The Kinship of Saint Francis - 704 


Therefore once when he returned from overseas, a minister spoke with him about the chapter on poverty. He wanted to know his will and understanding, especially since at the time a chapter had been written in the Rule from prohibitions of the Holy Gospel: Take nothing with you on the journey, etc.

And blessed Francis answered him: "I want to understand it in this way, that the brothers should have nothing except tunics with a cord and underwear, as contained in the Rule, and those compelled by necessity, may wear shoes." And the minister said to him: "What shall I do, for I have so many books worth more than fifty pounds?"

He said this because he wanted to hold on to them, especially because he had a disturbed conscience since he had so many books, and knew how strictly blessed Francis interpreted the chapter on poverty.

Blessed Francis said to him: "I cannot and must not go against my own conscience and the perfection of the holy Gospel which we have professed." Hearing this, the minister became sad. Seeing him disturbed, blessed Francis said to him with great intensity of spirit, intending this for all the brothers: "You, Lesser Brothers, want to be seen as and called observers of the Holy Gospel, but in your deeds you want to have money bags."

Although the ministers knew that, according to the Rule of the brothers they were bound to observe the holy Gospel, they nonetheless had that chapter of the Rule where it says "Take nothing for your journey, etc." removed, believing, because of this, that they were not obliged to observance of the perfection of the holy Gospel. Knowing this through the light of the Holy Spirit, blessed Francis said in the presence of some brothers: "The brother ministers think they can deceive God and me." Then he said: "Indeed, that all the brothers may know that they are bound to observe the perfection of the entire Gospel, I want it written at the beginning and at the end of the Rule that the brothers are bound to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that the brothers may always be without an excuse before God, I proclaim and still proclaim that I want to show with these deeds and always observe, with God's help, what God has placed in my mouth for the my welfare and their own." Therefore, he observed the entire holy Gospel to the letter until the end of his life.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 704