The Life of Blessed Francis - 533 

assessed the unusual vision to be a judgment of great prosperity in the future. For this reason, still ignorant of the divine plan, he set out to join a generous count in Apulia, hoping in his service to obtain the glory of knighthood, as his vision foreshadowed.

Shortly after he had embarked on his journey and had gone as far as the neighboring city, he heard the Lord speaking to him during the night in a familiar way: "Francis, who can do more for you, a lord or a servant, a rich person or one who is poor?" When Francis replied that a lord and a rich person could do more, he was at once asked: "Why, then, are you abandoning the Lord for a servant and the rich God for a poor mortal?" And Francis replied: "Lord, what do you want me to do?" And the Lord answered him: "Go back to your own land, because the vision which you have seen prefigures a spiritual outcome which will be accomplished in you not by a human but by a divine plan."

When morning came, Jn 21:4 then, he returned in haste to Assisi, free of care and filled with joy, and, already made an exemplar of obedience, he awaited the Lord's will.

4 From that time on, as he was removing himself from the pressure of public business, he would eagerly beg the divine kindness to show him what he should do. When the flame of heavenly desire intensified in him by the practice of frequent prayer, and already, out of his love for a heavenly home, he despised all earthly things as nothing; he realized that he had found a hidden treasure, and, like a wise merchant, planned to buy the pearl he had found by selling everything.

Nevertheless,
how he should do this, he did not yet know;
except that it was suggested to his spirit
that a spiritual merchant must begin with contempt for the world
and a knight of Christ with victory over one's self.

5 One day, therefore, while he was riding his horse through the plain that lies below the city of Assisi, he met a leper. This unforeseen encounter struck him with not a little horror. Recalling the plan of perfection he had already conceived in his mind, and remembering that he must first conquer himself if he wanted to become a knight of Christ, he dismounted from his horse and ran to kiss him. As the leper stretched out his hand as if to receive something, he gave him money with a kiss. Immediately mounting his horse, however, and turning all around, even though the open plain stretched clear in all directions, he could not see the leper

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 783-785


magnae fore prosperitatis indicium aestimabat insolitam visionem. 4Disposuit itaque, divinae adhuc dispositionis ignarus, in Apuliam ad quemdam liberalem comitem se conferre, in ipsius sperans obsequio decus adipisci militiae, ut ostensa sibi visio praetendebat. 5Cumque, paulo post iter aggressus, ivisset usque ad proximam civitatem, audivit in nocte Dominum familiari sibi allocutione dicentem: « Francisce, quis potest melius facere tibi, dominus aut servus, dives aut pauper? ». 6Cui cura Franciscus respondisset, quod tam dominus quam dives facere melius potest, intulit statim: « Cur ergo relinquis pro servo Dominum et pro paupere homine divitem Deum? » 7Et Franciscus: « Quid me vis, Domine, facere? ». Et Dominus ad eum: « Revertere in terram tuam, quia visio, quam vidisti, spiritualem praefigurat effectum, non humana sed divina in te dispositione complendum ».

8Mane itaque facto, cum festinatione revertitur versus Assisium securus et gaudens, et iam exemplar obedientiae factus, exspectabat Domini voluntatem.

4 1Ex tunc a publicae negotiationis tumultu se subtrahens, supernam devote precabatur clementiam, ut, quid sibi foret agendum, ostendere dignaretur. 2Cum autem ex frequenti orationis usu flamma desiderii caelestis in eo vehementer succresceret, et iam pro amore supernae patriae terrena omnia despiceret quasi nihil, thesaurum sentiebat se reperisse absconditum, 3ac velut prudens negotiator margaritam inventam excogitabat venditis omnibus comparare.

4Adhuc tamen,
qualiter id ageret, ignorabat,
nisi quia ipsius suggerebatur spiritui,
quod spiritualis mercatio a mundi contemptu sumat initium,
Christique militia sit a sui ipsius victoria inchoanda.

5 1Quadam itaque die, dum equitaret per planitiem, quae subiacet civitati Assisii, leprosum quemdam habuit obvium, cuius inopinatus occursus ei non parvum incussit horrorem. 2Recurrens autem ad perfectionis mente iam conceptae propositum et recolens, quod se ipsum oporteret primum devincere, si vellet effici Christi miles, ad deosculandum eum equo lapsus accurrit. 3Cui cum manum quasi aliquid accepturus leprosus protenderet, pecuniam cum osculo deportavit. 4Statim autem equum ascendens et se circumquaque convertens, cum campus pateret undique liber, leprosum illum minime vidit.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 533