Miracles of St. Francis of Assisi | 16-1


Many Miracles after the death of St. Francis

The power of the Sacred Stigmata.

To the honour of Almighty God, and to the glory of our blessed Father Francis, we will now relate, on the authority of approved writings, certain miracles wrought by him after his glorification in heaven.

And we have thought well to begin with those in which the mystery of the cross of Jesus was shown forth and its glory renewed.

For the new man, Francis, manifested his renewal when, by a singular privilege never before granted to anyone, the Sacred Stigmata were impressed upon his flesh,

and he appeared adorned with those glorious signs, being conformed in the body of this death to the body of the Crucified.

Whereof, if any human tongue should attempt to speak, it would fail to praise it worthily. For, assuredly, all the thoughts of that man of God, whether in public or in private, were devoted to the cross of the Lord.

And in order that the sign of that Holy Cross, impressed on his heart in the very beginning of his conversion, should also mark his body exteriorly, being wholly devoted thereto, he took the habit of penance,

bearing thus outwardly the image of the cross, that, as his spirit within was clothed with his crucified Lord, so should his body also be invested with the armour of the cross,

that so his army should fight for the Lord under the same sign by which God Himself overcame all the powers of the air.

But, from the beginning of that time when he began the warfare of the cross, many of its mysteries began to manifest themselves around him, as will plainly appear to anyone who deeply considers the whole course of his life,

where it is seen by the sevenfold apparition of the cross of the Lord, that he was transformed by an exceeding and ecstatic love, in every thought, act, and affection, into the image of the Crucified.

Therefore, it was, that the clemency of the Supreme and Eternal King of Heaven, who condescends beyond all human belief to those who love Him, should impress upon him the outward insignia of His cross, which he already bore in his body,

that he who exceeded all other men in his marvellous love of the cross, should be made also a marvellous testimony of the glory of the cross.

For the undeniable confirmation of this stupendous miracle, we have not only the testimony of witnesses in every way credible, who had palpable and visible evidence thereof,

but it has been attested also by wonderful visions and miracles which occurred after his death, and which are sufficient to banish every shadow of doubt from the minds of men.

As a proof of this, Pope Gregory IX (to whom the holy man had foretold, long before it came to pass, that he should be raised to the chair of the Apostle),

before he inscribed in the catalogue of the saints this standard-bearer of the cross, felt some doubt and hesitation of mind with regard to the wound in the side.

On a certain night, then, as the Pontiff was afterwards wont to relate with many tears, the blessed Francis appeared to him in a dream,

and with an unwonted severity in his countenance, reproving him for the doubt which lurked in his heart, raised his right arm, discovered the wound, and commanded that a vessel should be brought to receive the blood which issued from his side.

The Supreme Pontiff, still in vision, brought him the vessel, which seemed to be filled even to the brim with the blood which flowed from the side.

From that day forward he felt such great devotion and fervent zeal for the honour of that miracle, that he could never endure to hear any doubt, or denial, or proud contradiction of the truth of those glorious Stigmata, but severely reproved anyone who ventured thus to speak.

A certain friar of the Order of St. Francis, who bore the office of a preacher, and had a great reputation for virtue, at first believed firmly the truth of these Sacred Stigmata.

But afterwards he desired (out of a feeling of human pride) to inquire concerning the grounds of this miracle, and he began to be troubled by a certain doubtful scruple concerning it. –

And this doubt gaining ground upon him, he continued for many days together to sustain a great conflict within himself.

To this friar, as he was sleeping one night, the blessed Francis appeared, with his feet all covered with mire, and with a certain humble severity and patient displeasure on his countenance. “And what,” said he, “are these conflicts and vile doubts within thee? Behold my hands and my feet.”

Then the friar saw the pierced hands, but the Stigmata in the feet he could not see, because of the mire which covered them:

“Remove,” said the Saint, “the mire from my feet, and you shall see the place of the nails.”

Then he devoutly took hold of the feet, and it seemed that, as he washed away the mire, he touched the place of the nails with his hands.

And when he awoke his face was bathed with tears, and thus, with abundance of weeping and a public confession, he endeavoured to cleanse those first thoughts and affections, which he now saw to be evil and defiled.

There was a certain matron in the city of Rome, noble both in birth and life, who had chosen St. Francis for her advocate, and had his picture in a private oratory, where she prayed to her Father in secret.

One day, when she was in prayer, and gazing on the picture of the Saint, she saw that it had not the Sacred Stigmata, at which she began greatly to wonder and to grieve. Yet it was no marvel that the picture had not what was omitted by the painter.

Having anxiously considered for many days what was the cause of this omission, she suddenly beheld those wonderful signs appear in the picture, as they are ordinarily depicted.

In great astonishment, she called, trembling, to one of her daughters, whom she had devoted to God, and asked her whether she remembered that this picture had hitherto been without the Stigmata.

The daughter affirmed it, and declared upon oath that it had been until now without the Sacred Stigmata, and that she now saw them there for the first time.

But because the human mind, often by its own heaviness, helps us to fall, and makes that which is true to seem doubtful, an injurious doubt immediately entered the heart of the lady, and she thought that perhaps the Stigmata had been thus painted from the beginning.

But, lest the first miracle should be despised, the power of God now added a second, for the Stigmata immediately disappeared, leaving the portrait devoid of them, so that the second miracle was a proof of the first.

It happened in the city of Ilerda, in Catalonia, that a good man, named John, who was very devout to St. Francis, had to pass through a street, in which certain men were lying in wait to kill him, not for any enmity that they bore him, but because of his likeness to another whom they hated, and who was then in his company:

One of them sprang forth from the ambush, and believing him to be his enemy, wounded him with so many dagger-strokes as to leave him without hope of life:

For the first stroke had almost cut off the shoulder and one of the arms, and another inflicted such a wound on the breast, that the matter which issued from it extinguished six candles all burning together.

The poor man’s cure was considered impossible by all the physicians, for the wounds began to putrefy, and gave forth such an intolerable odour that his own wife could scarcely endure it.

All human remedies being hopeless, the good man had recourse to the blessed Father St. Francis, and that with the greater devotion, because, at the moment when he was wounded, he had invoked his protection and that of the blessed virgin Clare.

And behold, as the sufferer lay alone on his bed, frequently calling on the name of Francis, and repeating it with many cries,

one stood by him in the habit of a friar minor, who, as it seemed to him, came in by a window, and calling him by his name, said, “Because thou hast trusted in me, behold, the Lord will deliver thee.”

And when the sick man asked him who he was, he answered, “I am Francis.”

And immediately drawing near to him, he loosened all the bandages and ligatures from his wounds, and seemed to anoint them with ointment.

No sooner did the poor man feel the sweet touch of those sacred hands, which, by the power of the Saviour’s Stigmata, had the virtue of healing, than all the corruption departed from the wounds, and the flesh was restored, so that at the same time the wounds were closed, and the sick man restored to perfect health.

And when this was done the blessed Father departed.

The wounded man, feeling himself made whole, immediately began to praise God with great joy, and to thank the blessed Francis.

He then called his wife, who came with all haste, and seeing him standing upon his feet whom she verily thought to have buried on the morrow, being filled with incredible amazement, she roused the whole neighbourhood with her cries.

Her friends came running together, and, believing the wounded man to be delirious, endeavoured to force him to return to his bed;

but he resisted them, affirming and showing that he was perfectly cured, insomuch that all who beheld him were astonished, and could scarcely believe but what they saw was a dream and a  phantom; he whom they had beheld covered with frightful wounds, already putrefying and corrupt, now standing before them full of health and gladness.

Then he who had been made whole spoke thus to them:

“Fear not, nor disbelieve that which you see with your own eyes; for St. Francis has but just now departed; he touched me with his sacred hands and perfectly healed my wounds.”

Now the fame of this miracle, being spread abroad, all men were filled with wonder and gladness; and with loud praises they extolled Francis, the standard-bearer of Christ.

And fitting it was that our blessed Father Francis, being dead according to the flesh, and alive with Christ, by the wonderful manifestation of his presence and the sweet touch of his sacred hands, should restore health to that man wounded even to death.

In Potenza, a city of Apulia, there lived a certain clerk, named Roger, an honourable man and a Canon of the Cathedral Church:

He having been long suffering under a severe sickness went into that Church to pray, where a picture of the blessed Francis with the glorious Stigmata was. As he looked upon it, he began to doubt concerning that sublime miracle, as if it were something strange and impossible.

As he was inwardly wounded by these idle thoughts, he felt himself severely wounded in his left hand under his glove, and at the same time heard a noise, like the whizzing of an arrow from a bow.

He immediately took off his glove, desiring to see with his eyes what had already been impressed upon the senses of touch and hearing:

His hand having been previously unwounded, he now saw in the midst of the palm a wound which seemed to proceed from an arrow-stroke, and so intense was the burning pain, that he felt as if he must faint.

Marvellous to say, there was no vestige of a hole in the glove, so that the secrecy of the wound in the heart corresponded with the secrecy of the wound inflicted as its penalty.

For two whole days together he cried out with the intensity of the pain, and confessed to all around him the incredulity which had lurked in his heart. And he confessed and solemnly professed his belief in the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis, every shadow of doubt having departed from him.

And thus he suppliantly besought the Saint of God to help him by virtue of his Sacred Stigmata, pouring forth many heartfelt prayers, mingled with torrents of tears.

Wonderful to say, having cast away his incredulity, the healing of his body followed that of his mind: All the pain vanished, the burning was cooled, no vestige of the wound remained;

and so it was that, by the clemency and Providence of God, the hidden sickness of the mind was cured by the visible cautery of the flesh, and as soon as the mind was healed the flesh also was made whole. That man became most humble and devout to God, and a loving and faithful servant to the Order of Friars Minor.

This wonderful miracle was affirmed by many upon oath, and authenticated by the Bishop’s seal, so that the knowledge of it has come down to us.

There is, therefore, no room for doubt concerning the Sacred Stigmata; neither, because God is good, should the eye of any man be evil with regard to this thing, as if it befitted not the Eternal Goodness to bestow such gifts upon men.

For if, by that seraphic love, many members came to be united to Christ, their Head, so that, arrayed in that armour, they might show themselves worthy of Him and of His gifts, and thereafter be exalted to a like glory with Him in heaven, there is no man of sound mind but must see that this redounds to the glory of Christ alone.