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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How St.Francis went over the sea to preach the Christian faith to the Soldan and to the Saracens. (24)

St.Francis, instigated by his zeal for the faith of Christ and by his desire for martyrdom, once crossed the sea with twelve of his most holy companions in order to go straight before the Soldan of Babylon. And they came to a country of the Saracens where the passes were guarded by certain men of such cruelty that they let no Christian who passed there escape alive; but it pleased God that they did not lose their lives, but they were taken, beaten and bound and let before the Soldan.

When he stood before him, St.Francis was inspired by the Holy Spirit and preached divinely on the faith of Christ and was ready to go through the fire for it. Therefore the Soldan became very devoted to him, as well as for the contempt of the world he saw in him, seeing that he would not accept any gifts despite his great poverty, and for the zeal of martyrdom he saw in him. From that time on the Soldan liked to listen to him and prayed him in return often, and he gave him and his companions permission to preach wherever they pleased. And he gave them a token which would protect them from being offended by any man.

When he had received this licence, St.Francis sent his selected companions, always two and two together, to preach the Christian faith in divers parts of the country of the Saracens. But finally, seeing that he could do no more good in these parts, he was inspired by God to return among the faithful again with his companions. When he had called them all together, he returned to the Soldan and took leave of him. Then the Soldan said:

"Brother Francis, I would willingly embrace the faith of Christ, but I am afraid to do it now, for it the others were to hear of it they would kill me and you and all your companions. And seeing that you can still do much good in the world, and that I have to take decisions on certain weighty matters, I do not want thus to bring about my own and your death, but instruct me how I can save myself, and I am ready to do what you bid me."

Then St.Francis said: "Lord, I will now take leave of you, but when I have returned to my own country, and have to Heaven by the grace of God, after my death I will send you two of my friars from whom you shall receive the baptism of Christ, and you will be saved, as my Lord Jesus Christ has revealed to me."

And the Soldan promised that it should be so. Then St.Francis went home with the venerable college of his holy companions, and some years later St.Francis suffered corporal death and gave back his soul to God. And the Soldan fell sick and, remembering the promise of St.Francis, had guards posted at certain passes, ordering them, should they see two friars in the habit of St.Francis, to bring them before him without delay. At that time St.Francis appeared to two friars and commanded them to go to the Soldan forthwith and to work his salvation, as he had promised him. The said brothers broke up at once and, after they had crossed the sea, they were taken before the Soldan by the said guards. When the Soldan saw them, he rejoiced greatly and said: "Now I truly know that God has sent His servants to me for my salvation, according to the promise St.Francis made me by divine revelation."

When he had received instruction in the Christian faith and holy baptism from the said friars, he died of his sickness, regenerated in Christ, and his soul was saved through the merits and works of St.Francis. To the praise of our blessed Lord, Amen.

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