The Life of Saint Francis by Julian of Speyer - 377 

caring that he was despised by others, he moved to the lepers.a He served them devotedly by humbly washing their sores, not even shrinking from wiping away the pus. Previously, such things were so disgusting to him that he used to hold his nose, not only when he saw lepers themselves nearby, but even their homes at a distance. But when he was still wearing secular clothes, the Lord had visited him with his grace, when a certain leper happened to meet him. As usual, he was horrified by the sight, but doing violence to himself, he conquered himself, and straightaway went up and kissed him. Mk 14:45 From then on, he fervently glowed with contempt of self, and began to wage constant war against himself until it was granted him from above to win perfect victory over himself. Therefore, as he himself later testified, he showed mercy to the lepers whom he was unable even to look at while he was living in sin.b

While he was still given over to the world, he always looked upon other afflicted and poor people with affectionate compassion, and most readily extended a hand of mercy to those who asked it for God’s sake. However, he once, uncharacteristically, reproached a certain poor man who was asking for an alms for the sake of God, but soon afterward, remorseful, he felt most deeply sorry for doing this. He decided that it was most unworthy to refuse anything to one asking in the name of such a great King. Therefore, from then on he decided not to refuse poor people who asked him for anything for God’s sake.c He carefully strove to carry out this decision to the best of his ability.

His spirit of compassion for the poor after his conversion, though it can be sufficiently gathered from this instance, will be more fully explained a little further on.

13 Although, up to this point, the holy man did not know clearly what was to happen to him; among other things, he undertook as his first pious work the repairing of the church of San Damiano where he had first stayed. Just as he began this work out of pious concern for the danger of its imminent collapse, so, with the Lord’s cooperation, Mk 16:20 he completed it in a short time.

This place is worthy of renown, for it was here that the Order which
is endowed with the fullness of so many virtues, namely the religion of




Iuliani de Spira Officium Sancti Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p.

et iam se ab hominibus contemni contemnens, ad leprosos se transtulit. 2Quibus devotissime serviens, et eorum humiliter ulcera lavit, saniemque detergere non abhorruit. 3Antea tamen huiusmodi in tantum despexerat, quod non solum illos e vicino, sed et eorum domos e longinquo prospiciens, nares manibus obturare consueverat. 4At ubi sua illum Dominus gratia visitavit, adhuc in saeculari habitu constituto quidam fortuito leprosus occurrit; 5quo etsi solito more horreret aspecto, vim tamen sibimet faciens vicit seipsum, et constanter accedens osculatus est illum. 6Ex hoc itaque ad sui contemptum ferventius inardescens, bella sibi ipsi continua coepit ingerere, donec desuper ei daretur perfectam de se victoriam obtinere. 7Fecit igitur, sicut ipse postmodum testatus est, misericordiam cum leprosis, quos etiam videre non poterat, cum adhuc viveret in peccatis.

8Alios vero pauperes et afflictos, cum adhuc saeculo deditus esset, pio semper compassionis affectu respexit, et libentissime se pro Deo petentibus misericordiae manum porrexit. 9Exprobrans autem praeter morem quadam vice pauperi se pro Deo roganti, mox super hoc compunctus gravissime doluit; 10et nimis arbitrabatur indignum denegare quidquam pro tanti Regis nomine postulanti. 11Itaque ex hoc a se pro Deo pauperibus aliquid petituris statuit repulsam non facere; quod et pro posse suo sollicite studuit adimplere.

12Quo autem post conversionem erga pauperes compassionis spiritu moveretur, etsi satis perpendi valeat ex praesenti, postmodum tamen aliquantulum plenius exprimetur.

13 1Verum, cum vir sanctus adhuc, quae sibi ventura forent, penitus ignoraret, primam post haec, inter alia quae fecit, operam pietatis impendit ut ecclesiam Sancti Damiani, apud quam primitus moram fecerat, resarciret. 2Quod utique opus, sicut imminentis ruinae necessitati compassus incepit, sic et in brevi, Domino cooperante, complevit. 3Hic est ille locus celebri memoria dignus, in quo illa tantarum virtutum plenitudine praedita, pauperum videlicet Dominarum virginumque sanctarum religio,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 377