The Life of Blessed Francis - 588 

by the fragrant reputation of holy brothers in faraway lands.
He rejoiced in spirit upon hearing of such brothers,
and would heap blessings on those brothers
worthy of full acceptance 1 Tm 1:15
who, by word or deed, led sinners to the love of Christ.

So also, those who violated sacred religion by evil deeds incurred the very heavy penalty of his curse. "By you," he said, "most holy Lord, and by the whole court of Heaven, and by me, your little one, may they be cursed who break up and destroy by their bad example what you earlier built up and do not cease to build up through holy brothers of the Order!"

He was often so deeply saddened by scandal given to the weak, that he felt he would be overcome unless he had been bolstered by the consolation of the divine mercy.

One time when he was disturbed by some bad examples, he anxiously prayed to the merciful Father for his sons, and brought back a response of this sort from the Lord: "Why are you so upset, poor little man? Have I set you up as a shepherd over my religion so that you can forget that I am its main protector? I have entrusted this to you, a simple man, so that the things that I work in you would be attributed not to human industry, but to divine grace. I have called, I will preserve, and I will pasture, and I will raise up others to make up for the fall of some. So that, even if they have not been born, I will have them born! No matter how severely this poor little religion is shaken, it will always remain safe by my gift."

4He hated the vice of detraction like a snakebite, as a foe to the source of piety and grace. He firmly held it to be the most atrocious plague and abominable to the most pious God, because the detractor feeds on the blood of the souls which he kills with the sword of his tongue.

One time, when he heard one brother blackening the reputation of another, he turned to his vicar and said: "Get up! Get up! Search thoroughly; and if you find the accused brother innocent, make the accuser known publicly by a severe punishment." More than once he decided that a brother should be stripped of his habit if he had stripped his brother of the glory of his reputation, and that he could not raise his eyes up to God until he first did his best to give back what he had stolen. Lk 18:13 "To the degree that the impiety of detractors is greater than that of thieves," he would say, "so much more does the law of Christ, fulfilled in the observance of piety, oblige us to desire the well-being of souls rather than of bodies."

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 844-845


cum sanctorum fratrum per orbem distantium odorifera fama
multos audiret ad viam veritatis induci.
2Ex talium auditu exsultabat in spiritu,
benedictionibus omni acceptione
dignissimis fratres illos accumulans,
qui verbo vel opere ad Christi amorem inducerent peccatores.

3Sic etiam qui religionem sacram iniquis violarent operibus, maledictionis eius gravissimam incurrebant sententiam: 4« A te », inquit, « sanctissime Domine, et a tota caelesti curia et a me parvulo tuo sinit maledicti, qui suo malo exemplo confundunt et destruunt quod per sanctos fratres Ordinis huius aedificasti et aedificare non cessas! ».

5Tanta frequenter afficiebatur moestitia super scandalo pusillorum, ut deficere se putaret, nisi divinae fuisset clementiae consolatione suffultus.

6Cum autem semel malis turbatus exemplis, anxio spiritu misericordem Patrem precaretur pro filiis, responsum huiusmodi reportavit a Domino : 7« Cur tu, pauper homuncio, conturbaris? An ego te super religionem meam sic pastorem institui, ut me principalem nescias esse patronum? 8Hominem simplicem ad hoc te constitui, ut quae in te fecero, non humanae industriae, sed supernae gratiae adscribantur. 9Ego vocavi, servabo et pascam, et aliis excidentibus alios subrogabo, ita ut, si nati non fuerint, faciam illos nasci, et quantiscumque fuerit impulsibus paupercula haec concussa religio, salva semper meo munere permanebit ».

4 1Detractionis quoque vitium inimicum fonti pietatis et gratiae tamquam serpentinum abhorrebat morsum et atrocissimam pestem et piissimo Deo abominabile fore firmabat, pro eo quod detractor animarum sanguine pascitur, quas gladio linguae necat.

2Audiens semel fratrem quemdam denigrare famam alterius, conversus ad vicarium suum dixit: 3« Surge, surge, discute diligenter, et si accusatum fratrem innocentem repereris, accusantem dura correctione cunctis redde notabilem! ». 4Nonnumquam vero eum qui fratrem suum famae gloria spoliaret, iudicabat habitu spoliandum, nec ad Deum oculos posse levare, nisi prius quod abstulerat reddere pro posse curaret. 5« Tanto maior est », aiebat, « detractorum impietas quam latronum, quanto lex Christi, quae in observantia pietatis impletur, magis animarum quam corporum nos adstringit optare salutem ».

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 588

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