The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 486 

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

XXV
A STATUE LIKE THE STATUE OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR, BUT DRESSED IN A SACKCLOTH, SPEAKS TO BLESSED FRANCIS AND TELLS HIM ABOUT THE FOUR STAGES OF HIS ORDER

1Once when Saint Francis was devoutly praying to the Most High in the place of Saint Mary of the Angels, suddenly there appeared before his bodily eyes a most amazing vision.a There appeared before him an immense statue similar to the statue which King Nebuchadnezzar had seen in dream. It had a head of gold and a very beautiful face. Its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs bronze, its legs were of iron, its feet were partly of iron and partly clay, and its dress was of sackcloth, and this sackcloth seemed to embarrass it greatly. Blessed Francis, gazing at the statue, was thoroughly amazed by its almost indescribable beauty, its extraordinary size, and the embarrassment it seemed to have about the cheap sackcloth which it was wearing. And while he was looking in wonder at its very beautiful and lovely face, that very statue spoke to Saint Francis: "Why are you surprised? God has sent me as an example to you, so that in me you may learn what will happen to your Order.

5"The golden head you see on me with its lovely face: this the beginning of your Order, placed on the heights of evangelical perfection. And just as this element is more precious than other metals, the face more handsome than the rest, and the head's position more outstanding than the other members, so the beginning of your Order will be more precious because of its solid golden charity, more beautiful because of its angelic integrity and more outstanding because of its evangelical poverty which the whole world will admire. And the Queen of Sheba, that is, holy Mother Church, will marvel and her heart will expand, when she sees in those first chosen ones of your Order such beauty of Christ's holiness and such high evangelical poverty and brilliance of spiritual wisdom reflecting as if in angelic mirrors. Blessed will they be who, conforming themselves to Christ, shall strive to imitate the virtues and behavior of those first precious

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 486

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