The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 649 

Chapter 49

Among the other wise and holy brothers and sons of Saint Francis, those whom Solomon says are the glory of a father, there was in our times in the same Province of the March Brother John of Fermo who, because of the long time he stayed in the holy place of La Verna, and there passed from this life, was also called Brother John of La Verna, because he was a man of outstanding life and great holiness. This Brother John, while still a boy in the world, desired with all his heart the way of penance which keeps the body and the soul clean. Therefore, as a very little boy, he began to wear a harness of mail and an iron band next to his flesh and to practice great abstinence. And particularly while he was staying with the canons of San Peter of Fermo, who lived in splendor, he fled bodily delights and afflicted his body with very strict abstinence. But since his companions were quite opposed to this, stripping him of his harness and impeding his abstinence in various ways, he was inspired by God and decided to leave the world and those who love it, and to offer himself completely to the arms of the Crucified, with the habit of the crucified Saint Francis. And he did just that.

Therefore, still a boy, he was received into the Order and was entrusted to the care of the master of novices, and he became so spiritual and devout that sometimes, as he listened to that same master speaking of God, his heart would melt like wax Ps 22:15 [Vulgate, Ps 21:15] near a fire; and he was so warmed by divine love that, unable to stay put and endure so much sweetness, he would get up and run as if drunk: sometimes through the garden, sometimes through the woods, sometimes through the church, as the flame and force of the spirit drove him. With the passage of time divine grace made this angelic man grow from virtue to virtue in heavenly gifts and divine elevations and raptures, to such a degree that at times his spirit would be lifted to the splendors of the cherubim; at other times to the ardor of the seraphim; sometimes to the joy of the Blessed; at other times to loving and effusive embraces of Christ, not only through inner, spiritual sensations, but even through visible, outward signs and bodily sensations. And once in particular, the flame of divine love ignited his heart in an extraordinary way, and it remained in this flame for a good three years, during which time he received wonderful consolations and divine visitations and frequently was rapt in God. And this was on the holy mountain of La Verna.

But because God takes special care of His sons, He gives them different things at different times: consolation at this time, tribulation




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 649