The Treatise on the Miracles of Saint Francis - 406 

woman's heart: perhaps the image had those marks from the beginning. So the power of God added a second miracle, so that the first would not be denied. Suddenly the marks disappeared and the image remained denuded of those privileged signs. Thus the second sign became proof of the first. (I met this married and virtuous woman. I declare that I saw in secular clothing a spirit consecrated to Christ the Lord.)a

10Still, human reason from the very moment of birth is ensnared by the stirring of the senses and crass illusions. It is sometimes driven by the waves of imagination to call into doubt anything that is supposed to be believed. As a consequence, only with difficulty do we believe the marvelous deeds of the saints, and frequently faith itself struggles with many obstacles in matters of salvation.

A certain brother, Lesser by Order, preacher by office, religious by life, was firmly convinced of the holy stigmata. But, either from force of habit or from excessive marvel, he began to be irritated by a scruple of doubt about the saint's miracle. Imagine the battle going on in his spirit, with reason defending the side of truth, and fantasy always pushing on the opposing side! Reason posited, with many supporting arguments, that it was just as it was said to be, and when other evidence was lacking, it relied on the truth believed by holy church. On the opposing side the senses' shadows conspired against the miracle: it seemed contrary to all of nature, and unheard-of in all the ages.

One evening, worn out by this wrestling-match, he entered his bedroom, carrying with him a weakened reason and a strengthened, bold imagination. As he slept, Saint Francis appeared to him, with muddy feet, humbly stern and patiently irritated. And he spoke: "Why all these conflicting struggles in you? Why these filthy doubts? See my hands and my feet!" He saw the pierced hands, but he did not see the stigmata on the muddy feet. Francis said, "Remove the mud from my feet and examine the place of the nails. Jn 20:25 " He took hold of the saint's feet, and it seemed to him the mud washed away, and he touched with his hands the places of the nails. 1 Jn 1:1 Then suddenly, as the brother awoke, he was flooded with tears, and he cleansed himself of his earlier muddy feelings by public confession.

11Those sacred stigmata of the invincible soldier of Christ should not be considered lacking in great power, besides being a sign of special grace and a privilege of supreme love which the whole world does not cease to admire.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 406

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