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The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, [1906], at


How the Holy Friar Bernard of Assisi was sent by St. Francis to Bologna, and there founded a monastery

BECAUSE St. Francis and his companions were called by God and chosen to bear in their hearts and in their works, and to preach with their tongues the Cross of Christ, they seemed and were men crucified, touching their habit and their austere life and their deeds and works; and because they desired rather to bear shames and insults for the love of Christ than the honours of the world and the respect and praise of men; yea, being reviled they rejoiced, and at honours they were afflicted; and so they went through the world as pilgrims and strangers, bearing nothing with them save Christ Crucified. And because they were true branches of the true vine, that is Christ, they brought forth great and good fruit of souls which they had won for God. It came to pass at the beginning of the Religion that St. Francis sent Friar Bernard to Bologna to the end that there, according to the grace, which God had given him, he might bring forth fruit to

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[paragraph continues] God; and Friar Bernard signing himself with the sign of the most holy cross, for holy obedience, departed and came to Bologna. And the children, seeing him clad in mean and unwonted garments, made a great scoff of him and despitefully used him, even as though he were a madman; and Friar Bernard patiently and gladly bore everything for the love of Christ; yea, to the end that he might be mocked the better, he steadfastly abode in the public square of the city, whereby there gathered about him as he sat there many children and men; and one pulled at his cowl from behind and another in front, one cast dust at him and another stones, one pushed him this way and another that; and ever unmoved and patient, with joyful countenance, Friar Bernard complained not nor disquieted himself, and for many days returned to the same place to endure like things. And because patience is a work of perfection and a proof of virtue, a learned doctor of law, seeing and considering the very great constancy and virtue of Friar Bernard, which, in so many days, neither insult nor injury could disturb, said within himself: "It is impossible that this is not a holy man"; and drawing nigh unto him he asked him: "Who art thou, and wherefore art thou come hither?" For answer, Friar Bernard put his hand into his bosom and drew forth the Rule of St. Francis and gave it to him that he might read it; and when he had read it, considering its most excellent state of perfection, he turned to his companions with very great amazement and wonder, and said: "Truly, this is the most excellent state of perfection whereof I have ever heard, and because this man and his companions are the most holy men in this world, whoso doth him wrong committeth a very grievous sin. Rather should we honour him above measure, as a true friend of God". And

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he said to Friar Bernard: "If you wish to take a Place in which you may seemly serve God, I for my soul's health would gladly give it to you." Friar Bernard answered: "Sir, I believe that our Lord Jesus Christ hath inspired you hereunto; and therefore do I accept your offer willingly to the honour of Christ". Then the said judge, with great joy and charity, led Friar Bernard to his house, and thereafter he gave him the Place which he had promised, and made it ready and finished it at his own expense; and from thenceforward he became the father and special defender of Friar Bernard and his companions. And Friar Bernard, by reason of his holy conversation, began to be held in high honour by the people, insomuch that he who was able to touch or see him held himself blessed; but he, as a true disciple of Christ and of the holy Francis, fearing lest the honours of the world should hinder the peace and salvation of his soul, departed one day and returned to St. Francis and said unto him: "Father, the Place is taken in the city of Bologna; send thither friars who may maintain it and may dwell therein; because, as for me, I no longer profited aught there, in that by reason of the too great honour that was done me, I fear that I have lost more than I have gained". Then St. Francis, when he had heard everything in order, how God had wrought by Friar Bernard, gave thanks to God who had thus begun to enlarge the mendicant disciples of the Cross; and thereafter he sent certain of his companions to Bologna and into Lombardy, the which took many Places in divers parts.

Next: Chapter VI. How St. Francis blessed the holy Friar Bernard, and left him as his vicar. . .