“Bear with me: I am by nature inclined to anger.”

The first thing Francis learned there, after his arrival, about the affiars of his native town, was that an open feud had broken out between the Podestà and the Bishop. The Bishop had pronounced an interdict against the Podestà [i.e., prohibition to priests to say Mass in his presence]; the latter, in his turn, had forbidden the burghers all traffic with their spiritual head.

“It should greatly shame us,” said Francis to his brethren, “that none of us is working for peace here!”

And, eager to do what was in his power, he wrote two new strophes of his Canticle of the Sun, and thereupon invited the Podestà to the episcopal palace where he lay bedridden, asking at the same time the Bishop to lend his presence. When the two enemies, and all other Francis had wanted to be present, were gathered in the Piazza del Vescovado [i.e., Piazza of the Bishopric] (the same place where, nineteen years before, Francis had given his sumptuous robes back to his father), two friars of his brotherhood came forward and sang the Canticle of the Sun: first its original text, then the addition newly written by Francis—

Laudato si, Misignore, per quelli ke perdonano

per lo tuo amore

et sostengo infirmitate et tribulatione,

beati quelli ke sosterrano, in pace,

ka da te, Altissimo, sirano incoronati.

Praised be Thou, O Lord, for those who give

pardon for Thy love

and endure infirmity and tribulation;

blessed those, who endure in peace,

who will be, Most High, crowned by Thee!

While the two friars sang, all stood there with folded hands as when the Gospel is read in church. But when the chant was ended, with the last Laudato si, Misignore still in everybody’s ears, the Podestà made a step forward, knelt down to Bishop Guido, and spoke:

“For love of our Lord Jesus Christ and His servant Francis I forgive you from my heart and am ready to do your will, as it pleases you to bid me!”

The Bishop then bent down, and drawing his former enemy to him, embraced and kissed him, adn said:

“According to my office, it would befit me to be humble and peacable. But of my nature I am inclined to anger; therefore thou must bear with me.”

And the brethren went in and told Francis of the victory he had achieved with his song over the evil spirits of strife.”

—Jörgensen’s St. Francis of Assisi (trans. ed. Longmans, Green, & Co., 1948, of Die Umgestaltung in Christus by Dietrich von Hildebrand, originally published under the pseudonym Peter Ott (1940), becuase publication under the name of von Hildebrand was forbidden by the Nazi government)


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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