The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 456 

what the words meant. Yet he saw Saint Francis extend his hand three times towards the flame. When the flame withdrew, Brother Leo began to withdraw completely lest the saint notice his presence. But Saint Francis hearing the sound of his feet stepping on twigs, said: "I command you, whoever you are, in virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ to stand still. Don't move from the spot." Because of the saint's oath Brother Leo immediately stopped and said: "It is I, Father." Afterwards Brother Leo said that at that moment he was so terrified that if the earth had opened up before him, he would have willingly hidden there. For he feared that, if he offended the saint, he would lose his gracious companionship. Such was his love for the saint and the confidence he had in him, that he believed that he could in no way live without him. Because of this, whenever anyone would speak about the saint, Brother Leo would say: "Beloved, all the saints are great, but Saint Francis is also among the great saints because of the miracles which God works through him." When the saint recognized Brother Leo's voice, he said: "Brother Little Lamb, why have you come to this place? I told you many times not to come looking for me, didn't I? Under obedience I ask you to tell me whether you saw anything." Leo answered: "Father, I heard you speaking, talking and with much wonder frequently praying: 'Who are you, my most dear God, and who am I, a worm and your little servant.' And then I saw a flame of fire descending from heaven and speaking with you. And I saw you replying to the voice many times and extending your hand to it three times, but what you said, I do not know."

52 Brother Leo knelt and with great reverence asked the saint: "I ask you, Father, to explain for me the words which I heard and tell me what I did not hear." Saint Francis had a great love for Brother Leo because of his purity and his gentleness, and he said: "O Brother Little Lamb of Jesus Christ, two lights were opened for me in what you saw and heard: one, a knowledge of the Creator, and the other a knowledge of myself. When I said: 'Who are you, Lord my God, and who am I,' then I was in the light of contemplation in which I saw the abyss of infinite divine Goodness and the tearful depths of my own vileness. Therefore, I kept on saying: 'Who are you, O Lord, supremely wise and supremely good and supremely merciful, that you visit me who am utterly vile, an abominable and despised little worm.' The flame was God who was speaking to me as he spoke to Moses in a flame. And among other things which God then said, he asked me to give him three things. I replied: 'I am totally yours, O Lord, and I have nothing except a tunic and a cord and trousers, and these are likewise yours. Therefore, what can I offer to the greatness




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 456