The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 251 

Chapter VII
HOW HIS FATHER AND HIS BROTHER IN THE FLESH PERSECUTED HIM.

12 But, now that he was set upon works of piety, his father in the flesh began to persecute him. Judging it madness to be a servant of Christ, he would lash out at him with curses wherever he went. The servant of God then called a lowly, rather simple man to help him. Substituting him for his father, he asked him for a blessing whenever his father cursed him. He turned into deeds the words of the prophet, revealing the meaning of that verse: Let them curse; you give your blessing.

The man of God gave back to his father the money he wanted to spend for work on the church. He did this on the advice of the bishop of the town,a a very devout man, because it was wrong to spend ill-gotten gain for sacred purposes.b Within earshot of many who had gathered about, he declared: “From now on I will say freely:cOur Father who art in heaven’, and not ‘My father, Pietro di Bernardone.’ Look, not only do I return his money; I give him back all my clothes. I will go to the Lord naked.”

Oh how free is the heart of a man for whom Christ is already enough!

The man of God was found to be wearing a hair shirt under his clothes, rejoicing in the reality of virtue rather than in its appearance.

His brother in the flesh, just like his father, hounded him with poisoned words.d One winter’s morning, when he saw Francis praying, covered with pitiful rags and shivering with cold, that wicked man said to a neighbor: “Tell Francis that now he should be able to sell you a penny’s worth of sweat!” When the man of Godheard this, he was very happy, and answered with a smile: “Actually, I’ll sell it at a higher price to my Lord!”

Nothing could have been closer to the truth!
He not only received
a hundredfold in this life,
but even a thousand times more,

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Vita Secunda Sancti Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p. 454-455


Caput VII
De persecutione patris et fratris carnalis.

12 1Sed iam operibus pietatis a insistentem pater carnalis persequitur, et servitutem Christi insaniam iudicans, ubique ipsum maledictis dilaniat. 2Advocat itaque servus Dei quemdam virum plebeium et simplicem satis, quem loco patris suscipiens, rogat ut cum pater eius maledicta congeminat, ipse sibi e contrario benedicat. 3Propheticum sane verbum vertit in opus et factis ostendit quod signat ille sermone: Maledicent illi et tu benedices.

4Resignat patri pecuniam quam in opere dictae ecclesiae vir Dei c expendisse voluerat, suadente hoc illi episcopo civitatis, viro utique valde pio, eo quod non liceret de male acquisitis aliquid in sacros usus expendere. 5Audientibus autem qui convenerant multis: « Amodo » inquit, « dicam libere: Pater noster qui es in caelis, non pater Petrus Bernardonis, cui non solum reddo ecce pecuniam, sede integra vestimenta resigno. Nudus igitur ad Dominum pergam ».  

6O liberalem animum viri, cui solum iam sufficit Christus!

7Inventus est vir Dei cilicium tune portare sub vestibus, virtutum exsistentia plus quam apparentia gaudens.

8Frater eius carnalis more patris ipsum verbis venenatis insequitur. 9Qui mane quodam tempore hiemali dum vilibus contectum panniculis cernit Franciscum orationi vacantem frigore tremebundum, ait cuidam concivi suo ille perversus: « Dic Francisco, ut nummatam unam nunc tibi velit vendere de sudore ». 10Quo vir Dei audito, exhilaratus nimis, subridendo respondit: « Revera ego hunc Domino meo carissime vendam ».

11Nil verius,
nam non solum centuplum
sed etiam millesies plurimum
in hac luce recepit,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 251