The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How Friar Juniper cut off the foot of a pig, only to give it to a sick man
ONE of the most elect disciples and first companions of St. Francis was Friar Juniper, a man of profound humility, of great fervour and charity; of whom St. Francis speaking on a time with those holy companions of his, said: "He would be a good minor friar who had conquered himself and the world as Friar Juniper hath done". Once at Santa Maria degli Angeli, being as it were on fire with the charity of God, he was visiting a sick friar, and asked him with great compassion: "Can I do thee any service?" The sick man made answer: "Great comfort would it give me if thou couldst obtain for me a pig's trotter". Friar Juniper forthwith said: "Leave that to me and I will get it for you immediately". And he went and took a knife, I believe from the kitchen, and, in fervour of spirit, went through the wood, where certain swine were feeding, and he flung himself upon one of them and cut off its foot and fled away, leaving
the pig with its foot thus maimed; and returning, he washed and dressed and cooked this foot; and with great diligence, having prepared it well, he carried the said foot to the sick man with much charity; and the sick man ate it very greedily, to the great consolation and joy of Friar Juniper; who, for the diversion of the sick man, narrated with much delight the assaults which he had made upon the pig. Meanwhile, the swineherd, who had seen this friar cut off the foot of the pig, told all the story to his master in order, with great grief. And he, when he had heard thereof, came to the Place of the friars, and, calling them hypocrites, and petty thieves, and forgers, and highwaymen and evil folk, demanded: "Why have ye cut off the foot of my pig?" At the great noise which he made St. Francis and all the friars came out; and with much humility St. Francis sought to excuse his friars, and, as one ignorant of the deed, he promised, to appease him, that he would make good every damage. But for all this he was in nowise appeased, but, with great wrath, abuse and threats, departed from the friars in anger; and, repeating again and again that they had cut off the foot of his pig of malice prepense, he refused to accept any recompense or any promise, and went away full of indignation. And St. Francis full of prudence, while all the other friars were amazed, considered and said within his heart: "Can Friar Juniper have done this thing of indiscreet zeal?" And he caused Friar Juniper to be called unto him secretly and asked him saying: "Didst thou cut off the foot of a pig in the wood?" Whereto Friar Juniper, not as one who had committed a fault, but as one who seemed to himself to have done a great charity, made answer very joyfully, and spake thus: "My sweet father, true it is that I cut off the foot of the
said pig; and the reason, my father, do thou hear, if thou wilt, indulgently. I went for charity to visit such and such a sick friar;" and therewith he recounted unto him all the matter in order, and then added: "I tell thee that considering the consolation that this our friar had and the comfort he took from the said foot, I verily believe that, if I had cut off the feet of a hundred pigs instead of one, God would have been well pleased thereat". Whereto St. Francis with righteous zeal and with great displeasure, said: "O Friar Juniper, why hast thou given such great scandal? Not without reason doth that man lament and is so wrath with us; and peradventure he is even now speaking ill of us throughout the city by reason of this evil deed; and verily he hath good cause so to do. Wherefore I command thee, by holy obedience, that thou run after him until thou come up with him, and cast thyself on the ground before him and tell him thy fault, promising him to make satisfaction on such wise that he may have no ground of complaint against us; for of a surety this hath been a very grievous offence." Friar Juniper was very much surprised at the aforesaid words, and the other friars were amazed, marvelling that any one should be angered at all at so charitable an act; for to him it seemed that these temporal things were naught save only in so far as they were charitably shared with one's neighbour. And Friar Juniper made answer: "Doubt not, my father, that I will pay him at once and content him. ''And wherefore should he be so disquieted, seeing that this pig whose foot I have cut off was rather God's than his, and that such great charity hath been done therewith?" And so he set off at a run and came up with this man, who was beyond measure enraged, so that there remained in him no patience at all; and
he told him how and for what reason he had cut off the foot of the said pig; and this with as much fervour and delight and joy as if he were one who had done him a great service, for the which he ought to be well rewarded. But he, full of wrath, and beside himself with fury, bitterly reviled Friar Juniper, calling him madman and fool, petty thief and basest highwayman. And for those abusive words Friar Juniper cared nothing, but wondered within himself; for, albeit he rejoiced in the insults, he believed that the man had not understood him aright, since it seemed to him a matter for gladness and not for wrath; wherefore he told his story over again, and threw himself upon his neck and embraced him and kissed him, telling him how this thing was done only for charity, and inviting and beseeching him to give the rest of the pig for the same purpose, with so much simplicity and charity and humility that this man, having come to himself, cast himself upon the ground not without many tears; and confessing the wrong he had done and said to the friars, he went and took this pig and killed it, and, having cooked it, carried it with much devotion and with great weeping to Santa Maria degli Angeli, and gave it to those holy friars to eat, for pity of the wrong he had done them. St. Francis, considering the simplicity and patience under adversity of the said holy Friar Juniper, said to his companions and to the others who were standing round: "Would to God, my brethren. that I had a great forest of such Junipers!"