The Kinship of Saint Francis - 725 

iron breaks up and separates bronze, silver, and gold, so this stage will have the hardness and crookedness of iron. Because of the coldness and the terrible rust and the iron-hard ways of that perilous time, everything will be handed over to oblivion which had been built up in the Church of Christ good: the golden charity of the first ones, the silvery truth of the second ones, and the bronze or resounding gift of speech of the third ones. Nevertheless, just as the legs hold up the body, so they, by some rusty strength of hypocrisy, will hold up the body of the Order. And both the belly and these iron legs will be hidden under clothes, because they will hide under the habit of the religion: in fact they will wear a pious habit, but on the inside they will be ravenous wolves. And such as these, rusty and hard as iron, serving only the belly, are indeed hidden from the world but visible to the Lord, because they will reduce to nothing those precious goods by the hammer of their crooked life. Therefore, these like the hardest iron will be pounded by the fire of tribulations and the hammers of dreadful trials. They will be beaten not only by demons but also by worldly rulers with fire and hot coals so that the powerful will suffer powerful torments. And because they sinned by irreverent hardness, they will suffer hard torments from the irreverent. But because of these trials they will grow so impatient that, just as iron resists all metals, so they will obstinately resist not only secular powers but spiritual ones as well, thinking that, like iron, they can crush all things. For this they will greatly displease God.

"The fifth stage will be partly of iron as regards those hypocrites just mentioned and partly of dirt as regards those who will totally immerse themselves in worldly affairs. Just as you have seen in the feet that brick, baked from clay, and iron appear together, though they cannot be fused in any way, so it will be in the last stage of this Order. An abominable division will occur between the ambitious hypocrites and those made of brick, baked from the clay of temporal things and the concupiscence of the flesh; like iron with brick, they will not be able to join together because of their great differences. They will despise not only the Gospel and the Rule, but also with their brick and iron feet, that is, with crooked and unclean longings, they will trample underfoot all the discipline of this holy Order. And just as brick and iron divide from each other, so many of these brothers will be separated from each other both inside and out: inside, by living in conflict, and outside, by clinging to factions and secular rulers. Therefore, they will be so displeasing to everyone that they will hardly be able to enter towns or stay there and,

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 725

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