The Legend of the Three Companions - 72 

his office as their leader, he fell slightly behind them.a He was not singing, but was deeply preoccupied. Suddenly he was visited by the Lord who filled his heart with so much tenderness that he was unable to speak or move. He could only feel and hear this marvelous tenderness; it left him so estranged from any sensation that, as he himself said later, even if he had been completely cut to pieces, he would not have been able to move.

When his companions glanced back and saw him so removed from them, they went back surprised at seeing him already changed into another man. 1 Sm 10:6 They asked him: "What were you thinking about that you did not follow us? Were you perhaps thinking about taking a wife?"

He answered in an unequivocal voice: "You are right! I was thinking about taking a wife more noble, wealthier, and more beautiful than you have ever seen." They laughed at him. For he said this not of his own accord, but because he was inspired by God. In fact, the bride was the true religion that he later embraced, a bride more noble, richer and more beautiful because of her poverty.b

8From that very hour he began to consider himself of little value and to despise those things which he had previously held in love. Since he was not entirely detached from worldly vanities, this change was not yet perfect. He retired for a short time from the tumult and business of the world and was anxious to keep Jesus Christ in his inmost self, and, after selling all he had, he desired to buy the pearl, concealing it from the eyes of mockers. Often, almost daily, he withdrew secretly to pray. He was inclined to do so by that same tenderness he had tasted earlier, which now visited him ever more frequently, driving him to prayer in the piazza and in other public places.

Although he had been for some time a benefactor of the poor, he proposed in his heart, from then on, never to deny alms to any poor person begging from him for God's sake, but rather to give more willingly and abundantly than usual. When away from home, if he could, he always gave money to any poor person requesting alms. If he had no money, he gave him his hat or belt, making sure never to send him away empty-handed. If he lacked even these things, he would go to a deserted place, take off his shirt, and give it to the poor

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Legenda Trium Sociorum, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1380-1381


ipse portans in manu baculum quasi dominus parum retro ibat post illos non cantando sed diligentius meditando. 4Et ecce subito visitatur a Domino, tantaque dulcedine repletur cor eius quod nec loqui nec moveri poterat, nihilque aliud sentire vel audire nisi dulcedinem illam valebat, quae ita ipsum alienaverat a sensu carnali quod, sicut ipse postea dixit, si fuisset tunc totus frustatim incisus non potuisset se de loco movere.

5Cum autem socii eius retro respicerent et viderent eum ita remotum ab ipsis, revertentes ad illum territi cernunt ipsum quasi in virum alterum iam mutatum. 6Et interrogant eum dicentes: « Quid cogitasti quod non venisti post nos? Forsitan uxorem accipere cogitasti? »

7Quibus ille viva voce respondit: « Verum dixistis quia nobiliorem et ditiorem ac pulchriorem sponsam quam unquam vidistis accipere cogitavi ». 8Et deriserunt eum. Ipse vero dixit hoc non a se sed inspiratus a Deo: nam ipsa sponsa fuit vera religio quam suscepit, caeteris nobilior, ditior et pulchrior paupertate.

81Ab illa itaque hora coepit sibi vilescere et illa contemnere quae prius habuerat in amore, non tamen adhuc plene quia nondum erat penitus a saeculi vanitate solutus. 2Parumper autem a saeculari tumultu se subtrahens, studebat in interiori homine recondere Iesum Christum et margaritam quam comparare venditis omnibus cupiebat, oculis illusorum abscondens se, saepe et quasi quotidie ad orationem ibat secreto. 3Ad hoc ipsum urgente quodammodo praelibata dulcedine quae saepius eum visitans, ipsum ad orationem de platea et aliis locis publicis impellebat.

4Licet vero dudum iam fuisset pauperum benefactor, ex tunc tamen firmius in corde suo d proposuit nulli pauperi eleemosynam pro Deo petenti se ulterius denegare, sed liberius et affluentius solito eleemosynas facere. 5Semper igitur quicumque pauper ab ipso extra domum eleemosynam postulabat, de denariis providebat illi si poterat. 6Carens vero denariis, infulam vel corrigiam dabat ei, ne pauperem dimitteret vacuum. 7Si vero de his non habebat, ibat ad aliquem locum occultum et se camisiam exuens, illuc pauperem secreto mittebat ut eam sibi tolleret propter Deum.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 72

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