The Minor Legend - 690 

him in habit and life. That humble man decided that they should be called "Lesser Brothers."

Third Lesson

When at the calling of God the number of brothers reached six, their devoted father and shepherd found a place for solitude where, in bitterness of heart, he deplored his life as a youth which he had not lived without sin. He also begged for pardon and grace for himself and for his offspring which he had begotten in Christ. When an excessive joy filled his being, he was assured of complete forgiveness to the last penny of all his debt. Then caught up above himself and engulfed totally in a vivifying light he saw clearly what the future held for him and his brothers. He disclosed this later in confidence for the encouragement of his little flock, Lk 12:32 when he foretold the Order would soon expand and grow through the clemency of God. After a very few days had passed, certain others joined him, and their number increased to twelve. This servant of the Lord decided, therefore, to approach the presence of the Apostolic See. Together with that band of simple men, he wished to beg earnestly and humbly that the way of life, shown to him by the Lord and written down by him in a few words, be confirmed by the full authority of that same most Holy See.

Fourth Lesson

According to his proposal, he hurried with his companions to come into the presence of the Supreme Pontiff, Lord Innocent III. Christ, the power and wisdom of God, arrived in his clemency before him. By means of a vision, it was communicated to the Vicar that he should agree to listen calmly to this poor little suppliant and give him a favorable assent. For in a dream the Roman Pontiff himself saw that the Lateran basilica was almost ready to fall down, and a poor little man, small and scorned, was propping it up with his own bent back so that it would not fall. While the wise bishop was contemplating the purity of the simple mind in this servant of God, his contempt of the world, his love of poverty, the constancy of his perfect proposal, his zeal for souls, and the enkindled fervor of his will, he said: "Truly, this is he who will hold up Christ's Church by what he does and what he preaches." As a result, the pope from that time on held a special devotion toward this man. He bowed to the request in all things, the pope approved the Rule, gave him the

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Legenda Minor, Fontes Franciscani, p. 973-975


habitu vitaque coniungi, 6quos et Fratres Minores vir humilis censuit appellari.

Lectio tertia.

3 1Sane iam fratrum, Deo vocante, consummato senario, cum pius eorum Pater et pastor locum solitudinis nactus, in multa cordis amaritudine vitam deploraret adolescentiae non sine culpa transactam, sibique ac proli, quam in Christo genuerat, veniam postularet et gratiam, excessiva quadam in eum superveniente laetitia, certificatus est de remissione plenaria omnium delictorum, usque videlicet ad quadrantem novissimum. 2Raptus deinde supra se ac in quoddam lumen vivificum totus absorptus, quae circa se ac fratres futura erant, luculenter adspexit; 3sicut ipse postmodum, Ordinis profectum et dilatationem per Dei clementiam in proximo fieri debere praenuntians, ad confortationem pusilli gregis familialiter reseravit. 4Paucis admodum elapsis diebus, quibusdam sibi cohaerentibus aliis, cum iam ad duodenarium excrevissent, disposuit Domini famulus cum illo simplicium coetu apostolicae Sedis adire praesentiam, 5ut praeostensam sibi a Domino normam vivendi, quam et brevi sermone conscripserat, suppliciter et instanter exposceret eiusdem sacratissimae Sedis auctoritate plenaria confirmari.

Lectio quarta.

4 1Properante itaque ipso cum sociis iuxta propositum comparere conspectui Summi Pontificis, domini scilicet Innocentii tertii, praevenit eum dignatione clementiae Dei virtus et sapientia Christus suum per visionem commonefaciendo Vicarium, ut supplicanti pauperculo et placidum daret auditum et benignum praeberet assensum. 2Vidit namque in somnis Pontifex ipse Romanus Lateranensem basilicam ruinae fore iam proximam, quam quidam homo pauperculus, modicus et despectus, proprio dorso submisso, ne caderet, sustentabat. 3Cum igitur in famulo Dei sapiens contemplaretur antistes simplicis animi puritatem, mundi contemptum, paupertatis amorem, propositi perfecti constantiam, animarum zelum ignitumque voluntatis sanctae fervorem: « Vere », inquit, « hic est ille, qui opere ac doctrina Christi sustentabit Ecclesiam ». 4Proinde ad ipsum praecipuam ex tunc devotionem concipiens ac petitioni eius per omnia se inclinans, approbavit Regulam, 5dedit de poenitentia praedicanda mandatum,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 690