The Life of Blessed Francis - 591 

astery's ditch and, laying there for a long time, dried up like
a board, and did not become food for any hungry creature.

Therefore,
let human impiety pay attention
to how great a punishment might at last be inflicted on it,
if such animal cruelty is punished with so horrible a death.
Let also the devotion of the faithful weigh
how the piety in God's servant
was of such marvelous power and of such abundant sweetness
that even the nature of animals acknowledged it
in their own way.

7When he was on a journey near the city of Siena, he passed a large flock of sheep grazing in a pasture. He greeted them kindly, as usual. After they left the pasture, they all ran to him, lifted their heads, fixed their eyes on him. They gave him such a loud bleating that the shepherds and the brothers were amazed to see the lambs and even the rams frisking about him in such an extraordinary way.

Another time at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula the man of God was offered a sheep, which he gratefully accepted in his love of that innocence and simplicity which the sheep by its nature reflects. The pious man admonished the little sheep to praise God attentively and to avoid giving any offense to the brothers. The sheep carefully observed his instructions, as if it recognized the piety of the man of God. For when it heard the brothers chanting in choir, it would enter the church, genuflect without instructions from anyone, and bleat before the altar of the Virgin, the mother of the Lamb, as if it wished to greet her. Besides, when the most sacred body of Christ was elevated during the Solemnity of the Mass, it would bow down on its knees as if this reverent animal were reproaching the irreverence of those who were not devout and inviting the devout to reverence of the Sacrament.

Once in Rome he had with him a little lamb out of reverence for the most gentle Lamb of God. At his departure he left it in the care of the noble matron, the Lady Jacoba of Settesoli.a Now the lamb went with the lady to church, standing reverently by her side as her inseparable companion, as if it had been trained in spiritual matters by the saint. If the lady was late in rising in the morning, the lamb rose and nudged her with its horns and woke her with its bleating, urging her with its nods and gestures to hurry to the church. On account of this,

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 847-849


9Proiecta autem in vallum monasterii ibique longo tempore iacens, in modum tabulae desiccata, nulli fuit esca famelico.

10Advertat igitur
humana impietas,
quali poena sit ferienda finaliter,
si tam horrenda morte percussa est ferocitas bestialis;
11perpendat et fidelis devotio,
quam in servo Dei pietas
fuerit admirandae virtutis et copiosae dulcedinis,
ut ei applauderet suo modo
etiam natura brutorum.

7 1Iter enim faciens iuxta civitatem Senensem, invenit in pascuis magnum ovium gregem. 2Quas cum benigne, ut erat solitus, salutasset, relicto pastu, cucurrerunt omnes ad eum, levantesque capita sua, erectis in eum luminibus intendebant. 3Tantum quidem ei fecerunt applausum, ut et pastores mirarentur et fratres, cernentes circa ipsum tam ovium agnos quam ipsos arietes sic mirabiliter exsultantes.

4Alio quoque tempore apud Sanctam Mariam de Portiuncula quaedam viro Dei fuit ovis oblata, quam propter innocentiae ac simplicitatis amorem, quas ovis natura praetendit, gratanter suscepit. 5Monebat vir pius oviculam, ut et laudibus divinis intenderet et ab omni fratrum offensa caveret; ovis autem, quasi viri Dei pietatem adverteret, informationem ipsius sollicite observabat. 6Nam audiens fratres in choro cantare, et ipsa ecclesiam ingrediens, sine alicuius informatione flectebat genua, vocem balatus emittens ante altare Virginis, Matris Agni, ac si eam salutare gestiret. 7Insuper, et cum elevaretur sacratissimum Christi corpus inter Missarum solemnia, flexis curvabatur poplitibus, tamquam si reverens pecus de irreverentia indevotos argueret Christoque devotos ad Sacramenti reverentiam invitaret.

8Tempore quodam agniculum in Urbe secum habuerat ob reverentiam illius mitissimi Agni, quem nobili matronae, dominae scilicet Iacobae de Septem Soliis, in suo recessu conservandum commisit. 9Agnus vero, quasi in spiritualibus eruditus a sancto, dominae ad ecclesiam eunti, stanti et revertenti societate inseparabili cohaerebat. 10Si matutinali hora domina tardaret exsurgere, agnus consurgens impellebat eam cornulis et balatibus excitabat, gestibus adhortans et nutibus, ut ad ecclesiam properaret. 11Propter quod agnus,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 591

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