The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 493 

spirit to everything wicked. Now that leper not only hurled terrible curses at those who were serving him and fired insults at them, but, even worse, wounded them with all kinds of beatings and blows. Moreover, what was dreadful and evil, the leper blasphemed the blessed Christ, His most blessed Mother, and other saints. Although the brothers patiently tried their best to store up merit from those insults and blows, nevertheless their consciences could not stand the blasphemies lest they seem to be participating in such crimes. Therefore, they decided to abandon this leper so that they should not become supporters of a blasphemer of God and a vessel of the devil.

11 But they did not want to do what they had decided unless they first explained all this thoroughly to Saint Francis, who was staying in another place. After listening to them, Saint Francis made his way to that leper and on entering, said to him: "May God give you peace, dearest brother." Nm 6:26 The leper responded: "What kind of peace do I have? God, in fact, took all peace from me, because I'm all rotten." Saint Francis said: "Dear brother, be patient, because the evils inflicted on our bodies here provide the salvation for the soul, if they are endured with serenity." The leper replied: "How can I patiently bear it, when my pain lasts night and day? For not only am I being consumed and tortured by my illness, but I am being terribly afflicted by the brothers you gave me as servants. None of them serves me as he should."

15 Through the Holy Spirit, Saint Francis knew that the man was being disturbed by an evil spirit, so he went and pleaded devoutly with the Lord for him. After his prayer, he returned to the sick man and said: "Dear bother, I want to take care of you since you're not content with the others." The leper replied: "I like that. But what more can you do than the others?" Saint Francis said: "I'll do whatever you want." "I want you to wash me," the leper said. "I stink all over so much that I can't stand myself."

17 Saint Francis immediately had some water heated with many sweet-smelling herbs. Undressing the leper, Saint Francis began to wash him with his holy hands, while another brother poured the water. As his body was being washed on the outside, on the inside his soul was being cleansed. When the leper started being healed, he suddenly began to weep bitterly out of deep remorse. And just as the leper's body was washed with water and cleansed from leprosy, so his conscience was baptized with tears and cleansed from all malice. When he was completely washed and healed externally, he was perfectly anointed and healed internally, and then burst into tears with such remorse that he wept and cried out in a very voice, saying he was worthy of hell because of the insults he heaped on the brothers, for the blows and beating he gave them, and for his impatience and

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 493

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