A Collection of Sayings of the Companions of Blessed Francis - 137 

circle of ashes, no little amazement arose in their hearts. 4The saint suddenly arose, and to their astonishment, as his sermon recited Have mercy on me, God. When he had finished it, he quickly went outside.

5By virtue of this jest the ladies were filled with such contrition that they shed rivers of tears, and could scarcely restrain their hands from inflicting revenge on themselves. By his deed he taught them to consider themselves ashes, and that nothing should be allowed to come near their hearts that was not in accord with this consideration. This was his conduct with women, this visit so useful for them, coerced, however, and rare. This was his will for all his brothers whom he wished in this way for Christ, whom he served, so that they always be as cautious as feathered animals placed before snares.a

7Hence he once said: "I do not wish that anyone should offer to visit them of his own will, but I command that those who are unwilling and resist much should be appointed to serve them, only spiritual men who have been tested by a worthy and long-lasting conduct. Amen."

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 137

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