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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER VI


HOW BROTHER GILES WAS MIRACULOUSLY ASSISTED IN A GREAT NECESSITY WHEN, BY REASON OF A HEAVY FALL OF SNOW, HE WAS HINDERED FROM GOING OUT TO QUEST.


Brother Giles was once staying in Rome, at the house of a Cardinal, when Lent was drawing near; and being unable there to enjoy the quiet of mind which he desired, he said to the Cardinal: “My Father, I pray you give me permission to go with my companion to spend this Lent in some solitary place”; and the Cardinal answered him: “Alas! dearest brother, whither wouldst thou go? This is a time of great scarcity, and thou art not well accustomed to these desert places; wherefore I beseech thee remain with me, for I account it a singular grace to be permitted to provide for thy wants for the love of God.” But Brother Giles being determined to go, went out of Rome to a high mountain, where there had once been a castle, and where there was now a forsaken church dedicated to St Lawrence; this he entered with his companion, remaining there in prayer and meditation. They were not known in the place, wherefore little reverence or consideration was shown to them, so that they were in great poverty, and moreover a heavy fall of snow came on, which lasted many days. They could not leave the church; they had no food with them, neither was any thing brought them from without; and thus they remained shut up for three days and three nights.

Brother Giles, seeing that he could earn nothing for his livelihood, nor go out to beg alms, said to his companion: “My dearest brother, let us cry aloud to the Lord, that of his loving pity he would provide for this our extreme necessity; for we have heard how many holy monks, being in great straits, have called upon God to provide for them in their need.”

So, after their example, these two holy men betook themselves to prayer, beseeching God with all their hearts to provide a remedy for their distress; and God, who is all-compassionate, had regard to their faith, devotion, and simplicity in manner following: A certain man, casting his eyes upon the church where Brother Giles and his companion were shut up, said to himself by an inspiration from God: “It may be that some devout person is doing penance in that church, and by reason of the snow he can obtain no supply for his wants, and may perhaps die of hunger.” Wherefore, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost he said: “Of a surety I will go and see if what I imagine be true or no.” So taking bread and a flask of wine, he went his way, and with great difficulty arrived at the church, where he found Brother Giles and his companion most devoutly absorbed in prayer; but so wasted were they with hunger that they looked rather like dead men than living; and he had great compassion for them, and having warmed and comforted them he returned and told his neighbours of the extremity and necessity of these friars, praying and exhorting them, for the love of God, to provide for their needs.

Many, therefore, after his example, brought them bread and wine for the love of God, besides other things necessary for food, arranging also among themselves that, during that whole Lent, all things needful were provided for them. And Brother Giles, reflecting on the great mercy of God and the charity of these people, said to his companion: “Dearest brother, hitherto we have prayed to God to provide for our necessities, and he has heard us; now it behoveth us to give him thanks, and to pray for those who have fed us by their alms, and for all Christian people.” And such grace did God grant to the fervour and devotion of Brother Giles, that many, after his example, forsook this blind world, and many who had no vocation to religion did most austere penance in their own homes.


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