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CHAPTER XI


HOW ST FRANCIS MADE BROTHER MASSEO TURNROUND AND ROUND LIKE A CHILD, AND  THEN TO GO TO SIENA


One day, as St Francis was travelling with Brother Masseo, who was walking in front, they arrived at a spot where three roads met, one leading to Florence, one to Siena, and one to Arezzo, and Brother Masseo asked of St Francis which road they should take. “The one which God wills,” answered St Francis. Said brother Masseo: “And how are we to know the will of God?” “By the sign I shall show thee,” answered St Francis; “I order thee, by the merit of holy obedience, on the spot where now thou art, to turn round and round, as children do in play, and not to stop or rest until I bid thee.” On this Brother Masseo began to turn round and round, until his head became dizzy, as is wont to happen from such turning, and he fell down several times. But, as St Francis did not bid him to stop, he went on, out of obedience, till at last St Francis said: “Stand still, and move not; but tell me towards which of the three roads thou art turned?” “Towards that which leadeth to Siena,” answered Brother Masseo. “That is the road,” said St Francis, “which it pleaseth God we should take.” As he went on his way, Brother Masseo wondered to himself why St Francis had made him turn round like a child, in the presence of all those who passed that way, but out of reverence to the saint he did not dare ask him. As they reached Siena, the people of that city, having heard that the saint was approaching, went, out of devotion, to meet him, and taking him and Brother Masseo on their shoulders, carried them to the Bishop’s palace, so that their feet touched not the ground. In that same hour some of the inhabitants of Siena were fighting among themselves, and two of them had been killed. Then St Francis, hurrying to the spot, spoke to them so devoutly and in such holy words, that he constrained them all to make peace and give over quarrelling. The Bishop, having heard tell of the holy action of St Francis, invited him to his house, and received him with great honour, retaining him with him all that day and the following night. The next morning, St Francis, who in all his acts sought only the glory of God, rose very early with his companion, and went his way, without even taking leave of the Bishop; at which Brother Masseo murmured within himself, saying, as he went, “What is this that this good man has done? He has made me turn round and round like a child, and he leaves the Bishop, who has received him with such honour, without saying a word, or even thanking him”; for it seemed to Brother Masseo that St Francis had acted indiscreetly; but, inwardly checked by a divine inspiration, he thus reproached himself for indulging in such thoughts: “Thou art too proud who darest to judge the operation of divine grace; thine indiscreet pride makes thee worthy of hell; for Brother Francis yesterday performed such holy actions, that they could not be more wonderful had they been accomplished by an angel of God: so that even were he to order thee to throw stones, thou shouldst do so out of obedience; for that which he has done at Siena is the work of God, as the result proveth, for had he not pacified the men who were fighting together, not only would many have fallen victims, but the devil would have drawn many souls to hell. It is thy folly and thy pride which make thee to murmur at that which preceeds so manifestly from the will of God.” Now all these things which Brother Masseo said in his heart were revealed to St Francis, who, coming up to him, said: “Hold fast the things which thou art thinking of at this moment, for they are good and useful, and inspired by God; but thy murmurings, which preceded them, were blind and vain and full of pride, being sent into thy soul by the devil.” Then Brother Masseo clearly saw that St Francis knew the secrets of his heart, and understood of a certainty how the spirit of divine wisdom directed all the actions of his holy father.



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