The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 479 

multitudes of mice that he was unable to rest by night or day. Then Saint Francis, recognizing the Lord's chastisement began to give thanks to God, to praise him with his whole heart and voice, and from the depths of his heart cried out that he deserved these infirmities and trials, and much greater ones. With this he begged the Lord: "Lord Jesus Christ, good shepherd, Who put Your most worthy mercy in hard trials for us who are unworthy, give grace and strength to me, your little sheep, so that I do not leave You during any trial or pain."

7 After he said this, a voice came to him from heaven: Jn 12:28 "Francis, tell me: if all the earth were gold, all the sea and rivers and springs were fragrant balsam, and all the mountains, hills and stones were gemstones; and if you found another treasure worth more than all these, as much as gold is worth more than earth, as fragrant balsam is more noble than water, precious stones more than mountains and rocks, and this more valuable expensive treasure were given to you instead of this infirmity of yours, you would rejoice greatly, wouldn't you?" Saint Francis answered: "Lord, I amnot worthy of such a precious treasure." And then the Lord said to him: "Rejoice now, Brother Francis, because this is the treasure of eternal life, which I have reserved for you. From this moment I invest you with it. This infirmity and affliction is the pledge of that blessed treasure."

10 Then Saint Francis, turning very happy, called his companion and said: "Let's go to the Lord Cardinal." First consoling Blessed Clare with honey-sweet and divine words, and bidding her a humble farewell as he usually did, he set off on the journey toward Rieti.

11 But when he neared Rieti, such a multitude of the people was flocking toward him that he refused on that account to enter the city rather he took refuge in a church two miles outside Rieti.a The citizens, however, on learning that he was staying at that church, came hurrying to him with such a great multitude that, since it was vintage time, the whole vineyard of the priest of that church was demolished and even worse, the grapes devoured. The priest, seeing the damage, was very sad and regretted that he allowed Saint Francis to enter that church. Saint Francis, knowing this through the Holy Spirit, had the lord priest called and said: "Dearest Father, how many barrels of wine does this vineyard give you when it has its best crop?" He answered: "Twelve." Saint Francis said: "I beg you, Father, bear with me patiently, let me stay in this church of yours because of the




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 479