The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How Friar Giles and three companions were received into the Order of the Minors
FORASMUCH as the ensamples of holy men fill the hearts of devout hearers with contempt for transitory delights, and are effectual to awake desire of eternal salvation; to the honour of God and of His most venerable Mother, Our Lady, St. Mary, and for the profit of all hearers, I will speak certain words touching the work which the Holy Ghost hath wrought in our saintly Friar Giles; who, while yet he wore the garb of a layman, was touched by the Holy Ghost and began to ponder within himself how in all his works he might please God alone. At this time, St. Francis, as a new herald prepared of God as an ensample of life, of humility and of holy penance, two years after his conversion, drew and induced to evangelical observance and poverty a man adorned with wonderful prudence and very rich in temporal
goods, to wit Messer Bernard, and also Peter Cattani; so that by the counsel of St. Francis they distributed unto the poor, for love of God, all their temporal treasures, and took unto themselves the glory of patience and evangelic perfection and the habit of the Minor Friars; and with very great fervour have they promised to observe the Religion all the days of their lives; and even so did they with all perfectness. Eight days after the aforesaid conversion and distribution of goods to the poor, Friar Giles, who was then a layman, beholding the contempt in which such noble knights of Assisi held the good things of this world, so that all the city marvelled thereat, was all enkindled with Divine love, and, on the following day, which was the Feast of St. George, in the year of our Lord M.CC.IX., (1209) very early in the morning, and as one in earnest about his salvation, went to the Church of San Gregorio, where was the Convent of St. Clare; and, when he had prayed, having a great desire to see St. Francis, he went toward the hospital of the lepers where he dwelt apart with Friar Bernard and Friar Peter Canard in a very lowly hut. And being come to a crossing of ways, and knowing not whither to go, Friar Giles offered up a prayer to Christ, the precious Guide, who led him to the said hut by a straight way. And while he pondered on that for which he .was come, St. Francis chanced to meet him, as he was coming from the wood whither he had gone to pray; whereupon he forthwith cast himself upon the ground and kneeled before St. Francis, and humbly asked him to receive him to his company, for the love of God. St. Francis, beholding the devout bearing of Friar Giles, made answer and said: "Dearest brother, God hath done thee singular grace. If the Emperor should come to Assisi, and should desire to make a
certain citizen his knight or his lord of the bedchamber, should not such an one rejoice exceedingly? How much more then oughtest thou to be glad that God hath chosen thee for His knight and well-beloved servitor, to observe the perfection of the Holy Gospel. And therefore be thou firm and constant in the vocation whereunto God hath called thee." And he took him by the hand and lifted him up and brought him into the little house aforesaid; and he called Friar Bernard and said: "Messer the Lord God hath sent us a good friar, wherefore rejoice we all in the Lord; let us eat in charity". And, when they had eaten, St. Francis and this Giles went to Assisi to beg cloth wherewith to make a habit for Friar Giles. They found by the way a beggar woman who asked alms of them, for the love of God; and not knowing wherewithal to succour the poor woman, St. Francis turned him to Friar Giles, with a face like that of an angel, and said: For the love of God, dearest brother, let us give this mantle to the poor woman"; and Friar Giles [who was hoping that St. Francis would bid him do so] obeyed the holy father with so ready a heart that it seemed to him that he saw that alms fly straightway up to heaven, and Friar Giles flew with it into heaven by the nearest way; whereby he felt within himself unspeakable joy, with new stirrings of spirit. And St. Francis, when the cloth had been procured and the habit made, received Friar Giles into the Order; the which was one of the most glorious Religious that the world at that time had in the contemplative life. After the reception of Friar Giles, St. Francis forthwith went with him into the March of Ancona, singing with him and magnificently praising the Lord of heaven and earth; and he said to Friar Giles: "Son, our Religion will be like unto the fisher
which setteth his nets in the water and taketh a multitude of fishes, and the large ones he keepeth and the little ones he leaveth in the water". Friar Giles marvelled at this prophecy because as yet there were in the Order only three friars and St. Francis; and albeit, as yet, St. Francis preached not publicly to the people, he admonished and corrected men and women, as he went by the way, saying simply and lovingly: "Love and fear God and do fitting penance for your sins". And Friar Giles used to say: "Do that which my spiritual father here tells you, for he says exceeding well".