The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How Friar Giles lived by the labour of his hands
FRIAR GILES being once at a convent in Rome, wished to live by bodily labour, even as it had been his wont to do from the time he entered the Order; and he did after this manner. In the morning betimes he heard Mass with great devotion; then he gat himself to the wood, which was eight miles distant from Rome, and brought back a bundle of wood on his shoulders, and sold it for bread and other things to eat. One time among others, as he was returning with a load of wood, a woman wished to buy it of him; and, when the bargain for the price had been made, he carried it to her house. Notwithstanding the bargain which had been made, the woman, because she saw that he was a Religious, gave him far more than she had promised him. Said Friar Giles: "Good woman, I would not that the vice of avarice should overcome nee; wherefore I desire not a higher price than that which I bargained for with thee"; so that not only did he not take more, but only took half the price which had been agreed upon, and so departed; whereat that woman conceived toward him a great devotion. In all the work which he did for hire Friar Giles was ever mindful of holy honesty; he helped the husbandmen to pick the olives and to tread out the wine. One day, when he was in the piazza, a certain man wanted to have his walnut trees beaten, and asked another to beat them at a price; he
excused himself because it was a very long way off and the climbing was very difficult. Said Friar Giles: "My friend, if thou art willing to give me part of the walnuts, I will go with thee and beat thy trees"; and, when he had covenanted with him, he went; and, having first made the sign of the most holy Cross, he climbed up, with great fear, into a high tree to beat it; and, when he had beaten it, so many nuts fell to his share that he could not carry them in his lap; so he took off his habit, and, having tied the sleeves and the cowl, made a sack of his habit, remaining naked save only for his breeches; and so he put this habit full of walnuts upon his back, and carried them to Rome, and, with great joy, gave them all to the poor for the love of God. When the wheat was reaped, Friar Giles went with other poor folk to glean the ears, and if any one offered him a handful of grain, he made answer: "My brother, I have no granary wherein to store it"; and those ears he generally gave away for the love of God. Rarely did Friar Giles help another all the day; for he was wont to bargain for sufficient time in which to say the canonical hours, and not to miss his private prayers. Once Friar Giles went to the Fountain of St. Sixtus to draw water for those monks, and a man asked drink of him. Friar Giles replied: "And how can I carry the vessel half empty to the monks?" The man, being angered, spake many abusive words and insults to Friar Giles; wherefore Friar Giles returned to the monks very sorrowful. He borrowed a large vessel and forthwith returned to the said fountain for water, and found that man again and said: "My friend, take and drink as much as thy heart desireth and be not wrath; for to me it seemed a discourtesy to carry to those holy monks water wherefrom another had
drunk". The man, moved to contrition and constrained by the charity and humility of Friar Giles, confessed his fault, and from that day forward held him in great devotion.