The Life of Blessed Francis - 589 

5Emptying himself
through a wonderful tenderness of compassion
for anyone with a bodily affliction,
in the sweetness of his pious heart,
he turned back to Christ
any need, any lack he might notice in anyone.
He certainly had an inborn kindness a
doubled by the piety of Christ poured out on him.
Therefore his soul melted for the poor and the infirm;
to those to whom he could not extend a hand
he extended his affection.

Once it happened that one of the brothers responded more gruffly to a poor man begging alms at an inconvenient time. When the pious lover of the poor heard this, he ordered the brother to strip naked, prostrate himself at that poor man's feet, confess his fault, and beg for his prayers and forgiveness. When he had done this with humility, the father added gently: "Brother, as long as you see a poor person, a mirror of the Lord and his poor Mother is placed before you. Likewise in the sick, look closely for the infirmities which He accepted."

In all the poor
that most Christian poor man also saw before him
a portrait of Christ;
he not only gave freely to those he met
the necessities of life, if these had even been given to him,
but he also resolved they should be returned,
as if they truly belonged to them.

It happened once that a poor man met him on his return from Siena, when, because of an illness, he was wearing a short mantle over his habit. When his kind eye observed the man's misery, he said to his companion: "We must give back to this poor man his mantle, for it is his! For we accepted it on loan until we should happen upon someone poorer than we are." But his companion, seeing the need of his pious father, objected to this stubbornly, lest by providing for someone else, he neglect himself. But he said: "The great Almsgiver will accuse me of theft if I do not give what I have to someone in greater need."




Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 845-846

5 1Afflictis
quoque qualicumque corporali
molestia mira compassionis teneritudine condescendens,
si quid penuriae, si quid defectus in, aliquo cerneret,
pii cordis dulcedine
regerebat in Christum.
2Sane elementiam habebat ingenitam,
quam superinfusa Christi pietas duplicabat.
3Itaque liquescebat animus eius ad pauperes et infirmos,
et quibus non poterat manum,
exhibebat affectum.

4Contigit semel, ut pauperi cuidam eleemosynam importune petenti unus e fratribus durius responderet. 5Quod audiens pauperum pius amator, fratri praecepit, ut ad illius pauperis pedes se nudatum prosterneret, proclamaret culpabilem, orationis suffragium postularet et veniam. 6Quod cum ille fecisset humiliter, dulciter pater adiecit: « Dum pauperem vides, o frater, speculum tibi proponitur Domini et pauperis Matris eius. 7In infirmis similiter infirmitates, quas assumpsit, considera! ».

8Cumque in pauperibus cunctis
et ipse christianissimus pauper
effigiem Christi prospiceret,
si qua etiam necessaria vitae sibi collata fuissent,
eis occurrentibus non solum liberaliter conferebat,
verum etiam, ac si illorum propria essent,
iudicabat esse reddenda.

9Accidit semel, ut eidem redeunti de Senis pauper quidam occurreret, cum occasione infirmitatis super habitum palliolo quodam esset amictus. 10Cuius miseria oculo elementi conspecta: « Oportet », inquit ad socium, « ut reddamus mantellum pauperculo isti, nam ipsius est. 11Mutuo enim ipsum accepimus, donec pauperiorem invenire contingeret ». 12Socius autem pii patris necessitatem considerans, pertinaciter obsistebat, ne provideret alii, se neglecto. 13At ille: « Pro furto mihi », ait, « reputo a magno Eleemosynario imputandum, si hoc quod fero, non dedero magis egenti ».

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 589