A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis (1277-1283) - 56 

court was left to his fraternal peers, and that he was destined for the Knight Templars or Hospitalers. Since he was a young man, as noble in birth as he was conspicuous in behavior, he attained, with the help of God, the dignity of the kingdom of Jerusalem, and then to that of the Empire. He was renowned for many honors, since his son-in-law was the Roman Emperor. He was a very great defender of the true faith and an adversary of non-believers.

37Towards the end of his life, when he was seriously reflecting on how many gifts God had bestowed on him during his life, the greatest desire was sent to him from heaven, some believe, to know beforehand what kind of death he would have. He remained for some time with this desire and, because of it, persisted in his constant supplication of God. One night while he was sleeping, a dignified man appeared to him dressed in white, carrying in his hands the habit, cord, and sandals of the Lesser Brothers. "John," the man said, calling the emperor by name, "since you anxiously desire to know the manner of your death, you should know that you will die in this habit and that this is the will of God." The emperor, awake and terrified at such a future humiliation that, according to the man, was his, aroused with a scream those who by royal custom rested near him. When they came running, however, he would not reveal the reason for his cry.

42The following night two men similarly dressed in white appeared to him in his sleep, carrying the same habit, cord and sandals and repeating that it was the divine will that he should die in that habit. Just as before, his spirit shuddered and, awake, he shouted but, again, he would not reveal the reason to the those running to him from their beds.

44The third night three men likewise appeared to him in a vision, dressed in white like the others, carrying the same habit, cord, and sandals, and, as before, repeating that his passing would be in them. They added: "Do not believe that this is an illusion or an empty dream. What we say will truly be fulfilled."

46The disturbed emperor ordered that his confessor, Brother Angelo, be called immediately. When he arrived, he found the emperor in bed, weeping. He said to him: "I know why you have called me. The same vision which you had was revealed to me." After a few days a tertian fever gripped the emperor and, with full deliberation, he entered the Order and happily finished his days there according to the vision's intent.

48But while he was still living, he was impeded by the gravity of his infirmity and debility from exercising the usual duties of humility in the Order. He is said to have expressed the devout attitude of

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Liber de Laudibus Beati Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1276-1277


solus fuisse sine hereditate relictus, templi vel hospitalis militiae deputandus. 36Sed cum esset iuvenis sicut genere clarus sic strenuitate conspicuus, Deo regente, prius regni Ierosolymitani, deinde imperii dignitatem adeptus, pluribus fuit honoribus illustratus generum habens ipsum imperatorem Romanum.

37Fuit autem maximus fidei orthodoxae defensor et infidelium impugnator. 38Qui cum circa ultimum vitae suae recogitaret devote, quanta sibi [Deus] contulerat bona viventi, immissum [est] ei coelitus, ut creditur, desiderium maximum praesciendi, cuiusmodi finem concederet morienti. 39Aliquanto tempore in hoc desiderio et ob hoc instanti ad Deum supplicatione perstiterat, cum nocte quadam illi apparuit dormienti venerabilis homo quidam albis indutus fratrum Minorum, habitum, chordam et soleas in manibus suis ferens et vocans imperatorem ex nomine: 40« Iohannes, inquit, quia de fine tuo sollicite desideras modum scire, noveris, te in isto habitu moriturum et hoc esse voluntatis divinae ». 41Evigilans imperator et secundum hominem tantam sui futuram humiliationem horrescens eos, qui prope ipsum more regio quiescebant, clamoroso gemitu excitavit; quibus tamen occurrentibus indicati clamoris causam noluit indicare.

42Sequenti nocte viri duo similiter albis induti sibi apparuerunt in somnis, praeostensum habitum, chordam quoque ac soleas deferentes et voluntatis divinae esse, quod [in] illo moreretur habitu, replicantes. 43Horruit ut prius spiritus eius et expergefactus ingemiscendo clamavit, nec tamen causam festinantibus ad eum cubiculariis revelavit.

44Tertia nocte tres similiter viri apparuerunt in visu, albis instar priorum induti, dictum sibi habitum, chordam et soleas afferentes et sicut prius de ipsius in illis futuro transitu repetentes et adiicientes dicebant: 45« Non credas, haec illusionem vel somnium vanum esse, sed sicut dicimus, in veritate complendum ».

46Excitatus imperator iubet statim, fratrem Angelum confessorem suum vocari. Qui veniens imperatorem in stratu suo lacrymantem invenit. Cui et dixit: « Scio, cur me vocastis, et de vobis eadem quae vobis est mihi visio revelata ». 47Post paucos dies tertiana febris imperatorem arripuit et deliberato consilio, ingressus Ordinem iuxta visionis tenorem suos ibi dies feliciter consummavit.

48Sed cum adhuc vivens infirmitatis et debilitatis gravedine impediretur a consuetis in Ordine humilitatis officiis exercendis, memorabili verbo devotum mentis affectum dicitur expressisse:

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 56

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