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Of his promotion to the priesthood and the abasement of his humility


BUT since the humble do deservedly gain repute, and just praise is befitting to the meek, they who formerly were used to oppose the man of God did withhold their tongues from their unjust enmity, for they saw the constancy of his mind, and that his resolve in the Lord was firm.


Wherefore being converted to a dutiful regard for Florentius they began to commend the holiness of his life and to reverence him for the modesty of his garb and discipline, and also to love the devout zeal of his Brothers, which was founded upon the lowliness of Christ. And this indeed justly, for it was meet and right that one upon whom the Grace of God was poured out, making him blossom with many virtues, should be loved and extolled by all men. As the fame of his goodness increased, many clerks and lay folk came together in crowds to his house to hear the Word of God, and some of the Councillors and leaders of the State came to him for counsel, inasmuch as there was found in him the Wisdom of God, and in proportion to the greater virtue of his mind, a faith also greater than their own. Wherefore they heard him gladly and committed their consciences to him the more confidently in difficult and dark matters; and having listened to his words they did many good deeds that were pleasing to God.

(2) So the humble Master, filled with Charity, rejoiced over this harvest of souls and the spiritual progress of his Brethren, and was very careful for the needs of poor clerks, paying reverence to Christ the Lord in them. But the venerable Master Gerard, seeing that his beloved disciple Florentius was adorned with special gifts of devotion, determined that he should be promoted to the Priesthood, being moved thereunto by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and urged by the prayers of many Brethren. But Florentius, protesting that he was unworthy of so great an honour, humbly sought to be relieved of this burden; yet he was overborne by the insistence of 102the Brethren, and at length not daring to resist the monitions of Gerard he gave that assent to which the duty of obedience compelled him. But when he became a Priest he was not puffed up with human pride but was found to be so much the more humble in every deed, and in his garb, in proportion as he became greater in dignity and rank. Master Gerard has borne this witness of him, saying: “Once only did I cause a man to be ordained to the priesthood and I believe that he is worthy. In future I will be cautious not to do such a thing lightly, for I perceive that few are fit for such a calling.”

Yet Florentius, as one that in his own eyes was truly small and of no worth, had no high thoughts of himself for his Ordination as a Priest; but in his heart he preferred the lower Brethren before himself, and spoke thus of a certain simple Clerk who was not yet admitted to the holy office: “Would that I could offer before the Judgement Seat of God the pen of that Clerk rather than the Chalice of my Priesthood.”

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