The Life of Saint Francis by Julian of Speyer - 396 

Chapter VIII

HOW HE PREACHED TO THE BIRDS, HOW DUMB ANIMALS WERE OBEDIENT TO HIM AND FLED TO HIM CONFIDENTLY AND THE WATER THAT WAS CHANGED INTO WINE FOR HIM.

37 Blessed Francis was a man completely filled with a dovelike simplicity. Once, when he was going through the Spoleto valley, it happened that near a town named Bevagna, he saw a huge multitude of various kinds of birds all flocked together. He had a great fondness for all creatures because of his special love of the Creator. Leaving his companions on the road, he quickly ran to the spot where the birds had gathered, and, as was his custom, greeted them as though they had human reason. Observing, moreover, that they did not leave the place on his account, he marveled and drew near to them, but even then, when he got there, none of them withdrew, which filled him with great joy. With great care, the man of God urged them to pay attention to the Word of God. Among many other things, he set forth for them in simple fashion things like these: “My brother birds, you who are noble among all creatures are especially bound to love and praise your Creator who clothes you in feathers, lifts you up from the earth by your wings, and provides purer mansions for you in the air. Though you neither sow, reap, nor gather into barns, Mt 6:26 he nourishes you without any trouble to you, and abundantly provides you with everything that’s good for you.” The little birds themselves opened their beaks, and stretched out their wings and necks, wonderfully exulting after their own fashion and gazing upon the holy man of God who propounded such things to them, seemed to be paying careful attention to his words. Saint Francis, passing through their midst and returning, touched them at will with his tunic, but they did not move from the spot, until he gave them leave by blessing them with the sign of the cross, and himself departed. Lk 4:30

Then he began to accuse himself of great negligence before the brothers because he had previously neglected to preach to the birds. From that time on, then, the man of God, on whose lips there was always

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


Caput VIII

Quomodo volucribus praedicavit; et qualiter bruta sibi animalia obediebant et ad ipsum secure confugiebant; et de aqua in vinum sibi conversa.

37 1Beatus Franciscus, vir columbina simplicitate plenissimus, dum more solito quadam vice per vallem Spoletanam transitum faceret, accidit ut non longe a castello, cui nomen Mevanium, multitudinem magnam diversi generis avium convolasse videret. 2Et quoniam ob praecipuum Creatoris amorem miro in omnes etiam creaturas ducebatur affectu, sociis in via relictis, alacriter contra locum ubi stabant adunatae cucurrit, easque, prout ei consuetudinis erat, veluti rationis humanae participes salutavit. 3Videns autem quod propter ipsum loco non cederent, admirans usque ad illas accessit; sed nec tunc una quidem illarum, dum adveniret, abscessit. 4Repletus itaque gaudio magno, vir Dei sollicite illas ad audiendum Domini verbum intendere monuit, 5et his similia simpliciter eis inter alia plura proposuit: « Fratres mei volucres, multum tenemini vestrum laudare et diligere Creatorem, 6qui plumis vos induit, qui pennis a terra vos subvehit, qui vobis inter creaturas nobilibus in puriore mansiones aëre tribuit; 7qui nec serentes nec metentes, nec in horrea congregantes, absque vestra sollicitudine vos enutrit et abundanter in omnibus quae vobis sunt opportuna providit ». 8Ipsae vero aviculae, rostris apertis, alis collisque protensis, suo modo mirabiliter gestientes, sanctum Dei talia proponentem intuebantur, et verbis suis diligenter intendere videbantur. 9Sanctus vero Franciscus, per medium illarum transiens et revertens, tunica eas tangebat ut voluit; 10nec illis quidem se prius a loco moventibus, donec benedictione cum signo crucis et licentia eis data, similiter ipse recessit.

11Tunc coepit se magnae negligentiae coram fratribus incusare, eo quod hactenus omiserat avibus praedicare. 12Igitur ab illo tempore vir Dei, cuius ori semper laus affuit,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 396

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