The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 456 

115By the time he hoped he was a fair distance from the monastery,
He found himself coming to Gubbio without a stitch on;
There an old friend has a new garment to put on him, so he can
Go about more decently and take more easily whatever
The weather might bring.

120Through suffering so much destitution for Christ's name Acts 5:41
He always and constantly kept the same steadfast countenance;
The poorer outwardly, the more stalwart was he within.
What spread his good name in the first place was his patience,
In virtue of which he is given care of the lepers; no one

125Was more zealous than he in looking after them, even if
At one time he could not bear to watch their houses even
At a distance. Now he makes beds, wipes away venom, soothes ulcers,
Touches mouths, washes feet, strokes corroding rotten limbs,
And forces to the task his fugitive feelings.

130Nor should we omit the fire of blessed love that flared in him
When by chance he meets a leper on the road; and seeing he was
A leper goes to him and, "made stronger than himself,"
He presses kisses to those canker-eaten lips.
Nor were lepers his sole concern, for indeed he was full of pity

135For all beggars, so that he saw no one go in want while he had
Plenty. Something of what he had, even little, the hungry, thirsty
And the naked got; there was something good for the lonely,
The needy and the wanderer; the orphan and the widow
And the drifter felt his help. He was like a waiter to the hungry,

140Like a wine-steward to the thirsty,a like a garment to the naked,
Like solace to the lonely, like riches to the needy, like asylum
To the exile, like a father to the orphan, Ex 22:22 like a spouse
To the widow, and like good fortune to the drifter. He was making
Himself one for all, spreading the means he had beyond all limits.

145But contrary to his custom it happened that once, by a felix culpa,b
He upbraided a certain poor man; then he was sorry not to have

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Cumque monasterio modicum speraret abesse,
Eugubium nudus veniens, amicitur amici

120Veste nova veteris, quo possit honestius ire
Commodiusque pati quodcumque minabitur aura.
Passus egestates pro Christi nominec tantas,
Semper et assidue vultu persistit eodem,
Quanto pauperior extra, robustior intus.

125Primaque dilatat eius patientia famam,
Intuitu cuius primum committitur illi
Cura leprosorum, quos sollicitudine tanta
Nemo procuravit, et quorum tecta videre
Vix tulerat quamcumque procul distantia; sternit

130Lectos, extergit saniem, fricat ulcera, tangit
Ora lavatque pedes, corrosa putredine membra
Palpat et affectus refugos insistere cogit.
Neve sacri lateat quanto flagrarit amoris
Igne, viam carpens occurrit forte leproso,

135Leprosumque notans accedit, et oscula, sese
Fortior, infigit semesis cancere labris.
Nec solum circa leprosos sedulus, immo
Circa mendicos omnes pietate profusus,
Dapsilitate sua ne quem permittat egere.

140Ex ipsis, licet exiguis, quae possidet, omnis
Ieiunus, sitiens, nudus, res impetrat; omnis,
Desolatus, egens, profugus bona suscipit; omnis
Pupillus, vidua, fluitans suffragia sentit:
Nam ieiunorum sicut dapifer, sitientum

145Sicut pincerna, nudorum sicut amictus,
Desolatorum sicut solamen, egentum
Sicut divitiae, profugorum sicut asylum,
Et pupillorum sicut pater, et viduarum
Sicut sponsus erat generaliter, et fluitantum

150Sicut prosperitas, faciens satis unus ad omnes
Ultra quam posset se dilatare facultas.
Sed praeter morem, pariente recentia casu,
Accidit ut cuidam semel exprobraret egeno;
Deinde recordantem pro quanti nomine Regis,

155Quam supplex mendicus eum, quam parva rogasset
Munera, poenituit non indulsisse roganti;

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 456