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 The Evening Sermon on Saint Francis, 1262 - 719 

about his God and Creator. A person with a mind eager to learn will attend lectures at any time of the day in order to grow in knowledge. Nor will he miss hearing a lecturer in the afternoon because he heard a professor in the morning. Rather, he will attend it willingly.

The same applies to a person with a heart well-disposed to hear God's word. He will not miss an evening sermon because he heard one in the morning but will go willingly to the evening sermon. And even if he does not profit by it or sometimes gets little of it, nevertheless, if he was pleased to attend and listened willingly to the sermon about his Creator, there is great merit in that. Among the accepted customs here, it is one of the better ones that the students of this city come eagerly to hear the Word of God.

So, the Word of God is to be preached and sown in the morning and the evening; and just as a natural seed will produce little or nothing unless rain pours down to make it germinate and bear fruit, so the seed of my word will bear little fruit unless the rain of God's blessing comes down upon it. Here at the outset, therefore, let us ask Him who, according to the Psalm, shed rain in abundance and restored His heritage, to grant me to say something in His honor, to the praise and commendation of Saint Francis and for the consolation of our souls.

I

We began with the text: Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.

Among all the gifts which God bestowed on this humble and poor little man, Saint Francis, there was one special and if I dare to say, unique privilege: that he bore on his body the stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ, Gal 6:17 for two years before he died. His side was pierced and blood flowed from it, and on his hands he had wounds in which there were black nails bent over at the back. This is certain, as certain as anything in this world can be. Many saw the stigmata on his body, some of whom are still alive. The Lord himself imprinted this sign on that most humble and poor little man, who in his humility made himself a servant of lepers, as you heard today. In praise of this special or, as I would rather say, unique, privilege, I have quoted the text from Saint Matthew's Gospel.

In its literal sense and according to its historical meaning this text refers to the Lord's sign, that is the cross, which will appear on the Day of Judgment; in its allegorical meaning, it refers to the marks of the cross which will be seen then on Christ's body, put on it at the crucifixion; and in its tropological or moral meaning, it refers to the

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 719

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