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 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.

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