The Life of Blessed Francis - 563 

religion; it presents a symbol of holiness. It is not lawful for a lustful person to steal it. If you want to leave, leave!"

Even more inspired by a wonderful fervor of spirit, once he opened the cell, went out into the garden and, throwing his poor still naked body into the deep snow, began to pack it together by the handful into seven mounds. Showing them to himself, he spoke as if to another person: "Here, the larger one is your wife; those four over there are your two sons and two daughters; the other two are a servant and a maid who are needed to serve them. Hurry, then, and get them some clothes because they are freezing to death! But if the complicated care of them is annoying, then take care to serve one Master!" At that the tempter went away conquered. And the holy man returned to the cell in victory, because while he froze outwardly as penance, he so quenched the fire of lust within, that he hardly felt anything of that sort from that time on.

A certain brother, who was giving himself to prayer at the time, saw in the bright moonlight all these things. When the man of God learned that he had seen this that night, while giving him an account of the temptation, he ordered him to reveal to no living being what he had seen as long as he himself lived.

5 He taught not only that the vices of the flesh must be mortified and its prompting checked, but also that the exterior senses, through which death enters the soul, should be guarded with the greatest care.a

He solicitously commanded the avoidance of familiarities with women by sight or by conversation, for many are an occasion of ruin; and he maintained that, through these, a weak spirit would be broken and a strong spirit often weakened. He said that avoiding this contagion when conversing with them, except for the most well-tested, was as easy as walking in fire and not burning one's feet. He himself so turned aside his eyes, lest they see vanity of this kind, that, as he once said to a companion, he almost recognized no woman by her face. For he did not think it was safe to drink into one's interior such images of woman's form, which could either rekindle the fire in an already tamed flesh, or stain the brightness of a pure heart. He even used to declare that a conversation with a woman was unnecessary except only for confession or very brief instruction, as their

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 816-817


7Tunica religioni deservit, sanctitatis signaculum praefert, furari eam libidinoso non licet; si quo vis pergere, perge! ».

8Insuper et mirando fervore spiritus animatus, aperta cella, foras exivit in hortum, et in magnam demergens nivem corpusculum iam nudatum, septem ex ea plenis manibus coepit compingere massas. 9Quas sibi proponens, suo sic exteriori homini loquebatur: « Ecce », inquit, « haec maior uxor tua est, quatuor istae duo filii et duae filiae, reliquae duae servus et ancilla, quos ad serviendum habere oportet. 10Festina igitur omnes induere, quoniam frigore moriuntur. 11Si vero eorum nultiplex sollicitudo molestat, uni Domino sollicite servi! ». 12Illico tentator victus abscessit, et vir sanctus in cellam cum victoria rediit; quia, dum bene poenaliter alsit foris, ardorem interius sic exstinxit libidinis, ut deinceps tale aliquid minime sentiret.

13Quidam autem frater, qui tunc orationi vacabat, haec omnia, luna clarius incedente, prospexit. 14Comperto vir Dei, quod haec ille nocte vidisset, reserans ei tentationis processum, praecepit, ut quamdiu ipse viveret, nulli viventi rem, quam viderat propalaret.

5 1Non solum autem mortificari debere docebat vitia carnis et eius incentiva frenari, verum etiam exteriores sensus, per quos mors intrat ad animam, summa vigilantia custodiri.

2Mulierum familiaritates, colloquia et aspectus, quae multis occasio sunt ruinae, sollicitius evitari iubebat, asserens, per huiusmodi debilem frangi et fortem saepe spiritum infirmari. 3Harum contagionem evadere conversantem cum eis, nisi probatissimum virum, tam facile dixit, quam iuxta Scripturam, in igne ambulare et non comburere plantas. 4Siquidem ipse adeo averterat oculos suos, ne huiusmodi vanitatem viderent, quod, sicut aliquando socio dixit, quasi nullam recognoscebat in facie. 5Non enim securum esse putabat, earum formarum introrsus haurire imagines, quae possunt aut edomitae carnis resuscitare igniculum, aut pudicae mentis maculare nitorem. 6Asserebat etiam irivolum esse mulieris colloquium, excepta sola confessione vel instructione brevissima, iuxta quod et saluti expedit et congruit honestati.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 563