The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 606 

him. From that moment on the Sultan listened to him willingly, and he asked that he come back to him often, granting freely to him and his companions that they could preach anywhere they pleased. He then gave them a sign, because of which they would not be harmed by anyone.

Having received this liberal permission Saint Francis sent those chosen companions, two by two, into various territories of the Saracens to preach the faith of Christ. He, along with one of them chose one area, and on arriving there they entered an inn to rest. There was a woman there with a very beautiful body but a filthy soul, and this cursed woman invited Saint Francis to sin. Saint Francis said to her: "I accept, let's go to bed," and she led him into a room. And Saint Francis said, "Come with me, and I will take you to a very beautiful bed." He led her to a huge fire which had been lit in that house, and in fervor of spirit he stripped himself naked and threw himself beside the fire on a spot that was red-hot and invited her to strip and come to lie with him on that beautiful feather bed. Saint Francis remained there a long time, not burning or even turning red, and that woman was dumbstruck by such a miracle, and was stricken to the heart. Not only did she repent of her sin and her evil intention, but also was converted perfectly to the faith of Christ, and became a person of such holiness that through her many souls in that area were saved.

Saint Francis, finally seeing that he could gain no more fruit in that region, by divine revelation decided to return, with all his companions, among believers. Gathering them all together, he returned to the Sultan and took his leave from him. The Sultan then said to him: "Brother Francis, I would willingly convert to the faith of Christ, but I am afraid to do it now, because if these people learn of it, they would immediately kill you and me and all your companions. Since you can do much good and I have to finish some things of great importance, I do not want to bring about now your death and mine. But teach me how I may be saved: I am prepared to do what you command." Saint Francis then said: "My Lord, I am now leaving you, but after I return to my country and have gone to heaven, by the grace of God, after my death, as God pleases, I will send you two of my brothers, from whom you will receive the holy baptism of Christ and you will be saved, just as my Lord Jesus Christ has revealed to me. In the meantime, free yourself from every hindrance so that when the grace of God comes to you, you will be prepared for faith and devotion." This he both promised to do and did.

Having done this, Saint Francis returned with that venerable company of his holy companions. After some years Saint Francis returned his soul to God through bodily death. And the Sultan fell ill,




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 606