The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 245 

with a close friend. He used to view the largest crowd of people as if it were a single person, and he would preach fervently to a single person as if to a large crowd. Out of the purity of his mind he drew his confi- dence in preaching and, even without preparation, he used to say the most amazing things to everyone. Sometimes he prepared for his talk with some meditation, but once the people gathered he could not re- member what he had meditated about and had nothing to say. Without any embarrassment he would confess to the people that he had thought of many things before, but now he could not remember a thing. Some- times he would be filled with such great eloquence that he moved the hearts of his hearers to astonishment. When he could not think of any- thing, he would give a blessing and send the people away with this act alone as a very good sermon.

73 Once he came to the city of Rome on a matter concerning the Order, and he greatly yearned to speak before the Lord Pope Honorius and the venerable cardinals.a Lord Hugo, the renowned bishop of Ostia, venerated the holy man of God with special affection. When he learned of his arrival, Lord Hugo was filled with fear and joy, admiring the holy man's fervor yet aware of his simple purity. Trusting to the mercyof the Almighty that never fails the faithful in time of need, he led the holy man before the Lord Pope and the venerable cardinals.

As he stood in the presence of so many princes of the Church, blessed Francis, after receiving permission and a blessing, fearlessly began to speak. Lk 7:15

He was speaking with such fire of spirit
that he could not contain himself for joy.
As he brought forth the word from his mouth,
he moved his feet as if dancing,
not playfully but burning with the fire of divine love,
not provoking laughter but moving them to tears of sorrow.
For many of them were touched in their hearts,
at the grace of God
and the great determination Acts 4:13 of the man.

The venerable lord bishop of Ostia was waiting fearfully, praying to God that they would not despise the blessed man's simplicity; for both




Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 348-349

ita securus erat ac si cum familiari socio loqueretur. 5Populorum maximam multitudinem quasi virum unum cernebat, et uni quasi multitudini diligentissime praedicabat. 6De puritate mentis providebat sibi securitatem dicendi sermonem, et non praecogitatus, mira et inaudita omnibus loquebatur. 7Si quando vero aliqua meditatione praeveniret sermonem, congregatis populis, et meditata quandoque non recordabatur, et loqui alia ignorabat: absque rubore aliquo confitebatur populis, se multa praecogitasse, quorum nihil penitus poterat recordari;8sicque de subito tanta eloquentia replebatur, ut in admirationem converteret animos auditorum. 9Quandoque vero nihil sciens loqui, benedictione data, ex hoc solo maxime praedicatos populos dimittebat.

731Sed et cum tempore quodam, causa religionis poscente, ad urbem Romam venisset, loqui coram domino papa Honorio et venerabilibus cardinalibus plurimum sitiebat. 2Quod intelligens dominus Hugo, gloriosus episcopus Ostiensis, qui sanctum Dei singulari venerabatur affectu, timore ac laetitia est repletus, admirans sancti viri fervorem et simplicem intuens puritatem. 3Sed confidens de misericordia Omnipotentis, quae pie se colentibus necessitatis tempore numquam deest, eum coram domino papa et reverendis cardinalibus introduxit.

4Qui coram tantis principibus assistens, licentia et benedictione suscepta, intrepidus loqui coepit.

5Et quidem cum tanto fervore spiritus loquebatur,
quod non se capiens prae laetitia,
cum ex ore verbum proferret,
pedes quasi saliendo movebat,
non ut lasciviens, sed ut igne divini amoris ardens,
non ad risum moveris sed planctum doloris extorquens.
6Multi enim ipsorum corde compuncti sunt,
divinam gratiam
et tantam viri constantiam admirantes.

7Verum venerabilis dominus episcopus Ostiensis timore suspensus erat, totis visceribus orans ad Dominum, ne beati viri contemneretur simplicitas, quoniam in eum sancti gloria resultabat et dedecus,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 245