A Mirror of the Perfection (The Sabatier Edition, 1928) - 325 

perfection. However, he was not able to find anyone suitable. Consequently, near the end of his life, a brother said to him: "Father, you will pass on to the Lord, and this family of your followers will remain in this vale of tears. Point out to us someone in the Order, if you know one, on whom your spirit may rest, and on whom the burden of the general ministry may worthily be laid." Blessed Francis, drawing a sigh with every word, replied: "My son, I find no one adequate to be the leader of such a large and varied army, or the shepherd of such a far-reaching flock. But I would like to paint one for you to show clearly what kind of person the leader and shepherd of this family should be.

"This person," he said, "must be of very dignified life, of great discernment, and of praiseworthy reputation. He must be without personal favorites, lest by loving some more than others, he create scandal for all. He must be a committed friend of prayer, who can distribute some hours for his soul and others for his flock. Early in the morning, he must put first the most holy sacrifice of the Mass and then, with prolonged devotion, lovingly commend himself and his flock to divine protection.

"After prayer, he must make himself centrally available for all to pick at him, and he should respond to all and provide for all with charity, patience, and meekness. He should not play favorites, so that he does not care less for the simple and illiterate than for the learned and educated. Even if he should be allowed the gift of learning, he should all the more bear in his behavior the image of piety, simplicity, patience, and humility, and nourish these virtues in himself and others, constantly exercising them in patience and inspiring others to do so more by example than by words. He should loathe money, which is the principal corrupter of our profession and perfection. As the head and exemplar for all to imitate, he must never engage in the abuse of using any money pouch.

"For his needs," he said, "a habit and a little book should be enough for him and, for the others' needs he should have a pen, an inkwell, paper, and a seal. He should not be a book collector, or too intent on reading, so that he does not take away from his duties what he spends on his studies. Let him be someone who piously comforts the afflicted, and the final remedy of the distressed, Ps 32:7 [Vulgate, Ps 31:7] so that the sickness of despair does not overcome the sick because he did not offer healing remedies. In order to bend rebels to meekness, let him lower himself and let go of some of his rights that he may gain a soul for Christ. Phil 3:8 As for runaways from the Order, let him open the heart of piety to them and never deny them mercy, for they are like lost sheep; and he

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Speculum Perfectionis, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 325