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 The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 651 

insistence held Him back and with devout tears begged him, saying: "O most sweet Jesus Christ, have mercy on me in my tribulation. Hear me, through the abundance of Your mercy and the truth of Your salvation, and give me the joy of Your face and Your merciful glance, because the whole earth is filled with Your mercy." And Christ departed again and said nothing to him, nor did He give him any consolation; and acted like a mother to a child when she wants him to desire the breast, and makes him come after her crying, so that he will then take it more willingly.

So Brother John with even greater fervor and desire followed Christ, and when he reached Him, the blessed Christ turned to him and looked at him with a happy and kind expression and, opening His most holy and merciful arms, embraced him most sweetly; and as those arms were opened Brother John saw shining rays of light coming from the most sacred breast of the Savior, which illuminated all the woods and his whole self, body and soul.

Then Brother John knelt down at Christ's feet; and the blessed Jesus, as He did to the Magdalene, kindly offered him His foot to kiss; and Brother John, taking it with the greatest reverence, bathed it with so many tears that he truly seemed to be another Magdalene, and said devoutly: "I beg you, my Lord, not to look on my sins, but through Your most holy Passion and the shedding of Your most holy Blood, revive my soul in the grace of Your love; for this is Your commandment, that we love You with our whole heart Lk 10:27 Dt 6:5 and affection, a commandment which no one can fulfill without Your help. Help me, therefore, most loving Son of God, that I may love You with all my heart and with all my strength."

And while Brother John was saying these things at the feet of Christ, his prayer was granted and he received back from Christ that first grace, that is, the flame of divine love, and he felt himself totally renewed and consoled; and realizing that the gift of divine grace had returned within himself, he began to thank the blessed Christ and to kiss His feet devoutly. And then as he was straightening up to look Christ in the face, Jesus reached out and offered him His most holy hands to kiss, and when Brother John had kissed them, he got closer to touch the breast of Jesus and embraced Him and kissed Him, and similarly Christ embraced and kissed him. And in this embracing and kissing, Brother John smelled a fragrance so divine that if all the fragrant spices and every fragrant thing of the world had been gathered together they would have seemed like a stench compared with that fragrance; and in this Brother John was enraptured and consoled and enlightened, and that fragrance remained in his soul for many months.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 651

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