The Life of Blessed Francis - 580 

the kind they call a fonda,a apparently bursting with coins. His companion alerted the poor man of Christ and urged him to pick the purse up from the ground and distribute the money to the poor. The man of God refused, declaring there was a trick of the devil in this purse they had found, and that the brother was recommending something sinful rather than meritorious, that is, to take what belonged to another and give it away. They left the place and hurried to finish the journey they had begun. But the brother was not yet at peace, deluded by empty piety, bothering the man of God as if he had no concern to relieve the destitution of the poor. The gentle man agreed to return to the place, not to carry out the brother's wish, but to uncover the devil's trickery. So he returned to the fonda with the brother and a young man who was on the road, and after they had prayed, he ordered his companion to pick it up. The trembling brother was dumbfounded, sensing beforehand a diabolical omen. Nevertheless, because of the command of holy obedience, as he was casting out hesitation from his heart, he stretched out his hand toward the bag. Behold, a large snake slid out of the bag and, suddenly disappearing along with it, showed the brother the diabolical deceit. After the enemy's trickery and cunning were grasped, the holy man said to his companion: "To God's servants, brother, money is nothing but a devil and a poisonous snake."

6 After this something marvelous happened to the holy man while he was going to the city of Siena for some urgent reason. Three poor women, who were exactly alike in height, age, and appearance, met him on the great plain between Campiglia and San Quirico and offered him a small gift of a new greeting. "Welcome, Lady Poverty!" they said. When he heard this, the true lover of poverty was filled with unspeakable joy, for he had in himself nothing that he would so gladly have people hail as what these women had chosen.

Once they had abruptly disappeared,
considering
the remarkable novelty
of the likeness among them,
of the greeting,
of the meeting
and of the disappearance,
the brothers accompanying him weighed,

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 835-837


quasi plena esset denariis, tumescentem, quam usitato vocabulo fundam appellant. 2Monetur a socio pauper Christi et instanter inducitur, ut bursa tollatur e terra, et pecunia pauperibus erogetur. 3Renuit homo Dei, commentum affirmans fore diaboli in bursa inventa, et fratrem non suadere rem meriti sed peccati, aliena scilicet surripere ac donare. 4Recedunt de loco, festinant iter perficere coeptum. 5Sed nondum quiescit frater, vacua pietate delusus, virum Dei molestans, quasi qui de relevanda pauperum penuria non curaret. 6Acquievit tandem vir mitis redire ad locum, non ut fratris voluntatem perficeret, sed ut detegeret diabolicam fraudem. 7Reversus ergo ad fundam cum fratre et iuvene quodam, qui erat in via, oratione praemissa, iubet socio illam levare. 8Tremefactus frater obstupuit, diabolicum iam praesentiens monstrum; propter obedientiae tamen sanctae mandatum dubietatem abigens cordis, manum extendit ad bursam. 9Et ecce, serpens non modicus, de bursa exsiliens, simulque cum ipsa subito evanescens, diabolicam deceptionem fratri monstravit. 10Hostilis itaque versutiae deprehensa fallacia, dixit vir sanctus ad socium: « Pecunia servis Dei, frater, nihil aliud est quam diabolus et coluber venenosus ».

6 1Accidit post haec quiddam mirabile viro sancto, dum se ad civitatem Senensem, causa exigente, transferret. 2Tres quidem mulieres pauperculae, statura, aetate ac facie per omnia similes, in quadam ei magna planitie inter Campilium et Sanctum Quiricum occurrerunt, novum salutationis munusculum offerentes: « Bene veniat », inquiunt, « domina paupertas! ». 3Quo audito, verus paupertatis amator indicibili repletus est gaudio, utpote qui nihil in se salutandum hominibus tam libenter haberet, quam quod illae decreverant.

4Subito disparentibus illis,
considerantes
fratres socii,
tam admirabilem
in eis similitudinis,
salutationis,
occursus et disparentiae novitatem,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 580

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