A Collection of Sayings of the Companions of Blessed Francis - 120 

words before the abbot that he had spoken to the bishop and the canons, and also how the bishops and the canons had replied.

7The abbot, moved by piety, took counsel with his brothers about this. Since it was God's will, they granted blessed Francis and his brothers the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, as the poorest little church they had. It was the poorest little one in the area of the city, which Blessed Francis desired. "Father, we have granted your request," he said. "But, if the Lord increases your congregation, we want this place to be the head of all your places." And this speech pleased blessed Francis and the other brothers.

9Blessed Francis was overjoyed at the place granted to the brothers, especially because of the name of this church of the Mother of Christ, and because it was such a poor little church, and because of the surname it had, for it was surnamed: "of the Portiuncula." This name foreshadowed that it would be the mother and head of the poor Lesser Brothers.a It was named "Portiuncula" after the neighborhood where that church was built, which from earliest times was referred to as "Portiuncula." Blessed Francis used to say: "This is why the Lord willed that no other church be granted to the brothers, and why the first brothers would never build any completely new church, and would not have any other but this one. For this church was a prophecy that has been fulfilled in the coming of the Lesser Brothers."

12And although it was already poor and almost in ruins, nevertheless, for a long time, the people of the city of Assisi and its entire neighborhood had held the church in great devotion and hold it in even greater devotion today. Soon after the brothers went to stay there, almost daily the Lord increased Acts 6:7 their food,b and news of them and their fame flew throughout the whole valley of Spoleto. From old times, it was called Saint Mary of the Angels, and in the region was called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. But after the brothers began to repair it, the men and women of that region used to say, "Let's go to Saint Mary of the Angels."

15Although the abbot and the monks had freely granted it to blessed Francis and his brothers without payment, every year he used to send a basket full of small fish called "lasche" as a sign of greater humility and poverty. They in turn, because of the humility of blessed Francis, who had done this of his own will, gave him and his




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 120