The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How Jesus Christ the blessed, at the prayer of St. Francis, caused a rich man to be converted and to become a friar, the which had shown great honour and liberality unto St. Francis
ST. FRANCIS, the servant of Christ, arrived one evening at the house of a great and powerful gentleman and was by him received to lodge there, he and his companion, as angels of God, with very great courtesy and devotion; for the which thing St. Francis
loved him, considering how when he entered into his house he had embraced and kissed him as a friend, and had humbly washed his feet and wiped and kissed them; and afterward, a great fire having been lighted and a table spread with many excellent viands had waited on him continually, with joyful countenance, while he ate. Now, when St. Francis and his companion had eaten, this gentleman said: "Behold, my father, I offer you myself and my goods. As often as ye have need of habit or mantle or of any other thing, buy them and I will pay for them; and remember that I am ready to provide for you in all your needs, because by God's grace I am able so to do, in that I abound in temporal goods; and therefore for love of God, who hath given them unto me, I willingly do good therewith to His poor." Wherefore St. Francis, seeing in him such great courtesy and loving-kindness, and hearing the large offers which he made, conceived for him so great a love, that thereafter, departing thence, he spake unto his companion, as they went upon their way, and said: "Of a truth this gentleman, who is so grateful to God and so mindful of His benefits, and so loving and courteous to his neighbour and to the poor, would be good for our religion and company. Know, beloved friar, that courtesy is one of the attributes of God, who giveth His sun and His rain to the just and to the unjust, through courtesy; and Courtesy is own sister to Charity, the which extinguisheth hate and keepeth love alive. Now, because I have known so much Divine virtue in this good man, I would gladly have him for a companion; and therefore I am minded some day to return to him, if peradventure God should have touched his heart to desire to accompany us in the service of God, and meanwhile, we will pray God to put this desire in his
heart and to give him grace to bring the same to good effect." O marvellous thing! a few days after St. Francis had made this prayer, God put this desire into the heart of that gentleman; and St. Francis said to his companion: "Brother mine, let us go to the house of the courteous man, for I have sure hope in God that he with the same courtesy which he hath shown in things temporal will give himself to us and will become our companion." And they went. And when they drew nigh unto his house, St. Francis said to his companion: "Wait for me a little while, because I would first pray God that He may prosper our journey, and that it may please Jesus Christ, through the virtue of His most holy passion, to grant to us, though poor and weak, this noble prey which we think to snatch from the world". And having thus spoken, he betook himself to prayer in a place where he could be seen of the said courteous man. Whereby, as it pleased God, while he was looking hither and thither, he saw St. Francis most devoutly praying before Christ, who, in great splendour, appeared unto him in the said prayer and stood before him; and therewith he saw St. Francis lifted bodily from the ground, for a good space. Through the which sight he was so touched of God and inspired to leave the world that, anon, he came forth from his palace and, in fervour of spirit, ran toward St. Francis; and coming unto him while he was yet praying, he kneeled down at his feet and, with great earnestness and devotion, besought him that he would be pleased to receive him and to do penance together with him. Then St. Francis, perceiving that God had heard his prayer, and that that gentleman was urgently begging for that which he himself desired, rose up and, in fervour and gladness of spirit, embraced and kissed him, very
devoutly thanking God who had added so gallant a knight to his company. And the gentleman said to St. Francis: "My father, what dost thou bid me do? Lo! I am ready to obey thy commandments and to give all I possess to the poor and to follow Christ with thee, having thus disburdened myself of every temporal thing." And thus did he, according to the counsel of St. Francis; for he distributed all his possessions among the poor and entered the Order, and lived in great penitence and holiness of life and honest conversation.