The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 231 

57 Shortly afterwards when Francis returned to the Church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, some literate men and nobles gladly joined him.a He received such men with honor and dignity, since he himself was very noble and distinguished in spirit, and respectfully gave to each his due. In fact, since he was endowed with outstanding discernment, he wisely considered in all matters the dignity of rank of each one.

But still he would not rest from carrying out fervently the holy impulse of his spirit. Now in the thirteenth year of his conversion, he journeyed to the region of Syria, while bitter and long battles were being waged daily between Christians and pagans.b Taking a companion with him, he was not afraid to present himself to the sight of the Sultan of the Saracens.c

Who is equal to the task of telling this story?
What great firmness he showed standing in front of him!
With great strength of soul he spoke to him,
with eloquence and confidence
he answered those who insulted the Christian law.

Before he reached the Sultan, he was captured by soldiers, insulted and beaten, but was not afraid. He did not flinch at threats of torture nor was he shaken by death threats. Although he was ill-treated by many with a hostile spirit and a harsh attitude, he was received very graciously by the Sultan. The Sultan honored him as much as he could, offering him many gifts, trying to turn his mind to worldly riches. But when he saw that he resolutely scorned all these things like dung, the Sultan was overflowing with admiration and recognized him as a man unlike any other. He was moved by his words and listened to him very willingly. Mk 6:20

In all this, however,
the Lord did not fulfill his desire, Ps 127:5 [Vulgate, Ps 126:5]
reserving for him the prerogative of a unique grace.d




Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 331-332

57 1Revertente quoque ipso ad ecclesiam Sanctae Mariae de Portiuncula, tempore non multo post, quidam litterati viri et quidara nobiles ei gratissime adhaeserunt. —2Quos ipse, ut erat animo nobilissimus et discretus, honorifice atque digne pertractans, quod suum erat unicuique piissime impendebat.3Revera discretione praecipua praeditus, considerabat prudenter in omnibus cunctorum graduum dignitatem.

4Sed nondum valet quiescere, quin beatum impetura animi sui adhuc ferventius exsequatur.5Nam tertio decimo anno conversionis suae ad partes Syriae pergens, cum quotidie bella inter christianos et paganos fortia et dura ingruerent, assumpto secum socio, conspectibus Soldani Saracenorum se non timuit praesentare.

6Sed quis enarrare sufficiat,
quanta coram eo mentis constantia consistebat,
quanta illi virtute animi loquebatur,
quanta facundia et fiducia
legi christianae insultantibus respondebat?

7Nam primo quam ad Soldanum accederet, captus a complicibus, contumeliis affectus, attritus verberibus non terretur, comminatis suppliciis non veretur, morte intentata non expavescit .8Et quidem ficet a multis satis hostili animo et mente aversa exprobratus fuisset, a Soldano tamen honorifice plurimum est susceptus.9Honorabat eum prout poterat, et oblatis muneribus multis, ad divitias mundi animum eius inflectere conabatur:10sed cum vidisset eum strenuissime omnia velut stercora contemnentem, adniiratione maxima repletus est et quasi virum omnibus dissimilem intuebatur eum;11permotus est valde verbis eius et eum libentissime audiebat.

12In omnibus his
Dominus ipsius desiderium non implevit,
praerogativam illi reservans gratiae singularis.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 231