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.