The Life of Blessed Francis - 561 

senses.a Therefore when he was in good health, he hardly ever allowed himself cooked food; and on the rare occasion when he did so, he either sprinkled it with ashes or added water to make it extremely insipid. What shall I say about wine, when he would scarcely drink even enough water while he was burning with a fierce thirst? He discovered more effective methods of abstinence and daily improved in their exercise. Although he had already attained the height of perfection, nevertheless always beginning, he was innovative in punishing the lust of his flesh with afflictions.b

When he went out among people, he conformed himself to his hosts in the food he ate because of the text of the Gospel. Lk 10:7 But when he returned home, he kept strictly his sparse and rigid abstinence. Thus he was austere toward himself but considerate toward his neighbor. Making himself obedient to the Gospel of Christ in everything, he gave an edifying example not only when he abstained but also when he ate.

More often than not, the naked ground was a bed for his weary body; and he would often sleep sitting up, with a piece of wood or a stone positioned for his head. Clothed in a single poor little tunic, he served the Lord in cold and nakedness 2 Cor 11:27.

2 Once when he was asked how he could protect himself against the bite of the winter's frost with such thin clothing, he answered with a burning spirit: "If we were touched within by the flame of desire for our heavenly home, we would easily endure that exterior cold." In the matter of clothes, he had a horror for softness and loved coarseness, claiming that John the Baptist had been praised by the Lord for this. If he felt the softness of a tunic that had been given to him, he used to sew pieces of cord on the inside because he used to say, according to the word of Truth itself, that we should look for soft clothes not in the huts of the poor but in the palaces of princes. For his own certain experience had taught him that demons were terrified by harshness, but were inspired to tempt one more strongly by what is pleasant and soft.

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 813-815


et pronitati sensuum non parere. 4Propter quod coeta cibaria sanitatis tempore vix admittebat et raro, admissa vero aut conficiebat cinere, aut condimenti saporem, admixtione aquae ut plurimum, reddebat insipidum. 5De potu vini quid dicam, cum et de aqua, dum sitis aestuaret ardore, vix ad sufficientiam biberet? 6Modos adinveniebat abstinentiae potioris et quotidie exercitatione crescebat; licetque iam perfectionis culmen attingeret, tamquam semper incipiens, aliquid innovabat, afflictionibus carnis puniendo libidinem.

7Egrediens autem exterius propter verbum Evangelii, conformabat se suscipientibus ipsum in qualitate ciborum, cum tamen, ad interiora regressus, districte servaret rigidam abstinentiae parcitatem. 8Sicque se ipsum austerum sibi, humanum proximo, subiectum Evangelio Christi per omnia reddens, non solum abstinendo, verum etiam manducando praebebat aedificationis exemplum.

9Nuda humus, ut frequentius, lectus erat lassato corpusculo, et saepius sedens, ligno vel lapide ad caput posito, dormiebat; 10unica paupere contectus tunicula, in nuditate Domino serviebat et frigore.

2 1Interrogatus aliquando, quomodo vestitu tam tenui se posset ab hiemalis algoris asperitate tueri, in spiritus fervore respondit: « Si supernae patriae flamma per desiderium contingeremur interius, frigus istud exterius facile portaremus ». 2Vestis horrebat mollitiem, asperitatem amabat, asserens, propter hoc Ioannem Baptistam ore divino fuisse laudatum. 3Si quando vero in data sibi tunica lenitatem sentiret, chordulis eam contexebat interius, quia non in casulis pauperum, sed in palatiis principum, iuxta Veritatis verbum vestimentorum dicebat requirendam esse mollitiem. 4Experientia enim certa didicerat, daemones asperitate terreri, deliciosis autem et mollibus ad tentandum fortius animari.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 561