Miracles of St. Francis of Assisi | 16-9


Of some who observed not the St. Francis Feast
and paid him not due Honour.

In a place called Simo, in the neighbourhood of Pavia, there was a priest called Reginald, who was very devout to St. Francis, and exhorted his parishioners to keep his Feast with great solemnity.

But one of the people being ignorant of the virtues of the Saint, set at nought the priest’s command. He went out into the field to cut wood, and as he prepared to work he heard a voice saying to him three times: “It is a feast: it is not lawful to work.”

But neither the command of the priest, nor the words of the Divine oracle, could restrain his rashness; therefore, the Divine power and the glory of the Saint were shown forth by a miraculous punishment:

For, as he held with one hand the wood which he was about to cut, and in the other the hatchet which was to cut it, by the Divine power both hands were so firmly attached to what they held that he could neither open his hands nor stretch out his fingers.

Being then in great astonishment, and knowing not what to do, he went thus to the church, whither many accompanied him to see the marvellous prodigy.

Prostrating himself, therefore, with all humility before the altar, according to the direction of the priest, who was present (for many priests had come thither to celebrate the Feast), he humbly made a threefold vow to St. Francis, corresponding to the three voices which he had heard:

I. That he would always devoutly celebrate his Festival.
II. That on the day of his Festival he would always visit that church in which he now was.
III. That he would make a pilgrimage in person to the body of the Saint.

Wonderful to relate, no sooner had he made one vow, than he was able to move one of his fingers; at the second, another; and at the third, a third; and then the whole hand, and afterwards the other hand; while the great multitude of people who were gathered together were devoutly imploring mercy from the Saint.

The man, being thus restored to his former health, of his own accord laid the tools of which he had made use before the Altar of the Saint, where they may be seen to this day; and all the people praised God and extolled the great power of the Saint, who was so mighty to smite and to heal.

And many miracles wrought there and in many neighbouring places testify to the glory of the Saint in Heaven, and that his Feast should be devoutly celebrated by all men upon earth.

In the city of Como, on the Feast of St. Francis, a woman setting about to spin, stretched her hands out to the distaff, and took the spindle in her fingers,

when her hands became quite stiff, and she was seized with a violent pain in her fingers; when, recognizing the power of the Saint in her punishment, she went with great compunction of heart to the friars.

And while the devout sons were praying for her recovery, by the clemency of the holy Father she was made perfectly whole. Nor did any pain or scar remain on her hands, except a slight mark, as of a bum, in memory of the miracle.

In like manner, another woman in the Campagna, a second in a place called Oleto, and another at Pilci, who had despised the Saint’s Festival, were miraculously punished for their error, and on their repentance, by the merits of St. Francis, were miraculously healed.

A certain soldier at Borgo profanely spoke evil of the works and miracles of St. Francis, abused the pilgrims who came to visit his sepulchre, and publicly reproached the Friars with foolish words.

Now it happened one day, that when he was thus assailing the honour of the Saint, he added to his other sins this detestable blasphemy:

“If it be true,” he said, “that this Francis is a Saint, let me now die, and if he be not a Saint I shall remain uninjured.”

The anger of God was not slow to inflict a due punishment upon a prayer thus made in sin, for not long afterwards, as this blasphemer was insulting one of his nephews, the young man drew his sword and pierced him to the heart;

and thus on that same day died this miserable slave of hell and son of darkness, that others might learn that the marvellous works of St. Francis are not to be blasphemously assailed, but devoutly honoured.

A certain judge, named Alexander, having with a venomous tongue sought to lessen the devotion to St. Francis, was, by the judgment of God, deprived of the use of his tongue, and remained speechless for six years together:

He, being tormented in the member which had sinned, was moved to great penance and sorrowed greatly that he had spoken against the miracles of the Saint.

Therefore the anger of the merciful Saint was appeased, and being reconciled to the penitent judge, who humbly asked his aid, he restored to him his speech;

and thenceforward the tongue which had been full of curses was consecrated to the honour of the Saint, from whom he had received this discipline, and at the same time the grace of devotion.

Of many Miracles of Various Kinds.

At Galialo was a woman named Mary, who was most devout to our Lord and to St. Francis:

It happened that on one summer’s day she left her house in search of necessary food, and the heat being very great she began to faint with thirst;

being unable to find anything to drink, for she was alone on a barren mountain, she fell upon the ground half dead, and began fervently and piously to call upon her advocate, St. Francis.

The devout woman persevered long in her humble prayer, and being overcome with weariness, heat, and thirst, she fell asleep, when behold!

St. Francis appeared to her, and, calling her by her name, said to her: “Arise, and drink this water, which God gives to thee and to many others.”

At these words the woman arose from sleep, no little comforted, and taking a stone which lay near, she broke it, and hollowed out the earth therewith;

and then, boring with a stick, she came to living water, which at first appearing but a little stream, by the Divine power grew to an abundant fountain.

The woman drank thereof, and when she had quenched her thirst, she washed her eyes therewith, which having been long dimmed by a weakness of sight, now received new light and strength.

Then the woman ran to her house and made known this stupendous miracle, to the glory of St. Francis.

Many came from all parts for the fame of this miracle, and learned by experience the marvellous virtue of this water; for everyone who touched it, if he had first confessed his sins, was delivered thereby from whatsoever disease he had. And even to this day this fountain may be seen; and an oratory has been built in that place in honour of St. Francis.

At St. Jacondo, in Spain, a cherry-tree, belonging to a worthy man, had withered; and the Saint, against all hope, restored it to its pristine life, causing it to bring forth leaves, flowers, and fruit

All the vineyards in the neighbourhood of Vilesi were delivered by his marvellous help from the worms and vermin which preyed upon them.

A priest, near Valencia, whose granaries were every year emptied by the moths and other vermin, fervently implored the help of the Saint, who entirely freed him from this plague.

The lands of a nobleman in Apulia having been commended to his care, he preserved them entirely; from the grubs, which infested all the neighbouring fields.

There was a certain man named Martin, who, having led his cattle to pasture, at some distance from his house, the leg of one of them was so grievously broken that it seemed past remedy.

Desiring to bind up the leg and set it, and having no bandage for the purpose, he went back to his house to find one, committing his ox, in the meantime, to the care and custody of St. Francis, beseeching him with great confidence that he would not suffer it to be devoured by the wolves during his absence.

The next morning he returned early to his ox, bringing the butcher with him, and found it quietly grazing, so perfectly restored to health that he could not discern the broken leg from the others. And so he returned thanks to the Good Shepherd who had so lovingly cared for and cured his beast.

This humble Saint is wont to succour all those who call upon him in any necessity, however trifling it may be:

For he restored to a man of Amiterno a horse which had been stolen from him; and to a woman of Interduco, who had let fall a basin upon the ground, and broken it into many pieces, he restored it whole. He also made whole a ploughshare belonging to a man named Mark, at Olmo, which had been broken in pieces.

In the diocese of Subina there was an old woman, eighty years of age, whose daughter died, leaving a child at the breast. This poor old woman was full of trouble, and knew not whither to turn, for she had no milk, nor could she find any woman to give suck to the child.

The infant was wasting away, when one night, being abandoned by all human aid, she turned, full of tears, to St. Francis, imploring his aid, when the lover of innocence suddenly stood before her, and said to her:

“Oh, woman, I am Francis, whom with so many tears thou hast invoked. Place the child’s mouth at thy breast, for the Lord will give thee milk in abundance.”

The old woman did according to the command of the Saint, and forthwith the breasts of a woman of eighty were filled with great abundance of milk.

The marvellous gift of the Saint was soon made known abroad and many, both men and women, came together to the sight, nor could the tongue deny that to which the eye bore witness, so that all were moved to praise God with marvellous and loving devotion for the power of His Saint.

In Spoleto a man and his wife had one only son, over whom they mourned continually as the misfortune of their house:

For his arms were attached to his neck, his knees joined to his breast, and his feet to his thighs, so that he seemed rather like a brute monster than a human being.

The mother, in the greatness of her affliction, turned with continual weeping to Christ, and invoked the aid of St. Francis that he would be pleased to help her in her misery and shame.

One night, when she had fallen into a deep sleep for very sorrow, St. Francis appeared to her, and comforting her with sweet words:

he bade her carry her child to a place hard by, which was dedicated to his name, and there to bathe him in the water of the well, so should he recover perfect health in the name of the Lord.

But she neglecting to fulfil the command of the Saint, he appeared to her a second time, and repeated the same.

Then he appeared to her again the third time, and led the woman with the child to the gate of the aforesaid place, guiding them himself;

and certain noble matrons, who were going thither from devotion, hearing from this woman of the vision she had seen, went with her to the friars and presented the child to them,

and when they came to the well the noblest of the company bathed it therein with their own hands, when the limbs immediately returned to their place, the child was made whole, and the greatness of the miracle filled all men with amazement.

At Chora, in the diocese of Ostia, there was a man whose leg was so diseased that he could neither walk nor move. Being in great anguish, and despairing of all human aid, he began one night to lament himself to St. Francis, as if he had been present, crying:

“St. Francis, help me! Remember the devout service I have ever rendered thee, for I have made thee ride upon mine ass, I have kissed thy holy hands and feet, and was always most devout and loving to thee, and now by the grievous pain of this leg I am nigh unto death.”

Moved by his complaints, St. Francis appeared to him, in company with one of his friars, and being mindful of the benefits received from the poor man, and grateful for his devotion, he told him that he had come at his desire, and had brought a remedy to heal him:

Then he touched the place of the disease with a little rod, shaped like the letter Tau, and the ulcer broke, and he was restored to perfect health.

What is more marvellous still, he left upon the healed wound the sacred sign of Tau impressed as a memorial of this great miracle. For with this sign St. Francis [was wont to sign his letters, which in his charity he wrote to anyone.

And now behold, as the mind is distracted by the variety of the divers miracles related in this history of the glorious St. Francis,

it seems that not without a Divine purpose, nor without the consent and will of the glorious Standard-bearer, we come to speak of that holy sign Tau (T):

For we may consider that as to him, when he followed Christ militant on earth, it was by the Cross that he merited salvation, so now that he triumphs with Christ is the Cross the faithful witness to his honour.

For this great and marvellous mystery of the Cross, in whose sublime depths are hidden infinite graces and all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God,

this mystery which is hidden from the wise and prudent of this world, was to this simple man of Christ so plainly revealed

that all his life long he ever followed the footsteps of that Cross, nor did he ever enjoy any sweetness but in the Cross, nor preach any glory but of the Cross;

so that from the very beginning of his conversion he could say with the Apostle: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

and no less truly could he add in his after life: “Those who shall follow this rule shall have peace and mercy;” and lastly, in the end, he could say most truly: “I bear in my body the Stigmata of the Lord Jesus.”

And let it be our daily desire to hear from him: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren, Amen.”

Triumph and glory, therefore, now securely, in the glory of the Cross, O glorious Standard-bearer of Christ; for, beginning from the Cross, thou didst go onward according to the rule of the Cross; and being made perfect by the Cross, the faithful have learnt what is thy glory in heaven by the testimony of the Cross.

Securely let them follow thee who have come out of Egypt, who have passed through the sea, divided by the rod of Christ’s Cross,

and who, going forward through the desert, are carried by the marvellous power of that same Holy Cross through the Jordan of our mortality to the promised Land of the Living.

Whither may Jesus Christ, the true Leader and Saviour of His people, bring us all by the merits of His servant Francis!