The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How Friar Masseo, as if in raillery, said to St. Francis that all the world followed after him; and he replied that that was to the confusion of the world and grace of God
ONCE while St. Francis dwelt in the Place of Porziuncula with Friar Masseo of Marignano, a man of great sanctity, discretion and grace in speaking of God; wherefore St. Francis loved him much; it came to pass that, one day, when St. Francis was returning from the wood and from prayer, and was already come to the place of egress from the wood, the said Friar Masseo desired to prove how great was his humility and drew nigh unto him and, as if in raillery, said: "Why after thee? why after thee? why after thee?" St. Francis answered: "What is this that
thou wouldst say?" Said Friar Masseo: "I say, why doth all the world follow after thee, and why doth every man seem to desire to see thee and to hear thee and to obey thee? Thou art not a man beautiful of body, thou art not greatly learned, thou art not noble: wherefore then should all the world follow after thee?" Hearing this St. Francis rejoiced greatly in spirit, and raising his face to heaven, stood for a long time with his mind uplifted in God, and thereafter, returning to himself, kneeled down and gave praise and thanks to God, and then with great fervour of spirit turned to Friar Masseo and said: "Wouldst know why after me? wouldst know why after me? why all the world follows after me? This have I from those eyes of the most high God, which in every place behold the good and the wicked: because those most holy eyes have not seen among sinners any more vile, or more insufficient, or a greater sinner than I am; and since to do that marvellous work which He meaneth to do, He hath not found a viler creature upon earth; therefore hath He chosen me to confound the nobility and the pride and the strength and the beauty and wisdom of the world, to the end that it may know that every virtue and every good thing is of Him and not of the creature, and that no one may be able to glory in His sight; but whosoever shall glory, let him glory in the Lord, to whom is all honour and glory for ever." Then Friar Masseo, at so lowly an answer, spoken with so much fervour, was afraid and knew of a surety that St. Francis was stablished in humility.