The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 301 

A VISION ABOUT POVERTY

Chapter L

82 At this point I would like to tell about a memorable vision the saint had.

One night, after praying for a long time, he gradually grew drowsy and fell asleep. Then his holy soul was brought into the sanctuary of God, Ps 73:17 [Vulgate, Ps 72:17] and, among other things, he saw in a dream a lady who looked like this: Her head seemed to be of gold, her breast and arms of silver, her belly was crystal, and her lower parts of iron. She was tall in stature, slim and harmonious in form. But that very beautiful lady was covered by a filthy mantle. When the blessed Father got up the next morning he told this vision to the holy man, Brother Pacifico, but without explaining what it meant.

Many have interpreted it as they please, but I do not think it out of place to keep to the interpretation of Pacifico, which the Holy Spirit suggested Jn 14:26 to him as he was hearing it. "This very beautiful lady," he said, "is the beautiful soul of Saint Francis. Her golden head is his contemplation and wisdom about things of eternity; her silver breast and arms are the words of the Lord meditated in the heart and carried out in deeds. The hardness of the crystal is his sobriety, its sparkle is his chastity, and iron is his steadfast perseverance. Finally, consider the filthy mantle as the little and despised body covering his precious soul. "

However, many others who also have the Spirit of God understand this Lady, as the father's bride, Poverty. "The reward of glory made her golden," they say, "the praise of fame made 1 Cor 2:14 her silver; profession made her crystal, because she was internally and externally the same, without a money-pouch; and perseverance until the end made her iron. But the opinion of carnal men has woven a filthy garment for this exceptional lady."

Many also apply this vision to the Order, following the successive periods of Daniel.a But it is evident that the vision is principally about the father, since to avoid vanity he absolutely refused to interpret it. Surely if it had touched on the Order, he would not have passed over it in total silence.

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Vita Secunda Sancti Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p. 519-520


De quadam visione quae facit ad paupertatem.

Caput L.

82 1Libet hic sancti visionem referre memoria dignam.

2Nocte quadam, longa tandem oratione conclusa, lente soporatus obdormit. 3Introducitur anima illa sancta in sanctuarium Dei, videtque per somnium inter alia dominam quamdam sic se habentem: Caput aureum videbatur, argentea pectus et brachia, venter crystallinus, et deinceps in infimis ferrea; alta erat statura, subtili compage ac regula coaptata . 4Verumtamen egregiae formae domina mantello sordido tegebatur. 5Mane surgens beatus pater sancto homini fratri Pacifico recitat visionem, non tamen elucidat quid praetendat.

6Hanc, etsi multi fuerint interpretati pro libitu, non ab re credo praedicti Pacifici interpretationem tenere, quam in ipso auditu suggessit ei Spiritus Sanctus. 7« Haec », inquit, « domina egregiae formae formosa anima sancti Francisci est. 8Caput aureum contemplatio et sapientia aeternorum: pectus et brachia de argento eloquia Domini sunt corde meditata et opere adimpleta: 9rigida crystallus sobrietatem, splendida castitatem designat: ferrum firma perseverantia est: 10porro sordidum mantellum despectum corpusculum crede, quo anima pretiosa contegitur ».

11Multi attamen, spiritum Dei habentes, dominam istam, velut sponsam patris, intelligunt paupertatem. 12 « Istam », inquiunt, « fecit gloriae praemium auream, famae praeconium argenteam, una foris et intus absque loculis professio crystallinam, finalis perseverantia ferream. 13Huic autem praeclarae dominae mantellum sordidum animalium hominum reputatio texuit ».

14Plures oraculum istud religioni coaptant, successionem temporum cursu Danielis sequentes. 15Sed ad patrem pertinere hinc maxime liquet, quod arrogantiam vitans, interpretari penitus noluit. 16Et quidem si stillasset ad ordinem, non muto silentio pertransisset.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 301