LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Chapter 18
OF THE WONDERFUL CHAPTER HELD BY ST FRANCIS AT ST MARY OF THE ANGELS, AT WHICH MORE THAN FIVE THOUSAND FRIARS WERE PRESENT
Of course, the first scriptural parallel that comes to mind is the feeding of the five thousand. Some people who don't believe in the literal story of the biblical feeding of five thousand like to say people just had food with them and shared it. Maybe so, I wasn't there so I can't say. But I'm perfectly happy with the idea that the physical laws are just by the will of God, He's not bound by them, He can change them if it suits Him. The reason He usually doesn't, and that therefore miracles SEEM so rare is, He prefers an orderly universe. I say "seem" because to me, it's just as much a miracle, if we mean by that an event that is caused by God and not what would be normally expected, if people have enough and share and all are satisfied, or if, as in the case of the story before us, people from the surrounding communities provide for them.
Beyond that, the gathering - the "chapter," if anyone can give us some information on what that was - reminds me of a Promise Keepers convention, or maybe a convention of some denomination. Gathering together for mutual encouragement and the formulating of plans and delegation of duties is one way we become part of something bigger than ourselves and accomplish things beyond what we're individually capable of doing. Our personal spiritual growth gets a boost on such occasions, also.
The wearing of on their flesh of small hearts and bands of iron is something I'm at a loss to understand. I assume it was some kind of charm, so apparently, then as now, not all present were on the same level of spiritual awareness, some were still seeking power from charms. If so, the chapter provided an occasion where those who had worn these things had their superstitions confronted and profited from the experience.