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, December 27, 2010

How a rich and courteous gentleman was converted by St.Francis (37)

One evening late, St.Francis, the servant of Christ, arrived at the house of a great and powerful gentleman to lodge there, and he and his companion were received like angels from paradise, with the greatest courtesy and devotion. This awakened great love for this gentleman in St.Francis, considering how, when he entered into his house, he had embraced and kissed them affectionately, then had washed their feet and lit a great firre and prepared the table with much good food. And while they were eating, the gentleman served them continually with a happy mien.

When St.Francis and his companion had eaten, that gentleman said: "Look, father, I offer myself and all my property to you; whenever you need a tunic or a cloak or anything whatever, buy them and I will pay; and understand that I am prepared to provide for all your needs, as by the grace of God I can, seeing that I have and abundance of earthly goods, and for the love of Him who has bestowed them on me I will gladly do good to His poor."

St.Francis, seeing in him so much courtesy and loving kindness, and hearing his generous offer, conceived so great an affection for him, that, when he had taken his leave, he said to his companion as they walked: "Truly, that gentleman would be an advantage to our community, for he is so grateful to God and so kindly and courteous towards his neighbor and the poor. Know, my dearest brother, that courtesy is one of the attributes of God, who bestows His sun and His rain on just and unjust alike, out of courtesy. And courtesy is the sister of charity, who extinguishes hatred and preserves love. And because I have seen in this good man such divine virtue, I would gladly have him for my companion. Therefore I would like us to return to him one day, in case God should have touches his heart so that he might desire to follow us into the service of God. In the meanwhile we will pray God to give him the grace to put this into effect." Marvellous to relate, a few days later, just as St.Francis had been at prayer, God put that desire into the heart of that gentleman. And he saw St.Francis standing in prayer devoutly and uplifted bodily from the earth for a considerable time. By this he was so touched by God and inspired to leave the world that he instantly went out of his palace, and in fervour of spirit ran towards St.Francis, and, coming to him as he was in prayer, he knelt down at his feat and with great insistence and devotion he entreated him to be pleased to receive him that he might do penance together with him.

Then St.Francis, seeing that God had granted his prayer, and that that gentleman was asking with great insistence for what he himself wished, arose in fervour and gladness of spirit, and embraced and kissed him, devoutly giving thanks to God, who had increased his company by so perfect a knight. And that gentleman said to St.Francis: "What do you command that I should do, my father? Look I am prepared to give all I possess to the poor and to follow Christ with you, relieved of all temporal things."

And so he did and according to the bidding of St.Francis he distributed his property among the poor and entered the Order, where he led a life of great penitence and saintliness and goodly conversation. Praise be to Christ.

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