The Kinship of Saint Francis - 711 

this account these things cannot be observed by the brothers. In fact many brothers have become so blind that they think people are more edified and moved to devotion by these ways than by the former ones. And it seems to them more fitting to live and behave according to these ways. Therefore they despise and consider worthless the way of holy simplicity and poverty, which were the beginning and foundation of our religion. Thinking this over, we firmly believe that they displease you. But we are greatly amazed. Why, if they displease you, do you tolerate them and do not correct them?"

"May the Lord forgive you," blessed Francis responded to him, "for wanting to be against me and opposed to me and involve me in these things that do not pertain to my office. As long as I held the office of prelate for the brothers, and they remained faithful to their calling and profession, and, although I was always ill from the beginning of my conversion, I satisfied them with a little of my care, by my example and preaching. But afterwards I realized that the Lord multiplied the number of the brothers, and that, due to tepidity and lack of spirit, they began to turn away from the straight and sure way which they had been accustomed to walk. They would take the broader road that leads to death, without paying attention to their profession and calling and good example. They refused to give up this perilous and fatal way that had begun despite my preaching, my admonitions, and my example that I consistently gave them. I entrusted the prelacy and governance of the religion to the Lord and to the ministers.

"However, although I renounced the office of prelacy among the brothers, I excused myself before the brothers at the general chapter saying that, because of my illness I could not take care of them and care for them. And yet, if the brothers would have been willing to walk according to my will, I would not want them to have any other minister except me to help and comfort them until the day of my death. As long as a faithful and good subject knows and observes the will of his prelate, then the prelate has to have little concern about him. Rather, I would be so happy at the goodness of the brothers, both on their account and my own. Thus, even if I were lying sick in bed, it would not be considered a burden to me to satisfy them, because my office of prelacy is only spiritual, namely to overcome vices, and spiritually correct and cure them. Inasmuch as I cannot overcome and correct them by preaching, admonitions, and example, I do not want to become an executioner who punishes and scourges, like the powers of this world.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 711