The Life of Blessed Francis - 603 

such strength of soul,
and such fervor of spirit
that the words of the Gospel appeared
to be truly fulfilled in him:
I will give you utterance and wisdom
which all your adversaries will not be able to resist or answer back.

For the Sultan, perceiving in the man of God a fervor of spirit and a courage that had to be admired, willingly listened to him and invited him to stay longer with him. Inspired from heaven, Christ's servant said: "If you wish to be converted to Christ along with your people, I will most gladly stay with you for love of him. But if you hesitate to abandon the law of Mohammed for the faith of Christ, then command that an enormous fire be lit and I will walk into the fire along with your priests so that you will recognize which faith deserves to be held as the holier and more certain." "I do not believe," the Sultan replied, "that any of my priests would be willing to expose himself to the fire to defend his faith or to undergo any kind of torment." For he had seen immediately one of his priests, a man full of authority and years, slipping away from his view when he heard Francis's words.

"If you wish to promise me that if I come out of the fire unharmed," the saint said to the Sultan, "you and your people will come over to the worship of Christ, then I will enter the fire alone. And if I shall be burned, you must attribute it to my sins. But if God's power protects me, you will acknowledge Christ the power and wisdom of God as the true God and theSavior of all." The Sultan replied that he did not dare to accept this choice because he feared a revolt among his people. Nevertheless he offered him many precious gifts, which the man of God, greedy not for worldly possessions but the salvation of souls, spurned as if they were dirt. Seeing that the holy man so completely despised worldly possessions, the Sultan was overflowing with admiration, and developed an even greater respect for him. Although he refused, or perhaps did not dare, to come over to the Christian faith, he nevertheless devoutly asked Christ's servant to accept the gifts and give them to the Christian poor or to churches for his salvation. But, because he was accustomed to flee the burden of money and did not see a root of true piety in the Sultan's soul, Francis would in no way accept them.

9When he saw that he was making no progress
in converting these people
and that he could not achieve his purpose,

 Previous

Next 

 

Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 860-861


tanta virtute animi
tantoque fervore spiritus praedicto
Soldano praedicavit
Deum trinum et unum et Salvatorem omnium Iesum Christum,
ut evangelicum illud in ipso claresceret
veraciter esse completum:
Ego dabo vobis os et sapientiam,
cui non poterunt resistere et contradicere omnes adversarii vestri.

7Nam et Soldanus admirandum in viro Dei fervorem spiritus conspiciens et virtutem, libenter ipsum audiebat et ad moram contrahendam cum eo instantius invitabat, 8Christi vero servus superno illustratus oraculo: « Si vis », inquit, « converti tu cum populo tuo ad Christum, ob ipsius amorem vobiscum libentissime commorabor. 9Quodsi haesitas propter fidem Christi legem Mahumeti dimittere, iube ignem accendi permaximum, et ego cum sacerdotibus tuis ignem ingrediar, ut vel sic cognoscas, quae fides certior et sanctior non immerito tenenda sit ». 10Ad quem Soldanus: « Non credo, quod aliquis de sacerdotibus meis se vellet igni propter fidem suam defensandam exponere, vel genus aliquod subire tormenti ». 11Viderat enim, statim quemdam de presbyteris suis, virum authenticum et longaevum, hoc audito verbo, de suis conspectibus aufugisse. 12Ad quem vir sanctus:

« Si mihi velis promittere pro te et populo tuo, quod ad Christi cultum, si ignem illaesus exiero, veniatis, ignem solus intrabo; 13et si combustus fuero, imputetur peccatis meis, si autem divina me protexerit virtus, Christum, Dei virtutem et sapientiam, verum Deum et Dominum Salvatorem omnium agnoscatis ». 14Soldanus autem optionem hanc accipere se non audere respondit, quia seditionem populi formidabat. 15Obtulit tamen ei multa munera pretiosa, quae vir Dei, non mundanarum rerum, sed salutis animarum avidus, sprevit omnia quasi lutum. 16Soldanus, videns virum sanctum tam perfectum rerum mundialium contemptorem, admiratione permotus, maiorem erga ipsum devotionem concepit. 17Et quamvis ad fidem christianam transire nollet, vel forsitan non auderet, rogavit tamen devote famulum Christi, ut praedicta susciperet pro salute ipsius Christianis pauperibus vel ecclesiis eroganda. 18Ipse vero, quia pondus fugiebat pecuniae et in animo Soldani verae pietatis non videbat radicem, nullatenus acquievit.

9 1Videns etiam, se non proficere
in conversione gentis
illius nec assequi posse propositum,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 603

Hardcopies Available for Purchase