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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER LV


HOW ST FRANCIS APPEARED, AFTER HIS DEATH, TO BROTHER JOHN OF ALVERNIA, WHILE HE WAS IN PRAYER


St Francis once appeared on Mount Alvernia to Brother John of Alvernia, a man of great sanctity, while he was in prayer, and spoke with him for a long space of time; and before he departed he said to him: “Ask of me what thou wilt.” Then Brother John made answer: “Father, I pray thee, tell me that which I have long desired to know, - what thou wast doing, and where thou wast, when the seraph appeared to thee.” And St Francis replied: “I was praying in that place whereon the chapel of Count Simon da Battifolle now stands, and I asked two favours of my Lord Jesus Christ. The first was that he would grant to me in my lifetime to feel, as far as might be possible, both in my soul and body, all that he had suffered in his most bitter Passion. The second favour which I asked was, that I might feel in my heart that exceeding love which enkindled his, and moved him to endure so great a Passion for us sinners. And then God put it into my heart that it was granted to me to feel both, as far as is possible for a mere creature; and this promise was well fulfilled to me by the impression of the stigmata.” Then Brother John asked him whether those sacred words spoken to him by the seraph had been truly related by the brother who affirmed that he had heard them from the mouth of St Francis, in the presence of eight friars. And St Francis made answer, that they were even so as that brother had said. Then Brother John, emboldened to ask by the saint’s liberality in granting his requests, said thus: “O Father, I beseech thee most earnestly that thou wilt suffer to see and kiss thy glorious, sacred stigmata; not that I have any doubt upon the matter, but because such has always been my most earnest desire.” And St Francis graciously showing them to him, Brother John plainly saw and touched and kissed them. Lastly he said to him: “Father, grant me, if it be the will of God, to feel in some small measure the consolation which thou didst experience when thou didst behold our dear Lord come down to thee to give thee the stigmata of his most holy Passion.” Then St Francis replied: “Dost thou see these nails?” “Yes, Father,” said Brother John. “Touch once more,” said St Francis, “this nail which is in my hand.” Then Brother John, with great fear and reverence, touched that nail, and as he touched it there issued forth from it a perfume, with as it were a little cloud of incense, which, entering the nostrils of Brother John, filled both his soul and body with such overpowering sweetness that he was immediately rapt in God: and in that ecstasy he remained insensible from that hour, which was the hour of Tierce, until Vespers. And of that vision and familiar converse with St Francis, Brother John never spoke to any save to his confessor till the day of his death; but on his deathbed he revealed it to several of the brethren.


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