A Mirror of the Perfection (The Lemmons Edition, 1901) - 234 


Blessed Francis used to say: "My brothers, I say that each of you must consider his own constitution, because, although one of you may be sustained with less food than another, I nevertheless want one who needs more food not to try imitating him in this. Rather, considering his constitution, he should provide his body with what it needs. Just as we must beware of overindulgence in eating, which harms body and soul, so we must beware of excessive abstinence even more, because the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice."

And he said: "Let each one provide his body with what it needs as our poverty allows. This is what I wish and command you."

For the first brothers and those who came after them for a long time mortified their bodies excessively, not only by abstinence in food and drink, but also in vigils, cold, and manual labor. 2 Cor 11:27 Next to their skins those who could get them wore iron rings and breastplates and the roughest hair shirts, which they were better able to get. Considering that the brothers could get sick because of this, and in a short time some were already ailing, the holy father therefore commanded in one of the chapters that no brother wear anything next to the skin except the tunic.

We who were with him bear witness to this fact about him: from the time he began to have brothers, and also during his whole lifetime, he was discerning with the brothers, provided that in the matter of food and other things, they did not deviate at any time from the norm of the poverty and decency of our religion, which the early brothers observed. Nevertheless, even before he had brothers, from the beginning of his conversion and during his whole lifetime, he was severe with his own body, even though from the time of his youth he was a man of a frail and weak constitution, and when he was in the world he could not live without comforts.

One time, perceiving that the brothers had exceeded the norm of poverty and decency in food and in things, he said in a sermon he gave, speaking to a few brothers, who stood for all the brothers: "Don't the brothers think that my body needs special food? But because I must be the model and example for all the brothers, I want to use and be content with poor food and things, not fine ones."


In the first days, because the brothers were few in number, they went alone for alms. And when they returned, each one showed blessed Francis the alms he had collected, one saying to the other, "I collected more alms than you!"




Speculum Perfectionis (minus), Fontes Franciscani, p. 1786-1789


1Dicebat beatus Franciscus: « Fratres mei, ideo dico vobis, quod unusquisque consideret naturam suam quia, licet aliquis ex vobis substentari valeat pauciori cibo, quam alius, volo tamen, quod habundantiori cibo indigens illum in hoc [imitari non] nitatur, sed naturam suam considerans exhibeat corpori suo necessitatem suam. Sicut enim a superfluitate comestionis, que obest corpori et anime, tenemur nobis cavere, ita a nimia abstinentia; immo magis, quoniam Dominus misericordiam vult et non sacrificium ».

4Et ait « Volo et precipio vobis, ut quilibet secundum nostram paupertatem suo corpori satisfaciat, sicut ei necesse fuerit ».

5Nam primi fratres, et alii, qui venerunt post ipsos usque ad longum tempus, affligebant corpora sua ultra modum abstinentia non solum cibi, sed etiam potus et in vigiliis, frigore, labore manuum suarum; 6portabant subtus ad carnem circulos ferreos et loricas, qui poterant habere, et fortissima cilicia, sicut magis poterant habere. 7Propterea sanctus pater considerans, quod fratres hac occasione poterant infirmari, et quidam in parvo tempore iam erant infirmati, prohibuit in quodam capitulo, quod nullus fratrum, portaret subtus ad carnem, nisi tunicam.

8Nos vero, qui cum ipso fuimus, testimonium perhibemus de illo, quod, licet a tempore, quo ceperit habere fratres, et etiam toto tempore vite sue fratribus esset discretus, ita dumtaxat, ut fratres in cibis et rebus non deviarent aliquo tempore a modo paupertatis et honestatis nostre religionis, quibus fratres antiqui utebantur, 9ipse tamen suo corpori, etiam antequam haberet fratres, a principio sue conversionis et toto tempore vite sue, fuit austerus, cum a tempore sue iuventutis esset homo fragilis et debilis secundum naturam et in seculo non posset vivere, nisi delicate.

10Unde quodam tempore considerans, quod fratres iam excederent modum paupertatis et honestatis in cibis et rebus, in quadam sua predicatione, quam fecerat quibusdam fratribus in persona omnium fratrum dixit: 11« Non putant fratres, quod corpori meo necessaria esset pitantia? 12Sed quia oportet me esse formam et exemplum omnium fratrum, volo uti pauperculis cibis et esse contentus et rebus non delicatis ».


1Primo tempore, quia pauci erant fratres, soli ibant pro helemosina et, cum redibant unusquisque ostendebat beato Francisco helemosinas, quas acquisiverat, dicens unus alteri: « Ego maiorem helemosinam te acquisivi ».

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 234