The Assisi Compilation - 228 

He had received that pillow that was filled with feathers the day before from Lord John of Greccio, whom the saint loved with great affection and to whom he showed great friendliness during his whole lifetime. After he left the world, blessed Francis did not want to sleep on a mattress nor have a feather pillow for his head, when he was sick or for any other reason. This time the brothers forced him to accept it, against his will, because of his very serious eye disease. He threw it at his companion. His companion got up and picked it up in his right hand, threw it over his left shoulder, and holding it there with his right hand, he left that yard. He suddenly lost the power of speech, could not move from that place, nor could he move his arms or hands to throw away that thing. There he stood, stiff, it seemed to him that he was like a man outside of himself, sensing nothing in himself or others. He stood like this for about an hour, until through the mercy of God blessed Francis called him. Immediately he returned to himself and threw the pillow behind him. He returned to blessed Francis and told him everything that happened to him.

Blessed Francis said to him, "Last night as I was saying compline, I sensed when the devil had come into my cell." After he realized it was true that it was the devil who had prevented him from sleeping or standing up to pray, he began to tell his companion, "The devil is very cunning and subtle. Because by the mercy and grace of God he cannot harm me in my soul, he wanted to disturb the need of the body by preventing me from sleeping and standing up to pray, in order to stifle the devotion and joy of my heart so that I will complain about my sickness."

For many years blessed Francis suffered from serious illness of his stomach, spleen, and liver, as well as from a disease of the eyes.a Yet, he was so devout and prayed with so much reverence, that during times of prayer, he refused to lean against a wall or partition, but always stood erect, without a capuche over his head, and sometimes on his knees, especially when he spent the greater part of the day and night in prayer.

When he went through the world on foot, he always would stop walking in order to say his Hours. If he was riding on horseback, because he was always sickly, he would get down to say his Hours.




Compilatio Assisiensis, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1685-1687

7Acquisiverat enim altera die illud pulvinar, quod erat plenum de penna, dominus Iohannes de Grecio, quem sanctus diligebat magno affectu et cui familiaritatem de se multam demonstravit toto tempore vite sue. 8Nam postquam exivit de seculo beatus Franciscus noluit iacere in culcitra neque ad caput habere pulvinar de penna occasione infirmitatis, nec aliqua occasione; sed in illa hora coëgerunt ipsum fratres ultra voluntatem suam, propter infirmitatem maximam oculorum. 9Et proiecit illud ad socium suum. Socius eius surrexit et accepit illud cum dextera manu et proiecit illud super spatulam suam a latere sinistro, tenens illud cum dextera manu et exivit extra illud atrium. 10Et statim perdidit loquelam, et non poterat se movere de illo loco nec poterat sua ducere brachia nec manus, neque poterat dimittere illud, sed stabat ita erectus; 11videbatur autem sibi quod esset quasi homo extra se positus, qui nichil sentit in se nec in aliis. 12Et dum sic staret per aliquam horam, ecce per divinam misericiordiam vocavit ipsum beatus Franciscus. 13Et statim in se reversus a fuit et dimisit post se pulvinar. 14Et reversus fuit ad beatum Franciscum narrans ei omnia que sibi acciderant.

15Et ait beatus Franciscus: « In sero cum dicebam completorium, sensi quando diabolus veniebat ad cellam ». 16Postquam autem verum esse cognovit quod diabolus fuerat, qui impedivit ipsum, ut non posset dormire neque stare erectus ad orationem, cepit dicere ad socium suum: 17 « Nimis est subtilis et astutus diabolus: quoniam ex quo per misericordiam Dei b et eius gratiam non potest michi nocere in anima, vult impedire necessitatem corporis, 18videlicet ut non possim dormire neque stare erectus ad orationem, ad impediendum devotionem et letitiam cordis et ut murmurem de infirmitate ».

19Nam licet per multos annos haberet infirmitatem maximam stomachi, splenis et epatis, et infirmitatem oculorum, in tantum erat devotus et cum tanta reverentia orabat, quod tempore orationis nolebat adherere muro vel parieti, 20sed stabat semper et sine caputio in capite, et aliquando super genua, maxime cum pro maiori parte diei et noctis orationi vacaret.

21Immo, quando ibat per mundum pedes, semper figebat gradum ad dicendum horas suas; 22Si vero equitaret, quia semper erat infirmitius, et ipse descendebat ad dicendum horas suas.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 228