The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How St. Francis and Friar Masseo placed the bread which they had begged upon a stone hard by a fountain, and St. Francis praised Poverty much. Thereafter, he prayed God and St. Peter and St. Paul, that He would cause him to be enamoured of holy Poverty; and how St. Peter and St. Paul appeared to him
THE marvellous servant and follower of Christ, Messer St. Francis, to the end that in everything he might conform himself to Christ, who, according to the Gospel, sent His disciples by two and two to all those cities and places whither He Himself was about to go; inasmuch as after the example of Christ he had gathered together twelve companions, sent them through the world to preach by two and two. And to set them an ensample of true obedience, he himself was the first to go, after the ensample of Christ, who began to do before He began to teach. Wherefore, having assigned to his companions the other regions of the world, he, taking Friar Masseo as his companion, journeyed toward the province of France. And coming one day to a village and being very hungry, they went, according to the Rule, begging bread for
the love of God; and St. Francis went through one street and Friar Masseo through another. But because St. Francis was a man too despicable and small of body, and was esteemed a vile mendicant therefor by those who knew him not, he gat only some mouthfuls and fragments of dry bread; whereas to Friar Masseo, because he was tall and beautiful of body, were given good pieces and large and in plenty and fresh cut from the loaf. And so when they had finished begging they met together to eat outside the village in a place where there was a beautiful fountain with a fair large stone beside it, whereupon each of them laid all the bread which he had begged; and when St. Francis saw that the Friar Masseo's pieces of bread were more plentiful and better and larger than his, he showed very great joy thereat, and spake after this manner: "O Friar Masseo, we are not worthy of so great treasure"; and when he had repeated these words many times, Friar Masseo replied: "Father, how is it possible to speak of treasure where there is such great poverty and lack of all things needful? Here is neither tablecloth, nor knife, nor trencher, nor porringer, nor house, nor table, nor man-servant, nor maidservant." Said St. Francis: "And this is that which I esteem great treasure, where there is nothing prepared by human industry; but that which there is, is prepared by the Divine Providence, as may be manifestly seen in the bread which we have begged, in this beautiful table of rock and in this clear spring. Wherefore I will that we pray God that He make us to love with our whole heart the so noble treasure of holy Poverty, which hath God to servitor." And when he had said these words and had prayed and partaken for bodily sustenance of these fragments of bread and of that water, they rose up to journey into
[paragraph continues] France; and coming to a church, St. Francis gat him behind the altar and betook himself to prayer: and in that prayer he received by Divine visitation such exceeding fervour, the which kindled his soul so mightily to love of holy Poverty, that by the heat of his face and by the unwonted gaping of his mouth it seemed that he breathed forth flames of love. And coming thus enkindled to his companion, he spake to him on this wise: "Ah! Ah! Ah! Friar Masseo, give me thyself"; and so spake he three times; and the third time St. Francis raised Friar Masseo into the air with his breath, and cast him before him a great spear's length. Thereat was Friar Masseo filled with very great wonder; and thereafter, he related to his companions that when St. Francis thus lifted him up and cast him from him with his breath he experienced such great sweetness of spirit and consolation of the Holy Ghost, that never in his life had he felt the like. And when this was done, St. Francis said: "Companion mine, let us go to St. Peter and St. Paul and pray them that they will teach us and aid us to possess the immeasurable treasure of most holy Poverty; for she is a treasure so surpassing and so Divine that we are not worthy to possess it in our most vile vessels; for this is that celestial virtue whereby all earthly things and transitory are trodden under foot and every barrier is removed which might hinder the soul from freely uniting itself to the eternal God. This is that virtue which enableth the soul, while yet on earth, to hold converse in heaven with the angels; this is she, who bare Christ company upon the cross, with Christ was buried, with Christ was raised again, and with Christ ascended into heaven; who even in this life grants to the souls which are enamoured of her nimbleness to fly to heaven; seeing that it is she who guards
the weapons of true humility and charity. Therefore, I pray we the most holy Apostles of Christ, who were perfect lovers of this evangelic pearl, that they may beg this grace for us from our Lord Jesus Christ that, of His most Holy pity, He may grant us to be worthy to be true lovers, observers and humble disciples of most precious, most beloved and evangelic Poverty." And thus discoursing, they came to Rome and entered into the Church of St. Peter; and St. Francis betook himself to prayer in one corner of the church and lf Masseo in another; and they abode long time in prayer with great devotion and many tears, until, at the last, the most holy Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to St. Francis in great splendour, and said: "Because thou askest and desirest to observe that which Christ and His Apostles observed, the Lord Jesus Christ sends us to thee to make known unto thee that thy prayer is heard, and that the treasure of most holy Poverty is granted unto thee of God in fullest perfection, to thee and to thy followers. And further we tell thee in His name that whosoever, after thy example, shall perfectly follow this desire, he is assured of the beatitude of life eternal; and thou and all thy followers shall be blessed of God." And when they had thus spoken, they vanished away, leaving St. Francis full of consolation. Thereafter, he rose up from prayer and returned to his companion and asked him if God had revealed aught unto him; and he answered "No". Then St. Francis told him how the holy Apostles had appeared to him and what they had revealed unto him. Wherefore each of them was fulfilled with joy; and they determined to return to the Val di Spoleto and to leave their journeying into France.