The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 221 

Saint Francis used to engage carefully in a daily, or rather, constant examination of himself and his followers. Allowing nothing dangerous to remain in them, he drove from their hearts any negligence. Unbending in his discipline, he was watchful of his guard Is 21:8 at every hour. For if, as happens, any temptation of the flesh struck him, he would immerse himself in a ditch filled in winter with ice, remaining in it until every seduction of the flesh went away. The others avidly followed his example of mortifying the flesh.a

43 He taught them to mortify not only vices and to check the promptings of the flesh, but also to check the external senses, through which death enters the soul. At that time the emperor Otto passed through that area, traveling in great pomp and circumstance to receive the crown of an earthly empire. The most holy father and his followers were staying in that small hut next to the very parade route. He did not go outside to look and did not allow the others to do so, except for one who, without wavering, proclaimed to the emperor that his glory would be short-lived.b The glorious holy one, living within himself and walking in the breadth of his heart, Ps 119:45 [Vulgate, Ps 118:45] prepared in himself a worthy dwelling place of God. Eph 2:22c That is why the uproar outside did not seize his ears, nor could any cry intrude, interrupting the great enterprise he had in hand. Apostolic authority resided in him; so he altogether refused to flatter kings and princes.

44 He always strove for holy simplicity, refusing to allow the narrow place to restrict the breadth of his heart. Ps 119:45 [Vulgate, Ps 118:45] For this reason, he would write the names of the brothers on the beams of that little house so that each would know his place when he wished to pray or rest, and the confines of the place would not disturb the silence of the spirit.

One day while they were staying there, a man came leading an ass to the little shelter where the man of God and his companions were staying. To avoid being sent away, the man urged the ass to enter by saying,

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Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 317-318


7Sanctus Franciscus quotidianam immo continuam sui et suorum inquisitionem diligentissime faciebat, et nil in eis residere patiens lubricum, ab ipsorum cordibus omnem negligentiam abigebat. — 8Rigidus in disciplina super custodiam suam. erat vigilans omni hora; nam si qua, ut assolet, carnis tentatio eum quandoque pulsaret, in quadam fovea glacie plena, cum hiems exsisteret, se mergebat, in ea tamdiu persistens quoadusque carnalis omnis recederet corruptela. 9Et quidem tantae mortificationis exemplum caeteri ferventissime sequebantur.

431Docebat eos non solum mortificare vitia et carnis incentiva reprimere, verum etiam et ipsos exteriores sensus, per quos mors intrat ad animam. 2Quoniam cum illo tempore Oddo imperator, ad suscipiendam coronam terreni imperii per partes illas cum magno strepitu et pompa transiret, sanctissimus pater cum reliquis iuxta viam ipsius transitus in praedicto exsistens tugurio, nec ad videndum foras exivit, 3nec aliquem respicere pertulit praeter unum, qui constantissime illi annuntiaret gloriam hanc sibi tempore modico du raturam. — 4Erat enim gloriosus sanctus secum habitans et deambulans in latitudine cordis sui, in se dignum Deo habitaculum praeparabat, 5et ideo aures eius non rapiebat clamor exterior, nec vox aliqua excutere poterat seu interrumpere ingens negotium quod habebat in manibus. 6Apostolica in eo vigebat auctoritas, et ideo regibus et principibus adulari penitus recusabat.

441Dabat semper sanctae simplicitati operam, nec sinebat locum angustum cordis latitudinem e impedire. 2Scribebat propterea nomina fratrum per tigna domicilii, ut unusquisque orare volens aut quiescere, recognosceret locum suum, et ne angusta loci modicitas mentis silentium perturbaret.

3Cumque ibidem morarentur, accidit ut die quadam quidam asinum ducens deveniret ad umbraculum in quo vir Dei cum sociis morabatur; et ne pateretur repulsam, adhortans asinum suum ad ingrediendum, locutus est verbum hoc:

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 221

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