The Kinship of Saint Francis - 707 

and the bed on which he was lying. And with a great stench he expired.


22 There was once a novice who could read the psalter, although not very well, and he sought permission from the minister. But he did not wish to have it unless he first had permission from blessed Francis, especially since he had heard that blessed Francis did not want his brothers to be desirous of learning and books.

22b One day blessed Francis happened to come to the hermitage

where that novice was staying. Then that novice said to blessed Francis: "Father, it would be a great consolation for me to have a psalter. And, although the general minister has given me permission to have it, I still want to have it with your knowledge." Blessed Francis answered him: "The Emperor Charles, Roland, and Oliver, and all the paladins and valiant knights who were mighty in battle, pursuing unbelievers with great toil and fatigue even to death, had a glorious and memorable victory for themselves, and, finally, died fighting as holy martyrs for the faith in Christ. And there are many who want to receive honor and praise by only relating what they did. Thus there are many among us who want to receive honor and praise by recounting and preaching about them." And after explaining and applying this to the proposal of that novice, he said: "The saints have done these deeds, and we want to receive honor and glory by recounting and preaching about them," as if to say, "Knowledge puffs up, but charity builds."

Another time, when blessed Francis was sitting near a fire,

warming himself, the same novice spoke to him again about a psalter. And blessed Francis told him: "After you have a psalter, you will desire and want to have a breviary; after you have a breviary, you will sit in a chair of authority like a teacher or a great prelate,a telling your brother: 'Bring me the breviary.' "

Speaking in this way with great intensity of spirit, blessed Francis took some ashes in his hand, put them on his head rubbing them around his head as though he were washing his head. He said: "A breviary, a breviary, a breviary!" The brother was stunned and ashamed.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 707