The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 459 

The Fifth Book

ON HIS FULFILLING CHRIST'S INJUNCTION, CONTENT WITH A TUNIC; GIRDED WITH TRI-KNOTTED ROPE, HIS APPEARING AN UNEXPECTED MASTER, WITH NO INSTRUCTOR, AND HIS INSTILLING GLADSOME NEWNESS IN HIS FOLLOWERS.

OF all places this was his favorite; nor are they frequent
His departures from it. He lingers on, settling there quietly,
Repairing the building, planting the gardens, sustaining life
On meagre fare, not clothed in his usual garb,

5But in such as hermits wear.
During his sojourn there, longing to set his mind upon the Gospel
That was read one day: Jesus sent out his disciples Mt 10:5—after
The service was duly celebrated, in humble supplication he asked
The priest to deign to clarify the Redeemer's words and the Gospel

10Of the day. Expounding the Gospel, the priest goes through all
The injunctions one by one: how, sending out the disciples
The Lord bade them be content with one tunic, and to walk unshod,
Nor to carry gold or silver, neither purse nor money, neither wallet
Nor staff. As Francis is lending him an attentive ear, the Spirit

15Of the Lord comes down Acts 2:4 on him and fills his breast full with the gift
Of grace, and shows him the secret pathway to heaven. No one till now
Had sought heaven by that patha which Francis in his new fervor discovers,
Intending, as he does, with heartfelt desire to fulfill all righteousness. Mt 3:15
Nor will he gloss over anything, but follow the text and faithfully cling

20To every word. Allegory may in much prevail; but the literal sense
Surpasses it, when no metaphor cloaks the author's mind
And his words mean what they say.b

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Liber V

Quintus agit, Christi praeceptum quomodo complens Contentus tunica, praecinctus fune trinodi, Prodierit subitus nulloque docente magister, Imbueritque suos dulci novitate sequaces.

5Omnibus haec praelata locis; nec saepe recedit
Inde, sed immotus stabilisque perendinat, aedes
Instaurans, hortos plantans, tenuique diaeta
Vitam. sustentans, non qualia ferre solebat

10Indumenta ferens, sed qualia sunt eremitis.
Dumque moratur ibi, quodam sibi tempore lectum.
Hoc Evangelium cupiens attendere: Misit
Iesus discipulos et caetera, post celebratum
Rite ministerium, supplex humilisque rogavit

15Ut dignaretur sibi declarare sacerdos
Verba Redemptoris Evangeliumque diei.
Exponens Evangebi praecepta, sacerdos
Singula prosequitur seriatim, quomodo mittens
Discipulos Dominus contentos iusserit illos

20Simplicibus tunicis excalces ire, nec aurum
Ferre vel argentum, nec zonam sive monetam,
Nec peram sive baculum. Dum sedulus aures
Inclinat Franciscus ei, directus in illum
Spiritus est Domini totumque charismate replet c

25Pectus, et arcanum docet ad caelestia callem.
Nullus adhuc illo caelestia calle petebat,
Quem fervore novo Franciscus adinvenit, almis
Intentus desideriis ut adimpleat omnem
Iustitiam; nec vult aliquid glossare, sed ipsum

30Prosequitur textum, verbisque fideliter haeret.
In plerisque tamen valet allegoria; sed ipsam
Littera praecellit, ubi nulla parabola mentem
Palliat auctoris, sed rem sua verba loquuntur.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 459

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