The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 622 

woods in contemplation. As that conversation about God continued, Brother Rufino came out of the woods and passed by, a short distance from them. Then Saint Francis, seeing him, turned to the companions and questioned them, saying: "Tell me, which is the holiest soul that God has in this world?" And they replied that they thought that it was his. And Saint Francis said to them: "My dear brothers, of myself I'm the most vile man that God has in this world. But do you see this Brother Rufino who's now coming out of the woods? God has revealed to me that his soul is one of the three holiest souls in the world. And I tell you confidently that I wouldn't hesitate to call him Saint Rufino during his lifetime, since his soul is confirmed in grace, and sanctified and canonized in heaven by our Lord Jesus Christ." And Saint Francis would never say these words in the presence of that same Brother Rufino.

In a similar way, how Saint Francis knew the faults of his brothers can be clearly seen regarding Brother Elias, whom he often rebuked for his pride; and regarding Brother John de Capella, about whom he predicted that he would hang himself by the neck; and regarding that brother whom the devil held tightly by the throat when he was being corrected for his disobedience; and regarding many other brothers whose secret faults and whose virtues he knew clearly by Christ's revelation.

To the praise of Jesus Christ
and the little poor man Francis.

Chapter 32

The first companions of Saint Francis strove with all their strength to be poor in earthly things and rich in virtues, by which one arrives at true riches, heavenly and eternal.

It happened that one day when they were gathered together to speak about God, one of them gave this example: "There was someone who was a great friend of God, and he had great grace in active life and contemplative life; and with this he had such excessive humility that he thought himself the greatest of sinners. This humility sanctified him and confirmed him in grace, and made him grow constantly in virtues and the gifts of God, and never allowed him to fall into sin." As Brother Masseo heard such wonderful things about




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 622