From "The Little Flowers, Legends, and Lauds"

Edited by Otto Karrer,
Translated by N.Wydenbruck
1979, Sheed & Ward, London.

E.Morrogh Bernard,
Vicar General, Westminister
Aug.14, 1947

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How it was revealed to Brother John of Penna that he must take a long journey (45)G

When Brother John of La Penna was still a boy living in the world in the province of the March, one night there appeared to him a most beautiful child, who called him, saying: "O John, go to St.Stephen's, where one of the Brothers Minor is preaching; have faith in his doctrine and attend to his words, for I have sent him to you.
When you have done that, you will have to take a long journey, and then you will come to me."

Thereupon the boy immediately arose, feeling a great change in his soul. And he went to St.Stephen's and there he hound a great multitude of men and women who were standing there to hear the sermon, and he who was to preach was called Brother Phillip, who was one of the first of the brethren to come to the March of Ancona; as yet they had but few houses in the March. The Brother Philip arose to preach, and he preached most devoutly, not with words of human wisdom, but in virtue of the spirit of Christ, announcing the kingdom of eternal life. When the sermon was over, the said boy went to Brother Philip and said to him; "Father, if you would please to receive me in the Order, I would gladly do penance and serve our Lord Jesus Christ." Brother Philip, seeing and recognizing in the boy a marvelous innocence and ready will to serve God, said to him: "Come to me at Recanati on such and such a day, and I will have you received."

At that place the provincial Chapter was to be held. Thereupon the boy, who was exceedingly pure and simple, imagined that this was the long journey he must take, according to the revelation he had had, and that hen he would go to heaven. This he thought would happen immediately after he had been received into the Order. So he was received, but seeing that his expectation was not realized and hearing the Minister say in Chapter that whoever wished to go to the province of Provence, would willingly be given licence by the merits of holy obedience, he felt a great desire to go there, thinking in his heart that this might be the long journey he must take before going to heaven. But he felt ashamed to say so. But at last he confided in the aforesaid Brother Philip, who had had him received into the Order, and entreated him tenderly to obtain the grace for him that he might go to the province of Provence.

Then Brother Philip, seeing his simple purity and his godly intentions, obtained the permission for him, and Brother John prepared to go with great joy, being convinced that when he had completed this journey he would go to heaven. But as it pleased God, he remained in that province thirty-five years with that expectation and desire, living in an exemplary manner with greatest honesty and saintliness, growing continually in virtue and in the grace of God and of the people, and he was greatly beloved by the brethren and the students.

One day, when Brother John was praying devoutly, weeping and lamenting because his longing was not fulfilled, and the pilgrimage of this life was drawn out so long, Christ the Blessed One appeared to him, and his soul melted away. And Christ said to him: "My son, Brother John, ask me whatever you like!" And he replied: "My Lord, I know not what to ask except Thyself, because I desire nothing else.  But this alone will I ask Thee, that Thou shouldst forgive me all my sins and give me the grace to see Thee another time, when I will have most need of it." Christ said: "Your prayer is granted." And having said this, He departed, and Brother John remained wholly comforted.

In the end, when the brethren in the March heard such great things of his saintliness, they prevailed with the General of the Order that he should command him by hold obedience to return to the March. He received this command with a glad heart and set out on his way, thinking that when he had completed this journey he would go to heaven, according to the promise of Christ. But when he had returned to the province of the March, he lived there for thirty years, and he was no longer recognized by any of his kinsmen, and every day he hoped that God in His mercy would fulfill with great discretion, and God wrought many miracles through spirit of prophecy - And all these things were related to me, serene man who spoke but rarely; he was a man of prayer and devotion, and especially after Matins he never returned to his cell, but remained at prayer in church until daybreak. While he was at prayer after matins one night, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "Brother John, now you have come to the term of your life, which you have desired so long, and so I come to tell you from God that you may ask whichever grace you desire, either one day in Purgatory or seven days of suffering in this world."

And when Brother John chose rather seven days of suffering in this world, he suddenly fell ill with diverse infirmities. He was stricken by a great fever, and by gout in his hands and his feet, by a pain in his side and and other pains. But the worst that happened to him was that a demon stood in front of him, holding in his hand a great scroll, on which were inscribed all the sins that he had ever committed or thought of, saying to him: "For these sins that you have committed, either in thought or by your tongue or by your woks, you are damned to the nethermost hell." And he could not remember any good deed that he had ever don, neither that he was in the Order, nor that he had ever been in it, but he believed that he would be damned as the demon said. Therefore, when he was asked how he was, he would say: "I am in a bad way, for I am damned!" When the brethren saw this, they sent for an aged friar called Brother Matthew of Monte Rubbiano, who was a holy man and a great friend of Brother John's. And Brother Matthew came on the seventh day of his tribulation, saluted him and asked him how he was. He answered that he was in a bad way, for he was damned. Then Brother Matthew said: "Now do you not remember that you have confessed to me many times and that I absolved you completely from all your sins? Do you not remember either that you have served God in this holy Order for many years? And what is more: do you not remember that God's mercy is greater than all the sins in the world, and that Christ the Blessed One, our Savior, paid an infinite price to redeem us? Therefore have good hope, for most certainly you are saved."

And while he was speaking, the term of Brother John's purgation had come, the temptation departed and the consolation came. And with great joyousness Brother John said the Brother Matthew: "As you are tired and the hour is late, I beg you to go and rest." And Brother Matthew did not want to leave him, but in the end he gave way to his urging and left him to go and lie down. Brother John remained alone with the friar who served him. And lo! Christ the Blessed One came with great splendor and excessive sweet fragrance, according to His promise to appear to him another time, when he would have the greatest need, and He healed him completely from all his infirmities. Then Brother John rendered thanks with folded hands that he had made so good and end to the journey through the present miserable life, and into the hands of Christ he recommended and laid his eternal soul, passing from mortal life to the life eternal with Christ the Blessed One, whom he had so long awaited and desired.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How the Mother of Christ, St.John the Evangelist and St.Francis appeared to Brother Peter (44)

At the time when Brother Conrad dwelt in the Custody of Ancona, at the hermitage of Forano, together with the above-mentioned Brother Peter, both of them being shining stars in the province of the March, and truly a pair of celestial men - it happened one day, while Brother Peter was at prayer and meditating devoutly on the Passion of Christ and how the blessed Mother of Christ, and St.John, the beloved disciple, and St.Francis were depicted at the foot of the Cross, crucified with Christ by their mental agony, he felt the desire to know which of the three had suffered most through the Passion of Christ. Was it the Mother who had borne Him, or the disciple who had lain on His breast, or St.Francis, who had been crucified with Christ in his body?

And while Brother Peter was devoutly thinking on these things, there appeared to him the blessed Virgin Mary with St.John the Evangelist and with St.Francis, clad in noble raiment of blessed glory. But St.Francis appeared to be clad in more glorious raiment than St.John. Br.Peter was awe-struck at this vision, but St.John comforted him, saying: "Be not afraid, my dearest brother, for we have come to comfort you and free you from your doubts. Know therefore that the Mother of Christ and I grieve more than any other creature over the Passion of Christ, but after us St.Francis has had greater sorrow for it than any other, and that is why you see him in such glory."

And Brother Peter asked him: "Most holy Apostle of Christ, why does St.Francis' raiment seem more beautiful than yours?" St.John replied: "The reason thereof is this: because when he was in the world, he wore more wretched garments than I did." And having said these words, St.John gave Brother Peter a glorious garment which he was holding in his hands, and said to him: "Take this garment, which I have received so that I might give it to you." But as St.John was about to clothe Brother Peter in that garment, Brother Peter fell to the ground in his amazement and began to cry out aloud: "Brother Conrad, dearest Brother Conrad, hasten and come to see marvelous things!" And while he was saying these words, the vision disappeared. Then, when he saw Brother Conrad, he described to him what had happened, and they thanked God. Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Of many holy Brothers, and of many miracles they worked (42)

The province of the March of Ancona, like the sky with stars, was once adorned with holy and exemplary friars, who, like the luminaries in the sky, illuminated and adorned the Order of St.FRancis and he world with their example and their doctrine.

Among the others the foremost was Brother Lucido the Elder, who was truly lucent with holiness and ardent with divine charity and his glorious tongue, informed by the Holy Spirit, brought forth marvelous fruit in preaching. Another was Brother Betivoglio da San Severino, who was seen once by Brother Masseo, who was also a native of San Severino, leviated in the air for a long while as he was at prayer in the wood; it was because of this miracle that Brother Masseo, who was at that time a parish priest, left his paris and became a Brother Minor; and he was of such sanctity that he wrought many miracles in his lifetime and after his death.

The above-mentioned Brother Bentivoglio was staying alone one time a Trave Bonanti to watch and serve a leper, when his Superior bade him depart and go to another place about fifteen miles distant. As he did not want to forsake the leper, he took him with great fervor of charity and laid hin on his shoulder, and carried him from dawn to sunrise all that way of fifteen miles to the said place where he had been sent, which was called Monte San Vicino. Even if he had been an eagle, he cold not have laid back that distance in a short a time, and carrying such a load, and there was great amazement and admiration at this divine miracle in all that countryside.

Another was Brother Peter of Monticello, who was seen by Brother Servodio of Urbino, at the time guardian of the old House at Urbino, uplifted bodily to a distance of five or six cubits from the ground to the foot of the Crucifix in the church, before which he as praying.

At the time of this holy Brother Peter, there lived a Brother Conrad of Offida, and while they were together in the House of Forano in the Custody of Ancona, the said Brother Conrad went out one day into the wood to meditate on God, and Brother Peter followed him secretly so as to see what happened to him. And Mary with much weeping to obtain from her blessed Son the grace that he might experience a little of that sweet consolation which St.Simeon felt on the day of the Purification, when he carried Jesus, our blessed Savior in his arms.

And when he had prayed thus, the merciful Virgin Mary granted his prayer and, lo, there appeared the Queen of Heaven with her blessed Sond in her arms in a blaze of light, and coming near Brother Conrad, she laid the Divine Child into his arms. Most devoutly he took the Child, embraced and kissed it and presst it against his bosom, and he was entirely dissolved tinto divine love and ineffable consolation. And Brother Peter likewise, who was watching all this from his hiding-place, felt a great sweetness and consolation in his soul; and when the Virgin Mary had departed from Brother Conrad, Brother Peter returned in haste to the House so as not to be seen by him, but later, when Brother Conrad returned full of joy and gladness, he said to him: "O you heavenly one, what a great consolation has been give you to-day." Brother Conrad said: "What is that you are saying, Brother Peter? What do you know that I have had today?" "I know well, very well," said Brother Peter, "how the Virgin Mary and her blessed Son have visited you." Then Brother Conrad, who in his great humility desired to keep the graces God granted him secret, begged him not to speak o fit to anyone. And from then on there was so great a love between them that they seemed to have but one heart and one soul in all things.

Once the said Brother Conrad, at the hermitage of Sirolo, set free by his prayers a woman who was possessed by the devil, after praying for her all through the night, and actually appearing to the woman's mother: in the morning he fled, so as not to be found and honored by the people. To the praise of Chirst Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Of the great saintliness of Brother Simon of Assisi (41)

During the beginnings of the Order, in the life-time of St.Francis, there came to the Order a youth from Assisi who was called Brother Simon, whom God adorned with so much grace and such depth of contemplation and elevation of mind that his whole life was a mirror of sanctity, according to those who were with him a long time. He was seen but rarely outside his cell, and whenever he was with the brothers he always spoke of God. He had never studied grammar, but nevertheless he could speak of God and of the love of Christ with such profundity and elevation that this words seemed more than the words of man.

One evening, while he was in the wood with Brother Jacopo of Massa in order to talk about God, and speaking with most suavely about divine love, they remained the whole night long holding this converse, and in the morning they thought they had only been there quite a short time, so the said Brother Jacopo told me -

One time he was rapt in God and insensible to the world, consumed inwardly by the divine love of God and feeling nothing outside with his corporal senses, and a brother, desiring to test this state and find out if it really was as it appeared, took a glowing coal out of the fire and laid it on Brother Simon's bare foot. And Brother Simon felt nothing, and it made no mark on his foot, although it stayed there for a considerable time, so long that it no longer glowed, having spent itself -

Through his godly conversation he once converted a young man of San Severino, who in the world was a very vain and worldly youth, of noble descent and very delicately reared. When Brother Simon received the said youth into the order, he kept his secular raiment in his own keeping, and the young man stayed with Brother Simon so that he should instruct him on the observance of the Rule. Thereupon the demon, who tries to thwart all good, incited him with so ardent a temptation of the flesh that the young man could no longer resist, and went to Brother Simon and said to him: "Give me back my clothes which I brought from the world, for I can no longer sustain the carnal temptation!" And Brother Simon, moved by compassion towards him,said to him: "Sit down here with me a little, my son," and he began to speak to him of God, and every temptation vanished. This he did several times, but one night the said temptation assailed the youth mightily, more than ever before. Then Brother Simon, according to his usage, made him sit down beside him and spoke to him of God; and the youth laid his head on Brother Simon's knees, filled with melancholy and sadness. Then Brother Simon in his great compassion lifted his eyes to Heaven and as he prayed most devoutly to the Lord God for him, he was rapt in ecstasy and his prayer was granted. When Brother Simon returned to himself the youth felt himself wholly liberated of that temptation, as though he had never felt it.

Now, as the ardor of the temptation had been transformed into the ardor of the Holy Spirit because he had approached the glowing coal, that is Brother Simon, he became wholly inflamed with the love of God and of his neighbor, so much so that once, when a malefactor had been captured who was to have both his eyes put and the Council. With many tears and entreaties he asked that they should put out one of his eyes and one of the malefactor's, so that the latter should not remain entirely deprived of sight. But the Governor and the Council, seeing the great fervor and chastity of this friar, pardoned them both.

One day when Brother Simon was praying in the wood and feeling great consolation in his soul, a flock of crows began to annoy him with their crowing. Therefore he commanded them in the name of Jesus to fly away and no to return. And the said birds flew away and were never again seen there or anywhere in the neighborhood, and this miracle was manifest to all the custody of Fermo, wherein the said house was situated. To the praise of Christ.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How St.Anthony preached to the fishes of the sea (41)

The marvellous vessel of the Holy Ghost, St.Anthony of Padua, one of the elect disciples and companions of St.Francis, whom he used to call his Bishop, once preached in the consistory before the Pope and the Cardinals - and he set forth so clearly and so learnedly the word of God that all who were in the consistory, although they were of diverse languages, understood his words clearly and distinctly as though he had spoken in the native tongue of each one of them, and they were all amazed. The Pope likewise considering the profundity of his words and marvelling at it, said: "Truly, this man is the ark of the Testament and the armory of Holy Writ."

Christ, the Blessed One, desiring to demonstrate the great sanctity of His most faithful servant, St.Anthony, and how devoutly his preaching and his holy doctrine should be listened to, at one time, by unreasonable animals, namely fishes, reproved the foolishness of infidel heretics, in the same manner as of yore in the Old Testament, He had reproved the ignorance of Balaam through the mouth of the ass. Thus, St.Anthony was at Rimini where there were great numbers of heretics, and desiring to bring them back to the light of the true faith and on to the path of truth, he preached to them for many days, and held disputations on the faith of Christ and Holy Writ. But they resisted his holy words and in the hardness and obstinacy refused to listen to St.Anthony. One day, by divine inspiration, he went to the river bank near the sea, and standing there on the bank between the river and the sea, he began to speak to the fishes in the name of God, preaching to them: "Listen to the word of God, you fishes of the sea and o the river, as the infidel heretics scorn to hear it!"

And as soon as he had said these words, there came to the bank where he stood a multitude of fishes, great, small and middling, more than had ever been seen on that coast or in that river. And they all stretched their heads out of the water and turned attentively towards the face of St.Anthony, all in great peace, gentleness and orderliness. For the smallest fishes were in front, by the bank, behind them the middling ones, and at the back, where the water was deeper, the biggest fishes. When the fishes were thus placed in order and array, St.Anthony began to preach solemnly and said: "O Fishes, my Brothers, you are bound, according to your means, to render great thanks to our Creator, who has given you so noble and element for your habitation, so that, as it pleases you, you have sweet and salt waters, and there are given you many hiding places where you can escape the storms; and a clear and transparent element has been given you, and food by which you can live. God, your courteous and benign creator, gave you the command, when He created you, to grow and multiply, and He gave you His blessing. Then, when the deluge came, all the other animals died, but God kept you alone safe from harm. And He has given you fins so that you can roam wherever you please. You received the privilege, by the commandment of God, to give refuge to the Prophet Jonah and on the third day to throw him safe and whole on to the land. You offered the tribute- money to our Lord Jesus Christ when He, being so poor, had not the wherewithal to pay it. Then you served as food to the eternal king Jesus Christ, both before His resurrection and afterwards, by a singular mystery. For all these things you are bound greatly to praise and bless the Lord God, for He has given you more blessings than to the other creatures.

At these and similar words of St.Anthony the fishes began to open their mouths and bend their heads, and with these and other signs of reverence, according to their means, they praised the Lord God. The St.Anthony, seeing to great a reverence shown by the fish to God their Creator, rejoiced in spirit and said in a loud voice: "Blessed be the everlasting God, for the fish of the water honor Him more than heretical men, and unreasonable beasts listen to His word better than the infidels!"

And the longer St.Anthony preached, the greater became the members of the fish, and not one left the place it had taken. At the news of this miracle the people of the city hastened to the spot, sweeping the above-mentioned heretics along with them. And these, seeing this marvellous and manifest miracle, were touched to the heart with contrition and they all threw themselves at St.Anthony's feet to hear his sermon.

Then St.Anthony began to preach on the Catholic faith, and he preached so nobly that the heretics were all converted and returned to the true faith of Christ; and all the faithful remained in great joy, comforted and strengthened in their faith. Then St.Anthony remained in Rimini and preached there for many days, reaping a great spiritual harvest of souls. Praise bet to Christ, Amen.

Monday, December 27, 2010

How a rich and courteous gentleman was converted by St.Francis (37)

One evening late, St.Francis, the servant of Christ, arrived at the house of a great and powerful gentleman to lodge there, and he and his companion were received like angels from paradise, with the greatest courtesy and devotion. This awakened great love for this gentleman in St.Francis, considering how, when he entered into his house, he had embraced and kissed them affectionately, then had washed their feet and lit a great firre and prepared the table with much good food. And while they were eating, the gentleman served them continually with a happy mien.

When St.Francis and his companion had eaten, that gentleman said: "Look, father, I offer myself and all my property to you; whenever you need a tunic or a cloak or anything whatever, buy them and I will pay; and understand that I am prepared to provide for all your needs, as by the grace of God I can, seeing that I have and abundance of earthly goods, and for the love of Him who has bestowed them on me I will gladly do good to His poor."

St.Francis, seeing in him so much courtesy and loving kindness, and hearing his generous offer, conceived so great an affection for him, that, when he had taken his leave, he said to his companion as they walked: "Truly, that gentleman would be an advantage to our community, for he is so grateful to God and so kindly and courteous towards his neighbor and the poor. Know, my dearest brother, that courtesy is one of the attributes of God, who bestows His sun and His rain on just and unjust alike, out of courtesy. And courtesy is the sister of charity, who extinguishes hatred and preserves love. And because I have seen in this good man such divine virtue, I would gladly have him for my companion. Therefore I would like us to return to him one day, in case God should have touches his heart so that he might desire to follow us into the service of God. In the meanwhile we will pray God to give him the grace to put this into effect." Marvellous to relate, a few days later, just as St.Francis had been at prayer, God put that desire into the heart of that gentleman. And he saw St.Francis standing in prayer devoutly and uplifted bodily from the earth for a considerable time. By this he was so touched by God and inspired to leave the world that he instantly went out of his palace, and in fervour of spirit ran towards St.Francis, and, coming to him as he was in prayer, he knelt down at his feat and with great insistence and devotion he entreated him to be pleased to receive him that he might do penance together with him.

Then St.Francis, seeing that God had granted his prayer, and that that gentleman was asking with great insistence for what he himself wished, arose in fervour and gladness of spirit, and embraced and kissed him, devoutly giving thanks to God, who had increased his company by so perfect a knight. And that gentleman said to St.Francis: "What do you command that I should do, my father? Look I am prepared to give all I possess to the poor and to follow Christ with you, relieved of all temporal things."

And so he did and according to the bidding of St.Francis he distributed his property among the poor and entered the Order, where he led a life of great penitence and saintliness and goodly conversation. Praise be to Christ.

How St.Louis, the King of France, came to visit Brother Giles, and how they understood each other without speaking (34)

St.Louis,, the King of France, went on a pilgrimage to the holy places of the world, and when he heard of the celebrated sanctity of Brother Giles, who had been one of St.Francis's first companions he set his heart on visiting him in person. For this reason he came to Perugia, where the said Brother Giles dwelt at that time, and, coming to the door of the house of the brothers like a poor unknown pilgrim with few companions, he asked with great insistency for Brother Giles, saying nothing to the porter as to who it was who was asking for him.

So the porter went to Brother Giles and told him that there was a pilgrim at the door, asking for him; God revealed to Brother Giles in his spirit that this was the King of France, therefore with great fervour he came out of his cell and ran to the door. And without any questioning, although they had never seen each other before, they both knelt down with great devotion and embraced and kissed each other with such affection as though they had been close friends for a long time. But during all this time neither said a word to the other, but continued to hold each other in their arms with signs of loving charity in silence. And after they had remained in the said manner for a long while without saying a word, they parted from each other, and St.Louis continued on his journey and Brother Giles returned to his cell.

When the king left, a friar asked one of his companions who it was who had stayed so long with this arms round Brother Giles, and he answered that he was Louis, King of France, who had com to see Brother Giles. When he told this to the other friars, they were exceedingly distressed that Brother Giles had not uttered a word and complaining, they said to him: "Brother Giles, why were you so boorish and did not speak to such a king, who has come all the way from France to see you and to receive a good word from you?"

Brother Giles answered: "My dearest brothers, do not be surprised at this, for I could not say a word to him nor he to me because, as soon as we embraced each other, the light of divine wisdom revealed his heart to me and mine to him. And so, by a divine operation looking into each other's hearts, we understood far better what we wanted to say to each other than if we had spoken with our lips, and we received greater consolation. And if we wanted to explain in words what we felt in our hearts, but the defects of the human language, which cannot give clear expression to the secret mysteries of God, we would have been disappointed rather than consoled, and yet you know now that the king departed marvellously comforted." Praise be to Christ, Amen.