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 The Life of Saint Francis by Julian of Speyer - 397 

always praise, especially praise of the Savior, while himself praising God, not only advised people to praise him, but also earnestly invited birds, beasts and all other creatures to do the same, calling them by the names “brothers” or “sisters,” to the praise of the Maker of all.

38But he who had totally subjected himself to the will of the Creator, with good reason used to give orders also to creatures inferior to himself, invoking the name Acts 22:16 of the Most High, and he knew from frequent and personal experience that they would be obedient to him.

To refer to a few of many such incidents, it happened that one day while at the town of Alviano, though he wished to explain the Word of God to the people who had assembled there, he was unable to do so because he heard all the noise coming from a flock of swallows nesting there. To the chattering swallows he spoke as follows: “My sister swallows, now it is time Tb 12:20 for me to speak my piece, because up to now you have spoken enough indeed; from now on, until the word of the Lord is finished 2 Chr 36:21 stop your talking altogether!” They, as though they had reason, immediately quieted down, and did not leave the place until the preaching had been completed. At this marvelous sight, all those present glorified God, and wished at least to touch the blessed man’s garments.

39Again and again, the beasts of the forest also ran to Blessed Francis as to the safest port, as though, led by reason, they knew his kind feelings towards them.

Once while he was staying at the town of Greccio, he saw a rabbit caught alive in a snare brought in by a brother. Moved by great pity at this sight, that most gentle man said to the hare, “Brother rabbit, come to me! Why did you allow yourself to be deceived like this?” When he was released by the brother, the rabbit, as if confident, immediately ran to the man of God and rested in his lap Lk 16:23 just like a tame animal. As often as it was placed on the ground by the blessed man so it could run away, it returned to him, not seeking any other freedom, until at last Francis commanded that it be carried away to a nearby woods by the brothers.

While he once stayed on an island in the Lake of Perugia, Francis did something similar to a little wild rabbit.

40Similarly, once while he was sitting in a boat on the Lake of Rieti, a large fish, commonly called a tinca, was given to him while it was still alive. The holy man received it joyfully and kindly, not to eat it, but to set it free. He called it “Brother Fish,” and while praying and blessing the name of the Lord Ps 113:2 [Vulgate, Ps 112:2] he put it back into the water. While he was persisting

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


12Igitur ab illo tempore vir Dei, cuius ori semper laus affuit, laus utique Salvatoris, non solum homines ut laudarent ipse laudans admonuit, 13sed et aves et bestias et quaslibet creaturas alias, fratrum vel sororum nominibus nuncupans ad omnium Conditoris laudem sollicitus invitavit.

38 1Sed et hic qui totum se nutui Creatoris subiecerat, non immerito creaturis sibi inferioribus, Altissimi nomen invocans, imperabat, quarum etiam obedientiam ipsa frequenter experientia cognoscebat.

2Et ut referam pauca de multis, accidit die quadam apud castrum quod dicitur Albianum, ut cum Dei verbum populo illic adunato proponere vellet, prae nimio strepitu et multitudine hirundinum ibidem nidificantium audiri non posset. 3Quibus ita garrientibus taliter est locutus: « Sorores meae hirundines, iam. tempus est ut et ego loquar, quia vos quidem satis usque nunc estis locutae; sed deinceps, usque dum sermo Domini compleatur loqui omnino cessate! ». 4At illae, veluti rationis capaces, continuo tacuerunt, nec ab ipso loco, donec consummaretur praedicatio, se moverunt. 5Quo viso miraculo, cuncti qui aderant Deum glorificabant et beati viri saltem vestimenta contingere cupiebant.

39 1Confugiebant quoque saepius ad beatum Franciscum bestiae silvestres, veluti ad portum tutissimum, ac si ratione ductae ipsius erga se cognoscerent pietatis affectum.

2Nam cum moram faceret apud castellum nomine Graecium, quemdam lepusculum laqueo captum vivum a quodam fratre vidit adductum; 3ad quem pietate magna permotus, sic ait vir ille mitissimus: « Frater lepuscule, veni ad me! Quare sic te decipi permisisti? ». 4Qui dimissus a fratre, statim veluti securus ad virum Dei cucurrit et in sinu eius, domiti animalis more, quievit. 5Quoties autem a beato viro super terram depositus est ut abiret, toties ad illum, non aliam libertatem quaerendo, recurrit, donec tandem ad vicinum nemus ipsum a fratribus asportari praecepit.

6De cuniculo quoque, quod animal valde indomabile est, huic simile quiddam fecit, quando in insula laci Perusini tempore quodam mansit.

40 1Similiter quadam vice, cum in lacu Reatino resideret in navi, piscis quidam non parvus, qui vulgo tinca vocatur, vivus oblatus est ei. 2Quem ipse vir sanctus non manducandum sed libertati restituendum hilariter et benigne recipiens, ipsum fratrem piscem vocavit, oransque et nomen Domini benedicens, in aquam reposuit. 3Persistente autem ipso in oratione et laudibus,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 397

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