The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 570 

Chapter 3
BECAUSE OF AN EVIL THOUGHT THAT SAINT FRANCIS HAD AGAINST BROTHER BERNARD HE COMMANDED THE SAME BROTHER BERNARD TO WALK THREE TIMES OVER HIS NECK AND MOUTH WITH HIS FEET

Sir Saint Francis, the most devout servant of the Crucified, had become almost blind and saw little because of severe penance and constant weeping. One time among others he left the place where he was and went to a place where Brother Bernard was, to speak with him about divine things. On reaching the place, he found that he was in prayer in the woods, completely lifted up and joined with God. So Saint Francis went into the woods and called him: "Come," he said, "and talk to this blind man." And Brother Bernard did not reply at all, since he was a man of great contemplation and had his mind suspended and lifted up to God. But he had a singular grace in speaking of God, as Francis had experienced more than once; and it was for this reason that he desired to speak with him. After a pause, he called him a second and third time in the same way. And each time Brother Bernard did not hear and did not reply and did not come to him. So Saint Francis left, a little discouraged, surprised, and unhappy within himself that Brother Bernard, called three times, did not come to him.

Leaving with this thought, Saint Francis, when he had gone a little way, said to his companion: "Wait here for me." And he went away to a solitary place and, throwing himself down in prayer, prayed to God to reveal to him why Brother Bernard did not reply to him. And while he was there, a voice from God came to him that said this: "O poor little man, what are you upset about? Should a person leave God for a creature? When you called him, Brother Bernard was joined to me. And therefore he could not come to you, nor respond to you. So do not be surprised if he could not answer you. He was so much outside himself that he did not hear anything you said." As Saint Francis received this answer from God he immediately returned to Brother Bernard in a great hurry, to accuse himself humbly of the thought that he had against him.

And seeing him coming, Brother Bernard went to him and threw himself at his feet. And then Saint Francis made him get up and told him with great humility about the thought and the irritation he had against him, and how God had answered him about that. And he concluded in this way: "I command you by holy obedience that you do what I will command you." Brother Bernard, fearing that Saint Francis might command something excessive, as he usually did,

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 570

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