The Legend of the Three Companions - 105 

houses. On the other hand, they were expelled from others for fear they might be non-believers, because, although the Lord Pope Innocent III had approved the Order and the Rule, nonetheless, he did not confirm this by letter, and the brothers, therefore, suffered many adversities from clerics and lay people. The brothers were then forced to flee from various provinces, and so, persecuted, afflicted, even set upon by thieves who stripped and beat them, they returned to blessed Francis with great bitterness. For they had suffered this in almost every region beyond the Alps, in Germany, Hungary, and in many other regions.

When this had been made known to the Lord Cardinal, he called blessed Francis to him and took him to the Lord Pope Honorius, since the Lord Innocent was now dead.a He had another rule—composed by blessed Francis as he was taught by Christ—confirmed by the same Lord Honorius with a seal solemnly affixed. In this rule, the time between the chapters was prolonged to avoid hardship for the brothers living in remote areas.

63Blessed Francis proposed to ask the Lord Pope Honorius, therefore, that one of the cardinals of the Roman Church be a sort of pope of his Order, that is, the Lord of Ostia, to whom the brothers could have recourse in their dealings.

For blessed Francis had had a vision which led him to ask for the cardinal, and to entrust the Order to the Roman Church. He saw a hen that was small and black, with feathered legs and the feet of a domestic dove. It had so many chicks that it was unable to gather them all under its wings, and so they wandered all around her in circles.

Waking from sleep, he began to think about this vision and, immediately, he perceived by means of the Holy Spirit that that hen symbolized him. "I am that hen," he said, "short in stature, and dark by nature. I must be simple like a dove, flying up to heaven with the feathered strokes of virtue. The Lord in his mercy has given, and will give me, many sons whom I will be unable to protect with my own strength. I must, therefore, commend them to the holy Church who will protect and guide them under the shadow of her wings."

64A few years after this vision, he came to Rome and visited the Lord of Ostia who obliged blessed Francis to go with him to the Curia the following morning. He wanted him to preach before the Lord Pope and the cardinals, and to commend his religion to them with

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Legenda Trium Sociorum, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1435-1437


2Qui recipiebantur in quibusdam provinciis sed non permittebantur habitacula construere, de quibusdam vero expellebantur ne forte essent homines infideles, quia licet praefatus dominus Innocentius tertius ordinem et regulam approbasset ipsorum, non tamen hoc suis litteris confirmavit, et propterea fratres a clericis et laicis tribulationes plurimas sunt perpessi. 3Unde ex hoc compulsi sunt fratres fugere de diversis provinciis, atque sic angustiati et afflicti necnon a latronibus exspoliati et verberati, ad beatum Franciscum cum magna amaritudine sunt reversi. 4Hoc enim passi erant quasi in omnibus ultramontanis partibus ut in Alemania, Ungaria et pluribus aliis.

5Quod cum notificatum fuisset dicto domino cardinali, vocavit ad se beatum Franciscum et duxit cum ad dominum papam Honorium, domino Innocentio iam defuncto. 6Et aliam regulam, a beato Francisco Christo docente compositam, fecit per eumdem dominum Honorium cum bulla pendente solemniter confirmari. 7In qua regula prolungatus est terminus capituli propter vitandum laborem fratrum qui in remotis partibus commorantur.

63 1Proposuit autem beatus Franciscus petere a dicto domino papa Honorio unum de cardinalibus romanae ecclesiae quasi in papam sui ordinis, videlicet praefatum dominum Ostiensem, ad quem fratres possent recurrere pro suis negotiis.

2Viderat enim beatus Franciscus quamdam visionem quae ipsum poterat induxisse ad petendum cardinalem et ad recommendandum ordinem romanae ecclesiae. 3Viderat namque gallinam quamdam parvam et nigram, habentem crura pennata cum pedibus in modum columbae domesticae, quae tot pullos habebat quod non poterat eos sub alis propriis congregare, sed ibant in circuitu gallinae exterius remanentes.

4Evigilans autem a somno coepit cogitare de huiusmodi visione, statimque per Spiritum sanctum cognovit se per illam gallinam figuraliter designari et ait: 5 « Ego sum illa gallina, statura pusillus nigerque natura, qui debeo esse simplex ut columba et affectibus pennatis virtutum volare ad caelum. 6Mihi autem Dominus per misericordiam suam dedit et dabit filios multos quos protegere mea virtute non potero, 7unde oportet ut eos sanctae Ecclesiae recommendem quae sub umbra alarum suarum eos protegat et gubernet ».

64 1Elapsis ergo paucis annis post visionem praedictam venit. Romam et visitavit dominum Ostiensem qui imposuit beato Francisco ut sequenti mane iret secum ad curiam, quia volebat quod ipse coram domino papa et cardinalibus praedicaret, atque suam religionem eis devote et affectuose commendaret.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 105