The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 255 

What next? In praying, the answer came to him and he told his sons the news of salvation. Thus, Christ’s familiar speaking in parables is recognizable.a

“Francis,” He said, “say this to the pope: ‘Once upon a time there was a poor but lovely woman who lived in a desert. A king fell in love with her because of her great beauty; he gladly betrothed her and with her had lovely children. When they had grown up, having been nobly raised, their mother said: “Dear children, do not be ashamed because you are poor, for you are all children of a great king. Go joyfully to his court, and ask him for what you need.” Hearing this they were amazed and overjoyed. At the thought of being royalty, their spirits were lifted. Knowing they would be the king’s heirs, they reckoned all their poverty riches. They presented themselves boldly to the king: they were not afraid to look at him since they bore his very image. When the king saw his likeness in them, he was surprised, and asked whose sons they might be. When they said they were the children of the poor woman who lived in the desert, the king embraced them. “You are my heirs,” he said, “and my sons; have no fear! If strangers are fed at my table, it is only right that I feed you; for by law my whole inheritance belongs to you.” The king then sent orders to the woman to send all his sons to be fed at his court.’” This parable made the saint happy, and he promptly reported this holy message to the pope.b

17 Francis himself was this woman, not because he was soft in his deeds,c but because he was fruitful and bore many children. The desert was the world, which was then wild and sterile, with no teaching of virtue. The many beautiful children were the large number of brothers, clothed with every virtue. The king was the Son of God, whom they resemble by their holy poverty. They were fed from the king’s table, refusing to be ashamed of their lowliness, when, in imita-




Vita Secunda Sancti Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p. 458-459

3Quid plura? Responsum orando reportat et refert filiis nova salutis. 4Familiaris allocutio Christi in parabolis a noscitur:

« Francisce », inquit, « sie dices ad papam: Mulier quaedam paupercula sed formosa in quodam deserto manebat. 5Adamavit eam rex quidam ob maximum illius decorem; contraxit cum ea gratanter et filios ex ea venustissimos genuit. 6Adultos iam illos et nobiliter educatos mater alloquitur: « Nolite », inquit, « verecundari, dilecti, eo quod pauperes sitis, nam illius magni regis estis filii omnes . 7Ad curiam eius itote gaudentes, et ab ipso vobis necessaria postulate ». 8Audientes hoc illi mirantur et gaudent, et regiae stirpis sublevati promisso, futuros se scientes haeredes, omnem inopiam divitias reputant. 9Praesentant se regi audacter, nec pavent vultum cuius similem gestant imaginem. 10Cognita rex similitudine sua in illis, cuius essent filii mirando exquirit. 11Qui cum mulieris illius pauperculae in deserto morantis se filios affirmarent, amplexans eos rex: « Mei », ait, « estis filii et haeredes; timere nolite! . Nam si de mensa mea nutriuntur extranei, iustius est ut enutriri faciam quibus haereditas tota de iure servatur ». 13Mandat proinde rex mulieri, ut omnes ex se genitos ad suam curiam pascendos transmittat ». 14Laetus et gaudens sanctus efficitur de parabola, et sacrum oraculum protinus reportat ad papam.

17 1Mulier haec erat Franciscus multorum fecunditate natorum, non factorum mollitie; desertum: mundus, tempore illo incultus et sterilis doctrina virtutum; filiorum venusta et larga progenies: fratrum multiplex numerus et omni virtute decorus; 2rex: Filius Dei, cui sancta paupertate consimiles eadem forma respondent, qui nutritiva de mensa regis omni vilitatis rubore contempto suscipiunt, cum, imitatione Christi contenti eleemosynisque viventes,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 255