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Of his feeding the poor, and washing beggars


BUT because as Holy Scripture teacheth, God loveth a cheerful giver, it is pleasant to tell further of the great compassion shown by this most charitable father—Florentius—toward the poor and those that were full of sores, the maimed, and such as had no friends to comfort them. Besides the alms that were applied daily to pious purposes in relieving mendicants, Florentius, this most pitiful father of the indigent, used to invite to his table twelve poor scholars every year, on the Feast of S. Gregory the Pope, in honour of that Saint, because he had read how Gregory himself used to entertain twelve poor men every day. I myself also by his direction brought to his house at dinner time certain poor persons whom he named to me, and these being refreshed with food and drink returned with joyful hearts to their Schools and rendered thanks to God for the benefits they had received, and expressed deep thankfulness to Florentius and his Brotherhood for their abundant hospitality. Then was most clearly fulfilled that saying of the Psalmist, which is changed as a Grace before meat by many Religious orders: “The poor shall eat and be filled, they shall praise the Lord that seek Him, their hearts shall live for ever and ever.”

(2) So too, in the month of May, the Season when the wild herbs that are used as medicaments have their highest virtue, the good Father did not 116forget his poor; knowing that many were weak, ulcerous, and full of sores, he made them to come to his house upon an appointed day and hour to receive certain medicines, and to have their bodies bathed in warm water infused with aromatic herbs. And when they had been throughly bathed and washed he made ready for each a most cleanly bed for sudorific treatment. And after receiving a cup of wine, and some words of comfort, they went away with great joy to their own homes, saying one to the other, “How good and loving a man is this Lord Florentius! and how good are the Brethren who dwell with him! in that they give us such things for the Sake of God without money and without price!”

(3) Once about the Season of Lent, at a time of scarcity, when poor mendicants were borne down by want, many fled for refuge to the tenderhearted Father imploring comfort from him, hoping to find some relief, for no one ever came away from him empty or uncomforted. In this distressful time Florentius, the Father of pity, was filled with sympathy for the pain of those that suffered hunger, and for the devout poor, taking counsel with the Brothers as to the best way of succouring the needy who were in such straits that they had neither money in their purse, nor bread in their scrip. Then were the Brothers one and all fired with, desire to help these multitudes of poor, especially at this Holy Season of Lent, which is observed as a time of Penance at which one ought to expend larger sums in Charity upon the needy who with many prayers ask for bread in the Name of God—as saith the Prophet Esias: “Deal thy bread to the hungry and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house; when thou shalt 117see one naked, cover him, and despise not thine own flesh.” Therefore the Brothers did firmly determine to deny themselves somewhat and to contribute more largely to the poor, and for their sake add one hour of daily work to the usual period of labour throughout the Season of Quadragesima: and to hand the whole that they might gain by their copying in that hour to the Overseer of the poor, that therewith he might buy them the necessary victual and faithfully minister to them. The same was done by certain Brethren that were copyists and writers in other Religious Houses who of their own labour offered a sacrifice of alms to God, chastening themselves of their own will and refreshing the poor in all gladness.

(4) Who can worthily unfold all the pitiful acts of this most blessed Father toward the poor and strangers, but particularly toward the simple and them that are of the devout Household of Christ? But though all should be silent yet will I not hold my peace, but will continually sing of the compassions of Florentius, for by mine own experience did I prove the multitude of his mercies surely and without doubt during seven years of his life. Like the blessed Job indeed “He was feet to the lame, and eyes was he to the blind, an hand to the needy, a staff to the feeble, a comfort to the fallen, a cloak to him that was scantily clad.” One did rejoice for the alms that were given him, another for the coat that was made for him, one would take away a cloak, another a hat, another shoes, another boots j another would receive a girdle and hosen, another books; another would rejoice that he had asked and received pens, ink, and paper. Thus each one rejoicing in his own gift would confess that from this honourable Lord Florentius, 118the father of the orphan and the needy, he had received not goods for the use of the body only, but also a medicine for his soul. My weak tongue doth not suffice to tell fully of his virtues and charitable deeds, for his conversation and that of his brethren doth surpass the reckoning of man. It is just that I should not fear to say of them what is written of the Apostolic Saints: “They are men of mercy and their just deeds have not been forgotten. Their good works remain with their posterity, and all the Church of the Saints shall tell of their almsgiving.”

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