The Treatise on the Miracles of Saint Francis - 438 

certain Pietro from Alifea was among those accused of heresy, and he was arrested in Rome. The Lord Pope Gregory handed him over to the bishop of Tivoli for safekeeping. Fearing the threat of losing episcopal office, the bishop took him and bound him in leg irons. But because Pietro's simplicity indicated innocence, he was granted less careful watch.

Some nobles of the city, it is said, had a long-standing hatred of the bishop and were eager to see him incur the punishment decreed by the Pope. So they secretly advised Pietro to escape. He agreed with them; he escaped one night and soon fled far away.

When the bishop heard this, he took it seriously: he feared the expected punishment and he was no less pained to see his enemies' wish fulfilled. So he took every precaution and sent out searchers in every direction. When the poor fellow was found, considering him ungrateful, he put the man in the strictest custody for the future. He had a dark jail cell prepared, surrounded with thick walls. Inside he had the man confined between thick planks and fastened with iron nails. He had him bound in fetters of iron weighing many pounds, and provided him food by weight and drink by measure.

Because all other hope of freedom was now cut off, God, who does not allow the innocent to perish, soon came with His mercy to help him. That poor man, with much weeping and praying, began to call on blessed Francis to take pity on him. He had heard that the vigil of his solemnity was near. The man had great faith in Saint Francis because, as he said, he had heard that heretics railed furiously against him.b On the night before his feast, around dusk, blessed Francis mercifully came down into the prison, called him by name, and ordered him to stand up. The man asked in great fear who was calling him, and heard that it was blessed Francis. He jumped up, called the guard and said, "I am very afraid, someone is here ordering me to get up, and he says he is Saint Francis." "Lie down, wretch," the guard replied, "sleep in peace! You're out of your mind because you didn't eat well today." But when, toward midday, the saint of God still ordered him to get up, he saw the chains on his feet break and fall suddenly to the ground. Looking about the cell, he saw the timbers opened with their nails sprung outward: there was a clear path for his escape.

Once free, he was so astounded that he did not know enough to flee. Instead, he let out a cry and frightened all the guards. When the bishop was told that the man had been freed from his chains, he




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 438