OF SAINT FRANCIS
HERE BEGIN THE LITTLE FLOWERS
OF SAINT FRANCIS
IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OUR CRUCIFIED SAVIOUR, AND OF MARY HIS VIRGIN MOTHER. IN THIS BOOK ARE CONTAINED CERTAIN LITTLE FLOWERS - TO WIT, MIRACLES AND PIOUS EXAMPLES OF THE GLORIOUS SERVANT OF CHRIST ST FRANCIS, AND OF SOME OF HIS HOLY COMPANIONS; TO THE GLORY AND PRAISE OF JESUS CHRIST, AMEN.
First let us consider how the life of the glorious St Francis was conformed in every act with that of our Blessed Lord. For as Christ, before he began to preach, made choice of twelve Apostles, teaching them to despise all the things of this world, to follow him in poverty and in the practice of all other virtues, so St Francis, on the first founding of his Order, chose twelve companions, all lovers of poverty. And even as one of the twelve Apostles, being reproved by Christ, hanged himself by the neck, so among the twelve companions of St Francis was one, called Brother John della Capella, who apostatised, and finally hanged himself by the neck. This should be for the elect a great example and cause of humility and fear, when they consider how no one is certain of persevering in the grace of God to the end. As the holy Apostles, being filled with the Spirit of God, shone forth mightily before the world in holiness and humility, so too did the companions of St Francis; for from the time of the Apostles till this present day the world had never seen men so wonderful and so holy.
On of them, Brother Giles, like St Paul, was raised to the third heaven; another, Brother Philip the Tall, like the prophet Isaiah, was touched upon the lips with a burning coal by an angel. Brother Silvester held converse with God, like one friend with another, as did Moses of old. Another, the most humble Brother Bernard, through the penetration of his intellect, reached the light of divine science, like the eagle - the emblem of St John the Evangelist - and explained all the deepest mysteries of Holy Scripture. One there was who was sanctified and canonised in heaven, whilst still living on earth; this was Brother Ruffino, a nobleman of Assisi. And thus all bore singular marks of sanctity, as we shall see hereafter.