The Kinship of Saint Francis - 708 

Afterwards blessed Francis said to him: "Brother, I was likewise tempted to have books. But, in order to know God's will about this, I took the book where the Lord's Gospels are written and prayed to the Lord to deign to show it to me at the first opening of the book. After my prayer was ended, on the first opening of the holy Gospel this verse of the holy Gospel came to me: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the others all things are treated in parables."

And he said: "There are many who willingly climb to the heights of knowledge; that person be blessed who renounces it for the love of God."

After many months, when blessed Francis was at the church of Saint Mary of the Angels, at a cell behind the house on the road, that brother spoke to him for a third time about the psalter. Blessed Francis said to him: "Go and do this as your minister tells you." When he heard this, that brother began to go back by the same road he had come.

Blessed Francis remained on the road, and began to think over what he had said to that brother. Suddenly he yelled after him: "Wait for me, Brother, wait!" He went up to him and said: "Come back with me and show me the place where I told you to do with the psalter what your minister tells you."

When they came to the spot where he had said this, blessed Francis knelt in front of the brother and said to him: "Mea culpa, brother, mea culpa. Whoever wishes to be a Lesser Brother must have nothing but one tunic, a cord, and short trousers the Rule allows him; and for those forced by manifest necessity or illness, shoes."

Whenever brothers came to him to ask advice about such things, he would give them the same answer. For this reason he used to say: "A person is only as learned as his actions show; and a religious is only as good a preacher as his actions show;" as if to say a good tree is known only by its fruit."

22c Therefore the most holy father used to say: "In books the testimony of the Lord, not value, should be sought, edification rather than abundance." He wanted a few kept and, in common, available to the mind and need of the brothers.


23 When the brother ministers urged him to allow something at least in common, so that such a great number would have some resources




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 708