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 The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 608 

Mother, so they decided to abandon that leper entirely. But they did not want to do this until they explained this in detail to Saint Francis, who was then staying in a place near there.

After they explained this, Saint Francis went to that perverse leper and, coming up to him, greeted him, saying: "My dear brother, may God give you peace." Nm 6:26 The leper responded: "What peace can I have from God? He has taken from me peace and every good thing, and has made me all decayed and stinking!" Saint Francis said: "My son, be patient, because the illnesses of the body are given to us by God in this world for salvation of the soul, so they have great value, when they are borne patiently." The sick man replied: "How can I patiently bear the constant pain that torments me night and day? And I am suffering not only from my illness, but the brothers you gave me to serve me make me worse, and don't serve me as they should." Then by revelation Saint Francis knew that this leper was possessed by an evil spirit, so he went and placed himself in prayer, and prayed to God devoutly for him.

After his prayer, he returned to him and said: "My son, I want to serve you myself, since you are not content with the others." The sick man said: "I like that. But what more can you do than the others?" Saint Francis answered: "I'll do whatever you want." The leper said: "I want you to wash me all over. I stink so bad I can't stand myself." Then Saint Francis quickly had some water heated with many fragrant herbs. He undressed the man, and began to wash him with his holy hands, while another brother poured the water. By a divine miracle, where Saint Francis touched him with his holy hands the leprosy went away, and there remained only perfectly healed flesh. And as the flesh began to heal, the soul also began to heal. When the leper saw himself being cured, he began to feel great compunction and repentance for his sins, and began to weep very bitterly. So while externally the body was being cleansed of leprosy by washing with water, so internally his soul was being cleansed of sin by contrition and tears.

Completely healed in both body and soul, he humbly accused himself of his fault and said, weeping out loud, "Woe to me! I'm worthy of hell for the injuries and insults I said and did to the brothers, for my impatience and blasphemies against God." For fifteen days he persevered in bitter weeping for his sins and asking mercy from God, and made a full confession to the priest. Saint Francis, seeing such an evident miracle, which God had performed through his hands, thanked God and then left from there, going to a faraway country, because through humility he wished to flee all glory, and in all his actions he sought only the honor and glory of God, not his own.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 608

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