A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis (1277-1283) - 57 

his soul in a memorable passage: "O my most sweet Lord, Jesus Christ, would that I who have lived elegantly in the pomp of the world, clothed in priceless garments, could, as a truly poor and humble man, follow you, who are poor and humble, by seeking alms in this habit with a sack hanging from my neck!"

50In this a very excellent man left us a very great example, that neither the great nor the ordinary nor much less others would be ashamed of what pertains to poverty and humility. He achieved in this vow what nobles usually win for themselves in this Order, that is, to be more humble, more gentle and more simple. Indeed, the sobriety of gentleness and humility is a distinguishing mark of nobility. Grace often ennobles the ignoble, and the fault of pride or sloth makes the noble ignoble. What is more worthless than for a noble to become a boor? Not to be shunned are the lowest in birth, to whom it has been given to serve the Lord as a knight; there is nothing greater than to be a knight of Christ.

55But let me continue what I have begun. Brother William of happy memory, former minister of Aquitaine, related that there was a man, once a master in the city of Chartres, bound by a vow to enter the Order of Lesser Brothers.a He missed the time, however, determined by brothers for entering the Order. While he was playing checkers outside in front of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he suddenly lost his sight. When he realized this, he overturned the game with his hand so that the bystanders would notice it. Then calling a boy, putting his hand on his shoulder, he entered the church where, prostrate before the altar of the Virgin, he promised the Mother of God with tears and devotion that, should she restore his sight, he would enter the Order of Lesser Brothers without delay.

59When he recovered his sight, he came to the brothers and named the day when he would enter the Order. But once again he went back on his word. He was again playing checkers in the same place as before, and again was made blind. He entered the church as before, and, after many tears, he made a promise to the Blessed Virgin that, if he regained his sight, he would no longer put off entering the Order. At last he recovered his vision, but not as quickly as the first time. Nevertheless, once again he lied by neglecting and delaying his promise of entering the Order.

62A third time he became blind as before, entered the church as before, and wept very devoutly before the altar of the Mother of God. Once more, after he repeated his promise to enter the Order, he

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Liber de Laudibus Beati Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1277-1278


exercendis, memorabili verbo devotum mentis affectum dicitur expressisse: 49« O dulcissime Domine, inquit, Iesu Christe, utinam ego, qui deliciose in pompa saeculi vixi, in vestibus pretiosis indutus, modo in isto habitueleemosynam cum sacco ad collum petendo te pauperem et humilem vere pauper et humilis sequi possem! ».

50In quo vir tantus maximum reliquit exemplum, ut ad ea, quae sunt paupertatis et humilitatis, nec magni nec mediocres et multo minus alii erubescant. 51Implevit in hoc voto quod sibi nobiles in isto solent Ordine vindicare, ut scilicet humiliores et mitiores et simpliciores exsistant; nimirum mansuetudinis et humilitatis sobrietas maximum est nobilitatis insigne. 52Saepe ignobiles nobilitat gratia, et ex nobilibus ignobiles superbiae vel ignaviae facit noxa. 53Et quid vilius quam ex nobili rusticus fieri? 54Nec spernendi sunt infimi genere, quibus datum est Domino militare; nulla maior est nobilitas quam militem Christi esse.

55Sed ut coepta prosequar, felicis memoriae frater Gulielmus, Minister quondam Aquitaniae, referebat, quendam in urbe Carnoti fuisse magistrum per votum Ordini fratrum Minorum astrictum. 56Qui tempus ad intrandum Ordinem fratribus assignatum transgressus, cum ad scaccos ante fores ecclesiae beatae Mariae Virginis luderet, subito visum amisit. 57Quod cum sensisset, nec hoc adverterent circumstantes, ludum cum manu destruxit et vocans puerum, manu super eius humerum posita, ecclesiam introivit, 58ubi ante Virginis altare prostratus Matri Dei cum fletu et devotione promisit, quod, si restitueret ei visum, ipse Ordinem fratrum Minorum sine dilatione intraret.

59Recepto mox lumine, venit ad fratres eisque diem, quo intraret Ordinem, assignavit. 60Sed rursum transgrediens verbum suum, cum in eodem quo prius loco iterum luderet et iterum factus caecus intrasset ecclesiam sicut prius, post multas lacrymas, promissione beatae Virgini rursum facta, quod si amissum redderet sibi visum, intrare Ordinem ulterius non differret, tandem visum, sed tardius quam prima vice recepit. 61Nihilominus tamen iterum est mentitus promissum Ordinis negligendo et procrastinando ingressum.

62Tertio ut prius factus caecus et ecclesiam ingressus ut prius coram altari Matris Dei devotissime flevit et visum iterum, licet multo tardius, solita iterato de ingressu Ordinis promissione, recepit.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 57

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