The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How St. Francis converted at Bologna two scholars, who became friars; and afterward delivered one of them from a great temptation
SI. FRANCIS arriving, on a time, at the city of, Bologna, all the people of the city ran to see him; and so great was the press that only with great difficulty might the folk come unto the piazza; and when the piazza was all full of men and of women and of scholars, St. Francis went up into an high place, in the midst thereof, and began to preach that which the Holy Spirit taught him; and he preached so marvellously that it seemed rather as if an angel were preaching than a man; his celestial words appeared like unto sharp arrows, which pierced the heart of them who heard him, so that, in that preaching, a great multitude of men and women were turned to repentance. Among whom were two noble students of the March of Ancona, whereof one was named Pellegrino and the other Rinieri; the which two, being touched in heart by Divine inspiration through the said preaching, came to St. Francis and told him that they were altogether minded to abandon the world, and to be his friars. Then St. Francis, knowing by revelation that
they were sent by God, and that they would lead a holy life in the Order, and considering their great, fervour, received them gladly, saying: "Thou, Pellegrino, hold to the way of humility, in the Order; and thou, Friar Rinieri, serve the friars". And so it was; for Friar Pellegrino, albeit he was very learned and a great canonist, was never willing to become a clerk but lived as a lay brother, by which humility he came to great perfection of virtue, insomuch that Friar Bernard (the firstborn son of St. Francis) said of him, that he was one of the most perfect friars in this world. And finally, the said Friar Pellegrino, full of virtue, passed from this life to the blessed life, with many miracles both before his death and after. And the said Friar Rinieri devotedly and faithfully served the friars, living in great holiness and humility, and he became very intimate with St. Francis. Thereafter, being made Minister of the province of the March of Ancona, he ruled it long time in very great peace and with discretion. Then, after a certain time, God suffered him to be tempted in his soul with a very great temptation; and he, being troubled and tormented thereby, afflicted himself sore, with fasts and with flagellations, with tears and prayers, both day and night; yet was he not able to cast forth that temptation; wherefore, by reason thereof, he deemed himself abandoned of God. Thus despairing, for a last remedy, he resolved to go to St. Francis, thinking within himself: "If St. Francis shall make me welcome, and shall treat me as his familiar friend, even as he is wont to do, I believe that God will yet have pity on me; but, if not, it will be a sign that I shall be abandoned of God". Wherefore he departed and went to St. Francis, who at that time was lying grievously sick in the palace of the Bishop of Assisi;
and God revealed to him all the manner of the temptation and the mind of the said Friar Rinieri, and his intent, and his coming. And forthwith St. Francis called Friar Leo and Friar Masseo, and said unto them: "Go quickly to meet my dearest son Friar Rinieri and embrace him in my name and salute him and tell him that, among all the friars which are in the world, I love him exceedingly". So they went and found Friar Rinieri on the way, and embraced him and said unto him that which St. Francis had bidden them. Whereby his soul was filled with such consolation and sweetness that he was well-nigh beside himself; and, giving thanks to God with all his heart, he went forward and came to the place where St. Francis lay sick. And, albeit St. Francis was grievously sick, nevertheless, when he heard Friar Rinieri coming, he rose up and went to meet him and embraced him most sweetly and spake unto him thus: "My dearest son, Friar Rinieri, among all the friars which are in the world, I love thee exceedingly". And, when he had said this, he made the sign of the most holy Cross upon his brow, and there he kissed him, and afterward said unto him: "Dearest son, God hath permitted thee to be thus tempted for thy great gain of merit; but, if thou wouldst not have this gain any more, have it not". O marvel! So soon as St. Francis had said these words, all the temptation departed from him, as if, never in his life, had he felt it at all; and he remained altogether comforted.