The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 228 

As normally happens, sometimes the craving to eat something came upon him, but afterwards he would barely allow himself to eat it. Once, because he was ill, he ate a little bit of chicken. When his physical strength returned, he entered the city of Assisi. When he reached the city gate, Lk 7:12 he commanded the brother who was with him to tie a cord around his neck and drag him through the whole city as if he were a thief, loudly crying out: "Look! See this glutton who grew fat on the flesh of chickens that he ate without your knowledge." Many people ran to see this grand spectacle and, groaning and weeping, they said: "Woe to us! We are wretches and our whole life is steeped in blood! With excess and drunkenness we feed our hearts and bodies to overflowing!" They were touched in their hearts Acts 2:37 and were moved to a better way of life by such an example.

53 He often did things in this way both to despise himself fully and to invite others to everlasting honors. Toward himself he had become like a broken vessel, Ps 31:13 [Vulgate, Ps 30:13] burdened by no fear or concern for his body. He would zealously expose himself to insults so that he would not be forced by self-love to lust for anything temporal. A true scorner of himself, he taught others to despise themselves by word and example. To what end? He was honored by all Lk 4:15 and merited high marks from everyone. He alone considered himself vile and was the only one to despise himself fervently. Often honored by others, he suffered great sorrow. Shunning human praise, he had someone, as an antidote, revile him. He would call one of the brothers to him, saying, "I command you under obedience to insult me harshly and speak the truth against their lies." When the brother, though unwilling, called him a boor and a useless hired-hand, he would smile and clap loudly, saying: "May the Lord bless you, for you are really telling the truth; that is what the son of Pietro Bernardone needs to hear." Speaking in this fashion, he called to mind the humble origins of his birth.

54 In order to show himself contemptible and to give others an example of true confession, when he did something wrong he was not ashamed to confess it in his preaching before all the people. In fact, if he had perhaps thought ill of someone or for some reason let slip a harsh word, he would go with all humility to the person of whom he had said or thought something wrong and, confessing his sin, would ask forgiveness. His conscience, a witness of total innocence, guarding itself with all care, 2 Cor 8:7 would not let him rest until it gently healed the wound of his




Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 326-328

3Cum comedendi aliquid suscitaretur, ut moris est, appetitus, vix acquiescebat illud postmodum manducare. 4Accidit namque quadam vice, cum infirmitate gravatus aliquantulum pullorum carnium comedisset, resumptis utcumque corporis viribus, introivit Assisii civitatem.5Cumque pervenisset ad portam civitatis, praecepit cuidam fratri qui cum eo erat, ut funem collo eius ligaret et sic eum quasi latronem per totam traheret civitatem, voce praeconis clamans et dicens: « Ecce, videte glutonem, qui impinguatus est carnibus gallinarum, quas vobis ignorantibus manducavit ». 6Accurrebant proinde multi ad tam ingens spectaculum, et ingeminatis suspiriis collacrimantes, aiebant: « Vae nobis miseris, quorum vita tota versatur in sanguine, et in luxuriis et ebrietatibus corda et corpora enutrimus ». 7Sicque compuncti corde , ad melioris vitae statum tanto provocabantur exemplo.

531Multa quoque in hunc modum saepissime faciebat, ut et se ipsum perfecte contemneret et ad honorem perpetuum caeteros invitaret . 2Factus erat sibi tamquam vas perditum, nullo timore, nulla sollicitudine pro corpore oneratus, strenuissime obiciebat ipsuin contumeliis, ne ipsius amore temporale aliquid concupiscere cogeretur. — 3Verus sui contemptor omnes seipsos contemnere verbo et exemplo utiliter instruebat. 4Quid enim? Maunificabatur ab omnibus et laudabili iudicio efferebatur a cunctis, sed solus ipse se vilissimum reputabat, solus se ardentissime contemnebat. 5Saepe namque ab omnibus honoratus, dolore nimio sauciabatur et favorem humanum pro foribus arcens, faciebat sibi e regione ab aliquo exprobrari. 6Vocabat quoque ad se fratrem aliquem, dicens ei: « Per obedientiam tibi dico, ut mihi duriter iniurieris et contra istorum mendacia vera loquaris ». 7Cumque frater ille, licet invitus, eum rusticum, mercenarium et inutilem diceret, subridens et applaudens plurimum, respondebat :8 « Benedicat tibi Dominus!, quia verissima loqueris; talia enim decet audire filium Petri de Bernardone! ». 9Sic loquens nativitatis suae humilia primordia recolebat.

541 Nam ut se perfecte contemptibilem demonstraret et verae confessionis exemplum caeteris exhiberet, cum in aliquo delinquebat, non erubescebat illud in praedicatione coram omni populo confiteri. 2Imo si forte sinistra cogitatione de aliquo tangeretur, vel casu quoddam invectionis emitteret verbum, statim cum omni humilitate illimet, de quo sinistrum quidpiam cogitaverat vel dixerat, peccatum confitens, ab eo veniam postulabat. 3Totius innocentiae conscientia testis non sinebat eum quiescere, omni sollicitudine se custodiens, donec vulnus mentis mulcendo sanaret.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 228