, and he did so in order to follow him of whom it is written: He emptied himself taking the form of a servant. Christ was conceived in the form of a servant and, therefore, He could say of Himself: I am small and despised. I am a worm and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people. Anyone who desires to possess the wisdom of Christ must begin at the root of holiness, just as Saint Francis did. (FAED II, 751))
– Who would be competent to describe the burning charity with which Francis, the friend of the Bridegroom, was aflame? Like a thoroughly burning coal, he seemed totally absorbed in the flame of divine love For as soon as he heard “the love of the Lord,” he was excited, moved, and on fire as if these words from the outside were a pick strumming the strings of his heart on the inside.
– The root of perfect holiness lies in deep humility, its loftiness in well tried virtue, and its radiance in consummate love. Consequently, in this text Saint Francis is commended for his deep humility, for which he was sustained by God, as its opening words say: Behold my servant whom I uphold. Then he is commended for his well tried virtue which made him pleasing to God, as the text continues: my chosen, in whom my soul delights. Third, he is commended for his consummate love whereby he passed over into God and opened his heart to his neighbor, as the text concludes: I have put my spirit upon him.
The Evening Sermon on Saint Francis
1255 – The second pathway to humility is remembrance of Christ. We should call to mind that Christ was humbled even to the most horrible form of death as the price of our salvation as we read in Isaiah: We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. If Christ humbled himself for our salvation, surely we ought to humble ourselves for his glory. (FAED ll, 522)
1255 – Meekness is necessary to attain eternal life. The Gospel tells us: Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Because they lived on this earth in goodness and peace even when unjustly oppressed by harsh people, by God’s just judgments the meek shall inherit the land, not this earthly land, but the land of the living.
1262 – The cross of Christ is the sign of God’s perfect works and of all God’s wonderful deeds. And because Saint Francis may be likened to the heavens in all that he did, we should expect to find the cross imprinted on him, so that by this sign he would be raised on high. The Lord regards the lowly and therefore God looked upon this humble and poor little man, Saint Francis, and imprinted on him the sigh of the cross. As Saint James reminds us: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (FAED II, 730)
1262 – We admire the heavens because of their vast extent. They contain all things. Saint Francis can be likened to this feature of the heavens because of his all-embracing love which went out to everyone. We read in the Book of Sirach: “I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven.” This can be said of the love that is in God and in us for it also has compassed the heavens which contain everything. Yet only the righteous dwell in heaven. Love embraces all that love commands, but such love is found only in the virtuous. It was through love that the divine nature was united to flesh and through love that Christ humbled himself and underwent death.
1262 – The sign of Christ’s cross had to be found on this man of heavenly virtue, Saint Francis, whose love was boundless. He had love without limit for everyone. Love spends itself for sinners without counting the cost. Saint Francis was not content with preaching God’s word only to the Christian faithful who listen with glad hearts and accept it willingly. He even went to the Saracens to proclaim the Gospel in the hope that he might be put to death for his faith in Christ and so become a martyr. (FAED II 726)
1267 – St. Francis did not turn back; after putting his hand to the plough, he did not look back. He was chosen and not cast away. The right hand of my Just One has upheld you, says Isaiah. Who is this Just One? Saint John gives us the answer: We have an advocate in heaven with the Father, Jesus Christ the just. The right hand of my Just One is the right hand of Almighty God who kept him safe from all his enemies. When demons attacked him and thrashed him bodily, he always had recourse to God’s help. He was able to make his own the words of the Psalm: In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. (FAED ll, 754)
1267 – The Lord showed his delight in Saint Francis by choosing to speak to him not as a stranger, but as an intimate friend, for the crucifix spoke to him, which is now preserved by the Sisters at San Damiano. Perhaps you may ask: “What took place when the angel said to the Virgin Mary: “Hail Mary, full of grace?” or “What did Zechariah experience when the angel, standing on the right side of the altar of incense, spoke to him?” If we are ready to do what pleases God, God will make the divine will known to us. (FAED II 760)
1267 – Friend, go up higher. These are Christ’s words inviting to the wedding feast those guests found to be humble whom the Lord exalts and desires to exalt, Jesus calls Saint Francis his fiend due to his truly humble spirit. Christ addresses Saint Francis in these words as if to say to him, “Go up with my help by calling on me in prayer. Go up after me, by following my example in your life. Go up to God’s presence by contemplating the divine splendor. Go up because of me whom you shall see at last in glory.” (FAED ll, 738, 744)
The Soul’s Journey into God
– May God enlighten the eyes of our soul to guide our feet in the way of that peace which surpasses all understanding. This is the peace which surpasses all understanding. This is the peace proclaimed and given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ and preached again and again by our father Francis. At the beginning and end of every sermon he announced peace; in every greeting he wished for peace; in every contemplation he sighed for ecstatic peace. (Itin Prol 1)
Exhortations to the Clergy
– For we have and see nothing bodily of the Most High in this world except His Body and Blood. Are we not moved by piety at these things when the pious Lord puts Himself into our hands and we touch Him and receive Him daily with our mouth? (1LtC1 3, 8)
A Letter to a Minister
– I speak to you, as best I can, about the state of your soul. You must consider as grace all that impedes you from loving the Lord God and whoever has become an impediment to you, whether brothers or others, even if they lay hands on you. And may you want it to be this way and not otherwise. And let this be for you the true obedience of the Lord God and my true obedience. And love those who do those things to you and do not wish anything different from them, unless it is something the Lord God shall have given you. And love them in this and do not wish that they be better Christians. And let this be more than a hermitage for you.
The First Letter to the Custodians
– In every sermon you give, remind people about penance and that no one can be saved without receiving the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord. When it is sacrificed on the altar by a priest and carried anywhere, let all peoples praise, glorify and honor on bended knee the Lord God living and true. May you announce and preach God’s praise to all nations in such a way that praise and thanks may always be given to the all-powerful God by all people throughout the world at every hour and whenever bells are rung. (1LtCus 6-8)
The Second Letter of St. Francis of Assisi to the Faithful
– “We are spouses when the faithful soul is joined to our Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. We are brothers to Him when we do the will of the Father Who is in Heaven (Mt 12:50); mothers, when we carry Him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and pure and sincere conscience and when we give birth to Him through a holy manner of working, which should shine before others as an example (cf. Mt 5:16).”
A Letter to the Entire Order
– O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! The Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under and ordinary piece of bread! Look at the humility of God, and pour out your hearts before Him! Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him! Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves that He Who gives Himself totally to you may receive you totally! (LtOrd 27 – 29)
– Listen, pay attention to my words. Incline the ear of your heart and obey the voice of the Son of God. Observe His commands with your whole heart and fulfill His counsels with a perfect mind. Give praise to Him because He is good; exalt Him by your deeds; for this reason He has sent you into the whole world: that you may bear witness to His voice in word and deed and bring everyone to know that there is no one who is all-powerful except God. (Lt Ord 5-9)
– Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult when Christ, the Son of the living God, is present on the altar! O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! The Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under an ordinary piece of bread!
The Earlier Rule
– In the love that is God, I beg all my brothers and sisters to strive to humble themselves in everything, not to boast of delight in themselves or inwardly exalt themselves because of the good words and deeds or, for that matter, because of any good that God sometimes says or does or works in and through them. ER 17: 5-6)
– Alms are a legacy and a justice due to the poor that our Lord Jesus Christ acquired for us. The brothers who work at acquiring them will receive a great reward and enable those who give them to gain and acquire one; for all that people leave behind in the world will perish, but they will have a reward from the Lord for the charity and almsgiving they have done. (ER 9:8-9)
– Be careful not to be disturbed or angered at another’s sin or evil because the devil wishes to destroy many because of another’s fault. But, spiritually help the one who has sinned, because those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. The Lord says in the Gospel: The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and the great ones make their authority over them felt; it shall not be so among you. (Cf. ER 5:7-8, 10-12)
– Fear and Honor, praise and bless, give thanks and adore the Lord God Almighty in Trinity and in Unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Creator of all. Do penance, performing worthy fruits of penance because we shall be forgiven. If you do not forgive people their sins, the Lord will not forgive you yours. Confess all your sins. Blessed are those who die in penance, for they shall be in the kingdom of heaven. Beware of and abstain from every evil and persevere in good till the end.
– Let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us, nothing come between us. Wherever we are, in every place, at every hour, at every time of the day, every day and continually, let all of us truly and humbly believe, hold in our heart and love, honor, adore, serve, praise and bless, glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the Most High and Supreme Eternal God Trinity and Unity. (ER 23:10-11)
– But in the holy love which is God, serve, love, honor and adore the Lord God with a clean heart and a pure mind in whatever way you are best able to do so, for that is what God wants above all else. Let us always make a home and a dwelling place there for the one who is the Lord God Almighty, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. And let us adore God with a pure heart, because it is necessary to pray always and not lose heart (ER 22:26-27, 29)
– Let us desire nothing else, let us want nothing else, let nothing else please us and cause us delight except our Creator, Redeemer and Savior, the only true God, Who is the fullness of good, all good, every good, the true and supreme good. (ER 23.9)
– Wherever the brothers and sisters may be and in whatever place they meet, they should respect spiritually and attentively one another, and honor one another without complaining. Let them be careful not to appear outwardly as sad and gloomy hypocrites but show themselves joyful, cheerful and consistently gracious in the Lord.
– Let us be very much on our guard that, under the guise of some reward or assistance, we do not lose or take or mind away from God. But, in the holy love which is God, I beg all my brothers and sisters, after overcoming every impediment and putting aside every care and anxiety, to serve, love, honor and adore the Lord God with a clean heart and a pure mind in whatever way they are best able to do so, for that is what God wants above all else.
– In the love that is God, I beg all those who preach, pray, or work, cleric or lay – to strive to humble themselves in everything, not to boast or delight in themselves or inwardly exalt themselves because of the good words and deeds or, for that matter, because of any good that God sometimes says or does or works in and through them. The Spirit of the Lord strives for humility and patience, the pure, simple and true peace of the spirit. Above all, it desires the divine fear, the divine wisdom and the divine love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
– Therefore, let us desire nothing else, let us want nothing else, let nothing else please us and cause us delight except our Creator Redeemer and Savior, the only true God, Who is the fullness of good, all good, every good, the true and supreme good, Who is holy, just , true, and upright, Who alone is kind, innocent, clean, from Whom, through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory of all penitents and just ones, of all the blessed rejoicing together in heaven.
– Let all strive to follow the humility and poverty of our Lord Jesus Christ and let them remember that we should have nothing else in the whole world except, as the Apostle says: having food and clothing, we are content with these. They must rejoice when they live among people considered of little value and looked down upon, among the poor and the powerless, the sick and the lepers, and the beggars by the wayside. (ER 9:1-2)
– Let them confidently make known their need to another the other might discover what is needed and minister to them. Let each one love and care for the other as a mother loves and cares for her children in those matters in which God has given the grace. (ER 9:10-11)
– I counsel, admonish and exhort my brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ not to quarrel or argue or judge others when they go about in the world; but let them be meek, peaceful, modest, gentle, and humble, speaking courteously to everyone, as is becoming. Into whatever house they enter, let them first say: “Peace be to this house!” According to the holy Gospel, let them eat whatever food is set before them. (LR 3:10-11, 13-14)
– The apostle says: The letter kills, but the spirit gives life. Those people are put to death by the letter who only wish to know the words alone, that they might be esteemed wiser than others and be able to acquire great riches to give to their relatives and friends. And those religious are put to death by the letter who are not willing to follow the spirit of the divine letter but, instead, wish only to know the words and to interpret them for others. (Adm 7:1-3)
– Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Those people are truly peacemakers who, regardless of what they suffer in this world, preserve peace of spirit and body out of love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– As Jesus revealed Himself to the holy apostles in true flesh, so He reveals Himself to us now in sacred bread. And as they saw only His flesh by an insight of their flesh, yet believed that He was God as they contemplated Him with their spiritual eyes, let us, as we see bread and wine with our bodily eyes, see and firmly believe that they are His most holy Body and Blood living and true. And in this way the Lord is always with His faithful, as He Himself says: Behold I am with you until the end of the age. (Adm 1:19-22)
– In what, then can you boast? Even if you were so skillful and wise that you possessed all knowledge, knew how to interpret every kind of language, and to scrutinize heavenly matters with skill: you could not boast in these things. In the same way, even if you were more handsome and richer than everyone else, and even if you worked miracles so that you put demons to flight: all these things are contrary to you; nothing belongs to you; you can boast in none of these things. But we can boast in our weaknesses and in carrying each day the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Adm 5:4-5, 7-8)
– Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor disturbance. Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is rest and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor restlessness. Where there is fear of the Lord to guard and entrance, there the enemy cannot have a place to enter. Where there is a heart full of mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardness of heart. (Adm 27:1 6)
– Where there is rest and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor restlessness. Where there is fear of the Lord to guard an entrance, there the enemy cannot have a place to enter. Where there is a heart full of mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardness of heart. (Adm 27: 4-6)
– Blessed are those servants who return every good to the Lord God because those who hold onto something for themselves hid the money of their Lord God within themselves, and what they think they have will be taken away from them. (Cf. Adm 18:2)
Later Admonition and Exhortation
– The most high Father made known from heaven this Word in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, from whose womb He received the flesh of our humanity and frailty. Though He was rich, He wished, together with the most Blessed Virgin, His mother, to choose poverty in the world beyond all else. (2LtF 4-5)
– We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh, but, instead, we must be simple, humble and pure. We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things and it will make a home and dwelling place in them. (2LtF 45, 47-48)
– We must observe the commands and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must also deny ourselves and place our bodies under the yoke of service and holy obedience as each one has promised to the Lord. We must never desire to be above others, but instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things and it will make a home and dwelling place in them. (Cf. 2LtF 39-40, 47-48)
– We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things and it will make a home and dwelling place in them. And they will be the children of the heavenly Father, Whose works they do. And they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2LtF 47-50)
– Let us produce worthy fruits of penance. And let us love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility and give alms because it washes the stains of our sins from our souls. For although people lose everything they leave behind in this world, they, nevertheless, carry with them the rewards of charity and the alms they have given for which they will receive a reward and a fitting repayment from the Lord. We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from an excess of food and drink and be Catholics. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh, but, instead, we must be simple, humble and pure. (1LtF 25-26, 30-32, 45)
– Let every creature in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths, give praise, glory, honor and blessing to God Who suffered so much, Who has given and will give in the future every good, for God is our power and strength, Who alone is good, Who alone is almighty, Who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious and Who alone is holy, worthy of praise and blessing through endless ages. (Cf. 2LtF 61-62)
– God’s will was such that the blessed and glorious Son, who was born for us, should offer himself through His own blood as a sacrifice and oblation on the altar of the cross: not for Himself through whom all things were made, but for our sins, leaving us an example that we might follow His footprints (2LtF 11-13)
– But how happy and blessed are those who love God and do as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Let us love God, therefore, and adore God with a pure heart and a pure mine, because Christ who seeks this above all things has said: True adorers adore the Father in Spirit and Truth. For all who adore God must adore in the Spirit of truth. And day and night let us direct praises and prayers to God, saying: Our Father, Who art in heaven, for we should pray always and not become weary. (Cf. 2LtF 18-21)
– Let us, therefore, have charity and humility and give alms because it washes the stains of our sins from our souls. For, although people lose everything they leave behind in this world, they, nevertheless, carry with them the rewards of charity and the alms they have given for which they will receive a reward and a fitting repayment from the Lord. We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from an excess of food and drink and be Catholics.
– We must love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. We must observe the commands and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must also deny ourselves and place our bodies under the yoke of servitude and holy obedience as each one has promised to the Lord. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh, but instead, we must be simple, humble and pure. We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things and it will make a home and dwelling place in them.
– We must, of course, confess all our sins to a priest and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever does not eat His flesh and drink His blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. But let us eat and drink worthily because those who receive unworthily, not distinguishing, that is, not discerning, the Body of the Lord, eat and drink judgment on themselves. In addition, let us produce worthy fruits of penance.
– Blessed is the servant who treasures up in heaven the good things which the Lord shows him and who does not wish to manifest them to men through the hope of reward, for the Most High will Himself manifest his works to whomsoever He may please. Blessed is the servant who keeps the secrets of the Lord in his heart.
– And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things, and it will make a home and dwelling place in them. And they will be the children of the heavenly Father, whose works they do. And they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through love and pure and sincere conscience; and give Him birth through a holy activity, which must shine before others by example. (2LtF 48-53)
– O how glorious it is to have a holy and great Father in heaven! O how holy, consoling to have such a beautiful and wonderful Spouse! O how holy and how loving, gratifying, humbling, peace-giving, sweet, worthy of love, and above all things, desirable: to have such a Brother and such a Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for His sheep. (LtF 1:11-13)
– All those who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with their whole strength and love their neighbors as themselves, who hate their bodies with their vices and sins, who receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who produce worthy fruits of penance. O how happy and blessed are these men and women while they do such things and persevere in doing them, because the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them and make its home and dwelling place among them, and they are children of the heavenly Father whose works they do, and they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– You are spouses when the faithful soul is joined by the Holy Spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers to Him when we do the will of the Father who is in heaven. We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through a divine love and a pure and sincere conscience and give birth to Him through a holy activity which must shine as an example before others. (1LtF 1-8-10)
The Sacred Exchange between Saint Francis and Lady Poverty
– Francis speaks to Lady Poverty: “At His birth you certainly greeted Him with faithfulness so that in you, not in luxuries, He would find a place that would please Him. He was placed in a manger, the Evangelist said, because there was no room for Him in the inn. Thus, always inseparable from Him, you accompanied Him so that throughout His life, when he was seen upon earth and conversed with human beings, he nevertheless had nowhere to lay His head.”
– Francis speaks to Lady Poverty: “The son of the most high Father, enamored of your beauty and clinging only to you in the world, proved that you were most faithful in everything. For before he came to earth from his radiant homeland, you prepared an appropriate place for him, a throne upon which he would sit and a dwelling place in which he would rest, that is, a very poor virgin from whom the birth would shine upon this world.”
– The kingdom of heaven truly belongs to those who, of their own will, a spiritual intention, and a desire for eternal goods, posses nothing of this earth. It is necessary for those who do not care for the goods of the earth to live for those of heaven.
The Book of Chronicles
– When Francis had finished saying these things with a trusting heart to Christ, a voice sounded in the air, in the person of Christ, in a marvelous way, above the place where Saint Francis was praying. The voice said: “This is My servant Francis, whom I have chosen, and I have placed My Spirit in him, and have commanded him to do what he has done, and to write the Rule which he is writing. To those I will call to observe this life and Rule I will give the spirit and the strength to observe it.” (HTrb 1:403)
– Happy are they who faithfully and devoutly strive to live according to their vocation, and observe purely and simply until the end the things which they promised the Lord, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven with unique glory.
– Christ Jesus worked in His servant Francis in the same way as in the early saints, and many rushed toward the fragrance of his life and that of his companions, and were drawn by the power of the Spirit of Christ to love heavenly things and put them into practice. Fervent in the spirit of Christ they preached the Gospel in deed and in word. The hearts of those who saw them were transformed, and to confirm their life and preaching Christ daily worked innumerable signs and miracles through Francis. (HTrb Prol 287-299)
The Treatise on the Miracles of Saint Francis
– Let there be no room for ambiguity: let no one doubt this outpouring of everlasting goodness! If only the many members were joined in that same seraphic love to Christ their head! If only they were to be found worthy of such armor in a similar battle, and be raised to the same rank in the kingdom! (3C 5)
The Legend of Three Companions
– “Dearest brothers and sisters,” Francis said, “let us consider our vocation, to which God has mercifully called us, not only for our own good, but for the salvation of many. We are to go throughout the world, encouraging everyone, more by deed than by word, to do penance for their sins and to recall the commandments of God. Do not be afraid that you seem few and uneducated. With confidence, simply proclaim penance, trusting in the Lord, who conquered the world. Because by the Spirit, God is speaking through and in you, encouraging everyone to be converted. (L3C 36)
– He, Francis, intimately loved the poor, suffering deeply with them, and he showed himself subject to all. Although he was more elevated than all the brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. He humbly and eagerly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. For in the presence of people, he lowered his head even to the ground; so that now in the presence of God’s saints and chosen ones, he merits to be exalted in the divine sight.
– From then on, blessed Francis, going around the cities and villages, began to preach more widely and more perfectly proclaiming the kingdom of God with confidence, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the learning and power of the Holy Spirit….Drawn by divine inspiration, many people, well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, began to cling to blessed Francis’ footsteps, and, after they had abandoned the concerns and vanity of this world, to live under his discipline. (L3C 54)
The Assisi Compilation
– Francis was troubled by this temptation day and night for more than two years. One day while he was praying in the church of Saint Mary, he happened to hear in spirit that saying of the holy Gospel: “If you have faith like a mustard seed, and you tell that mountain to move from its place and move to another place, it will happen.” Saint Francis replied: “What is that mountain?” He was told: “That mountain is your temptation.” “In that case, Lord,” said blessed Francis, “be it done to me as you have said.” Immediately he was freed in such a way that it seemed to him that he never had that temptation. (AC 63)
– Noticing and hearing at one time that some brothers were giving a bad example and moved inwardly with sorrow of heart. Francis said to the Lord in prayer: “Lord I give back to You the family You gave me.” And it was said to him in spirit: “I did not choose you as a learned or eloquent man to be over my family, but I chose you, a simple man, so that you and the others may know that I will watch over my flock. But I have placed you as a sign to them, so that the works that I work in you, they should see in you, emulate, and do them. Those who walk in my way have me and will have me more abundantly. Those who refuse to walk in my way, that which they seem to have will be taken away from them. Therefore, I tell you, don’t be so sad; do what you do, work as you work.” (AC 112)
– We, who were with blessed Francis, and who wrote these things about him, bear witness that we often heard him say. “All mayors of cities and lords of castles and villages should be bound to oblige people each year on the Nativity of the Lord to scatter wheat and other grain along the roads outside towns and villages, so that all the birds may have something to eat on such a solemn feast. Also, out of reverence for the Son of God, whom His Virgin Mother on that night laid in a manger between an ox and ass, everyone should have to give brother ox and brother ass a generous portion of fodder on that night. Likewise on the Nativity of the Lord, all the poor should be fed their fill by the rich.”
– And the Lord said to Francis, “I did not choose you as a learned or eloquent man to be over my family, but I chose you, a simple man, so that you and the others may know that I will watch over my flock. But I have placed you as a sign to them, so that the works that I work in you, they should see in you, emulate and do them. Those who refuse to walk in my way, that which they seem to have will be taken away from them. Therefore, I tell you, don’t be so sad; do what you do, work as you work, for I have planted the religion of this family in everlasting love.” (AC 112)
A Mirror of the Perfection
– Francis used to say: “Because spiritual joy springs from integrity of heart and the purity of constant prayer, it must be your primary concern to acquire and preserve these two virtues, to possess internal, as well as external joy. I so fervently desire and love to see this both in myself and in you, for the edification of the neighbor and the defeat of the enemy. It is our lot to rejoice always and be glad in the Lord.”
– Francis said: God has called me by the way of simplicity and humility, and has truly shown me this way for me for those who want to trust and imitate me. Therefore I do not want you to mention to me any Rule, except the one that the Lord in His mercy has shown and given to me. And the Lord told me what He wanted: He wanted me to be a new fool in this world. God did not wish to lead us by any other than this knowledge. (2MP 68)
– Indeed, when Francis’ illness grew more serious, he himself began to sing the Praises of the Lord that he had composed about creatures, and afterwards had his companions sing it, so that in reflecting on the praise of the Lord, he could forget the sharpness of his pains and illnesses…He considered and said that the sun is more beautiful than other creatures, and could more easily be compared to God, especially since, in Scripture, the Lord…is called the sun of justice; he therefore called those Praises he composed for creatures…the “Canticle of Brother Sun.” (2MP 119)
True and Perfect Joy
– Brother Leo asked Francis: “What is true joy?” Francis said, “I return from Perugia and arrive here in the dead of night. Its winter time, muddy, and so cold that icicles have formed on the edges of my habit….I come to the gate and, after I’ve knocked and called for some time, a brother comes and asks: “Who are you?” “Brother Francis,” I answered, “Go away!” he says. “This is not a decent hour to be wandering about! You may not come in!” When I insist, he replies: “Go away! You are simple and stupid! Don’t come back to us again! There are many of us here like you – we don’t need you!” I stand again at the door and say: “I will not! Go to the Crosiers” place and ask there!” I tell you this: If I had patience and did not become upset, true joy, as well as true virtue and the salvation of my soul, would consist in this.” (TPJ 7- 15)
The Anonymous of Perugia
– On the sixteenth of April, after one thousand two hundred and seventy years had been completed since the Incarnation of the Lord, God saw that the people had forgotten His commandments and were ungrateful for his goodness. God enlightened a man who was in the city of Assisi, Francis by name, a merchant by trade. It seemed to Francis that divine grace had suddenly made him a different man. He strove with all eagerness to fulfill the task God had shown him. He walked not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the display and the power of the Spirit. (AP 3, 6, 9)
– His great desire was that he and his brothers would perform deeds through which the Lord would be praised. He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal because of you. Let everyone be drawn to peace and kindness through your peace and gentleness. For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring.
– On Pentecost all the brothers used to gather for a chapter near the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. At the chapter they would discuss how they could better observe the Rule. They appointed brothers who would preach to the people throughout each of the provinces, and assigned brothers in their province. Saint Francis used to give the brothers admonitions, corrections and precepts, as it seemed best to him, after consulting the Lord. Everything, however, that he said in word, he would first, with eagerness and affection, show them in deed. He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal because of you. Let everyone be drawn to peace and kindness through your peace and gentleness. For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring.”
The Kinship of Saint Francis
Arnald of Sarrant
– In many ways he, Francis, was conformed to Christ in his ascension and in accumulating rewards, even though with the greatest inequality of glory and rewards. For Christ ascended into heaven in the sight of the Apostles in a bright cloud. Thus, blessed Francis did something similar, for, after his death, six brothers saw him ascending in the form of the sun with indescribable brilliance. (KnSF 8:39)
– At last, in the sixth age, almost on the sixth day, came a human being, Francis, made in God’s image and likeness. He appeared conformed to that one, true sun of justice in everything, that he would be clearly visible to his followers. He appeared uniquely conformed to Christ in calling his friends, in establishing their way of behaving in contemplating the sublime, in revealing mysteries, in instructing peoples and transforming their members, in storing up merit, in gathering reward, in performing wonders. (KnSF Prol)
– Resplendent as the dawn and the morning star, or even the rising sun, setting the world on fire, enlightening and making it fruitful, Francis, the shepherd and leader of the Lesser Brothers, arose in the city of Assisi. He was like the sun warming that world nearly covered by a winter of cold, darkness and sterility, giving it light with the brilliant rays of word and deed, dazzling it with truth, inflaming it with charity, renewing it with abundant fruit of merits and enriching it with a variety of fruit-bearing trees in the three Orders established by him. (KnSF Prol)
– At last, in the sixth age, almost on the sixth day, came a human being, Francis, made in God’s image and likeness. He appeared conformed to that one, true sun of justice in everything, that he would be clearly visible to his followers. He appeared uniquely conformed to Christ in calling his friends, in establishing their way of behaving, in contemplating the sublime, in revealing mysteries, in instructing peoples and transforming their members, in storing up merit, in gathering reward, in performing wonders. (knSF Prof)
Definition of Penance
– The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body. And afterwards I delayed a little and left the world.
– But as the Lord has given me to speak and write the Rule and these words simply and purely, may you understand them simply and without gloss and observe them with a holy activity until the end. And whoever observes these things will be blessed in heaven with the blessing of the Most High Father, and on earth with the blessing of the Beloved Son with the Most Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and all the powers of heaven and with all the saints. And, as far as I can, I little brother Francis, your servant, confirm for you, both within and without, this most holy blessing. (Cf. Test 39-41)
A Prayer Inspired by the Our Father
Your will be done on earth as in heaven: That we may love You with our whole heart by always thinking of You, with our whole soul by always desiring You, with our whole mind by always directing all our intentions to You, and by seeking Your glory in everything, with all our whole strength by exerting all our energies and affections of body and soul in the service of Your love and of nothing else; and we may love our neighbor as ourselves by drawing them all to your love with our whole strength, by rejoicing in the good of others as in our own, by suffering with others at their misfortunes, and by giving offense to no one. (PrOF 5)
The Life of Saint Francis
Julian of Speyer
– Truly, in regard to all those things which the glorious father Francis intended to do and did, his safest refuge was frequent prayer. He sought out solitary places and made his abode in the wilderness but, while living among people, he went alone at night to deserted houses or churches. There, he first learned what he later taught others. However, he learned not so that he might painstakingly invent words to speak, but that thus, above and beyond the ways of human learning, he might drink most fully of the richness of heavenly wisdom, in order that he might be full, not so much with words as with the power of the Spirit which might sprinkle upon his neighbors when the right time came. (Cf.LJS 11:57)
– So one day, when he had given himself over to prayer with greater devotion than usual, giving thanks for the rich favors bestowed on him by God, he recalled, in the bitterness of his soul, the years he had wasted, and stood trembling before the Lord. His mind was flooded throughout with a wonderful sweetness and joy to the extent that he lost himself, until at last, the heavy darkness from his sins was utterly dispelled, and he was made certain that the debt for his offences had been forgotten down to the last penny. (LJS 3:18)
– When Solemn Mass was celebrated above the manger, the holy Levite of God, Francis, dressed in festive vestments, proclaimed the gospel with a sonorous voice and then with a voice flowing with honey he preached to the people about the poor king born in Bethlehem. It is therefore believed, and not without reason, that the Lord Jesus aptly revealed his infancy in a vision to the one who reflected upon it. He who was asleep or dead in the hearts of many, owing to forgetfulness, was awakened and recalled to memory by the teaching and example of Blessed Francis. The solemnities were completed with great exultation, and everyone happily returned to their homes. (LJS 10:54-55)
– Applying all the care of his heart, to fulfill the words of the new grace he had heard, he became, by divine inspiration, the proclaimer of evangelical perfection and began publicly to preach penance with simplicity. Moreover, his statements were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. They penetrated the marrow of the heart and provoked stunned amazement in those who heard them.
– Holy Obedience confounds every corporal and carnal wish, binds its mortified body to obedience of the Spirit and obedience to one’s brother and sister, so that it is subject and submissive to everyone in the world, not only to people but to every beast and wild animal as well that they may do whatever they want with it insofar as it has been given to them from above by the Lord. (SalV 14)
Salutation of the Virtues
In Francis’ Salutation of the Virtues, Francis greets each virtue in a fashion typical of a medieval troubadour. He describes the virtues each Christian must have and then concludes by interpreting the function of each.
Hail, Queen Wisdom! May the Lord protect You, with Your Sister, holy pure Simplicity!
Lady holy Poverty, may the Lord protect You, with Your Sister, holy Humility!
Lady holy Charity, may the Lord protect You, with Your Sister, holy Obedience.
Most holy Virtues, may the Lord protect all of You from Whom You come and proceed.
There is surely no one in the whole world who can possess any one of You without dying first. Whoever possesses one and does not offend the others possesses all. Whoever offends one does not possess any and offends all. And each one confounds vice and sin.
Holy Wisdom confounds Satan and all his cunning. Pure holy Simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the body. Holy Poverty confounds the desire for riches, greed, and the cares of this world. Holy Humility confounds pride, all people who are in the world and all that is in the world.
Holy Charity confounds every diabolical and carnal temptation and every carnal fear. Holy Obedience confounds every corporal and carnal wish, binds its mortified body to obedience of the Spirit and obedience to one’s brother, so that it is subject and submissive to everyone in the world, not only to people, but to every beast and wild animal as well that they may do whatever they want with it insofar as it has been given to them from above by the Lord.
(From the book, “Francis the Saint”)
A Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Francis
Hail, O Lady, Holy Queen,
Mary, holy Mother of God, Who are the Virgin made Church,
chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven
whom he consecrated with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
all fullness of grace and every good.
Hail His Palace! Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Dwelling! Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant! Hail His Mother!
And hail all You holy virtues
which are poured into the hearts of the faithful
through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,
that from being unbelievers,
You may make them faithful to God.
Saint Francis and Dialogue with Bandits
In a hermitage located on Borgo San Sepolcro, were from time to time certain robbers came to ask for bread. They lived in the thick forests of that country and sometimes came out, and lurked in the streets to rob passers-by.
For this reason, some of the friars of the hermitage said, “It is not good to give alms to these people, who are thieves and they do so much harm to the people.” Others, whereas the robbers came to beg humbly, driven by grave necessity, gave them sometimes bread, always urging them to change their lives and do penance.
The friars said, they had no bread for those criminals? Replied Francis, “If you do what I suggest, I trust in the Lord that you will win souls.” And he went on: “Go buy some good bread and good wine, carried supplies to the robbers in the forest where they live, and shout: “Brothers thieves, come to us, We are brothers, and we bring you good bread and good wine “. Those will flock instantly. You then roll out a tablecloth on the floor, place on top the bread and wine, and serve them with respect and good humor.
When they are finished eating, propose to them the words of the Lord. You close the exhortation asking them for the love of God, a first pleasure, and that you promise not to hit or otherwise abuse the people. The next day go back to them and, as a reward for good when they had broken promise, add the bread and wine, eggs and cheese; bring everything to the robbers and serve.
After the meal you say, “Why starve here all day, to starve and suffer hardships, to weave so much damage and in fact, because of the risk which the perdition of the soul, if ye repent? Better to serve the Lord, and at the end will save your souls. ” And the Lord, in his mercy, will inspire the robbers to change his life, touched by your respect and affection. ”
This moved the brothers and did everything as suggested by Francis. The robbers, by the mercy and grace that God sent down upon them, they listened and executed point by point the demands made on them by the friars. Much for the kindness and friendship shown to them by the friars, began to carry on their shoulders the wood to the hermitage. Finally, for the goodness of God and the kindness and friendship of the brothers, some of those robbers entered the Order, others were converted to repentance, promising in the hands of the friars who henceforth would no longer have perpetrated these evils and would live with the work of their hands.
The friars and other people became aware of the incident, they were filled with wonder, thinking about the sanctity of Francis, who had predicted the conversion of men so evil and wicked, and seeing them turn to the Lord so quickly. Franciscan Sources/San Francisco Newsletter Assisi
The Canticle of Exhortation for the Ladies of San Damiano – Francis
Listen, little poor ones called by the Lord, who have come together from many parts and provinces. Live always in truth that you may die in obedience. Do not look at the life without, for that of the Spirit is better. I beg you out of great love, to use with discernment the alms the Lord gives you. Those weighted down by sickness and the others wearied because of them, all of you: bear it in peace. For you will sell this fatigue at a very high price and each one will be crowned in heaven with the Virgin Mary.
Holy Virgin Mary, there is no one like you born in the world among women,
Daughter and Handmaid of the most high, sovereign King, the heavenly Father,
Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for us with St. Michael the archangel and with all the powers of the heavens and with
all the saints together with your most holy beloved Son, Lord and Teacher. Amen
~Francis of Assisi~
We must be simple, humble, and pure
From a letter written to all the faithful by Saint Francis of Assisi
It was through his archangel, Saint Gabriel, that the Father above made known to the holy and glorious Virgin Mary that the worthy, holy and glorious Word of the Father would come from heaven and take from her womb the real flesh of our human frailty. Though he was wealthy beyond reckoning, he still willingly chose to be poor with his blessed mother. And shortly before his passion he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Then he prayed to his Father saying: Father, if it be possible, let this cup be taken from me.
Nevertheless, he reposed his will in the will of his Father. The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross. This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made, but for our sins. It was intended to leave us an example of how to follow in his footsteps. And he desires all of us to be saved through him, and to receive him with pure heart and chaste body.
O how happy and blessed are those who love the Lord and do as the Lord himself said in the gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul, and your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, let us love God and adore him with pure heart and mind. This is his particular desire when he says: True worshipers adore the Father in spirit and truth. For all who adore him must do so in the spirit of truth. Let us also direct to him our praises and prayers saying: Our Father, who art in heaven, since we must always pray and never grow slack.
Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God’s sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father’s children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Filed Under: Franciscan History
The Canonization of St. Francis
When Pope Gregory IX, coming in person in the city of Assisi examined diligently miracles, behind testimony of his brothers, canonized Blessed Francis and enrolled him among the saints. Legenda Maior XV,7
The universality of the cult of Francis is the theme of this scene from the Legenda Maior , where Giotto depicts the ceremony in which Pope Gregory IX canonized the Poverello of Assisi Sunday, July 16 1228. On the same day the pope laid the cornerstone of the lower basilica intended to accommodate the “sacred body”.
Unfortunately, serious damage to the fresco have deleted the figure of the pope, who was allegedly in the richly decorated stage towards which many of the onlookers turned their gaze. In front of the stage there is an altar enclosed by a balustrade with candles, and in fact the ceremony was the prelude to a Mass celebrated by Pope Gregory IX in person.
Bonaventure, aware of the risk of a canonization so soon after the death of the candidate, said that Gregory IX had entrusted the evaluation of the life and miracles of Francis “to those among the cardinals who seemed less favorable”, which, however, approved of all ‘ unanimity the proposal to raise the Poverello of Assisi to the catalog of saints. One of the functions of this scene in fact is to seal the cult of Francis with the highest authority of the Church.
Bonaventure, of a theological nature, does not offer details on the rite of canonization, speaking only of “a very great solemnity that would be long to tell.” But Thomas of Celano – in his Life Before drafted a few months after the event, in which the author had also been present – devotes several pages that Giotto fresco sums. According to Celano, July 16 “bishops, abbots and prelates flock and gather, coming from the most distant regions of the earth; there is also a king and great multitude of accounts and moguls … the Supreme Pontiff … with the crown on his head as a sign of glory and holiness. Adorn with ribbons and the papal vestments laced with gold buckles glittering with precious stones, the anointed of the Lord appears in the splendor of his glory … “.
The Pope speaks of Francis and is moved to tears; reads the miracles of the saint and Pope Gregory pours fresh tears and so other prelates present; then, “with their hands raised to heaven, Blessed Pope booming voice shouting words of canonization [“crying “because there were no microphones], and then together with the cardinals sing the Te Deum . “The crowd responds in unison singing the praises of the Lord. The land echoes of voices immense, the air is filled with hymns of glory, the soil becomes wet with tears, “and Gregory IX kisses the altar with joy at the saint’s tomb “, arranged, it is assumed, under the table on which the pope finally says Mass.
So Celano ends his account of the life of Francis, Bonaventure also ends with a reference to the canonization. In the cycle of Giotto, the four remaining scenes were actually the character of an appendix: narrate some miracles of the saint to demonstrate the legitimacy – indeed, the necessity – of his canonization. Assisi Website – Live Feed at the Tomb of St. Francis
How to Tell Francis to Modern Man
How to tell St. Francis to modern man! The question is both interesting and difficult. The application could be extended to any other man or woman of the past: a man or woman who have had their peculiar existence. Therefore, we should start from “Brother Francis”, rather than “St. Francis” by the man who lived before being declared a saint.
“Brother Francis” is the usual translation of the Latin “frater Franciscus”; but, Latin for “fraternal” means, first of all, brother, and brother refers to belonging: in his case, membership in the fraternity of “brothers” Minor. Francis is therefore the one who chooses to be “brother” of other men and be “brother” along with many decided to share his proposal to “live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel,” to bear witness to the “good news” of Jesus Christ in all its radicalism. In short, Francis is a man in the fullness of the human condition and is a man who has chosen to follow in the footsteps of the Son (the Second Person of the Trinity).
Francis is therefore the one who responded to the Christian vocation, bending action of Divine Grace. It is he who has understood and agreed to the total meaning of the Incarnation and of the way of salvation. He understood and accepted, not less, that the grace of God did not want him isolated and alone, instead of offering them “brothers / friars” to share the difficult journey of faith.
For him to understand and accept the meaning of the Incarnation is to understand and accept the meaning of man and of life, which is also revealed (or perhaps especially) where individuals are located in the most miserable conditions: ‘Divine Incarnation means proximity of the God who became man in poverty and self-sacrifice.
In one of the warnings of Brother Francis reads: “Consider, O man, how much excellence in the Lord God has placed you, since you created and formed according to the body in the image of his beloved Son and in the spirit in his likeness “.
These words, exalting man, I refer to his responsibility, just as the “son” of God, that everything must be to the Father who can boast of nothing except their “illness”, saying “every day the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In recognition of his own limitations and to support the cross there is the abandonment to the will of the Father, and in all that there is no sadness or gloom, but the “true joy and true virtue and salvation of the soul.”
The effort to translate in reality these beliefs leads Brother Francis to be considered holy, that is, to be an example and witness of Christian life, before he was the penalty in an institutional act, i.e. the sanctification rectory.
As you will understand, example and testimony are not reducible to a mere narrative, a tale fable and uplifting; instead involve the confrontation and constructive dialogue with oneself and with others. The human and religious experience of Brother / Saint Francis is only apparently distant and over. – Grado Giovanni Merlo – Professor at the University of Milan and President of the International Society for Studies Francesc