Miscellaneous Franciscan Sources - 798 

might overcome you, and then the devil will rapidly snatch away any merit of such apparent devotion. But in your cell, where no one can see you, you can more securely abandon yourself to prayer, and the devil cannot easily find an occasion to tempt you. In addition, it can happen that some of those assisting at such a drawn-out Mass might be led to make some negative judgment about you, perhaps thinking that a priest who celebrates with such outward devotion does so in order to show off or to wear out the congregation.' "a

71 And Brother John, a companion of Brother Leo, who in his turn was the companion of Saint Francis, tells the following story. Brother Leo used to have an old winter tunic made out of sackcloth, which he had worn for more than four years. So I said to him one day: "Brother Leo, let me get a better tunic for you. That one isn't going to do you much good, if any, keeping out the cold!" But he answered me: "I know that I am getting weaker, and I think it may please God to soon bring an end to my labors. And so I don't want another tunic now. I want death to find me a poor man." And within that very year he died, a little poor man, wearing that same old tunic. And I believe that devout and "poor, he entered heaven a rich man."b 98 The General Minister [Bonaventure] said to us that Brother Illuminato,c who was the companion of Saint Francis when he went to visit the Sultan of Babylon, used to recount the following anecdotes.d

While Francis was at the Sultan's court, the latter wanted to test the faith and devotion that Francis showed to our Crucified Lord. So one day he had a beautiful multicolored carpet laid out in his audience hall; it was almost entirely decorated with a geometric pattern of crosses. He said to his attendants: "Now fetch this man who seems to be an authentic Christian. If he comes toward me, he will have to tread on the crosses that cover this carpet, so then I will accuse him of insulting his Lord. But if he is unwilling to come toward me, I will ask him why he is insulting me by refusing to approach me."

So Francis was called in. Now he was filled with [the Spirit of] God, and from this plenitude he was well instructed on what he should do and say, so he walked across the carpet to greet the Sultan. Then the Sultan, thinking he had good reason to berate the man of God for showing disrespect for his Lord, Jesus Christ, said to him: "You Christians adore the cross as a special sign of your God. Why




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 798