The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 498 

through the fire and suddenly his godmother appeared, burning, sunk completely enclosed in a measure for grain. He said to her, "O godmother, unlucky and miserable woman! How did you fall into such torture?" She answered, "Because my husband and I, at the time of the great famine, which blessed Francis foretold, were selling grain and we falsified the measure: that's why I'm burning, stuck tightly in this measure." At these words, the angel pushed him out of the fire and said: "Get ready to travel. You still have to pass through a great danger." The brother said: "You're the hardest guide! You have no compassion. You see that I am almost completely burned, and you say: 'Keep going to horrible danger!' " But the angel touched him and he was perfectly healed.

40 bThen the angel led him to a bridge which could not be crossed without great danger because it was very narrow and extremely slippery.a Under the bridge flowed a frightening river full of serpents, dragons, scorpions, toads, and a dreadful stench. The angel said: "Cross this bridge. It's very fitting that you cross it." But the brother replied: "How will I be able to cross without falling into such a dangerous river?" The angel replied: "Follow me and place your foot where you see me place mine, and you'll cross safely." Following the angel and placing his foot where the angel did, he safely reached the middle of the bridge.

44 When he was in the middle of the bridge, the angel flew away up to a high place to a most amazing hut on the heights, and he noted well how the angel flew to it. He remained on the bridge without a guide, and the frightful animals of the river were now raising their heads to devour him if he fell. He stood there in such terror that he had no idea what to do, for he could not go forward or backward. Placed in such distress and danger, he bent over and hugged onto the bridge. Realizing that God was his only refuge, he began to invoke the Lord Jesus Christ from the bottom of his heart, that in His most holy and kind mercy He might be kind enough to help him. After his prayer, it seemed to him that he was sprouting wings. Happy about this, he waited until the wings grew, hoping to fly away from the river to the place where the angel had flown.

48 But he had been in too much of a hurry to fly and because the wings were not fully grown his flying failed, he fell onto the bridge and all his feathers fell off too. Terrified he again hugged the bridge and tearfully begged for Christ's mercy. Again it seemed to him that he was sprouting wings, but as before he rushed to fly before the




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 498