The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 455 

out the day or night.a Brother Leo most attentively observed this precept.

32 Nevertheless, Brother Leo silently took notice as much as he could of what the holy man was doing. Sometimes he found him outside his cell, elevated in the air to such a height that he could touch his feet. And then weeping he would embrace and kiss Francis's feet, and say: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner, Lk 18:13 and through the merits of this most holy man let me find mercy." Once he found Francis elevated to a very high altitude above the ground in the middle of a grove of beech trees. Once he found him elevated to such a height into the air that he could hardly see him. And then Brother Leo would go down on his knees and stretch out on the ground in the place from which his holy Father in prayer was caught up into the heights. Brother Leo, while praying and as before recommending himself to God through the merits of his holy Father, experienced the greatest visitations of divine grace. Because of these things which Brother Leo had often noticed about the saint, he had such devotion towards him, that very often night and day he examined Francis's hidden zeal with a pious shrewdness.

37 It happened that during the forty days' fast Brother Leo went once very early in the morning just as Saint Francis required. And as soon as he entered and said: "O Lord, open my lips" Ps 51:17 [Vulgate, Ps 50:17] as had been asked by the saint, and the saint did not respond, he saw by the light of the moon which entered through the doorway that the saint was not in his cell. Thinking that he was praying, he looked here and there through the woods. Then he heard Francis speaking. Going closer to hear what the saint was saying, by the light of the moon he saw the saint kneeling with his face raised towards heaven and his arms extended towards God and saying these words. "Who are you, my most dear God, and who am I, a worm Ps 22:7 [Vulgate, Ps 21:7] and your little servant?" He kept repeating this and said nothing else. While Brother Leo watched, he saw one most beautiful flame of fire, very brilliant and delightful to the eyes, descending from the height of the heavens to the top of the head of Saint Francis. A voice came from this flame and spoke with Saint Francis, and Saint Francis replied to the one speaking.

43 Brother Leo was afraid and, retreating, he hid himself, lest he




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 455