The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 610 

them something to eat. But the Guardian answered them in this way, rebuking them sharply: "You! Robbers and cruel murderers! You aren't ashamed to steal the hard work of others and now you're bold and shameless enough to try to devour the alms sent to the servants of God! You aren't worth the ground to hold you up! You have no respect for people or the God who created you. Go! Mind your own business, and never show yourselves here again!" At this they left, disturbed and deeply offended.

Then Saint Francis returned from outside with a sack of bread and a small jug of wine that he and his companion had obtained. When the Guardian related how he had driven away those men, Saint Francis rebuked him severely, saying that he had acted cruelly: "They would be brought back to God more easily by sweetness than by cruel rebukes. Therefore our teacher Jesus Christ whose Gospel we have promised to observe, says that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, and that He did not come to call the just but to call sin- ners to repentance, and for that reason He often ate with them. Therefore, since you have acted against charity and against the holy Gospel of Christ, I command you under holy obedience: immediately take this sack of bread and jug of wine that I obtained and go after them diligently through mountains and valleys until you find them. Then on my behalf present all this bread and wine to them. Then kneel down before them and humbly tell them your fault of being cruel. Then ask them on my behalf not to do evil anymore, but to fear God and not to offend their neighbors. And if they do this, I promise to provide for them in their need and constantly give them food and drink. And when you have told them these things, return here humbly." And while that Guardian went to carry out the command, Saint Francis placed himself in prayer and asked God to soften the hearts of those robbers and convert them to penance.

The obedient Guardian reached them and presented the bread and wine to them, and did and said what Saint Francis had commanded him. And, as it pleased God, as those robbers were eating the alms of Saint Francis, they began to say together: "Woe to us, miserable wretches! We can expect the hard pains of hell, and we go on not only robbing our neighbors and beating and wounding them, but we even kill them. Yet we have no remorse of conscience nor fear of God over so many evil deeds and such horrible things as we do. And here comes this holy brother to us, who has very humbly told us his fault for saying a few words which he said to us rightly because of our wickedness, and moreover, he has brought us bread and wine and the generous promise of the holy father. These really are holy brothers of God who deserve the paradise of God, and we are sons of




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 610