The Kinship of Saint Francis - 724 

charity, more beautiful because of its angelic integrity and more outstanding because of its evangelical poverty which the whole world will admire. And the Queen of Sheba, that is, holy Mother Church, will marvel and her heart will expand, when she sees in those first chosen ones of your Order such beauty of Christ's holiness and such high evangelical poverty and brilliance of spiritual wisdom reflecting as if in angelic mirrors. Blessed will they be who, conforming themselves to Christ, shall strive to imitate the virtues and behavior of those first precious stones, those golden heads, clinging more to their heavenly beauty than to the deceit of worldly glitter.

"The chest and arms of silver will be the second stage of the Order, which will be as inferior to the first stage as silver is inferior to gold. And just as silver has great value, brightness and melodious sound, so in that second stage there will be those of value in divine Scriptures, brilliant in the light of sanctity and melodious in sounding the word of God. They will be eminent, as some of them will be lifted to the offices of pope and cardinal, and many of them, of bishop. And since human strength is represented by the chest and arms, so God at that time will raise up in this Order two men, silvery in learning and shining in virtue, who both by their knowledge and their virtue will defend this religion, and also the universal Church, from many attacks of demons and from various assaults of wicked men. But even though that will be a remarkable generation, it will not reach that most perfect stage of those who came first, but will be to it what silver is to gold.

"After this there will be a third stage in the Order, like the bronze belly and bronze thighs. Just as bronze is considered less valuable than silver, so those of the third stage will be less than those of the first and second stages. And although, like bronze, they will be spread in great quantity throughout the whole wide world, they will be those whose god is their belly and the glory of the religion will confound those who delight only in things of earth. Because of their learning, they will have tongues with a wonderful sound, like brass, but because they will worship the belly and thighs—sad to say—the Lord will consider them, as the Apostle says, like noisy brass, a clanging cymbal, for they will boom heavenly words to others and will generate spiritual sons as if from the thighs; and after showing the fountain of life to others, they themselves will hug the ground on a dry belly.

"After this there will come a fourth stage which will be fearful and terrifying. This is now shown to you in the iron legs. For just as

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 724

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