The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 596 

hundred, further on eighty together, all busy in speaking of God, in prayer, in works of charity. And they remained in such silence with such modesty that no sound or loud noise could be heard. Marveling over such a crowd gathered as one in such order, he said with tears and great devotion: "This is truly the camp and the army of the knights of God!" In that great multitude no one was heard telling stories or lies, but wherever a group of brothers gathered, they either prayed or said the Office, or wept over their own sins or those of their benefactors or spoke about the salvation of souls. There in that field there were huts of mats and reeds, separated into groups for the brothers of different Provinces. For this reason, that Chapter was called the Chapter of Mats or of Reeds. Their beds were the bare ground and some had a little straw; their pillows were stones or pieces of wood. For this reason there was such devotion toward them among those who heard or saw them, and such was their reputation for holiness that many came from the pope's Court, which was then at Perugia; and from other areas of the Spoleto Valley came many counts, barons, knights and noblemen, common people, cardinals, bishops, abbots and many other clerics, to see such a holy and great and humble gathering of so many holy men together, the likes of which the world had never seen. They came particularly to see the head and most holy father of that holy people, who had robbed the world of such beautiful prey and gathered such a lovely and devout flock to follow the footprints of the true shepherd, Jesus Christ.

After the whole General Chapter was gathered, the holy father of all and general minister, Saint Francis, in fervor of spirit proclaimed the word of God in a loud voice, preaching what the Holy Spirit gave him to say. And he offered these words as the theme of the sermon: "My sons, we have promised great things to God; greater things are promised to us by God if we observe what we have promised Him: let us await confidently those promised to us. Brief is the delight of the world; but the punishment that follows is eternal. The suffering of this life is small, but the glory of the other life is infinite." He preached most devoutly on these words, comforting and encouraging all the brothers to obedience and reverence for Holy Mother Church, to brotherly love; to pray to God for all the people, to have patience in the hardships of the world and temperance in prosperity, to keep purity and angelic chastity, to have harmony and peace with God, the people and their own conscience, to love and observance of most holy poverty. Then he said to them, "By virtue of holy obedience, I command all you gathered here: have no care or anxiety about what to eat or drink or other things necessary for the body, but to concentrate only on praying and praising God; and leave all care for




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 596