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Chapter 20

Infinite thanksgiving and humble service, praise, and honor be to God in his power and everlasting majesty - to him who is one God in three persons! It pleased his immense goodness that his most worthy humanity should speak to a person at prayer, saying this:


”Hear, O you to whom it has been given to hear and see spiritual things; and diligently hold in your memory these my words. There was a man named Francis. When he turned away from worldly pride and covetousness and from the flawed delight of the flesh and turned toward a spiritual life of penance and perfection, he then obtained true contrition for all his sins and a perfect intention of amendment, saying: 'There is nothing in this world that I am not willing to give up gladly for the sake of the love and honor of my Lord Jesus Christ. There is also nothing so hard in this life that I am not willing to endure it with gladness because of his love, doing all that I can for the sake of his honor, according to my strength in body and soul. And I want to lead and strengthen all others that I can to love God above all with the whole of their heart.'
The Rule of this Francis, which he himself began, was not dictated and composed by his human understanding and prudence, but by me in accord with my will. For every word that is written in it was breathed into him by my Spirit; and afterwards, he brought that Rule forth and held it out to others. So too, all other Rules that my friends began and themselves personally kept and observed and effectively taught and held out to others were not dictated and composed by their own understanding and human wisdom, but by the breathing of that same Holy Spirit. For a number of years, the brothers of this Francis - who are called Friars Minor - held and kept that Rule of his well and very spiritually and devoutly, in whole accordance with my will.

As a result, the devil, the ancient fiend, felt great envy and unrest because he had not the strength to conquer the said friars by his temptations and deceits. Therefore, the devil sought diligently that he might find a man whose human will he could mix together with his own malign spirit. At last he found a cleric who inwardly thought thus: 'I would like to be in a state where I could have worldly honor and my bodily pleasure and where I could amass so much money that I would lack nothing at all that pertains to my needs and pleasures. Therefore, I wish to enter the Order of Francis; and I will pretend to be very humble and obedient.' And so, with that intention and will, the aforementioned cleric entered the said order; and at once the devil entered into his heart. And thus the said cleric became a friar in the said order.

Inwardly, however, the devil considered in this manner: 'Just as Francis with his humble obedience wishes to draw many from the world to receive great rewards in heaven, so this my friar - who will be named 'Adversary' because he will be the adversary of the Rule of Francis - will draw many in the Order of Francis from humility to pride, from rational poverty to covetousness, from true obedience to the doing of one's own will and to the pursuit of bodily pleasure.'
And when the aforesaid Brother Adversary entered the Order of Francis, at once, at the devil's instigation, he began to think inwardly thus: 'I will show myself so humble and obedient that all will reckon me a saint. When the others are fasting and keeping silence, then I, with special companions, shall do the contrary: namely, by eating and drinking and talking so secretly that none of the others will know or understand this. Also, according to the said Rule, I cannot lawfully touch money or possess gold or silver; therefore I will have some special friend to keep my money and gold secretly with him on my behalf so that I may use that money as I will.
I also want to learn the liberal arts and science, so that from them I may be able to have some honor and dignity in the order, having horses and silver vessels and handsome clothes and costly ornaments. And if anyone reproves me for these things, I shall answer that I do it for the honor of my order, if besides, I could work further and do so much that I would be made a bishop, then I would truly be happy and blessed in such a life as I then could lead, for then I would enjoy my personal freedom and I would have all my bodily pleasure.'

Now hear what the devil had done in the aforesaid Order of Francis. For it is truly so that in the world the friars who, either in action or in will and desire, hold the aforesaid Rule that the devil taught to Brother Adversary, are more numerous than those who keep the Rule that I myself taught to Brother Francis. You should nevertheless know that however much those friars - namely, those of Francis and those of Brother Adversary - are mixed together as long as they live in the world, I will nevertheless separate them after death, for I am their Judge. And I shall judge that those friars of the Rule of Francis are to remain with me, together with Francis, in everlasting joy. But those who belong to Brother Adversary's Rule will be doomed to eternal punishments in the depth of hell if before death they would not will to correct themselves and humbly amend their lives.

Nor is this to be wondered at, for those who ought to give examples of humility and sanctity to worldly human beings actually furnish them with vile and ribald examples through their pride and covetousness. And therefore both the said friars themselves and all other religious who are prohibited by rule from having private property and yet have some property against their Rule, and who wish to appease me by conferring upon me a part of it, should know for very certain that their gifts are abominable to me and hateful and unworthy of any good gift in return. For it is more agreeable and pleasing to me that they diligently observe the blessed poverty that they professed according to their Rules, than that they might present to me all the gold and silver and even all the metals that there are in the world.
You, O woman who hear my words, should also know that it would not have been permitted for you to know this aforespoken vision if it had not been for a good servant of mine who sincerely petitioned me with all his heart on behalf of that Friar Minor, and who, out of divine charity, desired to give to that same friar some advice useful to his soul.”

When, however, these things had been seen and heard, this vision disappeared.



A vision that Lady Bridget had in Bethlehem, where the Virgin Mary showed to her the whole manner of her childbearing and how she gave birth to her glorious Son just as the Virgin herself had promised the same Lady Bridget in Rome fifteen years before she went to Bethlehem as can be seen in the first chapter of this book.




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