The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 577 

that he should give him victory over the demon. And while Saint Francis was praying devoutly in this way God one day replied to him: "Francis, do not be afraid, because all the temptations by which Brother Bernard is to be attacked are permitted by God as an exercise of virtue for him and a crown of merit, and he will finally have the victory over all his enemies, because he is one of the guests of the banquet of the Kingdom of heaven." At this reply, Saint Francis had great joy Mt 2:10 and thanked God. And from that moment on he always bore greater love and reverence toward him.

And he clearly showed this toward him not only during his life but also at his death. For when Saint Francis was approaching death like that holy patriarch Jacob, with his devoted sons standing around him, grieving and tearful at the departure of such a lovable father, he asked: "Where is my firstborn? Gn 27:4 Come to me, dear son, so my soul may bless you before I die." Then Brother Bernard said secretly to Brother Elias, who was Vicar of the Order: "Father, go to the right hand of the Saint, so he may bless you." Brother Elias placed himself at his right hand and Saint Francis, who had lost his sight from so many tears, put his right hand on the head of Brother Elias and said: "This is not the head of the firstborn, Brother Bernard." Then Brother Bernard went to him, at his left hand, and Saint Francis crossed his arms like a cross, and then placed his right hand on the head of Brother Bernard, and the left on the head Gn 48:14 of Brother Elias, and said: "Brother Bernard, may the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you with every spiritual and heavenly blessing in Christ, Eph 1:3 since you are the firstborn chosen in this holy Order to give an evangelical example, following Christ in evangelical poverty. For you not only gave away what was yours and distributed it entirely and freely to the poor for love of Christ, but you also offered your own self to God in this Order as a fragrant sacrifice. Therefore may you be blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ and by me, His poor little servant, with eternal blessings, whether moving or staying, waking or sleeping, living or dying. And may who- ever blesses you be filled with blessings: whoever curses you will not remain unpunished. May you be the first among your brothers, and let all the brothers obey your command. You have permission to receive into this Order anyone you wish, and no brother is to have lordship over you, and let it be permitted for you to go and stay wherever you please."

And after the death of Saint Francis the brothers loved and revered Brother Bernard as a venerable father And as he approached death, many brothers from diverse regions of the world came to him. Among them came that hierarchic and divine Brother Giles. When he saw Brother Bernard, he said with great joy: "Sursum corda,

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 577

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