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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER XXVIII


OF AN ECSTASY WHICH CAME TO BROTHER BERNARD, AND HOW HE REMAINED FROM MATINS UNTIL NONE IN A STATE OF RAPTURE.


Brother Bernard of Quintavalle was an example of the manifestation of the grace of God in the poor followers of the Gospel, who gave up the world to follow Christ. For since he had taken the habit of St Francis, he was often rapt in God through the contemplation of celestial things. It happened one day, as he was in a church hearing Mass, his mind was so raised to God that he was transfixed and enraptured, so as not to be aware of the moment of the elevation of the Body of Christ; for he neither knelt down nor removed his hood, as did the others, but remained motionless, with his eyes intently gazing upwards, and remained so even from Matins till the hour of None. On coming back to himself, he went about the convent crying out with a loud voice: “O brothers! O brothers! O brothers! there is not a man in all this land, however great and however noble he may be, who, if a palace full of gold were offered him, would not willingly carry on his back a sack of copper to acquire so rich a treasure.” Now this celestial treasure, promised to the lovers of Christ, had been revealed to Brother Bernard; and his mind was so fixed upon it, that for fifteen years his heart and countenance was raised away to heaven. In all that time he never satisfied his hunger, though he ate a little of whatever was set before him; wherefore he used to say that if a man does not taste what he eats his abstinence has no merit, for true abstinence is to moderate oneself in those things which are agreeable to the palate. His intelligence also became so enlightened that many great divines had recourse to him to solve difficult questions and explain obscure passages of Scripture, which he did with great facility. So completely was his mind detached and withdrawn from all things earthly, that he soared like the swallows above the earth, and remained sometimes twenty, sometimes thirty days at the top of a high mountain contemplating things divine. For which reason Brother Giles said that he had received a gift from God which had been given to no other human being - namely, that in his divine flight he was fed like the swallows. And, because of this wonderful grace of contemplation which he had received from God, St Francis willingly and frequently held converse with him day and night; and often they were found to be in a state of ecstasy all night long, in the wood where they used to meet together to talk on things divine.


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