Malankara World

The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi

By Father Candide Chalippe

Detailed Table of Contents


His birth--Prediction of his future greatness--His studies--He applies himself to commerce--His purity, and affection for the poor--He is taken prisoner--He falls sick--His charity increases towards the poor--He has a mysterious dream--He wishes to go to the war--Jesus Christ dissuades him--He is rapt in spirit--

His conversion--He kisses a leper--Jesus Christ crucified appears to him--Salutary effects of this apparition--He goes to Rome--Mingles with the poor--Is tempted by the devil--A voice from heaven commands him to restore the Church of S. Peter Damian--His devotion to the passion of Jesus Christ--He takes some pieces of cloth from his father's house, and sells them, to restore the Church of S. Damian--He escapes from the anger of his father, and retires to a cave--

He appears in Assisi, where he is ill-treated--His father confines him--His mother delivers him, and he returns to S. Damian--He manifests his intention to his father, who appeals to justice, and cites him before the Bishop of Assisi--He renounces his inheritance, and gives back his clothes to his father--The poverty of his clothing--He is beaten by robbers--

Retires to a monastery--They give him a hermit's habit--He devotes himself to the leprous--Receives the gift of healing, and returns to Assisi, where he searches for stone to restore the Church of Assisi--He toils at building as a laborer--He lives on alms--His father and brother exercise his patience--The victories he gains over himself--People begin to esteem and honor him--He predicts something which is fulfilled--He restores the Church of S. Peter and that of S. Mary of the Angels, or the Portiuncula--Dwells at S. Mary of the Angels, and is favored there with heavenly apparitions--

He is called to the apostolical life--Renounces money and goes discalced--His poor and humble habit--God inspires him to preach--He weeps bitterly over the sufferings of Jesus Christ--Receives three disciples, and retires with them to a deserted cottage--He goes on a mission, and his disciples accompany him--the way they are treated--He receives three other disciples--He makes them beg for alms--

What he said to the Bishop of Assisi, on renouncing all his possessions--He predicts to the Emperor Otho the short duration of his glory--It is revealed to him that his sins are remitted--He is rapt in ecstasy, and predicts the extension of his Order--He makes several other predictions, and receives a seventh disciple--He proposes a new mission to them--The address he makes them on their preparation for, and conduct during, the mission--

He returns near to Assisi, where he receives four more disciples--He assembles all his disciples--Composes a Rule, and goes to obtain the Pope's approval--He makes a marvellous conversion--He knows miraculously what will happen to him at Rome--He is at first repulsed by Pope Innocent III., but is afterwards received favorably--

Difficulties on the approbation of his Rule--He overcomes them by an address he makes the Pope--The Pope approves his Rule, and accumulates favors on it--He leaves Rome with his friars for the valley of Spoleto--God provides for his necessities--He stops at a deserted church--Consults God on his mission, and returns to the cottage of Rivo-torto--His sufferings there--The instructions he gives--God shows him to his brethren under a most marvellous aspect--The church of S. Mary of the Angels is given to him--He establishes himself there with his Friars


He receives many novices--Instructs and models them--Sends them to different provinces of Italy--What he says on this occasion--He departs for Tuscany, and passes by Perugia, where he makes a prediction which is accomplished--Many young men enter his Order--They build a house for him near Cortona--His miraculous fast during Lent--He commands the devils, and they obey him--He cures many miraculously--He preaches at Florence--Makes a prediction--Preaches in various places in Tuscany--What his friars are doing in other places--He preaches the Lent at Assisi, with great fruit--He consecrates, to Jesus Christ, Clare, and, Agnes, her sister--Establishes Clare and Agnes in the Church of S. Damian--He erects a monastery there, the first one of his second Order, which he then instituted--He is troubled by a serious doubt, on which he consults his brethren--His doubt is cleared up by an oracle from heaven--He goes out to preach--Restores a blind girl to sight, and converts many worldly people--He sighs for martyrdom--Asks permission of the Pope to preach to the infidels--Makes conversions at Rome, and establishes his Order there--Returns to Assisi and leaves for the Levant--Embarks, but is obliged to put into a harbor in Sclavonia--Goes by sea to Ancona--A miracle which God performs in his favor--He converts a celebrated poet--Returns to Tuscany, and to S. Mary of the Angels--He falls sick--Wonderfully humbles himself--Tries a vocation--Falls sick again and writes to all Christians--Departs for Spain and Africa, in search of martyrdom--His miracles and other particulars of his journey--His profound humility--He raises the dead--Count Orlando gives him Mount Alverna--God miraculously protects him--He preaches in Piedmont and passes into Spain--Works a miraculous cure there--The king, Alphonso IX, permits him to establish his Order there--He receives houses there--A violent sickness prevents him going to Morocco--His actions whilst he is delayed in Spain--He returns to Italy--His route thither--He arrives at S. Mary of the Angels, and disapproves a building there--He goes to Mount Alverna--Is beaten by devils--Mortifies his sense, and taste--Makes water spring from a rock--Visits the mountain--Converts there a celebrated brigand--Leaves for Rome--Discovers some relics by revelation--Makes predictions, and performs miracles and conversions--Arrives at Rome whilst the Council of Lateran is sitting--The Pope declares to the Council that he has approved the Rule--He appoints a general chapter at S. Mary of the Angels, whither he returns--He holds the chapter and sends his friars to various countries--He thinks of going to Paris--Reunites an illustrious family that had been divided--Rejoices in his poverty and asks of God a greater love of holy poverty--SS. Peter and Paul appear to him at Rome--His alliance with S. Dominic--He goes to Florence, where Cardinal Hugolin dissuades him from going to Paris--He returns to the Valley of Spoleto, and sends three of his disciples to France--A celestial vision induces him to ask of the Pope a cardinal protector for his Order--What he says on this subject--He preaches before the Pope--What happened to him in the pulpit--The Pope gives him Cardinal Hugolin, as protector of the Order--He preaches in the Valley of Rieti--Delivers the country from two plagues, and makes some conversions there--The houses he builds there--He appoints a general chapter at S. Mary of the Angels, for the year 1219--What he did during the year 1218--Efficacy of his prayers--He wishes to pull down a new house which he found at S. Mary of the Angels


He goes to Perugia, to consult the cardinal protector--His opinion on the promotion of his friars to ecclesiastical dignities--He returns to S. Mary of the Angels--His thoughts on these dignities--More than five thousand Friars Minors are present at the chapter he had appointed--He addresses the assembly, and forbids them troubling themselves about their food--Assistance comes to him from all sides--He receives more than five hundred novices during this chapter--He forbids indiscreet mortifications--The devils are incensed against him and his Order--He cautions his friars, and upon that gives them some instruction--He humbles them to preserve them from vainglory--He confounds those who wish the Rule mitigated--He wishes not for privileges which can engender disputes--He gives his friars instructions about their conduct to ecclesiastics--He obtains from the Pope letters apostolical confirming the approval of the Order--What he decrees in the chapter--He sends his friars through the whole world--The travels of his Friars in various parts of the world--In Greece--In Africa--In Spain and Portugal--In France--In the Low Countries--He himself prepares to go to the Levant--On the government of the monastery of S. Damian, and other houses of the same order--He sends six of his friars to Morocco--What he says to them--He starts on his voyage to Syria, with twelve companions--He rejects a postulant too much attached to his parents--A house at Ancona is given to him--He appoints, by means of a child inspired by God, those who are to accompany him to Syria--He embarks at Ancona and anchors at the isle of Cyprus--Arrives at Acre--Distributes his companions in different parts of Syria, and comes to the army before Damietta--He arrives at the camp before Damietta, and predicts the ill-success of the battle the Crusaders are about to give--His prediction is accomplished--He finds out the sultan of Egypt--Announces to him the truths of the faith, and offers to throw himself into the fire to prove them--He refuses the sultan's presents--Is esteemed and respected--The good dispositions with which he inspires the sultan--He obtains permission to preach in his States--He receives some disciples from the army of the Crusaders--Visits the holy places--Some whole monasteries of religious embrace his Institute--He returns to Italy--Establishes his Order in various places--Preaches at Bologna with great success--What he says and does on seeing a house of his Order too much ornamented--He makes a retreat at Camaldoli--Returns to S. Mary of the Angels--Reads the thoughts of his companion--Confounds the vanity of Brother Elias--Abolishes the novelties introduced into the Order by Brother Elias--In a vision the fortunes of his Order are made known to him--He holds the chapter in which he deposes Brother Elias, and in his place substitutes Peter of Catania--He renounces the generalship--Will not receive anything from novices entering his Order--He learns the news of the martyrdom of the friars he had sent to Morocco--What he says on the subject of their martyrdom--The martyrdom of these friars is the cause of the vocation of S. Antony of Padua--His friars pass into England--He visits some convents--Receives the Vicar General's resignation, and re-appoints, by the command of God, Brother Elias to his place--He holds a chapter, and sends missionaries to Germany


S. Francis begins his Third Order of Penance--Draws up the rule for it--What his idea was in founding this Order--He returns to S. Mary of the Angels--Sends Agnes, the sister of Clare, to Florence, to be Abbess there--He obtains from Jesus Christ the Indulgence of S. Mary of the Angels or of the Portiuncula--Pope Honorius III. grants him the same indulgence--Clare and others, hearing him talk of God, are ravished in ecstasy--He cannot bear the distinction of persons which Brother Elias made--Makes a terrible prediction--He gives his blessings to seven of his brethren, to go and preach the faith to the Moors, and they are martyred--He makes a journey, which is attended with remarkable circumstances--Cures a cripple--Mixes with the poor, and eats with them--Foretells of an infant, that he would one day be Pope--He changes the bed of thorns into which S. Benedict had thrown himself, into a rose-bush, and performs other great miracles--Goes to honor the relics of S. Andrew, and those of S. Nicholas--Discovers a trick of the devil--He visits Mount Garganus--His presence silences a demoniac--He learns at S. Mary of the Angels the success of the German mission--Bids Antony preach--Gives Antony permission to teach theology to the brethren--Alexander Hales enters the Order--Jesus Christ appoints the day for the Indulgence of the Portiuncula--He obtains from the Pope a confirmation of the same day--Promulgates it, with seven bishops--He has a revelation about his Rule--God makes known to him that he must abridge it--The Holy Spirit dictates it to him--Some entreat him to moderate it--Jesus Christ tells him it must be kept to the very letter--His brethren receive it--He declares it comes from Jesus Christ, and speaks in praise of it--He obtains a bull from the Pope, in confirmation of the Rule--Is attacked by devils-- Celebrates the feast of Christmas with much fervor--Our Lord appears to him as an infant--His sentiments on the celebration of feasts--Discovers a stratagem of the devil--He commands one of his dead brethren to cease working miracles--Draws up a rule for Clare and her daughters--Appears with his arms stretched out in the form of a cross while S. Antony was preaching--Foretells a conversion which immediately came about--He goes into retreat on Mount Alvernus--His contemplation and raptures--Jesus Christ promises him special favors--He fasts rigorously--A piece of his writing delivers his companion from a temptation--What he had to suffer from the devil--He prepares for martyrdom--He receives extraordinary favors in prayer--His perfect conformity to the will of God--Jesus Christ crucified appears to him under the figure of a Seraphim--Receives the impression of the wounds of Jesus Christ--He composes canticles full of the love of God--Tells his brethren of the Stigmata--They are seen and touched--He leaves Mount Alvernus, to return to S. Mary of the Angels--Cures a child of dropsy--Other miracles which he performed on the way--He strengthens himself with new fervor in the service of God--His patience in great sufferings--His desires for the salvation of souls--His prayer in suffering--God assures him of his salvation--He thanks Him in a canticle--He learns the time of his death, and rejoices at it--He has various illnesses, and suffers extreme pain--He multiplies the grapes in a vineyard--God gives him sensible consolation--A heated iron is applied to the temple, and he feels no pain from it--He weeps incessantly, and says he does so to expiate for his sins--He prefers the danger of losing his sight to restraining his tears--His gratitude towards his physician--A miracle is worked by some of his hair, in favor of this physician--He miraculously heals a canon--His sufferings diminish--Goes to preach--Drives away a devil--Foretells a sudden death, and it comes about--Cures St. Bonaventura in his infancy--All his sufferings increase--Causes to be found for the love of God what could not be found for money--They take him back to Assisi--They take him to Sienna--He answers difficult questions, and foretells several things--He causes the blessing which he gave to his brethren to be written--They take him to Celles, and thence to Assisi--The bishop has him taken to his palace--The state of his Order at the time of his last illness


The violence of his illness does not prevent him from exhorting his brethren--He is touched at the fatigue which his illness caused them-- Thanks God for the pains he suffered--Dictates a letter to Clare and her daughters--Rejoices and thanks God for his approaching death--Blesses his children--Has himself carried to S. Mary of the Angels--Blesses the town of Assisi--Informs a pious widow of his approaching death--Blesses his brethren a second time, and makes them eat a bit of bread, blessed by his hand--Gives a special blessing to Bernard, the eldest of his children--What we may presume were his dispositions in receiving the last sacraments--He stretches himself naked on the bare ground--Desires to be buried in the place of execution--Exhorts his brethren--He has the praises of God sung when at the point of death--He speaks to his children, and blesses them for the last time--Has the passion of Jesus Christ read to him--He recites the 141st psalm, and dies after the last verse--Miraculous proofs of his beatitude--State of his body after death--The Stigmata are seen and touched publicly--His obsequies--Clare and her daughters see and kiss the Stigmata--He is buried at Assisi, in the church of S. George--The circular written after his death--His canonization--The Church of S. Francis at Assisi--He is buried there--Researches are made to find the sacred body--The mission of St. Francis--The fruits of his labor.

Devotion of S. Francis towards Jesus Christ crucified--To what a degree he loved poverty--How great was the austerity of his life--His humility--His obedience--His gift of prayer and contemplation--His love of God--His sentiments of filial love on the mystery of the Incarnation--On the fast of Jesus Christ in the desert--On the mystery of the Eucharist--S. Francis, in his humility, would not be made priest--His devotion towards the Mother of God--Towards the angels and saints--His charity towards his neighbor--His zeal for the salvation of souls--His affection for the poor--The affection of his heart for all creatures--The pains he took to lead his brethren to perfection--His tender charity towards his brethren--His discretion and wisdom in the government of the Order--His supernatural and acquired knowledge--The efficacy of his words--His supernatural and miraculous gifts--He drives away devils--Brings the dead to life--Heals the sick--Has the gift of prophecy and discernment of spirits--He commands animals, and is obeyed--He performs many other miraculous actions--The great honors which were paid to him--His character and appearance--In what sense he was simple



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