The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How St. Francis knew in spirit that Friar Elias was damned and would die out of the Order; wherefore, at the entreaty of Friar Elias, he prayed to Christ for him, and was heard
ONCE when St. Francis and Friar Elias were sojourning in a Place together, it was revealed of God to St. Francis, that Friar Elias was damned, and would apostatise from the Order and finally die out of the Order. For which cause St. Francis conceived so great a distaste for Friar Elias that he never spake nor conversed with him; and, if it came to pass at any time that Friar Elias came towards him, he turned aside and went by another way so as not to meet him; whereby Friar Elias began to perceive and to understand that St. Francis was displeased with him. Wherefore, desiring to know the reason thereof, he one day drew nigh unto St. Francis to speak with him, and, when St. Francis avoided him, detained him by force but courteously, humbly beseeching him that he would be pleased to tell him the reason why he thus avoided
his company and would not speak with him. And St. Francis answered him: "The reason is this: that it hath been revealed to me of God that thou, through thy sins, wilt apostatise from the Order and wilt die out of the Order, and also God hath revealed unto me that thou art damned". Now when he had heard this, Friar Elias spake thus: "My reverend father, I beseech thee for love of Jesus Christ that for this thou avoid me not, neither drive me away from thee; but like a good shepherd, after the example of Christ, seek and save the sheep which must perish if thou help it not; and pray God for me that, if it be possible, He may revoke the sentence of my damnation; for it is written that God will change His sentence if the sinner amend his fault: and so great faith have I in thy prayers that, if I were in the midst of hell and thou shouldst pray unto God for me, I should feel some relief. Wherefore again do I beseech thee that thou recommend me, a sinner, to the God who came to save sinners, that He may receive me to His mercy." And this Friar Elias said with great devotion and with many tears. Thereupon St. Francis, as a pitiful father, promised him to pray God for him; and he did so. And, praying God most devoutly for him, he knew by revelation, that his prayer was heard by God, touching the revocation of the sentence of damnation against Friar Elias, and that his soul would not be finally damned; but that he would certainly leave the Order and die out of the Order. And so it came to pass; because, when Frederick, King of Sicily, rebelled against the Church and was excommunicated by the Pope (he and all who gave him aid or counsel), the said Friar Elias, who was reputed one of the wisest men in all the world, at the request of the said King Frederick, adhered unto him, and became a rebel
against the Church and an apostate from the Order, for the which thing he was excommunicated by the Pope and deprived of the habit of St. Francis. And, while he was thus excommunicate, he fell grievously sick; and one of his brethren hearing of his said sickness, the same being a lay-brother who had remained in the Order and was a man of good and honest life, went to visit him; and among other things he said unto him: "My dearest brother, much doth it grieve me that thou art excommunicate and out of thy Order and so must die; but if thou shouldst perceive any way or manner whereby I can deliver thee from this danger, I would willingly take any pains for thy sake". Friar Elias made answer: "Brother mine, I see no other way but that thou go to the Pope, and beseech him, for the love of God and of St. Francis, his servant, through whose teachings I abandoned the world, that he absolve me from his excommunication and restore to me the habit of the Religion". His brother told him that he would gladly labour for his salvation; and so, departing from him, he gat him to the feet of the holy Pope, humbly beseeching him to pardon his brother for the love of Christ and of St. Francis, his servant. And, as God willed it, the Pope granted his prayer that he should return, and if he found Friar Elias alive, should absolve him from the excommunication and should restore his habit to him: wherefore he departed full of joy, and, returning to Friar Elias with all speed, found him alive though almost at the point of death; and so he absolved him from the excommunication; and once more putting on him the habit, Friar Elias passed from this life and his soul was saved by the merits of St. Francis and by his prayer in which Friar Elias had had such great hope.