The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 501 

85He would put it on his shoulders, which were far from robust,
Sooner be laden himself than overburden the pauper.
His devotion was such that the dishonored are honored,
The burdened relieved; he would pity not alone humans
But even dumb beasts in any wretched condition.

90So, while in the Ancona region, accompanied
By Paul who was over the brothers in those parts,
He is going through woods and over rivers, ravines and fields,
Till in a flock of she-goats, surrounded by ill-smelling
He-goats, he spies this sheep, and calling Paul, says:

95"Paul, look; do you see how it walks among she- and he-goats?
Even so did Jesus go among the scribes and Pharisees.
Hence I wish we'd pay the price and lead her out
Of this foul flock." Paul agrees. But the pair
Can lay their hands on nothing whatever to pay

100With, save their poor tunics. But then a traveler
Who happened to pass paid the price of the sheep they want to buy.
Into the city they go: a surprise for the bishop:
As to why two sensible men like these should want
To go around like two fools, a sheep behind them.

105After leaving the city, a hospitable house, called
San Severino, received them; it is an abode fit for those
Ladies that dedicate to God their chaste bodies and gracious
Souls. Francis gives them the sheep to be tenderly cared for.
All joy to accept it, they keep it for a long spell;

110And a tunic made from its wool they send on to Francis.
At a chapter held in Assisi, a minister comes in to say:
"Father, you are to have this, it is from your daughters;
A tunic made from the wool of that sheep you had."
Francis takes it as a most acceptable present, telling

115The brothers of what happened. Happy are the brothers
That the very simplicity of their father resulted in such great fruit.
Nor was this once the only case of Francis's piety:
He shows it every time he sees a wretched animal
Whose pain he might dispel through prayer or payment




Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.

Supponens humeros quamquam breve robur habentes,

85Mavult ipse premi quam pauper mole prematur.
Sic inhonoratos devotus honorat, onustos
Exonerat, quem non hominis solummodo, verum
Et bruti miseret, miseri quodcumque ferentis.
Inde per Anconae confinia dum, comitatus

90Paulo cui suberant fratres in partibus illis,
Silvas et fluvios, saltus pertransit et agros,
In grege caprarum saeptam foetentibus hircis
Cernit ovem, Paulumque vocans: " Dic, Paule, videsne
Inquit, " ut haec inter capras incedit et hircos?

95Sic inter Scribas ivit Iesus et Pharisaeos.
Hinc precor ut pretium solventes de grege foedo
Educamus eam ". Consentit Paulus; at ambo
Quid praeter viles tunicas persolvere possint,
Circa se non inveniunt; sed forte viator

100Qui transibat ovis pretium persolvit emendae.
Introeunt urbem: miratur episcopus, unde
Accidat ut tamquam fatui duo tam sapientes
Sic unam dignentur ovem traducere secum.
Egressos urbem domus excipit hospita Sancti

105Dicta Severini, Dominabus idonea sedes
Corpora casta Deo mentesque dicantibus almas.
Tradit eis Franciscus ovem clementer alendam;
Laetae suscipiunt et multo tempore servant,
De cuius tunicam Francisco vellere mittunt.

110Quo secus Assisium synodum celebrante, minister
Ingrediens: " Pater, hanc habeas pro parte tuarum ",
Dixit, " ovisque tuae tunicam de vellere textam ".
Donum Franciscus capit acceptabile, narrans
Fratribus eventum: fratres laetantur in ipsa

115Simplicitate patris tantum consistere fructum.
Nec modo Francisci pietas semel hoc ita fecit,
Sed quoties animal vidit miserabile, cuius
Vel prece vel pretio posset differre dolorem.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 501