The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 262 

always his highest philosophy; this was the highest desire that always burned in him as long as he lived. Nm 11:4 He asked the simple and the wise, the perfect and the imperfect, how he could reach the way of truth and arrive at his great goal. Ps 119:30 [Vulgate, Ps 118:30]

92 Since he was the most perfect among the perfect, he refused to think he was perfect and thought himself wholly imperfect. He could taste and see how pleasing, sweet and good the God of Israel is to those who are of sincere heart and who seek Him in true purity and in pure simplicity. Ps 34:9 [Vulgate, Ps 33:9] Ps 73:1 [Vulgate, Ps 72:1] Wis 1:1

He felt pouring down on him from above a sweetness and delight rarely given to even a few, and it made him lose himself completely. He was filled with such joy that he wished by any means to pass over entirely to that place where, in passing out of himself, he had already partially gone. This man, having the spirit of God, was ready to endure any suffering of mind and bear any affliction of the body, 1 Cor 7:40 if at last he would be given the choice that the will of the heavenly Father might be fulfilled mercifully in him. Jos 24:15 Mt 6:14 So one day he approached the sacred altar which had been built in the hermitage where he was staying and, taking up the volume where the holy Gospels were written, he placed it reverently upon the altar.

Then he prostrated himself with his heart as much as his body in prayer to God, asking in humble prayer that God in His kindnessthe Father of mercies and the God of all consolation 2 Cor 1:3 —be pleased to show him His will. He prayed earnestly that at the first opening of the book he would be shown what was best for him to do, so that he could bring to complete fulfillment what he had earlier simply and devotedly begun. In this he was led by the spirit of the saints and holy ones, as we read they did something similar with sincere devotion in their desire for holiness.a

93 Rising from prayer in a spirit of humility and with a contrite heart, he prepared himself with the sign of the holy cross. He took the book from the altar, and opened it with reverence and fear. When he opened the book, the first passage that met his eye was the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that tells of the suffering he was to endure. To avoid any suspicion that this was just a coincidence, he opened the book a second and a third time. Every time he found either the same text or one that




Vita Prima, Fontes Franciscani, p. 367-369

6Haec summa eius philosophia semper fuit, hoc summum desiderium in eo, quoad vixit, semper flagravit, ut quaereret a simplicibus, a sapientibus, a perfectis et imperfectis, qualiter posset viam apprehendere veritatis et ad maius propositum pervenire.

92 1Nam cum esset perfectissimus perfectorum, perfectum abnuens, imperfectum se penitus reputabat 2Gustaverat enim et viderat, quam dulcis, suavis et bonus foret Deus Israel his qui rectosunt corde, et in simplicitate pura et puritate vera quaerunt illum.

3Infusa namque dulcedo et suavitas, rarissimis raro data, quam sibi desuper senserat adspirare, cogebat eum totum a se ipso deficere et tanta iucunditate repletus, cupiebat modis omnibus illuc ex toto transire, ubi excedendo se ipsum, iam parte praecesserat.4Paratus erat homo, spiritum Dei habens, omnes animi pati angustias, omnesque passiones corporis tolerare, si tandem optio sibi daretur 1, ut voluntas Patris caelestis misericorditer compleretur in eo.5Accessit proinde die quadam ante sacrum altare, quod in eremitorio in quo ipse manebat erat constructum, et accepto codice in quo sacra Evangelia erant conseripta, reverenter altari superposuit illum.

6Sicque prostratus in oratione Dei non minus corde quam corpore, humili prece poscebat, ut benignus Deus, pater misericordiarum et Deus totius consolationis, suam sibi dignaretur ostendere voluntatem:7et ut perfecte consummare valeret quod olim simpliciter et devote inceperat, quid sibi esset opportunius agere, in prima libri apertione indicari suppliciter precabatur.8Sanctorum quippe ac perfectissimorum virorum spiritu ducebatur, qui pia devotione in desiderio sanctitatis simile aliquid fecisse leguntur. 

93 1Surgens quoque ab oratione, in spiritu humilitatis animoque contrito , ac signaculo sanctae crucis se muniens, de altari librum accepit eumque cum reverentia et timore aperuit.2Factum est autem cum aperuisset librum occurrit sibi primo passio Domini nostri Iesu Christi, et id solum quod tribulationem eum passurum denuntiabat. 3Sed ne hoc casu evenisse possit aliquatenus suspicari, bis et ter librum aperuit, et idem vel simile scriptum invenit.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 262