The Life of Saint Francis by Julian of Speyer - 392 

Chapter VI

HIS KEEPING OF POVERTY, HIS ABSTINENCE, AND THE ADMIRABLE RIGOR OF HIS LIFE; AND HOW HE FLED PEOPLE’S PRAISE AND WISHED TO BE THOUGHT OF NO ACCOUNT.

32Francis, the holy confessor of Christ, took every precaution that, crossing over the bounds of holy and highest poverty, he would not drift in any way toward superfluous things. The result was that, tending always more to being in need than to abundant sufficiency or excess, even to the point of wanting basic necessities, he would scarcely leave even a dish in the house.

What shall we say about delicate foods or the drinking of wine, or even the abundance of other cheap foods, since, on the very rare occasions he ate cooked foods, he mixed them with ashes or cold water and did not even drink enough water? For he claimed it was most difficult to satisfy need and not become a slave to pleasure. Quite often, when he was going around preaching penance, he took refreshment at the homes of secular people who invited him. On account of the words of the gospel about eating and drinking what was set before them, Lk 10:7 he would put his hand to his mouth, appearing to be eating the meat, but rarely tasting even a little bit of it, he would unobtrusively put the rest in his lap.

When he was forced to sleep, the bare ground was his bed, with only his short tunic in between, and he would more often sleep sitting than lying down, with his head on wood or stone.

It once happened that, because of an illness, he ate some chicken, but after his strength returned, he strictly ordered one of the brothers to lead him through the center of the city of Assisi with a rope tied around his neck like a robber, and to cry out like the town crier: “Behold! Look at the glutton who has fattened himself with the flesh of poultry which he has, unknown to you, eaten in secret.”a It so happened that many,

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Iuliani de Spira Officium Sancti Francisci, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Caput VI

De paupertatis custodia, et abstinentia, et vitae illius mirando rigore; et qualiter laudem hominum fugiens se vilissimum voluit reputari.

32 1Sanctus Christi confessor Franciscus omni studio praecavebat, ne, sanctae summaeque paupertatis metas transiliens, ad superflua quoquo modo difflueret, ita ut, magis semper ad indigentiam quam ad abundantem sufficientiam vel excessum declinans, usque ad maximae necessitatis exigentiam, vix vasculum saltem in domo relinqueret.

2Quid de cibariis delicatis aut vini potu, quidve de aliorum etiam vilium superfluitate dicamus, cum et rarissime coctis utens, ea cineribus vel aqua frigida commisceret, et de ipsa sufficienter aqua non biberet? 3Difficillimum enim asserebat necessitati satisfacere et voluptati non obedire. 4Saepius quoque, cum poenitentiam praedicans circuiret et invitatus refectionem in domibus saecularium sumeret, visus quidem comedere carnes, ad os manum ducebat, 5sed tantum propter Evangelii verbum, quo dicitur: Edentes et bibentes quae apud illos sunt, minimum quid perraro degustans, reliquas in sinum subtili cautela mittebat.

6Nuda humus dormire coacto, tunicula tantum interposita, lectus erat; et saepius sedens, non iacens, inclinato ad lignum vel lapidem capite, dormitabat.

7Accidit quoque ut, infirmitatis necessitate de pullo quadam vice manducans, viribus postmodum utcumque resumptis, cuidam fratrum districte praeciperet ut, collo ipsius fune ligato, eum tamquam latronem per medium civitatis Assisii duceret et praeconia nihilominus voce clamaret: 8 « Ecce, videte glutonem, qui se gallinarum carnibus impinguavit, quas secreto vobis ignorantibus manducavit ». 9Factumque est ut multi,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 392

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