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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER LVII


HOW A NOBLE KNIGHT WHO WAS DEVOUT TO ST FRANCIS WAS ASSURED OF HIS DEATH AND OF THE SACRED STIGMATA


A noble knight of Massa di San Pietro, named Landulph, who was most devout to St Francis, and had received the habit of the Third Order from his hand, was thus certified of his death and of the truth of his sacred, holy and glorious stigmata. When St Francis lay on his deathbed, the devil entered into a woman of that place, and cruelly tormented her, and withal made her to speak with such learning and subtlety, that she overcame all the clerks and learned men who came to dispute with her. Now it came to pass that the devil, departing from her, left her free for the space of two days, after which he returned again, and afflicted her more cruelly than before. Which when Landulph heard he went to the woman, and asked the devil which dwelt within her wherefore he had departed from her for those days, and why he had since returned to torment her worse than before. And the devil answered thus: “When I left her, I went with all my companions in these parts, being gathered together in great force, to the deathbed of Francis the begger, to dispute with him, and carry away his soul; but, because it was surrounded and defended by a multitude of angels, far more numerous than we, who carried it straight to heaven we were forced to retire discomfited; and therefore have I returned to make up to this wretched woman for the peace in which I left her for those days.”

Then Landulph conjured him in the name of God to tell him what was the truth regarding the holiness of St Francis, whom he affirmed to be dead, and for St Clare, who was still alive. And the devil answered him: “I must tell thee the truth whether I will or not. The anger of God the Father was so enkindled against the sins of the world, that he was ready to pass sentence upon it, and to destroy all men and women from the face of the earth, unless they would repent. But Christ his Son, praying for sinners, promised to renew his life and Passion in the person of a man, namely, in St Francis, a poor mendicant; through whose life and doctrine many throughout the world should be brought back into the way of truth, and many also to penance. And now, to show to the world what he had wrought in St Francis, he has been pleased that the stigmata of his Passion, which he had imprinted on his body during life, should be seen and touched by many since his death. In like manner did the Mother of Christ promise to renew her virginal purity and her humility in the person of a woman, to wit in Sister Clare, that by her example many women might be delivered out of my hands. And the eternal Father, being appeased by these promises, deferred his final sentence.” Then Landulph, wishing to know for certain whether the devil, who is the abode and father of lies, spoke truth in these matters, and especially with regard to the death of St Francis, sent a faithful servant of his to Assist, to St Mary of the Angels, to inquire whether St Francis were alive or dead; whither, when the messenger had arrived, he found that he was indeed dead, and brought certain information to his lord that St Francis had passed from this life on the very day and hour of which the devil had spoken.


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