The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
How the venerable Friar Simon delivered from a great temptation a friar, who for this cause was minded to depart out of the Order
ABOUT the time of the commencement of the Order of St. Francis, and while he was yet alive, a young man of Assisi, who was called Friar Simon, entered the Order; the which was adorned and dowered of God with such grace, and with such contemplation and elevation of mind that his whole life
was a mirror of holiness, according as I have heard from those who were with him for a long time. Very rarely was he seen out of his cell; and if, at any time, he was in the company of the friars, he always spake of God. Never had he learned grammar; yet such profound and high things did he speak of God and of the love of Christ that his words appeared supernatural words; whence it came to pass that one evening, having gone into the wood with Friar James of Massa, to speak of God, he talked so sweetly of the Divine love that they passed the whole night in that discourse; and, in the morning, it seemed to them that it had been but a very little while, according to that which the said Friar James told me. And, when the said Friar Simon received the illuminations of God's love, he was filled in spirit with such exceeding sweetness and peace, that ofttimes, when he felt them coming upon him, he laid himself down upon his bed; because the tranquil sweetness of the Holy Ghost demanded of him not only repose of soul, but also of body; and in such Divine visitations he was often rapt in God, and became altogether insensible to corporal things. Wherefore, once while he was thus rapt in God and insensible to the world, burning inwardly with Divine love and with his bodily senses feeling nothing at all of external things, a certain friar, wishing to prove if this were really so, and to see if he was as he appeared to be, went and took a coal of fire and laid it on his naked foot; and Friar Simon felt nothing, neither did it make any mark upon his foot, albeit it remained thereon for so long a time that it went out of itself. The said Friar Simon, when he sat him down at table, or ever he took bodily food, took spiritual food for himself and gave it to others, speaking of God. By his devout speech he once converted a youth of San
[paragraph continues] Severino, the which in the world was a very vain and worldly youth, of noble blood and very dainty of body; and Friar Simon, having received the said youth into the Order, kept his secular garments by him; and he abode with Friar Simon to be instructed in the rules of the Order. Wherefore, the devil, who seeketh to bring to naught every good thing, vexed him with so sore a temptation and with such burning lust of the flesh that on no wise might he resist it; for the which cause he betook himself to Friar Simon and said unto him: "Give me back my garments which I wore in the world, for I can no longer resist this carnal temptation". Then, Friar Simon, having great compassion for him, said unto him: "Sit thou here with me, my son, a little while"; and he began to speak to him of God, after such a manner that every temptation left him; and thereafter what time the temptation returned and he asked for his garments, Friar Simon drove it away by speaking of God. And when this had been done divers times, finally, one night, the said temptation assailed him so much more violently than usual that, for nothing in the world, might he resist it; and he went to Friar Simon to demand of him, once for all, his secular garments, in that by no means might he any longer stay. Then Friar Simon, according to his wont, made him sit by his side, and, as he spake of God, the young man bowed his head upon the bosom of Friar Simon for . grief and sorrow of heart. Thereupon Friar Simon, for the great compassion that he had, lifted up his eyes to heaven and prayed God most devoutly for him; and he was rapt in God and his prayer was answered; so that, when he returned unto himself, the young man was wholly freed from that temptation, as if he had never felt it at all. Moreover the fire of the temptation
was changed into the fire of the Holy Ghost; and, because he had drawn nigh unto the burning coal, to wit unto Friar Simon, he was all inflamed with love of God and of his neighbour; so much so that, once, when a malefactor had been taken and condemned to have both his eyes torn out, he, to wit, the aforesaid young man, was so filled with pity that he went boldly to the Rector and in full Council, with many tears and devout prayers, begged that one of his own eyes might be put out, and one only of the malefactor's, to the end that he might not lose them both. But the Rector and his Council, beholding the great fervour of the charity of this friar, pardoned both the one and the other. Now one day, the said Friar Simon being in prayer in the wood and feeling great consolation in his soul, a flock of crows began to annoy him with their cries; wherefore he commanded them in the name of Jesus to depart thence, and to return no more; and, thereupon, the said birds gat them thence and thereafter were never more seen or heard, neither there nor in all the district round about. And this miracle was evident in all the territory of Fermo, wherein was the said place.