The Life of Blessed Francis - 578 

in the King of Kings
and in the Queen, his mother.

For when the brothers were seeking at a gathering about which of the virtues makes one a greater friend of Christ, he replied, as if opening the secret of his heart: "You know, brothers, that poverty is the special way to salvation, as the stimulus of humility and the root of perfection, whose fruit is many, but hidden. For this is the hidden treasure of the Gospel field; Mt 13:44 to buy it, everything must be sold, and, in comparison, everything that cannot be sold must be spurned."

2 "Whoever desires to attain this height," he said, "must renounce in some way not only worldly wisdom but also the expertise of knowledge, that, having renounced even this possession, he might enter into the mighty works of the Lord and offer himself naked to the arms of the Crucified. For in vain does one perfectly renounce the world, who keeps the money bag of his own opinions in the hidden recesses of his heart."a

Often when he spoke to the brothers about poverty, he would insist on the saying of the Gospel: The foxes have their holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. Because of this, he taught the brothers to build, like the poor, poor little houses, which they should inhabit not as their own but, like pilgrims and strangers, 1 Pt 2:11 as belonging to others. For he would say that the laws of pilgrims was to be sheltered under someone else's roof, to thirst for their homeland, and to travel in peace.b Sometimes he ordered the brothers to tear down houses they had built, or to move out of them, if he noticed in them something contrary to gospel poverty because it was appropriated or sumptuous.

This, he used to say, was the foundation of his Order,
on which primary substratum the structure of religion rests,
so that it is strengthened by its strength,
and weakened by the weakness of its base.

3 In the same way he would teach,
as he learned from a revelation,
that entering the sacred religion should begin

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 833-834


quia in Rege regum
et in regina Matre ipsius
tam praestanter effulsit.

8Nam et fratribus in conclavi quaerentibus, quae virtus magis amicum redderet Christo, quasi secretum sui cordis aperiens, respondebat: 9« Paupertatem noveritis, fratres, specialem viam esse salutis tamquam humilitatis fomentum perfectionisque radicem, cuius est fructus multiplex, sed occultus. 10Haec enim est evangelici agri thesaurus absconditus, pro quo emendo vendenda sunt omnia, et quae vendi non possunt illius comparatione spernenda ».

2 1« Ad huius », inquit, « culmen qui cupit attingere, non solum mundanae prudentiae, verum etiam litterarum peritiae renuntiare quodam modo debet, ut, tali expropriatus possessione, introëat in potentias Domini, et nudum se offerat brachiis Crucifixi. 2Nequaquam enim saeculo perfecte renuntiat qui proprii sensus loculos intra cordis arcana reservat ».

- 3Saepe vero de paupertate sermonem faciens, ingerebat fratribus evangelicum illud: « Vulpes foveas habent et volucres caeli nidos, Filius autem hominis non habet ubi caput suum reclinet ». 4Propter quod docebat fratres, ut pauperum more pauperculas casas erigerent, quas non inhabitarent ut proprias, sed sicut peregrini et advenae alienas 5Leges namque peregrinorum esse dicebat sub alieno colligi tecto, sitire ad patriam, pacifice pertransire. 6Mandabat dirui aliquando domos erectas, aut fratres exinde amoveri, si aliquid in eis perciperet, quod ratione appropriationis vel sumptuositatis contrarium esset evangelicae paupertati.

7Hanc sui dicebat Ordinis fundamentum,
cui substrato primarie sic omnis structura religionis innititur,
ut ipsius firmitate firmetur
et eversione funditus evertatur.

3 1Docebat proinde,
sicut revelatione didicerat,
sacrae religionis ingressum

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 578