The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
Of an ecstasy which came to Friar Bernard whereby he abode from morning even until nones without coming to himself
HOW much grace God ofttimes bestowed upon them who embraced gospel poverty, and who abandoned the world for love of Christ, is shown forth in Friar Bernard of Quintavalle, the which, after he had taken the habit of St. Francis, was very often rapt in God, by the contemplation of heavenly things. Among other times, it once befel that, being in church for the hearing of Mass, with all his mind fixed upon God, he became so absorbed and rapt in God that at the elevation of the Body of Christ he was nothing aware thereof, and neither kneeled him down nor drew back his cowl, as did the others, but without winking his eyes abode gazing fixedly, from morning even until nones, insensible; and after nones, when he had returned to himself, he went through the Place shouting, in enraptured tones: "O friars! O friars! O friars! there is no man in this country so great or so noble but that, if he were promised a most fair palace full of gold, he would lightly carry a sackful of dung, if thereby he might gain so noble a treasure". The mind of the said Friar Bernard was so uplifted to this celestial treasure, promised unto the lovers of God, that for fifteen successive years he ever went with mind and face raised toward heaven; and in all that time never did he satisfy his hunger at table, albeit he ate a little of that which was set before him; for he used to say that abstinence from that which a man tasteth not is not perfect abstinence, but that true abstinence lieth in being temperate in those things which taste good to the
mouth; and thereby he attained unto such clearness and light of understanding that even great ecclesiastics had recourse unto him for the solving of hardest questions and obscure passages of Scripture; and he made plain unto them every difficulty. And because his mind was altogether loosed and abstracted from earthly things, he, after the fashion of the swallow, winged his way to very great heights, through contemplation; so that, sometimes for twenty days and sometimes for thirty, he abode alone on the tops of the highest mountains, contemplating celestial things. For the which cause Friar Giles said of him that this gift which was given unto Friar Bernard of Quintavalle was not given unto other men, to wit, that he should feed flying even as doth the swallow. And by reason of this excellent grace which God had given him, St. Francis willingly and ofttimes talked with him by day and by night; whence sometimes it came to pass that they were both found rapt in God all the night long, in the wood where they had met together to speak of God.