The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 575 

Chapter 5

Saint Francis and his companions were called by God and chosen to carry in their hearts and preach with their works and words the Cross of Christ. They appeared to be, and were, crucified men, both in their habit and in their austere life, in their deeds and their works. Therefore they desired to endure shame and scorn for love of Christ rather than honors of the world or reverence or empty praise. Instead they rejoiced over insults and were saddened by honors. In this way they went through the world as pilgrims and strangers, 1 Pt 2:11 not carrying with them anything besides Christ crucified. And because they were of the true vine, that is, Christ, they produced great and good fruit: the souls they won for God.

It happened, at the beginning of the Religion, that Saint Francis sent Brother Bernard to Bologna and there, according to the grace God gave him, he should produce fruit for God. Brother Bernard, making the sign of the most holy Cross, departed out of holy obedience, and arrived at Bologna. When the children saw him in an odd and rough habit, they made many jokes at him and insults, the way people do with someone crazy. Brother Bernard patiently and joyfully bore it all for love of Christ. In fact, so that he could be insulted more easily, he deliberately placed himself in the city's piazza. As he was sitting there many children and adults gathered around him, and they pulled his capuche, one backwards, one forward; some threw stones, and others, dirt; and they pushed him here and there. Brother Bernard, always with the same manner, and with the same patience, and with a happy expression, did not complain and did not move. What is more, he returned to that same place, just to endure similar things. Because patience is a work of perfection and a proof of virtue, a wise doctor of law, seeing and considering such constancy and virtue in Brother Bernard, who could not be disturbed by any annoyance or insult after so many days, said to himself: "It's impossible that he's not a holy man." Drawing near to him he asked him: "Who are you and why have you come here?" And Brother Bernard answered by putting his hand to his chest and taking out the Rule of Saint Francis, and gave it to him to read. On reading it, considering its most high state of perfection, with great surprise and wonder the man turned to his companions and said: "Truly this is the highest state of religion that I ever heard of; so this one and his companions are some of the holiest men in this world. And whoever insults them




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 575