The Life of Saint Francis by Julian of Speyer - 414 

67The glorious father, greatly perfected in the grace of so great virtues, thought that he had spent his days to no purpose; and though he was altogether unfit for physical exertions, he still continued to drive himself toward the triumphs of a new struggle. Truly he used to say: “Let us begin, brothers, to serve God. Let us begin,” he would say. “And let us make progress, because up to now we have made too little progress.” He wished to turn back again to his early simplicity, abjectly to serve the lepers anew, and remove himself from human contact to the most remote places.

He wished also to remove himself from all the cares of administration, because he maintained it was dangerous for many reasons, particularly at this time, to hold a place of authority; he thought it more useful to the greater number of people to be ruled than to rule.a

When he was staying Mt 25:5 at Siena, about six months before his death, his whole body wasted away even more gravely than previously; he was obviously near the end. And so, Brother Elias came hurriedly from afar, and when he arrived he took Francis, who had recovered a little, with him to Le Celle di Cortona. When he had stayed there for a while, his illness became even worse, and he asked to be taken to Assisi. After he got there, the whole city exulted greatly and, giving thanks, Eph 5:20 they unanimously praised the Lord because they hoped so great a treasure was being put back again Tb 12:8 in their care.

68Therefore, having been led into the palace of the Bishop of Assisi, he began, not long after, to lack the strength in his whole body and to be so atrociously tormented in every part of his body that, when asked whether he would rather bear martyrdom at the hands of an executioner, he replied that, suffering of that kind for three days, although accepted and pleasing to him as being God’s will, was more painful than any martyrdom.

Seeing, therefore, that the last day of his life was very near (for this he had learned two years before through a revelation), he summoned the brothers he wanted, and as had been given to him from above, Mk 3:13 Jn 19:11 blessed them one by one. And since he could not see, his eyes being weak, as once the patriarch Jacob, he crossed his hands, placed his right hand Gn 48:14 on the brother who was sitting on his left, and asking who he was, and finding out that he was Brother Elias (who, as we mentioned, he had placed in his stead), he responded that so he had wished.

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


67 1Iam gloriosus pater, in tantarum non mediocriter virtutum gratia consummatus, transegisse se dies vacuos reputavit; 2et quamvis esset ad exteriora corporis exercitia prorsus inutilis, semetipsum tamen adhuc ad triumphos novi certaminis incitavit. 3Dicebat enim: « Incipiamus, fratres, Deo servire. Incipiamus », inquit, « et proficiamus, quoniam parum hucusque profecimus ». 4Volebat rursus ad simplicitatis redire primordia; volebat leprosis contemptibiliter de novo servire, et ab hominum conversafione ad loca remotissima se transferre.

5Ab omni quoque se cura regiminis cupiebat eximere, eo quod multis de causis periculosum assereret, maxime in hoc tempore, praelationis locum tenere; esse vero plurimis utile magis regi quam regere.

6Cumque moram faceret apud Senas, quasi mense sexto ante obitum suum, toto corpore gravius quam solebat attritus, propinquare videbatur ad exitum. 7Festinato itaque de longinquo frater Helias accurrit, eumque in adventu suo paululum respirantem secum ad Cellam de Cortona perduxit. 8Ubi dum stetisset per modicum, acrius invalescente morbo, deduci se rogavit Assisium. 9Quo postquam pervenit, facta est non modica totius exsultatio civitatis; et gratias agentes laudaverunt unanimiter Dominum, quod tantum penes se recondi speravere thesaurum.

68 1Adductus igitur in palatium Assisiani episcopi, coepit non multo post totius corporis virtute destitui 2et tam atrociter per singula membra torqueri, ut interrogatus an potius martyrium a carnifice sustineret, triduanam huiusmodi passionem, etsi pro voluntate divina sibi placitam et acceptam, graviorem tamen quovis martyrio responderet.

3Cernens itaque proximare diem vitae novissimum, quem per revelationem iam biennio ante didicerat, convocavit ad se fratres quos voluit, singulosque, prout sibi dabatur desuper, benedixit. 4Cumque caligantibus oculis videre non posset, sicut quondam patriarcha Iacob, manibus cancellatis, dexteram fratri, qui a sinistris eius sedebat, imposuit; 5interrogansque quis esset et intelligens esse fratrem Heliam (quem, ut dictum est, substituerat loco sui), sic se velle respondit.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 414

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