Monday, July 31, 2006




As Brother Juniper was once entering Rome, the fame of his sanctity led many of the devout Romans to go out to meet him, but he, as soon as he saw this number of people coming, took it into his head to turn their devotion into sport and ridicule. So, catching sight of two children who were playing at see-saw upon two pieces of wood, he moved one of them from his place, and mounting on the plank in his stead, he began to see-saw with the other. Meanwhile the people came up and marvelled much at Brother Juniper’s see-sawing. Nevertheless they saluted him with great devotion, and waited till he should have finished his play to accompany him honourably to the convent. Brother Juniper took little heed of their salutation, reverence, or patient waiting, but gave his whole attention to his see-saw. And when they had waited thus for a long time, they began to grow tired, and to say, “What folly is this?” Some few, who knew his ways, were moved to still greater devotion; but at last they all departed, leaving Brother Juniper on the see-saw. When they were gone, Brother Juniper remained full of consolation, because he saw in what contempt they held him. Then came he down from his see-saw, and entering Rome with all meekness and humility, came to the convent of the Friars Minor.

[Public Domain.]

Sunday, July 30, 2006




Brother Juniper, desiring to make himself despicable in the sight of men, stripped himself one day of all but his inner garment; and, making a bundle of his habit and other clothes, he entered the city of Viterbo, and went half-naked into the market place, in order to make himself a laughing stock. When he got there, the boys and young men of the place, thinking him to be out of his senses, ill-treated him in many ways, throwing stones and mud at him, and pushing him hither and thither, with many words of derision; and thus insulted and evil entreated, he abode there the greater part of the day, and then went his way to the convent.

Now when the friars saw him they were full of indignation, and chiefly because he had gone thus through the city with his bundle on his head; wherefore they reproved and threatened him sharply. One said: “Let us put him in prison.” Another: “He deserves to be hanged.” And others: “He cannot be too severely punished for the scandal he has given to-day in his own person, to the injury of the whole Order.” And Brother Juniper, being full of joy, answered with all humility, “You say well indeed; for I deserve all these punishments, and far worse than these.”

[Public Domain.]

Saturday, July 29, 2006




One day as Brother Giles, Brother Simon of Assisi, Brother Ruffino, and Brother Juniper were discoursing together concerning God and the salvation of the soul, Brother Giles said to the other brethren: “How do you deal with temptations to impurity?” Brother Simon said: “I consider the vileness and turpitude of the sin till I conceive and exceeding horror of it, and so escape from the temptation.” And Brother Ruffino said: “I cast myself on the ground, and with fervent prayer implore the mercy of God and of the Mother of Jesus Christ till I am freed from the temptation.” And Brother Juniper answered: “When I feel the approach of a diabolical suggestion, I run at once and shut the door of my heart, and, to secure its safety, I occupy myself in holy desires and devout meditations; so that when the suggestion comes and knocks at the door of my heart, I may answer from within: ‘Begone; for the room is already taken, and there is no space for another guest’; and so I never suffer the thought to enter my heart; and the devil, seeing himself baffled, retires discomfited, not from me alone, but from the whole neightbourhood.” Then Brother Giles made answer and said: “Brother Juniper, I hold with thee; for there is no surer way of overcoming this enemy than flight; inasmuch as he attacks us within by means of the traitor appetite, and without through our bodily senses; and so by flight alone can this masterful foe be overcome. And he who resists it in any other way, after all the toil of the conflict, rarely comes off victorious. Fly, then, from this vice, and thou shalt gain the victory.”

[Public Domain.]

(Traditional Feast, Saturday before the 4th Sunday of July)

“By me, his handmaid, he hath fulfilled his mercy which he promised to the house of Israel.” Judges 13:18.

For a whole year the town of Calais, France, was besieged by the English, who lost many troops. Starvation finally forced the French to give up. But the English king, Edward III, would not accept their surrender unless six citizens of Calais came before him bare-headed, bare-footed, dressed in rough shirts, and each with a halter about his neck. He demanded the keys of Calais, and that these men accept his pleasure, however severe, before the rest of the citizens would receive mercy.

Imagine the sorrow of the besieged city. No one wanted to give his life in such a way. At length a nobleman by the name of Eustace de Saint Pierre spoke to the assembly:
“I will be one to offer my head to the King of England as a ransom to save this fair town from sack and spoil.”

At once five others volunteered. They put on the rough shirts and halters. Bare-footed and bare-headed, they went before the English king who angrily reminded them of the terrible losses he suffered through their stubbornness. At last he ordered the six citizens to be beheaded. The king’s noblest and bravest warriors pleaded with him to spare. But in vain. Then Queen Philippa arose from her seat beside the king, knelt before him, and with tears streaming down her cheeks, she prayed:
“My lord and husband, I have crossed the sea through many dangers to be with you. Let me now pray you to take pity on these six prisoners.”

After a few minutes of deep thought the king declared:
“Madam, I wish you had been elsewhere this day. I cannot deny the boon you ask of me. Take these men and dispose of them as you will.”

The gracious queen gave the six hostages better clothing, presented each with a certain amount of money, and had them safely brought back through the lines and set at liberty to return home.

There is a picture of Mary, Mother of Mercy. Mary is in every sense a Mother of Mercy because she is the Mother of Christ, who brought mercy to the world. Mary is the Mother of Mercy for three special reasons:
1. She defends the sinner; 2. She tries to convert the sinner; 3. She receives sinners with joy when they repent.

1. Mary shows her mercy towards sinners by shielding them against God’s anger and punishment. We have many types of this in the Old Testament, particularly that of Nabal, who refused aid to King David and his people when they were in need. Abigail, the wife of Nabal, appealed to her husband and did secure the needed aid. (Isaiah Chapter 25) We have many such figures in the Old Testament of a queen or wife appealing on behalf of those who needed mercy.

In the “Hail Holy Queen” Mother Church has taught us to address Mary as Mother of Mercy. We say that prayer with each Rosary we recite. “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.” Mary appealed for sinners during her life; she still does from heaven. Into her mouth can be put the words of Sacred Scripture:
“I desire not the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel, 33: 11.

Defending sinners is Mary’s occupation, as it is the task of every queen to defend those who need mercy. The king takes care of the justice, but the motherly heart of the queen goes out to those who need mercy. Every sinner needs mercy. We need it. Mary has defended us. Otherwise, how could a wicked world continue to exist, or how could sinners continue to live under the wrath of God? Mary shields us by praying to her Divine Son for us, by holding back His avenging hand, by persuading Him to show further patience and mercy. She pleads with Him for us. She even promises that we will repent, that we will amend our lives and make satisfaction for our sins.

2. We call Mary our Mother of Mercy because she tries to convert sinners by sending her servants, particularly her priests, to exhort and guide and direct souls, to bring them back to the Sacraments of Mother Church. She converts sinners by placing in their path a good book, a Catholic paper. pamphlet or magazine. She directs the sinners gaze to a crucifix or to a picture of herself. She even goes to the King Himself, and, like Queen Philippa, begs God for mercy.

We have all heard the story of St. Augustine, who was converted by the prayers and tears of his earthly mother, St. Monica. But St. Augustine himself declared that his conversion was due, not so much to the tears and prayers of his earthly mother, as to the tears and prayers of his heavenly mother, Mary.

Of course must not presume upon that mercy, but betake ourselves to her motherly Heart and make this mercy of God a permanent fact in our lives.

3. Mary is the Mother of Mercy because the conversion of sinners brings her so much joy. We know that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that does penance. Certainly there is joy in the Heart of the Queen of heaven when a sinner repents. The Blessed Virgin once told St. Bridget:
“However much a man sins, if he returns to me with a real purpose of amendment, I am instantly ready to welcome him; neither do I pay attention to the greatness of his sins, but to the intention alone with which he comes. I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds, for I am called, and truly am, the Mother of Mercy.”

[Adapted from a sermon by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Arthur Tonne, Didde Printing Company.]

Friday, July 28, 2006




Brother Juniper once determined with himself to keep silence for six months together, in this manner. The first day for love of the Eternal Father. The second for love of Jesus Christ his Son. The third for love of the Holy Ghost. The fourth in reverence to the most holy Virgin Mary; and proceeding thus, each day in honour of some saint, he passed six whole months without speaking.

[Public Domain.]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Solution for the Mid-East Conflict

Modern means of communication give us the ability to see the ugly face of terrorism graphically: heartless beheadings, brutal murders, suicide bombings, the bloody deaths of innocent people and the like. No one can deny that terrorists who vow the destruction of individuals and even whole societies are just plain evil. It cannot be said enough: terrorism is satanic.

A few days ago one official at the UN said that terrorism is like a cancer that can only be cut out of the body if we are to save the whole person. I do not agree. Terrorism can't be cut out, it must be cast out. It cannot be excised, it must be exorcised. Guns will not extirpate a spiritual cancer like terrorism which is now metastasizing throughout the world. If terrorism is satanic, then the actual solution to it is to conquer Satan and his minions with the Church's spiritual power. All other human solutions bear fruit as a result of that. Diplomacy and military action are necessary human means to arrest the advance of evil, but by definition they only seek the cessation of hostilities. We are looking to banish the root cause of the hostilities.

And that is precisely the point about the way the Church works in the world. The Church always goes to the root of things and addresses the conflicts in men's souls that lead to any worldly evil. As Christians we do not sit in churches and shrink from the problems of the world in which we live because it is our duty to evangelize the world and transform its evil into something good. In the Church's perspective, modern terrorism is just another manifestation of the evil that is in men's hearts, and when this particular evil passes, the Church will be around to confront the next wickedness that afflicts humanity.

We must never lose confidence in the power of holiness over evil. Communism as a system was dismantled without a shot being fired, and much of it had to do with the holiness of a man like John Paul II and the durable Catholic faith of his brethren in Poland. Likewise, in 1982 there was a "miraculous" cease fire between the warring factions during the siege of Beirut because a small Albanian nun named Mother Theresa decided that 37 handicapped children needed to be rescued from war. When she marched onto the battlefield that day, all the guns went silent. There are more examples, but I'm sure you get the point. The durable solution for terrorism is spiritual. This evil must be cast out.

As the worldly powers send diplomats to hammer out agreements between the warring factions, the Church should be sending saints and exorcists to hammer out the devils who are the spiritual instigators of all sin. To those who say this solution will never work, I say "Try it." Don't forget that many years ago there was a Man who walked about that same region casting out demons. He literally transformed the world by His grace. Now the Prince of Peace wishes to be invited to the Middle East again.

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Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International




One Christmas-day Brother Juniper was in deep meditation before the altar at Scesi, the which altar was right fairly and richly adorned; so, at the desire of the sacristan, Brother Juniper remained to keep guard over it while he went to his dinner. And as he was absorbed in devout meditations, a poor woman came asking an alms of him for the love of God. To whom Brother Juniper made answer: “Wait a while, and I will see if I can find anything for thee on this grand altar.” Now there was upon the altar an exceedingly rich and costly frontal of cloth of gold, with silver bells of great value. “These bells,” said Brother Juniper, “are a superfluity”; so he took a knife and cut them off the frontal, and gave them to the poor woman out of compassion. The sacristan, after he had eaten three or four mouthfuls, bethought him of the ways of Brother Juniper, whom he had left in charge; and began exceedingly to doubt whether, in his charitable zeal, he might not do some damage to the costly altar. As soon as the suspicion entered his head, he rose from the table, and went back to the church, to see if any of the ornaments of the altar had been removed or taken away; and when he saw that the frontal had been cut, and the little bells carried off, he was troubled and scandalised beyond measure. Brother Juniper, seeing that he was very angry, said to him: “Be not disturbed about those little bells, for I have given them to a poor woman who had great need of them, and here they were good for nothing but to make a pompous display of worldly vanity.” When the sacristan had heard this, he went with all speed to seek the woman in the church, and throughout the city; but he could neither find her nor meet with anyone who had seen her. So he returned, and in great wrath took the frontal, and carried it to the general, who was at Assisi, saying: “Father general, I demand justice on Brother Juniper, who has spoilt this hanging for me, the very best I had in the sacristy. See how he has destroyed it by cutting away all the silver bells, which he says he has given to a poor woman!” And the general answered him: “It is not Brother Juniper who has done this, but thine own folly; for thou oughtest by this time to have known his ways: and I tell thee, I marvel only that he did not give away the whole frontal. Nevertheless, I will give him a sound correction for this fault.” And having called the brethren together in chapter, he sent for Brother Juniper, and, in the presence of the whole community, reproved him most severely concerning the said bells; and, waxing wrathful as he spoke, he raised his voice till it became hoarse. Brother Juniper cared little or nothing for these words, for he delighted in reproaches, and rejoiced when he received a good humiliation; but his one thought in return was to find a remedy for the general’s hoarseness. So when he had received his reproof, he went straight to the town for flour and butter, to make a good hasty-pudding, with which he returned when the night was far spent; then lighting a candle, he went with his hasty-pudding to the door of the general’s cell and knocked. The general came to open it, and seeing him with a lighted candle and a pipkin in his hand, asked: “Who is there?” Brother Juniper answered him: “Father, when you reproved me to-day for my faults, I perceived that your voice grew hoarse, and I thought it was from over-fatigue. I considered therefore what would be the best remedy, and have had this hasty-pudding made for you; therefore I pray you eat of it, for I tell you that it will ease your throat and your chest.” “What an hour of the night is this.” said the general, “to come and disturb other people!” And Brother Juniper made answer: “See, it has been made for you; I pray you eat of it without more ado, for it will do you good.” But the general being angry at the lateness of the hour, and at Brother Juniper’s persistence, answered him roughly, bidding him go his way, for at such an hour he would not eat. Then Brother Juniper, seeing that neither persuasions nor prayers were of any avail, said: “Father, since you will not eat the pudding which was made for you, at least do this for me: hold the candle for me, and I will eat it.” Then the general, being a devout and kindly man, seeing the piety and simplicity of Brother Juniper, and how he had done all this out of devotion, answered: “Well, since thou will have it so, thou and I will eat together.” And so the two of them ate this hasty-pudding together, out of an importunate charity, and were refreshed by their devotion more than by the food.

[Public Domain.]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006




Brother Juniper was so full of pity and compassion for the poor, that when he saw anyone poor or naked he immediately took off his tunic, or the hood of his clock, and gave it to him. The guardian therefore laid an obedience upon him not to give away his tunic or any part of his habit. A few days afterwards, a poor half-naked man asked an alms of Brother Juniper for the love of God, who answered him with great compassion: “I have nothing which I could give thee but my tunic, and my superior has laid me under obedience not to give it, nor any part of my habit, to anyone. But if thou take it off my back I will not resist thee.” He did not speak to a deaf man; for the begger forthwith stripped him of his tunic, and went off with it. When Brother Juniper returned home, and was asked what had become of his tunic, he replied: “A good man took it off my back, and went away with it.” And as the virtue of compassion increased in him, he was not contented with giving his tunic, but would give books, or clocks, or whatever he could lay his hands on, to the poor. For this reason the brethren took care to leave nothing in the common rooms of the convent, because Brother Juniper gave away everything for the love of God and to the glory of his name.

[Public Domain.]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Dear children! At this time, do not only think of rest for your body but, little children, seek time also for the soul. In silence may the Holy Spirit speak to you and permit Him to convert and change you. I am with you and before God I intercede for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call.



Once upon a time the devil, desiring to terrify Brother Juniper, and to raise up scandal and tribulation against him, betook himself to a most cruel tyrant, named Nicholas, who was then at war with the city of Viterbo, and said to him: “My lord, take heed to watch your castle well, for a vile traitor will come here shortly from Viterbo to kill you and set fire to your castle. And by this sign you shall know him: he will come in the guise of a poor beggar, with his clothes all tattered and patched, and a torn hood falling on his shoulders, and he will carry with him an awl, wherewith to kill you, and a flint and steel wherewith to set fire to the castle; and if you find not my words to be true, punish me as you will.” At these words Nicholas was seized with great terror, believing the speaker to be a person worthy of credit; and he commanded a strict watch to be kept, and that if such a person would present himself he should be brought before him forthwith. Presently Brother Juniper arrived alone; for, because of his great perfection, he was allowed to travel without a companion as he pleased.

On this there went to meet him certain wild young men, who began to mock him, treating him with great contempt and indignity. And Brother Juniper was no way troubled thereat, but rather incited them to ill-treat him more and more. And as they came to the castle-gate, the guards seeing him thus disfigured, with his scanty habit torn in two - for he had given half of it on the way to a begger, for the love of God, so that he had no longer the appearance of a Friar Minor - recognizing the signs given of the expected murderer, they dragged him with great fury before the tyrant Nicholas. They searched him to find whether he had any offensive weapons, and found in his sleeve an awl, which he used to mend his sandals, and also a flint and steel which he carried with him to strike a light when he abode, as he often did, in the woods or in desert places. Nicholas, seeing the signs given by the devil, commanded that a cord should be fastened round his neck, which was done with so great cruelty that it entered into the flesh. He was then most cruelly scourged; and being asked who he was, he replied: “I am a great sinner.” When asked whether he wanted to betray the castle to the men of Viterbo, he answered: “I am a great traitor, and unworthy of any mercy.” Being questioned whether he intended to kill the tyrant Nicholas with that awl, and to burn the castle, he replied that he should do greater things than these, should God permit him. This Nicholas then, being wholly mastered by his fury, would examine no further, but without delay condemned Brother Juniper, as a traitor and murderer, to be fastened to a horse’s tail, and so dragged on the ground to the gallows, there to be forthwith hanged by the neck. And Brother Juniper made no excuse for himself, but, as one who joys to suffer for the love of God, he was full of contentment and rejoicing. So the command of the tyrant was carried into effect. Brother Juniper was tied by the feet to the horse’s tail, and dragged along the ground, making no complaint, but, like a meek lamb led to the slaughter, he submitted with all humility. At this spectacle of prompt justice, all the people ran together to behold the execution of so hasty and cruel a judgment, but no one knew the culprit. Nevertheless it befell, by the will of God, that a good man, who had seen Brother Juniper taken and sentenced forthwith, ran to the house of the Friars Minor, and said: “I pray you, for the love of God, to come with me at once, for a poor man has been seized and immediately condemned and led to death. Come, that he may at least place his soul in your hands, for he seems to me a good man, and he has had no time to make his confession; even now they are leading him to the gallows, yet he seems to have no fear of death nor care of his soul. Oh, be pleased to come quickly!” Then the guardian, who was a compassionate man, went at once to provide for the salvation of this soul; and when he came to the place of execution, he could not get near for the crowd; but, as he stood watching for an opening, he heard a voice say: “Do not so, do not so, cruel men; you are hurting my legs!” And as he recognised the voice of Brother Juniper, the guardian, in fervour of spirit, forced his way through the crowd, and tearing the bandage from the face of the condemned, he saw that it was indeed Brother Juniper, who looked upon him with a cheerful and smiling countenance. Then the guardian with many tears besought the executioners and all the people for pity to wait a little space, till he should go and beseech the tyrant to have mercy on Brother Juniper. The executioners promised to wait a few moments, believing, no doubt, that he was some kinsman of the prisoner. So the devout and pious guardian went to the tyrant Nicholas, weeping bitterly, and said: “My lord, I am so filled with grief and amazement that my tongue can scarcely utter it, for it seems to me that in this our land has been committed to-day the greatest sin and the greatest evil which has been wrought from the days of our fathers even until now, and I believe that it has been done through ignorance.” Nicholas heard the guardian patiently, and inquired: “What is this great sin and evil which has been committed to-day in this land?” And the guardian answered: “It is this, my lord, that you have condemned - and, as I assuredly believe, unjustly - to a most cruel punishment one of the holiest friars at this time in the Order of St Francis, to whom you profess a singular devotion.” Then said Nicholas: “Now tell me, father guardian, who is he; for perhaps, knowing him not, I have committed a great fault?” “He,” said the guardian, “whom you have condemned to death is Brother Juniper, the companion of St Francis.” Then was the tyrant amazed, for he had heard the fame of Brother Juniper’s sanctity; and, pale with fear, he hastened together with the guardian to Brother Juniper, and loosed him from the horse’s tail and set him free, and in the presence of all the people he prostrated himself on the ground before Brother Juniper, and with many tears confessed his fault, and the cruelty of which he had been guilty towards that holy friar; adding: “I believe indeed that the days of my wicked life are numbered, since I have thus without reason cruelly tortured so holy a man. For, in punishment of my evil life, God will send me in a few days an evil death, though this thing I did ignorantly.” Then Brother Juniper freely forgave the tyrant Nicholas: but a few days afterwards God permitted a most cruel death to overtake him. And so Brother Juniper departed, leaving all the people greatly edified.

[Public Domain.]

Monday, July 24, 2006



The devils could not endure the purity of Brother Juniper’s innocence and his profound humility, as appears in the following example: A certain demoniac one day fled in an unaccustomed manner, and through devious paths, seven miles from his home. When his parents, who had followed him in great distress of mind, at last overtook him, they asked him why he had fled in this strange way. The demoniac answered: “Because that fool Juniper was coming this way. I could not endure his presence, and therefore, rather than wait his coming, I fled away through these woods.” And on inquiring into the truth of these words, they found that Brother Juniper had indeed arrived at the time the devil had said. Therefore when demoniacs were brought to St Francis to be healed, if the evil spirit did not immediately depart at his command, he was wont to say: “Unless thou dost instantly leave this creature, I will bring Brother Juniper to thee.” Then the devil, fearing the presence of Brother Juniper, and being unable to endure the virtue and humility of St Francis, would forthwith depart.

[Public Domain.]

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Part II: The Life of Brother Juniper


Chapter I. How Brother Juniper cut off the foot of a pig to give it to a sick brother


One of the most chosen disciples and first companions of St Francis was Brother Juniper, a man of profound humility and of great fervour and charity, of whom St Francis once said, when speaking of him to some of his companions: “He would be a good Friar Minor who had overcome the world as perfectly as Brother Juniper.” Once when he was visiting a sick brother at St Mary of the Angels, he said to him, as if all on fire with the charity of God: “Can I do thee any service?” And the sick man answered: “Thou wouldst give me great consolation if thou couldst get me a pig’s foot to eat.” Brother Juniper answered immediately: “Leave it to me; thou shalt have one at once.” So he went and took a knife from the kitchen, and in fervour of spirit went into the forest, where many swine were feeding, and having caught one, he cut off one of its feet and ran off with it, leaving the swine with its foot cut off; and coming back to the convent, he carefully washed the foot, and diligently prepared and cooked it. Then he brought it with great charity to the sick man, who ate it with avidity; and Brother Juniper was filled with joy and consolation, and related the history of his assault upon the swine for his diversion. Meanwhile, the swineherd who had seen the brother cut off the foot, went and told the tale in order, and with great bitterness, to his lord, who, being informed of the fact, came to the convent and abused the friars, calling them hypocrites, deceiver, robbers, and evil men. “Why,” said he, “have you cut off the foot of my swine?” At the noise which he made, St Francis and all the friars came together, and with all humility made excuses for their brother, and, as ignorant of the fact, promised, in order to appease the angry man, to make amends for the wrong which had been done to him. But he was not to be appeased, and left St Francis with many threats and reproaches, repeating over and over again that they had maliciously cut the foot off his swine, refusing to accept any excuse or promise of repayment; and so departed in great wrath. And as all the other friars wondered: “Can Brother Juniper indeed have done this through indiscreet zeal?” So he sent for him, and asked him privately: “Hast thou cut off the foot of a swine in the forest?” To which Father Juniper answered quite joyfully, not as one who has committed a fault, but believing he had done a great act of charity: “It is true, sweet Father, that I did cut off that swine’s foot; and if thou wilt listen compassionately, I will tell thee the reason. I went out of charity to visit the brother who is sick.” And so he related the matter in order, adding: “I tell thee, dear father, that this foot did the sick brother so much good, that if I had cut off the feet of a hundred swine instead of one, I verily believe that God would have been pleased therewith.” To whom St Francis, in great zeal for justice, and in much bitterness of heart, made answer: “O Brother Juniper, wherefore hast thou given this great scandal? Not without reason doth this man complain, and thus rage against us; perhaps even now he is going about the city spreading this evil report of us, and with good cause. Therefore I command thee by holy obedience, that thou go after him until thou find him, and cast thyself prostrate before him, confessing thy fault, and promising to make such full satisfaction that he shall have no more reason to complain of us, for this is indeed a most grievous offence.” At these words Brother Juniper was much amazed, wondering that any one should have been angered at so charitable an action, for all temporal things appeared to him of no value, save in so far as they could be charitably applied to the service of our neighbour. So he made answer: “Doubt not, Father, but that I shall soon content and satisfy him. And why should there be all this disturbance, seeing that the swine was rather God’s than his, and that it furnished the means for an act of charity?” And so he went his way, and coming to the man, who was still chafing and past all patience, he told him for what reason he had cut off the pig’s foot, and all with such fervour, exultation and joy, as if he were telling him of some great benefit he had done him which deserved to be highly rewarded. The man grew more and more furious at his discourse, and loaded him with much abuse, calling him a fantastical fool and a wicked thief. Brother Juniper, who delighted in insults, cared nothing for all this abuse, but marvelling that any one should be wrath at what seemed to him only a matter of rejoicing, he thought he had not made himself well understood, and so repeated the story all over again, and then flung himself on the man’s neck and embraced him, telling him that all had been done out of charity, and inciting and begging him for the same motive to give the rest of the swine also; and all this with so much charity, simplicity, and humility, that the man’s heart was changed within him, and he threw himself at Brothers Juniper’s feet, acknowledging with many tears the injuries which by word and deed he had done to him and his brethren. Then he went and killed the swine, and having cut it up, he brought it, with many tears and great devotion, to St Mary of the Angels, and gave it to those holy friars in compensation for the injury he had done them. Then St Francis, considering the simplicity and patience under adversity of this good Brother Juniper, said to his companions and those who stood by: “Would to God, my brethren, that I had a forest of such Junipers!”

[Public Domain.]

Saturday, July 22, 2006




Passing over all the miracles of the sacred, holy stigmata of St Francis, it shall suffice in conclusion of this fifth consideration to relate the following: Pope Gregory IX having some little doubt, as he afterwards related, concerning the wound in the side of St Francis, the saint one night appeared to him, and raising his right arm a little, discovered to him the wound in his side. He then bade him bring a flask and place it beneath the wound, and when the Pope had done so, he saw it filled to the brim with blood mingled with water, which flowed from the wound; and thereupon all doubt immediately departed from him. After this, with the concurrence of all the Cardinals, he approved the sacred, holy stigmata of St Francis by a special bull granted to the friars at Viterbo in the eleventh year of his papacy; and in the following year he issued another, with still more copious privileges. Pope Nicholas III and Pope Alexander also confirmed the same, with fuller privileges, decreeing that whosoever should deny the sacred, holy stigmata might be proceeded against as a heretic. And this shall suffice concerning the fifth consideration of the glorious, holy, and sacred stigmata of our father St Francis, whose life may God give us grace to follow in this world, that by virtue of his glorious stigmata we may deserve to be saved with him in Paradise! To the praise of Jesus Christ and his poor servant St Francis! Amen.

[Public Domain.]

Friday, July 21, 2006




A noble knight of Massa di San Pietro, named Landulph, who was most devout to St Francis, and had received the habit of the Third Order from his hand, was thus certified of his death and of the truth of his sacred, holy and glorious stigmata. When St Francis lay on his deathbed, the devil entered into a woman of that place, and cruelly tormented her, and withal made her to speak with such learning and subtlety, that she overcame all the clerks and learned men who came to dispute with her. Now it came to pass that the devil, departing from her, left her free for the space of two days, after which he returned again, and afflicted her more cruelly than before. Which when Landulph heard he went to the woman, and asked the devil which dwelt within her wherefore he had departed from her for those days, and why he had since returned to torment her worse than before. And the devil answered thus: “When I left her, I went with all my companions in these parts, being gathered together in great force, to the deathbed of Francis the begger, to dispute with him, and carry away his soul; but, because it was surrounded and defended by a multitude of angels, far more numerous than we, who carried it straight to heaven we were forced to retire discomfited; and therefore have I returned to make up to this wretched woman for the peace in which I left her for those days.”

Then Landulph conjured him in the name of God to tell him what was the truth regarding the holiness of St Francis, whom he affirmed to be dead, and for St Clare, who was still alive. And the devil answered him: “I must tell thee the truth whether I will or not. The anger of God the Father was so enkindled against the sins of the world, that he was ready to pass sentence upon it, and to destroy all men and women from the face of the earth, unless they would repent. But Christ his Son, praying for sinners, promised to renew his life and Passion in the person of a man, namely, in St Francis, a poor mendicant; through whose life and doctrine many throughout the world should be brought back into the way of truth, and many also to penance. And now, to show to the world what he had wrought in St Francis, he has been pleased that the stigmata of his Passion, which he had imprinted on his body during life, should be seen and touched by many since his death. In like manner did the Mother of Christ promise to renew her virginal purity and her humility in the person of a woman, to wit in Sister Clare, that by her example many women might be delivered out of my hands. And the eternal Father, being appeased by these promises, deferred his final sentence.” Then Landulph, wishing to know for certain whether the devil, who is the abode and father of lies, spoke truth in these matters, and especially with regard to the death of St Francis, sent a faithful servant of his to Assisi, to St Mary of the Angels, to inquire whether St Francis were alive or dead; whither, when the messenger had arrived, he found that he was indeed dead, and brought certain information to his lord that St Francis had passed from this life on the very day and hour of which the devil had spoken.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006




In the province of Rome a very devout and holy friar saw this wonderful vision. A brother, who was exceedingly beloved by him, died one night, and was buried in the morning at the entrance of the chapter house. On the same day the friar withdrew after dinner into a corner of the chapter house, and there prayed most fervently to God and St Francis for the soul of this his beloved companion. And persevering in prayer with many tears till midday, when all the rest lay down to sleep, on a sudden he heard a loud noise in the cloister. Being seized with great terror, he cast his eyes on the grave of his companion, and beheld St Francis standing at the entrance of the chapter house, and behind him a great multitude of friars surrounding the grave. And looking farther, he saw in the midst of the cloister a great and intense fire burning, and in it the soul of his deceased companion; and looking round the cloister, he beheld our Lord Jesus Christ going round it, with a great company of angels and saints. And as he beheld these things in great amazement, he saw that when Christ passed by the chapter house, St Francis will all those friars knelt down, and said to him: “I beseech thee, my dearest Lord and Father, by that inestimable charity which thou didst show to the human race in thine Incarnation, to have mercy upon the soul of this my brother, which is burning in that fire”; yet Christ answered nothing, but passed on. And, returning again the second time, and passing by the chapter house, St Francis knelt down again with his friars, and besought him in these words: “I beseech thee, most pitiful Father and Lord, by the unbounded charity which thou didst show to the human race when thou didst die for it on the wood of the cross, to have mercy on the soul of this my brother”; but Christ again passed by, and heeded him not. And going again round the cloister, he passed the third time by the chapter house, and then St Francis, kneeling down as before, showed him his hands and his feet and his side, saying: “I pray thee, merciful Lord and Father, by that great anguish and great consolation which I experienced when thou didst impress these stigmata upon my flesh, to have mercy on the soul of this my brother, which is in the flames of Puragatory.” Wonderful to tell, Christ being thus besought for the third time by St Francis, in the name of his stigmata, immediately stood still, and, looking upon them, he granted his prayer, saying: “I grant to thee, Francis, the soul of thy brother.” And hereby assuredly he intended to honour and confirm the glorious stigmata of St Francis, and openly to testify that the souls of his brethren which go to Purgatory have no easier way of deliverance than by virtue of his stigmata, by which they are freed from pain, and brought to the glory of Paradise, according to the words which Christ said to St Francis when he imprinted them upon his body.

No sooner had our Lord spoken these words than the fire in the cloister vanished, and the dead friar came to St Francis, and, together with him and with Christ, all that blessed company, with their glorious King, ascended into heaven. For which cause the friar his companion, who had prayed for him, seeing him delivered from suffering and received into Paradise, was filled with exceeding joy. And then he related the whole vision in order to the other friars, and all together they praised and gave thanks to God.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006




St Francis once appeared on Mount Alvernia to Brother John of Alvernia, a man of great sanctity, while he was in prayer, and spoke with him for a long space of time; and before he departed he said to him: “Ask of me what thou wilt.” Then Brother John made answer: “Father, I pray thee, tell me that which I have long desired to know, - what thou wast doing, and where thou wast, when the seraph appeared to thee.” And St Francis replied: “I was praying in that place whereon the chapel of Count Simon da Battifolle now stands, and I asked two favours of my Lord Jesus Christ. The first was that he would grant to me in my lifetime to feel, as far as might be possible, both in my soul and body, all that he had suffered in his most bitter Passion. The second favour which I asked was, that I might feel in my heart that exceeding love which enkindled his, and moved him to endure so great a Passion for us sinners. And then God put it into my heart that it was granted to me to feel both, as far as is possible for a mere creature; and this promise was well fulfilled to me by the impression of the stigmata.” Then Brother John asked him whether those sacred words spoken to him by the seraph had been truly related by the brother who affirmed that he had heard them from the mouth of St Francis, in the presence of eight friars. And St Francis made answer, that they were even so as that brother had said. Then Brother John, emboldened to ask by the saint’s liberality in granting his requests, said thus: “O Father, I beseech thee most earnestly that thou wilt suffer to see and kiss thy glorious, sacred stigmata; not that I have any doubt upon the matter, but because such has always been my most earnest desire.” And St Francis graciously showing them to him, Brother John plainly saw and touched and kissed them. Lastly he said to him: “Father, grant me, if it be the will of God, to feel in some small measure the consolation which thou didst experience when thou didst behold our dear Lord come down to thee to give thee the stigmata of his most holy Passion.” Then St Francis replied: “Dost thou see these nails?” “Yes, Father,” said Brother John. “Touch once more,” said St Francis, “this nail which is in my hand.” Then Brother John, with great fear and reverence, touched that nail, and as he touched it there issued forth from it a perfume, with as it were a little cloud of incense, which, entering the nostrils of Brother John, filled both his soul and body with such overpowering sweetness that he was immediately rapt in God: and in that ecstasy he remained insensible from that hour, which was the hour of Tierce, until Vespers. And of that vision and familiar converse with St Francis, Brother John never spoke to any save to his confessor till the day of his death; but on his deathbed he revealed it to several of the brethren.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006




It happened as a devout and holy friar was reading in the legend of St Francis the chapter concerning the sacred, holy stigmata, that he began in great anxiety of mind to ponder what those most secret words could be, spoken by the seraph to St Francis, which he would never reveal to any one in his life-time. And he said thus to himself: “St Francis would never tell these words to any one while he was alive; but now since his corporal death he would perhaps reveal them, were he devoutly besought to do so.” And from that day forth the fervent friar betook himself to prayer, beseeching God and St Francis to reveal these words to him; and after persevering for eight years in this prayer, it was at last granted in the following manner: One day after dinner as he was making his thanksgiving in the church, and remained there praying to this end with greater devotion than usual, and with many tears, he was presently summoned by another friar, by order of the Father Guardian, to go with him to the city on the business of the convent. Not doubting, therefore, that obedience is more meritorious than prayer, he no sooner heard the command of his Superior than he left the church, and went humbly with the brother who called him. And this act of obedience was so pleasing to God, that by it he merited what he had not obtained by all his long years of prayer; for as soon as they had passed through the gate, they met two stranger friars, who seemed as if they had come from a far land, one of whom appeared young, and the other lean and old; and by reason of the bad weather they were both wet and muddy. On which the obedient friar spoke thus to his companion: “Oh, dearest Brother, if the business on which we are going may brook some little delay, seeing that these stranger brethren have great need of a charitable reception, I pray thee let me first go and wash their feet, - and specially those of this ancient brother, and thou mayst wash the feet of the younger, - and then we will go upon the business of the convent.” Then the other friar yielding to the charity of his companion, they returned to the house, and most charitably received those stranger brethren, bringing them into the kitchen to warm and dry themselves at the fire, at which eight other brethren of the place were already warming themselves. And after they had been awhile at the fire, they took them aside to wash their feet, as they had agreed together to do. Now as the obedient brother was washing the feet of the ancient friar, he beheld on them the marks of the sacred, holy stigmata, and immediately embracing them in joy and wonder, he began to cry: “Either thou art Christ, or thou art St Francis!” At that cry, and at these words, the brethren who were at the fire rose up, and drawing near, beheld with great fear and reverence those glorious stigmata. Then the ancient friar suffered them at their earnest desire to behold them clearly, and also to touch and kiss them. And as they wondered more and more, and scarce believed for joy, he said to them: “Doubt not and fear not, beloved brethren and children; I am your father, Brother Francis, who by the will of God founded three Orders. And inasmuch as this brother, who but now has washed my feet, has been beseeching me these eight years past, and to-day more fervently than ever, to reveal to him the secret words spoken to me by the seraph when he gave me the stigmata, which words I would never reveal during my lifetime, now by the command of God, for his perseverance and for his prompt obedience by which he left the sweetness of contemplation, I am sent to reveal to him, before you, that which he has asked to know.”

Then St Francis, turning to the friar, said thus: “Know, dearest brother, that when I was on Mount Alvernia, wholly absorbed in the remembrance of the Passion of Christ, in that seraphical apparition I was thus stigmatised by Christ in my body, and then he spoke to me thus: ‘Knowest thou what I have done to thee? I have given thee the signs of my Passion that thou mayest be my standard-bearer. And as on the day of my death I descended into Limbo, and by virtue of my stigmata drew forth and took with me to Paradise all the souls whom I found there, so do I now grant to thee, in order that thou mayest be conformed to me in death as thou hast been in life, that when thou shalt have passed out of this life, thou shalt descend into Purgatory every year on the anniversary of thy death, and by the virtue of thy stigmata which I have given thee shalt deliver thence and take with thee to Paradise all the souls which thou shalt find there of thy three Orders - Minors, Sisters, and Penitents, - with all others soever who shall have been devout to thee.’ And these words I never told to any one while I was in life.” Having said these words, St Francis and his companion immediately disappeared. Many brethren heard this related by the eight friars who witnessed the vision, and heard the words of St Francis.

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Monday, July 17, 2006


The fifth and last consideration is of certain apparitions, revelations, and miracles, which God vouchsafed after the death of St Francis, in confirmation of the truth of his sacred stigmata, and to certify the day and hour on which Christ gave them to him. In the year of our Lord, then, 1282, in the month of October, Brother Philip, the minister of Tuscany, by the command of Brother John Buonagrazia, the minister general, required under holy obedience Brother Matthew de Castiglione of Arezzo, a man of great devotion and sanctity, to tell him what he knew of the day and hour in which the sacred, holy stigmata were impressed by Christ on the body of St Francis, because he had heard that it had been revealed to him. And Brother Matthew, being constrained by holy obedience, made answer thus: “Being one of the community of Alvernia, last May I was praying in my cell, which is on the spot where the seraph is believed to have appeared. And in my prayer I besought God most devoutly that he would be pleased to make known to some person the day, the hour, and the place in which the sacred, holy stigmata were impressed on the body of St Francis. And persevering thus for a long time in this prayer, St Francis appeared to me in great glory, and said to me: ‘My son, what prayer art thou making to God?’ And I said to him: ‘Father, I am praying such and such things.’ And he said to me: ‘I am thy Father Francis. Dost thou know me?’ ‘Yes, Father,’ said I. Then he showed me the sacred, holy stigmata in his hands and feet and side, saying: ‘The time is now come when God wills that to be manifested for his glory, which the brethren have not hitherto sought to know. Know, then, that he who appeared to me was no angel, but Jesus Christ himself under the appearance of a seraph, who, with his own hands, impressed those wounds upon my body, as he himself received them in his body on the cross; and it was thus. On the day before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, an angel came to me, and bade me, on the part of God, to prepare to receive with patience whatsoever he should be pleased to send me. And I made answer that I was prepared to receive and endure whatever God should be pleased to appoint for me. And on the following morning, being the morning of Holy Cross day, which in that year fell on a Friday, I left my cell at daybreak in great fervour of spirit, and went to pray in that very spot where thou now dwellest, where I was often accustomed to pray. And as I was praying there descended through the air with great rapidity the figure of a young man crucified, in the guise of a seraph with six wings. At which marvellous sight I knelt down humbly, and began devoutly to contemplate the unbounded love of Jesus Christ crucified, and the unbounded anguish of his Passion. And such compassion did this spectacle excite within me, that it seemed to me as if I felt that Passion in my own body, and the whole mountain shone like the sun in his presence: and, thus, descending, he came close to me. And standing before me, he spoke to me certain secret words, which I have never yet revealed to any one, but the time is now at hand when they shall be revealed. Then after a little space, Christ departed and returned to heaven, and I found myself thus signed with these wounds. Go, then,’ said St Francis, ‘and assure thy minister of these things; for this is the work of God and not of man.’ Having said these words, St Francis blessed me and returned to heaven, accompanied by a great multitude of glorious spirits.” All these things the said Brother Matthew declared that he had seen, not sleeping, but waking. And he made oath that he had thus related them to the said minister in his cell at Florence, when so enjoined by him to do under holy obedience.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006


As to the fourth consideration, be it known, that after the true love of Christ had perfectly transformed St Francis into God, and into the true image of Christ crucified, that angelical man, having fulfilled the Lent of forty days in honour of St Michael the Archangel on the holy mountain of Alvernia, came down from the mount with Brother Leo and a devout peasant, on whose ass he rode, because, by reason of the nails in his feet, he could hardly go on foot. And the fame of his sanctity being already spread abroad through the country by the shepherds who had seen Mount Alvernia on fire, and who took it to be a token of some great miracle wrought by God on his person, no sooner had he descended from the mountain than all the people of the country through which he passed, men and women, great and small, pressed round him, eagerly desiring to touch and kiss his hands; and though he could not altogether repress their devotion, yet, in order to conceal the sacred, holy stigmata, he wrapped bandages round his hands, and covered them with his sleeves, giving them only the fingers to kiss. But though he thus strove to conceal the secret of the sacred stigmata, in order to shun all occasion of worldly glory, it pleased God for his own glory to work many miracles by virtue of the same holy stigmata, and especially in this journey from Mount Alvernia to St Mary of the Angels. And the same hath he since reviewed in many and divers parts of the world, both during the lifetime of St Francis and after his glorious death, that their mysterious and marvellous virtue, and the exceeding charity and mercy of Christ towards him, might be made manifest to the world by clear and evident miracles, such as these which follow.

At St Francis drew near to a city on the confines of Arezzo, a woman came to him weeping bitterly, and carrying in her arms her son, a boy of eight years old, so greatly swollen with dropsy that he could not stand upright upon his feet; and laying him down before St Francis she besought him to pray to God for him. St Francis first betook himself to prayer, and then laying his holy hands upon the child, the swelling subsided at once, and he restored him completely cured to his mother, who received him with great joy, and took him home, thanking God and St Francis, and taking delight in showing her restored child to all her neighbours who came to her house to witness the cure.

On the same day St Francis passed on through Borgo San Sepolcro; and as soon as he approached the castle, a multitude of people poured forth from the castle and the neighbouring villages to meet him, many of them bearing olive-branches in their hands, and crying aloud: “Behold the saint; behold the saint!” And in their devotion and eager desire to touch him, the people pressed mightily upon him; but he, being rapt in contemplation, and his mind wholly fixed on God, although thus pressed upon and dragged hither and thither by the multitude, was insensible of all that passed around, and knew nothing of all that was said or done, or even that he had passed by that castle or through the country. When, therefore, the multitude had returned to their own houses, and he had reached a house of lepers about a mile on the other side of the town, coming to himself as if just returned from the other world, the heavenly contemplative asked his companions: “When shall we come to the town?” For his soul, fixed and rapt in the contemplation of heaven, had been unconscious of all things earthly, and perceived neither lapse of time, nor change of place, nor persons passing by. And the like befell him many different times, as his companions often experienced.

That evening St Francis arrived at the house of the brethren of Monte Casale, where was a friar so grievously ill, and so cruelly afflicted by his sickness, that it seemed to be rather an infliction and torment of the devil than any natural infirmity; for sometimes he would cast himself down on the ground, trembling fearfully, and foaming at the mouth. At other times every nerve in his body seemed to be distended, or contracted, or distorted, and he would spring convulsively from the ground, and immediately fall prostrate again. St Francis, then, being seated at table, and hearing from the brethren the miserable condition of this friar, which seemed past remedy, took compassion on him, and taking a morsel of the bread which he was eating, he made the sign of the cross upon it with those holy hands that bore the stigmata of Christ, and sent it to the sick brother, who had no sooner eaten it than he was perfectly cured, and never more felt any return of his infirmity.

On the following morning St Francis sent two of the brethren from that place to abide at Alvernia, and with them the peasant who had lent him the ass, desiring him to return to his house. And having remained a few days in that place, St Francis departed and went to the city of Castello. And behold many of the citizens came to meet him, bringing with them a woman who for a long time past had been possessed by a devil; and they humbly besought him to deliver her, because she troubled all the country round by howling fearfully, or shrieking piteously, or at times by barking like a dog. Then St Francis, having first prayed and made the sign of the most holy cross over her, commanded the devil to depart out of her; and forthwith he departed, leaving her whole both in mind and body. And as the news of the miracle spread among the people, another woman full of faith brought a child sick of a grievous ulcer, and devoutly besought him to bless it with his hand. Then St Francis accepting her devotion, took the child, and removing the bandage, made the sign of the most holy cross thrice over the wound; and then, having bound it up again with his own hands, he delivered the child to his mother, who, as it was evening, laid him down immediately on his bed to sleep. In the morning, when she went to take him out of his bed, she found the wound unbandaged and perfectly healed, no trace remaining of it, save that in the place where it had been there was impressed the likeness of a red rose in testimony of the miracle, which remained until his death, and many a time excited him to devotion to St Francis, by whom he had been healed.

In that city, at the desire of the devout inhabitants, St Francis abode a month, during which time he wrought many miracles, and then departed thence to go to St Mary of the Angels with Brother Leo and a good man who had lent him an ass on which he rode. It so happened that, as they travelled night and day, finding no place where they could lodge for the night, they took shelter from the cold and the snow, which was falling fast, in the cavity of a hollow rock. And night coming upon them as they remained under this miserable shelter, which scarcely protected them from the inclemency of the weather, the poor man to whom the ass belonged, being unable to sleep for the cold, and having no means of kindling a fire, began to complain bitterly, and to weep and almost to murmur at St Francis for having brought him into such a place. Then St Francis, hearing him, had compassion on him, and in fervour of spirit stretched out his hand and touched him, when - wonderful to say - no sooner did the poor man feel the touch of that hand which had been pierced and enkindled by the seraph’s fire than all sensation of cold departed from him, and such glowing heat inflamed him within and without, as if he had been placed near the mouth of a fiery furnace, that, being instantly relieved and comforted both in body and soul, he fell asleep, and slept - as he said himself - all night through till morning, more sweetly amid the rocks and snow than he had ever slept in his own bed.

Now when they had journeyed for another day, they came to St Mary of the Angels, and as they drew nigh to it, Brother Leo lifted up his eyes and beheld a most beautiful cross, and upon it the image of the Crucified, going before St Francis, who followed after it; so that when he stood still, the cross stood still, and when he went forward, the cross went ever before him; and such was the splendour of that cross, that it not only illumined the face of St Francis, but made all the way bright around him, and so continued shining till he entered the convent of St Mary of the Angels. St Francis, then, coming with Brother Leo, was received by the brethren with great charity and joy, and from that day forward St Francis dwelt for the most of his time at St Mary of the Angels until the day of his death. And as the fame of his sanctity and of his miracles went forth more and more out of the depth of his humility did he conceal the gifts and graces of God as far as he could, calling himself the greatest of sinners.

On occasion of this Brother Leo marvelling, on a certain day, considered foolishly within himself: “See now, how he calleth himself the greatest of sinners, and that before all men, when he has become great in the Order and is so much honoured of God; while yet in secret he never confessed himself to be guilty of carnal sin; is it then that he is still a virgin?” And thenceforth there took him a great longing to know the truth in this matter, yet did he not dare to ask St Francis. Wherefore he turned himself to God, praying earnestly that he would reveal to him the truth he so much wished to know; and by his many prayers and through the merit of St Francis he was heard, and it was answered to him that St Francis was, in very truth, a virgin in his body, by means of the vision that followed. For in his vision he beheld St Francis standing in a high place and an honourable, whereto none other could attain to stand beside him; and it was said unto him in the spirit that this place, so lofty and so excellent, signified the most high virginal chastity of St Francis, which was wholly reasonable in that flesh of his that was to be adorned with the sacred, holy stigmata of Christ.

St Francis finding that, by reason of the stigmata of Christ, his bodily strength was gradually wasting away, and that he could no longer rule over the Order, hastened to assemble a general chapter; and the brethren being all met together, he humbly laid before them his incapacity, by reason of his infirmities, any longer to fill the office of general, although he might not resign the generalate, to which he had been appointed by the Pope, nor name a successor without his express sanction; but he nominated Brother Peter Cattani his vicar, affectionately and with all his heart recommending the Order to him and to the ministers provincial. And having done this, St Francis, being strengthened in spirit, raised his eyes and hands to heaven, saying thus: “To thee, O Lord my God, - to thee do I commend thy family, which till now thou hast committed to me, and of which, by reason of my infirmities, as thou knowest, O my sweetest Lord, I can now no longer take care. I commend it also to the ministers provincial, who shall render an account to thee at the day of judgment if any brother perish by their negligence, or evil example, or over-sharp correction. And by these words, as it pleased God, all the brethren understood that he spoke of the sacred stigmata - which he called his infirmities - and none of them could refrain from weeping for devotion. And thenceforth he left all the care and government of the Order in the hands of his vicar and of the ministers provincial; and he said: “Now that for my infirmities I have given over the care of the Order, I have nothing to do henceforth but to pray to God for this our Religion, and to give a good example to the brethren. And I know moreover that, even were I freed from my infirmities, the greatest good which I could do to the Order would be to pray to God for it continually, that he would be pleased to defend and rule and preserve it.”

Now, as we have said before, St Francis did all in his power to conceal the sacred, holy stigmata, for after he received them he kept always his hands and feet covered; yet could he not hinder that many times several of the brethren contrived to see and touch them, and especially the wound of the side, which with the greatest diligence he sought to conceal. Thus a brother who waited on him, having one day persuaded him to take off his tunic in his presence that he might shake the dust out of it, clearly saw the wound in the side; and thrusting his hand suddenly into the bosom of St Francis, he touched it with three fingers, ascertaining its length and breadth: and in like manner it was discovered at another time by his vicar. But it was attested still more clearly by Brother Ruffino, a man of most sublime contemplation, of whom St Francis was wont to say that in all the world he knew not a holier man; so that for his great sanctity he loved him most heartily and granted to him all he desired. In three several ways did this Brother Ruffino certify both himself and others of the reality of the sacred, holy stigmata, and especially of that in the side. The first was that, having obtained permission to wash his undergarment, which St Francis wore very loose, that by wrapping it well around him he might conceal the wound in his pierced side, the said Brother Ruffino examined it diligently and continually found traces of blood on the right side of the garment, by which he knew for certain that the blood came from the wound aforesaid; whereupon St Francis reproved him for spreading out the garment in order to discover the mark of the wound. The second way was that the said Brother Ruffino once purposely put his finger into the wound in the side; when St Francis, for the pain he felt, cried aloud: “God forgive thee, Brother Ruffino, for what thou hast done.” The third way was that this brother once besought St Francis of his charity to change habits with him, to which the charitable father having consented, although unwillingly, in the exchange of the garments he clearly saw the wound in the right side. Brother Leo likewise, and many others of the brethren, saw the sacred, holy stigmata during the lifetime of St Francis; and although for their sanctity these brethren were worthy of all faith upon their simple word, nevertheless, to remove all doubt did they swear upon the sacred Scriptures that they had seen them plainly. Certain of the Cardinals, also, who enjoyed great familiarity with St Francis, composed of the said sacred, holy stigmata. The Sovereign Pontiff also, Pope Alexander, when preaching to the people in the presence of the Cardinals, among whom was the holy Brother Bonaventure, himself a Cardinal, affirmed that with his own eyes he had seen the sacred, holy stigmata of St Francis during his lifetime. And the Lady Jacopa di Settesoli, who was the greatest lady in Rome of her time, and most devout to St Francis, before and after his death saw and kissed them with great reverence; for she came from Rome to Assisi by divine revelation, at the death of St Francis; and thus it came to pass. A few days before his death, St Francis lay sick in the bishop’s palace at Assisi with certain of his companions and notwithstanding his infirmity he oftentimes sang canticles in honour of Jesus Christ. One of his companions, therefore, said to him one day: “Father, thou knowest that the citizens of this place have great faith in thee, and account thee to be a holy man, perhaps therefore they may think that, if thou be what they take thee for, being so grievously sick, thou shouldest think upon death in this thine infirmity, and weep rather than sing. And know that this singing of thine, and of ours whom thou wilt have to sing with thee, is heard by many in the palace and without, forasmuch as this palace is guarded on thine account by many men-at-arms, who may perhaps take scandal thereat. Therefore I think,” said this friar, “that thou wilt do well to depart hence, and to return to St Mary of the Angels; for we are not well here among seculars.” Then St Francis answered him: “Thou knowest, dearest brother, that two years ago, when we were at Foligno, God revealed the end of my life to thee, and he revealed it to me also - that in this sickness, and in a few days, this my life shall come to an end. And in this revelation God assured me of the remission of all my sins, and of the bliss of Paradise. Until I received that revelation, I wept over my sins and at the thought of death; but since I have received it, I have been so full of joy that I can weep no longer; and therefore I sing, and will sing to God, who hath bestowed on me the gift of his grace, and hath certainly promised me the gift of heavenly glory. For our departure hence, it pleaseth me well, and I willingly consent thereto; but find you a way to carry me, for because of my infirmity I cannot walk.” Then the brethren took him up and bore him on their shoulders, and many of the citizens went with them. And coming to a hostel which was on the way, St Francis said to those who bore him: “Set me down upon the ground, and turn my face towards the city”; and when he was thus turned towards Assisi, he blessed the city with many blessings, saying: “Blessed be thou of God, O holy city, forasmuch as by means of thee many souls shall be saved, and in thee many servants of God shall dwell, and of thy children many shall be elected to eternal life.” And when he had said these words, he caused himself to be borne onwards to St Mary of the Angels; and they carried him to the infirmary, and there laid him down to rest. Then St Francis called to him one of his companions, and said to him: “Dearest brother, God has revealed to me that by this sickness, a few days hence, I am to pass from this life; and thou knowest that the devout Lady Jacopa di Settesoli, who is so dear to our Order, would be deeply grieved, should she hear of my death, not to have been present at it; therefore signify to her that, if she desire to see me again in life, she must come hither with all speed.” And the brother made answer: “Too true, Father; for indeed, because of the great devotion she bears thee, most unmeet were it that she should not be present at thy death.” “Go, then,” said St Francis; “bring pen and paper, and write as I shall bid thee.” And when he had brought them, St Francis dictated the letter in the following form: “The the Lady Jacopa, the handmaid of the Lord, Brother Francis, the poor little one of Christ, wisheth health and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost in our Lord Jesus Christ. Be it known to thee, most beloved, that Christ our Lord hath by his grace revealed to me the day of my death, which is near at hand. Wherefore, if thou wouldst find me alive, as soon as thou shalt receive this letter, do thou set forth immediately, and come to St Mary of the Angels; for if thou come not forthwith, thou shalt not find me alive. And bring with thee hair-cloth wherein to wrap my body, and the cerecloth that will be needed for my burial. I pray thee that thou wouldst bring me also some of the food such as thou gavest to me when I was sick at Rome.” Now, while this letter was bring written, it was revealed to St Francis that the Lady Jacopa was coming to him, and was already near at hand, and that she had brought with her all the things which were asked for in the letter. Having, then, received this revelation, St Francis bade the brother who was writing to write no more, for it was not needed, but to lay the letter aside; whereupon the brethren greatly marvelled why he would not have it finished or sent. But a short space afterwards, there came a loud knocking at the door, and St Francis bade the porter open it; which, when he had done, he saw the Lady Jacopa, the most noble of all the ladies of Rome, with two of her sons, who were senators of Rome, and a great company of horsemen, and they entered the house; and the Lady Jacopa went straight to the infirmary to St Francis. And St Francis felt great consolation at her coming, and she also rejoiced exceedingly to find him alive, and to speak with him. Then she declared to him how, being at Rome in prayer, God had revealed to her that his life would shortly come to an end, and that he would send for her and ask those things of her which she had now brought. Then she brought them to St Francis and gave him to eat; and when he had eaten, and was now much strengthened thereby, the Lady Jacopa knelt at the feet of St Francis, and with such exceeding devotion kissed and bathed with her tears those feet, marked and adorned with the wounds of Christ, that the brethren who were standing round thought they beheld the Magdalene at the feet of Jesus Christ, and could in no way remove her from him. At length, after a long space of time they raised her up, and, taking her aside, they asked her how it was she had come thus opportunely, and thus well provided with all things needful for St Francis, both in his life and for his burial. To this the Lady Jacopa answered, that as she was praying one night in Rome she heard a voice from heaven, which said: “If thou wouldst find St Francis alive, go without delay to Assisi, and take with thee those things which thou hast been accustomed to prepare for him in sickness, and those which shall be needed for his burial.” And, continued the Lady, “As the voice bade me do, so have I done.” So the Lady Jacopa abode at Assisi until St Francis passed from this life and was buried; and she and all her company paid great honour to his burial, and bore all the cost of it. Then returning to Rome, that noble lady soon afterwards died a holy death, desiring, out of devotion to St Francis, to be carried to St Mary of the Angels, and there to be buried; which was done according to her will.


On the death of St Francis his glorious, sacred stigmata were seen and kissed, not only by the said Lady Jacopa and her company, but by many citizens of Assisi; among others by a knight of great renown, named Jerome, who had doubted much, and disbelieved them; as St Thomas disbelieved the wounds of Christ. And to assure himself and others, he boldly, in the presence both of the brethren and of seculars, moved the nails in the hands and feet, and strongly pressed the wound in the side. By which means he was enabled to bear constant witness to the truth of the miracle, swearing on the Gospels that he had seen and touched the glorious, holy stigmata of St Francis, the which were seen and touched also by St Clare and her religious, who were present at his burial.


St Francis, the glorious confessor of Christ, passed from this life in the year of our Lord 1226, on Saturday, October 4, and was buried on the Sunday following. He died in the twentieth year of his conversion - that is, from the time when he began to do penance - the second year after the impression of the sacred, holy stigmata, and the forty-fifth of his age.


St Francis was canonised in the year 1228 by Pope Gregory IX, who came in person to Assisi for his canonisation. And this shall suffice for the fourth consideration.

[Public Domain.]

Saturday, July 15, 2006


We are come now to the third consideration, namely, of the seraphical apparition, and the impression of the sacred, holy stigmata.

As the Feast of the Holy Cross then drew nigh, in the month of September, Brother Leo went one night at his accustomed hour to say Matins with St Francis. When he came to the bridge, he said, as he was wont to do, Domine labia mea aperies; but St Francis made no answer. Yet Brother Leo turned not back as he had been commanded to do, but with a good and holy intention, he passed the bridge and went straight into the cell; but there he found not St Francis. Thinking, therefore, that he was gone to pray in some solitary place, he went softly through the wood, seeking him in the moonlight. At last he heard his voice, and drawing near, beheld him kneeling in prayer with his face and hands lifted up towards heaven, and crying, in fervour of spirit: “Who art thou, my dearest Lord? and who am I, a most vile worm and thy most unprofitable servant?” and these words he repeated over and over again, adding nothing more. At this Brother Leo, greatly marvelling, lifted up his eyes to heaven and beheld a torch of most intense and glorious fire, which seemed to descend and alight upon the head of St Francis; and from the flame there seemed to issue forth a voice which spake with him, but Brother Leo knew not the words which were spoken. Hearing this, and accounting himself unworthy to stand in that holy place, and fearing also to offend St Francis and to disturb him by his presence, he went away silently, and stood afar off to behold what would follow; and looking earnestly upon St Francis, he saw him thrice spread forth his hands to the flame, and after a long time he beheld it mount again to heaven. Then he turned joyfully to go back to his cell, being greatly consoled by the visitation. But, as he turned, St Francis heard the rustling of the leaves under his feet, and commanded him not to stir, but to await his coming. And Brother Leo in obedience stood still, and waited in so great fear that, as he afterwards told his companions, he would have wished that the earth might swallow him up rather than wait for St Francis, whose anger he feared exceedingly; for he took great heed always not to offend him, lest he should be deprived of his company.

When St Francis, then, came up to him, he said: “Who art thou?” and Brother Leo, in fear, and trembling, answered: “Father, I am Brother Leo.” And St Francis said to him: “Wherefore hast thou come hither, dear brother? did I not forbid thee to observe me? Tell me now, by holy obedience, whether thou hast seen or heard anything?” And Brother Leo replied: “Father, I heard thee speak and say many times, ‘Who art thou, my dearest Lord” and who am I, a most vile worm and thy most unprofitable servant?” And then, kneeling before St Francis, Brother Leo accused himself of disobedience to his command, and besought him to expound to him the meaning of the words which he had heard, and to tell him also those which he had not heard. Then St Francis, seeing that, for his simplicity and purity, God had revealed so much to Brother Leo, condescended to reveal and expound also that which he desired further to know; and thus he spoke to him: “Know, dearest brother, that when I said those words which thou didst hear, two great lights were before my soul, the one the knowledge of myself, the other the knowledge of the Creator. When I said: ‘Who art thou, my dearest Lord?’ I was in a light of contemplation, in which I beheld the abyss of the infinite goodness and wisdom and power of God; and when I said: ‘Who am I?’ I was in light of contemplation wherein I say the lamentable abyss of my own vileness and misery: wherefore I said: ‘Who are thou, the Lord of infinite wisdom and goodness, who dost vouchsafe to visit me, a vile worm and abominable?’ and in that flame which thou didst behold was God, who under that appearance spake to me, as of old he spake to Moses. And among other things which he said to me, he asked of me three gifts; and I made answer: ‘O Lord, I am all thing; thou knowest full well that I have nothing else but my cord and my tunic, and even these are thing; what, then, can I offer or give to thy Majesty?’ Then he said to me: ‘Search in thy bosom, and offer me what thou shalt find there.’ And searching, I found there a golden ball, and I offered it to God; and the like I did three times, even as God commanded me; and then I knelt down thrice, and blessed and gave thanks to God, who had thus given me something to offer him. And immediately it was given to me to understand that these three offerings signified holy obedience, most entire poverty, and most pure chastity, which God by his grace has enabled me so perfectly to observe that I have nothing to reproach myself thereupon. And whereas thou didst see me put my hand into my bosom and offer to God those three virtues, signified by these three golden balls which God had placed in my bosom, so God has infused such virtue into my soul, that for all the gifts and graces which of his sovereign bounty he has bestowed upon me, I should always with heart and voice praise and magnify him. These are the words which thou didst hear when thou didst see me thrice lift up my hands. But take heed, brother little lamb, that thou observe me no more, but return to thy cell with the blessing of God; and take heed to my words, for yet a few days, and God will work such strange and marvellous things upon this mountain as shall astonish the whole world; for he will do a new thing which he hath never done before to any creature upon this earth.”

And when he had said these words, he bade him bring the book of the Gospels, because God had put it into his mind that, by thrice opening that book, he should learn what God would be pleased to do with him. And when the book was brought to him, St Francis went to prayer; and when he had prayed, he caused Brother Leo to open the book three times in the name of the most holy Trinity; and, by the divine disposal, it opened each time at the Passion of Christ. And by this it was given him to understand that, even as he had followed Christ in the actions of his life, so should he follow and be confirmed to him in the sufferings and afflictions of his Passion, before he should pass out of this life. And from that day forward St Francis began to taste more abundantly the sweetness of divine contemplation, and of divine visitations, among which he had one, preparatory to the impression of the sacred, holy stigmata, after the following manner. The day before the Feast of the most Holy Cross, as St Francis was praying secretly in his cell, an angel of God appeared to him, and spake to him thus from God: “I am come to admonish and encourage thee, that thou prepare thyself to receive in all patience and humility that which God will give and do to thee.”

St Francis replied: “I am ready to bear patiently whatsoever my Lord shall be pleased to do to me”; and so the angel departed. On the following day - being the Feast of the Holy Cross - St Francis was praying before daybreak at the entrance of his cell, and turning his face towards the east, he prayed in these words: “O Lord Jesus Christ, two graces do I ask of thee before I die; the first, that in my lifetime I may feel, as far as possible, both in my soul and body, that pain which thou, sweet Lord, didst endure in the hour of thy most bitter Passion; the second, that I may feel in my heart as much as possible of that excess of love by which thou, O Son of God, wast inflamed to suffer so cruel a Passion for us sinners.” And continuing a long time in that prayer, he understood that God had heard him, and that, so far as is possible for a mere creature, he should be permitted to feel these things.

Having then received this promise, St Francis began to contemplate most devoutly the Passion of Jesus Christ and his infinite charity; and so greatly did the fervour of devotion increase within him, that he was all transformed into Jesus by love and compassion.

And being thus inflamed in that contemplation, on that same morning he beheld a seraph descending from heaven with six fiery and resplendent wings; and this seraph with rapid flight drew nigh unto St Francis, so that he could plainly discern him, and perceive that he bore the image of one crucified; and the wings were so disposed, that two were spread over the head, two were outstretched in flight, and the other two covered the whole body. And when St Francis beheld it, he was much afraid, and filled at once with joy and grief and wonder. He felt great joy at the gracious presence of Christ, who appeared to him thus familiarly, and looked upon him thus lovingly, but, on the other hand, beholding him thus crucified, he felt exceeding grief and compassion. He marvelled much at so stupendous and unwonted a vision, knowing well that the infirmity of the Passion accorded ill with the immortality of the seraphic spirit. And in that perplexity of mind it was revealed to him by him who thus appeared, that by divine providence this vision had been thus shown to him that he might understand that, not by martyrdom of the body, but by a consuming fire of the soul, he was to be transformed into the express image of Christ crucified in that wonderful apparition. Then did all the Mount Alvernia appear wrapped in intense fire, which illumined all the mountains and valleys around, as it were the sun shining in his strength upon the earth, for which cause the shepherds who were watching their flocks in that country were filled with fear, as they themselves afterwards told the brethren, affirming that this light had been visible on Mount Alvernia for upwards of an hour. And because of the brightness of that light, which shone through the windows of the inn where they were tarrying, some muleteers who were travelling in Romagna arose in haste, supposing that the sun had risen, and saddled and loaded their beasts; but as they journeyed on, they saw that light disappear, and the visible sun arise.

In this seraphical apparition, Christ, who appeared under that form to St Francis, spoke to him certain high and secret things, which in his lifetime he would never reveal to any person, but after his death he made them known to one of the brethren, and the words were these: “Knowest thou,” said Christ, ”what I have done to thee? I have given thee the stigmata which are the insignia of my Passion, that thou mayest be my standard-bearer; and as on the day of my death I descended into limbo, and by virtue of these my stigmata delivered thence all the souls whom I found there, so do I grant to thee that every year on the anniversary of thy death thou mayst go to Purgatory, and take with thee to the glory of Paradise all the souls of thy three Orders, the Friars Minor, the Sisters, and the Penitents, and likewise all others whom thou shalt find there, who have been especially devout to thee; that so thou mayst be conformed to me in death, as thou hast been like to me in life.” Then, after long and secret conference together, that marvellous vision disappeared, leaving in the heart of St Francis an excessive fire and ardour of divine love, and on his flesh a wonderful trace and image of the Passion of Christ. For upon his hands and feet began immediately to appear the figures of the nails, as he had seen them on the Body of Christ crucified, who had appeared to him in the likeness of a seraph. And thus the hands and feet appeared pierced through the midst by the nails, the heads whereof were seen outside the flesh in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, and the points of the nails stood out at the back of the hands, and the feet in such wise that they appeared to be twisted and bent back upon themselves, and the portion thereof that was bent back upon themselves, and the portion thereof that was bent back or twisted stood out free from the flesh, so that one could put a finger through the same as through a ring; and the heads of the nails were round and black. In like manner, on the right side appeared the image of an unhealed wound, as if made by a lance, and still red and bleeding, from which drops of blood often flowed from the holy breast of St Francis, staining his tunic and his drawers.

And because of this his companions, before they knew the truth from himself, perceiving that he would not uncover his hands and his feet, and that he could not set the soles of his feet upon the ground, and finding traces of blood upon his tunic when they washed it, understood of a certainty that he bore in his hands and feet and side the image and similitude of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified. And although he laboured hard to conceal these sacred stigmata holy and glorious, thus clearly impressed upon his flesh, yet finding that he could with difficulty hide them from his familiar companions, and fearing at the same time to reveal the secrets of God, he was in great doubt and trouble of mind whether or not he should make known the seraphical vision and the impression of the sacred, holy stigmata. At last, being pricked in conscience, he called together certain of the brethren, in whom he placed the greatest confidence, and proposing to them his doubt in general terms, asked their counsel on the matter. Now among these friars there was one of great sanctity, called Brother Illuminato; and he, being truly illuminated by God, understood that St Francis must have seen something miraculous, and said thus to him: “Know, Brother Francis, that not for thyself alone, but for others, doth God reveal to thee his secrets, and therefore thou hast cause for fear lest thou be worthy of censure if thou conceal that which, for the good of others, has been made known to thee.”

Then St Francis, being moved by these words, with great fear and reverence told them the manner of the aforesaid vision, adding that Christ, who had thus appeared to him, had said to him certain things which he might never make known so long as he should live.

Now although these sacred wounds, which had been impressed upon him by Christ, gave great joy to his heart, yet they caused unspeakable pain to his body; so that, being constrained by necessity, he made choice of Brother Leo, for his great purity and simplicity, to whom he revealed the whole matter, suffering him to touch and dress his wounds on all days except during the time from Thursday evening till Saturday morning, for then he would not by any human remedy mitigate the pain of Christ’s Passion, which he bore in his body, because at that time our Saviour Jesus Christ was taken and crucified, died and was buried for us. And it came to pass sometimes that when Brother Leo was removing the bandage from the wound in the side, St Francis, because of the pain caused thereby, would lay his hand on Brother Leo’s breast, and at the touch of that holy hand Brother Leo felt such sweetness of devotion as well-nigh made him to fall fainting to the ground.

To conclude, so far as concerns this third consideration, St Francis, having completed the Lent of St Michael the Archangel, prepared himself by divine revelation to return with Brother Leo to St Mary of the Angels; and calling to him Brother Masseo and Brother Angelo, he commended that holy mount unto their care, and blessing them in the name of Jesus crucified, he suffered them, at their earnest prayer, to see, touch, and kiss his sacred hands adorned with those holy, glorious, and sacred stigmata; and so leaving them in great joy and consolation, he parted from them and came down from the holy mountain.

[Public Domain.]