The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 470 

for your ornate and colorful clothing, for the food prepared without your labor, for the song given to you by your Creator, for your numbers multiplied by the blessing of God, for your seed preserved by God in Noah's Ark, and for the element of air reserved for you. You neither sow nor reap, yet God feeds you. He gives you the rivers and springs for drink; the mountains and hills, the rocks and crags as refuges; the high trees for nests; and even though you do not know how to sew or weave, he gives you and your children the clothing you need. Therefore, your Creator who gave you all these benefits, loves you very much. You be careful, my little birds, don't be ungrateful, but try to praise God always." At these words of the most holy father all those birds began to open their beaks, spread their wings, stretch their necks, and reverently bend their heads to the ground, showing with their singing and movements that the words which the holy father spoke greatly delighted them. And Saint Francis too, as he saw this, exulted in spirit, amazed, and marveled over such a large flock of birds of such beautiful variety, over their affection and unanimous friendliness. For this he praised the Creator wonderfully in them, and sweetly invited them to praise of the Creator.

29 When he finished his preaching and his exhortation to praise God, he made the sign of the Cross over all those birds and as he gave them leave to go, admonished them to praise God. Then all the birds together flew upwards and in the air sang together a great and marvelous song. As their song concluded, they divided themselves into the form of a cross, after the pattern of the Cross made by the holy father, and set out in four directions. With wonderful singing each group flew on high, headed to one of the four parts of the world: one towards the east, one to the west, the third one to the south and the fourth to the north. Thus they demonstrated that just as it had been preached to them by the most holy future standard-bearer of the Holy Cross,a so they divided themselves into the form of a cross, and singing, they flew in a cross-formation to the four parts of the world. They were indicating that the preaching of the Cross, renewed by the most holy father, was about to be carried throughout the whole world by his brothers who, like the birds, possess nothing on earth as their own, and entrust themselves only to the providence of God. For this reason such people are called "eagles" by Christ when He said: "Wherever the body is, there the eagles gather." The holy ones who hope in the Lord will take wing like eagles, will fly to the Lord, and will not faint in eternity.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 470