The Life of Blessed Francis - 602 

In the thirteenth year of his conversion, he journeyed to the regions of Syria, constantly exposing himself to many dangers in order to reach the presence of the Sultan of Babylon.a For at that time there was a fierce war between the Christians and the Saracens,b with their camps situated in close quarters opposite each other in the field, so that there was no way of passing from one to the other without danger of death. A cruel edict had been issued by the Sultan that whoever would bring back the head of a Christian would receive as a reward a gold piececc But Francis, the intrepid knight of Christ, hoping to be able to achieve his purpose, decided to make the journey, not terrified by the fear of death, but rather drawn by desire for it. After praying, strengthened by the Lord, he confidently chanted that prophetic verse: "Even if I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I shall not fear evil because you are with me."

8Taking a companion with him, a brother named Illuminato, a virtuous and enlightened man, after he had begun his journey, he came upon two lambs. Overjoyed to see them, the holy man said to his companion: "Trust in the Lord, brother, for the Gospel text is being fulfilled in us: Behold, I am sending you forth like sheep in the midst of wolves." Mt 10:16 When they proceeded farther, the Saracen sentries fell upon them like wolves swiftly overtaking sheep, savagely seizing the servants of God, and cruelly and contemptuously dragging them away, treating them with insults, beating them with whips, and putting them in chains.

Finally, after they had been maltreated in many ways and were exhausted, by divine providence they were led to the Sultan, just as the man of God wished. When that ruler inquired by whom, why, and how they had been sent and how they got there, Christ's servant, Francis, answered with an intrepid heart that he had been sent not by man but by the Most High God in order to point out to him and his people the way of salvation and to announce the Gospel of truth.

He preached to the Sultan
the Triune God and the one Savior of all, Jesus Christ,
with such great firmness,

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 859-860


2Tertiodecimo namque suae conversionis anno ad partes Syriae pergens, multis se periculis constanter exposuit, ut Soldani Babyloniae posset adire praesentiam. 3Inter Christianos enim ac Saracenos tunc guerra tam implacabilis erat, exercituum castris hine inde in campo cominus ex adverso locatis, ut via mutui transitus sine mortis discrimine non pateret. 4Exierat siquidem a Soldano edictum crudele, ut quicumque caput alicuius Christiani afferret, Byzantium aureum pro mercede reciperet. 5At intrepidus Christi miles Franciscus, sperans in proximo suum adipisci posse propositum, definivit iter arripere, mortis pavore non territus, sed desiderio provocatus. 6Oratione namque praemissa, confortatus a Domino, confidenter illud propheticum decantabat: Nam et si ambulem in medio umbrae mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es.

8 1Assumpto igitur socio fratre, Illuminato nomine, viro utique luminis et virtutis, cum iter coepisset, obvias habuit oviculas duas; 2quibus visis exhilaratus, vir sanctus dixit ad socium: « Confide, frater, in Domino, nam in nobis evangelicum illud impletur: Ecce ego mitto vos sicut oves in medio luporum ». 3Cum autem processissent ulterius, occurrerunt eis satellites Saraceni, qui, tamquam lupi celerius accurrentes ad oves, servos Dei feraliter comprehensos, crudeliter et contemptibiliter pertractarunt, afficientes conviciis, affligentes verberibus et vinculis alligantes.

4Tandem afflictos multipliciter et attritos ad Soldanum, divina disponente providentia, iuxta viri Dei desiderium perduxerunt. 5Cum igitur princeps ille perquireret, a quibus et ad quid et qualiter missi essent et quomodo advenissent, intrepido corde respondit Christi servus Franciscus, non ab homine, sed a Deo altissimo se fuisse transmissum, ut ei et populo suo viam salutis ostenderet et annuntiaret Evangelium veritatis.

6Tanta vero mentis constantia,
tanta virtute animi
tantoque fervore spiritus praedicto
Soldano praedicavit
Deum trinum et unum et Salvatorem omnium Iesum Christum,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 602

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