In The Little Flowers of St. Francis we read:
And from thenceforward, because he continued always in prayer, St. Francis began, more often than heretofore, to taste the sweetness of Divine contemplation; whereby he was ofttimes so rapt in God that he was seen by his companions raised up in the air from the ground and rapt from out of himself.
And further on:
From a certain hour Brother Leo commenced to scrutinize and to consider the actions of St. Francis, with great purity and goodwill; and, by reason of his purity, he merited to behold how many a time and oft St. Francis was rapt in God and uplifted from the ground, sometimes for the space of 4 and a half feet, sometimes of six feet and sometimes even to the height of the beech-tree; and sometimes he beheld him raised so high in the air, and surrounded by such radiance, that scarcely could he see him.
And what did this simple friar do when St. Francis was so little raised above the ground that he could reach him? He went softly and embraced his feet and kissed them with tears, saying: "My God, have mercy upon me a sinner; and, for the merits of this holy man, grant me to find Thy grace." And, one time among the rest, while Brother Leo stood thus beneath the feet of St. Francis, when he was so far uplifted from the ground, that he could not touch him, he beheld a scroll inscribed with letters of gold descend from heaven and rest above the head of St. Francis, upon the which scroll these words were written: "QUI È LA GRAZIA DI DIO—Here is the grace of God"; and, after that he had read it, he saw it return again to heaven. (Adapted from The Little Flowers of St. Francis, Second Consideration on the Stigmata.)
How Francis, like another Moses, brought water out of a rock.
Once when the blessed Francis wanted to go to a certain hermitage that he might devote himself more freely to contemplation, he obtained a donkey from a certain peasant to ride on, because he was feeling a little weak from lack of sleep, since he had spent the whole night in prayer. Since it was summer, the peasant, following the man of God up the mountain, became fatigued from the difficulty and the length of the trip; and before they had reached the place, he collapsed exhausted by a burning thirst. He called after the saint and begged him to have pity on him; he said he would die unless he would be refreshed by some drink. The holy man of God, who always had compassion on those who were suffering, got down without delay from the donkey and kneeling upon the ground, he stretched his hands toward heaven; and he did not let up in his prayers until he felt he had been heard. “Hurry,” he said to the peasant, “and you will find living water over there, which Christ has just now mercifully brought from that rock for you to drink.”
how astounding is the condescension of God which readily inclines him
to help his servants! The peasant drank the water, that came from the
rock by the power of him who had prayed, and he drew drink from the
hardest rock. There had never been a flow of water there before, and,
as diligent search has proved, none could
found there afterwards. Why should we wonder that a man who is full
of the Holy Spirit should show forth in himself the wonderful deeds
of all the just? For, to
a man who is joined with Christ by the gift of a special grace it is
not something great if he does things similar to the things that have
been done by other saints. (Adapted
Celano Chapter 17, no. 46)
How St. Francis, like Our Lord, changed water into wine.
In St. Bonaventure’s biography we read:
At another time, when the servant of God was afflicted by a very grievous sickness, at the hermitage of Saint Urban, and, feeling his strength failing, had asked for a draft of wine, answer was made him that there was no wine there that could be brought unto him; whereupon he bade that water should be brought, and, when brought, he blessed it, making the sign of the Cross over it. At once that which had been pure water became excellent wine, and that which the poverty of the lonely place could not provide was obtained by the purity of the holy man. Tasting thereof, he forthwith so easily recovered his strength as that the new flavor and the renewed health, by the sense of taste and by the miracle renewing him that tasted, attested, with twofold witness, his perfect laying aside of the old man and putting on of the new. (St. Bonaventure Major Life, Chap. V no. 10.)
Celano’s biography adds: For thus did the glorious father Francis, walking in the way of obedience and embracing perfectly the yoke of obedience to God, acquire great dignity in the sight of God in that creatures obeyed him. For even water was turned into wine for him, when on one occasion he was grievously ill at the hermitage of St. Urban. At the taste of it he became well so easily that it was thought to be a miracle by all, as it really was. And truly he is a saint whom creatures obey in this way, and at whose nod the elements change themselves to other uses. (1 Celano Chapter 21, no. 61.)
How Francis freed the people of Greccio from wolves and hail.
Francis liked to stay at the brothers’ place at Greccio, both because he saw that it was rich by reason of its poverty and because he could give himself more freely to heavenly things in a more secluded cell hewn from a projecting rock. It happened, however, that the inhabitants were being annoyed by many evils, for a pack of ravening wolves was devouring not only animals but even men, and every year hail storms were devastating the fields and vineyards. One day, while he was preaching to them, Francis said: "To the honor and glory of Almighty God, hear the truth I announce to you. If every one of you confesses his sins and brings forth fruits befitting repentance, I give you my word that every pestilence will depart and the Lord, looking kindly upon you, will grant you an increase of temporal goods. But hear this also: again I announce to you that if you are ungrateful for his gifts and return to your vomit, the plague will be renewed, your punishment will be doubled, and even greater wrath will be let loose against you."
It happened, therefore, by the merits and prayers of the holy father, that from that hour the destruction ceased, the dangers passed, and neither the wolves nor the hailstorms caused any further damage. Moreover, what is greater still, if any hail came over the fields of their neighbors, it either stopped short when it got near the borders of their lands or turned aside to some other region. Now that they had peace, they were multiplied exceedingly and filled beyond measure with temporal goods. But prosperity did what it usually does: their faces were covered with grossness and the fat of temporal things; or rather, they were blinded with dung. In the end, relapsing into even worse things, they forgot God who saved them. But not with impunity, for the censure of divine justice punishes those who lapse into sin less severely than those who relapse. The anger of God was aroused against them and the evils that had departed returned, and over and above, there was added the sword of man and a heaven-sent sickness consumed very many of them; eventually the whole town was burned up in avenging flames. Of a truth, it is just that they who turn their backs upon the benefit they have received come to destruction. (2 Celano Chapter 7, no. 35.)
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