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 The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 478 

90That was once; but oft and again in different signs
His presence returned; though not like a poor earthly man,
But already as one whose own was the kingdom above.
It was God's loving kindness honoring his servant 1 Chr 17:18
In whose eyes nothing is fouler than the mundane,

95And whose special possession means owning nothing at all.
Although indulgence in meat was never his wish, once
A mighty fever forced him to feed on flesh meat.
As soon as he was well, the blood-red feast he regretted
Ever tasting, and assigned himself a penance: to a lay friar

100Strict orders he gave to tie a rope round his neck
And drag him through the city of Assisi,
Crying out like a herald: "Behold, ye citizens,
A parasite glutton, a glum-looking fraud; Mt 6:16a
To you he talks well about fasting—but he hates it.

105Into his hungry maw fat chickens he's packed."b
The friar under orders carried out all he was told.
The townsfolk are awestruck and say: "For just once
Eating meat, is that treatment he gets? What of us, then,
Whose diet is blood all the time,c whose cravings

110Stop short at this earth?
Holy men must be fools,
Or else we are a race of perdition."
Francis again gave orders to one of the brothers
That whenever he was wined and dined by people

115With high notions, the friar was to heap insults on him
And call him a dealer and mountainman.d Hard though it was
To exactly fulfil these commands, the brother spared him
Not a whit, as he sat among the distinguished.
Rewarding him with approval for the bad things he'd said,

120With honor for abuse, with praise for the insults,
It was usual for Francis to say: "Brother, I sanction

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


90Sic tunc, sic iterum, sic per diversa frequenter
Signa repraesentans absentem non quasi vilem,
Non quasi terrenum, sed iam quasi regna tenentem,
Glorificat divina suum clementia servum,
Cui visum mundo nihil est immundius, et cui

95Nil proprium praeter nil proprietatis habere.
Sed quamvis carni nihil indulgere volentem
Carne semel vesci febris imperiosa coëgit.
Mox ubi convaluit, epulum gustasse cruentum
Poenituit, poenamque sibi providit, et uni

100Districte fratri laico praecepit, ut eius
Iniceret collo funem, traheretque per urbem
Assisii, clamans praeconis vocibus: " Ecce,
O cives, parasitus edax, hypocrita tristis,
Qui coram vobis ieiunia laudat, et odit,

105Qui pingues pullos avidam, congessit in alvum ".
Exsequitur iussus hoc ordine singula frater.
Mirantur cives et dicunt: " Pro semel esis
Carnibus affligi sic sustinet iste! Quid ergo
Fiet de nobis qui sanguine vescimur omni

110Tempore, nec cupimus praeter terrena? Vel ergo
Sancti sunt fatui, vel nos gens digna perire ".
Hoc quoque Franciscus fratri praeceperat uni,
Inter magnates ut quandocumque receptus
Esset honorifice, ne forte superbia mentem

115Ipsius efferret, convicia diceret illi
Frater, et alpigenam mercatoremque vocaret.
Non praetermittens quin quantumcumque severa
Eius adimpleret frater praecepta, sedenti
Inter honoratos nulla ratione pepercit.

120Retribuens illi propter maledicta favorem,
Propter probra decus, propter convicia laudem,
Dicere Franciscus consueverat: " Approbo, frater,
Omnia quae dicis; nec enim decet ut tollerare

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 478

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