The Legend of the Three Companions - 96 

The bishop was known to the cardinal bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God's grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God.a The bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him. On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers. Hearing that they were in the City, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love.

48During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: "I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world." Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him.

49On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis's request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. He blessed them saying: "Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more, and entrust you with a greater charge."

Before the saint left his presence, the Lord Pope wanted to know whether what had been, and what would be conceded, was according to the Lord's will. And so, he said to him and his companions: "My dear young sons, your life seems to Us exceptionally hard and severe. While We believe there can be no question about your living it because of your great zeal, We must take into consideration those who will come after you lest this way of life seem too burdensome."

The pope saw that their constancy of faith and the anchor of their hope were so firmly grounded in Christ, that they did not want to be shaken from their enthusiasm. So he said to blessed Francis: "My son, go and pray that God will reveal to you whether what you ask




Legenda Trium Sociorum, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1420-1422

5Erat autem idem episcopus notus cuidam cardinali episcopo Sabinensi, qui dicebatur dominus Iohannes de Sancto Paulo, vere gratia Dei plenus, diligens plurimum servos Dei. 6Huic praefatus episcopus patefecerat vitam beati Francisci et fratrum suorum, propter quod ipse affectabat videre virum Dei et aliquos de fratribus suis. 7Audiens autem quod essent in Urbe, misit pro illis et suscepit eos cum magna reverentia et amore.

48 1Paucis vero diebus morantes cum ipso, ita aedificaverunt eum sanctis sermonibus et exemplis, quod videns in opere fulgere quod de ipsis audierat, recommendavit se eorum orationibus humiliter et devote, petivit etiam de gratia speciali quod volebat ex tunc sicut unus de fratribus reputari. 2Denique interrogans beatum Franciscum quare venisset, et audiens ab eo totum suum propositum et intentum, obtulit se procuratorem suum in curia.

3Perrexit ergo ad curiam dictus cardinalis et dixit domino papae Innocentio tertio: « Inveni virum perfectissimum qui vult secundum formam sancti evangelii vivere et evangelicam perfectionem in omnibus observare, per quem credo quod Dominus velit in toto mundo fidem sanctae ecclesiae reformare ». 4Quod audiens, dominus papa miratus est valde et eidem cardinali imposuit ut ad se duceret beatum Franciscum.

49 1Sequenti ergo die, vir Dei a dicto cardinali est coram summo pontifice praesentatus, cui totum suum sanctum propositum patefecit. 2Ipse vero pontifex, cum esset discretione praecipua praeditus, votis sancti debito modo assensit, et exhortans ipsum ac fratres suos de multis, benedixit eis dicens: « Ite cum Domino, fratres, et sicut ipse vobis inspirare dignabitur omnibus poenitentiam praedicate. 3Cum autem omnipotens Deus vos multiplicaverit numero maiori et gratia, referetis nobis, et nos plura his concedemus ac maiora vobis securius committemus »,

4Volens autem dominus papa scire utrum concessa et concedenda essent secundum Domini voluntatem, priusquam sanctus ab ipso recederet, dixit ei et sociis: 5 « Filioli nostri, vita vestra videtur nobis nimis dura et aspera, licet enim credamus vos esse tanti fervoris quod de vobis non oporteat dubitare, tamen considerare debemus pro illis qui secuturi sunt vos, ne haec via nimis ipsis aspera videatur ».

6Cumque videret eorum fidei constantiam et anchoram spei firmissime roboratam in Christo, ita ut nollent a suo fervore divertere, dixit beato Francisco: 7« Fili, vade et ora Deum ut tibi revelet si id quod quaeritis de sua voluntate procedit,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 96