CHAPTER XVII:'LITTLE FLOWERS' CONTINUED . . .
HOW A LITTLE CHILD WHO HAD ENTERED THE ORDER SAW ST FRANCIS IN PRAYER ONE NIGHT, AND SAW ALSO THE SAVIOUR, THE VIRGIN MARY, AND MANY OTHER SAINTS TALK WITH HIM
A certain pure and innocent child was received into the Order during the lifetime of St Francis, and the convent in which he lived was so small that the monks were obliged to sleep on mats. It chanced that St Francis came one day to that convent, and in the evening, after Compline, he went to rest, so as to rise up early to pray, as was his custom, when all the other friars were still asleep. The said little child had made up his mind carefully to watch St Francis, to learn something of his sanctity, and find out more especially what he did in the night when he got up; and in order that he might not be overtaken by sleep, he laid him down by St Francis, tying the end of the cord he wore round his waist to the one which the saint wore, so that he was sure of being awakened when the latter got up in the night; and this he did so gently, that St Francis was not aware of his contrivance. When all the other friars were fast asleep, St Francis rose from sleep, and finding the child’s cord tied to his own, he carefully untied it so as not to awake him and went alone into the wood which was near the convent. Entering into a little cell which was there, he began to pray. Shortly after, the child awoke, and finding St Francis gone, and the cord untied, he rose up quickly and went to seek him. Perceiving the door open which led to the wood, he thought St Francis had gone that way; and entering into the wood, and hurrying on to the little cell, he heard the sound of many voices. Approaching near to hear and see whence they came, he saw a great and wonderful light all round the saint, and in the light was Jesus Christ, with the Virgin Mary, St John the Baptist, St John the Evangelist, and a great multitude of angels, all talking with St Francis. On seeing this the child fell to the ground as if he had been dead. The miracle of this holy vision being ended, St Francis rose to return to the convent, and stumbling in the way against the child, who appeared to be dead, with great compassion he took him up in his arms and carried him in his bosom, as the good shepherd is wont to carry his lambs. Having learned from him how he had seen the vision, he forbade him to tell any man thereof so long as he, St Francis, lived. The little child grew up in the grace of God, and had a great devotion to St Francis. He became one of the most distinguished men of the Order. After the death of St Francis, he related the vision to the brethren.