The Life of Blessed Francis - 610 

7It happened, three years prior to his death, that he decided to celebrate at the town of Greccio the memory of the birth of the Child Jesus with the greatest possible solemnity, in order to arouse devotion. So that this would not be considered a type of novelty, he petitioned for and obtained permission from the Supreme Pontiff.

He had a manger prepared,
hay carried in and an ox and an ass led to the spot.
The brethren are summoned,
the people arrive,
the forest amplifies with their cries,
and that venerable night is rendered
brilliant and solemn
by a multitude of bright lights
and by resonant and harmonious hymns of praise.
The man of God stands before the manger,
filled with piety,
bathed in tears, and overcome with joy.
A solemn Mass is celebrated over the manger,
with Francis, a levite of Christ, chanting the holy Gospel.
Then he preaches to the people standing around him
about the birth of the poor King,
whom, whenever he means to call him,
he called in his tender love,
the Babe from Bethlehem.
A certain virtuous and truthful knight,
Sir John of Greccio,
who had abandoned worldly military activity out of love of Christ
and had become an intimate friend of the man of God,
claimed that he saw a beautiful little child asleep in that manger
whom the blessed father Francis embraced in both of his arms
and seemed to wake it from sleep.
Not only does the holiness of the witness
make credible
the vision of the devout knight,
but also the truth it expresses
proves its validity
and the subsequent miracles confirm it.
For Francis's example,
when considered by the world,
is capable of arousing
the hearts of those who are sluggish in the faith of Christ.
The hay from the crib

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Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 868-869


7 1Contigit autem anno tertio ante obitum suum, ut memoriam nativitatis pueri Iesu ad devotionem excitandam apud castrum Graecii disponeret agere, cum quanto maiore solemnitate valeret. 2Ne vero hoc novitati posset adscribi, a Summo Pontifice petita et obtenta licentia,

fecit praeparari praesepium,
apportari foenum, bovem et asinum ad locum adduci.
3Advocantur fratres,
adveniunt populi,
personat silva voces,
et venerabilis illa nox
luminibus copiosis
et claris laudibusque
sonoris et consonis et splendens efficitur et solemnis.
4Stabat vir Dei coram praesepio
pietate repletus,
respersus lacrimis et gaudio superfusus.
5Celebrantur missarum solemnia super praesepe,
levita Christi Francisco sacrum Evangelium decantante.
6Praedicat deinde populo circumstanti
de nativitate pauperis Regis,
quem, cum nominare vellet,
puerum de Bethlehem
prae amoris teneritudine nuncupabat.
7Miles autem quidam virtuosus et verax,
qui, propter Christi amorem saeculari relicta militia,
viro Dei magna fuit familiaritate coniunctus,
dominus Ioannes de Graecio
se vidisse asseruit puerulum quemdam valde formosum in illo praesepio dormientem,
quem beatus pater Franciscus, ambobus complexans brachiis,
excitare videbatur a somno.
8hanc quidem devoti militis visionem
non solum videntis sanctitas
credibilem facit,
sed et designata
veritas comprobat,
et miracula subsecuta confirmant.
9Nam exemplum Francisci
consideratum a mundo,
excitativum est
cordium in fide Christi torpentium,
10et foenum praesepii

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 610

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