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 The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 255 

you desire to celebrate the coming feast of the Lord together at Greccio," he said to him, "hurry before me and carefully make ready Prv 24:27 the things I tell you. For I wish to enact the memory of that babe who was born in Bethlehem: to see as much as is possible with my own bodily eyes the discomfort of his infant needs, how he lay in a manger, Lk 2:7 and how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he rested on hay." Once the good and faithful man had heard Francis's words, he ran quickly Jn 20:4 and prepared in that place all the things that the holy man had requested.a

85 Finally, the day of joy has drawn near,
the time of exultation has come.
From many different places the brethren have been called.
As they could,
the men and women of that land with exultant hearts
prepare candles and torches to light up that night
whose shining star has enlightened every day and year.
Finally, the holy man of God comes
and, finding all things prepared,
he saw them and was glad. Jn 8:56
Indeed, the manger is prepared,
the hay is carried in,
the ox and the ass are led to the spot.
There simplicity is given a place of honor,
poverty is exalted,
humility is commended,
and out of Greccio is made a new Bethlehem.

The night is lit up like day, Ps 139:12 [Vulgate, Ps 138:12]
delighting both man and beast.
The people arrive, ecstatic at this new mystery of new joy.
The forest amplifies the cries
and the boulders echo back the joyful crowd.
The brothers sing, giving God due praise,
and the whole night abounds with jubilation.
The holy man of God Mk 1:24 stands before the manger,
filled with heartfelt sighs,

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Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 360-361


« Si desideras ut apud Graecium praesentem festivitatem Domini celebremus, festina praecedere, et quae tibi dico praepara diligenter. 8Volo enim illius pueri memoriam agere, qui in Bethlehem natus est , et infantilium necessitatum eius incommoda, quomodo in praesaepio reclinatus e et quomodo, adstante bove atque asino, supra foenum positus exstitit, utcumque corporeis oculis pervidere ». 9Quod audiens vir bonus atque fidelis cucurrit citius, et omnia in praedicto loco, quae sanctus dixerat, praeparavit.

851Appropinquavit autem dies laetitiae,
tempus exsultationis advenit.
2E pluribus locis vocati sunt fratres:
viri et mulieres terrae illius,
secundum posse suum, exsultantibus animis
cereos et faces praeparant ad illuminandam noctem,
quae scintillanti sidere dies omnes illuminavit et annos.
3Venit denique sanctus Dei
et inveniens omnia praeparata,
vidit et gavisus est.
Et quidem praeparatur praesaepium,
apportatur foenum,
bos et asinus adducuntur.
5Honoratur ibi simplicitas,
exaltatur paupertas,
humilitas commendatur
et quasi nova Bethlehem de Graecio facta est.

6Illuminatur nox ut dies,
et hominibus atque animalibus deliciosa exsistit.
7Adveniunt populi et ad novum mysterium novis gaudiis adlaetantur.
8Personat silva voces
et iubilantibus rupes respondent.
9Cantant fratres, Domino laudes debitas persolventes,
et tota nox iubilatione resultat.
10Stat sanctus Dei coram praesaepio,
suspiriis plenus,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 255

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