The Life of Blessed Francis - 534 

anywhere. He began, therefore, filled with wonder and joy, 2 Cor 7:4 to sing praises to the Lord, while proposing, because of this, to embark always on the greater.

He then began to seek out solitary places, favorable to grieving, where, with unutterable groans, he concentrated incessantly on meriting to be heard by the Lord after the long perseverance of his prayers.

One of those days, withdrawn in this way, while he was praying and all of his fervor was totally absorbed in God, Christ Jesus appeared to him as fastened to a cross.a His soul melted at the sight, and the memory of Christ's passion was so impressed on the innermost recesses of his heart. From that hour, whenever Christ's crucifixion came to his mind, he could scarcely contain his tears and sighs, as he later revealed to his companions when he was approaching the end of his life. Through this the man of God understood as addressed to himself the Gospel text: If you wish to come after me, deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. Mt 16:24

6 From then on he clothed himself with a spirit of poverty, a sense of humility, and an eagerness for intimate piety. For previously not only had association with lepers horrified him greatly, so too did even gazing upon them from a distance. But, now because of Christ crucified, who according to the text of the prophet appeared despised as a leper, he, in order to despise himself completely, showed deeds of humility and humanity to lepers with a gentle piety. He visited their houses frequently, generously distributed alms to them, and with a great drive of compassion kissed their hands and their mouths.b

To poor beggars he even wished to give not only his possessions but his very self, sometimes taking off his clothes, at others altering them, at yet others, when he had nothing else at hand, ripping them in pieces to give to them.

To poor priests he also provided help, reverently and piously, especially in the appointments of the altar, and, in this way, he both became a participant in the divine worship and provided assistance for the need of its celebrants.

With religious devotion he visited at this time the shrine of the Apostle Peter. When he saw a large number of the poor before the entrance of the church, led partly by the gentleness of his piety,




Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 785-786

leprosum illum minime vidit. 5Admiratione itaque repletus et gaudio, laudes coepit Domino decantare devote, proponens ex hoc semper ad maiora conscendere.

- 6Solitaria proinde loca quaerebat, amica moeroribus, in quibus dum gemitibus inenarrabilibus incessanter intenderet, post longam precum iustantiam a Domino meruit exaudiri.

7Dum enim una dierum sic sequestratus oraret et prae nimietate fervoris totus esset absorptus in Deum, apparuit ei Christus Iesus veluti cruci confixus. 8Ad cuius conspectum liquefacta est anima eius, et memoria passionis Christi visceribus cordis ipsius adeo impressa medullitus, ut ab illa hora, cum Christi crucifixio veniret in mentem, vix posset a lacrymis et gemitibus exterius continere, sicut ipse postmodum familiariter retulit, cum appropinquaret ad finem. 9Intellexit per hoc nempe vir Dei illud evangelicum sibi dici: Si vis venire post me, abnega temetipsum et tolle crucem tuam et sequaris me!

6 1Induit ex tunc spiritum paupertatis, humilitatis sensum et affectum intimae pietatis. 2Nam cum prius leprosorum non solum consortium, verum etiam longinquum contuitum vehementer horreret, iam. propter Christum crucifixum, qui iuxta verbum propheticum contemptibilis ut leprosus apparuit, ut semetipsum plene contemneret, humilitatis et humanitatis obsequia leprosis benefica pietate praestabat. 3Visitabat enim frequenter domos ipsorum, liberaliter eis eleemosynas erogabat et cum multo compassionis affectu manus eorum osculabatur et ora.

4Pauperibus etiam mendicantibus non solum sua, verum etiam se ipsum cupiebat impendere, aliquando vestimenta exuens, aliquando dissuens, aliquando scindens ad largiendum eis, cum prae manibus alia non haberet.

5Sacerdotibus quoque pauperibus reverenter subveniebat et pie, praecipue in ornamentis altaris, quo et cultus divini particeps fieret et cultorum inopiae supplementa praeberet.

6Cum autem religiosa devotione tunc temporis limina visitaret Apostoli Petri, conspecta multitudine pauperum ante fores ecclesiae, partim pietatis ductus dulcedine,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 534