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.

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