The Kinship of Saint Francis - 721 

then ordered the woman to send to his court all of the children she had borne to be fed."

When these things had been shown to blessed Francis while he was praying, the man of God understood that the poor woman signified him.

After he completed his prayer, he presented himself to the supreme pontiff and narrated point-by-point the story that the Lord had revealed to him. "My lord," he said, "I am that little poor woman whom the loving Lord, in His mercy, has adorned, and through whom He has been pleased to give birth to legitimate sons. The King of kings had told me that He will nourish all the sons born to me, because, if He feeds strangers, He must provide for His own. For if God gives temporal goods to sinful men out of love for providing for His children, how much more will He give to Gospel men who deserve these things out of merit."

On hearing this, the pope was greatly amazed, especially since, before blessed Francis's arrival, he had seen in a vision the church of Saint John Lateran threatening to collapse, as we read in the Legend. Then the pope embraced him, and immediately blessed Francis bowed down and humbly and devoutly promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope.

[A PROPHECY CONCERNING THE PERSECUTION OF THE ORDER]

34 For as the Lord Jesus Christ also revealed the end to His disciples in love growing cold, so blessed Francis revealed the future tribulations of the Order to his companions. For Brother Leo and blessed Francis's other holy companions wrote them down:a

"Blessed Francis understood that the times of the future tribulation revealed by the Holy Spirit were drawing near, in which confusing events and crises would inundate the church and the love of many would grow cold and evildoing would abound. Then the power of demons would be let loose more than usual. The purity of his own religion and that of others would become polluted. This prophesied abandonment and apostasy by both ruling powers will be so extensive that very few will obey the supreme pontiff and the Roman Church out of love for the truth.

"Therefore he wished to give a remedy—even though they would have to walk cautiously, and strengthen themselves even more

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 721