The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 446 

Lombardy, and with the devotion of the faithful increasing, he accepted very many places all around for living quarters.

To the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is blessed forever.

Amen.

V
THE GRACE-FILLED DEATH OF BROTHER BERNARDa

1 Brother Bernard possessed such sanctity that as long as Francis was living, he venerated him with great affection, showed his regard for him by frequent conversations and in Bernard's absence extolled him with great praise. It happened that one day while Francis was praying, it was revealed to him that Brother Bernard with the permission of God was being attacked by many very fierce devils. While Saint Francis with a compassionate heart was pondering over these things concerning such a beloved son, he tearfully prayed for many days and asked our Lord Jesus Christ to give him victory over so many assaults. And during this prayer while Francis was ever alert, troubled, and attentive, he received an answer from God: "Brother, never fear. All the temptations by which Brother Bernard is being assailed were given to him for the purpose of improvement and a crown, and at the end of all these attacks on him he will joyously carry off the palm of victory. Brother Bernard is one of those who will eat at the same table with God in his kingdom." Saint Francis greatly rejoiced Mt 2:10 at this response and gave very great thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. From that time on he did not have any fear or worry about Brother Bernard, but he always loved him with a greater joy and moved to a fuller affection for him. Saint Francis demonstrated this affection both in life and in death.

8 When Saint Francis was on the point of death, like the patriarch Jacob, with his sons standing around him and devoutly weeping for the departure of such a loving Father, he said: "Where is my first-born? Come here, my son, that my soul may bless you before I die." Gn 27:4 Then Brother Bernard whispered to Brother Elias who was then vicar of the Order: "Father, go to his right hand so that he may bless you." After Brother Elias placed himself on the right side and Saint Francis, blind because of his tears, placed his right hand on Elias's head, he said: "This is not the head of my first-born, Brother Bernard." Then Brother Bernard approached his right side. Saint Francis with

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 446

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