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

Monday, August 30, 2010

How St.Francis made Brother Masseo turn round and round, and how they went to Siena (11)

One day St.Francis was going along the road with Brother Masseo, and the said brother was walking on ahead; then they came to a parting of the ways, where one road led to Siena, one to Florence and one to Arezzo. Brother Masseo asked: "Father, which road shall we take?"

St.Francis answered: "The one God wills us to take."

Brother Masseo said : "But how are we to know God's will?"

St.Francis said: "By the sign which I will show you. I command you by the merits of holy obedience that at this cross-roads, on the spot where you are standing, you should turn round and round as children do, and you shall not stop turning until I tell you."

Thereupon Brother Masseo began to turn round and round, and he turned so long that he fell to the ground several times owing to the dizziness that results in the head from turning in the same direction. But as St.Francis did not tell him to stop and he wanted to obey him faithfully, he got up and began to turn again.

In the end, when he was turning well and hard, St.Francis said: "Now stop and do not move."

And he stopped, and St.Francis asked him: "To what quarter are you turning your face?"

Brother Masseo answered: "Towards Siena."

St.Francis said: "That is the road that God wills us to take."

As they went along that road, Brother Masseo wondered greatly that St.Francis had made him do such a thing, behaving like a child, in full sight of the laymen passing by, nevertheless his reverence was such that he did not dare say anything about it to the holy father.

When St.Francis was approaching Siena, the inhabitants of the town heard that he was coming and went out to meet him. In their devotion they carried the Saint and his companion to the Bishop's palace, so that they did not need to put a foot to the ground. At that very hour some men of Siena were fighting, and two of them had already been killed. When St.Francis got there, he preached to them in so devout and saintly a fashion that they settled their differences in great unity and concord.

When the Bishop of Siena heard of the holy work St.Francis had done, he invited him to his house and entertained him more honorabley that day and also the night. The following morning the Saint, who in his true humility sought only the glory of God, rose early with his companion and they left without the Bishop's knowledge.

This caused Brother Masseo to murmur to himself on his way. He said to himself: "What has this good man been doing again? First he makes me turn round and round like a child, and then he leaves the Bishop who did him so much honor, without a single good word or so much as a thank you!" And Brother Masseo thought that St.Francis had behaved in an unseemly manner.

But later, by divine inspiration, he thought better of it and, reproaching himself, he said in his heart, "Brother Masseo, you are too proud. Who are you to pass judgement on divine work? You deserve hell for your undiscerning pride."

And all the things that Brother Masseo was thinking in his own heart as he walked along were revealed by God to St.Francis. Therefore, calling the friar to him, he said:

"Hold fast to these things you have just been thinking, for they are good and useful, and inspired by God; but your first thoughts when you were murmuring within yourself, were blind, vain and proud, and they were sent you by the devil."

Then Brother Masseo realized clearly that St.Francis knew the secrets of the human heart, and he understood that the spirit of divine wisdom directed the holy father in all his actions. Praise to Christ the Lord, Amen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How Broterh Masseo asked St.Francis why all the world was following him (10)

Once St.Francis was staying at the hermitage of Portiuncula with Brother Masseo da Marignano, who was a man of great saintliness and discretion and endowed with much grace in speaking of God, for which reasons St.Francis held him in great affection. One day, as St.Francis was returning from praying in the wood, as he was just coming out of it, the said Brother Masseo went to meet him, and wishing to test his humility, went to meet and assuming a jeering tone, asked: "Why you? Why you? Why you?"

St.Francis answered: "What do you mean by that?"

Brother Masseo said: "I want to know why you should be the man all the world is running after and why everybody seems to want to see you, to listed to you and to obey you! You are not a man of handsome presence, you have no great scholarship, you are not noble; so why should all the world run after you?"

Hearing this, St.Francis rejoiced in his spirit and, lifting his face to heaven, remained a long time with his mind uplifted to God; then, coming back to himself, he knelt down and rendered thanks and praise to God and with great fervour of spirit turned to Brother Masseo and said: "You want to know why I should be the one all the world is running after? This is given me by the eyes of the Highest God which look upon the good and the wicked in every place. Because these most holy eyes could not find among the sinners one more vile, more miserable, more sinful than I, and because God could not find a viler creature on earth for the marvellous work which He intends to do, and because He has chosen me to confound the nobility, the greatness, the strength, the beauty and the wisdom of the world. And this He has done so that it may be recognized that all virtue and all good is of Him, and not of the creatures, and no man should glory in His presence, but "he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord"(1 Cor. 1:31), whose is all honour and glory for ever and ever.

Then Brother Masseo, hearing so humble and answer uttered with such fervour, was afraid and understood that St.Francis was firmly rooted in true humility. Praised be Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How St.Francis taught Brother Leo to give him the responses at Matins, and how Brother Leo always said the contrary of what St.Francis told him (9)

One day, at the beginning of the Order, St.Francis was with Brother Leo in a place where they had no books wherewith to say the divine office. When the hour of Matins came, St.Francis said to Brother Leo: "Beloved Brother, we have no breviary wherewith we could say Matins, but so that we may spend our time in praising God, I will speak and you shall answer as I will teach you. I will say: "O Brother Francis, you did so much wrong and committed so many sins in the world that you deserve to go to hell." And you, Brother Leo, will answer: "That is indeed true, that you deserve to go to the very depths of hell."

And Brother Leo, with the simplicity of a dove, answered: "Willingly Father, begin them in God's name."

Then St.Francis began to say: "O Brother Francis, you did so much wrong and committed so many sins in the world, that you deserve to go to hell."

And Brother Leo answered: "God will do so much good through you that you will go to paradise."

St.Francis said: "Not so, Brother Leo, but when I will say: "O Brother Francis, you have done such iniquitous things against God that you deserve to be accursed of God," then you shall reply: "Truly you deserve to be thrown among the damned."

And Brother Leo answered : "Willingly, Father."

Then St.Francis, weeping and sighing and beating his breast, said in a loud voice: "O Lord my God of heaven and earth, I have offended thee by so many iniquities and so many sins, that I fully deserve to be accursed by thee."

And Brother Leo answered: "God will make you so that among the blessed you will be singularly blessed."

St.Francis was amazed that Brother Leo should answer by saying the contrary of what he told him to say and reproved him with the words: "Why do you not answer as I tell you? I command you by holy obedience to make the responses as I teach them to you I will say: "O you bad Brother Francis, do you believe that God will have mercy on you, seeing that you have committed so many sins against the Father of mercy and the Lord of consolation that you are not worthy to find mercy?" And you, Brother Leo, my little lamb, you will answer: "In no way you are worthy of mercy."

But then, when St.Francis said: "O you bad Brother Francis," etc., Brother Leo answered thus: "Our Heavenly Father, whose mercy is infinitely greater than your sins, will show you great mercy and will, in addition, give you much grace."

At this answer ST.Francis, gently angered and patiently perturbed, said to Brother Leo: "How can you be so presumptuous as to act against holy obedience, and why have you said over and over again the contrary of what I bade you to say?"

Brother Leo answered very humbly and reverently: "God knows, my father, that I intended every time to answer as you told me, but God makes me speak according to His will.

St.Francis wondered greatly, and said to Brother Leo: "I entreat you most lovingly to answer me this time as I tell you."

Brother Leo answered: "Say it, in the name of God, and most certainly I will answer this time as you wish."

Brother Leo answered: "You will receive abundant grace from God, and He will exalt and glorify you in eternity, for the humble will be exalted - and I can speak no differently, for God is speaking through my lips."

And thus, in this contest of humility, with much weeping and much spiritual consolation, they kept their vigil until the day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How St.Francis instructed Brother Leo as to the nature of perfect joy (8)

One day when St.Francis came from Perugia to St.Mary of the Angels (Portiuncla) with Brother Leo in winter, and the great cold was tormenting him, he called brother Leo, who was walking ahead of him, and said:

"O Brother Leo, although God is pleased that the Brothers Minor give a great example of saintliness and edification in all lauds, nevertheless you must write down and note diligently that not in that consists perfect joy."

And going a little further, St.Francis called out a second time:

"O Brother Leo, even if a Brother Minor should give sight to the blind, make straight the crooked, cast out the devils, give back their hearing to the deaf and make the lame to walk and the dumb to speak, and even more, resuscitate a man dead four days, write that not in that consists perfect joy.

And going on again, St.Francis called out loudly; "O Brother Leo, if a Brother Minor possessed every language and every science and the whole of the Scriptures, even if he could prophesy and reveal not only the future but the secrets of the conscience and the soul, write that not therein consists perfect joy."

Passing on a little further, St.Francis again called out loudly:

"O Brother Leo, little lamb of God, even if a Brother Minor should speak with the tongue of an angel and know the course of the stars and the virtues of the herbs, even if all the treasures of the earth had been revealed to him and he know the qualities of the birds, the fish and all the animals, of men and of trees and stones and roots and waters - write that not therein consists perfect joy."

And going on another stretch, St.Francis called loudly: "O Brother Leo, even if a Brother Minor could preach so eloquently that he converted all the infidels to the faith of Christ, write that not therein consists perfect joy."

And thus he spoke for the best part of two miles, until Brother Leo in great amazement questioned him, saying:

"Father, I beseech you for God's sake, tell me wherein consists perfect joy!"

And St.Francis answered him thus:

"When we come to Saint Mary of the Angels drenched by the rain, numbed with cold, covered with mud and tormented by hunger, and knock at the gate, and the porter comes and asks: "Who are you?" and we answer: "Two of your brothers," and he says: "You are lying, you are a pair of scoundrels who go around deceiving people and robbing alms from the poor, go away!" and refuses to open and leaves us standing outside in the snow and the rain, shivering and hungry until night-time: then if we endure so much abuse and cruelty patiently and calmly and without murmuring, thinking with humility and charity that this porter knows us as we really are, and that God makes him turn against us thus, O Brother Leo, write that therein consists perfect joy. And if we persevere and go on knocking, he will come out angrily and chase us away like importunate louts with insults and blows, saying: "Get away from here, you good-for-nothing thieves, get you gone to the workhouse! for here there is neither lodging nor food for you." To endure this patiently, with gladness and good humour, therein, O Brother Leo, consists perfect joy. And if we, constrained by hunger and cold and darkness, go on knocking and weeping loudly, entreat him for the love of God to open the door and he lets us in, he will be even more enraged and say: "These are importunate scoundrels, I will give them what they deserve!" and rush out with a knotted stick, and seizing us by our hoods, throw us down and roll us in the snow and beat us with all the knots of his stick: if we endure all these things patiently and with gladness, thinking of the sufferings of our blessed Lord, which we must bear for love of Him: O Brother Leo, write that therein consists perfect joy. And now listed to the conclusion Brother Leo. Above all grace and all gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ vouchsafes to His friends, is that of overcoming one's self, and for the love of Christ gladly bearing pain, insults, disgrace and hardship. For we cannot glory in any of the other gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's. Therefore, the Apostle says: "What hadst thou, that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as though thou hadst not received it? (1 Cor.4:7). But we may glory in the cross of the tribulation and of affliction, for that is ours, wherefore the Apostle says: "For God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" to whom be honour and glory, world without end, Amen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How St.Francis fasted for forty days and ate nothing but half a loaf (7)

Because the true servant of Christ, St.Francis, was in some things almost a second Christ given to the world for the salvation of the people, God the Father made him in many of his acts conform to His Son Jesus Christ as its shown by the venerable college of his twelve companions and by the marvellous mystery of the stigmata, and by the uninterrupted fast of forty days, which he held in the following manner.

St.Francis had gone on the day of Carnival (Shrove Thuesday) to the lake of Perugia, to stay the night in the house of one of his followers. There he was inspired by God to keep that Lent on an island in the said lake, and he entreated his follower for the love of Christ to row him across to an island of the lake in his little boat, and to do this on the night of Ash Wednesday so that no one should be aware of it.

This man, because of the great devotion he had for St.Francis, carried out his wish most solicitously and rowed him across to the said island; St.Francis took nothing with him save two small loaves. When they arrived at the island and the friend took his leave to return home, St.Francis begged him earnestly not to reveal to anyone that he was there, and not to come for him until Holy Thursday.

Thus the man departed, and St.Francis remained alone. As there was not shelter where he could stay, he went into a dense thicket where the thorns and little trees formed a kind of hovel or lair, and in that place he devoted himself to prayer and to the contemplation of celestial things. There he remained all through Lent without eating or drinking , except for half of one of the little loaves, as was discovered by his follower on Holy Thursday, when he came back form him and found one of the two loves untouched, and half of of the other. It is thought that he ate the other half out of reverence for Christ's fast, when our Lord fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any material sustenance. And thus by eating that half loaf, St.Francis banished the poison of vainglory, while following the example of Christ by fasting forty days and forty nights.

Later, on that spot where St.Francis had lived in such marvellous abstinence, God wrought many miracles because of his merits, and for that reason men began to erect houses there and dwell in them. After a short time a fine and strong castle was built and also a House for the brethren, which was called the House of the Island. And even to-day the men and women of the settlement have a great reverence for the spot where St.Francis kept the aforesaid Lent.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Brother Bernard remained Vicar or General of the Order after the death of St.Francis (6)

Brother Bernard's saintliness was such that St.Francis had great reverence for him and praised him many times.

One day while St.Francis was most devoutly at his orisons, it was revealed to him by God that by divine permission Brother Bernard was to sustain many and violent assaults by the demons. Thereupon St.Francis, who had great compassion for the said Brother Bernard, whom he loved as his own son, interceded for him with tears during many days, and recommended him to Jesus Christ, praying that He might give him victory over the devil. One day, while St.Francis was thus praying very devoutly, God spoke to him thus:

"Francis, fear nothing, for all the temptations by which Brother Bernard must be assailed are according to God's will for the exercise of virtue and so that he may gain the crown of merit; in the end he will triumph over all the fiends, for his place is prepared at the celestial banquet."

Hearing this answer, St.Francis gave thanks to God very joyfully, and from that hour onwards he regarded Brother Bernard with even greater affection and reverence than heretofore. This he did not only show him during his lifetime, but also at his death.

For when St.Francis was about to die, surrounded like the patriarch Jacob by his devoted sons, who were mourning and weeping at parting from so lovable a father, he asked:

"Where is my first-born? Come to me, son, so that my soul may bless you before I die."

Thereupon Brother Bernard whispered to Brother Elias, who was Vicar of the Order: "Father, you go to the right hand of the Saint that he may bless you."

As Brother Elias placed himself at his right hand, St.Francis, who had lost his sight through too much weeping, laid the said hand on Brother Elia's head and said:

"This is not the head of my first-born, Brother Bernard."

Then Brother Bernard approached him from the left, and St.Francis crossed his arms and laid his right hand on the head of Brother Bernard and his left on Brother Elias, and said to the former: "May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you with every spiritual and celestial benediction in Christ, for you were the first to be chosen in this holy Order to give an evangelical example and follow Christ in evangelical poverty, and you not only gave away what you had and distributed it entirely and freely to the poor for the love of Christ, but you offered your own person to God in this Order, as a sacrifice of sweetness; blessed be you therefore by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by me, his poor little servant, with eternal benedictions, walking and standing, waking and sleeping, living and dying. Whosoever blesses you shall be blessed, and he who curses you will not remain unpunished. Be you the principal of off your brethren, let all the friars obey your commands. You shall have licence to receive whom you will into this Order, and to eject from it whom you will, and no brother shall have authority over you, and you shall be free to go and to stay wherever you will."

After the death of St.Francis, the brethren loved and reverenced Brother Bernard as their venerable father. And when he was about to die, many friars from different parts of the world came to him, and among them came the divinely initiated Brother Giles and said to him joyfully: "Sursum corda, Brother Bernard, sursum corda!" And the holy Brother Bernard said secretly to one of the friars that they should prepare a place suitable to meditation for Brother Giles, and this was don. "When Brother Bernard was in the last hour of his agony, he caused himself to be raised up and spoke to the brothers who were with him, saying:

"My very dear brothers, I do not want to say many words to you, but you must remember that you have the same state of religion that I had, and the state I have now you will have. And I know in my soul that to gain a thousand worlds like this one I would not have renounced serving our Lord Jesus Christ and you. I entreat you, my dearest brothers, to love one another."

And after these words and other good admonishments he lay back on his bed and his face became resplendent and joyful beyond measure, at which all the brethren were greatly amazed, and in that joyfulness his saintly soul, crowned with glory, passed from the present life to the blessed life of the angels. Praise be and glory to Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How Brother Bernard founded a House at Bologna (5)

As St.Francis and his companions were called and chosen by God to carry the cross of Christ in their hearts, and to preach it by their deeds and with their tongues, so they seemed and were men crucified, as much by the actions as by the austerity of their lives, and because they preferred shame and contumely for the love of Christ to the honours, the respect and the vain praises of the world. They even rejoiced in insults and mourned when they were honoured.

It happened in the beginning of the Order that St.Francis sent Brother Bernard to Bologna so that he might bring forth fruit for God there, according to the grace which had been vouchsafed him.

And Brother Bernard, signing himself with the sign of the cross for holy obedience, sallied out and arrived at Bologna.

When the children saw him in his vile, threadbare habit, they scoffed and jeered at him as at a madman. Brother Bernard endured it all patiently and gaily for the love of Christ, and wishing to be even more ill-used he set himself purposely in the principal square of the city. As he was sitting there, a crowd of boys and men collected round him; one tugged at his cowl from the back, another from the front, another again pelted him with dust, another with stones, and some pushed him about. But Brother Bernard remained unperturbed and patient, his countenance serene, and neither complained nor moved away, and for several days he returned to this place to endure similar treatment.

Since patience is a work of perfection and a proof of virtue, a learned doctor of the law, seeing the great constancy and virtue of Brother Bernard, and how he remained unperturbed by all sorts of molestations and taunts, during all these days, said to himself: "It is impossible that this should not be a holy man." And approaching him, he asked: "Who are you; why have you come here?"

And Brother Bernard answered him by putting his hand to his breast and drawing out the Rule of St. Francis, and giving it to him so that he should read it. When he had read it, considering the high state of perfection Brother Bernard had reached, he turned to his companions with amazement and admiration and said:

"Truly, this is the highest state of religious I have ever heard of, and this man and his companions are among the most holy men in this world. It is most pitiful that he should be insulted instead of most highly honoured, for it is certain that he is a great friend of God."

And he said to Brother Bernard: "If you would found a Home in a place suitable for you to serve God, I would gladly give you one for the salvation of my soul."

Brother Bernard answered: " My Lord, I believe that our Lord Jesus Christ inspired you to do this, and I accept your offer gladly for the honour of Christ."

Thereupon the said judge with great gladness and love led Brother Bernard to his house, and then gave him the promised dwelling, where he had everything adapted and prepared at his own expense.

When St.Francis heard all this a sit had come to pass, and how God had operated through Brother Bernard, he gave thanks to God, who was thus beginning to spread the voluntary poor and disciples of the cross, and he sent some of his companions to Bologna and into Lombardy, where they took several Houses in different parts of the country. Praise and all reverence to the good Jesus.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How St.Francis was disturbed when he called Brother Bernard and received no answer (3)

The devoted servant of the Crucified, St.Francis, by the harsh penances he inflicted on himself and his continual weeping, had become nearly blind, so that he could hardly see the light. Once he left the place where he was and went back to seek Brother Bernard to speak with him of divine things. But when he came there, Brother Bernard was a prayer in the wood and called to him "Come and talk to this blind man!"

But Brother Bernard did not answer, for being a ma given to deep contemplation, his mind was suspended and uplifted to God. St.Francis had experienced several times already that Brother Bernard had singular grace in discoursing of God and this was a reason why he wished to converse with him.

After a short interval, he called him again, and then a third time, with the same words, but Brother Bernard did not hear him, and therefore he did not go to him.
Thereupon St.Francis went away rather sadly, feeling surprised and vexed that Brother Bernard had not come to him after he had called him three times. He went away with these thoughts, but after he had gone a little way, he said to his companion: "Wait for me here!" and went to a lonely spot nearby. He collected his soul in prayer and besought God to reveal to him why Brother Bernard had not answered.

Thereupon a voice from God came to him and spoke:
"You poor little man, wherefore are you perturbed? Should a man forsake God for a creature? When you called him, Brother Bernard was communing with Me, that is why he could not come to you, nor answer you; therefore do not be surprised that he could not talk to you, for he was so far away from his body that he could not hear a single one of your words."

When St.Francis had heard this answer given him by God, he immediately returned in great haste to Brother Bernard, to accuse himself in great humility of the thoughts he had harboured against him. When Brother Bernard saw him coming towards him, he hastened to meet him and threw himself at his feet.

St.Francis bade him get up and confessed to him very humbly how perturbed he had been and what he had thought about him, and how God had reproved him for it. Then he concluded with these words: "I command you by holy obedience to do what I will bid you."

St.Bernard feared that St.Francis might order him to do an excessive thing, as he often did, and hoping to escape his obedience in an honest manner, he answered : "I am ready to obey you, if you will promise me to do likewise as I command."

When St.Francis had promised, Brother Bernard said: "Tell me then, Father, what do you want me to do?"

Thereupon St.Francis said: "I command you by holy obedience that, to punish me for my presumption and the impetuosity of my heart, when I throw myself on the ground, you should place your foot on my throat and the other on my mouth, and that you should walk over me three times, crying shame upon me, and that you should say: "Lie there, you lout, son of Pietro Bernadone! What reason have you for your arrogance, you who are such a vile creature!"

Hearing this, Brother Bernard, although he found it very hard to do so, did as St.Francis had commanded for the sake of holy obedience, acquitting himself of it as courteously as he could.

When he had done so, St.Francis said: "Now you command me to do what you want me to do, for I have promised you obedience."

Brother Bernard said: "I command you by holy obedience that, each time we are together, you should reprove and correct me harshly for my faults."

At this St.Francis was amazed, for Brother Bernard was of such saintliness that he held him in great reverence and did not deem him reprehensible in any matter. Therefore from then on St.Francis avoided his company for the said obedience, so that he should not say a reproving word to him whom he knew to be so saintly. But when he desired to see him or to hear him discourse of God, he would leave him as soon as he could and go away.

It was very edifying to see the great love, reverence and humility with which St.Francis treated Brother Bernard and spoke of him, the first-born of his sons. Praise be and glory to Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Of Brother Bernard of Quintavalle, the first Companion of St.Francis

The fist companion of St.Francis was Brother Bernard of Assisi, who was converted in the following manner.

St.Francis was still wearing secular garb, though he already disdained the world, and going about scorned and mortified for the sake of penitence, so much so that he was looked upon by many men as a fool; he was mocked as a madman, and driven away by his relations and by strangers, who threw stones and mud at him. Yet he endured every insult patiently, as though he were a deaf and dumb. Thereupon Messer Bernard of Assisi, who was one of the most noble, rich and wise men of the city, began to ponder on the Saint's excessive disdain of the world, his great patience in bearing injuries and on the constancy and patience with which he bore himself, although for two whole years he had been hated and despised by all men, and he said to himself that there could be no doubt but that his Francis had abundant grace from God. So he invited him to dine with him one evening and stay the night, and this St.Francis accepted.

Messer Bernard had set his heart on watching his holy manner of life, so he had a bed prepared for him in his own chamber, where he always kept a lamp burning. St.Francis, intent on concealing his saintliness, incontinently threw himself onto the bed as soon as he had entered the room and pretended to sleep. After a while Messer Bernard did likewise, and begun to snore very loudly, as though he were sound asleep.

Thereupon St.Francis, thinking that Messer Bernard was really asleep, arose from his first slumbers and knelt down to pray, lifting his eyes and his hands to heaven, and saying with great fervor and devotion: "My God, my God!" and uttering these words, with abundant tears, he remained until early morning, repeating only the words "My God!" over and over again.

St.Francis pronounced them in contemplation and admiration of the excellence of God's majesty, in deigning to condescend to this perishing world, and through His poor little servant Francis providing a remedy of salvation for his soul and the souls of others. When Messer Bernard saw, in the light of the lamp, the devout acts of St.Francis and had considered the words he spoke, he was touched by the holy spirit and inspired to change his life. Therefore, when it was day, he called St.Francis and said to him:

"Brother Francis, I have decided in my heart to abandon the world and to follow you as you will command me."

Hearing this, St.Francis rejoiced inwardly and said:"Messer Bernard, what you tell me is so great and wonderful a thing that we must seek counsel about it from our Lord Jesus Christ and pray that He should show His will concerning it and teach us how to put it into execution. Therefore let us go together to the Bishop's palace, where there is a good priest, and ask him to say Mass; then we will remain in prayer until Tierce, beseeching God to reveal to us, when we have opened the missal three times, which way it pleases Him that we should elect."

Messer Bernard answered that he would be well pleased to do this. Thereupon they set out and went to the Bishop's palace; after they had heard Mass and remained in prayer until Tierce, the priest did as St.Francis asked him and took the missal and, having made the sign of the cross, opened it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, three times. The first time they found the words Christ spoke to the young man who asked Him how he might attain perfection: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor...and come and follow me" (Matt.19:21)

When the Messer Bernard heard this, he went out and sold all he had, for he was very rich, and very joyfully he distributed everything among the poor, the widows, the orphans, the pilgrims, the monasteries and the hospitals, and St.Francis helped him faithfully and wisely.

Messer Bernard received such abundant divine grace that he was often rapt in ecstasy. St.Francis said that he was worthy of all reverence, and that it was really he who had founded the Order, seeing that he was the first to leave the world, keeping nothing for himself and giving all he had to Christ's poor, and having embraced the way of evangelical poverty, abandoning himself naked into the arms of the Crucified, whose name be blessed, world without end, Amen.

Saint Francis, at the foundation of his Order, elected twelve companions, as Christ did twelve Apostles (1)

Let us begin by considering the conformity of the glorious St.Francis, in all the acts of his life, to Christ. Even as Christ, when He began to teach, elected twelve Apostles to follow Him in poverty and every virtue, disdaining all things of the world, so St.Francis, when he founded his Order, chose his twelve companions, who professed perfect poverty. And even as the twelve Apostles were a wonderful example to all the world in their saintliness and their plenitude of the Holy Spirit, so these blessed companions of St.Francis were men of such exceptional holiness that the world had not seen their like since the days of the Apostles.

One of them was caught up into the third heaven, like St.Paul, and this was Brother Giles (Edigio). Another, namely Brother Philip Lungo, was touched on the lips by the angel with a coal of fire, as was the Prophet Isiah. Another, Brother Silvester, discoursed with God as one friend with another, as Moses had done. Another again, in pure intellection, soared into the very light of divine wisdom like John the Evangelist, the Eagle, and this was no other than the most humble Brother Bernard, who expounded most profoundly the Holy Scriptures. Another was consecrated by God and canonized in Heaven while he yet lived on earth; this was Brother Ruffino, a nobleman of Assisi. And thus they were all blest with singular signs of holiness, as we will set forth in due course.