The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 547 

22 Brother John was always tranquil of soul and quiet, and he rarely spoke. He was a man of great devotion and prayer; and, in particular, he never returned to his cell after matins. On a certain night after matins when he was praying, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "Brother John, that journey of yours for which you have been waiting now for a long time is finished. Therefore, I announce to you on God's behalf that you may ask for any grace you wish, and that, moreover, you may choose for yourself either one natural day in Purgatory or seven days of affliction in this world."

25 He chose the seven days of affliction and suddenly became ill with many different infirmities. He was tortured by fevers, by pains, by gout, by the cramps of intestinal distress, and by many other weaknesses. But worse than all these, an evil spirit stood facing him, holding a written list of all his faults and defects, and said to him: "Because of all these evil things which you thought and said and did, you are damned." The sick brother forgot all the good things he had done, nor did he remember he was and had been in the Order. He thought only that he was damned, just as the evil spirit was telling him. Therefore, when he was asked by anyone how he was, he replied: "Bad, because I'm damned."

29 On hearing this, the brothers sent for Brother Matteo the Elder of Monte Rubbiano, who was a very holy man who deeply loved Brother John. He arrived on the seventh day of these tribulations, greeted him and said: "My dearest brother, how are you?" He replied: "Bad, because I'm damned." Brother Matteo said: "Don't you remember that you frequently made your confession to me, and I absolved you fully? Don't you remember that you have served God for many years in the Order? Don't you remember that divine mercy exceeds all the sins of the world, and that Christ our blessed Savior paid an infinite price for us? You should have complete confidence that you will be saved, not damned."

32 And then, because the end of the seven days of purgation had arrived, the temptation left him, and in its place came blessing; and with great joy he said: "Brother Matteo, you are tired and it's time to rest, so I beg you, go and rest." As Brother John remained alone with an attendant, suddenly Christ appeared to him with great brilliance and a sweet fragrance, just as he had promised to appear again at the opportune time. And that brother, with hands joined and giving thanks, was united to his Head as an eternally chosen member, whom he had always loved and always desired, the Lord Jesus




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 547