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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER I


HOW BROTHER GILES, WITH THREE COMPANIONS WAS RECEIVED INTO THE ORDER OF FRIAR’S MINOR


Inasmuch as the example of holy men serves to detach the minds of devout hearers from transitory pleasures, and to excite them to the desire of eternal salvation, to the honour of God and of his most holy Mother, our Lady of St Mary, we will say a word concerning the graces wrought by the Holy Ghost in the soul of our holy brother Giles, who, even while he wore the secular habit, being touched by the Spirit of God, began to strive in all his actions to please God alone.

At that time St Francis appeared as a new herald of Christ to give an example of holy living, of humility, and penance. Then, two years after his conversion, a man named Bernard, endowed with marvellous prudence and very rich in temporal goods, with Peter Cattani, was drawn by his example to the observance of evangelical poverty. By the counsel of St Francis they distributed all their temporal possessions, for the love of God, among the poor, arraying themselves, in the glory of patience and evangelical perfection, with the habit of the Friars Minor; and all their life did they keep their promise then made with the greatest fervour and perfection. Eight days after their said conversion and distribution, Brother Giles, being still in the secular habit, and seeing the contempt of earthly things manifested by these noble knights of Assisi, to the great admiration of the whole world, on the Feast of St George in the year 1209, very early in the morning, as one in earnest about his salvation, went in great fervour of spirit to the church of St Gregory, where was the monastery of St Clare. Being greatly desirous to see St Francis, he went, as soon as he had finished his prayers, towards the hospital for lepers, where St Francis dwelt apart in profound humility, with Brother Bernard and Brother Peter Cattani.

Being come to a crossway, and not knowing which road to take, he prayed to Christ our precious guide, who led him straight to the hut. And as he pondered upon the cause of his coming, he met St Francis returning from the forest, where he had been praying.

Then Brother Giles threw himself at his feet, and besought him to receive him into his company for the love of God. And St Francis, beholding the devout countenance of Brother Giles, answered and said: “Dearest Brother, God hath conferred a great grace upon thee. If the emperor were to come to Assisi, and propose to make one of its citizens his knight or private chamberlain, would not such an offer be joyfully accepted as a great mark of honour and distinction? How much more shouldst thou rejoice that God has called thee to be his knight and chosen servant, to observe the perfection of his holy gospel! Therefore, do thou stand firm in the vocation to which God hath called thee.” And taking him by the hand he raised him up, and bringing him into the hut, he called Brother Bernard, and said to him: “Almighty God has sent us a good brother; let us, therefore, rejoice in the Lord, and eat together in charity.” When they had eaten, Brother Francis and this Giles went to Assisi to obtain some cloth to make him a habit; and by the way they met a poor woman, who asked an alms for the love of God. St Francis, not knowing where to find anything for the poor woman, turned to Brother Giles with an angelic countenance, and said: “For the love of God, dearest brother, let us give her your mantle.” And Brother Giles obeys with so willing a heart, that the holy father thought he saw him and his alms received forthwith into heaven, whereat he experienced an exceeding interior joy. St Francis having procured the cloth, and caused the habit to be made, received Brother Giles into the Order, and he became one of the most glorious religious whom the world has ever seen in the contemplative life. Immediately after his reception, St Francis went with him into the March of Ancona, singing with him and greatly praising the Lord of heaven and earth. And he said to Brother Giles: “My son, this Religion of ours shall be like unto the fisherman, who casteth his nets into the water, and taketh a great multitude of fishes, whereof he keepeth the larger, casting the smaller back into the sea.” Brother Giles marvelled at this prophecy, for the Order at that time numbered only three friars besides St Francis himself. Moreover, St Francis had not yet begun to preach publicly to the people, but only admonished men and women as he met with them by the way, saying, with loving simplicity: “Love God, and fear him, and do worthy penance for your sins.” And Brother Giles would say, in his turn: “Do this which my spiritual father says to you, for he speaketh excellently well.”


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