The Minor Legend - 709 

Chapter VI

First Lesson

The truly faithful servant and minister of Christ, Francis, two years before he returned his spirit to heaven, began a forty day fast in honor of the Archangel Michael in a high place apart called Mount La Verna. Steeped more than usual in the sweetness of heavenly contemplation and on fire with an ever intense flame of heavenly desires, he began to be aware more fully of the gifts of heavenly entries. With the seraphic ardor of desires, therefore, he was being borne aloft into God; and by compassionate sweetness he was being transformed into Him Who was pleased to be crucified out of the excess of His love. While he was praying one morning on the mountainside around the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, he saw the likeness of a Seraph, which had six fiery and glittering wings, descending from the grandeur of heaven. He came in swift flight to a spot in the air near to the man of God. The Seraph not only appeared to have wings but also to be crucified. His hands and feet were extended and fastened to a cross, and his wings were arranged on both sides in such a remarkable manner that he raised two above his head, extended two for flying, and with the two others he encompassed and covered his whole body.

Second Lesson

Seeing this, he was overwhelmed. His mind flooded with a mixture of joy and sorrow. He experienced an incomparable joy in the gracious way Christ appeared to him so wonderful and intimate, while the deplorable sight of being fastened to a cross pierced his soul with the sword Lk 2:35 of compassionate sorrow. He understood, as the one whom he saw exteriorly taught him interiorly,a that the weakness of suffering was in no way compatible with the immortality of the seraphic spirit; nevertheless, such a vision had been presented to his sight, so that this friend of Christ might learn in advance that he had to be transformed totally, not by a martyrdom of the flesh




Legenda Minor, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1000-1001

De stigmatibus sacris.

Lectio prima.

1 1Fidelis revera famulus et minister Christi Franciscus, biennio antequam spiritum redderet caelo, cum in loco excelso seorsum, qui Mons Alvernae dicitur, quadragenarium ad honorem Archangeli Michaelis ieiunium inchoasset, supernae contemplationis dulcedine abundantius solito superfusus ac caelestium desideriorum ardentiore flamma succensus, supernarum coepit immissionum cumulatius dona sentire. 2Dum igitur seraphicis desideriorum ardoribus sursum ageretur in Deum, et affectus compassiva teneritudine in eum transformaretur, cui ex caritate nimia crucifigi complacuit: 3quodam mane circa festum Exaltationis sanctae Crucis in latere montis orans vidit quasi speciem unius Seraph sex alas tam fulgidas quam ignitas habentem de caelorum sublimitate descendere, 4qui volatu celerrimo ad aëris locum viro Dei propinquum perveniens, non solum alatus, sed et crucifixus apparuit, manus quidem et pedes habens extensos et cruci affixos, alas vero sic miro modo hinc inde dispositas, ut duas supra caput erigeret, duas ad volandum extenderet, duabus vero reliquis totum corpus circumplectendo velaret.

Lectio secunda.

2 1Hoc videns, vehementer obstupuit mixtumque dolori gaudium mens eius incurrit, dum et in gratioso Christi aspectu sibi tam mirabiliter quam familiariter apparentis excessivam quamdam concipiebat laetitiam, et dira conspecta crucis affixio ipsius animam compassivi doloris gladio pertransibat. 2Intellexit quidem, illo docente interius, qui et apparebat exterius, quod licet passionis infirmitas cum immortalitate spiritus seraphici nullatenus conveniret, 3ideo tamen huiusmodi visio suis fuerat praesentata conspectibus, ut amicus ipse Christi praenosset, se non per martyrium carnis,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 709