A Sermon on the Feast of the Transferal of the Body, 1267 - 741 

and that once in the Alps he had flung himself stark naked into the snow and upon stinging nettles. So the young man decided that the best thing for him to do was subdue his flesh. So, for many days he fasted and abstained from tasty foods and undertook much discipline and for a long period severely scourged his flesh. The result was that whenever he was roused in one part of his flesh by lust or unchaste desires, some other part became so terrified with the scourges it had received, that his whole body began to tremble, even as soon as a thought about lust and sins of the flesh came into his head. He succeeded in chastising his flesh to the point where it was completely under control, and he became so chaste that he lived on in the Order untroubled and died in it a good and holy man. That is one way of safeguarding purity of heart.

A second refining virtue is patience in tribulations. When we are beset with sorrow and adversity caused by others, patience enables us to bear them willingly and joyfully and in this way to purify the soul. Saint Francis desired to undergo tribulations for Christ's sake and to suffer in order to do something for him. Indeed, so much did he want to bear trials on behalf of his neighbor that he offered himself to the pagan Sultan, that he might be put to death on account of Christ. He used to say: "The Lord chose to undergo death for our justification and I earnestly desire to be put to death for purity of heart."

Dear brothers, when temptations of the flesh come upon you, be mindful of the sufferings and chastisements of the flesh. When tribulations assail you have patience in mind and strength of soul. Saint Jerome tells of a young man who was tempted by lust and greatly troubled. He advised him: "Chastise your body."a Then he told another: "Go to the young man, chastise him, torment him with harsh words and cover him with insults." Then in front of their brethren he made accusations against the young man and said such terrible things to him, that the young man was covered with such confusion that he did not know what to do. First, one accused him; then another. Finally, his superior said to him: "My friend, how do you feel?" He replied: "So many scornful and such awful things have been said to me, that I cannot go on living. How could I take pleasure in fornication?" You see, through the reproaches he suffered, the young man lost the desire to commit fornication. There are some, even a great number of people nowadays, who say they want to be chaste; yet, they take on no purifying penance. Without these, I tell




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 741