Devotions to St. Francis of Assisi
Feast Day: October 4th




Lord, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us!
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us!
God, the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us!
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us!

Holy Mary,
Pray for us*

Holy Mother of God,*
Holy Virgin of virgins, *
Saint Michael, *
Saint Gabriel, *
Saint Raphael, *
All ye holy Angels and Archangels, *
All ye holy orders of blessed Spirits, *
Saint John Baptist, *
Saint Joseph, *
All ye holy Patriarchs and Prophets, *
Saint Peter, *
Saint Paul, *
Saint Andrew, *
Saint James, *
Saint John, *
Saint Thomas, *
Saint James, *
Saint Philip, *
Saint Bartholomew, *
Saint Matthew, *
Saint Simon, *
Saint Thaddeus, *
Saint Mathias, *
Saint Barnabas, *
Saint Luke, *
Saint Mark, *
All ye holy Apostles and Evangelists, *
All ye holy Disciples of the Lord, *
All ye holy Innocents, *
Saint Stephen, *
Saint Lawrence, *
Saint Vincent, *
Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian, *
Saint John and Saint Paul, *
Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian, *
Saint Gervase and Saint Protase, *
Saint Bernard, *
Saint Peter, *
Saint Accursius, *
Saint Adjute, *
Saint Otho, *
Saint Daniel, *
Saint Angelo, *
Saint Samuel, *
Saint Domnus, *
Saint Leo, *
Saint Hugoline, *
Saint Nicholas, *
Saint Peter Baptist and all Japanese Martyrs, *
Saint Nicholas and all Martyrs of Gorcum, *
Saint Fidelis, *
All ye holy Martyrs, *
Saint Sylvester, *
Saint Gregory, *
Saint Ambrose, *
Saint Augustine, *
Saint Jerome, *
Saint Bonaventure, *
Saint Martin, *
Saint Nicholas, *
Saint Louis, *
Saint Benvenute, *
All ye holy Bishops and Confessors, *
Saint Antony, *
Saint Benedict, *
Saint Bernard, *
Saint Dominic, *
Holy Father Francis, *
Saint Anthony of Padua, *
Saint Bernadine, *
Saint John of Capistrano, *
Saint James of Marchia, *
Saint Peter of Alcantara, *
Saint Francis Solano, *
Saint Peter Regalate, *
Saint Didacus, *
Saint Paschal, *
Saint Benedict, *
Saint Pacific, *
Saint John Joseph, *
Saint Leonard, *
Saint Theophile, *
Saint Felix, *
Saint Joseph of Leonissa, *
Saint Seraphine, *
Saint Joseph of Cupertino, *
Saint Ferdinand, *
Saint Louis, *
Saint Ives, *
Saint Elzear, *
Saint Roche, *
Saint Conrad, *
Saint John Mary, *
All ye holy Priest and Levites, *
All ye holy Monks and Hermits, *
Saint Mary Magdalen, *
Saint Agatha, *
Saint Lucy, *
Saint Agnes, *
Saint Cecilia, *
Saint Catherine, *
Saint Clare, *
Saint Agnes of Assisi, *
Saint Catherine of Bologna, *
Saint Colette, *
Saint Veronica, *
Saint Rose of Viterbo, *
Saint Hyacintha, *
Saint Mary Frances, *
Saint Angela, *
Saint Anastasia, *
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, *
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, *
Saint Margaret of Cortona, *
Saint Brigid, *
All ye holy Virgins and Widows, *

All ye Saints of the three Orders of our Holy Father Francis:
Intercede for us!

All ye Saints of God:
Intercede for us!

Be merciful:
Spare us, O Lord!

Be merciful:
Hear us, O Lord!

From all evil,
Deliver us, O Lord!**

From all sin, **
From Thy wrath, **
From a sudden and unprovided death, **
From the snares of the devil, **
From anger, hatred, and all ill will, **
From the spirit of fornication, **
From lightning and tempest, **
From the scourge of earthquake, **
From pestilence, famine and war, **
From everlasting death, **
Through the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation, **
Through Thy coming, **
Through Thy nativity, **
Through Thy baptism and holy fasting, **
Through Thy Cross and Passion, **
Through Thy death and burial, **
Through Thy holy Resurrection, **
Through Thine admirable Ascension, **
Through the coming of the Holy Ghost the Paraclete, **
In the day of judgment, **


We sinners, beseech Thee hear us.
That Thou wouldst spare us,
We beseech Thee hear us.***

That Thou wouldst pardon us, ***
That Thou wouldst bring us to true penance, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to govern and preserve Thy holy Church, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to preserve our Apostolic Prelate, and all orders of the Church in holy religion, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to humble the enemies of holy Church, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant peace and unity to all Christian people, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bring back to the unity of the Church all those who have strayed away, and lead to the light of the Gospel all unbelievers, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to confirm and preserve us in Thy holy service, ***
That Thou wouldst lift up our minds to heavenly desires, ***
That Thou wouldst render eternal blessings to all our benefactors, ***
That Thou wouldst deliver our souls, and the souls of our brethren, relations and benefactors, from eternal damnation, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed, ***
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe graciously hear us, ***
Son of God, ***


Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.


Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Our Father (inaudibly).


V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.


Psalm LXIX

O God, come to my assistance: O Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek after my soul. Let them be turned backward, and blush for shame, that desire evils unto me. Let them be straightway turned backward blushing for shame, that say unto me: 'Tis well, 'tis well. Let all that seek Thee be joyful and glad in Thee; and let such as love Thy salvation say always, the Lord be magnified. But I am needy and poor; O God, help Thou me.

Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no long delay.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


V. Save Thy servants.
R. Who hope in Thee, O my God.
V. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
R. From the face of the enemy.
V. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
R. Nor the son of iniquity approach to hurt us.
V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
R. Neither requite us according to our iniquities.
V. Let us pray for the true Sovereign Pontiff.
R. The Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
V. Let us pray for our benefactors.
R. Vouchsafe, O Lord, for Thy name's sake, to reward with eternal life all those who do us good. Amen.
V. Let us pray for the faithful departed.
R. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. For our absent brethren.
R. Save Thy servants, who hope in Thee, my God.
V. Send them help, O Lord, from Thy sanctuary.
R. And defend them out of Sion.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.


Let us pray:

O God, Whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, receive our humble petition; that we, and all Thy servants who are bound by the chains of sin, may, by the compassion of Thy goodness, mercifully be absolved.

Graciously hear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the prayers of Thy suppliants, and forgive the sins of them that confess to Thee; that, in Thy bounty, Thou may grant us both pardon and peace.

Show forth upon us, O Lord, in Thy mercy, Thy unspeakable loving-kindness; that Thou mayest both loose us from all our sins, and deliver us from the punishments which we deserve for them.

O God, Who by sin are offended, and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of Thy people making supplication to Thee, and turn away the scourges of Thine anger, which we deserve for our sins.

Almighty, everlasting God, have mercy upon Thy servant N., our Sovereign Pontiff, and direct him, according to Thy clemency, into the way of everlasting salvation; that by Thy grace he may both desire those things that are pleasing to Thee, and perform them with all his strength.

O God, from Whom all holy desires, all right counsels, and all just works do come, give to Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts be devoted to the keeping of Thy commandments, and the fear of enemies being taken away, we may pass our time, by Thy protection, peacefully.

Inflame, O Lord, our reins and heart with the fire of the Holy Ghost; that we may serve Thee with a chaste body, and please Thee with a clean heart.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins; that through pious supplications they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired.

Direct our actions, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by Thy inspirations, and further them with Thy continual help, that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and through Thee be likewise ended.

Almighty, everlasting God, Who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and Thou art merciful to all whom Thou foreknowest will be Thine by faith and good works; we humbly beseech Thee that they for whom we intend to pour forth our prayers, whether this present world still detain them in the flesh, or the world to come hath already received them stripped of their mortal bodies, may, by the grace of Thy loving-kindness, and by the intercession of all the saints, obtain the remission of all their sins. Through Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.


R. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. May the almighty and merciful Lord graciously hear us.
R. Amen.
V. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.



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Novena to St. Francis

Glorious St. Francis who didst voluntarily renounce all the comforts and riches of thy home to follow more perfectly the life of poverty and abnegation of Jesus Christ: obtain for us we pray a generous contempt of all things in this world, that we may secure the true and eternal things of heaven.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.


O glorious St. Francis, who during the whole course of thy life didst continually weep over the Passion of the Redeemer, and labor most zealously for the salvation of souls: obtain for us, we pray, the grace of weeping continually over those sins by which we have crucified afresh Our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may attain to be of the number of those who shall eternally bless His supreme mercy.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.


O glorious St. Francis, who, loving above all things suffering and the cross didst merit to bear in thy body the miraculous stigmata, by which thou didst become a living image of Jesus Christ crucified: obtain for us, we pray, the grace to bear in our bodies the mortifications of Christ, that we may merit one day to receive the consolations which are infallibly promised to all those who now weep.

"If we be dead with Christ Jesus, we shall live also with Him," says the Apostle; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. ii. 2, 12).

Pray for us St. Francis, that we may obtain the graces and favors we ask for in this novena; pray for us, especially, that we may obtain the grace of perseverance; of a holy death and a happy eternity. Say the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory, five times.


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Hymn: O divi amoris victima


O victim dear of heavenly love,
Impurpled by thy fivefold sign,
Saint Francis, father of the poor,
Of Jesus' Cross a living shrine.

Thou, burning with the glowing flames
Of love of God and love of man,
Dost yearn for Christ to shed thy blood
And thrice dost try the seas to span.

Although denied thy heart's desire,
Thou lettest not thine ardour wane;
but kindled still with love divine
To stir new fires thou strivest amain.

Still living in thine Orders three,
Thou art found in many a save clime;
And frozen hearts, warmed at thy flame,
Grow fervent with thy fire sublime.

So shalt thou crush the powers of hell,
Thy conquering arms our foes dismay;
When holy Church doth seem to fail,
Still is thy mighty strength her stay.

Come, help us, father, while we pray,
Thy love within our hearts inspire,
Thy boundless love, that spreads abroad
The glowing brightness of its fire.

Praise we the Father and the Son,
Praise we the Holy Paraclete:
He grant us grace to emulate
Our father's spirit, as is meet. Amen.






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Act of Love

I believe Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament, O Jesus. I love Thee and desire Thee. Come into my heart. I embrace Thee, O never leave me. I beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus, may the burning and most sweet power of Thy love absorb my mind, that I may die through love of Thy love, Who was graciously pleased to die through love of my love. Amen

(St. Francis of Assisi)

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Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(St. Francis of Assisi)


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Prayer used by the holy Father at the beginning
of his Conversion


O great and glorious God, and my Lord Jesus Christ, enlighten, I beseech Thee, the darkness of my mind. Give me a right faith, a certain hope, a perfect charity; grant that I may know Thee, O Lord, in order that I may always and in all things act according to Thy most holy and perfect will. Amen.


(St. Francis of Assisi)


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Prayer in Honor of the Sacred Stigmata
of St. Francis of Assisi



O Lord Jesus Christ who when the world was growing cold, in order that the hearts of men might burn anew with the fire of Thy love didst in the flesh of the most blessed Francis reproduce the stigmata of Thy passion: be mindful of his merits and prayers; and in Thy mercy vouchsafe to us the grace ever to carry Thy cross, and to bring forth worthy fruits of penance.

(Indulgence 300 days)





Hymn: Jesu, corona celsior


O Jesu, Crown above the sky,
Thou everlasting Truth most high,
Who dost to Thy Confessor give
Rewards with those that ever live:

Thy lowly band of suppliants spare;
O may we, aided by his prayer,
Remission of our sins obtain
And freedom from each binding chain.

Again the slowly circling year
The day of glory bringeth here
When from Christ's sacred flesh a light
Had pierced him with Stigmas bright.

He deemed the vain delights of earth,
Its boasted glories, little worth;
And spurning them as tainted, passed
To heaven's triumphant joy at last.

By ever owning thee, his king,
O Christ most gracious, did he fling
The haughty foe beneath his feet,
And all his minions bravely beat.

Renowned for faith and virtue, he
Confessed his lord so constantly,
And with such fasts his flesh subdued
That he obtained supernal food.

O Thou, most full of love and grace,
We humbly fall before thy face;
For this thy servant's sake, we pray.
Wipe all the debt we owe away.

Glory to Thee, O Father, Lord,
And to Thy sole-begotten Word,
Both with the Holy Spirit One
While everlasting ages run. Amen.






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Holy Poverty

Those brothers to whom God has given the ability to labour, shall labour faithfully and devoutly; in such way that idleness, the enemy of the soul, being excluded, they may not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion; to which other temporal things should be subservient. As a reward, moreover, for their labour, they may receive for themselves and their brothers the necessaries of life, but not coin or money; and thus humbly as becomes servants of God and the followers of most holy poverty. The brothers shall appropriate nothing to themselves, neither a house nor a place nor anything; but as pilgrims and strangers in this world, in poverty and humility serving God, they shall go confidently seeking for alms. Nor need they be ashamed, for the Lord made Himself poor for us in this world.

(Rule of St. Francis)


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St. Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Friars Minor
(by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876)


St. Francis, the great founder of the order which bears his name, a man endowed with heavenly wisdom and especial gifts, and who, on account of his fervent love to the Almighty, is called the Seraphic, was born at Assisium in Umbria, and in a stable to which, by the advice of an unknown beggar, his mother had been carried to be relieved of the pains she suffered. His father was a wealthy merchant, and he destined Francis to follow the same occupation. Although the child was bright and cheerful, he never associated with evil companions, in order to keep his innocence unspotted. To the poor he was ever extremely compassionate, having made the resolution to dismiss none without alms. One day, when he was overwhelmed with business, a beggar asked for some money to buy bread. Francis, in his hurry, refused it, but no sooner had the man gone, than he remembered his resolution, and running after the beggar, gave him a rich alms and vowed never again to refuse any one who asked him: and this vow he faithfully kept.

Hence, when one day he met a poor man in the street, he gave him his new clothes and clothed himself in the rags of the beggar. At another time, while he was taking a ride, a leper came to him begging; Francis dismounted, took a piece of money and gave it to the poor man. When the latter stretched out his hand, deformed and emaciated by the terrible disease, Francis took it into his own and kissed it most tenderly. When he had remounted, he turned to look for the leper, but could no where perceive any sign of him; from which he supposed that either an angel or Christ Himself had appeared in that shape; the thought of which filled his heart with great comfort, and, at the same time, animated him to still greater liberality. After this event, he began to wean his heart more and more from all temporal things, sought solitude and became more fervent in his prayers. He begged the Almighty most earnestly to favor him with the grace to know how he should serve Him henceforth as his Lord and Master. During this prayer, Christ appeared to him, hanging on the cross and covered with wounds. This vision filled the heart of St. Francis with such devotion to our beloved Saviour, that he could never think of His passion, or look upon a crucifix without shedding tears.

After several miraculous events, by which the Almighty gradually manifested to St. Francis His will, it happened that, one day, when he assisted at Mass, he heard in the Gospel the words of Christ: "Do not possess gold or silver, or money in your purse ; nor script for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff." (Matt, x.) At these words, the holy man felt his mind illuminated and his heart stirred with deep emotion. It seemed as if God said to him that this was the rule by which he was henceforth to regulate his life ; and immediately giving his money to the poor, he put off his shoes, clothed himself in a rough penitential garment, which he girded about him with a knotted cord, and determined to lead henceforth an apostolic life. Going among the people, he began to exhort them to penance with such force and zeal, that he not only converted many sinners, but also drew several pious men to offer themselves as disciples in his austere manner of living, and as co-operators in his holy work.

When the number of these had reached twelve, St. Francis sent them into different villages and hamlets to preach penance after his example. Instead of money, he gave them the verse of the Psalm: "Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He will nourish thee." As greater numbers came daily, who desired to be his disciples, he gave them certain regulations. Pope Innocent III. confirmed these regulations in 1209, at which time St. Francis and his companions most solemnly made their profession of the three vows of religion. This was the beginning of the celebrated Seraphic Order, which, divided into several branches, has worked, and still continues to work so well for the honor of God and the salvation of souls. When the Order had thus been confirmed, the holy founder went with his disciples to Assisium, where he made his dwelling in a small lonely cottage, that stood near the little Church of Portiuncula. At this place, where the Blessed Virgin was especially honored, St. Francis passed much time in praver and fasting. He lived on alms, and sent his disciples into the surrounding country to exhort the people to penance and to teach them to lead a Christian life. The Benedictines, to whom the above mentioned church and the ground near it belonged, gave both to St. Francis, that he might build there the first house for his Order.

The greatest care of the Saint was bestowed upon his disciples and spiritual children, whose number daily increased. He endeavored to lead them in the path of virtue, and to make of them useful members, that they might work for the salvation of men; and to effect this more thoroughly, he tried to be an example to them. Penance, which he and others of his order preached, he practised most austerely on his own person. He very seldom partook of food that was cooked, and when he did so, he strewed ashes over it, or destroyed its taste with water. Besides the usual forty days' fast, he observed another fast of the same length, after the festival of the three holy Kings. The same he did from the feast of the holy Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, until the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. To these he added another forty days' fast in honor of the holy Archangel St. Michael and all the Angels. At night, he slept, on the bare floor; a stone or a piece of wood served him for a pillow. He scourged himself almost daily to blood, and exercised himself in all possible bodily mortifications. The cause of this rigor towards himself was not only to do penance for his former sins, but also to prevent himself from falling into others, and to keep his purity unspotted. Hence, when the evil spirit tortured him with unclean thoughts, he cast himself into the snow, and remained in it until he was almost frozen.

His humility was not less than his mortification. He would not allow any one to praise him. "Praise no one," said he, "who does not stand securely. No one should be praised, until we see how he ends." And again: "No one is more or less than he is in the eyes of the Almighty." One day, a pious brother of the Order asked the Saint, what he thought of himself. The Saint answered: " I think that there is no greater sinner upon earth than I am." When the brother asked how he could say so with truth, he replied: " If as many mercies had been bestowed upon the most wicked of all men, as have been bestowed upon me, I do not doubt that he would have been more grateful and more pious than I." His humility made him refuse the priesthood, as he deemed himself unworthy of it. He greatly honored the priests, saying: "If I should meet an angel and a priest, I would first kiss the hand of the priest and then duly honor the Angel; because I owe him the greatest veneration who holds the most holy body of Christ in his hands and administers the same to others."

What shall we say of the poverty which the Saint chose and most warmly recommended to his followers? What of his love of God and man What of his devotion to the passion of Christ, to the divine Mother and the Saints? What of his other virtues, of which the examples are so numerous, that this whole work would hardly suffice to relate them? He refused, after his conversion, to possess anything as his own, and rejoiced when he had to suffer want. During his prayers, he was frequently transported out of himself, by the intensity of his devotion, and could say nothing but, "My God and my all!" Only to name the most High, filled his heart with such burning love that his whole countenance seemed to be on fire. Charity towards men actuated him to nurse the sick most tenderly, to aid the poor to the best of his ability, to comfort the sad, and to be all to all. His wish to convert the infidels and to give his life for Christ's sake, moved him to repair to Syria and Egypt, where he preached fearlessly before the Sultan of Babylon the truths of Christianity, saying that they should kindle a great fire and he would go into it in order to prove the truth of the Christian faith.

His devotion to the Passion of Christ was so great, that God would recompense it with a miracle until then never heard of. When St. Francis, two years before his death, kept, according to his custom, the forty days' fast in honor of St. Michael, on Mount Alverno, he fell into ecstasy on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and saw that a shining Seraph came down from heaven towards him. The Angel had six wings, and between these appeared the crucified Saviour with His five holy wounds. At the same moment, the Saint perceived in his side and on his hands and feet, bleeding wounds, like those which the Saviour bore. These wounds or Stigmata remained until the death of St. Francis, and although he endeavored to hide them, he could not prevent their being sometimes seen during his life and many times after his death. The Saint suffered great pain in these wounds, which was a source of great joy to him, as he hoped that this would make him more conformable to his Saviour. Two years later, the Saint became mortally sick, and knowing the hour of his death, he requested to be carried into the little Church of Portiuncula, where, after having received the holy Sacraments, he lay down on the ground, and gave up his soul to his Creator.

Before he expired, he exhorted his disciples to follow punctually the rules of the Order, blessed them, and among other things said: "Remain always in the fear of God. Happy are those who persevere to the end in the good which they have begun. I am now on my way to the Lord, and will commend you to His favor." He then told them to read to him the passion of Christ from the Gospel of St. John. After this, he began to recite the 141st Psalm, and when he had reached the words: " Bring my soul out of prison. The just wait for me till thou reward me," he ended his holy life. This took place in the year of our Lord 1226. Long before while bitterly weeping over his sins, he had received the divine assurance that they were forgiven. In the same manner, it had also been revealed to him that he would go to heaven. Although this gave him great consolation, he did not mitigate the severity of his penances, nor cease to repent of his sins, as he said: " If I had only once committed a small sin, I would think it sufficient cause for weeping as long as I live." Many books have been written about the life of this Saint and to relate the many and great miracles which he wrought both whilst he lived on earth and, after his death, by his intercession in heaven.




PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.


I. "If I had only once committed a small sin, I should have sufficient reason to weep as long as I live." These were the words of St. Francis. Are you of the same mind? You have committed, during your life, many hundreds--nay, thousands of venial sins, and perhaps even intentionally and maliciously. How many tears have they cost you? How often have you repented of them? How great is your solicitude to avoid them in future? You commit them without any hesitation and are not much distressed. You say frequently and with great unconcern: "Oh ! it is only a venial sin! One will not be condemned on account of it." Neither St. Francis, nor any other Saint ever spoke thus. It is true, a venial sin is small in comparison with a mortal sin; but in itself, it is, after mortal sin, the greatest evil in the world. We shall not be condemned for venial faults; but by not regarding them we are gradually led into greater sins until we deserve hell. We do not offend God so grievously by a venial as by a mortal sin; but still we offend His Majesty; and who dares say that any offence of God is small? "To offend the Almighty in the least," says St. Jerome, "ought never to be considered a trifle." "I cannot comprehend," says St. Paulinus, "how any one can regard as a trifle that which offends the Divine Majesty." The least offence done to a king is, on account of his rank, looked upon as very great. With how much more reason should a venial sin be deemed great, as an insult offered to the great Lord of Heaven and earth? By each venial sin God is offended. This ought to be enough to make us understand that venial sin is in itself a much greater evil than we are able to fathom. Pray to the Almighty to make you recognize the greatness of a venial sin, that you may avoid it in future with greater care, and daily repent of those which, until now, you have committed. "Whoever loves God and obeys Him, not as a slave but as a son, will fear to offend Him in the very least," says St. Basil.

II. "Happy are those who persevere until their end in the good which they have begun." Therefore, St. Francis is to be esteemed happy, as he continued to the end, in his austerity, poverty, and all other virtues. Unhappy are those who begin to live piously, but soon relax in their zeal; for, according to the testimony of Christ, "he is not fit for the kingdom of God, who lays his hand to the plough, but draws it back again." (Luke, ix.) The beginning is of little avail; we must persevere in good until the end of our lives. " Concerning Christians, we regard not so much the beginning as the end," says St. Jerome: " Paul began badly, but ended well. We praise Judas at the beginning; but the end is spoiled by his treachery." "It is not a very great thing to commence to do good," writes St. Augustine, "but to persevere in it until the end is perfect and brings the crown of everlasting glory." If you desire to be happy during all eternity, make an earnest beginning to live piously, and then persevere with equal zeal, without allowing the example of bad people or evil temptation to divert you from the way you have chosen. "What does it avail," writes St. Bernard, "if we follow Christ, but do not reach Him?" Hence St. Paul says: "Run so, that you may reach the goal." There, O Christian, shall be the end of your course, where Christ has placed it. He was obedient unto death. You may run, but you will not gain the prize, if you persevere not in your course until your death.





From the Works of the Seraphic Father
St. Francis of Assisi, 1882



The Saint Prophesies great Schisms and Tribulations in the Church.

A short time before the holy Father's death, he called together his Children and warned them of the coming troubles, saying: 'Act bravely, my Brethren; take courage, and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase. The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.

Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it. There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God. Then our Rule and manner of life will be violently opposed by some, and terrible trials will come upon us. Those who are found faithful will receive the crown of life; but woe to those who, trusting solely in their Order, shall fall into tepidity, for they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect.

Those who preserve their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth. But the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted, and will save all who trust in Him. And in order to be like their Head, these, the elect, will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life; choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing, and they will prefer to perish rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy. Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Our Lord Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.




Against Mortal Sin

My Brethren, let us above all things avoid mortal sin. Consider how foul and horrible a dead body appears, deprived of the spirit of life; and understand how much more foul and unclean is a soul without God, Who is its life, when it is plunged in mortal sin. If creatures have so much need of each other, how much more has the creature need of his Creator! Grace is further removed from sin than glory is from grace; for the distance is infinite between grace and sin, whereas death alone stands between grace in holy souls and glory. He, therefore, who sins mortally, withdraws from God and draws near to hell, between which and the sinner life only is interposed, and this is often extinguished by an unforeseen and instantaneous death. How many have we not seen retire to bed at night in perfect health, and the next day carried to their grave! Let us humbly beg of God to preserve holily in His grace those who are now refreshed with it, and mercifully to restore it to unhappy sinners. O most strong and loving God, how ready Thou art to pardon the penitent--how powerful and severe in punishing the obstinate!




Of the Love of our Enemies

Listen, my Brethren, to the message which the Most High sends you from heaven, by means of the least of His servants. Love all, both your neighbours and those from whom you suffer anything. The former are manifestly your friends, the latter are by no means your enemies. Those who love you, who serve you, who give you food and clothing, do good indeed to your bodies; but those who persecute you, who are angry with you, who injure you, do much more good to your souls. All men are therefore your friends, and no one is to be called an enemy; all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves. If therefore you desire to hate your enemies, begin by hating your body and your sensual appetite. If you wish to be avenged of your adversary, scourge your body, and bring it into subjection to the spirit. May God Who created you, and Christ Who redeemed you, be with you, and keep you from all adversity!



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From the Liturgical Year, 1903


After having received the stigmata, Francis' life was an unspeakable martyrdom; in spite of which, he continued to travel through towns and villages, riding, like Jesus of whom he was so touching an image, upon a poor little ass; and everywhere he preached the Cross, working miracles and wonders of grace. Assisi cherishes the memory of the blessing bequeathed to it by its glorious son, when, gazing upon it for the last time from the beautiful plain that stretches at its feet, he exclaimed with tears: "Be thou blessed of the Lord, O city faithful to God, for in thee and by thee shall many souls be saved!"

The humble Portiuncula, the cradle of the Order, where Clare too had exchanged the vain ornaments of the world for the poverty of the Cross: St. Mary of the Angels, which awakens in the pilgrim a feeling of the nearness of heaven; and where the Great Pardon of the 2nd August proves the pleasure our Lord still takes in it: this was the appointed place of Francis' death. He passed away on the 3rd October, towards eight o'clock in the evening ; and although darkness had already set in, a flight of larka descended, singing the rising in heaven of the new sun, which was mounting towards the Seraphim.

Francis had chosen to be buried in the place of public execution, called the Colle d'Inferno, near the West wall of his native city. But within two years, Gregory IX. enrolled him among the Saints, and changed the name of the hill into Colle del Paradiso. James the German built over the bare rock, where lies the Poor Man of Assisi, a two-storied church, which the genius of Giotto has made to outshine in glory all the princely palaces on earth.


Prayer:

Mayst thou be blessed by every living soul, O thou whom our Saviour associated so closely with himself in the work of Redemption. The world, created by God for Himself, subsists through the Saints; for it is in them He finds His glory. At the time of thy birth, the Saints were few; the enemy of God and man was daily extending his darksome reign; and when society has entirely lost faith and charity, light and heat, the human race must perish. Thou didst come to bring warmth to the wintry world, till the thirteenth century became like a spring time, rich in beautiful flowers; but alas! no summer was to follow in its wake. By thee the Cross was forced upon men's notice not indeed, as heretofore, to be exalted in a permanent triumph, but to rally the elect in face of the enemy, who would too soon afterwards regain the advantage. The Church lays aside the robe of glory, which beseemed her in the days of our Lord's undisputed royalty; together with thee, she treads barefoot the path of trials, which liken her to her divine Spouse suffering and dying for his Father's honour. Do thou thyself, and by thy sons, ever hold aloft before her the sacred ensign.

It is by identifying ourselves with Christ on the Cross, that we shall find him again in the splendours of his glory; for, man, and God in man, cannot be separated ; and both, thou didst say, must be contemplated by every soul. Yet no otherwise than by effective compassion with our suffering Head, can we find the way of divine union and the sweet fruits of love. If the soul suffers herself to be led by the good pleasure of the Holy Ghost, this Master of masters will conduct her by no other way, than that set forth by our Lord in the books of his humility, patience, and suffering.

O Francis, cause the lessons of thy amiable and heroic simplicity to fructify in us. May thy children, to the great profit of the Church, increase in number and still more in sanctity; and never spare themselves in teaching both by word and example, knowing however, that the latter is of greater avail than the former. Raise them up again, with their former popularity in that country of France, which thou didst love on account of its generous aspirations, now stifled by the sordid vulgarity of money-makers. The whole Religious state looks upon thee as one of its most illustrious Fathers; come to its assistance in the trials of the present time. Friend of Dominic, and his companion under our Lady's mantle, keep up between your two families the fraternal love which delights the Angels. May the Benedictine Order never lose the affection, which causes it to rejoice always on this day; and by thy benefits to it, strengthen the bonds knit once for all by the gift of the Portiuncula!



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The Zeal of St. Francis
for the Conversion of the Sultan of Babylon

from the Little Flowers of St. Francis


St. Francis, urged by zeal for the faith of Christ and by a wish to suffer martyrdom, took with him twelve of his most holy brothers, and went one day beyond the sea with the intention of going straight to the Sultan of Babylon. They arrived in a province belonging to the Saracens, where all the passes were guarded by men so cruel, that none of the Christians who went that way could escape being put to death. Now it pleased God that St. Francis and his companions should not meet with the same fate; but they were taken prisoners, and, having been bound and ill-treated, were led before the Sultan. St. Francis stood before him, and inspired by the Holy Spirit he preached most divinely the faith of Christ; and to prove the truth of what he said, professed himself ready to enter into the fire. Now the Sultan began to feel a great devotion towards him, both because of the constancy of his faith, and because he despised the things of this world (for he had refused to accept any of the presents which he had offered to him), and also of his ardent wish to suffer martyrdom. From that moment he listened to him willingly, and begged him to come back often, giving both him and his companions leave to preach wherever they pleased; he likewise gave them a sign of his protection, which would preserve them from all molestation.

At last St. Francis, seeing he could do no more good in those parts, was warned by God to return with all his brothers to the land of the faithful. Having assembled his companions, they went together to the Sultan to take leave of him. And the Sultan said to him: "Brother Francis, most willingly would I be converted to the faith of Christ; but I fear to do so now, for if the people knew it, they would kill both me and thee and all thy companions. As thou mayest still do much good, and I have certain affairs of great importance to conclude, I will not at present be the cause of thy death and of mine. But teach me how I can be saved, and I am ready to do as thou shalt order." And St. Francis answered: "My lord, I will take leave of thee for the present; but after I have returned to my own country, when I shall be dead and gone to heaven, by the grace of God, I will send thee two of my monks, who will administer to thee the holy baptism of Christ, and thou shalt be saved, as the Lord Jesus has revealed to me; and thou in the mean time shalt free thyself from every hindrance, so that, when the grace of God arrives, thou be found well disposed to faith and devotion."

The Sultan promised so to do; and did as he had promised. St. Francis returned to the venerable college of his saintly brethren, and after a few years ending his mortal life, he gave up his soul to God. The Sultan, having fallen ill, awaited the fulfillment of the promise of St. Francis, and placed guards in all the passes, ordering them if they met two brothers in the habit of St. Francis to conduct them immediately to him. At the same time St. Francis appeared to two of his monks, and ordered them without delay to go to the Sultan and save his soul, according to the promise he had made him. The monks set out, and having crossed the sea, were conducted to the Sultan by the guards he had sent out to meet them. The Sultan, when he saw them arrive, rejoiced greatly, and exclaimed, "Now I know of a truth that God has sent His servants to save my soul, according to the promise which St. Francis made me through divine revelation." Having received the faith of Christ and holy baptism from the brothers, he was regenerated in the Lord Jesus Christ; and having died of his disease, his soul was saved, through the merits and prayers of St. Francis.