The Life of Saint Francis by Julian of Speyer - 409 

eloquence. Continually dependent, in all hopefulness, on the generous Providence of the Lord alone, he had no confidence at all in his own works. He spoke with the same constancy of mind to the many as to the few, and preached with as much diligence to one as to many.

He had no fear of anyone’s status, rather he spoke calmly to the wise and the uneducated, to the great and the small. He preached very tranquilly to a gathering of cardinals before the Lord Pope Honorius, not so much moving them to laughter by the simplicity of his words as wringing from them a sigh of remorse at the marvelous fervor of his inspiration.

59Therefore, that most holy man, who had come to know how to divide his time usefully between himself and those around him, on a certain occasion left the crowds of secular people, sought out a place of solitude, and took a few companions with him, in order to defend his repose from all the tumult of those who thronged to him. For, on occasion, he longed to have time free for God alone, and to shake off any dust Lk 10:11 he had picked up while dealing with men. And after his mind was quiet for a little while, he tasted the sweeter fruit of contemplation, then with all his heart he longed to know what to do to be able to make the sacrifice Sir 35:4 of himself more pleasing to the Lord. The man of singular virtue had already reached the goal when he believed he had scarcely begun. His greatest desire had always been to extend himself to the things which lay before him, and to count the past as nothing.

Therefore, he desired still to endure anew all the sufferings of body and all the agonies of mind so that every wish of the Divine Purpose might be more perfectly fulfilled Is 44:28 in him.a

60And since his pursuit of this desire was as continual as it was fervent, one day he piously went up to the altar in the hermitage where he was staying and, with reverence and fear, placed on it the book of the Gospels. Then, humbly prostrating himself in prayer before the altar, he cried out to the Lord Ps 3:5 with as much devotion as he was able, that he be given a sign of God’s purpose about himself at his first opening of the book.

Finally, rising up from prayer with a contrite heart, Lk 22:45 Ps 51:19 [Vulgate, Ps 50:19] he strengthened himself with the sign of the cross, and reverently took the book from the altar and opened it. When he was first confronted with the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, he was distrustful lest this might have happened

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


2sed nec tunc quidem defectum suum confiteri coram cunctis erubuit, et sic subito mira verborum eloquentia affluere coepit. 3sic spe tota iugiter in solius Domini provida largitate suspensus, de, propria penitus diffidebat industria, eademque mentis constantia multis loquebatur ut paucis, eadem diligentia uni soli praedicavit ut multis.

4Nullius quoque verebatur personam, quin aequanimiter sapientibus et indoctis, magnisque loqueretur et parvis. 5Nam et cardinalibus coram, domino papa Honorio congregatis constantissime praedicavit, non utique tam verborum simplicitate movens ad risum, quam mirando spiritus fervore compunctionis extorquens suspirium.

59 1Igitur vir iste sanctissimus, qui sibi et proximis utiliter dividere tempora novit, quadam vice relictis ex more saecularium turbis, locura solitudinis petiit, paucosque, qui suam ab omni incursantium tumultu quietem defenderent, secum duxit. 2Cupiebat enim ad tempus soli Deo vacare, et si quid pulveris ex hominum conversatione forsitan contraxisset, extergere. 3Cumque, mentis aliquantulum continuata quiete, contemplationis fructum sapidius degustasset, totis praecordiis desiderabat agnoscere, quid agendo sacrificium de se Domino magis gratum posset offerre. 4Iam vir mirandae virtutis consummaverat, cum se adhuc vix incepisse credebat. 5Summum eius studium fuerat ad anteriora se semper extendere, et retroacta quasi in nihilum computare.

6Cupiebat igitur adhuc de novo omnes corporis passiones cunctasque mentis pati angustias, quo perfectius compleretur in ipso beneplaciti divini voluntas.

60 1Cumque huic desiderio quanto diutius tanto ferventius anhelaret die quadam in eremitorio quo manebat ad altare devotus accessit; super quod Evangeliorum librum cum reverentia et timore deposuit. 2Post haec humiliter se coram altari in oratione prosternens, quanta poterat devotione clamavit ad Dominum, ut in prima libri apertione sui de ipso beneplaciti dare dignaretur indicium.

3Tandem corde contrito ab oratione consurgens, se crucis signo munivit, librumque de altari reverenter acceptum aperuit. 4Cui cum Domini nostri Iesu Christi passio primum occurreret, suspicatus est ne casu hoc forsitan accidisset.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 409

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