Miracles of St. Francis of Assisi | 16-5


Many saved from Chains and Dungeons.

It happened in Romagna that a certain Greek, a , servant to a great person in that country, was falsely accused of theft, and immediately imprisoned by the lord of the country in a dark dungeon, and strongly bound.

But the lady of the house in which he served, moved with compassion for the poor servant, whom she fully believed to be innocent of any crime, earnestly and constantly besought her lord and husband to set him free.

Then, being unable to move the hard obstinacy of her husband, the lady had recourse to St. Francis, and devoutly recommending the innocent man to the mercy of the Saint, she made a vow for his deliverance.

Then the protector of the miserable, with great compassion visited the innocent prisoner in his dungeon. He loosed his bands, opened the prison door, and taking him by the hand, he led him forth, saying, “I am he to whom thy mistress devoutly commended thee.”

Then the poor man being seized with great fear, and seeking for some pathway down the precipice upon which he stood, suddenly found himself, by the power of his deliverer, on the plain below.

Then he returned to his mistress, and relating the miracle in order to her, inflamed the heart of the devout lady to a still more fervent love of Christ, and greater reverence for His servant Francis.

There was a poor man at Massa, who owed a certain sum of money to a knight of San Pietra, and being unable in his poverty to pay it when the said knight suddenly demanded it of him, he humbly besought him to have mercy on him, and, for the love of St. Francis, to grant him a little delay.

But the proud knight despised the prayers of the poor man, and set at nought the love of the Saint, as if it were a vain thing.

And thus in his obstinacy he answered him, “I will confine thee in so close a prison, and in so remote a place, that neither Francis nor anyone else shall be able to help thee;” and he was as good as his word, for he found a dark dungeon, into which he cast the poor man, strongly bound.

Soon afterwards St. Francis came, and throwing open the dungeon, and breaking his fetters, he brought the poor man safe home to his own house.

Thus the might of St. Francis overcame the haughty knight, and delivered the prisoner from his captivity, and the pride of the obstinate soldier was changed by the marvellous miracle into meekness.

Albert of Arezzo, having been detained in cruel bonds for some debts which were unjustly demanded of him, devoutly commended his innocence to St. Francis, whom he held in veneration above all the saints, having a special affection also to the Order of Friars Minor.

His creditor said to him, with words of blasphemy, that neither Francis nor God should deliver him out of his hands.

On the vigil of St. Francis the prisoner had eaten nothing, having, for the love of the Saint, given his portion of food to a poor, man; and, as he was watching on the following night, St. Francis appeared to him.

On his entrance, the chains immediately fell from his hands, and the fetters from his feet. The doors opened of their own accord, and the poor man, being set free, returned to his home.

From that day he kept the vow which he had now made, fasting always on the vigil of St. Francis; and the wax taper, which he was accustomed to offer him every year, he thenceforward, in token of the increase of his devotion, increased by the weight of an ounce.

When Pope Gregory IX. was sitting in the chair of St. Peter, a certain man named Peter, of the city of Alesia, on an accusation of heresy, was carried to Rome, and, by command of the same Pontiff, was given in custody to the Bishop of Tivoli.

He having been charged to keep him in safety, under penalty of the loss of his bishopric, bound him with heavy chains, and imprisoned him in a dark dungeon, from which there was no possible means of escape, giving him food and drink by measure and weight.

This man began to call with many prayers and tears upon St. Francis, the vigil of whose Feast was close at hand, beseeching him to have mercy upon him.

And because, by the purity of faith, all error of heretical depravity had been driven from his heart when he turned to Francis, the faithful servant of Christ, he was made worthy by his merits to be heard by the Lord:

For, about twilight on the vigil of his Feast, St. Francis mercifully appeared to him in his prison, and, calling him by his name, commanded him immediately to arise.

He, being full of fear, asked who it was that spoke to him, and was told that it was the blessed Francis.

Then, by the power of the presence of the holy man, he beheld the fetters fall broken from his feet, and the doors of the prison were unlocked without any one to open them, so that he could go forth unbound and free; nevertheless, being full of wonder, he durst not go forth, but calling at the doors affrighted all the jailers.

Then they made known to the Bishop that he had been set free from all bonds, and when the devout prelate understood the matter in order, he came to the prison, and seeing the power of God thus manifest, he acknowledged it, and adored the Lord.

Some of the chains were brought to the Pope and the Cardinals, who, beholding what had been done, blessed God in wonder and admiration.

Guido-lotto, of San Geminiano, was falsely accused of having poisoned a certain man, and of intending by the same means to destroy his son and all his family.

Being apprehended by the magistrate of the place, he was loaded with heavy chains and shut up in a tower. But knowing his own innocence, and having confidence in the Lord, he committed the defence of his cause to St. Francis.

The magistrate casting in his mind by what manner of torments he might draw from him the confession of his crime, and by what punishment, when he should have confessed it, he would put him to death,

the prisoner, on the night before he was to be led forth to torture, was visited by the presence of St. Francis, and surrounded by a great glory even until the morning, so that, being filled with great joy and confidence, he felt sure of his deliverance.

In the morning they who were to torture him came and brought him forth from the prison, and put him to the torture, loading him with many heavy chains to increase his pains.

He was many times raised from the earth and cast down again, that, by torture succeeding torture, he might be the sooner brought to confess his crime. But the spirit of innocence shone brightly in his face, nor did he seem to experience any pain.

Then a great fire was lighted under him, over which he was hung by the feet, with his head downwards, yet not a hair of his head was singed.

Lastly, he was covered with boiling oil, which was poured over his body, and he overcame all these torments by the power of that Patron to whom he had committed his defence, and so he was set free, and departed safe and sound.