The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 458 

This is the place that honorable Ladies make radiant;
Where widows in the company of virgins rejoice in offering

180Fitting worship to God. Jn 16:12 This, the woman named Clare—
Clearer in likeness, clearest in life—precedes in praise,
Excels in merit, surpasses in mode of life, as a torch
Outshines its sparks, and as Cynthia the stars.a
It is with another light the credit of the others shines:

185If such as their frail sex, slow perception, dignity of nature
And beauty of form have placed them in the world's first rank,
Yet frailty rules not out their being strong, nor slowness
Their being well-informed, nor dignity their humility, nor beauty
Their chastity. Through Francis's mediation these the Lord called

190Out of the world: Jn 17:15 a frail sex but valiant in heart, serpents
In shrewdness but doves in simplicity, Mt 10:16 who deem themselves reeds
Though their origin matches the cedars; 3 Kgs 4:33 a particular beauty
Is theirs, but they are modest in every respect.
When Francis had brought his plan to a happy end and seen flourish

195Inside, a temple of the Spirit, and outside, the work of his hands,
He turns to a chapel near Assisi, that lay well-nigh destroyed,
And not wishing to leave unfinished what he had started on
He restores the sundered building.
Near unto those churches is a chapel called Portiuncula

200Under the title of Saint Mary. Now in a state of great decay,
It was all fissures, and was a stable for oxen, a sty for pigs.
It was a hostess to rain, a passage for hail showers, and a home
To all winds.b But Francis in his total and loving esteem
For the Mother of the Lord, makes his visit to her chapel

205To raise it as new out of its time-worn state. And so
To the faulty and aged the prime of youth returns; beauty
Springs forth from the ugly, and profit is made from loss.

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Hic locus est, in quo Donunarum fulget honestas;

195Hic viduae cum virginibus laudabile gaudent
Obsequium praestare Deo, quas nomine Clara,
Clarior effigie, clarissima moribus, ut fax
Scintillas, ut stella faces, ut Cynthia stellas,
Laude praeit, meritis excellit, schemate vincit.

200Luce tamen varia resplendet laus aliarum,
Quas et debilitas sexus et inertia sensus
Et generis mundanat apex et gratia formae;
Sed nec debilitas fortes, nec inertia doctas
Esse vetat, nec apex humiles, nec forma pudicas.

205Tales de mundo Dominus mediante vocavit
Francisco, sexu fragiles, sed pectore fortes,
Sensu serpentes, sed simplicitate columbas,
Sese indicibus hyssopos, sed origine cedros
Partim. formosas, sed ab omni parte pudicas.

210Sicubi propositum Franciscus fine beato
Consummavit, opus templumque quod egerat intus
Spirituale, foris manuale nitescere vidit,
Ad cellam secus Assisium, quae pene iacebat
Diruta, se transfert, sua coepta relinquere nusquam

215Incompleta volens, laceramque redintegrat aedem.
Cella supradictis contermina nomine Porti-
uncula, sub titolo Sanctae fundata Mariae,
Iam senio confecta gravi, facit undique rimas,
Fit stabulum. bobus, hara porcis, hospita nimbis,

220Pervia grandinibus, cunctisque domestica ventis.
Sed Matrem Domini toto Franciscus amore
Amplectens, eius sic cellam visitat, ut se
Excellat veterana novam, vitioque senectae
Prima iuventutis virtus redit; ex ruditate

225Causatur species, ex damno provenit usus.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 458