A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis (1277-1283) - 59 

Order and who look back with hardened hearts. He said that a cleric at Paris had promised to enter the Order of Lesser Brothers. But when he was about to be invested, he received a letter from his homeland, saying that he had been made a canon of a cathedral church. Withdrawing from entering the Order, he was in his church for nearly half a year, when he contracted a serious illness. Warned by the canons to confess his sins, he refused as though in despair. Then the canons asked the Lesser Brothers to come to the sick man to persuade him to confess his sins.

77When the brothers arrived, they found him extremely weak and warned him, with as much diligence as they could, to make a confession of all his sins as a good Christian and a true Catholic. He replied: "Brothers, do not warn me about this. For I am damned and cannot confess. Before you came to me, I was taken into the sight of God Who showed me His awfully terrifying countenance and said: 'I called, and you refused; go, then, to your eternal punishment.' " And when he had said this, at once he ended his last day before them all.

81Truly, the judgments of God are like the mighty deep Ps 36:7 [Vulgate, Ps 35:7] and no one can know why He mercifully sets one free and justly condemns another. Because the Lord is the weigher of spirits, however, He judges not only externals, as humans do, but perceives the interior of the heart infallibly.a

83What I heard had happened at Paris should not, I think, be kept hidden, because it was a sign of approval of this state of life and praise for perseverance in it. A Master at Paris entered the Order of Lesser Brothers. His mother had nourished him on alms and had solicitously reared him despite her poverty. After he entered the Order, his mother grieved over the loss of what she considered a temporal good, her son. She came to visit him but only in order to persuade him to return to his former state of life. She showed him her breasts that gave him suck while repeatedly crying out how she had nourished him throughout a time of very great misery. She set forth many other reasons which might provoke him to leave the Order. The brother felt great compassion for his mother and was crushed in spirit, and he was so tempted by all this that he decided to leave the Order on the next day. Yet because he had not acted out of malice, but was rather deceived by the hidden malice of the devil into thinking that he was only doing his duty, he gave himself to prayer. As had been his custom, he sought out the image of the Crucified. "I do not

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Liber de Laudibus Beati Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1279-1280


73Sed exemplum terribile contra ingratos de vocatione ad Ordinem retro aspicientes animo indurato narravit, ut dicitur, venerabilis pater frater Iohannes Anglicus, qui post magisterium in theologia Parisius archiepiscopus Cantuariensis est factus. 74Dicebat, quod clericus quidam Parisius Ordinem fratrum Minorum se intraturum promiserat; sed cum indui iam deberet, litteram, de terra sua recepit, quod factus erat canonicus cuiusdam ecclesiae cathedralis. 75Qui ab Ordinis ingressu resiliens, cum in ecclesia sua medium fere annum fuisset, gravem infirmitatem incurrit; et monitus a canonicis, ut sua confiteretur peccata, tamquam desperans confiteri nolebat. 76Tunc rogaverunt canonici fratres Minores, ut ad infirmum venirent eumque ad confessionem inducerent.

77Venientes autem fratres, cum [eum] valde iam debilem invenissent, ad confessionem de peccatis suis more boni Christiani et veri catholici faciendam, quanta poterant diligentia, monuerunt. 78Quibus ille respondit: « Non me, fratres, super hoc moneatis. Ego enim damnatus sum; confiteri non possum. 79Nam priusquam ad me venissetis, fui ante Dei conspectum adductus, qui valde mihi terribilem vultum ostendit et dixit: 'Vocavi, et renuisti, et ideo vade ad poenas aeternas' ». 80Et cum hoc dixisset, statim coram omnibus diem clausit extremum.

81Vere iudicia Dei abyssus multa, nec scire quis potest, cur alium misericorditer liberat, alium iuste damnat. 82Quia tamen spirituum est ponderator Dominus, non tantum exteriora, ut homines, iudicat, sed interiora cordis infallibiliter intuetur.

83Non aestimo tam pro status approbatione quam pro perseverantiae commendatione tacendum quod Parisius contigisse accepi. 84Ibi magister quidam Ordinem fratrum Minorum intravit, quem de eleemosynis mater sua nutriverat et sollicite de sua sustentaverat paupertate. 85Doluit mater de filio, quem pro commodo temporali perditum reputabat. Venit ad ipsum, ut ad statum pristinum revocaret. 86Ostendit ei pectus et ubera, clamans et replicans, in quanta miseria eum nutriverat, alia quaeque proponens, quae ipsum poterant ad exitum provocare. 87Compassus filius matri suae concussus est animo et tentatus ita, quod in crastino proponebat exire. 88Quia tamen non agebat malitia, sed occulta diaboli fraude sub specie pietatis deceptus, orationi se dedit, ut consueverat, ante imaginem Crucifixi et dicebat Deo: « Nolo te dimittere, Domine, sed matri, quae me care in penuria magna nutrivit, intendo necessaria providere ». 89Cumque sic orans imaginem Crucifixi respiceret, vidit de lateris vulnere Crucifixi sanguinem emanare et audivit, vocem Domini sic dicentis: « Ego carius te nutrivi quam mater et isto sanguine te redemi,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 59