The Life of Blessed Francis - 547 

8 Seeing that the number of brothers was gradually increasing, Christ's servant wrote for himself and his brothers a form of life in simple words in which, after he had placed the observance of the holy Gospel as its unshakable foundation, he inserted a few other things that seemed necessary for a uniform way of life. As he desired to have what he had written approved by the Supreme Pontiff, he decided to go with his band of simple men before the presence of the Apostolic See, placing his trust solely in God's guidance. As God was looking from on high Lk 1:78 upon their desire, He strengthened the companions' frame of mind, terrified at the thought of their simplicity, by showing the man of God a vision of this sort.

It seemed to him that he was walking along a road beside which stood a tree of great height. When he approached and stood under it, he marveled at its height. Suddenly he was lifted so high by divine power that he touched the top of the tree and easily bent it down to the ground. The man, filled with God, understanding the portent of this vision to refer to the condescension of the Apostolic See, was overjoyed and, after he had comforted his brothers, set out with them on the journey.

9 When he arrived at the Roman Curia and was brought into the presence of the Supreme Pontiff, he explained his proposal, humbly and urgently imploring him to approve that rule of life. The Vicar of Christ, the Lord Innocent III, a man thoroughly brilliant with wisdom, admiring in the man of God remarkable purity and simplicity of heart, firmness of purpose, and fiery ardor of will, gave his assent to the pious request. Yet he hesitated to do what Christ's little poor man asked because it seemed to some of the cardinals to be something novel and difficult beyond human powers.

Among the cardinals there was a most venerable man, the lord John of St. Paul, Bishop of Sabina, a lover of holiness, and helper of Christ's poor. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he said to the Supreme Pontiff and his brother cardinals: "If we refuse the request of this poor man as novel or too difficult, when all he asks is to be allowed to lead the Gospel life, we must be on our guard lest we commit an offense against Christ's Gospel. For if anyone says that there is something novel or irrational or impossible to observe in this man's desire to live according to the perfection of the Gospel, he would be guilty of blasphemy against Christ, the author of the Gospel." At this observation, the successor of the Apostle Peter turned to the poor man of Christ and said: "My son, pray to Christ that through you He may

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 800-801


8 1Cernens autem famulus Christi, paulatim accrescere numerum fratrum, scripsit sibi et fratribus suis simplicibus verbis formulara vitae, in qua, sancti Evangelii observantia pro fundamento indissolubili collocata, pauca quaedam alia inseruit, quae ad uniformem vivendi modum necessaria videbantur. 2Desiderans autem, per Summum Pontificem approbari quae scripserat, disposuit cum illo simplicium coetu apostolicae Sedis adire praesentiam, de sola confisus directione divina. 3Cuius desiderium Deus ex alto respiciens, sociorum animos simplicitatis suae consideratione perterritos, ostensa viro Dei visione huiusmodi confortavit.

4Videbatur siquidem ei, quod per quamdam viam incederet, iuxta quam stabat arbor celsitudinis magnae; 5ad quam cum appropinquasset et sub ea stans, ipsius altitudinem miraretur, subito tantum divina virtute levabatur in altum, ut cacumen contingeret arboris eiusque summa facillime curvaret ad ima. 6Huius visionis praesagium vir Deo plenus intelligens referri ad condescensionem apostolicae dignitatis, exhilaratus est spiritu, fratribusque suis in Domino confortatis, iter cum eis aggressus est.

9 1Cum autem ad Romanam curiam pervenisset et introductus esset ante conspectum Summi Pontificis, exposuit propositum suum, petens humiliter et instanter, supradictam sibi vivendi regulam approbari. 2Videns autem Christi Vicarius, dominus Innocentius tertius, vir utique sapientia clarus, admirandam in viro Dei simplicis animi puritatem, propositi constantiam ignitumque voluntatis sanctae fervorem, inclinatus est animo, ut pium supplicanti praeberet assensum. 3Distulit tamen perficere quod Christi postulabat pauperculus, pro eo quod aliquibus de cardinalibus novum aliquid et supra vires humanas arduum videretur.

4Aderat autem inter cardinales vir venerandus, dominus Ioannes de Sancto Paulo, episcopus Sabinensis, omnis sanctitatis amator et adiutor pauperum Christi; qui divino Spiritu inflammatus, Summo Pontifici dixit et fratribus suis: 5« Si petitionem pauperis huius tamquam nimis arduam novamque refellimus, cum petat confirmari sibi formam evangelicae vitae, cavendum est nobis, ne in Christi Evangelium offendamus. 6Nam si quis intra evangelicae perfectionis observantiam et votum ipsius dicat contineri aliquid novum aut irrationabile vel impossibile ad servandum, contra Christum, Evangelii auctorem, blasphemare convincitur ». 7Quibus propositis successor Apostoli Petri, conversus ad pauperem Christi, dixit: « Ora, fili, ad Christum, ut suam nobis per te voluntatem ostendat,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 547

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