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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER XXXIV


HOW ST LOUIS, KING OF FRANCE, WENT IN PERSON IN A PILGRIM’S GARB TO VISIT THE HOLY BROTHER GILES


St Louis, King of France, went on a pilgrimage to visit the sanctuaries in the world. And having heard of the fame of the sanctity of Brother Giles, who was one of the first companions of St Francis, he determined in his heart to go and visit him in person; for which object he set out for Perugia, where the said brother then lived. He arrived at the convent-gate as if he had been a poor unknown pilgrim, and asked with great importunity for Brother Giles, without telling the porter who it was who wished to see him; and the porter went to Brother Giles, and told him there was a pilgrim at the gate who asked for him. But the Lord having revealed to Brother Giles that the pilgrim was the King of France, he left his cell in haste, and ran to the gate without asking any questions. They both knelt down and embraced each other with great reverence and many outward signs of love and charity, as if a long friendship had existed between them, though they had never met before in their lives. Neither of them spoke a word; and after remaining clasped in each other’s arms for some time, they separated in silence, St Louis to continue his journey, and Brother Giles to return to his cell. As the king departed, a certain friar inquired of one of those who accompanied him who it was that had embraced Brother Giles, and he answered that it was Louis, King of France; and when the other brothers heard this, they were all sorrowful because Brother Giles had not spoken to him; and giving vent to their grief, they said: “O Brother Giles, why hast thou been so uncivil as not to say a word to so holy a king, who has come from France to see thee, and hear from thee some good words?” Brother Giles answered: “Beloved brothers, be not surprised at this, that neither could I say a word to him nor he to me; for no sooner had we embraced each other than the light of divine wisdom revealed his heart to me, and mine to him; and by a divine operation we saw into each other’s hearts, and knew far better what we had to say than if we had explained in words that which we felt in our hearts. For so imperfectly the tongue of man reveals the secret mysteries of God, that words would have been to us rather a hindrance than a consolation. Know, then, that the king went away from me well satisfied, and greatly comforted in mind.”


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