The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 219 

40 The virtue of patience so enveloped them that they sought to be where they would suffer persecution of their bodies rather than where their holiness would be known and praised, lifting them up with worldly favor. Often mocked, objects of insult, stripped naked, beaten, bound, jailed,a and not defending themselves with anyone's protection, they endured all of these abuses so bravely that from their mouths came only the sound of praise and thanksgiving. Is 51:3

They never or hardly ever stopped praying and praising God. Instead, in ongoing discussion, they recalled what they had done. They gave thanks to God for the good done and, with groans and tears, paid for what they neglected or did carelessly. They would have thought themselves abandoned by God if they did not experience in their ordinary prayers that they were constantly visited by the spirit of devotion. For when they felt like dozing during prayer, they would prop themselves up with a stick, so that sleep would not overtake them. Some anchored themselves with cords, so furtive sleep would not disturb prayer. Some bound themselves with irons; and others shut themselves in wooden cells.

Whenever their moderation was upset, as normally happens, by too much food or drink, or if they went over the line of necessity because of weariness from travel, they punished themselves severely with many days of fasting. They strove to restrain the burning of the flesh by such harsh treatment that they did not hesitate to strip themselves on freezing ice, and to cover themselves in blood from gashing their bodies with sharp thorns.b

41 They so spurned earthly things that they barely accepted the most basic necessities of life; and, as they were usually far from bodily comfort, they did not fear hardship. In all these things, they sought peace and meekness with all. Always doing what was modest and peaceful,they scrupulously avoided all scandal. For they hardly spoke even when necessary; nor did anything harmful or useless come out of their mouth, Mt 4:4 so that in all their life and action nothing immodest or unbecoming could be found. Their every act was disciplined, their bearing modest. With eyes fixed on the ground and their minds set on heaven,

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Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 314-316


401Ita eos virtus patientiae circumdarat, ut quaererent potius ibi esse, ubi persecutionem suorum corporum paterentur, quam ubi possent, sanctitate ipsorum cognita vel laudata, mundi favoribus sublevari. 2Nam multoties opprobria passi, contumeliis affecti, denudati, verberati, ligati, carcerati, nullius patrocinio se tuentes, cuneta sic viriliter sustinebant, ut in ore ipsorum nonnisi sola vox laudis et gratiarum actio resonaret.

3Vix vel numquam a laude Dei et oratione cessabant, sed continua discussione quidquid egerant recolligentes, pro bene actis gratias Deo, pro neglectis et incaute commissis gemitus et lacrimas persolvebant. 4Relictos a Deo se fore putabant, si non se in spiritu devotionis solita pietate iugiter cognoscerent visitari. 5Cum enim orationibus incumbere vellent, ne ipsos arriperet somnus, aliquo adminiculo tenebantur: aliqui suspensis funibus fulciebantur, ne per somni surreptionem oratio turbaretur. — 6Aliqui se instrumentis ferreis circumdabant, aliqui vero ligneis ergastulis se cingebant.

7Si quando ciborum copia vel potus, ut assolet, eorum sobrietas turbaretur, vel itineris lassitudine necessitatis metas vel in modico pertransiret, multorum dierum abstinentia se acerbissime cruciabant. 8Tanta denique maceratione incentiva carnis reprimere satagebant, ut in frigidissima glacie non abhorrerent saepius se nudare, ac totum corpus spinarum aculeis compungentes effusione sanguinis irrigare.

411Ita enim omnia terrena strenuissime contemnebant, ut extrema vitae necessaria vix recipere paterentur et, tam longa consuetudine a corporea consolatione disiuncti, quaeque aspera non timerent. — 2In his omnibus pacem et mansuetudinem cum omnibus sequebantur, et pudica semper et pacifica u operantes, summo studio cuncta scandala devitabant . 3Vix enim tempore necessario loquebantur, nec de ipsorum ore scurrile aut otiosum quidpiam procedebat, ut in omni vita et conversatione ipsorum non posset impudicum quid vel inhonestum aliquatenus inveniri. —4Actus eorum omnis disciplinatus, incessus omnis modestus, sensus omnes ita mortificati erant in eis, ut vix audire seu videre, nisi quod eorum intentio exposceret, paterentur: defixis in terra oculis, mente caelo haerebant.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 219

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