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

Friday, December 3, 2010

How, when St.Francis preached at Bologna, many were converted to do penitence, and how Brother Ricceri was comforted in his temptations (27)

Once, when St.Francis came to the city of Bologna (summer 1222) all the inhabitants ran out to see him, and the crowd was so great that he could only reach the square with difficulty, for it was filled with men and women and students. St.Francis mounted on to a raised place in the middle and began to preach, as the Holy Spirit inspired him, and he spoke such marvellous things that it seemed more like the preaching of an angel than of a man. And his celestial words were like pointed arrows that pierced the hearts of all who heart them, so that a great multitude of men and women were converted to repentance by this sermon.

Among them were two young noblemen, students from the March of Ancona; one was called Pellegrino (of the House of Falcerone), the other Riccieri (of Muccia). These two, touched to the heart by divine inspiration, through the said sermon, came to the world and join his brethren. Then Francis, knowing by revelation that these two had been sent by God and they would lead a good life in the Order, and considering their great fervour, received them joyfully, saying to them; "You, Pellegrino, will walk the path of humility in the Order! And you, Brother Riccieri, will serve the brethren."

And so it happened, for Brother Pellegrino never wished to take orders, but to remain a layman, although he was very lettered and versed in canon law; through which humility he arrived at great perfection of virtue, so much so that Brother Bernard, St.Francis's first-born, said of him that he was one of the most perfect friars in the world. And in the end the said Brother Pellegrino, filled with virtue, passed on from this life to the life eternal, and many miracles took place before his death and after.

And the said Brother Riccieri devoutly and faithfully served the brethren, living in great sanctity and humility, and he became very familiar with St.Francis, and the Saint revealed many secrets to him. And having become minister of the province of the March of Ancona, he ruled it for a long time with great peace and wisdom. After some time, God allowed a terrible temptation to arise in his soul, being deeply trouble and anguished by it, he mortified himself with fasts, discipline, tears and orisons by day and by night and yet he could not drive away that temptation, and often he was in great despair, for many times be believed himself forsaken by God.

While he as thus despairing, he decided as a last remedy to go to St.Francis, saying to himself: "If St.Francis looks at me kindly and shows me the familiarity he used to, then I will believe that God will still take pity on me, but if he does not, then I will know by that sign that I am forsaken by God."

So he set out and went to St.Francis, who at the time was lying gravely sick at the palace of the Bishop of Assisi; and God revealed to the Saint all that concerned the temptation and the despair of that friar, as well as his purpose and his coming. And instantly St.Francis called Brother Leo and Brother Masseo and said to them: "Go quickly to meet my dearest son, Brother Riccieri, and embrace him for me, and salute him and tell him that among all the friars that are in the world I cherish him especially.

And they went out and met Brother Riccieri an the road, and they embraced him and told him what St.Francis had bidden them to say. Through this such sweetness of consolation flooded his soul that he was almost beside himself, and thanking God with all his heart, he went on and came to the place where St.Francis was lying sick.

And although St.Francis was grievously ill, nevertheless when he heard Brother Riccieri coming, he got up and went to meet him and embraced him most lovingly, saying: "My dearest son, Brother Riccieri,, among all the friars that are in the world I cherish you especially!" And having said this, he signed Brother Riccieri's forehead with the sign of the Cross and kissed him on that spot, and then said: "My dearest son, God has allowed you to suffer that temptation for your great gain and merit, but if you no longer desire that gain, you need not have it!"

Marvellous to relate, as soon as St.Francis had uttered these words, every temptation was suddenly taken fro him, as though he had never experienced one in his life, and he remained wholly comforted. Praise be to Christ. Amen.

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