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 The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 480 

Need a good preacher to teach them the faith—the populace,
I speak of, not of the nobles. Just one error made the Parthian

155Slip; not one but every error made Italy slip.
The Parthian preserves a schism taken up from of old;a
The Italian rebuffs the precepts of faith he embraced.
To one foundling heresy the Parthian is guardian;b
The Italian is founding father of thirty-two!c

160And this gives the latter more license to sin.
While freedom belongs to Italians, Syrians are slaves;
It was not they that owed God the first fruits or the tithed
Prescribed in the law: they sin, but without an avenger.e
For should the Holy Father excommunicate them

165Or an irate Emperor threaten war on them,
They couldn't care less, as for neither have they any respect;
They've already consigned them to the yoke and the tax!
Out there there are countless millions of people
And there a knight is the same as a boor:

170The knight for his muscle, the boor for his hatred of lords.
But enough! Certain things may be true but can't always be told.
Yet the holy simplicity of Francis sustains to the last, 1 Cor 13:7
And has no eyes for sins or for faults.
Meet he the crafty, he will take them for wise citizens

175Of Italy; nor will he believe they need a schoolmaster.f
And so, he embarks, with his heart in converting the Syrians.
There rises a contrary wind; Mk 6:48 the level sea is turning

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Plus Italus quam Parthus eget: de plebe loquendo,

155Non dico de nobilibus. Fallacia Parthum.
Unica seducit, Italum non una sed omnis;
Parthus ab antiquo susceptum schisma tuetur,
Italus admissae fidei praecepta repellit;
Unius haereseos inventae tutor habetur

160Parthus, adinventor Italus triginta duarum;
Estque quid hos faciat peccare licentius illis:
Servi sunt Syrii, libertas est Italorum;
Non ipsi vel primitias in lege statutas
Vel decimas debere Deo; sine vindice peccant.

165Nam si sanctus eos Pater excommunicet, aut si
Iracundus eis Augustus bella minetur,
Inde nihil curant, neutrum reverentur, utrumque
Addixere iugo, praescripseruntque tributum.
Plebis enim tot ibi sunt millia, quot numerare

170Nemo queat; miles quivis et rusticus idem;
Vim quia miles habet, dominos quia rusticus odit.
Sed taceo; quaedam narrari vera verentur.
Sed pia simplicitas Francisci sustinet omnes,
Nullius vitii, nullius conscia culpae,

175Astutosque videns, credi

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 480

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