Miscellaneous Franciscan Sources - 794 

hastened to his side and exhorted him to be patient, praising the providence of God which can turn bad things into blessings. His words calmed the sick man, and he admonished him to recognize his fault, while showing him affection and compassion. And because he saw the poor fellow lying there almost naked, barely modest, he said to Brother Stephen: "Bring me that cloth which the lady gave us. We can always find some cloth for outer tunics, so we really don't need this. Instead, I should clothe this naked man with it, as Christ commanded." "And so I brought the cloth," Brother Stephen said,a "and Francis cut and made a habit out of it. And before he left that monastery, he went to see that sick man and clothed him in it."

3 Brother Stephen also used to say that blessed Francis did not want to be on familiar terms with any woman and he did not permit any woman to become familiar with him; only with the blessed Clare did he seem to show affection. And anytime he spoke with her or spoke about her, he did not refer to her by name, but he called her "the Christian." And he showed great concern for her and her monastery.

4 Also, he never authorized the establishment of other [women's] monasteries, although some were opened during his lifetime through the involvement of others.b When it came to his attention that the women who lived together in these monasteries were called sisters, he was greatly disturbed and it is said that he exclaimed: "The Lord has taken away our wives, but now the devil is providing us with sisters."

Cardinal Hugolino, Bishop of Ostia, who was then the protector of the Order of Minors, looked after these sisters with great affection. One time, when he was taking leave of blessed Francis, he said to him: "I am entrusting these ladies to you." Francis replied with a smile: "Well, Holy Father, from now let them not be called 'Lesser Sisters,'c but as you have just said, 'Ladies.' " And from then on they were called Ladies and not Sisters.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 794