The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 355 

struck with panic, spoke to the fire: "My brother Fire, your beauty is the envy of all creatures, the Most High created you strong, beautiful and useful. Be gracious to me in this hour; be courteous! For a long time I have loved you in the Lord. I pray the Great Lord who created you to temper now your heat that I may bear your gentle burning."

When the prayer is finished, he makes the sign of the cross over the fire and then remains in place unshaken. The surgeon takes in his hands the red-hot glowing iron. The brothers, overcome by human feeling, run away. The saint joyfully and eagerly offered himself to the iron. The hissing iron sinks into tender flesh, and the burn is extended slowly straight from the ear to the eyebrow. How much pain that burning caused can best be known by the witness of the saint's words, since it was he that felt it. For when the brothers who had fled return, the father says with a smile: "Oh, you weak souls of little heart; why did you run away? Truly I say to you, I did not feel the fire's heat, nor any pain in my flesh." And turning to the doctor, he says: "If the flesh isn't well cooked, try again!" The doctor had experienced quite a different reaction in similar situations, exalts this as a divine miracle, saying: "I tell you, brothers; today I have seen wonderful things!" I believe he had returned to primeval innocence, for when he wished, the harshest things grew gentle.

Chapter CXXVI

167 Heading to the hermitage of Greccio, blessed Francis was crossing the lake of Rieti in a small boat. A fisherman offered him a little water-bird so he might rejoice in the Lord over it. The blessed Father received it gladly, and with open hands, gently invited it to fly away freely. But the bird did not want to leave: instead it settled down in his hands as in a nest, and the saint, his eyes lifted up, remained in prayer. Returning to himself as if after a long stay in another place, he sweetly told the little bird to return to its original freedom. And so the bird, having received permission with a blessing, flew away expressing its joy with the movement of its body.

Chapter CXXVII

168 When blessed Francis, fleeing, as was his custom, from the sight of human company, came to stay in a certain hermitage place, a falcon nesting there bound itself to him in a great covenant of




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 355