Bernardino of Colpetrazzo Book 2

History of the Capuchin Friars Minor (1523-1593)

by Bernardino of Colpetrazzo OFM Cap

Book Two: Chosen Biographies

Edited by Melchior of Pobladura OFM Cap

Monumenta Historica Ordinis Minorum Capuccinorum Vol III

College of Lawrence of Brindisi, Assisi 1940

Translation, introduction and revised annotation by Paul Hanbridge OFM Cap

© 2020 Capuchin Friars of Australia

Table of Contents

Here begins the second book in which are written the lives and miracles of holy men of the Congregation of Capuchin Friars

I: On the holy man Brother Matthew of Bascio, first Capuchin, priest and preacher

I think all of Italy knows that Brother Matthew had to be the first Capuchin. Indeed all Europe, so to speak, heard of his fame since he went preaching in the Capuchin habit not only through Italy but also in the wars and armadas sent against infidels and heretics he preached in the army. He was in the campaign that Charles V did against the heretics of Germany in which this valiant knight of Christ gave the best example. He used to go forward with a crucifix. And if certain ones think that he left the Congregation of Capuchin that is not true. He did not change from his original intention of going around to preach in the Capuchin habit as God has revealed to him. In 1525 Clement VII, of happy memory, allowed him to go preaching with that habit. The Capuchin Congregation and Reform then began from this. However there was a reason that towards the end he did not wear the point on the cowl. He was in our friary of Saint Nicholas in Rome after Paul III had issued the Bull in which His Holiness willed that those who wore the pointed cowl outside the Congregation would incur excommunication. Rather Matthew already had received his permission to go solo. Therefore Father Jerome of Montepulciano, the Vicar of the Province of Rome, Father Benedict of Siena, Guardian of that house, Father James the Spaniard, Lector told him that if he did not confirm he permission again with His Holiness Paul III he couldn’t not wear the pointed cowl with good conscience. He was a God-fearing and very eager regarding the precepts of His Holiness. This was the reason that he had the point of the cowl cut off. However, as for everything else he wore the Capuchin habit with sandals and mantle in the Capuchin style. Until his death he went around in this manner of dress. He did not wear a habit that resembled the shape of the habits that other Orders wear. Rather he always kept that first shape of the habit for which His Holiness had granted him permission[1].

I will not repeat the story about the beginning or again describe the life he led. I have done all this amply in the first book. Here I am only writing about when and how he died.

Therefore, as we said above, the servant of God continued with the first intention that he had. This was to go preaching the word of God and lead the souls of sinners back strayed from way of salvation. So when he was in the city of Chioggia he decided to return to the fair city of Venice. He had dwelt there often over a long period of time and gave the greatest example, bearing great fruit in preaching to the poor souls there. AS was his custom, once he arrived in that city he went off to a parish where there was a very religious Priest who was a close acquaintance of his. He was the rector of a little church called Saint Moses. While he was staying in the house of that Priest it pleased the Lord God to put an end to his struggles and labours and to reward him as his true servants. Although he became gravely ill so that his whole head was effected[2], he continued to lie up a bare board, as was his custom. While the city did not know that he was sick, our Lord God want to perform many notable things for his glory and to reveal the holiness of this servant of his. For a nobleman who loved him very much heard that he was at Saint Moses. He sent a servant to him straightaway to if he would go to dine with him. However when the servant arrived he found that Brother Matthew was gravely ill. Nonetheless he gave him the message of his master. Brother Matthew answered, “On my behalf please thank His Lordship very much for the very kind offer and tell him I am sick. I cannot come despite His Lordship’s wish. Otherwise I would visit him willingly.” The servant left and reported everything to the nobleman. This was the reason that the news that the illness of Brother Matthew the servant of God began to spread through the city. When the nobleman heard he regretted very much being deprived of the presence of this servant of God because he had wanted to see again for a long time. However he did not want to lack in courtesy. So he had many special foods made for that sickness and sent them to him. When the servant brought them the holy man said, “I have no need of these things. I know that if I sent them back that His Lordship would take it badly. Also since they have been given as an alms-offering to God I do not want you to return them. However there is a poor woman who has just given birth again. I do not know how many sick children she has. Take them to that poor woman who has greater need than I do. However the servant did not the woman. Nor did Brother Matthew know the name of the woman. So the servant was unwilling to go looking for searching for who she was. The holy man said to him, “Do not worry. I will give you a guide so that you may not be mistaken. Take my handkerchief and go directly to that street. Knock at the door nearest to where the handkerchief falls from your hand and give the alms to whoever comes to the door. And so the servant went where the Spirit guided him. Following the instructions of the holy man he saw where the handkerchief dropped from his hand and knocked on the nearest door. Miraculously, the woman came to the door immediately. As the servant gave her the alms she asked him who sent them to her. He replied, “God sent it. You need not know more.[3]

This was the second occasion by which the city knew that Brother Matthew was ill. Stupefied by that miracle, the servant said to anyone who wanted to listen, “Now it is obvious just how holy that servant of God is, Brother Matthew, who went around the city crying, ‘Hell for anyone who sins!’” And he told about that miracle of the handkerchief.

This story came to the ears of a nobleman called Savonara. He was a devoted and fond of Brother Matthew. He had been infirm for many years with his legs. They were all ulcerated and he had had them treated for a long time, but was never able to have them healed. When he heard about that miracle, he thought to himself, “If I commend myself to this holy man I hope that our Lord God may restore my health by his holy prayers.” With great haste he went to Saint Moses, wanting to visit the holy man. Finding him ill he gave him those kind offerings which befit a good Christian. He asked him if he would go to his house because there he would lack nothing. However, the servant of God Brother Matthew, who desired nothing else than to suffer, preferred to stay on his hard board rather than go away to die on a feather bed. In this way he accompanied our Lord who wanted to die on the hard wood of the cross for the salvation of everyone. Savonara’s faith and devotion towards him increased even more. With great humility, he said to him, “Father, as you know, I am ill. I have such faith in your holy prayers. If you pray for me, his Majesty will make me well.” The servant of God replied, “Yes, indeed I want to pray for you. Take a little water and wash my feet, and with that water wash your feet. Our Father Saint Francis did many miracles with this kind of washing. He will do the same for you.” Savonara did everything that the holy man told him and he was perfectly healed in that very place.

He was the man who paid all the expenses required for his funeral in order to give thanks in part for the benefit he received. This was required not long after. As the illness became worse and the servant of God tolerated with patience the great pain that the abscess gave his head, he prepared himself with great devotion for the passage of death. Receiving all the usual holy Sacraments that happy soul passed to its Creator. It was the fifth day of his sickness that was at the twenty-second hour, on the sixth August 1552[4].

Because of the grave infirmity, that body would naturally have been foetid. Instead, by a divine miracle it gave of such a fragrance that for a long time there was the sweetest smell everywhere. As the news spread through the city, almost the entire city was moved. The gathering of people who came to see his body was so large because it seemed that what happened already to many holy bodies was repeated in him.

Behold, the Lord God wanted to begin to make it known by the mouths of innocent children, for a great number of them began to arise crying with a loud voice along all the streets, “The holy man, Brother Matthew, has died!” The Lord also wanted to reveal it through wicked spirits because when many possessed persons heard the voices of the children, those spirits in the same way began to cry out also, “A holy man has died. By his merits we will be cast out from these lodgings.” The entire city was in such a commotion with the clamour that one could not go along the streets.

Behold the Lord God wanted to reveal his holiness with another miracle. In the presence of that great multitude a totally blind woman guided by her relatives cast herself upon that body. No sooner had the body touched her blind eyes then she was perfectly well. By the merits of this servant of his the Lord God restored light to them. This was the second miracle after his death.

It happened that when that venerable Priest, the rector of the church of Saint Moses, became aware of such stupendous and miraculous events, if he had had devotion before it grew such more. He relented of having promised the body to the Zoccolanti Fathers. Nonetheless in order not to break his word he wanted to carry it himself with all the honour that was fitting for it. With great solicitude he gathered all the Canons he could from the entire city along with a countless number of Religious. With many lights and an almost infinite number of people he took that holy body and carried it with supreme honour in procession around the square of Saint Mark’s. However so great was the assembly of people that rushed precipitously to touch the body, or at least the catafalque that it was not possible to move. When the Priest saw this he thought he had fulfilled his promise on his part to want to bring the body to the Friars. However since he could not go any further, with that excuse he returned to Saint Moses. Apart from the devotion he bore towards the holy man it seemed to him that some benefit would result for him from the concourse of the people and that keeping that holy body in his church would increase the standing of his parish. It was something amazing that the people tore nearly all his habit to pieces. Anyone who was able to get even the smallest piece of it considered himself blessed and devotedly wore it as a relic.

The Priest had returned therefore with great difficulty and put the body in the sacristy. He locked all the doors very securely, placing a guard to guard the body very carefully so that it would not be removed or cut up in fact to keep as relics. There the devout people of Venice began to honour the holy body, keeping many candles lit continuously in the church and the sacristy. Day and night the people did not fail to visit that holy body continuously although they could not see the coffin where it was except through a little window in the sacristy.

The religious Priest immediately found some excellent master masons. He ordered them to build a very beautiful and fitting tomb. However they were unable to carry this out because when the Zoccolanti Fathers hear about it, they straightaway had recourse to the Legate of Venice so that he would have the Priest hand over the body since Brother Matthew was a Friar of the Franciscan Order. Although he went around preaching alone, he did so with the permission of the Superiors. And so in justice the body belonged to them. It would be wrong if the holy man were not buried in a church of the Order. When the Legate hear all these reasons he immediately sent a command to the Priest to hand over the body to the Fathers. The Priest did not care too much about the command. He went off and gathered many lawyers and procurators. He also collected all the leaders of his parish who could have some influence and had recourse to the Legate in order to initiate litigation against the Zoccolanti Fathers. He claimed that since the holy man had died in his house and had not chosen a burial place elsewhere, the in justice it should be in that parish and that church where he died. However in virtue of its privileges the favour of the Order was such that the Priest was forced to hand over the body[5].

Once the Legate had given the judgement that the body belonged to the Zoccolanti Fathers, he enjoined the Captain of ten men to go in person to Saint Joseph. Having taken the body and placed it in a casket he was to put it into a boat as secretly as possible so as not to arouse uproar.

Therefore that honoured Captain went and did everything enjoined upon him. Taking the holy body the third day after his death, he put it into the coffin. However he was unable to do this secretly in such a way that no one knew. The Lord God wanted to reveal it for his glory it became known throughout the city and there was such a gathering of people that it was amazing. The body was taken from Saint Moses at the twenty-second hour and brought to Saint Francis of the Vine. On opening the coffin where the holy body was, again they smelled that fragrance which came from it. With one voice they began to cry, “What greater sign of holiness would you want than this? All our spices do not give off such a sweet fragrance as this holy body does.”

A great multitude of Religious had assembled. With great pomp and gladness they picked up the coffin to carry it to the place where the tomb had been prepared for it. The clamour of the people who lunged forward to touch the coffin was such that those Religious could hardly sing a single responsory. The clamour of the people increased when the woman whose sight he restored came to thank him for the benefit she received. Everyone turned to her, asking if it were true that she had been blind and that the holy man had restored her sight. She had to do quite a lot to have each one understand. The produced a great tumult and impediment so that they could not say the office used by holy church for the holy body. When the office had finished the Captain and his men opened a way so that the holy body could be led taken for burial because the crowds blocked the way. When it arrived at the tomb he placed guards at the doors so that they would not be blocked again. When the Religious picked up that body to place it in the tomb everyone saw such beauty that he did not look dead but asleep. His arms and legs were still flexible as if he were still alive. As the one carrying him was putting it into the tomb he dropped it. The holy body fell into the tomb on its knees in that way he used to be when he prayed.

1. He was no sooner buried than a possessed woman came crying out with a frightening voice. Her relative placed her on the tomb. On behalf of the holy man the Religious commanded the evil spirits to leave. As they reminded the evil spirits many times of the name of the holy man, and after many horrendous movements and frightful voices the woman was perfectly freed. She returned to her house with great happiness, free and healthy.

2. This was also remarkable. No sooner had that woman left than they brought there another who had been bewitched for twelve years. With great faith she knelt at his tomb and with much faith commended herself to the holy man. After the demons made the greatest outcry for some time the woman was completely free and healthy through the merits of this holy man.

Both these miracles occurred on the first day after his burial.

1. What happened on the second day was no less spectacular. The devotion of people increased still and a great crowd came. They led a twelve year old girl possessed by many legions of demons. When she was brought to where the holy man lay entombed, she began to scream so loudly with a frightening voice that she stunned the people who were round about. She writhed as though she were a serpent. Then the candles burning there dimmed a little. For just as the demons had been conjured by someone, now they were commanded and they indicated their leaving the woman. In a very short time our Lord God freed completely freed her through the merits of blessed Matthew.

2. Another miracle happened some days later. It happened in this way. There was a barber who had a son totally blind. When he heard about the great miracles that blessed Matthew was doing, he took his boy and with much faith and devotion brought him to the tomb. Commending himself to the holy man the boy was completely freed. Many people were present at this miracle.

3. The Lord God worked another miracle through the merits of this servant of his. Bartholomew Barettaro came with much faith. For many years he had been completely deaf. He knelt straightaway before the tomb with much faith and was perfectly healed.

4. The Lord God worked another miracle through this servant of his. It was in this way. There was woman called Vincentia Giorana who was completely crippled so that she could not use any part of her body except her eyes and tongue. With great insistence she begged her relatives to take her to the tomb. She asserted, “As soon as I am where the body of that servant of God Brother Matthew is, by his holy merits I will be perfectly healed.” Her relatives were moved by these petitions and took her to the tomb. When she arrived she commended herself with many tears to blessed Matthew. Immediately she got up as if she had never had any illness. To the great amazement of everyone there she went off home totally happy on her own feet.

5. The blessed Matthew did another miracle. It was this. The woman Gandolfa Chiozzora had a son. He had been struck down by a grave illness that had left him completely paralysed. One day – it was a Saturday – with much faith she commended herself to the Lord God so that through the merits of Father Matthew he might be pleased to make her son well. When she had finished her prayer she returned to her son and found him perfectly healed.

6. This was no less marvellous. There was a woman, Paichina of Vicenza who had been sick with numbness[6] for many years. When she heard about the great miracles that the servant of God Brother Matthew was doing she went with much faith to the tomb. She prayed there for some time and through the merits of this servant of God she found herself perfectly healed. Because of that healing she began to cry out with great wonder and tears, “Now the holiness of this servant of God is clear!” Disclosing her infirmity to the people – there was an almost infinite number of people there – she gave thanks to God and to his servant Brother Matthew who had healed her completely.

7. The Lord God worked another miracle. There was John da Santa Trinita` Piazziero who had a bad leg. He had born that infirmity for a long time and had undergone many remedies but was not able to heal them. When he came to the tomb in the presence of many people, with much he commended himself to the holy man and was perfectly healed.

8. Father Matthew did another miracle. Mister Anthony Zavarino lived by the seaside and was completely lame. It pleased the Lord God that one day one of his friends visited him and told him about the great miracles that the Lord God was doing through the merits of his servant Brother Matthew. He commended himself to God with much faith and devotion and he was healed in that place. Later he visited the tomb of the servant of God. With thanksgiving he left crutches[7] there. Mister Mark Giustiniano, the brother of Sir Giustiniano, an orator in France, and other persons were present there at the holy tomb.

9. The Lord God worked another miracle. There was a woman who had not been able to get out of bed for seven years. When she heard about the miracles that God was working through his servant, she had herself taken to the tomb. Commending herself with much faith she was perfectly healed. Four thousand persons were present.

10. The Lord God did another miracle. It was with a crippled boy. Brought to the tomb and commending himself to God he was completely healed. His father testified that the boy had been infirm for a long time. Many persons were present.

11. The Lord God worked another miracle with a girl. She was completely paralysed so that she could not move. She was carried to the tomb of the holy man. Commending herself with much faith she was healed perfectly. She returned home to the great joy of the whole neighbourhood. A certain nobleman was present for this. He had despised the holy man in Rome and in Venice. Having seen this miracle he knelt down. Then with tears he admitted his guilt in the presence of all the Friars of Saint Francis of the Vine.

12. The Lord God worked another miracle through the merits of this servant of his. Gasparrina was a woman from Mestre and daughter of the woman Madalena. She was paralysed for many years so that she could not move. When she heard people tell of the miracles that the Lord God worked through the merits of Father Matthew, she had herself brought to the tomb. Commending herself with much faith she was perfectly healed within a very short period of time. The sister on Monsignor Pisano was present with all her family.

13. The Lord God worked another miracle with a woman supported[8] by Mister Dionisio Contarini. Because of grave infirmity in her head that she had suffered for many years, she was totally incapacitated. She went with much faith to the tomb of Father Matthew and was completely freed. This miracle happened on the 25th of August with man witnesses present.

14. The Lord God worked another miracle. There was German called Angelo who was staying at Virghera. He was completely hydropic. With much faith he had himself brought to where the body of Father Matthew lay. He had no sooner arrived, devoutly commending himself, than he was perfectly freed in the presence of many persons.

I will leave off narrating and writing here about the many other miracles that our Lord God has worked and still works through the merits of this servant of his[9]. I have only written about those he did in the beginning after his death. I have no information about the others that have been done for many years at the holy body. From all these we can know how many merits the first Capuchin, Father Matthew has before God[10].

I write all this in order to inspire the hearts of those who read this to follow the holy life that this servant of God led. I write this also so that everyone may know that the poor Congregation of Capuchins did not begin with Bernardine Occhino, as some say. Nor did it begin with Brother Louis of Fossombrone, but with Father Matthew of Basci. As I wrote in the Chronicle [11], by a divine revelation he took again the habit that our Father Saint Francis wore and that then the whole Order wore for more than a hundred years. No one should say that he left our Congregation. For Pope Clement, of happy memory, granted him to go preaching. He persevered in this praiseworthy and holy office of preaching the gospel of Christ from the beginning until his blessed death. In this he finished his life in the true observance of the Rule of Saint Francis. Adorned with many miracles and holy virtues that holy soul flew away to heaven. Amen.

II: On the holy man Brother Paul of Chioggia, priest and preacher

In the early Church that trumpet of the Holy Spirit, Saint Paul, was a great boon to the little flock of the Saviour of the world. After his miraculous conversion he was numbered with the holy Apostles and Disci0les of Jesus Christ because he was full of the Holy Spirit and highly enlightened by God. He was most learned in the Sacred Scriptures and will instructed in all good conduct. Because of this great profit resulted in converting the nations[12] more than for any of the others. As he says himself, “I have striven harder than any of the other Apostles.[13]” It was same with the servant of God, Brother Paul. Because he was learned and a very gracious preacher he was a great boon to the young little family of the Seraphic Father, the Capuchin Reform. As it is said, and most appropriately, when the Congregation was in need this venerable Father helped the holy Reform greatly with his preaching, doctrine and good advice.

This servant of God was from a city in the dominion of Venice called Chioggia. At an early age he gave himself to learning and acquired a good grasp of grammar. He took the written oath[14] and became a notary and he excelled in his profession. However, since he thought that office was very dangerous he left it and became a Priest. In that dress he always gave of himself the very best example. Since he was gifted by God with a fair intellect and was very studious, he returned to his own region for studies in canon law. Within a short time he made great progress in it, however without a doctorate. He became a competent canon lawyer and, just as he told our Friars himself, he had such an authoritative reputation that he became the Vicar of the Bishop.

Nonetheless his mind stayed elevated as he considered the fallacies of this world. As a God-fearer he felt that he did not satisfy the obligation he held with the Lord God as a Priest. Rather he felt drawn by the Holy Spirit to a higher degree of perfection. However since he did not know how to resolve this in any way he gave himself to fasting. Ordinarily he fasted for Lent and the fasts commanded by Holy Church. Very often he read devout books that spoke about the religious life. He conferred with some of his companions about leaving the world and becoming a Religious. However they drew him back from this good desire. However what was more important to him was leaving his father and his mother, especially since they had the heavier burden of four daughters[15]. And there was not much wealth. They were sustained by the work of his father and what he earned himself. Nonetheless his mind remained elevated. Each day he felt the voice of the Lord grow stronger who wanted him for greater perfection. He worried that he may have been at fault in resisting the Holy Spirit.

Finally the good intention prevailed and he decided totally. It came to his mind that he could serve God better and with greater facility by entering some Order. Because he had laid that good foundation in the world he decided to take up the habit of Father Saint Francis in order to suffer more. According to the intention and desire he had, it seemed to him that that Order was more austere. He entered that holy Order and did his novitiate in such an exemplary way that his Master and all the Fathers were highly edified by his great austerity in food, in sleep, in everything. Because he was already a man and a Priest, his Master let him do this. He thought that since he was at the age of discretion he would not have done more than he was able as usually happens with the youths. He fasted most of the time on bread and water during Lent and on all the vigils of Our Lady and the more devout feasts. We wept almost continuously thinking about the time he had wasted. He so applied himself to humility and in doing humble tasks that his Master, because he was a Priest, corrected him because he abased himself too much. However he was so in love with imitating Father Saint Francis who was a mirror of every virtue especially humility, that he came to even greater depths. Later he often had to say that he had never tasted the spirit more than in his novitiate. As soon as he was clothed with the holy habit he was enlightened so highly by God about this holy virtue of humility that god removed from him all those notions that are in the world. If he had habituated in pride, elegance and worldly ways to please the world, he found himself completely stripped of these. Because when he had made his general confession he became like a boy. He was humbled in such a way that he no longer knew how to read or speak. Struck by the hand of God he went out like some one stunned. Consequently in the Province of the Marches where he took the habit in order to distance himself from his homeland and relatives the opinion came about that he would have to turn out to be a great servant of God.

He made his profession. When the Fathers saw that he was well founded in grammar and canon law they assigned him to study, much to his disliking. As he often said, “Study has been my ruin because I was swollen in spirit so that when I would have derived the greatest profit from holy contemplation. However study has held me back considerably.

It pleased the Lord God that within a short time he became quite a good theologian and was made a preacher. Still that desire to despise himself remained with him. Because of this he did not bear much fruit in preaching. This was because he did it against his will. He would have preferred to remain withdrawn, practising fasts and holy contemplation, and preaching to others more by example than with words, according to the intention of Father Saint Francis. Nonetheless the Prelates still had him preach. However that great servant of God felt he could not arrive at a true contempt for self, according to his desire, through the occasions that came with dealing with seculars that the office of preaching requires. So he found himself very melancholy and wept continuously in his heart while he desired to return to those early years. Moreover it seemed to the servant of God that he was not in a true observance of the Rule which, according to our Father Saint Francis, consists in a true contempt for the things of the world, true poverty of spirit and to give oneself wholeheartedly to holy contemplation. Very often he said to the Friars, “We have transgressed by a long way our living according to the purity of the Rule. It says that above everything we should desire the Spirit of the Lord, to pray always to him with a pure heart, and to desire all the things[16] that serve the spirit, study and doing things in so far as they serve the spirit. And we do the opposite. We cut short the spiritual things and attend to the manual things. There we go against the greatest precept that we have in the Rule that is completely ordered unto perfection. Above everything we are obliged by vow to the Rule to practice and tend towards perfection[17].”

Therefore this was the reason that he came to dislike the lax life. This caused him great affliction, especially because a great temptation, permitted by God, came upon him that occupied him night and day. Although he bore himself as a valiant fighter because of his good spirit and because of the good foundations he had laid, he nonetheless felt very afflicted. On the one hand the Order at that time was very lax. Because Reform was discussed there was little agreement between the lax Friars and the Friars who were zealous about the observance of the Rule. Many disagreements emerged between them, for the flesh is never in accord with the spirit. Rather there is always an inner battle. The servant of God commended himself continuously, opening his heart to the Lord God because he was always to live in perfect observance of the Rule and he desired that some Reform happen. At the time under Clement VII Reform dealt with. It was Clement VII who gave a Bull in its regard to the Zoccolanti Fathers. During that time under this Pontiff he suffered the temptation more than he had ever done.

This was the temptation that the enemy raised against him. His father had died and left his poor mother a widow with three young daughters[18]. Without her husband whom death had taken from her she was going through many difficulties. Similarly she was deprived of her son who had abandoned the world and entered a monastery of Friars. When he saw the suffering of his poor mother and of his stricken sisters he obtained a Brief from His Holiness and left those Fathers and became a Priest again in order to help his mother and to bring his poor sisters to honour. It can be said that he returned to the world as an act of kindness and charity. However he never stopped living as a good Religious and gave the best example to the entire city. He truly reflected every good quality[19]. In his mother’s house he lived in great penance and mortification of his body, for he was very sparing and appropriate in eating as well as everything else. He dedicated himself to contempt for the world. He did not stop making all the Lents[20] and fasts that were kept in the Order. He had his mother take all the alms that were given him and some of the income of his father for the sustenance of the house and in order to make up the dowry of the poor daughters. So because of the great zeal this servant of God, Brother Paul, had for his profession our Lord God always kept his hand upon him. No unfitting word was ever heard come from him. He rarely spoke with people and his speech was always brief and full of prudence so that everyone praised God because of it. And they had wide scope for this because it bore the greatest fruit among the people, since Chioggia was given a man adorned with such virtues.

Now it pleased our Lord God to lead back the wandering sheep of the Lord to the sheepfold of the Order. It happened in this way. When his mother had died and a good start was given to his sisters he was free from that temptation. He withdrew from conversation with people since he no longer had any need for it neither was it of any benefit. He began to do the greatest penance, often fasting on bread and water and dressing in harsh sackcloth. He practised works of piety very much. During that time he established many Associations and Confraternities in that city. He had them work in procuring alms to give to poor persons who were too timid to beg[21]. He had no other room to which to return because he had given everything to his sisters. So in order to practise holy prayer and the divine office he started to stay in a barn where he slept upon the bare boards. Sometime he slept on some of the hay that was there, leading a life as strict as could possible be described. Because of this he caused great wonder in the world. Finally he reconsidered the obligation he had because of the profession he had already made, he decided to enter the most austere Order to be found, where he could go to some hermitage, do penance there and lead an anchoritic life, giving himself strictly t holy contemplation. He commended himself to the Lord God with many tears about this idea. That Divine Goodness who never fails his servants provided for him immediately. For one day he me Brother Angelico of the Fratta di Perugia, who has already been mentioned in another place[22]. Seeing him with that coarse habit and pointed cowl, and he mentioned the hermitage[23], Brother Paul liked that holy habit very much. He dreamt that might be the occasion that God sent him in order to withdraw into some Order. Hence he had a great desire to know who the Friar was. He asked him to which Order he belonged. Brother Angelico answered that he was a hermit[24] of Saint Francis. When Brother Paul said, “This is not the habit of the Order of Saint Francis,” Brother Angelico replied, “Know that this is the true habit of Saint Francis.”

The sight of that habit in the beginning used to case great wonder in the world. Brother Paul saw him barefoot with that shaggy, short and narrow habit with that new cowl on his head. Brother Angelicus preached a contempt for oneself and carried a wooden cross in his hand. He preached where he saw people assembled. Therefore Brother Paul became a devotee of his, believing him to be a holy man. With great desire he told him that he would willingly become a hermit with him when he had authority from the Supreme Pontiff to receive him. For when he heard him say that that was the habit of Saint Francis he was moved, remembering his profession. When Brother Angelicus told him he had authority to receive him, he was about it. However it was not true since Brother Angelico had taken up that habit on his own accord without having either a Brief or a Bull from His Holiness. Nonetheless when the devout Priest hear this he believed Brother Angelico was telling him the truth. Without seeking anything further he begged Brother Angelico to clothe him and be pleased to receive him into his company. Since Brother Angelico was very keen to increase his sect and make disciples he received him immediately and enjoined upon him to have a habit made by his own means in the shape that he, Brother Angelico, wore it. Because of the great desire he had to be clothed Brother Angelico immediately obtained the coarsest cloth to be found in that region and which they called arabesque[25]. With the habit made, Brother Angelico clothed him with great solemnity. He wanted him to take up again the name he had earlier, which was Brother Paul since in the world he had the name John[26]. Brother Angelico gave orders that he stay in his own city for some days until he had finished preaching in certain places that he had promised.

In order to do things carefully and knowing quite well that hermits are subject to their Ordinaries, Brother Paul went off straightaway to the Bishop of his city and told him in full why he had taken that habit and by whom he had been received. However that good Prelate and Paster who knew the teaching and sound knowledge of Brother Paul very well, was happy that he stay in his diocese. He gave him the office of preaching, wanting like a good pastor that he help him carry the pastoral burden. Where before he served him as his Vicar, now he would be of service as a preacher.

Taking with him the blessing of His Reverend Lordship, he began to preach with great fervour. It was a great surprise for all the people of that city to see him with that lowly and rough habit never seen before. He was barefoot, emaciated and completely pale because of the many sufferings he did. However there were different opinions about him. Some wept out of devotion. They said, “He is a great servant of God.” Others despised him and said, “this man has gone mad from too much penance.” The servant of God did not worry about these things but still tried to mortify himself. After he had preached he went around begging a little bread, living like a poor man.

After persevering in this forge of mortification for many days Brother Angelico called him. After staying for some days with him and with other hermits that Brother Angelico had received, he knew clearly that Brother Angelico had no authority from His Holiness either to be outside his Order or to be able to receive Friars. Therefore he decided to leave him and his other companions, since he regarded them as all apostates, and to come to Rome to seek permission from His Holiness to be able to wear that habit. Since Brother Angelico with his other companions wanted to persevere and do the reform and observe the Rule of Saint Francis, he also sought a Bull for them.

Thus with this good intention he set off directly to Rome. It was the year 1526, in the month of June. And as it pleased the Lord God he passes through the Marches. There he heard that another Friar had just obtained permission to be able to wear the habit that he wore and that he was going around preaching in that habit with the pointed cowl. He heard that his name was Brother Matthew of Bascio. Since Brother Paul knew nothing about this, he felt an increasingly ardent desire to see him since everyone praised his holiness. Having obtained information that Brother Matthew lived in a place in Fabriano he decided to go and find him. When they met they embraced one another with great tenderness and many tears. Neither could speak for a good while, such was the compunction within their hearts because they had met miraculously, both of them with the true habit of the Seraphic Father Saint Francis. Since Brother Paul had been clothed in the Province of the Marches with the Zoccolanti he had heard of the Brother Matthew as a great servant of God, although he had never seen him or met him. Sitting down with great kindness he told him at length all the revelations he had had from God in order to take up that habit again. He told him about all the miracles that the Lord God worked when he was about to speak with His Holiness and when His Beatitude had kindly allowed him to wear that habit. He told him how His Holiness repeated many times, “We want the Rule observed to the letter, just as Saint Francis and his companions observed it.” The servant of God Brother Paul was very happy when he saw how His Majesty had guided him to take up again the true habit of Saint Francis and gave him amply scope to observe the Rule. However when Brother Matthew told him that he did not have permission to receive Friars, but that His Holiness had only allowed him to take up the habit for himself, Brother Paul made up his mind again to go to Rome. Brother Matthew told him that Brother Louis of Fossombrone had gone to Rome to seek a Bull and it was hoped that he should soon return to the Marches. Nevertheless Brother Paul went straight away to Rome hoping to meet Brother Louis along the way.[27] However since Brother Louis had letters of support from Catherine Cibo and since she was the niece of His Beatitude, the matter went quickly and he had returned to Marches with the Bull.

Therefore while Brother Paul was in Rome, for many days he could not have the grace of being introduced to His Holiness. One day, as it pleased the Lord God, as the Pope was leaving the palace Brother Paul was waiting for him with great diligence on the street. Although he tried many times to get near to speak with him the guard always stopped him. However, as someone who desirous to speak with him, he began to cry out in a loud voice, “O servant of the servants of God. I really need to speak with you!” He repeated these words many times and His Holiness heard his voice. As it pleased the Lord God, the good Shepherd recognised it was one of his sheep. He commanded that he be brought before him at once. Having arrived in his presence, kneeling down he said to him with great humility, “Holy Father, I am bound by vow to observe the Rule of Saint Francis. Because I am well informed that what I am wearing is the true habit that our Father and the entire Order wore for many years, I request of you the grace to wear it and that a Bull may be granted for me and for my other companions.” His Holiness answered, “It is not necessary that I grant another permission because I have already granted it and I have issued a Brief on it to one of your companions who are in the Marches. It is not necessary for anyone else to come to me if he wants to join your company. Rather, let him go to the leader to whom I have granted the Brief.” When the said this, the Pope meant Brother Louis.

Hearing this Brother Paul immediately left Rome and came to Camerino. Because the Indulgence of the Portiuncula was drawing near, he spent some days in Assisi. After obtaining the holy pardon he went to Perugia to see the ring of the Mother of God. Then he immediately returned to Camerino. There he found Father Matthew and Father Louis with Brother Raphael his brother. With great joy he told them about the good reception had from His Holiness and he was numbered with the other Fathers, received by Brother Louis. He was the fifth Friar of the Congregation and Brother Louis granted him to preach. He exercised this office with great fervour for he went preaching through the villages, lands and cities of the Marches with so much fervour that he stunned the region. The person who was able to hear the word of God from him felt blessed. Through the words of his servant our Lord God achieved much good fruit[28]. For he established many Associations who went to confession and received Holy Communion once a month and gave many alms to the poor. This was something unusual because at that time anyone who confessed once a year was regarded a good Christian. The servant of God Brother Paul went barefoot continuously, summer and winter. He wore only one habit that was completely patched and against his skin harsh sackcloth. He usually ate only once a day. Most of the time he fasted on bread and water. Since the poor Friars did not have anywhere to live at that time, the poor fellow often stayed in some hospice. He often slept in barns, caves and under trees sometimes. When he was preaching he never wanted meals made for him, but he always wanted to live like a poor man on the things he begged.

In the end he was preaching at Penna di Billi, an honoured land, situated on the outskirts of the province of the Marches and which borders with Romagna. (This place always belonged to the Count of Montefeltro who later became the Duke of Urbino. It never had any other patron.) Father Matthew heard about this and came to visit him. He was his companion the whole time he preached there until his death. Father Joseph of Coll’amato also came to his assistance. Although the house at Pietrarubbia had been established a few days earlier, because there weren’t any rooms suitable for the sick and also because it was a long way away, the Friars did not bring him to that house. Instead, in order to that he might be seen better by a doctor and provided for in the necessary things they took him to the rooms of an Association of Mercy under the title of Our Lady. Still deteriorating he came to the final hour of death. In order to imitate our Lord who wanted to die naked upon the Cross, and just as our Father Saint Francis wanted to die upon the ground, he had himself placed upon the ground. With great fervour he gave his companions a very beautiful and most fervent exhortation to perseverance both in the observance of the Rule and in that initial fervour. With a happy face he countenance and his eyes turned towards heaven he received all the Holy Sacraments. Then he said, “Into your hands Lord, I commend my spirit.”[29] These words were no sooner finished that that very holy soul flew away to heaven. The entire Congregation mourned him. I remember that I was in our house in Foligno[30] when the news came. All those venerable servants of God sorrowed very much. They said, “Our poor Congregation has lost a great servant of God.” The whole region where he had preached and borne much fruit mourned him. The old people testified that they could not remember anyone in their time who had preached and borne as much fruit as Brother Paul.

The passage of this servant of God was in the year 1531 when he was about fifty years of age. The venerable Father Marius sent two Friars to Penna di Billi in order to be better informed of the whole matter, just a he wrote in his Chronicle. They found everything as had been written about his death. Some of those who were present at his passage and who heard his sermons testified to this. Their names were: Don George, Priest, an educated and good person; Mr. Francesco Zulla, and old man of eighty six years; Victor Ravegnano, who was one of the confreres of the Association where Brother Paul died; likewise there was a woman of eighty two years called Lucretia Franchini who said she had often made pesto for him in his infirmity. He was buried in the Church of the Fathers of Saint Augustine in their own tomb.

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and of his most fair Mother. Amen.

III: About the holy man Brother Bernard of Fossombrone, a lay friar

Brother Bernard[31] was from the city of Fossombrone[32] situated in the dominion of the Duke of Urbino. His baptismal name was Jerome Scorzuolo, a good person of good standing with the world. When he heard that Father Louis and his other companions had taken up the capuchin habit and such an austere life, an incredible fervour ignited within him to follow them and to serve God in that holy Congregation. So that he could better serve God and do it as quickly as possible he began to lay a good foundation while still in secular dress. He dedicated himself to works of piety and wanted to enter the Association of Our Lady. He exercised himself at great length in holy prayers and giving his goods to the poor. He grew so much in fervour that before he entered the Order he wanted to go to Jerusalem to visit the holy places. After he had visited those places and returned he was even more inflamed with the love of God to follow Jesus poor and naked in this world. Hence he went to find Father Louis. On telling him about his good intention Father Louis received him. Father Louis told him the words of the Holy Gospel that he should give his goods to the poor[33]. Before he was clothed in the habit he returned to Fossombrone and divided his goods with his brother who has the only one he had in the world. Once he had sold his part, in the Association of Our Lady he gave it all to the poor for the love of God. Once he had given everything away completely he returned to Father Louis and was clothed in the Capuchin habit. Because he was among the first who came to the Congregation, Brother Louis gave him the name Brother Bernard, after Blessed Bernard[34] because he was the first he received in his office from his region.

He came to the Congregation in 1526. He was the sixth Friar of the Congregation. Although he knew how to read somewhat, nonetheless he wanted to be a lay Friar and to serve his brothers in the Order by ding humble tasks, working in the kitchen or the garden, collecting alms, and serving the poor sick with the great humility. Because of this our Lord adorned him with many virtues. He was very zealous in the observance of the Rule especially holy poverty that he had carved into his heart of hearts. He was its most faithful observer until his death. When he spoke about things pertaining to the Rule, he used to say with great fervour, “We Friars Minor should rather lose our lives than offend our profession. For we know how solicitously our Lord God cares for us in order not to break the promises he gave to our Seraphic Father. For when he was at Fonte Palombo and he told him that he wanted the Rule observed to the letter, he added, ‘I know how much human frailty can do, and I also know how much I want to provide for their needs.’ There has never been a time when his goodness has failed to keep that promise. For no matter how big the Order may be, or wherever the Friars are, His Majesty always takes care of them. He provides for all their needs either by means of seculars or truly miraculously through the holy Angels. The Order is full of examples of this. Now if God does not break his promises, it would be great madness on our part and a sign of great infidelity if we do not observe what we have promised him.”

Because of this the servant of God always wanted to dress roughly in cloth made from what is called arabesque. Brother Louis made him that habit and it lasted many years since he repaired it with patches. He put all sorts of patches on it. He never wanted to wear any other habit. On a journey he used to wear a little mantle that only just covered his arms and leaving his hands uncovered. He never wanted to have the use of anything that the Rule did not allow him. He always carried the Rule in his sleeve and never read anything other than the Rule. He used to speak about the Rule with such fervour that when he discussed it with the Friars it seemed as though he was in heaven. He always went barefoot. He never wore any sole until the day he died. He was also most austere in food for he hardly ate more than once a day, and mostly it was bread with raw vegetables. He hardly ever drank wine. When someone said to him, “What does it mean that you do not drink wine?” he answered, “I am too hot blooded. Wine is not good for me.”[35] With this holy caution he concealed his abstinence.

At certain devout times like the Lent of Saint Michael, Holy Week and similar times, it was his custom to always remain withdrawn either in the forest or within his cell, eating only once a day bread and water. Usually he said spoke little or nothing with anyone, practising holy contemplation. He merited to receive from God especially the gift of tears and since e always carried the passion of Christ carved in his heart, he wept almost continuously. When he went on a journey he always went a little ahead of his companion. Sometimes he lagged so far behind his companion that he was often reprimanded. This happened because he would withdraw in to some little woods or somewhere that he could not be seen whenever his fervent moments came to him, driven by the overflowing with the spirit. There he wept so copiously over the passion of Our Lord that often the seculars who were there ran to see what it was. When Brother Bernard saw them, still weeping he began to speak highly of the passion of Christ that all the seculars dissolved into tears with him. On one occasion when he was in Assisi for the time of the Indulgence one of our skilful preachers gave a sermon in that city’s Cathedral called Saint Rufino. As that Father increased in fervour he spoke in the form of a dialogue about the virtues of Saint Francis and the opposite virtues of the city, saying, “Saint Francis was humble. And you, Assisi are proud.” These comparisons lasted a long time. When Brother Bernard heard the virtues of Saint Francis named he began to weep so copiously that the sound stopped the people from hearing the preacher. Although he was aware that the he was doing the wrong thing nonetheless the impetus of the spirit was such that he was not able to hold it back. I was present for this. These fervent episodes were seen in him continuously. The judicious Friars said that this came about because he was completely detached form the world and kept his mind purified of every earthly affection. Through this he always kept himself prepared to receive d the inspiration of God. This was obvious in that every time Friars or seculars said something worldly I understand that he never answered them, but immediately initiated some spiritual discussion. For almost as long as he lived he was tempted to abandon completely conversation with anyone and to hide himself away in some great solitude and live the anchoritic life like the early Fathers, living on herbs and fruit. However under the prompt of holy obedience he never wanted to consent to this.

There was one thing he had – that he liked wandering very much. He did this because he said, “It is a difficult thing to stay in friaries and not to have there any disordered affection. It is difficult to be able to avoid holding some dealings with either Friars or seculars. These things are a great detriment to the spirit and to the perfect observance of the Rule.”

This servant of God was accustomed two or three times each year in certain devout times to do the discipline of Our Lord that is, to give one self as many blows it is said that Our Lord received in his holy humanity. This was the disciple that the great servant of God Brother Anthony Corso had taught. The discipline was done with this rule. When they wanted to do it they withdrew to some secret place. Removing all their clothes they were completely naked. For a period of five hours they beat their bodies everywhere. Therefore when this servant of God, Brother Bernard, was in Macerata in Montefeltro, for many days he begged the Lord God with great insistence that he make him suffer something for his love. When Holy Week came he wanted to do the usual discipline of the five hours. Because it was extremely cold at the time and Brother Bernard was older, through that long discipline the Lord allowed that he become gravely ill. He bore that illness for many months since the Lord wanted to hear him and make him a sharer in his passion.

When he came to the end of his life, with great fervour and spirit and took a crucifix in his hand. Kissing the holy wounds he said, “My Lord, receive my spirit into the arms of your mercy. I give you infinite thanks that you have deigned in my infirmity to make me a sharer in something of your most holy passion and that for us sinners you have wanted to suffer on the cross. With this fervour he rendered his spirit to his creator after having received all the holy sacraments with great devotion[36].

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

IV: About the holy man Brother Joseph of Coll’Amato, Priest

Brother Joseph[37] was from a castle called Coll’Amato and situated in the dominion of Fabriano[38]. When this servant of God heard about the Congregation of Capuchins he was inflamed with an incredible fervour and decided to abandon the world. Because he was only a youth of about eighteen years and very simple, he did not know how to find them. In that time they did not have any established friaries but stayed in the mountains of Fabriano like fugitives. This was because of the great persecutions that they experienced from their adversaries. However, as it pleased God, one day some one told Piermatteo as he was called that the Capuchins were near a castle called Cerreto situation in the same dominion of Fabriano. Since he was near to Coll’Amato the fine youth left home. When he found the servants of God in a wood he revealed to them his good intention. The first Friar with whom he spoke was Brother Paul of Chioggia. After examining him well he said to him, “God my son. Return home and think things over a little better. Meanwhile do not fail to commend yourself fervently to the Lord God about this. If your good intention lasts, come back and you will be received. However be well aware that if you become a Friar you will need to observe the Rule, which is very strict and arduous.” He carefully explained to him all the obligations contained in the Rule and that he would need to give away his goods for the love of God. “Therefore, once you have considered these things well and you are content to do these things, come back to us so that you may be received.” The devout young man replied, “With the help of God I am happy to do what you do. About goods however I do not have any because my father is still alive.”

So he returned home. He dedicated himself to his devotions more than ever before. For by himself he made an oratory in a very remote house his father had and where no one lived. He withdrew there on feast days[39] and occupied himself there the whole day at prayer according to his simplicity. He said many devotions that he found in a little book of Our Lady. He often stayed there at night and did the discipline. He persevered in this many months and considered his situation well. One day his father and his mother were at a large house with all the family. They had gathered for some kind of recreation. The good youth Piermateo went off into a secret place and stripped naked. He took a piece of cloth and covered his shameful parts. So swathed in that cloth and with the little book of Our Lady in his hand, like the Precursor of Christ Saint John, with great joy he went into the house where the family was assembled. Kneeling in front of everyone he turned to his father and mother. He asked them permission because he intended to leave them and go off in the service of God. “Because I am sure,” said the devout son, “that I have not been that good, obedient son as is fitting I ask your forgiveness.” Then turning to the whole family he asked the same forgiveness of them, admitting his fault to them with many tears. Then he turned to his father and said to him, “My father, give me your holy blessing. I have decided to become on of the Capuchins who have just begun in order to do penance for my sins.”

However the whole family felt his departure would be hard for them. They said, “Although Piermatteo is young, he is the light of our house and keeps us all in peace. Now he wants to abandon us all.” Turning to his father they said, “Do not let him go. Do not give him your blessing.” Taking his time, his father said to him, “In our house who has ever made you do what you do not want? We do not want you to leave us?” Piermatteo answered, “My Father, you cannot keep me back because I am more obliged to the God than to you, especially since you do not really need me any longer because there are so many in the family. I will help you more in the service of God than if I were to stay in your house.”

His father and the others of the household saw that he was determined. Even though it saddened them very much, with many tears they gave him their blessing. Once he received it he went off immediately, very happy. Because of this pious deed they went into such mourning as happens when the dearest one in the family dies. That entire multitude was so moved that those nearby thought one of them had died and almost the whole castle had gathered round at the sound. Dry-eyed Piermatteo did not worry about his father and mother. Naked and full of spirit he left the world with all its vanity without saying a single further word.

That family was the largest there was in those parts. It was so old that that all the relatives together numbered about sixty.

When he arrived at the Capuchins he was received with great joy. The venerable Father Paul of Chioggia clothed him. Thus the poor Congregation grew to the number of seven Friars. Because they didn’t have a house he did almost all his novitiate in the mountains of Fabriano. There the friars rarely had enough bread to eat, and slept as best they could in farmhouses, or in some hut or cave. They were almost continuously in great fear and dread of being captured. Hence Piermatteo’s period of probation was very harsh with every kind of suffering.

Later as the Congregation consolidated he always led an exemplary life. Everyone regarded him as a holy man. He was uneducated but he always occupied himself in charitable works. When he was in the friaries he was always the altar server for the Friars and he did all the other lowly tasks. Quite often he was Guardian and Master of Novices for whom he provided the best example. They all said, “This good Father is the epitome of faithfulness.”[40] He showed such kindness to everyone equally so that if anyone asked of him some task he never rested until he had satisfied his brother. Although he was very harsh to himself he was nonetheless very benign towards others. When he was still young he fasted almost continuously. Invariably on the vigils of Our Lady, all the Fridays of March and other devout times he fasted on bread and water. He was also very austere in his manner of dress. He always wore old clothes that were completely patched. He couldn’t go barefoot because he had one leg shorter than the other. He always limped somewhat. However, as for everything else he was a perfect observer of the austerity that the first Capuchins observed[41]. He was very zealous about time because he was never idle. Almost every day he said the Office for the Dead because of the extraordinary devotion with which he held it close to his heart. When he had to go on a journey he used to say it by heart. Hence he always stayed a short distance from his companion.

Once this miracle happened to him. He was coming through the Roman countryside with eight Friars who were coming from the General Chapter held in Naples[42]. They all found themselves weak from hunger and none of them had anything to eat and they were far from any habitation. After walking so hungry for a long time they became so weak that none of them could walk any further. They were under such a shadow of gloom that none of them spoke. When the holy man Brother Joseph saw this he consoled them. He said, “Dear Brothers, God never fails anyone who trusts in his goodness, especially his servants. Let us commend ourselves to God with all our heart and not worry.” He passed before all of them with those words. It was amazing for not long after God, the supreme provider, showed that the prayer and need of those servants had arrived to the mindfulness of His Majesty. For he immediately sent an Angel in the form of a fair youth. He passed along side all those who were going along that little road. He made no indication nor manifested to them. However when the arrived to the holy man Brother Joseph he gave him two large loaves of bread, white as snow, and said to him, “Father, take the alms that God, the Lord of all, is sending you and thank His Majesty.” When Brother Joseph took the bread he immediately disappeared before him. Unaware, never the less, that he was an Angel, Brother Joseph also thought that he had been a young man and that he had given two loaves to each of them because he had seen him pass by the side of all of them. With great joy he stopped and said to his other companions, “See what the Lord God has provided for us, as I was saying to you. Let us eat joyfully.” The companions replied, “Oh how we want to eat!” Brother Joseph said, “Hasn’t that young man given you some bread?” They all answered, “I haven’t seen anyone!” Then he knew the young man had been an Angel and he related the story to them. As he took the loaves from his sleeve they all knew clearly that it was a miracle of God. Even though they had been very hungry, when they ate those two loaves they were more than enough to satisfy their hunger. Finding themselves quite comforted, they thanked God again and again. They said, “God has showed us more than one miracle at the same time. We are all sure it was a miracle of God that none of us saw the young man, and that we have all been satisfied with such a small amount of bread.” Then they continued their journey very joyfully.

Therefore the servant of God Brother Joseph persevered in the service of God for many years. He was made Guardian at Fossombrone. At that time he was accustomed to get up every night one or two hours before Matins and persevere continuously in holy prayer. When the time came to say the Office he sounded the first bell. One night while he was in the church he felt himself so overwhelmed with congestion, which took away his speech almost completely. When the Brothers got up he indicated to them that he felt ill. The sickness worsened. When he had received all the holy sacraments and was near to death he had all his sons, the Friars, called to him. With great tenderness he blessed them and gave them holy water. Shortly afterwards that soul passed away to its creator.

He was buried in a tomb the Friars had just made. Later, however, they thought it would be better to put him in the old tomb with the other holy men who were buried there. Many days later they exhumed that holy body. It was a miracle of God. They put the body on a large stone and it left there quite a fragrance. Though they knew nothing about this, when the seculars came Mass they smelled the fragrance and all ran to that stone. Amazed, they said, “What can this fragrance be?” The Friars felt this was a great vanity and because of all the chatter that the seculars were doing there they caused a great disturbance when the Masses were said because it was close to the church. To remove the fragrance had the stone completely plastered. When they opened the old tomb the very same fragrance came out. They could smell not only in the church but all around that place. Because of this the holiness of those servants of God who had been buried there earlier became well known.

To the praise of our Lord God, of His most fair Mother and of our Father Saint Francis. Amen

.

V: On the holy man Brother Matthew of St. Leo Priest and Preacher

Brother Matthew[43] was from a city called St. Leo situated in the dominion of the Duke of Urbino[44]. He was born of noble parents. At the beginning of his life he applied himself to learning and succeeded in acquiring a good introduction to grammar. When he was about seventeen years old he decided to leave the world and serve God in some Order. And as it pleased divine providence the devout youth was received into the Congregation of Zoccolanti. When he made profession those Fathers recognised his good mind. Since he had had a good introduction they judged that he would derived great profit from learning. So they promoted him to study and within a short time he turned out to be a very good preacher, quite well instructed in scholastic doctrine.

However the Order found itself completely confused because of the Reform. Burning with an immense desire to do penance and to observe his profession perfectly, Brother Matthew did all he could to be put into that Reform. However since those Fathers saw he had such a good mind and that he was endowed with every good manner, it seem wrong to them that he should study. They hoped that he would one day become a great man. Because there was not study in the Reform they didn’t want to send him to it. However they said to him, “Do not worry. Study a little because you what you desire will be granted to you.” Finally he let it be understood that he had not come to the Order in order to become learned but to observe the Rule of Saint Francis and to serve God, as is fitting. He used many means so that he was granted the grace and was put into the Reform.

However his heart was not very satisfied because he saw the Reform always attacked. Seeking advice sometimes from some holy men, for whom he had devotion he said, “Father, I feel as though we are not within the perfect observance of the Rule. Seeing the Reform so troubled disturbs my spirit. Advise me about what I may do to quieten my spirit because I desire to do penance for my sins.” Those good Fathers said to him, “Be calm my son. Troubles are always found in the service of God because the devil never stops impeding anyone who wants to do good. Instead this is a very good sign that you are so attacked when you want to serve God. Give yourself to holy prayer because of one of two things: either this Reform will go ahead or God will truly provide another better than this one. The Order of Saint Francis cannot fail because the Lord God promised this to our Father Saint Francis. And if God did not provide and did not reform it, it would have been completely ruined before today. However we see that the Order makes some change every fifty years. WE have seen this in the past with the many Reforms that have arisen. And I have just heard that Brother Matthew of Bascio has obtained from His Holiness (permission) to be able to reform. He has taken up that Father Saint Francis and the whole Order wore of old. This troubles the Father Minister and the whole Order very much. Therefore in a little while we will see. Let us give ourselves to prayer and ask the Lord specifically that what is best will result from this. Our Fathers do not want a Reform done, thinking it would give them some trouble. They are not aware that another will emerge that will give them much more trouble than what ours gives them.”

When Brother Matthew saw this, an incredible fervour ignited within him. For many months he persevered in the greatest abstinence. He continuously commended himself to God so that he might give him the grace and the opportunity to be able to follow Brother Matthew of Bascio. He waited for someone else to join him and a small start be given to the Capuchin Reform. From day to day he was like a cat on a hot tin roof[45] about going to locate the Capuchins. When he heard that Brother Louis of Fossombrone along with some others had taken up the Capuchin habit and that they numbered seven Friars, this servant of God could no longer resist the Spirit. Leaving one night he went to find the Capuchins[46]. Because there was as yet no formal leader[47] among them, he was accepted with great joy by them all. He was the eighth Friar and Brother Louis put the Capuchin habit on him.

Since they didn’t have preachers this servant of God immediately began to preach with such fervour that he set the entire of the Marches abuzz. This was because he preached in the city and he was very successful. Because he did not have his letters, Brother Matthew could not preach usually. Hence since they were so few the poor fellow went off preach, very often on his own. After he had preached he begged[48] a piece of bread and withdrew to some place, persevering continuously in holy prayer. At night he withdrew to some farmhouse, though often he stayed under a tree in the woods in the countryside.

His preaching in a capuchin habit inflamed their adversaries when thy learned of it so that the poor fellows were not safe anywhere. Because of this he was always in great fear of being taken and having to die in some prison. He always went barefoot, both in summer and winter and almost continuously sustained his life with a little bread and water. Since he often had no bread he ate herbs and fruits and whatever he could. He went with just one totally patched habit and a poor mantle.

This was the reason that the Congregation did not grow very much for ten years, because there were few who had the courage to suffer what those servants of God suffer in the midst of so many persecutions. None the less it was a great gift of God that all those who joined them entered into such fervour in that suffering that they would have preferred to die rather than leave that habit. What happened among them was like what happens to someone who holds a warm ball in his hand. The ball warms the hand and the hand keeps the ball warm. So suffering inflamed this servant of God, Brother Matthew, in the love of God and that love warmed and comforted him.

I was informed that this servant of God was so dedicated to holy prayer that is he had not been interrupted by the needs of nature he would have persevered in prayer continuously. Therefore he delighted in solitude so much that he rarely let himself be seen. When he went to preach the greatest trouble he suffered was to answer those persons who asked him to which Order he belonged. The conversation of this servant of God was a great benefit to the poor Capuchins because he explained to many the reason why they had left the Congregation of Zoccolanti and that they were not excommunicated as many said. Such devotion towards them grew because of this that anyone who could hear his preaching and be blessed by him regarded himself as truly blessed.

When the poor fellow went for alms he always went to unknown villages and places in order to avoid adversaries. Because of this he did not find much except bits and pieces, such as are given to the poor. For he was not known or considered a Religious. Hence he hardly ever ate anything other than morsels. He never saw soup or other things to eat.

This was the reason the poor fellow, because he had such a feeble constitution, lived only for a short time.[49] This was something wonderful. He became ill in a village near Camerino. A farmer welcomed him into his house. However, since he felt his lengthy sickness was a nuisance, he begged the farmer to take him to the city. When he took him there with great charity, the devout servant of God no longer wanted to stay in anyone’s house. He had himself put in a little house situated in the villa San Valentino. The servant of God stayed there in a derelict house where there was a little straw. Although certain good persons wanted to give him cloth he did not want to accept anything but a poor and simple blanket[50]. Putting his mantle on the straw he covered himself with the blanket. Evening and morning some devout persons brought him food. There the loving servant of God remained in the greatest and extreme poverty, awaiting the final hour to render his spirit to his creator. His fervour was such that although he was gravely ill he nevertheless prayer assiduously. With many tears he prayer to God in particular those who persecuted the poor Congregation so viciously.

Many times he spoke with some devout persons whom he knew understood. He said, “I have not other delight that to see[51]….his adversaries in charity….and since they do not want to do good, they do not allow the one who wants to do good to live in peace.”

The servant of God persevered many days in this grave illness within that house which was next door to[52] the house of some Friars called the Apostolini. He was given all the holy sacraments. Shortly afterwards that holy soul passed away to its creator without anyone knowing. However the Lord God did not want for this servant of his that his holy life go to the tomb in silence. Instead his Dive Majesty wanted the death of his servant broadcast with the trumpets of holy church. For the bells of Saint Francis rang by themselves for him[53], without any hand ringing them. Because of this miracle there was such a hullabaloo and gathering of people that the whole city was moved, asking what this meant. Those people who had been present gave them various replies and began to say, “See whether that servant of God has died, the one who was sick in house.” After running to that house they found him dead with his hands joined. This came to the ears of the Duke and all the leaders in the town[54]. It was ordered that he be buried in the same church. All the clergy, the Duke and almost all the people went in procession. With great honour they brought the holy body and buried it in that church. Everyone said, “Now the merits of these Capuchin servants of God are obvious. The bells moving by themselves make this manifest. They are thus honoured by God.”

To the praise and glory of our Lord God, his most fait Mother and of Father Saint Francis. Amen.

VI: On the holy man, Brother Bernard of Offida, a lay Friar

Brother Bernard was from a place called Offida situated in the province of the Marches. He was born of honest parents. They were not very wealthy. Since his childhood they nurtured in him the fear of God. Because they were not very rich the good boy could not go to school but became experienced in the art of the farming. However, when he was about twenty years old, he decided to leave the world and serve God in some Order. He went away to the Congregation of Zoccolanti. They received him as a lay Friar. When the Friars saw his good demeanour, patience and humility, the assigned him to the infirmary. There he served the ill so solicitously and with so much patience that it appeared that he rejoiced day and night in all those heavy tasks. No one ever saw him sick of serving. He said, “It is not without reason that our Father Saint Francis obliges us in the Rule to serve the sick as we would want ourselves served. He gives us the example of the loving mother towards her child[55]. He does not do this except to show us that we can never do as much as we ought for our sick brother. The Lord God wants us to help one another in all our needs because our physical needs are among our greatest. When he talked about it he often cited what Father Saint Francis did after his conversion. “He immediately went to the hospitals to the serve the sick and the lepers[56]. He emphasised that among all the bodily works of mercy this was the greatest. Among the spiritual works of mercy the greatest was to take one’s neighbour out from sin and help him be saved. Therefore we find our Father busy in these two works of mercy. On the day of judgement the Lord will not require of us a stricter account of anything else than regarding the works of mercy. When I think about what our Lord Jesus Christ says that the whole law is fulfilled in the love of God and love of neighbour, I am never happier than when I am at prayer or in some service for my neighbour. When I am not at one of these two kinds of service, I feel I am not only not a religious but not even a Christian.”

When he was not busy at his assigned task[57] the custom of this servant of God was to always retire to holy prayer[58]. He would spend most of the time staying in the church, in his cell or in the woods. He rarely spoke with anyone. The whole province of the Marches regarded him as a great servant of God.

When he heard[59], as it pleased God, that the Congregation of Capuchins was making progress and that it already numbered eight Friars, he said publicly, “Thanks be to the Lord God that he has deigned to receive me into this holy Congregation and bring it number nine. Although I am a wretch, I will be the ninth Capuchin.” Some Friars said to him, “How crazy you are! Do you want to go and be with those apostates? You well know that they are all odd. What is they need that they can’t do good here if they want to reform themselves” […..][60] Brother Bernard left the Zoccolanti. When he found the Capuchins in the mountains of Fabriano they received him with great joy since they knew that Brother Bernard’s zeal to observe the Rule was well known, as was the holy life he led. It was considered that God had revealed to him to join the Capuchins. He was another constant Friar amid those grave troubles that they had. When he heard someone say that the Congregation would turn out badly, he used to smile about it and say with great fervour, “Do not worry […..][61] There is such a perfect observance of the rule here [..][62] that it is impossible that [..][63] at the time of Saint Francis there was no equal in the perfect observance of the Rule. If holy poverty is the foundation of the whole Order, where can one better see that poverty of life than in the dwellings we have today? We eating we satisfy our hunger just with a little bread, herbs and fruit. In regard to dress, I don’’ believe that the companions of Saint Francis dressed with poorer cloth and less of it than we are. If we say that Orders are more perfect in so far as they are conformed to the apostolic life, there is nothing in which we can be more like the holy apostles than in being persecuted for wanting to observe our Rule – so much so that we do not trust to let ourselves be seen for fear of being apprehended. Therefore who wants a clearer testimony that this is the work of God? And if it is his divine work, why do you fear? Therefore be joyful and thank God that while we are the lowest men in the world, the Lord God has made us worthy to found this Congregation for the sake of his glory. The Lord God has done this in order to make known to everyone that his is his work. If we ere learned and of noble blood, the praise would not be given to God but the work would be attributed to our human wisdom and prudence.”

They were all completely astonished by these words, that such wise words would come out of the mouth of such a simple man.

Later as the Congregation grew he was elected Guardian many times[64]. He carried out that office with great prudence and peace. He was the one Father Louis sent as the first Guardian in the friary of Saint Valentine in Foligno[65] when they led a life that was more angel-like than human. Such was the very good example they gave that they set the whole city and countryside in admiration and wonder both for the austerity of their life and also the many miracles that the Lord our God performed through their merits in such a way that [… ][66] The seculars often said to him, “Father Guardian, you[67] do too much. It is not possible for you to last. You work during the day and pray at night. You eat little and sleep little. This is not the life of man but of Angels who do not eat.” The servant of God answered, “If I did as much as I’d prefer, I would do a lot more. For when I was comfortable with accommodation, clothing and good food, thinking that I was serving God, I see that I was serving my body. When I didn’t like the accommodation I used to have myself moved in order to accommodate my wretched body. The true servants of God have spent their time in doing good and suffering evil. ”[68]

Such was the fine mind and prudence of this servant of God that he was at nearly all the General Chapters. In the Chapter decisions[69] his contribution was always memorable. Though he was a simple man the Fathers esteemed him. As I have understood from Father Eusebius of Ancona, he was very eager about holy poverty. He was in the friary at Camerino, when the General Chapter was taking place in Rome, when the Father Guardian of the house provided a small cask of wine because of the many friars who were passing by. When Brother Bernard saw that extraordinary provision, he went off sighing and weeping before the Blessed Sacrament. He said to himself, “O Lord, help us. We lack nothing else for us to begin to make provision for barrels of wine!”Afterwards he decided to give a fraternal correction to the Father Guardian about it. Kneeling down before him, he said, “Oh Father Guardian, what does this barrel mean? It seems to me that we have returned to the way things used to be. I say to you that I wish to continue in this house. However, if the matter continues, I will leave this province.” The Guardian answered him, “I did it for the Fathers who are passing through. It will be stopped. Forgive me, Brother Bernard. I thank you for the fraternal correction.” When Brother Bernard heard such a humble reply, having understood fully, he admitted his fault to the Father Guardian.

Although he was old he continued to go barefoot in summer and winter. He never wanted to wear anything else than a very old, completely patched habit. He fasted almost continuously, doing the more devout forty-day fasts mostly on bread and water. Persevering in holy contemplation, he never, or rarely, rested after Matins. Our Lady often appeared to him in such a way that both Friars and seculars spoke a lot about it[70].

The Duchess of Camerino was very devoted towards him and wanted to see him almost every week. Once she said to him, “Oh Father Bernard is it true what they say that Our Lady has appeared to you many times?” The servant of God answered, “My Lady, the Mother of Jesus Christ does not appear to big sinners like me!” As Brother Bernard was leaving her, the devout Lady knelt down and asked the blessing of him. Brother Bernard reprimanded her for kneeling before of sinful lay friar and that she should get up. She did not want to get up until Brother Bernard blessed her, saying “Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria.”[71]

He was assured of the full remission of his sins in those apparitions. From then on he wept almost continuously with great heart felt joy.

He rarely spoke with anyone[72] except sometimes with Friars who want to hear him speak of the things of God and the observance of the Rule. Almost always he cited to the example of Father Saint Francis and how he observed it. He wanted to cite this as an explanation of the Rule.

After he had served the Lord for about fifty-eight years, when he was very old in the Friary at Camerino, he came down with a serious illness. After much preparation and having received all the holy sacraments, that happy soul passed away to its creator.

The Lady Duchess had a chapel made for him and a very fitting vault as is usually done for holy bodies. Universally regarded as a saint by everyone, the blessed Bernard was place there.

Through this servant of God the Lord God worked many miracles with the sign of the Cross. However, because I do not have perfect knowledge of them, I will not include them here. I will write only about the great miracle that he did when the Friars dwelled in the friary at Colmontone. The Father Guardian sent this servant of God for alms in a village not far from the friary. It was necessary for him to stay the night so that in the morning, before the people went out to work they would be able to go questing. Therefore the servant of God, Brother Bernard, stayed in a house in that village. That evening he heard a great lament. When he asked what it was, he was answered that a child had died, his mother’s only son. The servant of God sorrowed over this and out of compassion persevered the entire night in prayer, praying for that poor boy. In the morning, with great fervour, he had one of the devotees of the Order called. He told him to bring the dead boy. Holding him in his arms Brother Bernard withdrew to one side so that he could not be seen. A little later he came out very happy with the boy alive, returning him to his mother. He immediately took himself off.[73] More than thirty persons were present at this and it was known throughout that region.

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, of his fair Mother, and of our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

VII: About the holy man Brother Angelus of Sant’Angelo in Vado, priest

This servant of God[74] was from an area called Sant’Angelo in Vado, situated in the dominion of the His Excellency the Duke of Urbino. He was born to honest and quite God fearing parents. When he was very young he attended school and learned to read quite well. Then he gave himself to the affairs of the world. However when he was about nineteen years old, enlightened by God he recognised the falsehoods of the world. After rethinking, he decided to leave the world and despise worldly things completely and to go off to some Order where he could do penance for his offences against God and his youthful negligence. He sought advice from some Religious about where he could enter in order to serve God better. They answered, “All the Order are good and you can do good in all of them. However because they have the precept of communal poverty the Order of Saint Francis is the one most free from all the affairs of the world and the most suitable for doing penance because they poor. They fast. The dress poorly and go barefoot. What they eat they beg for at this doorway and that. When the devout youth heard these words an incredible fervour to do penance overcame him. He was received into the body of the Franciscan Order where he did his novitiate with great enthusiasm, humility and fervour. While he was there he remained very devout. He always kept quite withdrawn from seculars in poor places and said his devotions. He was very zealous about time and never wanted to accept being a confessor.

Because there was a lot of discussion about the Reform in his time, the holy man began to look around at the observance of the Rule. At first he did not think about it because of his simplicity. Instead he attended to his devotions and left the Superiors to do what they wanted. However when he heard some learned and authoritative Friars say that the Rule was not observed to the letter, as Father Saint Francis wanted, he became so scrupulous that he could no longer live. He often went to find the old Friars. He said to them, “My Father, is it dangerous in this life?” When that Father told him about things in it failed, he began to commend himself to Jesus Christ with great fervour so that he might give him the opportunity to be able observe what he had promised.

When the servant of God heard that Brother Matthew of Bascio had taken up again the Capuchin habit, and he was told that it was the true habit that Father Saint Francis wore, he was inflamed with an incredible fervour to go and find Father Louis and the others. However because he was told there was the excommunication and that he could not go, he with many others whom we have mentioned above[75] obtained a Brief from His Holiness. This servant of God came to the Congregation in ’28. Brother Louis received him and numbered him with his other companions. He was the tenth Friar in the Congregation. More than the rest of us he carried the heavy cross that was carried by those early Fathers who founded our Congregation. It was a sign of great spirit and that they were enlightened by the Holy spirit and led by the love of Jesus Christ to such a high degree of suffering. For when they left those beautiful friaries they came to dwell in huts, shacks, abandoned churches, and in solitary and mountainous places. They left behind nice habits, tunics and mantles for a simple habit of natural wool[76] in order to come to follow Jesus Christ with the cross. They were barefoot and sickly on account of the cold and the great hunger the poor fellows suffered amid so many persecutions. When I saw him in the Friary of Sant’Angelo in Vado where this servant of God was the Guardian, he could not finish thanking God. The poor fellow said to me, who was a young cleric, “My son, how much we have suffered! Now I feel as though I am in paradise because we have a church where we can say our Masses and our Offices and we have our little cells for resting.”

Because he had heard so much talk that this was not the true Reform, this doubt so occupied the mind of this simple servant of God that he often said in the beginning, “Lord, Lord! A little miracle, a little miracle!” He felt that when the Friars had performed miracles he would be sure that the Reform pleased God supremely. When he saw that God had adorned him and the others with miracles, this servant of God was confirmed even more that his was the true Reform. From then on he lever again listened to anyone who told him the contrary.

He was very eager about holy poverty. He never wanted to wear anything other than an old, totally patched habit and a poor mantle. During the summer he always went barefoot. In winter, because he was already old, he wore soles. Usually he fasted on bread and water on all the vigils of Our Lady and all the Fridays of March. He rarely ate more than once a day. He was very zealous about the Divine Office[77]. When there was a Friar who was zealous about the Office, there was a saying, “He is another Brother Angelus of Sant’Angelo. He was very severe in his reprimands and very kind towards the needy Friars. When there were Friars who were troubled or ill, he comforted them with such kindness that he seemed more like an Angel than a man. He took time into great account and always busied himself in good things, especially in holy contemplation.

Because I had heard certain beautiful spiritual things from Father Francis of Iesi, it was something incredible that with so much holy importunity I was with this servant of God to teach these things to him. Because I was very young I was ashamed to see a Father of such holiness have to beseech me. I was not worthy even to speak with while down on my knees. I was so edified by the humility of that servant of God that I thought I had never seen such a vivid example of humility as I saw in that venerable Father. I understand that when he heard these things, he practised them for a long time and used to say that nothing had ever given him as much light as the teaching of that venerable Father Francis of Iesi.

Nothing was ever seen in that servant of God but edifying things. He was so correct in his speech that one would never have heard him say an idle word. Rather, in the little he conversed he either spoke of the things of God or discussed the Rule. He went to confession almost every day. He was asked why he went to confession so often. He answered, “Because I practise contemplation and because this exercise requires a clear conscience first of all. Venial sins, even if the grace of God removes them, nonetheless they weaken our soul and make it difficult for it rise above itself. For in contemplation we put nothing of our own except to prepare ourselves and make ourselves ready to hear what our Lord God says in us. When the soul is well disposed through confession and contrition, God shows it what is has to contemplate and inflames it in his love, because God communicates himself to pure minds. However when the soul keeps within itself ideas, fantasies and images of every other thing but God, they render it indisposed to contemplation. Therefore the greatest effort we have is that of keeping the mind free from extraneous tangles. All our good consists in this because the purpose of religious life is nothing else than a continuous practice of the love of God.

At[78] the time of this servant of God there were many serious afflictions in our Congregation in which he rejoiced very much. When he heard ti said that the Congregation would be ruined, he smiled and said, “O you simple fellows. How is it possible that those things provided for by God and willed by His Majesty should fail? I am more certain that this is a work of God than I am sure that I am Brother Angelus.” Therefore many thought that the holy man knew this by a revelation from God. For he was one of those that desired the Reform so much and who addressed all their prayers to God in order to obtain the Reform, just like all those who were tired of seeing such a lax life and so many transgressions of the Rule. When they heard that the Capuchin Reform had begun, they pressed Jesus Christ so that he would show them whether it was the true Reform so that when they joined that Reform they would not find themselves deceived. Therefore God revealed to him and many other more united with God that this was the true Reform that had to be done according to the prophecies of holy men. This was the reason that although many times it seemed that the Congregation would have to be completely ruined because of the great persecutions that it suffered, those servants of God were joyful nonetheless. They said to the young and certain ones who worried, “Do not worry, my sons, because our Congregation has never been better as much as now when it is combated by demons. Because now the Lord God will show his strong hand and make it know to everyone that this is his work. Nor can it ever be expunged by any power. It will be led to is desired haven of salvation and blessed are those who persevere until death.

It pleased the Lord God that when his servant of his grew old and infirm he arrived at such a fervour he felt that he would at last serve God. He said many times, “This holy Reform came late for me because since I am old I cannot do all that I want. Still, thanks be to God who has granted me the grace to see and be in it for some years. May God forgive my wasted time. When I was obliged for so many years to observe the rule and how badly I observed it because I didn’t have the opportunity.

When the servant of God was ill in the friary of Sant’Engelo in Vado, it please the Lord God to reward him for his efforts, for after having received the holy sacraments with great devotion, that holy soul pass one to its creator. He was buried in that friary. Because I am not well informed, I will not write about the miracles he did. Amen.

VIII: About the holy man Brother Bernardine of Monte del Olmo, priest and preacher

Brother Bernardine was from a land situated in the Marches of Ancona called Monte del’Olmo[79]. He was born to honest parents, well off in goods. When they saw their son gifted with such a fair intelligence they sent him to school. However because the boy visited the friary of the Conventual Fathers, he was attracted so much by the boy friars[80] there that he took up the habit in that Convent. Even though his father would not have liked it, he took the habit in that friary. He was under one of the masters in that region who kept him at study continuously. Within a short time he became very well educated and instructed in all the sciences, especially the teaching of Scotus. Because of his fair mind and great learning he became a reader in the best Universities of Italy. Everyone called him the ‘soul of Scotus.’ That was his second name[81].

However, as it pleased our Lord God, one day when he was Reader in the friary of Pisa, he had taken off his habit because of the great heat. He was on his bed[82] in his cell. In order to pass the time he took up the Conformities of the Order. It happened by divine providence that he found the example of those four Friars, that is, one was a Custos, another a Reader, another a Preacher who had litigated in the secular courts, and another who had observed the Rule fully. Father Saint Francis condemned the first three to hell. With great joy he embraced the one who had observed the Rule and led him into paradise[83].

Frightened by this example the servant of God Brother Bernardine said to himself (just as I heard from his own mouth at Montecasale), “Oh Brother Bernardine. You are puffed up to the eyes with those sins that sent these three to hell. If you want to save yourself you must change your life.” From then on, rethinking his life, he could no longer be a peace until he finished reading and returned to the Marches and became a Reformed conventual Friar. He was the one who established and built the Friary in Sant’Angelo in Vado[84] that our Capuchins now have. He dwelled there with much holiness and strictness of life for some years with some Friars also from that Reform.

Not long after when the Capuchin Reform came along, he and all those Friars took up the capuchin habit while remaining in that friary. He persevered in the Congregation with a wonderful observance of the Order[85]. Although he had a feeble constitution, according to the custom of those early Fathers, he went barefoot for many years, dressed in the one coarse habit that was completely patched. He did all the forty-day fasts of Father Saint Francis with the greatest devotion. However for many he fasted on bread and water for the forty days of Saint Michael. As he grew older he began to stop going barefoot. Wearing sandals and mantle, he confined himself to eating once a day. He persevered in this way of life until he died.

Once I found my self in the friary of Monte Casale. Wanting to enjoy his company I went to find him in the above-mentioned friary at Santi’Angelo. To my great satisfaction I was with him many days. By his kindness I talked with him for at least two hours each day. He informed me about many things that happened in the beginning in the Province of the Marches. It was a great benefit for me to see the ways of that servant of God. Once, when he was so emaciated, I said to the cook, “In your charity, make something for this poor Father.” He answered me, “He does not want it. He is a man who is so very mindful and zealous about giving good example that he has never wanted special treatment in anything[86].” I said to him, “Trick him and put a little meat in the bowl of soup so that he doesn’t know. For he is a rare man and when this holy man dies he will be a great loss to our Congregation.” That simple Father did as I told him. However when he found the meat in the bowl, because he was the Vicar of the house and the Guardian was not there, he had the cook called. As the cook knelt in the refectory he said to him, “My son, do you want me to act like a hypocrite. I would have preferred that you put a snake[87] in my bowl rather than to have put meat in it. Make sure it does not happen again.” Seizing the opportunity he gave a beautiful sermon with great fervour for half an hour, showing the significance of trying to be different in the Order. He said, “Divisions within the Order are born from this. For the Friars not only become divided but cut themselves off from mutual love. Despising one another they, they are compelled to separate from each other and to make other sects. If the Order would maintain unity in everything and not descend to individualism[88], although there would be some imperfections, still the opportunity to serve God and observe the Rule would remain for anyone who wants to do the right thing. However when some poor fellows seem to be downtrodden and not provided for in their needs while some, on the other hand, are extolled, favoured and well provided for in all their needs it is something intolerable and cannot be endured. Nothing but grumbling occurs.” Turning towards us who were young he repeated often, “My sons, avoid individualism like damnation.”

This servant of God practised mortification of his own will quite wonderfully. I was keen to ask him often about the different virtues. One day he answered me, “My Brother Bernardine, without humility all our works are counterfeit. Anyone who is not founded on self-mortification and does not achieve this beautiful degree of holy humility can never be regarded as having spirit. As long as there is a single gram kept of self-love, no matter which strict Reform someone goes to and he can do whatever abstinence he likes – if he does not mortify himself he is wasting his time. He does not abandon himself totally to the governance[89] of God who with his providence guides all things to their due end. Nothing honours God more than the abandoning of oneself into the good will of God. Our Seraphic Father Saint Francis founded his entire Order on this. He wanted his Friars to put their hope entirely in His providence regarding their physical needs and that they avoid the long term storage of those who do not trust in his goodness[90]. In faith live in the hope of enjoying those things that we do not see. Thus in faith we should live and hope that he will provide for us and care for us as his own self, and that he will lead us on the way to heaven. Those who entrust themselves to be governed by God and not by men, will own great peace in the Order, peace that is very necessary for contemplation. Therefore it happens that there few contemplatives because few try to mortify themselves. What makes us wander from place to place, Province to Province – to go around all day long – except our own desires? I tell you that for a long time in the Order I have fought with four enemies. By the grace of God I have almost defeated the gullet and luxury. As for pride, even though I have mortified it mostly nonetheless I do not feel as happy about being reviled as I do about being praised, although with my reason I rejoice more in slights than in praises. I often feel that I am lost in a labyrinth of my own opinion. Often, without wanting it, I am not out of it because of bad habit. Here is the whole matter and inward reform consists in this. While the habit and external way of life of the Order may be quite good, this inner (Reform) is more important. In the main we have not yet arrived at it. Also in the spiritual things because of little mortification we often think we are praying and loving God very much. However we are loving ourselves and following our own desires. We think we are doing a beautiful contemplation, but in fact we are just having good thoughts. For just as someone who does not know how to speak French cannot express anything at all in that language, so the one who does not have the love of God cannot love Him. Nor can the one who loves himself love God, because they are opposites like fire and water. The one who loves God more has les self love. On the other hand, the one who loves himself more has less love of God. If we want all the things we practice in the Order to be meritorious it is necessary that they be ordered unto the love of God. Otherwise they have no purpose. The majority of our Friars are deceived who content themselves only in saying Mass and the Office and saying the usual prayers. All the rest of the time they spend in worthless things. I have always had an anxiety in my heart. I have a fear about being damned. No do I feel as though I am doing all that I can.”

This is just what I saw. After he said Mass in the morning he went off straight away into the woods. Wanting to observe him, I once went secretly to see what he did. I saw him walk along a little path. He walked four or six steps. Then eh stopped with his arms raised to heaven for a space of a quarter of af hour. The he continued walking. Sometimes he knelt down and sometimes I heard him say vocal prayers. He spent three or four hours at a time praying in this way. He slept little at night. Rather he was heard to have had a little rest then he knelt down by his litter and stayed there until the bell rang for Office.

A trustworthy friar told me that Brother Bernardine said, “Helped by learning my mind will consider more in an hour than one that knows nothing would do in thirty years. I have such a voracious mind that always keeps me alert[91]. It is necessary not to rely a little on prayer just because our mind is capable of more. I doubt that many trust that the ordinary things in the Order are enough for them, which are not rewarded in this world, because they do them without spirit.”

No one ever heard an idle word come from his mouth,[92] he was so careful in his speech. When he heard talk about ones neighbour he either fled or raised his voice, saying “Let us speak of something else!” The was first thing he let cautioned me about when he said, “Never speak to me except about the things of God and cases of conscience, to which I will always reply. I wish that all the young Friars who have some intelligence would study cases of conscience. There is nothing one can study that is more useful for his neighbour.” When I asked him if he thought I should study[93], he answered, “You have the faculty to calculate. Take up a book of sermons, study that and preach. Seek nothing else. Know that when you see a Congregation that imposes ordinary studies that you can also say[94] it is declining from the spirit. If the Father General commanded me to read in cases of conscience, I would read them; but not if he commanded me to read in Logic. It is not as if the sciences are not good, but because they are not in conformity with our habit because we have promised God to be humble. The one who promises the Rule of Saint Francis promises humility, which is founded, completely on simplicity. As good as the sciences may be, because we are inclined towards sin, most of the time they are the greatest cause of pride. In the beginning I preached a sermon that was called The Disciple.[95] God collaborated with it so much that I bore the greatest fruit. Now because of the heretics I have begun to preach a little doctrine. God has punished me. When I preached simply I always had a full church. Now I have three persons there.[96] Know that God has chosen this Congregation to preach to the simple, teaching them the commandments f God and what a Christian need to do to save himself. Nor will we have to worry about preaching in the cities that want learning because they are not short of learned men who preach there. However, preachers abandon the poor farmers because the farmers can’t afford to pay them. The Lord has sent us for them!”

The servant of god preached not only the forty-days but on all the feasts of the year. The Lord God produced many good fruits. Among these was this one. While he was preaching in the state of Urbino it happened that a butcherer from Baglioni called Bascio Stella often heard his preaching. He had killed more than one hundred men. In his heart he felt such compunction over his sins that he said to himself, “If I knew that God would forgive me, no matter how heavy the penance given me would be, I would do it for the love of God. However I have done so much evil that God would never forgive me.” One day, as it pleased the Lord God, he went to find this holy man and said to him, “Father, I am that great sinner Bascio Stella. Now the Holy Father has banished me from the state of the Church. I have heard your sermons often. If you tell me that God may forgive me and that I may find pardon for my sins before His Majesty, I promise to do all the penances that you impose on me.” When he heard this, without saying a word, he embraced him[97]. He kissed his forehead and with tears then said to him, “God not only wants to forgive you. Rather, when you desired that he forgive you He had already forgiven you. This was the reason He called you to penance. Among all the gifts that we received from God, this is the greatest, that when we are in his disgrace he calls us to penance. If He does not call us it would never be possible to be able to convert. Therefore do not worry about anything. Go confess your sins.” Bascio replied, “I want to confess and do all that I can.” The servant of God answered, “I wish to hear your confession.” When he had heard his confession the great change in the sinner was so obvious that it gave the hope of salvation to everyone who knew him. He lived about four months. He wept continuously. Once when he had been to Holy Communion the enemy appeared to him in a horrible form and said to him, “You traitor! How long I have served you and now you have abandoned me! At least give me something of yours.” Bascio replied, “Go away, you enemy of humanity because from me you will nothing but this.” Taking a slipper off his foot he threw it at his head. The enemy caught the slipper and disappeared. Not long after, after have made a good confession on many occasions, he passed away to a better life, as everyone had hoped.

The kindness of this holy many was such that although he was often Vicar in the Province of the Marches and Naples, no one could ever boast of having seen him angered. The occasion occurred many times as is usual for the office of a Prelate. He said, “If I was General I would ruin this Congregation because I am so worthless for I do not know how to reprimand.” Nonetheless he bore great fruit through his kindness that do those who are feared for their harshness for everyone loved him. He was obeyed much more because of his loving kindness. This good shepherd gave such hope to culprits that the enemy rarely ever could snatch any sheep from his hands. This happens to cruel shepherds. When the sheep enter some defect, because they have no security in the shepherd, they quickly dart off and become the prey of Lucifer who goes ahead of the cruel shepherd.

He said, “The Superior cannot govern well without spirit. Nor can he have spirit if he does not practise holy prayer. The learned Superiors usually think they can keep the Friars in the observance of the Rule with many comprehensive rules[98]. However, if they give it careful consideration, these are nothing more than ties that lash down their poor subjects. It seems that our Father Saint Francis did not take much account of anything else except prayer, as appears in the Legend of the Three Companions. A Friar asked him if Francis thought him worthy to be General. Francis answered, “I don’t know anyone in the Order who may be suitable. However I will describe how he should be. The General should be a perfect observer of the Rule and preach more with example than with words. As the noblest time of day, he should spend the morning completely in prayer, saying or hearing Mass, until dinnertime. Then he should rest a little and once Vespers is said he should listen[99] to the Friars. He should be very zealous about all the virtues, above all holy poverty and be happy with a little paper and an inkwell. He should avoid going on journeys with his pockets full. He should be so kind that if a culprit comes before him seven times a day, he receive him with a welcoming face[100] and never appear angry. And if he should then come before countless times he should welcome him the same way. And when the sheep does not seek mercy, he should offer it to him.[101] Therefore,” the holy man said, “our Father does not want many rigours but that the Friars practise holy prayer with a living and true faith from which they learn all the holy virtues. With all kindness the Superiors should be careful to withdraw themselves from many occupations from which all imperfections come because these things distance them from prayer. And the Superiors should be very careful about keeping themselves calm and devout in the true observance of the rule. These are the real rules since the Friar with the spirit walks easily in the holy virtues. Lacking it he does no good work without difficulty. For he does everything good with effort and, as the saying goes, the things done with effort aren’t worth a scrap.[102] Therefore the spirit is what checks the Friars in every vice and disposes them towards every virtue. What else does the Apostle Paul teach us but to walk by the spirit in the way of God?[103] All rebellion comes from the flesh. All good comes from the spirit. Therefore if you want the Friars to obey easily, do everything that they may devote themselves to prayer.”

Hence this servant of God was so resigned to the Providence of God that care nothing about himself, letting himself be governed by his superiors when he was not Superior. He never objected to any obedience given him, no matter how hard or wearying it would have been for him. He told this example. Once he was in the Friary at Monte Olmo. Because most of the Friars were ill, it was necessary for him to depart on his own. On the way there was such a cloudburst that rivers were impossible to cross. It was still raining when the poor fellow arrived completely soaked at the Piastra River near to where it flows into the River Chiento. When the servant of God arrived there it was already night and he was totally soaked, covered in mud. The river was very wide and deep, impossible for a horse to cross because of the floodwaters. He was there engrossed in this thought, “There is no other remedy than to have recourse to God.” Trustingly commending himself to God he said, “My Lord. You see my need. Do not fail in your promises. You promised to our Father Saint Francis to take particular care of the Friars Minor. Even though I am not a true Friar I pray that you may want to help me through the merits of our Father Saint Francis, your faithful servant.” What an amazing thing! While he was there in this thought, behold there was a large man was ready nearby. He could not know from whence he came. With a joyful face he greeted him and said, “Father, do you want to cross the river?” The holy man answered, “Yes, I would like to cross but it looks impossible to me because of the flooding. If we go in we will go under from the momentum of the river.” The young man replied, “All things are possible to our Lord. Come. I want to take you across.” Thinking him to be a farmer, he said, “You should not put yourself in danger.” The young man answered, “Don’t worry!” Coming up to him he pick him up on his shoulders as if he were a child. Without knowing how he found himself on the other bank of the river, crossing as quickly as one would cross a piazza. Having put him down, the holy man turned to thank him for the favour but could no longer see him. He thought that it had all happened by the providence of God and that the young man had been and Angel[104].

He told this story to an acquaintance of his to show how much we should trust in the providence of God. He added, “The Lord God has never failed the Friars in their need. When we cannot provide for ourselves by human means, God provides miraculously. Therefore great harm is done if, after so many examples, one does not trust in His goodness.”

Therefore this servant of God persevered with still greater fervour in the friary at Macerata. After having spent his lifetime from childhood in the holy Order, about sixty years, he fell ill with a grave sickness. It was reported to me by trustworthy persons that when he was close to death Our Lord appeared to him, accompanied by many saints, as in a procession. Passing by his side he made no gesture nor did he turn towards him. The servant of God commended himself to him with many tears. When the Lord returned with that beautiful procession again, the servant of God, frightened by the poor recognition that the Lord showed him, commended himself again with trembling. Then with a joy face the Lord turned to him. Without saying a single word he was felt sure within himself of the full remission of all his sins and of having been received in the number of the chosen ones of God. Not long after, after having received all the holy sacraments with great devotion and having revealed the vision to his confessor, that holy soul passed away to its Creator. His body was buried in that same friary.

God wanted to show with miracles how pleased he was with his soul. For on one occasion while on a journey he met Cardinal Gaddi[105]. He had a large ulcer on one leg and had been in the hands of doctors for a long time. He was still getting worse to the extent that all the doctors considered it incurable. Now he was going about very painfully on a sedan chair. However, as it pleased the Lord God, he met this holy man, although he did not know who he was. However when he saw the two Capuchins he had them called to him and with great faith he said to the holy man, “I want a favour from you.” the servant of God replied, “Speak your Eminence and whatever is possible will be done.[106]” The Cardinal replies, “I want you see an ulcer that I have had on my leg for a long time.” Lifting the bandages he showed him the ulcer and with great faith said to him, “Father, I have great faith in this habit. I ask that you would pray to God for me and that you make the sign of the cross over this leg.” Kneeling down on the ground the servant of God replied, “My Lord, I am a great sinner.” “That is not important,” said the Cardinal. “Do this to please me.” When the holy man saw his great devotion he lifted his eyes to heaven. After praying silently for a little while, he made the sign of the holy cross with great humility. “Wonderful God!” The leg immediately appeared healthy and fine as if it had never had any trouble. The Cardinal’s devotion towards the Congregation of Capuchins was enhanced so much by this that for as long as he lived he was very devoted to them, telling about the miracle to anyone who wanted to listen. All his court was present at this miracle.

[107]The Lord God worked another miracle through this servant of his. He was passing through a region of the Marches called Montecchio in order to go and preach the Advent at Racanati. He stayed in the house of a friend called Mr. Acchille. Because there had been a hailstorm he had no wine except two casks with some dregs that were all vinegar. AS he was taking a jug because he wanted to go and buy some the holy man said to him, “I do not want you to buy wine. Bring me the wine in your cask.” Mr Acchille answered, “Father, there isn’t any. The two little casks I have I have already stood up and there is nothing but dregs of cloudy, spoiled vinegar.” The holy man said, “Go, because there is some. Hope in the Lord.” Therefore Mr. Acchille went in person with two jugs and drew wine from both casks and bringing it to him found that it had become very good wine. And there was so much of it. When the holy man went to preach at Racanati, and finding there that he was preaching another series of Saint Augustine, in order not to lose time he went back to Montecchio and preached the whole of Advent[108]. He never needed other wine for himself or his companion. News of the miracle spread and out of devotion the whole castle wanted some of the wine. Mr Acchille gave it away with great joy to all the sick of the castle who wanted some out of devotion. Mr Achiile, who is still alive, bore witness to this to anyone who wanted to hear about it.[109]

The Lord God worked another miracle through this servant of his. It happened when he on visitation as Vicar in the Province of Naples he once stayed in an area called Montesarchio, in the house of a Neopolitan lady. When he asked her for a lamp in order to say the Night Office she replied, “Father, forgive me. I have no oil in the house.” The holy man answered, “Go to the vessel in which you keep it because there is some there.” When the lady went she found a vessel full of oil where before there hadn’t been even a single drop. The lady bore witness to this as the greatest miracle.

The Lord God worked other miracles through this servant of his. Since I am not well informed about them I shall not put them down on paper. These are enough in order to know about which merits Brother Bernardine of Monte del Olmo had before God.

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

IX: About the venerable and holy man Brother Francis of Iesi, priest and preacher

From a city situated in the Marches of Ancona called Iesi[110], Brother Francis was born to very noble parents of the family of the house of Ripanti. They nurtured him in good ways from his childhood. On going to school he became a very good young man. When he was about eighteen years old, because of his fine manner, he was sent to study civil law in the city of Perugia. At this time the Bishop of the city of Iesi died. Consulting among the citizens about a new pastor this young man adorned with every virtue was elected by common agreement[111]. When the young man reconsidered the election he began to worry about entering some great labyrinth by accepting this office. Because the whole city was in factions and his own parents were deeply involved, he feared very much about having to be caught up in that. He thought to free himself from the claws of the infernal serpent and from the entanglements[112] of the world and take up religious life[113].

Therefore after having studied for about five years he was very well educated in civil and canon law. However he did not want teach so as not to become any further engulfed in the tumultuous sea of this world. By the grace of the Holy Spirit he made up his mind and gave away his books and every thing he owned and became a Friar Minor in the Congregation of Zoccolanti. And just as I heard fro his own mouth, if his father had not be alive he would have given away everything for the love of God according to the Rule.

Once his nephew visited him the Carcerelle of Assisi and in my presence said to him, “Uncle, you abandoned us just at the moment when you could have benefited us very much. The Bulls that were obtained for your Episcopate are still at home.” The holy man replied, “It was good for me that the Lord freed me from pastoral cares. The tangles which come from such offices are so many that is very difficult thing to be able to save oneself. I am not mentioning the partiality and envy that are in the city of Iesi. I am sure that if accepted that I would be dead now.”

He was clothed in the habit of the Order at about the age of twenty three and in his heart he began to want to do no other things except those that made him know God in order to be able to love him perfectly, citing the sentence of Saint Augustine: Invisa diligere possumus, incognita nequaquam.[114] As he told himself, he always practised in the science of sacred theology for it seemed to him that if all the sciences are ordered unto knowing God, nonetheless sacred theology, he said, makes us know God more than any other. For the love of God is the end of all things and God cannot be loved if He is not known. If we want to remain within the observance of the Rule we must practise in the things that make us know God. When those Fathers saw that he was so studios and well founded in learning, they set him to the study of sacred theology according to his desire. After applying himself for many years, partly under a master and partly by himself, he succeeded in becoming a very profound theologian. He was regarded in his time as the best theologian in the Franciscan Order, well instructed in the science of Scotus. Therefore he remained steadfast in such praiseworthy study, practising it until his death, so that in his sermons and also in his preaching little else came from his mouth that theology accommodated with Sacred Scripture[115].

As it pleased God, when he became a preacher he had an immense desire to put his knowledge at the service of God and to profit souls redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Desiring the opportunity to be able to benefit souls, with the good grace of the Superiors, he managed to be made Apostolic Preacher by His Holiness Leo X. Therefore having received the licence from His Holiness, he took Brother Augustine Lanaro of Norsia[116] as his companion. Taking up the journey toward the Marches he preached in almost all the regions and towns of the Marches with such approval and benefit to souls that everyone called him the Apostle of Christ.

Therefore it happened that he was passing through Abruzzo that he came to the town of Solmona where he preached with great approval. It pleased the Lord God, in order to complement his science in his service, that he met there the great and learned Brother Paul of Sulmona. He was a Friar of the same Order. Brother Paul heard him preach. When he returned to the Friary he called Brother Bernardine and said to him, “Father Preacher, you have the knowledge but you do not have its methodology[117]. I have the skill to organise all your knowledge.” Attracted by this, Brother Francis was so attentive to Brother Paul who began to teach him how to be systematic[118]. When he had taught him, the good, old Brother Paul wanted to reprimand the negligence of the young student Friars who were there. They were complacent about seeking to learn that knowledge. One morning he began to cry out through the dormitory, “Oh dear! A Friar from the Province of Saint Francis has stolen my knowledge.” This made Brother Francis worry that Brother Paul regretted having taught it to him. He went to find him in his cell. With great humility he said to him, “Father, I beg you not to regret having done this good thing for me because I do not want to use it except for the honour of God.” The good, old Brother Paul replied, “I do not regret it, my son. Moreover I would like to show you some things that are still missing. Show me the most beautiful sermon that you have so that I may rewrite it systematically.[119] This will serve as a model for the others. And know that this science is the key to all the others.” And he told this example. [120]When Brother Paul was in the world he had a great friend. The college of doctors had condemned to death the brother of this friend for a crime. Sorrowing over this, the friend of Brother Paul had recourse to him as a last resort. Bringing him the proceedings, Brother Paul studied it somewhat and wrote a note on some of the main points and said to him, “Take this note and bring it to those noble men who have sentence your brother to death.” When those doctors had studied the note, they were compelled to revoke the sentence. He added, “Know this, Brother Francis, that this is one of the greatest sciences there is in the world.”

Therefore Brother Francis left Brother Paul and went preaching here and there for about three years. Then he returned to the Province of Saint Francis and dedicated himself totally to the contemplative life. According to what he told me, he decided that it was more useful to be quiet away in the friaries and to preach only at the ordinary times than to go around too much. Too much dealing with seculars cools the spirit a great deal and a preacher without spirit cannot benefit his neighbour. Instead he does himself great harm. In order to be able to better practise holy contemplation, he avoided in every way all the offices of the Order and dealings with seculars. He always stayed in the poorest, most remote friaries of the Province – in Monteluco at Spoleto, at Santa Maria dell’Oro at Terani, at the Speco of St. Urban, and the like. He continued to live in this way for about ten years.[121]

However when talk of the Reform began he was one of the first who supported it the most. Together with the Venerable Father Bernardine of Asti he sought the Bull of Reform from His Holiness. Because of this he entered into a sea of travails. The lax Friars viciously opposed that Reform. For the Commissary was at Our Lady of the Angels where the Fathers of the Order and the General had sent him to support the Reform. Instead of supporting it, he allowed this Father together with Brother Baptist of Norcia to be put in prison by the adversaries with the intention that they not see the light of day for months and years.

However, as it pleased God, he was soon freed and God punished in good measure those who were the cause of the error. They died badly within a short time. Therefore once freed the said Fathers fled to the Province of the Marches. There in the place at Camerino they took up the Capuchin habit. Under obedience to Father Louis they went back immediately to the friary at Foligno[122]. I was present there when they came with clogs and in that house they the put on the sandals that the Capuchins use. The holy man had no sooner arrived and rested a couple of days and he began to preach to the Friars about the state of perfection that we have promised to our Lord God to undertake through the Rule. He was like a Seraph, completely aflame with the love of God. He based all his arguments on the Rule, showing which kind of perfection the Rule is and how the Friars persevere in this perfection with difficulty. For the one who perfectly observes the Rule of Saint Francis can be called holy. Hence he said that nothing can be a greater ruin to the Congregation than the reception of Friars and the Congregation must be conformed to the disposition of those who are received to the profession of its Rule. It is not enough to consider the good will of the young. For if they are very frail, very young, weak, infirm or similar, they must not be received. For they will be obliged to something they cannot observe: to go barefoot and poorly dressed, to fast often, and to endure the efforts that the Order offers in order to be poor. The complete opposite results. They cannot fast and do the other things required but instead it is necessary to serve them and burden the seculars to procure costly foods for them. Therefore the Lord God has wanted there to be a number of Rules in His Church so that if they cannot attend to such perfection in another Order they can comfortably practise the holy virtues, live religiously and save themselves. Therefore it does them no harm not to receive them. Another inappropriate thing stems from there being a large number[123]. It is necessary to build large friaries near to the towns for the greater practicality of these friaries. Familiarity with seculars stems from having large houses as does the difficulty of our observance of holy poverty that is the foundation of our Rule. Silence is lost and little attention is given to holy prayer, which is the goal of our Rule. “Therefore,” he said, “the Rule of Saint Francis is nothing other than a way of life that is well accommodated to holy contemplation. Therefore, it does not depart from the cross, taking part in both the active and the contemplative life. It makes the mixed life more perfect than the simple contemplative life because it is more in conformity to the Holy Gospel and the apostolic life. With poverty it observes the two precepts of the love of God and of neighbour. It carries out the love of God in holy prayer and the love of neighbour in preaching. Likewise with holy poverty, our Rule purges us of every earthly affection and makes us disposed for prayer. With prayer it puts us in order with God. With preaching and good example it puts us in order with our neighbour. And because these are the practice of perfection men who are unsuitable for these should not be received. Otherwise we go against the rule. Nevertheless it is not denied that we need of some forms of service. Therefore we receive some who indeed do not have the gift either of preaching or contemplation. However it is enough that they may be occupied in some form of service. And for their service they are sharers first of all in living from the alms offered to the Order. Therefore it goes against the Rule to receive those who are suitable for none of these.

This servant of God always led daily[124] life around austerity. He never did more than what the Rule orders for us and allows us. In his dress he always used two garments and never more. When he went on a journey he never put on a mantle when he wore the tunic, unless it rained. He remained very strict in observing the Rule to the letter. I heard this from his own mouth: “When I made profession, I had in mind to observe the Rule to the letter.” This intention, he told me, had always given him a lot trouble in the Order since he felt he could not satisfy this obligation. Therefore when he received novices for profession he always advised them to have the intention of observing the Rule without the clarifications made by the Supreme Pontiffs ‑ the precepts as precepts and the counsels as counsels. His scruple was this. He felt that because of this intention he was bound to observe all the counsels as precepts.

Therefore he was very zealous about dress. He said, “Poverty of dress can be offended in two ways, that is, if it is refined or unnecessary. It is not permitted to use more than two garments however patched. Although these two garments are allowed us, and one of them is enough, the use of two is against the Rule because a second is not necessary. Because if using one is enough, the use of a second is superfluous.” Once he reprimanded me. I was wearing a mantle for a journey and he told me it was not permitted because the weather was fine. He said to me, “Wear it on your shoulder. Although this may be a little thing, it is nonetheless against the purity of the Rule that only allows the use of necessary things.” Nor did he ever want to carry a staff for travel. However, since he was quite old he carried a cane. I asked him, “What difference do you make between the cane to the staff?” He answered me, “The Gospel forbids me to carry a staff[125]. Since I need a little support I meet my need with the cane and I leave the staff alone that the holy Gospel prohibits.” I said to him, “These look like frivolous things to me.” He replied, “It is true. The one who acts this way does not sin mortally. However in so far as they are against the purity of the Rule they impede perfection for us and dull the spirit and oblige us to the pains of purgatory. Our Father Saint Francis wrote the Rule twice. The first time God instructed him to shorten it because it was too long. So for the full perfection of the Rule our Lord did not entrust to our Father Saint Francis to write everything he liked. Rather, he wanted him to write it according to what His Majesty revealed to him. Hence the perfection of our Rule so whoever depends on it cannot go wrong. Therefore let us say that there may not be any unnecessary things and for the who wants to observe it perfectly is not allowed to fail any of the things that are written in this Rule. It is very important to obey God simply in what he asks of us and to obey him perfectly. Why do you think that Father Saint Francis was so perfect if not because, as Saint Bonaventure says[126], he did not fail to observe completely that the Holy Gospel be fulfilled well. […][127] In this consists every increase in doing the will of God, because each of all our sins is a going against the will of God.”

Regarding eating this servant of God kept this rule. He only ate once a day that which the others ate. Of the bread of the community he ate very little. Once when I was his companion and we were preaching in Norcia I put a little meat in his bowl because he was old and very worn out. Then I gave him a small slice of bread. He didn’t want to touch it. When I said he should eat it he replied, “Isn’t what you have put in my bowl enough?” Although I begged him for a long time he did not want to touch it. The holy man Brother Justin of Panicale, who was very close to him, said of him, “I have never seen a man in the Order who has more perfectly mortified these three vices like him: pride, gluttony and lust. He has always been a mirror of humility, decency[128] and paucity in eating.

From the beginning when he took the holy habit this servant of God had many revelations from God just as he told me secretly in the friary at Montecasale because of the great familiarity I had with him[129]. “Know that before Martin Luther came God showed it to me in vision while I was praying in the Church. I saw him many times in the shape of a bull, half black and half white. He entered the Church and went straight away to the high altar. A woman appeared there who led a child by the hand. The bull went to strike the child and that woman repelled him with her cape. This stunned me and for a long time I commended myself to God so that He would tell me the interpretation. Inwardly I was enlightened that the bull would be a Friar of the Order of Saint Augustine that wears the black and white habit. He was in the form of a bull because of the filth and carnal life that he has introduced into the Church with his false doctrine. His wanting to strike the child refers, he told me, to the spirit, because with his evil doctrine this bull will strive to take Christ from the Church. However because this cannot be, the woman you saw who repelled him with her cloak is the Holy Church who none the less keeps Christ with herself, as a child however. Because he has infected the Church with the worst heresy he has taken away the adult Christ from the Church and kept him little. The adult Christ was in the primitive Church however because of the bad ways of Christians and through heresy he has grown small. Because of the little faith of Christians and few deeds of little importance he has grown small. For although not many a heretics, they are nonetheless infected by the presumption the heretics preach that everything must be entrusted to the blood of Christ who will save us without good works. If one considers it well, the presumption is no less harmful of those who speak about being Catholics as trusting in the mercy of God and who persevere in so many virtues without self-examination[130] and without doing penance […][131] from all hope of being saved. Under the cloak of the woman – of holy Doctors and Holy Church our Lord remains concealed. Anyone who wants to find him finds him undoubtedly in the teaching of Holy Church and in the definitions[132] of the Sacred Councils. Know,” he said, “that one does not have to preach anything other than the Scripture conformed however to the definitions of Holy Church and as the holy Doctors have explained them.”

Furthermore he told me that God showed him a city like Perugia. I don’t know if it was Perugia or another place like it. Having been besieged for a long time it was about to be taken. He told me that Martin Luther came along a little while later. A little while after the war a universal tribulation against the Clergy will come. In this tribulation the Holy Church, together with all its Religious Orders will be purged and will reform. A little while after the death of this holy man came the war of Siena and according to what he depicted to me, all those things in the rebellion of Siena that were shown him were fulfilled.

Before Brother Bernardine of Siena lapsed, he told me many times, “I am fearful of this Brother Bernardine of Siena.” And I knew that God had revealed to him Bernardine’s fall. When Brother Bernardine had gone to ruin he composed some very beautiful litanies of the mercy of God. He said to me, “Know that there is no other remedy than to have recourse to the mercy of God. Whoever wants to be secure in this times should flee in every way from reading suspect books and not to listen to the opinions of the heretics. For God has revealed,” – and he did not say that He revealed it to him – “that many foremost devils[133] have been released from hell to seduce the carnal. Three very subtle demons have been given to Martin Luther. One was for his intellect in order to find new subtleties of heresy. Another was for his tongue in order to preach them. The other was for his hands in order to write them so that his entire doctrine has been dictated by demons. Blessed the one who will be on guard to not depart from the doctrine of Holy Church and from devotion towards her Prelates and the Ministers of Holy Church. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit the Seraphic Father founded his Order on this because he wanted Prelates of Holy Church obeyed and her Ministers honoured. So that if one met them on a journey he should not only kiss their sacred hands, but kneeling down kiss the feet of their horses, as Brother Leo says in the Legend of the Three Companions.[134] There is no other refuge where one may not be endangered in this stormy sea of world than under the shadow of the Supreme Pontiff and not to depart the slightest bit from the doctrine of Holy Church. In these things our Lord Jesus Christ promises us salvation, likening the Church for us with the barque of Peter. Outside of this there is no hope of salvation, etc.

The Lord God bore many good fruits through this servant of God both in the Congregation through the sermons and good instruction that he gave as well as in the world though his preaching. For the Lord God often miraculously testified that his doctrine pleased Him. For when he at the friary at Montemalbi and reading to the Friars some beautiful rules come to perfection, a farmer who lived nearby often said Father Seraphim of Perugia, “What does this mean, Father? I have seen a star many times above your friary for the space of a good hour. Like a ray of fire it went up and down, shining upon your roof.” Having considered the matter, from this they knew it was a brilliance that appear miraculously when the holy man taught the Friars, showing the heart glowing with the love of God of the one who offered such words.[135]

On the feast of Our Lady in September, since I was his disciple, were going on visitation to Norcia. About three miles from that place we met a messenger sent by its Lord Priors. They asked him to hurry because Norcia was completely upside down because of murders. When he arrived[136] he preached six homilies there with such fervour that he returned peace to the entire region. The concourse of people was so great that it was necessary for him to preach in the square. More than a hundred reconciliations were concluded with much joy with fires, bells, and artillery and with children processing through the streets and crying out, “Peace! Peace!” For there was not a single eye that did not weep out of tenderness and joy. They said, “An Angel of God could not have done more than this holy man.”[137]

After many labours for many years when he governed the Province of Saint Francis and the whole Order when he was General[138], after he had served the Lord God with such austerity of life and such good example to everyone for about fifty eight years, it finally pleased the Lord God to reward his efforts. For when he was in the friary at Monte Malbi he became ill with catarrh and a very high fever. He lived with this for two and half days. Then that happy soul passed to its creator. When he was alive his skin tended to be somewhat dark. When he died his flesh became so beautiful that the looked like an Angel sleeping. He was buried in that place.

In order to show how pleased He was with this servant of His, God wanted to make him illustrious with miracles. For in the city of Gubbio – just as I heard from his own mouth – a possessed woman was brought to him. When she began to speak different languages the servant of God said to her, “I don’t care about such prattle. In the name of Jesus Christ, be gone!” Amazing! He had no sooner said the word and she fell down in a faint. Then she shortly got up perfectly liberated.

His cord performed another miracle because a lady of Spoleto wore it as a relic. She was called Veronica and she was very devoted to this holy man. It happened that her neighbour became possessed. The lady thought of the cord that the holy man had worn and brought it with great faith to the house of the possessed woman. When she entered those spirits made an uproar. They made the whole house tremble. As the lady drew closer, she tied the cord on and said to her, “By the holiness of the one to whom this cord belonged I command you to go away!” Amazing! She was freed immediately.

Brother Bernardine of Modena, a Capuchin, had such a great headache that he was going crazy. The Friars exhumed the skull of this holy man and brought it into the choir with great devotion. When Brother Bernardine drew close with great faith and kissed it he was freed immediately from all pain.

I could tell of many other miracles of this holy man. However, as not to bore the reader I will pass them over. May this alone suffice: his very holy life, the miracles and more importantly the testimony the Mother of God gave the Friars in our house at Leonessa. It was this. When the holy man had died all the Friars of that house prayed diligently for his soul. As well as others the great servant of God Brother Baptist Piemontese more than any one else wanted to know what had become of his soul. He prayed to Our Lady that she might reveal to him what had become of his soul. He persevered in this prayer for many days. However, very early one morning when he was alone in the church, he was commending himself to Our Lady more than usual. Suddenly the Queen of heaven appeared to him with great splendour I such a way that Brother Baptist began to shudder very much. However the Holy Virgin comforted him straightaway. She said to him, “How can you worry, Brother Baptist my servant, about the soul of such a man who has written so many beautiful praises about my Son and about me? Know that he is saved and now enjoys paradise.” Regaining some of his strength and because of the beautiful words of the Mother of God he said to her, “O Queen of heaven, if it pleases you, tell me about the soul of Pope Paul III too.” The Mother of the Lord answered, “The soul of Pope Paul III is in purgatory. Know that the prayers of the souls who were liberated by the indulgences he granted help him very much. There were about eleven thousand of them.” [139]Amen.

X: About the venerable Father John of Fano, priest and most excellent preacher

Brother John was from the town of Fano situated in the province of the Marches. He was born to noble and wealthy parents[140]. At a young age he began his education and because the Lord God gifted him with a good intelligence he quickly gained a sound foundation in grammar. His parents nourished many refinements[141] and wanted him to study civil law. They had great hopes for him since he was so fair in body and intelligence and he had a remarkable memory. However as it pleased the Lord God when he was about seventeen years old, touched by the Holy Spirit, he decided to leave the world and took the habit of the Seraphic Francis to serve God in his holy Order.

When the fine youth left home he went with great enthusiasm to find the Minister of the Zoccolanti Fathers who received him very kindly. He completed his novitiate honourably and with great exemplarity of life. When those Fathers saw his good intelligence, his good life and his zeal for the observance of the rule they decided to have him study. They hoped that he would become a very good preacher within a short time. Giving himself to the study of letters he became quite a theologian. In that habit he preached with great acceptance in all the principal cities of Italy. In particular he very fruitfully for two forty-days in the city of Venice.

Understanding good order those Fathers often elected him as Minister. In his day he was among the first Fathers of the Province of the Marches and of the whole Order. He was so zealous about his Order that when the Capuchin Congregation was emerging and he was Minister of the Marches no one persecuted the Capuchins as viciously as he did. He was motivated by zeal though without knowledge. He felt that the Capuchins were the cause of the ruin of his Order. Since he was the head he felt he had this task to persecute the Capuchins as destroyers of his Order and that they disturbed the peace. He did not realise that the Congregation was a work of God and that peace the Order enjoyed outside the observance of the Rule was not a good peace but a carnal one. However when it pleased the Lord God to enlighten him, he did as he later told anyone who wanted to listen: “I have been Saul. God granted me the grace so that in the future I may be Paul.” As he often told the Friars, since the Congregation of Capuchins began among simple, unlettered persons, on the other hand was opposed by an Order full of learned men. The Order held the world by the hair since it had the support of all the Christian princes of whom almost all went to confession to them. Held in such high regard throughout the world, nonetheless they made four barefoot stand firm. All the remedies of Briefs and excommunications that they obtained from His Holiness against them were worth nothing. Although he tried many times with an armed posse[142] and the secular arm to capture them, the Lord God never gave them strength against them. Instead he freed them miraculously.

Moved by these examples, the venerable and judicious Father began to return to his heart and say to himself that which the Saviour of the world said to Saul: O Brother John, I worry that you may not stop kicking against the goad.[143] You want to resist the providence of God in persecuting these poor fellows. You have given them such a bad name with your tongue and stopped so many Friars from observing their Rule because they are not there. It will take a great deal to be able to save you if you do not restore their reputation by taking up the same habit and observing what they observe.”

At that time he was in the friary at Cingoli with the venerable Father Eusebius of Ancona. They took counsel together about the salvation of their souls. Finally they decided to leave that Congregation and come away to the Capuchins. They left that house at Cingoli along with some other Friars and went to Rome to Father Louis whom he had persecuted so much before. He received them with great joy. Thus by the just judgement of God Brother John found himself taken and bound by the one whom he had once taken and bound and had put in prison. However this was different nevertheless because the Holy Spirit bound and imprisoned Brother John under the obedience of the Congregation – bonds that were full of love and joy. As soon as he was clothed with many tears he knelt and asked forgiveness of Father Louis and all his companions for all the many tribulations he had given them. He added that he had done this in ignorance, saying that it had been zeal on his part, though foolish and without knowledge. For all that he had done against him and the Congregation he was very sorry. With great bitterness he acknowledged his fault before God and all the Friars and asked pardon and penance for it. He added, “I have been Saul. Now I want to be Paul is support of the holy Reform.” He carried this out until his death for it was he who established the Province of Lombardy, as will be said in its proper place.

When Father Louis had invested him he sent him to the stay in the devout friary at Scandriglia[144] for this was the first house that the Capuchins had taken up in the Province of Rome. Father James of Gubbio[145] was Guardian in the friary at that time. While residing in that house the venerable Father John asked the grace of Father Louis to allow him to stay away in a little cell in an isolated wood. This was kindly granted him. He remained withdrawn there for many months and fasted continuously on bread and water. He said his Mass every morning and then withdrew to his little cell in the woods, exercising himself in holy contemplation. Within a short time he acquired the grace of perfect prayer. A short time later in the same little cell he composed a devout and holy little book divided into two volumes. In the first he dealt with the purgative life and in the second, the contemplative life[146]. Before he became a Capuchin he had written a commentary on the Rule in the form of a dialogue between two interlocutors, Brother Rational and Brother Enthusiastic[147]. In this he spoke great evil against the Congregation of Capuchins. Having come now to the Congregation, his conscience nagged at him and he felt that he could not be saved if he did not compose another book about the Rule, retracting all the evil he had said about the Capuchins in the first. Moved therefore by this urging, in the same house, he commented on the Rule again with great diligence and retracted all he had said against the Congregation[148]. Hence moved and urged by the example of his coming and by what he said with voice and wrote with the pen, many good Friars came to become Capuchins. He also composed another very useful little book on holy poverty[149] and another little book against the Lutherans.

He was so enthusiastic about the solitary life that is the Fathers had left him there, he would not have left until he died. This is what I heard from his own mouth. Because he once preached in the city of Siena and passing through Borgo Santo Sepolcro he came to our house at Monte Casale where I was part of the family of friars. The holy man Brother Vincent of Foiano asked if he would give a sermon. He kindly did this and burst forth with these words, “Happy are you, o blessed sons, to be in this holy place where our Seraphic Father once lived, in this solitude that is so suitable for the spirit! By the grace of God I was allowed to stay withdrawn for some months. However holy obedience then chased me out. Because for myself I would not have asked anything else from the Order than to apply myself to the opportunity to attend to weeping for my sins and to holy contemplation. Later I came to the fireplace and moved by a certain fondness when I saw that venerable old man who didn’t have s ingle back hair on his head or his beard. I said to him, “Father, it would be necessary to be able to make you young again and to reshoe you like the blacksmiths do.” With a completely joyful face he replied, “I would like to beat you fifty times.” I replied, “But wouldn’t it be good for us?” The holy old man replied, “I would not want to become young again because I care for my soul. I you knew the dangers and grave errors I have done in my youth you would not speak this way. I am really very happy to be old.”

Since he had been withdrawn some months in the friary of Scandriglia, Father Louis sent him to Lombardy, realising that he was a very suitable instrument for such an undertaking, in order to preach and establish some houses in those parts. The first city where he preached in the Capuchin habit was Verona. As soon as he entered the city, when the people saw this new kind of Religious, the artisans and children and other people gathered round them. With great scorn they laughed and mocked them. The children threw little stones, many of which hit them on the head. For when they saw him with nothing on his head, completely bald with age, they children delighted to see the little stones bouncing off his head. Such was the shouting of the children that most of the city gathered. Although many stones hit them on the head, they did them no harm nonetheless. Remembering the mocking our Lord Jesus Christ suffered out of love for us, the holy old man went on with a completely joyful face. Without ever showing the slightest impatience, he went to the Cathedral of that city, accompanied by the great crowd. Entering the church he threw himself down with great humility before the Blessed Sacrament. When the people in the crowd realised that they were kneeling with such devotion they all withdrew. They persevered in their prayer and commended themselves to God. They persevered there, hoping that the Lord God would provide fro them so that they might lodge somewhere and begin to preach. The divine Majesty immediately heard their prayers for as it pleased God Monsignore Tullio Crispolti of Rieti arrived in the church together with the Bishop’s vicar. He was staying with the Bishop, John Matthew. What I am telling here happened during the time of the Bishop’s Lord Vicar called Monsignor Philip Stridonio of Lignano. He was the Archpriest of that region and this Archpriest told all these things to Reverend Father Marius who was in Verona in 1569. He says he often spoke with that Lord Vicar who still exercised that office of the Vicariate. When these two gentlemen had entered the church and had seen the Capuchins, Monsignor Tullio who had known the Capuchins in Rome asked where they were from, what they were doing in those parts and where were they lodging. When they learned that they had only just arrived and had no lodgings, as soon as they allowed both to go wherever they wanted, they returned to the Bishop. Monsignor Tullio said to the Lord Vicar, “This is the office of the Bishop. According to the teaching of Saint Paul[150] he should be the one to give hospitality to such kinds of people who serve God.” Once they had returned to the good Bishop they undertook for His Lordship to give the accommodation in his own house. The following day His Lordship wanted to speak with these two Fathers and in the discussion it came up that Father John was lettered. Likewise the Bishop learned that he was a preacher and so invited him to give some sermons. Father John willingly accepted, saying to the bishop that he had come to Verona for that.

After the first sermon, the Monsignor and all the people were so pleased that the church couldn’t contain the multitude for the second sermon. Because he stayed there for many days they were compelled to arrange a pulpit in the square. He preached there. The bishop came every time as did the lords and a countless number of people. The square was often full and this I heard from some persons where present there. The servant of God did not want to stay in the Episcopal house like a Monsignor but like a poor Friar Minor he went with his companions to a disused little Church and had a kind of room in the choir. He ate and slept there and celebrated Mass every morning in the Church.

He bore the greatest frit in that city. One morning in particular he invited the people for the following day saying that he wanted to talk about death. Such was the gathering of gentlemen and ladies was such who came into the square in their carriages, as well as the multitude of people, that the square was so full that if one threw a grain of millet it could not have fallen to the ground. When the holy old man was in the pulpit and saw that great devotion he became so fervent that it seemed as though a flame issued from his mouth. His face was so blushed that he appeared a very fine scarlet. His voice was so sonorous it was as if it came from the mouth of an ox. He began straight away to preach about death. While continuously referring to three things: frightening death, the vanity of our life and despising the world he preached very profoundly[151] about despising the world that he terrified the entire multitude. They listened to him with such silence that it seemed as though there was no one else there but the preacher. Finally he pulled out a skull. He faced the people then he faced the skull. His preaching was so effective and so penetrated the hearts of the gentlemen and ladies that almost the entire city reformed from all the ostentation of the women and the young. Helped by the work of that holy Pastor this reform lasted for many years. And the despising that they first received changed into such glory that anyone who see and touch their habit regarded himself truly blessed.

The Bishop and the lords decided to given them a house in their city. With a very short time they had it made ready. This was the first place that the Capuchins established in Lombardy to the great joy of the whole city and some Friars moved in. After he had sown to good gospel seed for many, many days in Verona he went off to do the same in other cities of Lombardy and the Lord God worked marvels through his preaching everywhere. It seemed as though the ancient miracle was renewed which God did in his holy Apostles. For as the holy man established houses in all the provinces of Lombardy, Brother Louis sent there other preachers set that whole region agog through the novelty of their habit, their despising of the world and the spirit apparent in them, and because of their new way of preaching. A city called itself blessed if it could have a Capuchin preacher. Within a short time many young men joined[152] and the Lord God greatly increased the Capuchin Congregation in those parts.

This servant of God was a very suitable instrument for preaching because he was a good theologian and imbued with all the sciences. However what amazed everyone was his beautiful way of speaking, his remarkable inventiveness, his effective delivery, his attitude towards things, his forceful arguments to persuade and dissuade, the vehemence of his reprimands, his embellishments against the vices, his ability to strike the heart and soul of sinners and make the virtues great and to inspire others to carry them out.

Hence Father Bernardine of Asti was discussing in my presence the fine intelligence of this holy man. He said, “Among all the preachers I have never seen such a beautiful grace of finding new arguments[153] in a flash while preaching and such a fine skill in making people laugh and weep at the same time. And I,” said the good Father, “was present once when while he was preaching he said such joyful words and made all the people laugh. Their laughter had no sooner finished than on the contrary he said such words that he moved all the people to tears. I was aware that he did this to demonstrate that fine skill. Another time he was preaching on Good Friday and wanted to show the Crucifix. It was a very beautiful one though it had been broken. Having put back the head it didn’t stick properly so that when he removed the veil the head of the crucifix fell to the ground. This fall made all the people laugh. As soon as he saw this, Brother John broke forth, “O my people it is no mystery that our Lord does not want to see you.” With other suitable and improvised words he made it appear that the head hadn’t fallen by accident. Rather because of the many grave sins that the people had the Lord hid from them. His words were so effective that he moved all the people to weep very much.[154]

Another time he was preaching some sermons in Borgo Santo Sepolcro. He was on a journey. I was present for the last sermon. In the middle of the sermon he suddenly rose up in spirit and blushed like flame of bright, shining fire. He turned to the three sides of the pulpit and cried out in a very strong voice, “Judgement! Judgement!” and he began to prophesy with that same fervour, threatening the city that if it did not review itself and make peace among themselves, “such and such will happen to you.” Not long after these prophecies were fulfilled. For one morning the factions rose up and about fourteen of the leading men of Borgo were killed. Then they continued to kill one another. When the people of Borgo came across Friars they said to them, “Father, do you think that Brother John has the spirit of prophecy, when every detail of what he told us has not failed, but has been fulfilled among us?[155]

He also preached in Siena to a large gathering of learned men. When the zealous servant of God heard that that preacher[156] had uttered some heresies in the pulpit, he immediately sent for him give him fraternal correction. When he saw that he did not benefit but instead continued to go on sewing contaminating words stinking of Lutheranism, he began to strike down those false opinions with such great fervour and persuasive arguments that he moved the whole city and it was necessary that that preacher flee. For fear of being captured he had armed men of the same persuasion accompany him.

Once it happened while he was still in the zoccolanti habit he was preaching in the city of Brescia where he was well received. In the middle of his sermon two Capuchins entered Church to hear the sermon. Capuchins had never been seen in those parts because at that time there was no Capuchin house in all of Lombardy. When Brother John realised he stopped paused in his speaking. Then he started to say these words, “My people, when you see any of these hypocrites” – while he pointed to the Capuchins – “make the sign of the cross and cry, ‘Mercy!’ Because they are not men but demons from hell.” Having said that he unleashed his very powerful tongue and said as much evil as he could about those Friars and their Congregation. While he unloaded a sea of insults on them, the those poor fellows stayed kneeling in the middle of the Church where everyone saw them. When he had finished outraging them the preacher returned to his initial theme, those Friars stood up and with a happy face sat to one side. Staying there they listened to the rest of the sermon. This is amazing because he later became a Capuchin. Now when he had finished his preaching in Verona, which we have described above, he left for Brescia. When he arrived he came to the square where there were a lot of people, including a certain gentleman who was present at the time when he preached that sermon in the zoccolanti habit and rebuked the Capuchins. When that gentleman saw Brother John with the Capuchin habit he recognised it straight away. The gentleman was walking with others and stopped. Making the sign of the cross with a loud voice he name the three Divine Persons. Everyone around heard him and then he let out a cry as loud as he could, “Mercy!!” Because of this a crowd of people gathered round. Brother John remembered the instruction he had given in the pulpit that the people make the sign of the cross whenever they saw Capuchins. Stung at heart, without changing his expression[157] and with much self-despising, he went straight away to that gentleman who was one of the key men of the city. With many tears he knelt before him and asked forgiveness. Then turning around he acknowledged his fault to all the people. The gentleman replied and said, “Father, I made the sign of the cross and cried ‘mercy’ in no way with the intention and purpose that you taught us. Rather I did it considering the great mercy that God has shown with you. For since you were such an enemy of these poor fellows and he has led you among them to do penance for it. For then Father you gave bad example to all the hearers while those poor fellows on the other hand gave good example. Now you will truly edify this entire city with such a beautiful and holy transformation to which God has led you four our good and your benefit. In saying these words the gentleman embraced him and kissed him on the forehead and wanted to take him to his home.

Then he did many sermons in that city that were very satisfactory and he informed everyone about the bad teaching he had given concerning the Capuchins., Just like Saint Peter as Saint Clement[158] says who could not hold back his tears every time he remembered how he had denied our Lord, so this great servant of God did the same. Every time he remembered having persecuted the poor Congregation of Capuchins he could not hold back his tears. As he said himself in his exposition of our Rule[159] he felt that he could not save himself if he did not restore the reputation of the Congregation. If he had tried so hard to annihilate it should he not strive with all diligence to advance it by the pen, preaching and the habit, by becoming a Capuchin himself.

Hence it was amazing to see that venerable old man go barefoot and against his skin only on a totally patched habit of coarse, russet[160] cloth. He fasted almost continuously. He spoke little except about the things of God, the observance of the Rule or to give advice and wholesome instruction. He spent most of the night in the Church persevering in holy contemplation. Every morning he said his Mass. An idle word never came from his mouth. Whenever he came across any who knew him when he was a Zoccolante and who had heard him say things against the Capuchins or who knew that he had persecuted them, he threw himself to his knees. With tears he said to them while he knelt, “Forgive me because the infernal enemy was blinding me to persecute these servants of God.” In many places he did this with letters where he could not do it with his presence. When he was with the other venerable Fathers of the Congregation he always stayed with his head bowed in silence. Thinking to himself, he said the words of the Apostle Paul: I am not worthy to be called an Apostle because I have persecuted the Church of God[161]. So when the other Fathers asked advice of this venerable Father, he answered with tears, “I am not worthy to give advice nor to have any seniority in this holy Congregation because like the most wretched of men I have persecuted it.” When he saw the number of Friars growing, he said with tears, “Thanks to Our Lord God the Seraphic Father Saint Francis is renewed in the world today. What have I so that I may deserve in my old age to find myself within the true observance of the Rule, numbered with these servants of God whom I persecuted so viciously? This has not happened to me except by the mercy of God and through the merits of Saint Francis.”

Although he would have been a Prelate in the Order of Zoccolanti and very lax in spending money, he had become so enthusiastic about most holy poverty. He especially abhorred spending money so that if some one spoke to him about some need, it seemed as though he trembled. This compelled him to compose such a strict little treatise on holy poverty[162].

When finally he was preaching in Siena he was elected Vicar of the Province of the Marches. He visited that Province with a very exemplary life. He bore great fruit in that visitation to his poor little Friars, for he gave sermons that fired the heart of all his hearers in the love of God and the true observance of the Rule. In his sermons he said, “My sons, the right desire and good will are not enough in order to persevere in the observance of the Rule. The support of God is necessary because the Rule is a state of great perfection in which our human is frailty is such that we cannot keep it without a special gift of God. Therefore assiduous holy prayer is necessary. It is the mother of all the graces we received from God. One cannot practise that fitting perfection is he does not keep his mind purified of every earthly affection. Therefore the Lord Our God has given us the Rule. I confess frankly that I never understood what the Rule of Saint Francis is except when I found myself in its true observance in this holy Congregation. Therefore these two things are necessary: the full observance of the Rule and the continuous practice of holy prayer. This moved me in Scandriglia to write that little treatise on the purgative life[163].” In this the servant of God strove very much in exhorting the Friars to holy prayer.

However when he reached the fullness of years the Lord God allowed that in his efforts he be overtaken by a quartan[164] fever. Because of the effort of visiting the Friars and since he was old the fever tormented him very badly. As winter was coming and because he was ill he planned not to preach that forty-days. Leaving Monte Feltro and then from our house at Pietrarubbia he came to Sant’Angelo in Vado. He rested there some days and left for Fossombrone. It was necessary for him to pass through Casteldurante, the land of the Duke of Urbino situated in the region of Massa. When the people heard that he was not bound by promise to preach the forty-days anywhere, the consulted among themselves about asking him if he would preach to them in the coming forty-days. They went off together to him. After strongly expressing their desire to him they begged him to console them. However he pointed out to them the difficulty in being able to carry out such an office because of his sickness and rejected their request firmly. However the people answered on the contrary that since Casteldurante was a little place and friendly towards the Order that he consider not stopping there to preach in the usual way, but to stay in a house of his own in order to be comforted and recover. “Nor will we worry about preaching from a pulpit. Rather you can sit there in a chair on the feast days. When you feel up to it, give us a talk about our salvation and we promise that you will not lack anything necessary for your needs and we’ll provide for your sickness. You can count on staying with us in that informality[165] and security that a Father has with his children. They knew what to do to make the good Father promise them and he went to Fossombrone. Seeing that this fever was still increasing he did all he could to make those people happy by providing another preacher. However since they had his promise he did not want to break his word, even though the Friars begged him not to go there. They feared something bad would happen to him. However the more the Friars begged those citizens to be calm and not make him go because he was gravely ill and would not have been able to preach, the more they were inflamed in the desire that he go. Straightaway they sent him representatives and an animal to ride. They pleaded with him not to break his promise to them. They added that they didn’t want any other preacher but him and that he be certain to come. If he was unable or did not want to preach he could stay with them because they would be content just to see him.

Hence the holy old man was compelled. When the forty-days arrived he began his sermons there, always preaching in the pulpit every day, except on the days of the fever. Because it was his usual way to exert himself very much in his sermons, one morning he became so heated in his sermon that he broke out into a great sweat. Taking himself from the pulpit in that sweat and going to his room he caught a chill and was overtaken by a grave condition of pain[166]. Finding himself so infirm and work, his condition deteriorated so much that neither the doctors nor the medicines nor the remedies they gave him were of any value to him. In that infirmity he showed such joy and patience that he gave a marvellous proof of holiness to anyone who saw him. Neither the Friars nor the seculars failed to give him every possible remedy. However it pleased the Lord God to reward his servant for the many struggles he had endured in the Order and for all the good fruit he had produced by preaching, for when he came to the end of his life he took a crucifix that was there and with great fervour said these words, “My Lord Jesus Christ I give you countless thanks for the many benefits I have received from your Majesty. First of all because you have deigned to create me a rational creature, born of Christian parents and that I have always lived in the bosom of the Holy Roman Church. In the same way I thank you that in my youthful age you deigned to call me to your holy service. Although I may believe that Your Majesty has forgiven my error in persecuting this poor Congregation, nonetheless with all my heart I again ask forgiveness for all my other faults. And I thank you that you have deigned to enlighten and called me to he true observance of the Rule in which, thank to your mercy, I come to the end of my life.

After having received all the most holy sacraments from Holy Church, raising his eyes to heaven with a joyful face, with a good voice and quite fluently he began to say Te Deum laudamus. He added to the last verse In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeternum and kissing the crucifix that blessed soul flew to its creator.

The whole region mourned the loss of such a man and he was buried there with great honour. When the citizens of Fano and his noble relatives heard, they sent representatives to Castledurante seeking with great insistence to have that holy body. However their every plan was in vain for the people of Cateldurante would have given them anything else rather than be deprived of such a gift that God had given them, even though they had been asked by their Lord, the Duke of Urbino.

The Lord God did not fail to demonstrate the goodness and holiness of the life of this holy man after his death. Through his holy merits he did many miracles as may be seen from the tablets attached to his tomb.

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, of his blessed Mother, and of our Father Saint Francis and of blessed John of Fano. Amen.

XI: About the venerable and holy man Brother Joseph of Ferno, or Milan, priest and preacher

In the beginning many Friars came from the main body of the Order to the Congregation of Capuchins. Among these was Brother Joseph[167]. This servant of God was born to honest but poor parents in the land of Ferno[168]. When he was young he began learning, going to school. He turned out an excellent grammarian.

At about the age of sixteen he took the habit in the Order of Saint Franics where, after attending to study, he turned out a very good theologian. He was well instructed in all the other sciences so that he was Reader in a friary in the city called Pilanza situated above Laco Maggiore.

He heard of the reputation of the Congregation of Capuchins and how many religious as well as seculars came to take up the holy habit of Saint Francis in that Congregation. It pleased it Lord God that one night while he was preparing the lesson he had to give to his students he heard something like a voice that spoke many times to his mind. It said, “Leave here and become a Capuchin.” At first he resisted this, dismissing it as if it were a temptation from the devil because he had never thought of such a thing as changing habits. Nonetheless the good inspiration returned with such efficacy that he, being a learned and judicious man, recognised that it was an inspiration from God who was calling him to the perfect observance of the Rule he had promised. So kneeling on the floor he said with tears, “My Lord, if this is your will that I follow the footsteps of the Seraphic Father in that Reform, I am ready to do what your want.”

It was amazing, for as soon as he gave his consent to that good inspiration he felt the desire to become a Capuchin burn so much that from then on he could not rest anywhere. When he was discussing the matter in secret with some of his acquaintances he found the same desire in some of the others in that friary. These five were Brother Angelus[169], his brother and a cleric at the time; Brother Francis of Novara; Brother Jerome and Brother Egidius of Arona, a lay friar. These five decided to come to the Capuchins. One night they took a boat and came to Milan. The boatman saw them leaving at night and said, “Are you running away from your Order?” Brother Joseph replied, “We are not leaving it but entering it more than ever.” When they arrived in Milan the Capuchins received them and they persevered in a holy way within the Congregation.

Brother Joseph therefore received from God the gift of preaching for he was one of the most effective preachers there were among the Capuchins in his time. He was not a man of great austerity because he wasn’t healthy. However he was very zealous about the observance of the Rule. He ate very little and was a man of great prayer. He wasn’t much in administration but it was obvious that this was his vocation: to preach. He exercised himself in this until his death.

Hence while he was preaching in Milan with great approval the city was in the midst of great travails at the time because of wars, for the French usually rode out against the town each year and gave that city a lot of trouble. While preaching in the pulpit Brother Joseph promised them that if they attended the Forty Hours God would free them from wars. The assemble senate promised Brother Joseph to order, with the Archbishop of the time, that the Prayer be done there. Brother Joseph organised it therefore and the Prayer was done with great devotion and so the holy Prayer attended with great devotion throughout Italy today began under the organisation of this holy man[170]. It is amazing that since then until today the city of Milan has not had any wars of importance. Because of this, seeing the great fruit, they gave orders that the Forty Hours be attended all year and that it be done n all the Churches of Milan. So it happened because as soon as it was finished in one Church it transferred to another. He preached in nearly all the cities of Lombardy and organised that Prayer in all of them.

He was very kind and had great charity towards his neighbour. He received from God much grace if making peace because there was not peace so complex and heavily qualified[171] that he didn’t do.

He came to the Province of Saint Francis where the Lord God worked many miraculous things through his preaching. He also preached in Tuscany, especially in the city of Arezzo that the citizens had almost abandoned because of the factions and enmity. It even had grass growing in the square. The cruelty of the enmity was such that no one trusted anyone else. Therefore most of the nobility had fled. As it pleased the Lord God this holy man did many sermons there. Not knowing haw to find a way to restore the town to peace he continuously commended himself to God so that He might grant him this grace. Once he and his companion were at prayer when it occurred to him to seek to have the Council convene and being personally at the Council propose the way that had to be taken to return to universal peace. It was something amazing, that while he was thinking about this, his companion who was a short distance away, shouted, “Do it! Do what you are thinking!” The servant of God knew this was His inspiration. He entered that Council and went to the bench like a preacher. He proposed to them such a beautiful way unto peace and he did so with such efficacy that with the hand of God upon such hardened hearts as those the accepted it with great joy. Following that arrangement peace was restored. The Aretines said, “Brother Joseph of Milan, the Capuchin” – that is how they called him – “has founded the city of Arezzo again. We were all ruined. Sent us by god this holy man has snatched us from the hands of Lucifer.”

Therefore when this preaching was finished he was asked if he would preach in Siena. However, not long after he returned to the city of Arezzo for one that remained for him to set up. As soon as the city heard that he was coming the entire city was moved and came running and the bells rang out[172]. With the entire clergy assembled with almost all the people, they came out a good way to meet him before he arrived in the city. They received him with such applause as if her were an Apostle of God. Taking him and his companion by the arm they carried him straight away to the Cathedral so that his feet did not touch the ground. When the holy man saw the city so restored to peace and what seeing what fruit the Lord God had worked through his sermons, his joy was such that the few greys hair in his beard went black again from joy. This was something very extraordinary[173].

Then he preached in Borgo Santo Sepolcro. Because of the inveterate enmity between the Pichi and Gratiani Families in that city fourteen men had been murdered not long before the servant of God went there. Nonetheless, even though it was not the time of the forty days, when the holy man came he did many sermons there. He restored peace to the entire city in such a way that when he withdrew to the friary of Montecasle a Priest came there and said to him, “Father, the Lord God has brought great fruitfulness through your sermons. This morning we have concluded one hundred reconciliations and all them because of homicide.”

Because the grace that the Lord God had given him to make peace the great name of this servant of God was such that when he preached in Siena some from Monte Pulciano listened his sermons. When they returned to Montepulciano they told about the great marvels that the Lord God worked through this servant of his. A certain gentleman heard about these things. He had been in a cruel enmity for many years. Although the Duke of Florence and many other Lords had urged him, he had never wanted to make peace. As it pleased God, one morning he was outside Montepulciano when he saw to Capuchins coming along the Siena road. He thought that it was Brother Joseph. When the Friars arrived the gentleman said, “Are you the great preacher who has preached in Siena?” They answered, “We belong to the same Order.” The gentleman said, “As soon as I saw you I imagined that one of you was that preacher about whom I have heard such great things. Touched by the hand of God, I considered offering to peace to an enemy of mine for the love of God primarily and then for the love of that Father. Although I have been begged and urged by the Duke and many others I never wanted to do it. Now I think this is an inspiration from God and I do not want it to pass by fruitlessly.” Falling to his knees he said, “My Lord, for your love and for love of this Father, I promise you peace.” On returning home he let his enemies know that he had forgiven them for the love of God.

He did not fail to bear fruit when he was preaching the Advent in the city of Gubbio for because of Camerino war had broken out between His Holiness Paul III and the Duke of Urbino. The Church’s army of more than thirty thousand persons had amassed at Assisi and had arrived at Valfabrica, the castle of the Duke in order to enter and take the city of Gubbio. When the citizens heard of this, because the city was weak, the all packed up to flee and withdraw to strongholds. When preaching the holy man said to them, “Do not move and do not worry. Leave aside your arms and do the Forty Hours Prayer. Let each of you go to confession and you will see the favour of God.” The city believed these promises and the Elders ordered that all the servant of God Brother Joseph said be done. However when the news came that the army was moving, the frightened citizens had recourse to the Priors so that they might give them permission to flee. They said, “They are so close that we will be surrounded by the army in four hours.” When the Priors told these things to the preacher he said to them again, “Do not worry. Do as I have told you.” The Priors said, “Father, we have certain news that the army is moving tomorrow morning.” The holy man answered, “Have faith. It will not move.”

It was amazing because the next night there was such a heavy fall of snow that they could not leave some of the houses because of the mountain of snow. When he was preaching the holy man said to them, “Didn’t I tell you? God and tell them that they are moving. Therefore persevere in holy prayer and come to the sermon because God is fighting for you.” Hear about the miracle. By order of His Holiness the army was to march that morning. One of the leading Captains, braver than the others, said to the Captain General, “What does it mean that you are not obeying His Holiness?” When he answered that it was not possible because of the snow, the Captain said, “I want to go with my Company if you wish.” He replied, “Try it but you will not be able to go.” The Captain said, “I will go there despite…etc” Sounding the trumpets setting off on the journey he immediately fell off his horse. Very angry, he remounted in order to go again and the horse fell on top of him and broke a leg. He was forced to return.

News of these things came to the holy man. During his preaching he said, “Citizens, you are like the Hebrews. If you do not see signs you do not want to believe. See how God is doing more than you would. Be calm because soon you will out of all threat.” So it was. Because in negotiating peace it was concluded and the army disbanded without any killing even a chook in Gubbio. Because of this benefit they received from God the holy man ordered that the Palace bell be rung five times every day at midday and that citizens say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys kneeling down in memory of this benefit.

I would be unable to tell about the great fruit that the Lord God worked in most of Italy through the preaching of this holy man. When he could no longer preach because of his great age, and especially because he was overtaken by a chronic hepatic dysentery[174]. Nonetheless he was a refuge for every person in trouble for at that time his counsel was regarded as an oracle of God. Therefore he was visited continuously, while so struck down in bed that it seemed he would be unable to speak. Nonetheless when he began to speak about the things of God his fervour so increased that he threw of the bedclothes and sat on the bed. He so warmed that his colour returned and his face was fair, as if he were without any sickness.

As long as he could walk he set himself to support some sodalities[175] of spiritual persons to the extent that almost the whole city was full of such sodalities that had been organised by him. In particular there was a sodality of Priests who lived very spiritually like the Theatines. This holy man so nourished this sodality in the spiritual life that when they went on visitation their Elders always took this holy man as their visitator. On one occasion he went with them all the way to Spain.

Often he was Provincial, however when he could not long carry out office he set himself to reading and through him his Province was very well endowed with excellent preachers.

It pleased the Lord Our God to reward this servant of his for the many struggles he endured in the Order for the love of God. He wanted to reward him for having served in it for about fifty-five years. When his illness deteriorated, and having received all the most holy sacraments with great devotion, that happy soul passed away to its creator. His body was buried in the above-mentioned friary in Milan.

He did some miracles, however because I am not well informed about them I am not including them. I only include this one. He was Vicar in the Province of Romagna and was about to go preaching in the Province of Saint Francis in obedience to the venerable Father Bernardine of Asti, the General. He left Forlì where I was at the time. On arriving at Mercato Saraceno he found father of Father Marius gravely ill. When the servant of God, Brother Joseph, entered the house he went straight away to where he was to visit him. However because of the great devotion the old man had for the Capuchins and because of the great joy he had when he saw them, helped to sit up in bed he embrace Brother Joseph. Brother Joseph embraced him and kissed him in the forehead. When he made the sign of the cross over him, he was perfectly freed immediately. Getting up from bed he had some thing to eat made ready. As a sign of his perfect health, like Peter’s mother-in-law[176] he wanted all the time to serve that servant of God and his companion.

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XII: About the holy man Brother Honorius of Monte Granaro, priest and preacher

Brother Honorius was from a land situated in the dominion of Fermo called Montegranaro. He was born to honest and well-off parents[177]. In his early years he attended school and became a god grammarian. When he reached sixteen years of ages he got involved in factions and serious enmities. Because of this he decided to become a Religious. He did this not so much to serve God but to avoid being killed since he was so was involved. Therefore he joined the Order of Saint Francis among the Conventual Fathers in which he led a life more like a soldier than a Religious. However when it suited him to don the cape and go away as a mercenary he did so quite openly. Just as I heard form his own mouth, he was in the war that the emperor Charles made against the Turks in Hungary. However, as it pleased the Lord, when he returned to Italy he began to reconsider his life more maturely. Commending himself to the Lord and visited by the Holy Spirit he decided to become a Capuchin and to leave the intrigues of the world completely.

Hence in order to rid himself of all familiarity with his relatives and compatriots and also because of the enmities, he left the Marches and went to Tuscany. The venerable Father Raphael of Vulterra, Vicar in the Province of Tuscany at the time, received him. It was a marvellous thing that a very ferocious lion, a courageous solder, would become a simple lamb who humbled himself so much in his novitiate that in obedience and the other good ways he appeared to be like an earthly Angel. However in humility he surpassed all the others. For enlightened by God he reconsidered the time spent badly and his wicked deeds. He was struck by God with such an immense fear that he wept continuously for many months. There was no kind of penance that we would not undergo in order to afflict his body. So at the end of the year he was perfect in the fear of God and well instructed in every kind of good behaviour by the Holy Spirit. When the Fathers saw his good mind regarding letters they gave him the office of preaching within a short time. He exercised that office with great maturity and spirit. Because he strove so much mentally at holy prayer his memory was weakened. Therefore it was a great effort him to preach. Nor did he want to preach except in lowly places. Seeing the great fruit he bore preaching in nearly all the feasts of the year, so much so that there were fews castles in Tuscany where he did not preach, organising many sodalities. He said preaching didn’t bear fruit if some sodality was not organised, leaving them some devotion in which they may be refreshed in spirit and attend to the most holy sacraments. He organised especially sodalities of Our Lady since he was very devoted to her. So much so that he fasted every Saturday all year round. He never missed this even while on strenuous journeys or during the difficult times like the great heat of summer. He also did the forty-days of Saint Michael with great devotion. While he was young he rarely ate more than once a day. However on the vigils of the Lord or Our Lady he usually fasted on bread and water.

He was very austere about dress, especially in the early years. He never wanted more than on habit. However when winter came he wore the mantle and sandals. For a long time he wore a harsh hair shirt. However when he became aware that the Friars began to know that he wore it, he began to wear a belt four fingers wide. This was full of nail turned inwards towards the skin. He wore this until his death so that he was never deprived of some way of suffering in memory of what Our Lord suffered for us. He kept vigil as much as slept. It was an amazing thing that for so long no one was ever aware of this.

He was very zealous about time, spending it in the praise of God[178]. I saw this myself since for many years we were very good acquaintances. Even though he was exhausted from travel, he slept about four hours before the first bell. He immediately got up, said matins and continued in holy prayer until dawn. Then he said his Mass, which he hardly ever failed to do. However whenever he was in a friary, as exhausted as he may have been, he never failed to get up for Matins with the others. The servant of God had organised his life so well that he gave only what was necessary to nature and the rest of the time he spent in the praise of God, in prayer, in saying the offices of Our Lady and of the Dead, the seven psalms and other devotions. Or he stayed in his cell to write his sermons or to study. He conversed little with anyone and spoke little.

He was ugly in his eyes and face but fair and clear in his conscience. His soul was very precious to our Lord when he served him with the virtues so faithfully in the perfect observance of the Rule.

He was Provincial often, that is, six years in the Province of Tuscany and three in that of Venice[179]. Then he was elected in the Province of Bologna. He exercised these offices with much Prudence and maturity and the best example.

Once he was in the friary at Ferrara on visitation and he left to go straight to Bologna. On the journey he developed a painful illness so that when he arrived at the friary at Bologna he deteriorated seriously in that sickness both because of his age – he was close to seventy-two years old – and because of the hardships he had suffered. He showed incredible patience. Brother Louis Beati of Bologna provided for him and it was necessary to apply some poultices in the place of the effected area as well as other medications. He became aware of the belt mentioned above that Brother Honorius wore next to his bare skin. When Brother Louis saw it he said to him, “Goodness, Father, we will need to remove this affliction. Your body is so burdened by the sickness that it is too afflicted with this. The servant of God replied, “It is not important. Let it stay.” Brother Louis said, “It may not please God that you wear it, Father.” Supporting him[180], he lifted it off.

Our Lord God wanted to reveal to this servant of his the end of his life so that well prepared he might fly to heaven with greater facility. It happened like this. One morning he was very ill alone in his cell. Like a good shepherd he began to think about the needs of his sheep and was very sad that he could not visit them personally just like our Lord who is so much agony nonetheless did not fail to visit his Holy Apostles[181]. Therefore while he was in this affliction he clearly heard a very loud bang, like a hand, on the table that was in his cell. Likewise he heard a voice that spoke from the air to him, “Brother Honorius!” Dumbfounded by this voice, although he was very ill, the man of God lifted his head from his pillow. He looked around the cell to see whom it was that had called him so beautifully by name. He could not see anyone. However he heard a voice within his heart say that might have been our Lord or an Angel sent by Him. He replied, “My Lord!” the voice immediately said to him, “Do not worry about the visitation to the Friars but attend to preparing yourself, because you are to die from this sickness.” Hearing this the servant of God thanked His Majesty with many tears for having deigned to warn him and visiting him so beautifully in this last hour of his life.

From then on he was completely recollected within himself and continuously offered himself to the Lord so that His Majesty do what him what He pleased. He asked him forgiveness and begged that He pardon his sins and He deign through the merits of Christ to count him among His elect. Hence with a great examination of conscience and much preparation he received all the most holy sacraments.

Awaiting the last hour with the Friars standing round him, the servant of God began to speak with great tenderness. Giving to his sons last memories he exhorted them to the true observance of the Rule. He added, “Know brothers that there are many holy men in this Congregation but who are not recognised. Our Lord knows them well. He will give to each according to what he will have merited[182]. Therefore I beg you to be zealous about your profession. All of you will have to come this hour as I have now.”

With these and similar beautiful words that happy soul passed away to its creator. His body was buried in that friary.

God wanted to show how pleasing this servant of his was. For when the Friars knew that he had had a revelation about his death, this great miracle came about. For the Friars were talking later with the doctor. They told him about the revelation. The doctor was call Gabriello Beati, the brother of previously mention Brother Louis. He was very fond of the Congregation and when he heard about this he treasured having known the holiness of Brother Honorius. For his wife had been ill already for six months so that she lost the use of half her body. From head to toe she was paralysed down one side. It was as if her flesh was dead because when she was pricked with pins in the affected area she felt nothing, as if it were dead. She was totally blind on the eye on the paralysed side. To top it off, when this happened to her she was pregnant[183]. Because her husband is one of the best doctors in Bologna and one of the most excellent in the college, and because he was anxious about the health of his wife, he sought the advice of many other excellent doctors. They had given her all the remedies possible. Nothing had helped her. He believed her sick was completely incurable and held no hope of her being able to recover with medications. However, as it pleased the Lord God, that doctor was telling his wife of the patience that servant of God had in his illness. With this example he wanted to exhort he to patience. He also told her how God had revealed his death to him. Consequently this woman grew in such devotion that before this servant of God died, with great devotion she begged her husband to commend her to him so that he would pray for her to God. She hoped that if he prayed for her she would receive perfect health from God without doubt. Wanting to please his wife, the doctor promised to carry out that duty. He returned to that Friary as soon as possible to visit the holy man and seek the advice of Brother Louis, his brother, if he should ask him to pray for his wife. Brother Louis exhorted him to make the recommendation. Thus together they went to Father Honorius who was in extremis though well disposed and still able to speak, though with great effort. Brother Louis spoke to him and said, “Father, the doctor has come to visit you. He begs that you would give him you blessing before you depart from us. With you he wants to ask if you would pray to God for his wife – she has an incurable sickness – that His Majesty, if He pleases, may wish to give her health if it is for the best. When the holy man heard this he turned with a very joyful face, for he had been facing the wall. With a few words he thanked the doctor for the charity he had received from him in his sickness. With great tenderness he gave him his blessing, and said to him also, “I wish to pray for your wife, if God through His mercy makes me worthy of it.” That very evening he died.

Not many days after his death, the sick woman was thinking about the promises to pray for her that Brother Honorius had made. With great faith she hoped that God would return her health if she could go to his tomb. With great insistence she began to beg her husband so that he would have he taken to the house of the Friars. She affirmed that when she would arrive at the tomb of the holy man, “I will be freed by his merits.” When the doctor heard this he replied, “This seems vain to me and impossible because of the great difficulty to be able to take you the place, both because of your serious infirmity and likewise because you put yourself in danger by the hard journey/ It is difficult to go there even by carriage.” All her relatives said the same thing and did so for months when they came to see her. Finally conquered by the great insistence of his wife, one morning – it was the fourth Sunday of Lent – he ordered a carriage and had her placed inside other women relatives of hers and sent her to the house of the Friars. They arrived near the place half way up the mountain on a very narrow, steep and dangerous road. Above them on one side of the road stood a great hillside. On the other was a very dangerous precipice. The horses were well trained and quiet. Without anyone alarming them they took fright. Bolting, they overturned the carriage down towards the precipice. Because of this not only would the sick woman die but also all those who were with her. Nonetheless, through the merits of this holy man God preserved them so that neither the infirm, pregnant woman nor any of the other women was injured. The coach however was completely smashed. Everyone regarded this as a miracle of God and whatever frightened the horses was done by demons. When the husband arrived at the accident with the other gentlemen they considered it a bad omen. They all said, “The should go back. It is not the will of God that we go any further.” However, with many tears the sick woman began to say, “That is not so. This is the work of the devil to prevent this good thing. Let us go on with certainty.” Her insistence was such that they decided that in order not to upset her, and since the coach was a wreck, to carry her the rest of the way in their arms.

By the favour of God they arrived at the friary. First of all they all heard Mass. With great devotion the woman received Holy Communion. It was necessary that when she received that two women held her up since she could not control herself on her knees. When Mass at the high altar was over the woman was carried to the tomb of the holy man. This was in the chapel. Brother Louis, her brother-in-law, had the woman sit in a chair and had a footstool put beneath her feet on her paralysed side. Leaving her alone they all went away so that she could have the opportunity, according to her devotion, to commend herself to God and to the prayers of the holy man Brother Honorius so that he would pray for her. Having gone outside, Brother Louis locked the chancel with the key. The woman’s husband left the church with the other relatives. The woman remained completely alone. Within a little while, while the Friars were talking with the seculars about whether or not this woman would receive her health, a youth who was their relative returned to the church to see what had become of the woman. He found her outside the chapel. She was kneeling before the high altar. With many tears she was thanking God who through the merits of the holy man, had deigned to restore her health. When the youth saw this, without saying anything to the woman, he left the church full of amazement, crying, “Miracle! Miracle! Lady Laura is cured!” At his cries they all ran and found the woman perfectly healed, genuflecting with great devotion before the Blessed Sacrament. Everyone, both Friars and seculars, sith great devotion and tears thanked God for the benefit received. Full of wonder and joy they turned to one another and said, “This is a miracle of God who wanted to show how pleased he is with this servant of His.”

Then Brother Louis called her aside in the chapel so that he could be well informed about the miracle and the way that God used to heal her. The woman replied, “Know that as soon as you left the chapel, while I was commending myself to God, I was lifted up in a dream like ecstasy. Shortly after I saw Capuchin Friar in a vision.” She depicted exactly the stature and appearance of Brother Honorius even though she had never met him. She said, “As he came near he kicked away the footstool that you had put under my foot and took it away from beneath me. He said to me, “Woman, get up, for because of your faith you are cured. Go and thank God. And in a flash he disappeared. Returning to myself, I found I was perfectly healed. Immediately prostrate upon the tomb I poured out many tears just as you can see. Brother Louis looked and saw the wet stone. The woman said, “Opening the chapel I went before the Blessed Sacrament where you found me giving thanks to God.”

When everyone heard this they thanked God again. When they were going home, Brother Louis and the doctor wanted to send to the city for another carriage. However she didn’t want it. So that the miracle would be more obvious, she returned on foot as if she had never had any sickness. She then lived healed not only of that infirmity but was perfectly healed of all the others. The eye that was completely blind now saw better than the other. When her time came she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Recognising him as from God through the merits of Brother Honorius, she gave him the name Honorius. He grew up and is still alive today. This was a great miracle because of the incurable sickness. But his birth was miracle not only because of the long sickness but also because of the fall of the coach God preserved without any lesion that baby in the womb of his mother.

Therefore this shows how Brother Honorius was with God through the holy and good life of this servant of God Bother Honorius through his fasts, his patience, the struggles he endured in the Order, his ardent and holy prayers and many other virtues, and his many merits. With these and other miracles that He worked with this servant of his, God makes us sure that his soul is blessed in heaven and that he does not cease praying for us. Amen.

XIII: About the holy man Brother Eusebius of Ancona, priest and preacher

Brother Eusebius was born in the city of Ancona to noble parents[184]. As a child he applied himself to learning and became a good grammarian. He was always adorned with good ways, nurtured with great tenderness in his paternal home since they were noble. However when he came to the age of about seventeen, at the age when the young usually to take up a purpose for their lives[185] the well-bred youth decided to leave the world and to serve God in the Franciscan Order where he stayed for about twenty years. He continuously dedicated himself to the sciences in which he made great progress, especially in scholastic doctrine. When the Fathers saw his learning and good breeding, they made him a preacher. However he delighted more in the spirit than in preaching, practising holy fasts and prayers.

He was one of those Fathers who brought about the Reform of the Order. When it pleased the Lord God however that the Capuchin Reform came, he burned with an immense fervour to follow in the footsteps of Father Saint Francis in the true observance of the Rule. He and Father John of Fano and other Fathers left from the friary at Cingoli and they came to the Congregation of Capuchins. Father Louis of Fossombrone received them in Rome in the friary of Saint Eufemia. Not long after Father Louis sent him as Vicar to the Province of Saint Francis. He was the first Vicar that Province had[186]. He governed it for three years with great maturity. That Province grew well in the number of Friaries and Friars and good ordinances under the governance of this venerable Father[187].

He was always very austere towards his body. While he was young he always went barefoot most of the time. He never wore anything but a simple habit nine palms wide. However on journeys he wore a mantle which only just covered his arms. He dressed this way most of the year. However when it became very cold he added some old patches to his habit. He never ate more than once a day, and then very little, and just as I heard from some reliable Friars, when he was in the Marches, most days he didn’t eat at all. On the vigils he ate only bread and water. Because of his physical feebleness, when became worn out by all his efforts, he decided to eat whatever the others ate, though hardly ever more than once a day. For a long time we wore harsh sackcloth. Everyone regard him as not the least among the austere. He was a man of great prayer, persevering in it sometime for three or four hours. He was very zealous about the observance of the rule and so enthusiastic about holy poverty that when he went on visitation he could not endure that there be anything superfluous in the friaries, even among the smallest things that the Friars used. He did not want the fruit of any sort from the garden stored, except when it was necessary to obtain seeds. However he wanted the overripe onions and garlic to be left in the garden to germinate again. He said that any long-term storage is against the purity of the Rule. Although he was learned he preached in the best cities with great approval, preaching positively and usefully more with example than with doctrine.

After serving our Lord God with great fervour in the Order for about fifty five years, and having returned to the Marches, the Lord God gave him what he desired, just as he said to me many times. “I desire to die on a journey in some cave or in a barn or in the poorest friary of the Congregation, without anyone serving me in my infirmity.” So it was. He arrived in a little place in the Marches that was still being built. It was very poor and uncomfortable and the servant of God fell gravely ill. He bore that infirmity very joyfully with all the discomfort of the poverty of that friary.

He predicted some things. However because I am not so well informed about them, I am not writing them down.

With good preparation he received all the most holy sacraments. He gave many good things to the Friars remember. He asked forgiveness of all the Friars, both present and absent. Thus concluded with this life, well armed and well disposed, he passed over to a better life.

I do not know the name of the place where he died, nor where his body was buried[188].

During his life he did many miracles. However I will pass over them because I do not have full details. I will put down only one. When he was preaching in the city of Orvieto with great acceptance there was a woman. Although she had had many children, she nonetheless did not have a single drop of milk in her breasts. The devout woman thought to herself that if she could have some thing belonging to the holy man God would grant her, through his merits, the grace of having milk. One morning when the holy man was climbing the pulpit, she drew near and took some hairs from his habit and put them in her bosom. It was amazing. Immediately she had such an abundance of milk that wet all that part of the blouse next to her breasts. From then on she always had an abundance of milk.

Old Brother Angelus of Coldesciopoli told me about this. He was his companion and heard this from the woman.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of His Most Fair Mother and of Father Saint Francis. Amen.

XIV: About the holy man Brother Louis of Savona, priest and preacher

Brother Louis was from a city called Savona, situated in the domain of Genoa. He was born of noble parents[189] and was nourished by them in his fine bearing. From early childhood he attended school and became a good grammarian. However when the time came that he had to be involved in the world he decided to take up religious life. This displeased his parents very much who, recognising his fine intelligence, planned for him to study and because he was the lynchpin of the house. However, enlightened by the Holy Spirit he knew about the deceits of the devil and that one is in the world he can only free himself from his clutches with difficulty.

So when he was about eighteen years old he became a Theatine Priest. He persevered in that Congregation for about three years, applying himself to learning. He became well instructed in the sciences, particularly in Sacred Scripture.

However, as it pleased the Lord God, when he was in the city of Milan where a holy Capuchin was preaching, he decided to do more penance by becoming a Capuchin and he came to Rome. He lodged in our friary at Narni with another Priest, his companion who was later called Brother Anthony Bergamascho. Since I was part of the family in the friary at Narni he informed me about everything. Therefore he went to Rome and was received and always behaved like an angel of God.

His simplicity was such that in the Province of Rome they had a proverb: You are simple like Brother Louis of Savona. Once he found a toad in the garden. When he saw it he caught it by the foot and with great joy brought it to the cook so that he might cook it. He tought it was a frog. The cook told him to throw it away because it was poisonous. Brother Louis was surprised. He said, “I have eaten these frogs many times.”

He was very zealous about observance of the Rule. He could not go barefoot because he was very frail. However he was always austere in clothing and food. When he was made preacher, he preached with such acceptance that it was amazing. When there were certain difficult reconciliations that had to be done, the Friars sent this servant of God to preach, because there no peace he could not accomplish through his simplicity. He always felt that he said too much in his sermon. Nonetheless, his fervour and fine appearance were such that he pleased everyone universally.

He was a man of great prayer, so much so that he rarely spent time with anyone unless it was for an act of charity. He always stayed withdrawn. Nor would you have ever heard him say an idle word, so that his conversation was more angelic than human. He fled to office of superior[190] whenever he could. Once he was made Guardian of Rome. With a great deal of effort the Friars made him accept that office since he felt he could not exercise that office with the clarity of conscience and peace of mind that he desired.

He spoke with the General who gave him permission to go to his home region to handle some important matters with his relatives and which concern the salvation of a soul. During that journey he occupied completely with prayer. Every morning he said Mass. Then he went continue his journey slowly, slowly with his mind continuously lifted up in God or he occupied himself in vocal prayers. When he came to the friary where I was, I said to him, “I am amazed that you began to make this journey.” He replied to me, “I have done it just to flee the tumults of the friary in Rome. I occupy myself continuously in spiritual things. I am much better off than if I stayed in that friary. Furthermore I hope to do a good work.” When the journey was over he returned to Rome. Not long after he fell sick with a grave infirmity. Near to death he was outside himself. It seemed as though he were dead for the space of an hour. Then he returned to himself and with great joy he said, “Know that I have been presented before the tribunal of Jesus Christ and my defects have been examined. I am one of the number of God’s elect. The just judge has determined it. Quickly, give me the Most Holy Sacrament as Viaticum.” After he had received it, that happy soul passed away to its creator. He was buried in the friary in Rome.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of his most fair Mother and of Father Saint Francis. Amen.

XV: About the holy man Brother Jacob of Molfetta, priest and preacher

Brother Jacob was from the city in Puglia called Molfetta. He was born to noble parents[191]. At an early age he worked at learning and became very learned in Logic and Philosophy. It pleased the Lord God to show him the fallacies of this world. At about the age of sixteen he decided to leave the world and joined the holy Franciscan Order. He worked at study and in a short time he became a great theologian and great canonist and was instructed in almost all the sciences.

When the Congregation of Capuchins emerged, he took the Capuchin habit in order to better observe his vows[192]. In that habit he usually practised in the office of preacher. He never wanted to accept any kind of office as superior[193]. He was not a very austere man because he was kind and had a feeble constitution. However in everything else he was very austere he was a zealous observer of the seraphic Rule. Usually he hardly ever ate more than once a day. He had from God a particular gift of being zealous about the things that pertain to the Catholic faith. He was an arch-enemy[194] of heretics and hammer that always hammered them as much as he could. He was so zealous about the things of the church that many regarded him as scrupulous. He conversed little with anyone. However the best part of the time he occupied himself in holy meditations and the study of Sacred Scripture.

Not many miracles were seen in him, nor were the extreme way of life in clothing and other things that are usually associated with holy men. However his talent was in study and preaching. He preached in nearly all the major cities of Italy. Because he nearly always preached cases of conscience, Our Lord God bore the greatest fruit through his preaching.

He preached in Naples one forty-days with the greatest approval of the people. Seeing this great fruitfulness, the Viceroy and other Lords then sought him and he preached there for many months. It was a similar thing in Genoa. His preaching a forty-days there was so pleasing that he preached there for close to three years. He preached in Milan and Venice with great approval for many months. When the Lords of Ragusa heard of his fame, they arranged for him through His Holiness that he go to preach in their cities. He preached there for four or five years. During that time the Archbishop of that city died and by common consent they chose him for their Archbishop. However the holy man wanted to remain a minor, not a superior. He immediately left Ragusa. Our Fathers arranged that the election not be held and so he remained in peace over the matter.

He preached in Bologna with great approval and certain Religious opposed him and accused him in many articles[195]. However he found all the authors of these articles and while he was preaching before a huge gathering of people he refuted the authors one by one. He would say, “I have said such and such because Saint Augustine says it. See, here it is,” and he showed the place. “If this is heresy, blame it on him, not on me.” He needed to have a great quantity of books in the pulpit. When he had finished showing them all to everyone, he made such a great rebuttal that it seemed as though the roof of the church would fall in. He called them ignorant and said they should go and study. The President of Romagna wanted those articles disputed and had them brought to the Fathers of Saint Dominic to study. The most learned of them got up and said, “This is a great man. Those who want to accuse him are crazy.” That was the end of that[196]. Brother Jacob was highly honoured and preached in nearly all the cities of Lombardy.

After exercising this very noble office of preaching for many years, because of his old age his body became very weak[197]. He returned to his Puglia and there he passed away to a better life. I do not know where his body was buried[198].

He was also famous in debate and according to what I have heard he won many debates. In his time Brother Jacob, the “Squinter of Puglia”[199] was reputed as one of the best men at the time.

He wrote some small works. One was on the articles of faith in the form of a dialogue. It was very Catholic and very beautiful and subtle. He wrote another small book on the psalm, Lord, who shall dwell..etc. He composed a very beautiful little work on the divine precepts. I don’t know about the other works.

He was very fluent in Hebrew and Greek. Everyone everywhere regarded him as a holy man and above all a Catholic, fitting and very good Religious. To me these things seem quite sufficient miracles that demonstrate to us the holiness and goodness of this servant of God. As we hope may the Lord grant us that Brother Jacob pray for us in paradise where he reads openly in the divine essence that which he held though doubtless faith in this world, and does so much more infinitely.

To our Lord God be praise, honour and glory. Amen.

XVI: About the holy man Brother Angelus of Savona, priest and preacher

Brother Louis was from the city of Savona. He was born to noble parents and a family universally much loved. Many very good Christians of both sexes have come from that family[200]. He worked at learning from an early age and became quite a good humanist. He was endowed with serious and good ways so that as a secular he life a religious life.

It pleased the Lord God to call him to the Franciscan Order at about the age of sixteen years. HE behaved so well in novitiate that as soon as he came out of novitiate he was put to study and he became a very good theologian.

Also he was not a man of great austerity because he was of the noblest constitution and physically feeble. However the Lord God gave him the innate grace to preach so that he preached very fruitfully in nearly all the main cities of Italy, particularly in Bologna. He preached there many years, the same in Venice. He preached in Naples, Rome and in other cities. He had from God the great gift of governing the Friars. For many years he was Vicar in Different Provinces, Definitor in the General Chapter[201] and other offices of superior.

Finally the Father General sent him to the Marches to preach the forty-days. Within a year he preached there very fruitfully at Fermo, Ascoli, Macerata and other cities. Then he wrote a letter to the Father General, Brother Eusebius of Ancona in which he thanked him for having sent him to those parts where he felt he had born much fruit by the grace of God. He said to him, “I have finished my race. I leave you and commend myself to God. We will meet again soon in paradise.” Then within a few days he passed away to abetter life, leaving behind the very best example of himself. I do not know where his body id buried.

Apart from his true and perfect observance of the Rule no other miracles were evident in him. His ways were so fine that in public opinion and reputation he was regarded as a holy man.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XVII: About the holy man Brother Benedict of Subiaco, lay friar

Brother Louis was from a land called Subiaco, situated in the countryside of Rome within the dominion of the Lords of the House of Colonna. He was born to parents who were not very wealthy, but were good Christians[202].

He came to the holy Order at about the age of twenty. Because he was unlettered he was received as a lay Friar. In that Order her applied himself according to his office in charity toward his neighbour, in fulfilling the duties customary in the Order. He was so resigned in holy obedience that there was never a time that something had to be repeated to him, no matter how harsh or difficult was the task his superior laid upon him. He went barefoot continuously both in summer and winter. He usually fasted on bread and water on all the vigils, especially those of Our Lady, Our Lord and some of the other greater saints. For a long time he wore a harsh hairshirt. Whether summer or winter he never wanted anything against his skin except a habit of natural wool and completely patched. He hardly ever spoke. Rather he observed perfectly the saying of the Lord and answered “yes” or “no.”[203] He was a man of great prayer so that after Matins he hardly ever went to rest. It is believed that he received many consolations and visitations from the Lord.

He would have been in a friary tens years with ever asking to be removed, although within himself he may not have been amenable. He was very charitable to his neighbour. So he served the infirm with great charity and he never seemed upset. He was present when the Congregation began and for a long time it was necessary for him to be in houses that were being built. He helped very happily in everything he could. He was accustomed to say, “We can remain in these little houses with a good conscience because we have built them with our own efforts and they are according to holy poverty.” He was so glad bout this that whenever he heard it discussed it seemed that he would melt from love. When it occurred that he and the other Friars ate what they obtained with their own efforts, he often joined his hands and raised his eyes to heave. He was often seen to weep. He said, “May God be thanked! The desire I have always had to live by labour is now fulfilled.”

He was never seen to use anything other than what the Rule simply allowed for personal use. When he left a Friary at Chapter time, he would take a piece of cane because he was old, and he would go with that. He never wanted to deal with seculars. When it was necessary to speak with them a little in the time when the building was being done, he always did so with great modesty and few words. He always mixed the talk about the work at hand with some words of God. He would say a word about the matter being discussed and then he would add, “May God be thanked, and his Most Fair Mother and Father Saint Francis!”

I cannot write too much about him because although I knew him I never stayed too long with him in fraternity[204]. Since at that time nearly all of them were holy men, the matter was not discussed much because he was not unusual in this. However I have understood from trustworthy Friars that he was one of the holiest Friars in the Province of Rome at that time.

After having carried the yoke of the Order, giving the best example to everyone for more than forty years, he passed away in the house in Rome and was buried in that house[205].

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XVIII: About the holy man Brother Peter of Norcia, cleric

Brother Peter was born the region of Norcia to poor, good Christian parents[206]. At an early age he went to school and learned enough to read. Then he was put to work as a pack-saddler.

It pleased the Lord God to put in his heart that he should leave the world and our Congregation received him. He was a disciple of Father Baptist of Norcia. A light from God overcame him in novitiate that struck him in such a way that he considered himself to be the greatest sinner in the world, although truly he would have always been a good son. He became a Friar at about the age of sixteen years. Neither his Master nor anyone else could remove this impression from his that if he wanted to save himself he must do great penance. He dedicated himself to abstinence with so much fervour that it was incredible. For during the entire time of his novitiate that he never satisfied his hunger and most of the time he fasted on bread and water. Seeing that he was a good son and capable of suffering, his Master allowed him to do it. After he made his profession he still continued to eat bread and water and nearly always fasted except on Sundays or on some solemnities when the Superiors had him eat some soup and some other dish. However he ate so little it was as good as nothing at all. He would have been continuously at prayer if the Friars had not stopped him. He would not have cared about eating and sleeping. He was so engrossed in this abstinence that he made a habit of it, so that if he would have had to change that way of living it would have done him great harm, so much was his nature attenuated! During his prayer he continuously wept and beat his breast. Often he was heard saying beneath his breath, “Lord, forgive my sins. There is no one in the world that may have offended you more than I. I deserve hell.” He never wanted more than one habit and in winter he covered it with the worst patches that were in the house.

For many years he persevered in this fervour, growing in the holy virtues, especially in humility and abstinence. Many times the Friars said, “Brother Peter, do not make yourself ill.” And he would reply, “Jesus Christ did not become ill for me, but died. When will I purge all my many sins?”[207]

When he was in the old friary at Spoleto be fell ill. He did not last long in that sick. Because he was so weak, he passed away to a better life in a short time. He was buried in that house.

Because of the great austerity that this servant of God had practised, it gave occasion to many to think ill about something he said when he was at the very end of his life. He said, “Give me something to eat for I am damned.”[208] Therefore some wanted to interpret this word that his death had been premature because of his continuous and harsh penance and that God wanted to show on this point that Brother Peter had been in error in going beyond the limits of discretion. He would have been able to live in the service of God for many years since he was young. They said that his indiscretion in doing too much penance would have been the case of his sickness and consequently of his death. They said this about him for a long time and pointed to him as an example for the young so that they would not fall ill from too much suffering. He was used as an example also for the old because although the virtues are good, none the less, taking them to the extreme makes them vices. Therefore, as the glorious Saint Anthony said, “Discretion is the queen of all the virtues.”[209]

However, it was clearly understood that young man said these words when he was not himself. Therefore he died in a very holy manner and everyone hopes that he is deriving the benefits of all his efforts in paradise. Amen.

XIX: About the holy man Brother Giles of Sant’Angelo in Vado, lay Friar

Brother Giles was from region called Sant’Angelo in Vado, situated in the dominion of the Duke of Urbino. He was born of humble parents an when the Reformed conventual Friars established a house in Sant’Angelo in Vado, the good youth saw the exemplary life of that holy servants of God and decided to abandon the world. He made known his good intention to one of those Fathers, which was to serve God in that Order. That Father reassured him and helped him with the Superiors. Because he knew how to read only a little, he was received as a lay Friar. When he saw himself clothed in the habit he decided to live an austere life. When those Fathers saw that he had a good constitution and that he was very faithful in his tasks, willing to serve and kind, they gave him to the venerable Father Hubert of Casale as his disciple. For there were seven founders of that Reform: Brother Francis of Montepulciano, Brother Julian of Salona, Brother Modestus of Piacenza, Brother Xavier of Val’ di Buona, Brother Thomas Schiavone, Brother Dominic of Udine and Brother Hubert of Casale[210]. Together they began this holy Reform and almost all of them performed miracles both in life and in death. However when it happened that the Zoccolanti obtained the seals of the Order from His Holiness it caused that Reform to fail[211] because the Conventual Fathers experienced great difficulties. Therefore those holy masters withdrew to further advance that Reform.

However, as it pleased the Lord, not long after, the Capuchin reform emerged and the majority of them came to the Congregation of Capuchins. They gave their houses at Giannazzano, Sant’Angelo in Vado and of Mary Magdalen near Montepulciano to the Capuchins[212]. Almost all the Friars in those houses became Capuchins and Brother Giles was on of those who was in the house of Giannazzano. He asserted that when he was young and after the death of Brother Hubert, he was the disciple of Brother Ilmbrio (?) of Hungary, a man of great holiness and perfection. When he saw the ruin the ruin of that Reform, out of devotion for Saint Francis he began to serve in the Convento at Assisi. Those Fathers gave him the office of sacristan, which he did with great diligence. He liked things so neat and clean that not only swept the entire loser church once a week but also washed the entire paved area with water. When the Priests went there to celebrate Mass, when this servant of God was aware that they had dirt feet he would take them by the arm and lead them to the sacristy as if they were children. He was very large and quite gracious. He always went dressed with only one completely patched habit only as was the practice in that Reform. He never wanted anything of the Convento except a small amount of bread. Most of the cost for him and his companion, Brother Giles, was met devout persons. Because of the great devotion they bore towards him they gave him bread, fruit and other things. In that convent, as Brother Giles used to relate, this holy man saw marvellous things, for he slept very little and used to be in the Church at prayer two or three hours before Matins. One night when he got up he found the choir full of Friars who were singing Matins. Brother Ilmbrio was very comforted by this. He believed that they were Friars, no doubt and with great devotion he listen to Matins. After he had found them there many times he began to wonder why so many Friars rose before the others. Wanting to clarify the matter he asked the Custos whom the Friars were. The Custos answered, “Brother Ilmbrio I wonder whether too little sleep has effected your brain and put there such vanities[213]. Amazed at this, the following night he found the same Friars there. Plucking up courage he went to the choir and asked who they were. Immediately there was silence and one of them said to him, “Brother Ilmbrio, do not be afraind. We are dead Friars. Because we have missed the Office many times and have been extremely negligent in giving God due praise, even though we went to confession at the time of our death, nonetheless because there was no time to do penance and make satisfaction for this. So the Lord God has committed us to this place as our purgatory. Until we have made up for the Office we didn’t say we will not be freed. We will be here until that day and then you will no longer hear us.” And that is how it was because when that day came Brother Ilmbrio no longer heard them.

One night it happened to him that while he was at prayer after Matins a naked Friar appeared to him, and he knew him. He had a great bundle of thorns on his shoulder. He pretended that he wanted to throw the thorns at Brother Ilmbrio with a pitchfork. He annoyed him like this for an hour. He thought that he was doing this for fun and said to him many times, “Brother, do not disturb my prayer because I will tell the Custos.” The fellow would go away some distance and then return. AS the since this servant of God could not longer endure this nuisance, he went very early in the morning to the Custos and told him that he should do something so that this fellow would not bother him any more. At this the Custos answered with tears that it was the fellow’s soul. “The poor fellow was killed last night.” Saddened by this , from then on when Brother Ilmbrio heard the fellow discussed, he used to weep and say, “The poor fellow. His appearing to me naked and with thorns was a bad sign that he was naked of all the holy virtues and dressed only with the thorns of his sins. May God forbid that he lost.”

Another time this servant of God was in front of the altar. With many tears he was commending himself to the Lord so that he might reveal to him where the body of Saint Francis was. For he had an incredible to see that holy body. He heard a clear voice that said to him, “O Brother Ilmbrio, why are you looking for me so? Know that I and there. Serve God faithfully and you will see me in paradise, etc.”

Therefore Brother Giles told of all these things he had heard from the mouth of Brother Ilmbrio himself, his master. When he joined the Capuchins he told these things to anyone who would listen and I was quite close to him when I was with in him in the same fraternity in the friary in Rome.

This servant of God exercised the greatest austerity that few have been able to imitate. For he never ate more than once a day, and for all the forty-days, Fridays and vigils of the entire year he fasted on bread and water. He always went barefoot and never wore sandals. He was happy with just one completely patched habit. He never wore a mantle or any other clothes. For about thirty years he collected alms in Rome with such exemplarity to the seculars that all of Rome regarded him as holy. The gentlemen and Prelates of Holy Church so loved him that it was a great effort for him to get away from them – so much did they love to hear him speak about the things of God! When the Hospital for the Incurable was established he stayed there about three years. He was the reason that Hospital got onto such a good footing because it had been almost abandoned.

He was very fervent in holy prayer for in winter he was always in the Church two hours before Matins and continued there until the first Mass had been said. He never wore the cowl on his head. It seemed as though he had no feeling. He was so faithful in the tasks enjoined on him that he did not omit anything that his Superiors enjoined on him. He rarely spoke except when it was necessary. When he did not have anything that had to be done anyone looking for him could find him in the Church.

Adorned with all these holy virtues and good ways, finally after having served God for about fifty years, the servant of God was in the friary of Saint Nicholas in Rome. After receiving all the most holy sacraments, that happy soul passed away to its Creator after a grave and brief illness. He was buried in that house.

He did many miracles in his life, but because at the time the Friars attended to mortification they avoided whatever could bring them honour. Therefore they did not keep a record of the miracles. Because I was not of that Province I was unable to know about them fully. Therefor I pass over them.

To the praise of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XX: About the holy man Brother Humile of Offida, priest and preacher

Brother Humile was from area situated in the Marches called Offida. His parents were not the lowliest of the land and when he was young they sent him to school. Within a short time he became a good grammarian. The kindness and physical charm of this youth were such that everyone judged that because of his good ways and fine bearing that he would become a Religious.

As it pleased the Lord God, he was in Rome when he was about seventeen years old when he saw the Capuchins going about Rome so devoutly, barefoot and poorly dressed. He was inflamed with an immense fervour to serve God in this Order. He understood that they lived in Sant’ Eufemia and went to find them. He so commended himself that Brother Louis of Fossombrone received him and he was made a cleric. When he came of age he became a Priest. Since he was such a good grammarian Brother Louis made him a preacher and he studied by himself so that he made himself familiar with quite good sermons.

He preached with so much fervour that it was inexplicable. Anyone who could get him as a preacher considered himself very blessed because he was so much in demand. In particular God gave him the grace to make peace. So there was no enmity so intricate and stubborn that he could not reconcile when he set to it. Truly his name agreed with his deeds for he was so humble that in this virtue he surpassed all the others. Such was his humble and gentle manner in bring about peace it seemed that no one was able to contradict him.

Because of his simplicity he was capable of high contemplation so when he was clothed in the habit, apart from the necessities of nature, for many years he exercised himself in holy contemplation. He divided the day in this way. After Matins he rarely went back to rest but persevered in prayer either in his cell or in the church until the hour of Prime. After he had heard Mass he usually did half an hour of manual work in order to wake up and to exercise nature. The he withdrew to his cell and spent the rest of the time until Terce either studying or praying. After Vespers until Compline he did the same. He was so careful about time that unless he was constrained by obedience he never spoke with the Friars. He had on his lips like a proverb, “The one who has things to do does not sleep. The one who serves a great Majesty with much solicitude tries to stay vigilant in order to please his master. The one who serves the Lord God should be all the more lively and vigilant. He never fails to give his servants different gifts, many of which are lost because they do not find us disposed.”

He had the grace of tears and many times the Friars heard him weep copiously over the Passion of the Lord. It was believed that the Lord God revealed many things to him. When he used to come from prayer he was so aflame with the love of God that it seemed that he had two roses on his cheeks. When the Friars asked him what it was, he answered more with gestures than with words rather than be taken up with them in order not to exhale the received spirit[214].

He was very zealous about holy poverty so that he seemed to be like another Saint Francis. He used nothing other than a simple habit and only what the Rule allowed. He was very austere, fasting almost continuously. He never missed the forty-days that our Father Saint Francis was accustomed to do, doing the one of Saint Michael on bread and water most times. He always went barefoot, dressed in only one habit both in summer and in winter.

As it pleased Our Lord God, since he was of a weak constitution, he lived a short time. Given Brother Anthony the Portuguese as his companion, he was to go to Naples and take the young man to visit his father who was in Naples. One night on the journey the servant of God was lodging in the Abbey of Monte Casino when he fell ill. He deteriorated and after receiving the most holy sacraments from that Reverend Fathers, that holy soul passed away to its creator. He was buried in the tomb of the Monks and for many years that holy body remained intact and fair, as if he had only just died. Those Fathers regarded this a great miracle and he was held in veneration. When they wanted to show something marvellous to the people who went to the abbey, they showed them that holy body.

XXI: About the holy man Brother Anthony of Portugal

When Brother Anthony was returning to the Province of Rome an extern of those Fathers accompanied him[215]. Then he was sent to the Province of Saint Francis where he lived with great holiness.

Brother Anthony of Portugal was born of noble parents. Because his father served Charles V, he sent him to Naples for some task. Which, I don’t know. Having brought his son with him it was necessary to send him to Rome. I do not know what the matter was about. Residing some days there, as it pleased God, he saw the Capuchins. He so fell in love with the holy Order that for many days he went to Saint Euphemia every day to be received by Brother Louis. However, because he saw him so young and frail he didn’t want to receive him doubting that he would be able to endure. One day the devout youth bought some natural wool and from it he made himself a coarse habit without a cowl, in the Capuchin shape that he saw. In fervour of spirit he stripped himself naked, put on that habit and went of to Saint Euphemia. Falling to his knees before Brother Louis he said to him with many tears, “Father, I do not want to return to putting on those clothes. I pray that you may want to receive me.” When Brother Louis saw his great fervour and sound desire he received him. And he always behaved like an Angel.

He was most austere regarding his body. He always went dressed, as was the custom of Capuchins, with just one habit, barefoot in summer. Since he was frail, the Superiors had him wear sandals in winter. He was adorned with all the holy virtues. In particular God gave him the grace so that an idle word never came from his mouth. He fled to conversation of the Friars and when some physical task was enjoined on him by obedience he always did it alone so as not to have an occasion to speak. He was very devout towards Our Lady and he fasted on bread and water for all her vigils. God endowed him with the gift of holy contemplation during which Our Lady appeared to him four times and revealed to him many things. One thing in particular was the end of his life and the full remission of all his sins.

Everyone regarded him a virgin. The venerable Father Francis of Iesi said of him, “I have never seen such a fine young man as this one, and one so adorned with such good manners and zealous over the perfect observance of the Rule. He is so devout in all his undertakings. It truly shows that he was born of good blood.”

Finally he was in the friary of Saint Joseph at Foligno after having served Our Lord God for about twelve years. After the young man had been celebrating Mass for about three years, one day he developed a nosebleed. Although many remedies were given him, none helped. He said, “Make nothing of it because I have to die.” He said this because Our Lady had revealed it. He lost so much blood that gently, as if he fell asleep, that happy soul passed away to its creator after having received all the most holy sacraments. The aforementioned Father Francis of Iesi was present at his death. He was buried in that Church of Joseph and the whole Province mourned his death very much.[216]

To the praise of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XXII: About the holy man Brother Matthew of Leonessa, priest and preacher

Brother was from a region named Leonessa situated within the dominion of Aquila. He was born of honest parents who were good citizens in that land. At an early age he worked at his education and became a very good grammarian. He was always devout and quite inclined towards the things of God. He went to confession often, attended the Fraternity, and almost always dealt with honest and religious persons. One never saw in this devout youth the carelessness one usually sees in young people his age. Everyone regarded him as a virgin. No one ever heard a dishonest word come from his mouth. Being this way, everyone loved him very much.

When he came to about eighteen years of age he studied the art of medicine and quickly became a good doctor. Having become a doctor he returned to his home region after his study, however according to his custom, he attended even more to the spiritual life. Quite often he went to a Church about three miles away and there he used to discipline himself. He liked that Church so much because it was isolated and very devout that he went there almost every night as secretly as he could. Very often he was seen to carry a large piece of wood on his shoulder in order to mortify himself. When this began to become widely known, some devout persons who knew about this began to observe him. One devout woman saw him accompanied miraculously by two lights that went ahead of him. When he had spent the greatest part of the night at his holy prayers in that church, he always returned before daylight in order not to be seen. Very often drops of blood were found on the snow along the road. They came from his own flesh because of the severity of his discipline. Or they came from his feet because he always went barefoot. The woman who saw these things most was called Lady Julia. She also used to apply herself to the spiritual life.[217]

The young man considered that it would be no small benefit to his land if he persevered in a good and holy life with out distancing himself in other regions. To better and more expeditiously serve God he decided to take up the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis with the intention of being ordained a Priest and to remain in that habit as a hermit and be granted permission to be able to preach. This was the reason that he was clothed in the habit worn by the Tertiaries who live in the Congregation. So everyone thought that he had been clothed as a Conventual since the habit is very similar. However just as I have been very well informed, he never wore the Conventual habit. His plans to help his neighbour were not succeeding. Instead he was impeded from his devout and holy prayers because of the many occupations he had in this father’s house. He quickly began to be concerned that the world was drawing him, rather than he drawing others to the service of God. So he decided to become a Capuchin. His relatives and friends opposed this very much. Nonetheless he left his homeland and went to Rome where the venerable Father Bernardine of Asti received him. When he saw himself clothed with the habit that our Father Saint Francis wore, for many months he could not contain his tears of devotion and joy.

In his novitiate this servant of God acted like the wise architect who builds the palace upon deep and solid foundations. Because like a man who understood this both by learning and from being well instructed in the spiritual life, he established all his building on the surest foundation of holy humility. It makes known to everyone that his leaving the world was not done by whim or for vanity but only through an inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He derived so much profit from subjection and mortification during the year of novitiate that for as long as he lived he kept the same ways neither more nor less as if he were a novice. Although he was often Guardian he was not known in any other way than this, that he was humble and despised by others.

He always went barefoot both in summer and in winter even though his constitution was quite weak. He rarely ate more than once a day and most of the time he fasted on bread and water. For a long time he wore rough sackcloth. He always dressed in only one habit. However after he had persevered some years in this kind of austerity, he fell gravely ill. From then on he was forced to moderate himself and to wear sandals and mantle. However he never left abstinence. Father Bernardine of Asti said, “I have never seen a Friar as disposed to suffering or so dedicated to contemplation like Brother Matthew.”

When he became a preacher, more than the usual forty-days he preached nearly all the feasts of the year. The Lord God worked a great harvest of poor souls through this servant of his[218]. He had received from God the great grace to conclude reconciliations. He did this in such a way that people from all parts sought him out and he had to do these things nearly all year. It seemed that he did not take count the cost of any effort when he saw that he was able to benefit his neighbour. By nature he was pleasant and so loving and compassionate to his neighbour that it seemed that for him everyone was his child. On the other hand the secular had such devotion towards him that he could do whatever he wanted to do. After Matins he rarely and hardly ever slept. Rather, he spent all that time in prayer. He said his Mass early every day. No one ever heard an idle word come from his mouth. He was always recollected, fleeing every occasion of useless conversation.

When he was guardian at the friary in Aquila he fell gravely ill. With great patience he persevered in that illness for many days. It pleased the Lord God to want to reward this man who had been his servant amid so many efforts. For after he had received all the most holy sacraments that happy soul passed away to its creator. He was buried in that friary.

In order to show how pleasing this servant of his was God worked many miracles through him, just as his companion Father Raniere of Borgo testifies. Once he became very enthusiastic about imitating Father Saint Francis by doing the forty-days of the Blessed without eating just as he did. Once he began to fast with great fervour and he persevered for seventeen days without eating anything. He said Mass alone every morning with great devotion. He would have finished the fast except an illness overwhelmed him. He so nourished his soul with holy contemplation and mental transformation in God that even his body was sustained and kept robust and lively as if he had eaten many dishes.

The Lord God worked another miracle in the Cathedral at Narni. While this servant of God was celebrating Mass he was in rapture, taken up in ecstasy at the Memento for half an hour, much to the great admiration of the people. A gentleman called Mr. Theodore, who was present at that Mass, testified to this.

He did another miracle when he was Guardian in the friary at Tivoli. A gravely ill Friar was there and there was not a drop of wine in that region because hail[219] had destroyed the vintage. The sick Friary had a great desire for a little bit of wine. The Friars did not have any. The holy man Brother Matthew asked them to bring him a vessel of water, then taking a pomegranate he squeezed its juice into the vessel. When he made the sign of the cross over the vessel it became excellent wine. All the Friars of the house were present for this and they all regarded it as a miracle.

He did another miracle. He was on his way to his homeland of Leonessa and in the area of Antredoco he visited a woman called Santella who was a great devotee of his. When he found her ill he ordered a little medicine and although he lived not far away the apothecary forgot to give her the medicine. So when the holy man found her still ill the next day, with great fervour and faith to took a piece of bread and dipped it into the oil-lamp that burned in front of the image of Our Lady and had the sick woman eat it. She ate it with devotion and was perfectly cured immediately.

He did another miracle. A man, a great devotee of his in the city of Aquila, was in very great danger of drowning in a river below the city, called the Rivera. When he saw himself in such great, he cried aloud, “O Brother Matthew, servant of God, help me!” Because of this, in a flash he found himself miraculously put on the other side of the river, out of the water. This man enthusiastically told the story of the miracle openly to everyone.

He did another miracle. The son of a poor old widow had died and out of compassion the servant of God went to console her. As soon as he entered the house where the deceased lay, with great devotion the woman threw herself down on her knees before him. She said, “O Father Matthew, I have so much faith in your prayers that if you prayed for my son, without doubt the Lord will raise him up.” The servant of God answered, “Woman I am a great sinner. I am not worthy to beg something so great as to lead the dead back to life,.” The woman replied, “Father, do not despise my prayers. Consider the pain of the poor mother who has no other child than this one.” Still Brother Matthew refused, regarding himself as unworthy. However the great insistence of the woman constrained him to set himself to prayer. After persevering for some time, with great faith he turned towards the deceased and made the sign of the cross over him. Wonderful God! For straightway the dead young man sat up and said, “Know that God has raised me up through the merits of this servant of his, Brother Matthew.” This caused such amazement that all those who were present, both men and women, began to cry out with a loud voice and thank God so unrestrainedly from devotion and with many tears that all the people round about came running to the miracle. News of it spread throughout the region. His companion told this to the lord Knight of Pompei Mr. Gallo[220] of Leonessa and to many others.

He did another miracle when he arrived at Antredoco in the house of a very devout widow called Lady Clare. She did not have any wine in the house and took a flask to go and buy some. This was because hail had ruined the whole region and wine could not be found. When Brother Matthew saw that she wanted to buy some he said to her, “I do not want you to buy any. Go to your cask and you will find some there.” The woman replied, “Father, we haven’t had a drop of wine in our casks now for many days.” The man of God said, “Have faith, woman. Go in the name of the Lord because you will find some there.” At these words the woman sent her son. When he tapped the barrel excellent wine came from it that lasted all that family until the harvest. Brother Matthew commanded that they make an alms of it to all those sent to them on behalf of the poor who were sick, and they gave some to all those who for the sick asked if for the sick and for the love of God. Such a large number had some of that wine that everyone knew that is was multiplied continuously by the merits of that holy man. The women, her son and that entire region testified to this. The son is called Luke and still lives with his widowed mother[221]. This was when Brother Matthew was guardian in the house at Aquila.

This servant of God did another stupendous miracle in 1541 when he was in that friary at Aquila. Mr Paolo of Aquila was very devoted towards our Congregation. His very young son died. His death caused so much sorrow to his mother and father. Completely desperate because of their great sorrow they did not eat and neglected them themselves. Beside themselves, as if intoxicated, they did nothing else but weep. Because of this it was decided to send for this holy man in whom they had great faith so that he might encourage them to patience. However, as it pleased the Lord God, instead of patience, great joy and wonder resulted for everyone. For when the man of God arrived in the house he imposed silence upon everyone. Then withdrawing to a room he remained there at prayer for a good while. Then he came out with a very happy face because he knew God had listened to him. Approaching the dead boy he embraced him with great love. He held him in his arms for some time and put him back on the bed. Then he made the sign of the cross over him and immediately he opened his eyes. He gave him back alive to his mother. More than fifteen persons were present at this and news of it spread throughout all those parts. Then his father sent the young person to study, since he was healthy still, and he became very learned.

Not long after he did another miracle. The son of Mr Ranaldo was dying in the same city of Aquila. Because he was very devoted towards our Congregation he immediately sent word to the friary at Aquila so that the Friars might pray God for his health. However the Lord God want to draw from it greater honour for himself. Like another Lazarus[222] he permitted the child to deteriorate and pass from this life. When the father saw that the child had already died he remembered the miracle that the holy man Brother Matthew had done and a great faith came to him that he would also raise up his son. He sent word to him to ask him that for the love of God he come all the way to hi shouse because his son was dead. When the servant of God heard this he was moved with compassion. Taking his companion he went straight away. He had no sooner entered the house and Mr. Ranaldo and all his family threw themselves upon their knees. With many tears and he said to him, “Father, I have great such faith in your holy prayers that if you pray for this son of mine, His Majesty will give him back to me alive.” When the servant of God heard these words he was overwhelmed and with tears said to him, “Mr. Ranaldo, let us pray to God for his soul. It is not necessary to pray for his body. He was payed what he had to pay. He has gone a step ahead of us, having paid the debt that we still have to pay. Therefore, let us prepare ourselves, for all of us too have to come to this step.” Mr. Ranaldo replied to him, “I am departing from the will of God, Father. I beg that you may pray with this condition, that God may make him well if it is for the best. I am certain Jesus Christ will heed you.” When the servant of God saw their great faith and insistence, he withdrew in the same way. After praying for some time he again approached the dead child. Making the sign of the cross over him with great faith he said, “Lord God, look upon their faith.” Immediately the youngster returned to life, as if he were waking from sleep. News of the miracle spread throughout the whole city of Aquila.

A great miracle occurred also at his death[223]. Many, many persons saw a lot of lights in the tribune[224] at Saint Bernardine’s. The gathering of people to his holy body after his death was such that his habit was nearly totally in shreds. They cut up a mantle he wore when he was alive and sewed them like relics[225] and wore them. After already knowing about and understanding Brother Matthew’s fame, When the castellan of the Fortress saw this, out of his devotion he had an arm cut off (from the body). With great devotion he kept it as a relic with the intention of spending as much as he could to have him canonised. However as it pleased the Lord God that he pass away a short time later and no more was done.

To the praise of Our Lord Jesus Christ and his servant blessed Bother Matthew.

XXIII: About the holy man Brother Matthew of Cascia, priest

Brother Matthew was from a villa in Cascia called Onelli. He was born to simple, poor and good Christian parents. Because they were farmers they nurtured Brother Matthew in great simplicity. As a child he learned to read a little. His parents set him to the art of farming. However, as it pleased God, burning with fervour to serve God in Some Order, and because he was quite young, and the only opportunity he saw was a one of the Fratini[226] that he saw in the friary of Saint Francis. They served at Mass, sang the epistle and sang in choir. He began to love that life and since he attended that friary the Fathers clothed him as a Conventual Fratino. Not long after he grew in his understanding of the Order and left the conventuals and became a Zoccolante Friar. He always wanted to be in the poor friaries.

When the Capuchin Reform emerged the holy man Brother Louis of Foligno who was already a Capuchin visited him. By his persuasive arguments, Brother Matthew left the place where he was in fraternity. He was alone at the time because the other Friars were away on certain business. He came to the Capuchins and Father Eusebius of Ancona received him when he was the first Vicar of the Province of Saint Francis. Brother Matthew always led a very exemplary life. While he was young he went barefoot almost always. He never wanted to wear more than a habit that was completely patched with sacking. He was so enthusiastic about poverty that I believe that among the Capuchins in the province of Saint Francis there has never been anyone to surpass him. He was so zealous that he could not suffer stores of any thing. When garlic, onions, apples, nuts and the like were stored he could not rest until the Father Vicar got rid of them. He always wanted to be in the poorest friaries. Also he was very austere in eating because he fasted almost continuously. He always fasted on bread and water for the forty-days that our Father Saint Francis was accustomed to do. He always did these with the greatest devotion as well as certain vigils of Our Lady, of Our Lord and of other feasts of particular saints to which he was accustomed and for which he fasted out of devotion.

I don’t believe had the grace of contemplation very much because he occupied himself nearly continuously in vocal prayers. He said the Office of the Dead, the Seven Psalms and other devotions nearly every day.

He talked little with anyone but always remained withdrawn. He never wanted anything for his use other than that which the Rule allowed. He fled from secular friendships at all cost. Therefore I have had it from a trustworthy who Friar who knew him since he was a child and who regarded him as a virgin. Such was the purity and simplicity evident in him that he seemed like a man from the next life. He had consideration for himself but continuously carried out the lowliest tasks. He was very keen enthusiastic about holy obedience. When Chapters were celebrated he always wanted to know if anything had been ordered. He inviolably observed the Constitutions and those things observed in Chapters. The whole world could not have made him go against the Constitutions.

Although he was so simple, nonetheless he was made Guardian for many years in certain little friaries because of his good life. He led it with an iron rod. He was very zealous about the Divine Office and very anxious that no hour be missed night and day. Sometimes he was restless over it and annoyed the Sacristans because of his great zeal about the Divine Office. When he was very worn out sometimes or had just arrived after a long journey, even though he felt so exhausted that he could hardly stand up, he got up for Matins nonetheless. When we hays in the house he never failed to come to all the hours or prayer and discipline.

He never spoke except sometimes by way of encouragement and about things regarding the Rule. He was more relaxed in speaking about this than anything else. He never wanted to hear about or talk about other news.

He persevered in this way of life within the holy Congregation and Province of Saint Francis for about forty years. When the holy man was old and he felt he could not do any other good he applied himself to making rosaries and gave them to the Friars in order to invite them to say the rosary of Our Lady. However when he was young he laboured very faithfully in the necessary tasks for many little places were established during his time. Although he never wanted to get involved in building and he was not physically robust, he never failed nonetheless to help with the poor buildings and in enclosing the site of the house in making gardens and the like.

Finally when Our Lord God wanted to reward this servant of his, he fell seriously ill. After having received all the most holy sacraments that holy soul passed away to a better life. He was buried in the holy place of the Carcere. Amen.

XXIV: About the holy man Brother Francis of Suriano, priest and preacher

Brother Francis was from a place called Suriano situated in the mountains of Viterbo. He was born to honest parents[227]. As a child he went to school and became quite well versed in positive grammar. Then he approached some lords and for some years attended their courts in Rome. He was quite well involved in the vanities of the world. However, as it pleased the Lord God, when he turned about eighteen years of age, he began to understand the dangerous situation of the courts. To put an end to many sins he began to go to confession often and to attend the most holy sacraments. Because of this God enlightened him that he should leave the world straight away. He became a Friar in the Franciscan Order, taking up the habit of the Zoccolanti.

While often in holy contemplation, he gave himself to austerity with so much fervour that, because of the way he taxed his memory, his head became so weak that some time he stayed fifteen days without any, or very little, sleep at all. Worrying that he would lose his mind he abstained from study. Because of this he did not make great progress in letters. Nonetheless when those Fathers saw his fair talent and quite good intelligence, they made him a preacher. However, because of that infirmity he did not want to exercise such an office. As it pleased the Lord God, when he was in the fraternity of a little house where there was a simple, very devout Guardian, a feast-day came. The Guardian enjoined on him to do the sermon in a castle near the friary. Brother Francis complained to the Guardian and said to him, “Father Guardian, you know my situation well and yet you impose on me to preach.” The Guardian replied, “I did it with good intent. However, if you cannot do it, leave it.” When Brother Francis later thought that he lacked obedience he returned to the Guardian and said to him, “Father, enjoin me to preach. I do not want to go against obedience. If it is your will, I will do what you want.” He replied, “It is my will, my son, and I believe that a little exercise will do you good. Go with the blessing of God because obedience will help you.” Therefore he went and God so cooperated with him that he gave a sermon that amazed the world. It was truly a work of God because neither he nor the Friars would ever have been aware of the beautiful gift he had received from God of preaching as well as his beautiful natural disposition. However Brother Francis was very encouraged by this and the Superiors from then on wanted him to preach. This is just what I heard from his own mouth[228] because I was very well acquainted with him for many years. He told me that he preached Lent, Advent and all the feast-days for fourteen years continuously, always in the lowly places in order to feel surer of himself.

When the Capuchin Congregation came along he burned with an incredible fervour to observe his profession perfectly. When he heard that Father Bernardine of Asti had become a Capuchin he didn’t want to wait any longer. He came and Father Louis of Fossombrone received him. He was no sooner clothed that already being a preacher he began to preach with such fervour[229] that in his day he was regarded as the best preacher in Italy.

He was not very learned, none the less from practice he had such a good grasp of the sciences it was as if he had been educated in them. When learned men who did not know him listened to him preach so highly, they regarded him as the best philosopher and theologian in the world[230]. He managed to harmonise philosophy with the Scriptures and theology in the pulpit that he amazed the world. He preached in the leading cities of Italy[231] and nearly always conducted his sermon for three hours. His preaching was so good that it seemed it only lasted half an hour. Sometimes he had twenty five thousand people at his sermon. His voice was so resounding and good that the one who stood at the back heard as well as the one near the pulpit. He used to reprimand so forcefully that when they left his sermon all they went home astonished. They were so much in suspense and frightened that that they could not longer take to temporal matters. He had the Prayer of the Forty Hours better organised than Father Joseph of Ferno for when the Hour was over, he gave a brief sermon to all parties[232] and had them all embrace one another and reconcile together.[233] The Lord God gave him so much power that there was no reconciliation that he could not effect by being able to bring them to the Prayer. When the Prayer was over the entire city had been restored to peace. Always at the end of his sermon he used to turn towards the crucifix. He would speak to it so fervently, sometimes for the space of an hour, with such powerful words that there would not be anyone that didn’t weep copiously, no matter how worldly, cruel and hard he was. He so lifted up people’s hearts that that wherever he preached they became so frightened that they abandoned the shops and their duties. They didn’t attend anything except confession, Holy Communion and going to churches and fraternities. His name was such that it spread throughout all of Italy and he nearly always went preaching, having been sought by the cities or the Protector of the Order or by His Holiness. Through his sermons the Lord God produced the greatest fruit in the restitution of goods, the conversion of prostitutes, many young people who left the world and became Friars, and great reconciliations. On the Island of Sicily especially he preached for about three years in all the principal cities with such acceptance that it seemed as though the time of the Messiah had returned. For because the cities and areas where he preached were a long way from one another, all the Confraternities from all around got moving and one saw, especially on feastdays, four or five thousand people come from all those regions. The people had such devotion and faith in him that all those who had sick and possessed put them on the roads where he had to pass. As he passed nearly all of them were freed with the sign of the cross. Once he had to pass along a road where there was a church with two exits so that it was possible to go via the church or along the road. However when the preacher arrived they brought a possessed woman into the church thinking that he had to pass by the Church. Wonderful God! None of here relatives were aware that the preacher went by outside along the road. However they did know by the power[234] of God because those spirits began to cry out immediately, “Here is our enemy, the one who flails us continuously. We cannot stay here any longer.” Straightaway she was perfectly freed. He did similar such things countless times.

There is no tongue that can describe the great things he did regarding the restitution of goods and the leaving of concubines as well as other great sins. I want to put on paper just one example of this that he told me himself. There was a very rich Abbot who was engulfed in every kind of vice, but what was important was that he kept a concubine publicly and by whom he had children. It was great scandal to everyone. It happened by the providence of God that when the wretch heard about the great fame of this holy man he decided to listen to him, although he never went to sermons and cared little about anything spiritual. In the first sermon he was so struck by God through the words or the preacher that like the sinful woman Magdalen he was completely prepared to leave all his vice. The words of the preacher were all the more effective. For he knew that the preacher could not have know good or bad about him because he had never seen him before and also because he was the one who initiated that he preach in that church. As soon as the Abbot sat down, the preacher – as if he knew him – fixed his eye upon him and told him all his vices one by one without looking at or indicating with his hand anyone else except the Abbot. With frightening words that he would go to hell and other words of terror, he felt as though he were before the tribunal of Christ and that the words came from the severe judge himself and not from the preacher. Because of this he was so terrified that when everyone left the church after the sermon the Abbot remained alone in his seat. He was so dumbstruck and frightened that he forgot about going home, but like a many outside himself he stayed there weeping. With great effort his relatives brought him home. The preacher heard of this and returning to the sermon the following morning to make him ready, in the middle of the sermon he made an important recommendation to all the people. Then turning the Abbot he said, “Although I believe all of you will cooperate in this good work, nonetheless I hope above all in the Lord Abbot. For because he is a good religious and because of the good Christian he is he will not fail his duty.” This act so pleased everyone that when the sermon was over the Abbot sent word to him. “Say to the preacher I not only offer this alms but all my goods with which he may do whatever he wants.” Speaking with him later the preacher had him leave the concubine and made arrangements for the children. He dedicated himself to a holy and religious life. Up until his death he disposed of all his goods to the poor.

I only wanted to give this example so that the countless other (great things) he did might be considered.

Such was the beautiful grace of this holy man in his preaching and his fine intelligence in improvisation, he efficacious pronunciation, his attitude towards things, his strong arguments in persuading and dissuading, his vehemence in reproving, his embellishment against the vices, his ability to strike the breast and hearts of sinners, to hammer their hearts, to plunge them into the depths of fear, to submerse them in hell, to magnify the virtues, to give encouragement to everyone to follow them, to lift up the good to paradise. No pen could write, no tongue could say how many this servant God drew from the depths of hell and directed them on the way of the holy virtues.

More than his other countless abilities he had this one. With his stirring words he could gladden the hearts of people in the depths of grief and on the other hand in the midst of laughter he could have them pour out tears of sorrow. He was so fluent and persuasive in his speech that could offer the hope of salvation to any desperate person no matter how desperate or crude he was. On the other hand, when he was preaching about the justice of God with terrifying words he would expound on it with such terror that there was no man, however holy he was, for whom he did not open the gates of hell and made him afraid of falling in there.

Equally he had a fine presence and physical appearance. He was not very tall and had an imperishable memory and gracious face with a full, long beard. His voice was so resonant that once when he was preaching in the city of Perugia where I was present he turned towards the crucifix and gave a fervent speech for an hour. Just when everyone thought he had run out of breath, he gave forth with such a voice that Brother Bernardine, his companion told me, “For many years I have been his companion at the most frightening sermons. Nonetheless I tell you I have never heard one that has frightened me more than this one. I believe his voice would have lifted the tiles off the roof, so to speak, because I heard that booming come out of the church as if it were artillery.”[235]

The Lord God also often gave him the spirit of prophecy in his reprimands. Once he was preaching in the city of Terni[236] where there was a great moneylender. He had become very wealthy from it. The holy man gave the usual exhortations so that he might come out from the claws of Lucifer. However, when he saw him so hardened, he finally gave him such a veiled rebuke that the usurer understood very well via many familiar discussions about it that they had together that he was referring to him. The holy man came to such a fervour and almost elevated in ecstasy said to him, “O you rich man, you will go to hell. Everything you have is from usury[237]. You have not used your time for the salvation of your soul but to strip the poor of their substance. Hear what I tell you. God has justly deprived you of any time to be able to reconsider because you will die like a dog without having time to say ‘Jesus’. Wonderful God! Shortly afterwards the moneylender was talking in the garden with some of friends. The weather was fine and there was not rain with the exception of a few little clouds visible in the sky. He was struck by lightning in such a way that he could not be recognised by any of his remains. Rather, his body was like a burnt lump of wood. Within a very few days all his goods went to ruin as if the devil had taken them.

Another time he was preaching at Forli where I was present[238]. His fervour grew and turning around he began to speak to a certain wealthy man. He said, “Reconsider yourself[239], rich man. You will die tonight.” He repeated the same words many times. The rich man happily ate with his family and went of to rest. In the middle of the night a catarrh came over him. His relative ran to get the doctor but before the doctor arrived he dropped dead.

When he was preaching in the city of Perugia, at the end he made a reprimand that went for about an hour. Turning towards the Cardinal Legate at the time he was so terrifying that it seem the whole church shuddered. He became so red in the face that it seemed the brightness of a flaming fire issued from his face. When he came down from the pulpit I accompanied him to the room where he was staying. I was worrying that he may have scandalised the Monsignor and said to him, “Father, you went a little too far this morning. You should have had more respect for the Monsignor.” He answered, “O, what did I do?” I said, “Goodness! You have never done a reprimand as that of this morning.” The servant of God answered, “Nor was I afraid of scandalising his Lordship. Know that I was unaware of it, for during that fervour it was not me speaking. My tongue spoke without me. Overwhelmed by the Spirit I was outside of myself. He used my body.” It was something amazing. Although the Monsignor liked all the sermons very much, both he and the people liked that one more than the others. The Cathedral was so full that one could not have thrown a millet seed to the ground. Because of the size of the crowd no one was able to sit. Instead they all stood up. That morning it was estimated that twenty five thousand people were in Saint Laurence’s.

When the sermons were near their end his companion told me secretly, “I wonder if the Father Preacher may have to undergo some great tribulation.” When I asked him what moved him to say this, he answered, “God has revealed it, though obscurely, in a vision. God showed me the Preacher at the top of a very high tree with an axe in his hand. He was cutting off all he branches of the tree. When he finished he as very happy at the top of the tree. Inwardly I heard, “Know that Soriano has finished pruning the vine.” He didn’t understand these words for since he was being snared by certain rivals he thought it meant that Soriano would be victorious. However the opposite happened because he was deprived of preaching for about fourteen years. The vision was understood later. He had finished his course but the Lord God then wanted to pay him with that coin with which His Majesty usually pays all his servants in this world. This is how he paid the holy Apostles. When they had finished the course of their preaching he allowed that they all be martyred in order to glorify them more and reward them. This is what he did for this faithful servant of his who had served him faithfully for so many years. He wanted to pay him with a very great tribulation.

The same thing happened to him when he was returning from Sicily to go to preach at Naples, which the Father General had enjoined on him. He boarded the boat in excellent weather. When it was almost in the middle of the gulf of Messina called the Faro Gulf the demons he had cast out from human bodies set upon him such a great storm. Given the beautiful weather everyone thought was not natural but truly diabolical. Finding himself therefore in the vessel with many persons, in such danger from the waves of the sea that everyone believed that they were lost the servant of God approached the helmsman. He said to him, “Can you save me?” He answered, “Father, it will be hard enough to save myself.” He had no sooner said these words than a large wave came that more than half filled the vessel with water. When the servant of God saw this he commended himself to the Lord. He said to Him, “My Lord, if I may serve you fro some further length of time, may it please you to free me along with these other poor people here. However, if you want my body to be food for the fish as punishment for my sins and for your greater glory, may your will be done. I only pray you for these other poor people that it may please you to save them and to receive my soul into the arms of your mercy.” What an amazing thing! He had no sooner said these words in his mind than a huge wave swamped the boat again with such great fury and took that servant of God and his companion. For a good length of time he sat upon the water as easily as if he were sitting out in a pleasant field. As he told me himself, when he saw himself borne so easily by the water, he said, “God is good. I am fine.” In a flash he was carried on the waters without getting very wet and to the seashore[240]. Worrying about whether his companion had drowned, he saw him coming wrapped in his mantle floating on the water just like a block of wood. It was a greater miracle that none of the seculars there perished. Rather, all were brought to safety. The boat had gone to the bottom of the sea, and yet a little later fortune righted it and thus brought it to safety. The greatest miracle was this. The books didn’t get wet, but because they were in a bag proofed with wax[241] it floated to shore as if it were a board. Everyone regarded this as a miracle from God, that through the prayers of his servant He rescued so many persons and without loss of anyone’s things.

He then arrived in Naples and preached there a long time with such great approval and a harvest of souls that everyone said, “If an Apostle came, what more could he do than him?”

There was no shortage of plots, for he was often given poison and God saved him miraculously. I saw this myself. He was preaching in a city in the Province of Saint Francis. Because of the great reprimands he had given to certain dishonest persons, a little flask of poisoned wine was given to his companion in my presence. The person said to him, “Give this wine to the Preacher because it is very good. It is an old vern[242]accia.” His companion replied, “Will it be suitable for Mass?” The malfactor said, “It isn’t good for Mass. Give it to the Preacher.” Being a prudent man, the companion suspected that it had been poisoned. He went to the doctor who tested it and found the worst poison in it.

I could not express with words just how many plots this servant of God suffered.[243] May these that I have put down be enough for one to know how saintly he was in tolerating so many evils patiently for the love of God, and how dear his life was to God who had preseverd him amid so many perils.

[244]I do not intend to say just how zealous he was in the observance of the Rule and how he was one of great prayer. Although he was preaching he ordinarily spent four or five hours a night in mental and vocal prayer.

Finally, when it pleased the Lord God to reward this man who had served him amid so many struggles, after he had preached in Saint Laurence in Damaso, after the sermon he received obedience to go and preach in Naples. Setting our on the journey, since he was old and not very healthy, he fell so gravely ill that it was necessary to return to Rome[245]. The sickness deteriorated. Ready, full of merits and having received all the most holy sacraments, that holy soul passed away to it creator. He was buried in the friary in Rome.

Not long after he appeared to Brother Joseph in the Friary of Saint Agatha in Gallese. He told him that he was blessed and revealed to him many other things.

I am not writing down his other miracles for having spoken of them briefly in the telling of his story.

To the prause and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and his most fair Mother and of Father Saint Francis. Amen.

XXV: About the venerable Father Bartholomew of Lucignano, priest and preacher

Brother Bartholomew was from a place called Lucignano within the dominion of the city of Siena[246]. This man of God took up the habit in the Franciscan Order when he was a boy. When the Father recognised the intelligence of this boy they sent him to the grammar school. He made marvellous progress in that study within a short time. Then he posted to the study of the sciences. His performance in these was so excellent that within a short time he became Director and Master. He was amazing in the languages of Latin and Greek and so expert in Hebrew that everyone said he was the most learned among our Conventual Fathers. That is how he was regarded. Adorned with a fine manner and so zealous in the moral life, he was like and earthly Angel. When it became obvious that held in such high regard that he should become some great Prelate, touched by the Holy Spirit, he gave the boot, as they say, to things and all human favours. Totally recollected within himself he began prudently to think about his situation and all the forms of world prosperity were conceits and great foolishness. So he decided to leave them behind, and because he was very wrapped up in such things, he applied himself to give away everything he had acquired – books and all – and he came to our Congregation.

The Most Reverend Father General, Brother Jerome of Montefiore[247], received him and he was sent to the Province of Genoa. The servant of God did not want to be posted to the Province of Tuscany where he was born so as not to be bothered by his relatives or by the Friars he knew. He remained in that Province and di his novitiate there with such modesty and humility that he was a very good example to everyone. The humility, modesty and holiness of this venerable Father edified everyone. It was something marvellous that such a learned man, fed on honours since he was in swaddling clothes, should dedicate himself so much to despising himself and deprive himself of everything out of zeal in the observance of the Rule. He was concerned about keeping a New Testament for his own use. He was such a zealot about observing the Rule according to the pure observance that our Father Saint Francis wanted!

He stayed a novice for some years and went unknown in that Province of Genoa. He laid the very best foundation and derived great profit in the service of God that surpassed many who had been in the holy Congregation for many years. Because of this, when our Fathers saw his good zeal and holy life they made him Lector in the Milan Province where he read with such simplicity and good example that he was an excellent guide to all the students. However when the plague came to the city of Milan that study was stopped. When he saw that he was unable to be of any use in that study, the servant of God returned to his Province of Genoa and there spent all his time in hly prayer and meditation. He mourned bitterly over the years he spent badly in the study of useless and curious knowledge. He spoke little with anyone. He led a withdrawn life and rarely ate more than once a day and then very sparingly. He dressed in the poorest and roughest cloths there were in that Province. Ordinarily everyone dressed in a rough cloth called albagio.[248] Such hopes were had for him that everyone said, “If this Father lives, he will soon be General and will exercise all the different offices within the Order.”

He desired solitude very much and by every means he fled being recognised as learned. HE read simple and devout books from which he could derive some devotion. When the Provincial Chapter was held in Florence he was nominated as Vicar of the Province. Without a doubt the Friars would have elected him but few knew him. It pleased the Lord God to preserve him in his simplicity. What happened to the great servant of God, Enoch, also happened to him. The Sage[249] says, God took and elevated Enoch from ordinary dealings with men and brought him to paradise so that malice would not change his heart. Thus it happened to this servant of God. So that worldly dignities might not effect his heart, God took him from the Conventuals[250]. So that his relatives could not impede him god removed him from the Province of Tuscany. So that he would not be exalted in the Congregation God sent him that plague to prevent it happening and withdrew him into the remotest and most solitary Province in the Congregation. When in that Province he was detached from every earthly thing and quite ready God sent him colic pains. For all the remedies the doctors applied, none he helped him. This was because, as we have said, the Lord saw that within a short time some dignities would be conferred on him and they could change his heart.

After having taken all the sacraments very devoutly, he passed away to a better life. That holy soul went into the presence of his creator where he would have been given two things[251] to read, that is, the Divine Essence and holy humanity of Ord Lord. So that entering and penetrating the divine essence with the eyes of his mind he would find the very best with which to be nourished. And after the resurrection of the dead, opening his eyes upon the humanity of Our Lord he would find the best pasture. There with all his feelings he will be eternally and perfectly happy and blessed. With the saints and blessed spirits he should always study that most holy Divinity of Our Lord Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To whom be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

XXVI: About the holy Brother Francis Tittelmans[252], priest and preacher

The Flemish Brother Francis was from the territory of Hasselt[253]. He was born of honest parents. From his early childhood he was given to learning and became a most perfect humanist. When he reached about sixteen years of age his fine mind was such that he fell in love with the sciences and thought of little else day and night. The prudent young man always remained with his mind lifted up in such things. This was the reason he avoided every sort of vice at that age.

He was not very tall, though well proportioned. He had a very gracious face with a suitably long, thick beard. He always conversed with serious, learned persons. Hence when he felt he did not have all the opportunity that is fitting for anyone who wants to advance in learning, he decided to leave the world and become a Religious. Since in his homeland the Friars Minor had an excellent university[254] he took the habit of the Franciscan Order in order to study better. When those Fathers saw the fine bearing and intelligence of the modest youth they immediately set him to study[255]. Within a short time he became very learned in all the sciences. He had such a great command of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages that he was made Reader. Everyone had the highest expectations for him. He wrote many learned books[256].

However it pleased Our Lord God that he hear that the Capuchin Reform had emerged in Italy. With his fine mind and catholic doctrine he turned towards the things of the spirit. After reconsidering his situation well he was enlightened by God and recognised everything as vanity except to serve Our Lord God in the perfect observance of the Rule and his vows[257]. He thought about coming to Italy to take up the Capuchin habit. Then after he had been in the Reform for some years and well instructed in the customs and way of life of the Congregation, he would return to Flanders. With the obedience and the good grace of His Holiness Paul III, and with the permission of the Fathers of the Congregation, he would carry out the Reform there united therefore with the Congregation of Capuchins.

He brought with him a young Priest called Brother Leonard who was his student, and a lay Friar called Brother Martin. When they came to Rome they took the habit from the General of the Congregation who was the venerable Father Bernardine of Asti.

While we was staying in Rome for some years he wrote some beautiful little works[258], especially against the heretics. Because of the neglect of the Friars these have been lost in part, and some have gone into print. However first the great servant of God wanted to do his novitiate, remaining always withdrawn in continuous prayer. After some months, to better mortify himself, he asked for the grace to be assigned to the Hospital of the Incurable to serve the lepers, just as we read about or Father Saint Francis. For in that time the Friars had charge of that Hospital with ten or twelve Friars always there at the service of the lepers. Having obtained the permission therefore he served in that hospital for many months doing the lowliest task there was. This was to take away the excrement of the poor sick and to keep the toilets[259] clean. He washed the bandages, served food, swept and did other tasks with such fervour and care that he was like another Saint Francis.

He wore a habit of natural wool, patched completely with sacking. He never spoke Latin. When some Latin word came out by accident he took it back immediately in the common language, although he knew how to speak our Italian language only a little bit. He said Mass for the sick every day. When there was no need for him to stay at the Hospital for the service of the sick he withdrew to a solitary room. There he said the Canonical Hours and persevered in holy contemplation.

However the Father General was concerned that he would become ill because he was delicate and little used to suffering. So he took him from the Hospital. He then gave himself more assiduously to holy contemplation and wrote a little book of very beautiful prayers where he outlines a wonderful wasy to praise God.

When the venerable Father Bernardine of Asti saw that he was an extraordinary man, he enjoined o him to do some sermons to the Friars to animate them in the true observance of the Rule. From then on, in the manner of a discussion he often gave sermons to the Friars. He explained the Rule so divinely that all those venerable Fathers, who were also very learned, have never since heard higher sentiments and thoughts. His face would glow like a Cherub. It was a great effort for him because he didn’t know the common language, therefore he mostly spoke in Latin. Then looking around at the lay Friars he restrained himself and grieved that he was unable to feed them with those beautiful ideas on the Rule. Above all the extolled the precept of poverty under the heading of Most High Poverty. He called it the foundation of the Order and of every virtue, the sharp knife that takes and cuts away every impediment from the servants God that could impede or retard them in perfect contemplation, which he said, was the goal of religious life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, introduced that poverty into the world and not man. HE left it to the Church, his Bride, as a testament. Just as I heard from his own lips, he used to say that for the sustenance of nature there is no way better conformed to the Rule than to live by our own labour and efforts. When it may be impossible for us to live by our own labours Father Saint Francis allowed us to be able beg the necessary things. The early Fathers of the monastic life understood this very well. While leading a solitary and contemplative life they all live from their own labours. The great Basil himself put in his rule and commands his monks that the should life from their own labours and that they should not receive things that come to them as a just inheritance nor because of ties. Nor might they receive alms that were offered them by seculars. Also Father Saint Benedict put it into his Rule that the monks had to work. Even though we read that the Monks[260] might have property, they had to work the fields, ploughing, sowing, and reaping. This is what Father Saint Bernard observed with his Monks in his day. Finally this venerable Father said that all the Heads of Orders insist on work. Saint Paul glorified in hot having eaten bread except for what he earned[261]. Our Father Saint Francis said, “I have worked with my own hands and I want to work. And I want all my Friars to work[262], etc[263]. Therefore this holy man said that the Capuchins would never observe the Rule perfectly if they do not observe the Testament of our Father and live in part from their own labour[264].

Because of this, in the beginning our Fathers used to work. Often I was there when sacks of bread and other things that came from their work arrived at the friary in Rome. They ate this with great gladness. With tears of joy they thanked God saying, “Now we live of our efforts.” This venerable Father said, “I would like the Superiors to order work to be done and that those Friars that spend their time vainly spend it working instead. However when the preachers study or the priests review the Mass, let them study the rubrics, say the office of the dead and do their other prayers. I would not want them bothered. But since one cannot always pray, let them work for recreation.”

When he became Vicar of the Province of Rome many Friars learned to make baskets and wicker shutters[265] and they received for these the price for their labour. It seemed that Our Lord God cooperated with his grace for while they were working each remained withdrawn by himself. While they were working they strove to keep their minds on God. The seculars were very edified by this. Although he was busy in the office of Vicar, when a little time came to him he used to make baskets[266].

He went barefoot continuously in summer but wore sandals in winter because he was frail. Usually he only ate once a day, and then very little. He rarely ate meat. He wore only one habit of slave wool and during winter he wore the mantle. He said the mantle was more in conformity with the Rule than the tunic. For the rule grants us the use of tow garments and no more. However anyone who wears the tunic on a journey also takes the mantle. Since weather is mostly fine, he wears it without real need. This is not in accord with the purity of the Rule.

It was a marvellous thing to see a learned man come to such humility and zeal about the true observance of the Rule that he was conscientious about the smallest things, so much so that our Fathers thought him too enthusiastic being the great man he was. For in his day he was regarded as the most learned man in Christendom. He debated with Erasmus and defeated him. Erasmus himself said that there was no many in Christendom for him except Tittelmans[267]. He wrote many works on the Psalms, the Gospels and Saint Paul as well as many other very spiritual works. He did Logic and Philosophy and other (sciences). In these works he showed his fine mind, his facility with languages as well as the Catholic and profound doctrine that were present in this great servant of God.

With great effort he visited the Province of Rome, suffering many hardships. He desired to bring the Reform and the Capuchin habit to his homeland. However, since the Congregation had not grown very much, the Fathers did not feel that they could give Friars suitable for such an undertaking. Therefore the matter was delayed. Nor was His Holiness Paul III happy about this.

It pleased the Lord God to reward this servant of his and to bring his efforts to an end. For when he was in the countryside of Rome in the house of Anticoli, he became gravely ill with a great fever and dysentery. Within as few days, after having received all the most holy sacraments with great devotion, that happy soul passed away to its creator.

At that time Mr. Bernardine of Spain, a humble and very wealthy man, having despised all the things of the world had come from Spain to Rome and was leading a very religious life. He was a great friend of Tittelmans. At the hour of his passing, while Mr Bernardine was at prayer, in spirit he saw a great procession of saints. At the end of that procession he saw the great servant of God Brother Francis Tittelmans dressed very gloriously. Stunned by that vision, he immediately sent a servant to our house in Anticoli to see what had happened to Tittelmans. He found that he had passed from this life at that same hour.

Through this servant of his the Lord God worked many miracles. For Mr. Bernardine had a small piece of his habit. There was a woman seriously ill with dysentery and he put the piece of cloth on her, telling her to commend herself to him. When the woman did this she was restored to health immediately and completely.

For more than ten years, his body remained fragrant and fresh in the tomb as if he had just died. I heard this from trustworthy Friars who saw it many times. In particular I was informed by the preacher, Brother Francis of Calabria. Four years after his death he entered his tomb and found his habit completely decayed. He took a cloth and wiped down the body and took off that rotted habit the holy body remained intact without any lesion. It was a fragrant and fair as if he were still alive[268]. Because of this many of the sick from the countryside of Anticoli went to his tomb and after having invoked his name left healthy and free (of illness). Among these was the Archpriest of Anticoli called Mons. Marino. For many years he had been completely blind. When he heard about the fame of the saint, with great faith he had himself led to the tomb. Opening the tomb and entering within with great reverence and faith, he touched that body with his consecrated fingers. He then placed them on his eyes. Then when he took them from his eyes his sight was restored immediately[269]. He lived for many years after that and he said the Office and the Mass without glasses as if he were a young man.

I am certain that if that holy body had been taken from the tomb and placed in some suitable vault, it would have remained whole until this day and the Lord God would have made him illustrious with many miracles. I will not write about other miracles because I do not know much about them. I am writing these that I have received from trustworthy persons who were present at these miracles.

Therefore may this little bit I write badly about this venerable Father suffice to make known the doctrine, genius and holiness of Brother Francis Tittelmans who greatly enlightened this world with his teaching and adorned the Order of the Seraphic Francis, above all the holy Congregation of capuchin Friars. Amen.

XXVII: About the reverend Father and holy Brother Bernardine of Asti of Piedmonte, priest and preacher

Brother Bernardine[270] was from a city called Asti located in the domain of the Duke of Savoia. He was born to very noble parents, very well off in temporal goods, lords of a castle called Eringo. His family was not short of wealth and power and enjoyed a good name in their city. Because of their generosity and good ways the whole city loved that family. Everyone regarded them as the most peaceful and kind gentlemen and nobility to be found. Many great men of learning have come from that household.

Therefore they nurtured Brother Bernardine with great refinement and instructed him in beautiful manners. As a boy he worked at his education and within a short time became an excellent humanist. When he was fifteen, his parents sent him to Rome. While he was residing there he became so enamoured with the things of the spirit and religious life that he decided to leave the world. And just as I have been very well informed because of the long acquaintance I had with him as my teacher, he left the world at the age of sixteen years, a pure virgin. By the grace of God his keep this way until his death.

He took the habit in the Congregation of Zoccolanti Fathers. In his novitiate he was the disciple of a holy man who took great care of him when he realised he was such a delicate and gentle young man. Nonetheless he became seriously ill with the harsh conditions that Religious life brings. The doctors thought he would become consumptive. However, those Fathers recognised his fine intelligence they and sorrowed very much. Every care was taken for his recovery. As it pleased the Lord god, he turned out well, although the harshness of the Order was always very difficult for him because of his delicate constitution. Nonetheless because he had had a good introduction in the world he gave himself to learning and within a short time he became an excellent theologian. He was well instructed in all the sciences, especially in scholastic doctrine. Often he was Minister in the Province of Rome and Procurator at court.[271] When they did their reform, he was one of the principal Fathers who, together with the venerable Father Francis of Iesi, obtained the first Bull[272] of the Zoccolanti Reform[273].

However when the Congregation of Capuchins came and he saw that the Reform of the Zoccolanti was so impugned, he decided to become a Capuchin. He was the Father who greatly adorned the Congregation of Capuchins. Many learned and holy men followed him from that Congregation.

Although he was very frail, nonetheless he led a most austere life in the Congregation. For just like Judas Maccabeus, like a roaring lion, girded with the sword of doctrine and zeal for the observance of the Rule he opposed those who impugned the holy Reform and reprimanded the boldness of many audacious persons who sought to bring it down. He was the one who gave shape and a regular way of life to the Congregation, just as will be said in its place in the book about Generals[274]. He was so zealous about the perfect observance of the Rule that few Capuchin Friars surpassed him. For he always dressed in just one habit of natural wool and a poor little mantle. He never wanted to use any other garments either in summer or in winter. He used those clothes more as sackcloth than to protect him from the cold. When he used to speak about manner of dress in his sermons to the Friars he affirmed that to use three garments without true necessity and the permission of the Superiors was against the precept of the Rule[275]. It was he, when he was General, who introduced wearing the mantle instead of the tunic to the Congregation as being more in conformity to our Saint Francis. One can read that he wore the mantle and never the tunic. He said this was more conformed to the apostolic life. For he affirmed that the garment that was divided into four at the death of Our Lord was a mantle, just as the holy Apostles then wore. He was also very austere in eating for never at any time did he eat more than once a day[276], and then very sparingly. Once after he had finished his triennium as General he was in our house at Narni for about a year because he was ill[277]. He liked that place very much because it was devout and solitary in the woods[278]. I was in that fraternity with him. On the evening of carnevale all the Friars asked him if he would eat a little and come to the refectory[279]. The holy man came to the refectory and gave us a very beautiful sermon on the love of God. However he didn’t want to take more than a little amount of sparrow[280] and half a cup[281] of wine in order not to break the holy and praiseworthy custom that he had of not eating except once a day. He rarely ate meat and then very sparingly[282]. He nearly always only drank water. He lived in this way so tenaciously in the Congregation that he never varied from the beginning until his death.

He was very zealous about holy prayer for although he would have been busy almost continuously with some kind of administration. Nonetheless he always celebrated [Mass] every morning. He always did and hour of prayer before and after Mass. I heard him say many times, “I never miss Mass without confessing it.” Although he would have been exhausted, when he did the visitation he hardly ever failed to get up for Matins in choir with the others and stayed for the discipline and prayer. He strongly reprimanded Friars who failed to get up for Matins because of a little effort required.

He was very zealous about time and said that if we will have to render an account of our every idle word on the day of judgement, we will especially have to render an account of our wasted time. “Because there is no interval small enough in which the servant of God may not do a loving action towards God through which he merits a degree of glory in paradise that is worth more than a thousand worlds.” Hence when he could no longer exercise any office in the Order because of old age, in order not to miss doing some good for his neighbour, he gathered the youngest (Friars) in Rome and taught[283] them holy theology. And just as I have heard said, he read[284] Scotus around eleven times. He taught with such ease that it seemed he knew it all by heart. Just as I hear him say, “Anyone who understands Scotus well knows something.”

He used to say to anyone who wanted to listen, “Know that the Congregation of Capuchins was born miraculously. This way of living according to the true observance of the Rule has been restored not by man but by the Holy Spirit. I acknowledge frankly that when I was among the Reformed Friars of the Zoccolanti, when they talked about the Rule I knew so little that I learned many things from the spiritual lay Friars. I never understood the true meaning of the Rule until I joined the Capuchins and I saw how those simple Capuchins observed it. They were not learned because they were all simple men instructed by the Holy Spirit. Because of the great desire they had to observe the Rule, God revealed to their minds they way they ought to live it.”

“Austerity of life makes good novices. There is no doubt. For all different kinds of people that come to the Order. Just as many come for faith and for baptism to the religion of Christ which is like a net that Our Lord says catches many fish[285], both good and bad. When it arrives at the shore of the sea the excellent fisherman Jesus Christ puts the good ones in a container and leaves the bad ones on the sand to be devoured by the birds. By this he wants to show us that he always purifies His Church. This purification should also be within the Order. For many come to the Order who are not called by God but by the evil spirits in order to bring tribulations upon the good and make the Order infamous before the world. However austerity sends them away better than the worries of the (novice) Master[286]. Therefore as long as the Congregation lives austerely and poorly many wicked men will not stay in it. Therefore mortification and austerity are the foundation of religious life and greatly edify the world, especially the young.”

He said, “I am old. Nevertheless I do not know any woman by sight.” And when he was teaching or was in the choir, so as not to have occasion to see look at his young students he had a bench put in front of him. For even though he was old he always knelt during the Office. Once he gave there a beautiful exhortation to everyone about keeping ones eyes lowered. Turning towards one of us younger ones he said to him, “Know my son that I do not know you by sight although you have been with me for about three years. Now you who are young must think about what you will have to do.”

He was very zealous about holy prayer. Hence once when he was giving a very beautiful sermon about prayer he said these words. “In his Rhetorica Tullius says, ‘If you ask me in what it consists, I will answer that it consists in pronunciation. And if you ask me again I will tell you three times that it consists in the same thing.’ So I say to you, if you ask me in what does religious consist I will answer you that is consists in holy prayer. In the servant of God, all good comes from mortification and holy prayer. Every evil comes from little mortification and little prayer. There is no Friar, no matter how lax, who will not become an Angel by attending to holy prayer. Nor was there anyone so holy who did not become a devil in a short time by leaving holy prayer aside. Just like when we receive the holy sacraments in the right way the Lord God makes us certain of His grace, so in holy prayer He makes us certain of receiving from His Majesty the grace to ask of Him a another grace better than that one. Prayer extolled all the early Fathers before God. Therefore if you want to be good, pray. All those who imagine themselves passing through this stormy sea of the world without this little boat will remain deceived and will drown. And if you ask what was the intention of Father Saint Francis in giving us the Rule, I will answer that he had no other intention if not to direct his Friars to holy prayer, free from every impediment, using precepts to remove from us those things that impede holy prayer in us. He gives us the means that enable us to acquire the true love of God in which consists the observance of every good law. If you ask me what task Father Saint Francis wants us to do in the Order I answer with what he says in the Rule: to pray always to God with a pure heart[287]. Therefore this was the reason he gave us the Rule. Observing it, it frees us from all eathly care so that we may be able to attend to holy prayer. It was an amazing thing that our Father Saint Francis said, that if Friars left holy prayer in order to acquire knowledge[288] they would become benighted[289]. Now if they become benighted by leaving holy prayer in order to study the sciences, which are good, how much more will they lose divine grace those who leave holy prayer not for study but for other vane things.”

When he did the visitation, if he found some Friar tempted he used to say to him, “Tell me my son, are you praying?” If he answered ‘no’, he said, “it is not remarkable that you are tempted. But it is a miracle of God that you have not been ruined. It is impossible to be able to persevere in the observance of the rule without prayer. The weapon of the servants of God that defeat the intrigues of the enemy is prayer. Therefore take up this powerful weapon with which all the valiant warriors of Christ have won.

Therefore the servant of God called all superfluous occupations cunning tricks[290] of the demons to have us abandon prayer. He strongly reprimanded vagabond Friars who deal too much with seculars. He called them dead bodies that would soon be vomited from the sea of the Order up onto the shore. He said, “The worldly Friar is an enemy of Saint Francis. It is impossible for the worldly Friar to have spirit.” He strongly reprimanded the lay Friars who were given to idleness[291] and didn’t want to do the tasks of the kitchen, the gardens and other things[292]. He said that those who did not serve in the necessary tasks of the Order are not worthy to live off the alms. Nor can they be absolved unless they amend themselves.

When he was General he exhorted the Superiors[293] very effectively on his visitations to seek advice. He added that the Friar who did not seek advice willingly is not worthy to be elected Superior. He gave the example of himself. Having no one for advice, he sought the advice of his lay Friar companion and it worked out well. He gave the example of that holy Father[294] who so afflicted with penance, praying to God that He would reveal to him the meaning of a passage of Scripture. He never obtained the grace until he decided to be advised by an ignorant, novice Monk. As he left his cell God answered him in an Angel who clarified the uncertain passage[295]. Humility was more valuable to him that abstinence and prayer[296].

He was very zealous about the observance of holy poverty. Trusting in divine Providence he never wanted his companion, Brother Angelus to take anything, except on long journeys when there were no dwellings he let him take a little bread. The same Brother Angelus told me how, when he was in Lombardy and near Monferrato one Friday. When the meal time came the holy old man could not go any further. Turning to his companion he said to him, “I am feeling faint. I need to eat. But how can we since we have no wine?” Brother Angelus replied, “Thanks to you because you would not allow me to bring a little bit of sausage.” When the hold old man realised that Brother Angelus was worried about this out of compassion he said to him, “Do not be concern. My Lord is powerful in providing for us.” While walking with much effort, Brother Angelus encouraged him to continue. As they approached a hillside he saw a very fair young man come down the hillside. He was carrying a flask in his hand and under his arms he carried four white loaves wrapped in a tablecloth. As he drew near the young man said to him, “Take it, Father, the Lord sends this to you.” Taking up the bread, he unwrapped the tablecloth to give it to him, and in a flash he disappeared in front of him. Stupefied by this thing, the holy man knew clearly that the provisions were sent to him through an Angel, not by a temporal lord, but by that one who governs everything. As they happily ate the bread and drank the wine they realised the Lord provided it by another sign. For that food gave them so much physical delight and they were so aglow with the love of God and inflamed with desire for holy poverty and to entrust themselves to divine providence by which He provides for the needs of his servants with great care, from that time onwards he was even more determined that his companion carry nothing. He included this in the Constitutions and strongly reprimanded friars who carried full pockets for journeys. He said it is not a thing for Friars Minor, who by solemn vow have sworn to confide in divine providence. When they arrived at some dwellings they gave the flask and the tablecloth to the poor for the love of God.

Often I heard him say, “I have made a pact with my Lord never to complain about food if His Majesty gives me bread and wine. When I was young I could go on bread and water. But now that I am old I need a little bit of wine.”

Therefore this great servant of God lived in the Congregation with such sincerity and holiness that everyone regarded him as holy. Hence having served God in the holy Order for about fifty-five years, he governed the Congregation of Capuchins for the nine years when he was General[297]. He taught in Rome for three years. When these ere over he fell seriously ill. In that illness he made a general confession of his life since he was a boy. Quite ready and having received all the most holy sacraments, he said the evening office for the hours of Vespers and Compline. Then he made himself comfortable on his pillow. He gave to his sons final things to remember, exhorting them to the true observance of the holy Rule. When he had finished these that very holy soul flew to heave, as if he had quietly fallen asleep. He was buried in the house in Rome.

His Majesty showed through many miracles just how acceptable the life of this holy man was to Him. Fro the venerable Father Joseph of Milan was in our house in Milan. He was gravely ill. The doctors had given up hope. Being General, Father Bernardine had promised him as preacher to the city of Arezzo in Tuscany. Therefore when he wrote to him to come to fulfil the promise made to the city he was unaware that he was ill. So Father Joseph answered him by a letter: “Reverend Father. I am sorry that I cannot serve there. I am ill and all the doctors have judged my sickness incurable. Nonetheless I trust in your holy prayers. If you command this sickness of mine to depart it will leave immediately.” When the venerable Father heard this he wrote to him immediately, “Since you already have this good faith in the Lord that through my prayers He will heal you, entrusting myself to His goodness, on His part I command this sick to leave so that you may fulfil this holy obedience healthy and unimpeded. It was truly wonderful for no sooner had he read the letter that he with great happiness he sprang healthy from bed and immediately set out on the journey. As a sign of real health he went from Milan to Arezzo on foot all the way. He preached the entire forty-days there with the greatest approval. I saw this with my own eye and heard if all from the mouth of Brother Joseph[298].

He did another miracle when he was General and I was Vicar of the Province of Saint Francis. He came to the friary in Bettona where I was ill with a severe fever that the doctor thought very dangerous. The good Father came to visit me and said to me, “I am very sorry about illness. It would be a great misfortune to the Province if you cannot be there for the Pardon[299] where I intend to assemble the Fathers. Therefore on the part of God I command this sick to leave and never return.” The following morning I went to Assisi.

He did another miracle when he was returning from the General Chapter in Naples with the holy man Brother Matthew of Leonessa. The time for dinner came and although there were a good number of Friars none of them had any wine. The holy man turned to Brother Matthew of Leonessa and said to him, “I am sorry that there is not even a little wine for love of Brother Matthew who is infirm.” Brother Matthew replied to him, “My dear Father, I feel badly because you are old.[300]” The man of God replied, “Our Lord is powerful. He will provide for us if it pleases him. Draw some water from the spring.[301]” Making the sign of the Cross over it he raised his eyes to heaven and blessed it. While they were eating they found they found that the water had changed into excellent wine. About five Friars drank some of it and they all said they had never tasted better wine. I have this from trustworthy Friars who were present at the miracle.

He did another miracle while he was staying in the house of one our friends[302] in Assisi called Louis of Birello. It was at the time of the Portiuncula Indulgence[303]. Father Bernardine of Monte dell’Olmo had given two sermons that day and was returning to the house of this Louis when he fainted because of exhaustion and great weakness. Because of this the holy man Brother Bernardine of Asti, who was General at the time, said to Louis, “Hurry and take him some good wine.” Louis replied, “My dear Father. I you wanted ten scudi[304] or ten loads[305] of grain, by the grace of God I cold give them to you because I have them. However I can’t give you any wine. Many days ago I emptied the only barrel there was. However, you will have some wine.” Turning towards one of his children he signalled him to go and buy some. Being aware of this, the holy man said, “I do not want you to buy wine. Go to your barrel. You will find some there.” When Louis replied that there was not a single drop there, he said to him, “God in the name of God and you will find some.” Louis went and tapped the barrel and wine came out as if the barrel were full. With great joy he took and wine and turned to the holy man and said, “This is wine that I did not put into the barrel, but the Our Lord God has put it there for the good of his servants.” Happily they all drank some of that wine. Because there was a great shortage of wine he gave some all the time to the Friars. When news of the miracle spread, many people sent in order to give some to their sick. There was enough for the whole family until the new wine came. To this day, Lord Francis Birello, the son of this Louis, testifies to this. Another brother of his also testified to it. He was called Lord John Mary. They were present along with other persons from round about.

He did another miracle in Rome. He was going to visit Mr. Battista Ferrarese who lived in Rome. He was a great devotee of our Congregation. He said to Reverend Father Bernardine, “Father, I have no more wine. I am completely out of it. Nor can one find any good wine to buy in Rome at this time.” The good Father replied to him, “You are a man of little faith. Go in the name of God and draw some out for us.” When he heard this. Mr. Battista went with great faith into the cellar. He was very well aware of the holiness of Father Bernardine. When he tapped the barrel he found it full. With great joy he brought a flask of it to Father Bernardine. Still after drawing some of it he gave it generously for the love of God to anyone who asked for it. There was enough for his family until vintage time. This was in 1536. Many trustworthy Friars testify to this, in particular the preacher Brother Anthony of Monte[306].

From this and many other miracles one can know the merits this venerable Father Bernardine of Asti had before God.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of his most fair Mother and of our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

XXVIII:About the holy man Brother Peter of Civita Ducale, priest and preacher

Brother Peter was from a city called Civita Ducale, situated in the domain of the Aquila of Abruzzo. He was born of honest parents. He attended school at an early age and became quite a good grammarian. He was always a devout youth, honest and well behaved. He loved very much to read devout books and used to stay very withdrawn. When his parents saw that he was quite inclined to religion, they sought to have him become a priest. He became a Canon of Our lady of the Snows, the cathedral and principal church of that city.

When the Congregation of Capuchins came the devout young man decided to leave the world completely and to take up the Capuchin habit[307]. When he was clothed hi did his novitiate with great fervour, spending the whole time macerating his body in holy fasts, vigils and the discipline. Most of the time at prayer he wept out of affection[308] that God had called him to the holy Order. When he finished the year of probation he made his profession with the great hope of all those Fathers that he would turn out a holy religious, as later happened. He had no sooner made his profession than he was assigned to study and within a short time he became a very good preacher. He preached with great harvest souls and with such example of life that he seemed like a heavenly Angel.

He was a very zealous observer of the Rule, exercising all the holy virtues with great fervour, especially holy prayer in which he spent all his time apart form the necessities of nature and a little in writing and studying sermons. He said Mass every day with much devotion. He hardly ever returned to rest after Matins but persevered in prayer until dawn when he returned to his cell after saying Mass. He hardly ever spoke with anyone except a few words in a soft voice when it was necessary.

Often he was Guardian at Rome, Court Commissary and Vicar of the Province of Rome. He performed these offices unwillingly because they were an impediment to the sweetness of contemplation. Since by nature he was so withdrawn and of so few words he did not please the Friars very much. Nonetheless Friars and seculars regarded him as a great servant of God. An idle or vain word never came from hi s lips. HE fasted continuously and never ate more than once a day. He always wore one habit, coarse and patched.

For a long time he was Novice Master, giving the best example. Our Lord God visited him with many afflictions for he gave him incurable wounds in different parts of his body. He always bore this with the greatest patience. Despite his infirmity he never abandoned his usual abstinence of eating only once a day. I saw this myself when I was in Rome and he was sick in bed. The infirmarian came to Father Bernadine of Asti, who was Court Commissary at the time, and said to him, “Father, I do not have enough breath to make Brother Peter want to eat a little in the evenings. He needs it because he is ill and very weak. I am worried that he may be sinning gravely[309].” The Father Commissary replied, “This is his usual practice. Work at making him eat.” The infirmarian replied, “I don’t know how to look after him.” The Commissary replied, “Look after him joyfully and do not be concerned. He is not sinning is doing abstinence for the love of God. It cannot harm him because he is used to it. We read of Father Saint Francis who at his death admitted his fault to his brother body. He said to it, “forgive me, my body, because I have afflicted you more than was necessary.”[310] A moderate abstinence like eating once a day may benefit our bodies more than many medicines. All the saints of old have regarded abstinence as very important. Many of them exceed human strength by far and are canonised nonetheless, just like Anthony, Hilarion, Macarius and countless others. Moreover, what could wee say about our Father Saint Francis who in forty days ate only two slices of bread.

This servant of God was extremely devoted to Our Lady. He fasted for all her vigils on bread and water and often said her Mass when it was possible. He did all the forty-days that our Father Saint Francis usually did. The Mother of God appeared to him in his prayer and assured him of full forgiveness of his sins and revealed to him the end of his life.[311]

Hence when he was in the friary at Civita[312], his homeland, he fell gravely ill. He endured this with great patience. Having received all the most holy sacraments, that holy soul passed away happily to its creator. His body was buried in the aforementioned friary[313].

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XXIX: About the holy man Brother John of Viterbo, priest and preacher

Brother John was from a city called Viterbo situated in the dominion of the Church. He was born to honest parents. He attended school from an early age and became quite well instructed in positive grammar. When he reached the age of about sixteen years and recognising the fallacies of the world he decided to leave it. He became a Friar in the Congregation of blessed Brother Francis of Montepulciano, the Reform of the Conventual Fathers. For some years was a Friar[314] at Holy Apostle in Rome.

When the Capuchin Congregation came, the devout young man went to find Father Louis who received him and clothed him in the Capuchin habit. He was one of the first Capuchins. He led a very exemplary life in the Congregation. He always went barefoot summer and winter with only one habit. He fasted nearly continuously, going for the entire forty-days on bread and water. For training Our Lord God gave him a demon that beat him continuously. Thus trustworthy Friars saw him fighting with the demon many times in the church. He endured great trials with his body for although he was weak and small in stature he wore coarse sackcloth continuously against his skin.

He was Vicar of the Province of Holy Angel many times and Vicar of the Province of Rome twice[315]. He governed them with very good example and great maturity. He endured grave persecutions wick men did to him with amazing patience. He had the spirit of prophecy for in 1520 he was in the house of a gentlewoman of Viterbo called Lady Julia Cocca. She had a son of about seven years of age. The boy was healthy and lively and with much affection Brother John embraced him and kissed him and then began to weep. He turned to the boy’s mother who had not other child except him. He said, “Have patience because God will take him to himself soon.” And within a short time the boy passed away to the better life.

The Lord God worked another miracle through this servant of His. There was a fisherman at Gaieta. A poisonous fish had bitten him and because of this he was at the point of death. The holy man was passing by that way and saw many people gathered around the fisherman who was dying. He ran to see what was happening. The fisherman commended himself to him so he made the sign of the cross. Immediately the he was perfectly healed. A trustworthy Friar who was present told me that the saw the fisherman fishing with the others the next morning.

When this servant of God fell ill in the house at Rome, after having received all the most holy sacraments he passed away to a better life. Amen.

XXX: About the venerable Father and holy man Brother Louis of Reggio di Calabria, priest and preacher

Brother Louis was from a city called Reggio situated in the province of Calabria. He was born to honest parents. He was a boy he attended school and became a very good grammarian[316]. At that age he was always a devout boy and quiet by nature. His conversation was serious and his appearance was graceful. He was adorned with good ways and fine bearing. Therefore everyone loved him and thought that he should become a holy Religious, seeing him so very much inclined towards devotion to holy things.

It pleased that Lord to call to his service at about the age of sixteen years. He took up the habit in the Franciscan Order where he applied himself to learning. HE became a very good theologian and was well instructed in the scholastic sciences. Nevertheless he never abandoned holy prayer and devotion at which he spent most of his time[317].

When the Capuchin Reform came, being very zealous for the observance of his profession, he not only took the Capuchin habit for himself in 1532 but also was the reason that very many servants of God followed him as we mentioned earlier in the Chronicle.

Therefore since he grew in the fear of God and good ways from the time he was in nappies, when he was in the holy Reform, he burned more than ever with an incredible fervour to observe the Rule and do penance. For a long he had desired the coming of this Reform in which he could observe his Rule perfectly. He strove very much with holy fasts and disciplines, and with many tears he commended himself to the Lord God so that He might give him the opportunity to be able to live in that holy simplicity and observance of the Rule that Father Saint Francis lived with the early Fathers of the Order. With other Fathers with the same desire he tried to make a Reform. However because of the opposition of lax Friars who impugned them, it never succeeded. However when this servant of God, Brother Louis, saw Congregation of Capuchins come about, he could never rest until he and his companions of like desire could join it. Cautiously he gathered them together in 1531. With persuasive words he inflamed their hearts. As it pleased the Lord God the General Chapter of the Zoccolanti assembled in the city of Messina in 1532 and at this time Father Louis and his companions took the Capuchin habit. It was seven years after the beginning of the Congregation, as has been fully discussed above[318].

Therefore this Father was the principal who began the Reform in Calabria. He took the habit before all his companions. Just as he preceded everyone in wearing that habit, he surpassed them all in fervour and observance of the Rule. God adorned him with miracles more than He did the others.

So Father John of Terranuova, who was one of his companions, wrote down the noteworthy things that he saw with his own eyes. He was my confrere[319] in the Province of Saint Francis about three years since were both companions of the venerable Father Francis of Iesi. Moreover when Father Jerome of Monte Fiore was General he gathered information when on visitation to the Province of Calabria. He got this from some old Friars who knew about these things very well since they were with this venerable Father Louis. I wrote down this information. Just as it was given to me faithfully, I wrote it down faithfully. Since the above-mentioned Father Jerome[320] desired to know the truth, he commanded those old Fathers under holy obedience to tell him all the noteworthy things that they knew about Father Louis. Like good sons they told him every thing in an orderly fashion. The Father General wrote these things down with great diligence. They are the things I received from His Reverence in our Friary at Foligno when he returned to the Marches on the 20th July 1582.

Therefore the life of the venerable Father Louis of Reggio was full of holiness and he spent all the time he lived in holy prayer especially. He usually persevered in prayer day and night for a period of fourteen hours[321]. His mind was so lifted up in God that he remained a still as a statue. He made no bodily noise as usually happens, like spitting or moving his feet or hands. Such was the purity of his heart and mind that as soon as he started to pray his mind was enraptured in God. This happened because he had practised for many years. And teaching[322] helped him very much. The wonderful effects of this were often seen.

Hence once a lady asked if he would deign to visit a sick person who was lying seriously ill in bed. This man was very devoted towards the Order. Therefore when the holy man went, he no sooner arrived at the house of the lady that he asked her if he could retire to a room alone. She imagined that he something he needed to do. She assigned him a room. After locking the door behind him he fell to his knees praying to God for the sick man. Instructed by the Holy Spirit he knew quite well that all graces are granted and obtained from God by means of holy prayer. And so while he was locked away, the lady wanted to call him to come and visit the sick man. She quick raised the portiere of the room and clearly saw the servant of God suspended and elevated from the ground a good way with his hands and face towards heaven. The lady reported this to trustworthy Friars and to anyone who wanted to hear about it.

Furthermore, Brother Anthony of Reggio, also a man of wonderful holiness and very well acquainted with Brother Louis, told a Friar about having seen this holy man elevated a good distance into the air while he was saying the Office.

This is the reason he always sought to be posted to solitary places in the Order. He avoided every form of superfluous conversation. He was rarely seen outside his cell, or the church or the woods. Unless someone asked him for some act of charity and for the salvation of souls, he was never seen outside the practice of prayer. When he could not contemplate because of exhaustion he said psalms or other devout prayers.

He was of no small benefit at the beginning of the Reform for they suffered such grave persecutions that they would have perished in the middle of the journey if they had had anyone else for their guide. However because of the inspired instructions of this servant of God they were able to face every kind of suffering. Such was his great charity towards his companions who like lost sheep went scattered throughout those mountains. They were fugitives for fear of being taken and dying in prison. Brother Louis, the solicitous shepherd, went around gathering them with such charity like Our Saviour Jesus Christ. When his disciples were scattered because of his death, he appeared now to one and then to another and gathered them together into the sheepfold of Holy Church, a place of safety. Since he had a great friendship with the Most Illustrious Duke of Nocera, a very important personage, this servant of God gathered them in the palace of this great prince in order to free them from the hands of persecutors, resisting all the fiery blows of the adversaries for them.

He also demonstrated his great charity in his holy sermons with which he inspired[323] all the principal cities of Calabria in the love of God and in the desire for their salvation. And they be were ablaze with great devotion towards the Congregation of Capuchins. The servant of God spared no effort that was asked of him. Being sought out by regions, castles and villages he kindly preached to them with such fervour that it seemed as though the preaching of the holy Apostles had been renewed in Calabria. Because of the new way of preaching and the novelty of the habit and the holiness and good ways that they saw in him; and because he did not preach for temporal gain, but inspired by the Holy Spirit he sought nothing else but the honour of Jesus Christ and the salvation of souls, exhorting them to leave their sins and to the observance of the commandments and attendance at the most holy sacraments, news went around that entire country so that everyone wanted to hear him as if he were and Angel of God.

The servant of God went dressed in one poor, rough and completely patched habit, barefoot and thin. It seemed as though he were an Apostle of Christ. He usually ate once a day. With great strictness about foods and wonderful devotion he fasted the forty-days that our Father Saint Francis was accustomed to do. Nonetheless, although he was very austere towards himself, he was very kind towards his neighbour, providing for all of them with great tenderness in their every need in such a way that he fulfilled what Saint Francis said: “There is no mother as tender towards her son as each should be towards his brother.”[324] He was so inclined and dedicated to charity towards his neighbour that whenever he saw one of his sons suffer he did not stop until he provided for him. By way of custom he never or rarely ate meat. Instead of sackcloth He always wore a jacket of mail next to his bare skin. No one ever saw him angry. Rather the tranquillity of his mind in his ways, in his speaking, and in his conversation and in everything was such that he seemed like an earthly Angel. He was so constant and patient in adversity that he shed light through all the holy virtues to everyone around. HE so trusted in the Providence of God that he did not want the Friars to making provision of any thing except what strict necessity required. Quite often out of zeal for poverty he let himself lack the necessary things. Because of this the Lord God often showed how pleased He was with the faith and hope that this servant of His had in Him to provide for him in his every need. For when he was in one friary a poor man came to the door to ask that he be given a little alms. However since there was no bread at the time, Brother Angelus of Calanda, the porter, a man of holy life, reported to the Friars that he went off to Father Louis and said to him, “Father, there is a poor man at the door asking us for alms but I don’t know what to give him because there isn’t any bread.” The holy man replied, “Go, son, and look carefully in the cellar because you will find some.” The porter replied, “Father I have looked there very carefully. I am sure there is none.” The holy man replied, “Go that you may be blessed. Simply do the obedience and you will find some.” With great faith in the words of the holy man, when the porter heard this he went quickly to the cellar. There he found a box full of excellent bread. It was the same box that he had earlier left empty. That bread could not have come except from him who came from heaven for us as living and heavenly bread. So by the merits of this servant of His the Lord God provided some bread for the poor man and supplied for the needs of His servants the Friars because for many days, with much thanksgiving, the Friars ate that bread that had been provided for them from heaven. For many days it was no longer necessary for them to go questing. The porter gave a very generous alms of that bread to the poor man.

The holiness of this holy man was shown another time. Once he was on a journey and he did not take anything to eat, as was his custom. After walked a good deal, his companion who later reported everything to the Friars, feel himself failing since both were fasting. He said to that Father, “Father, I am fainting.” Consoling him he replied to him, “Do not worry son. Let us walk a little further. God will help us.” Therefore after walking a short distance they saw on a little hill near the road a large loaf of white bread. It was fresh and beautiful. It wasn’t made according to the fashion of that region. Rather the divine Clemency provided it miraculously by the merits of His servant. As both ate it they were refreshed more in spirit than in body, pondering such kindness of the supreme Creator. The did that journey weeping all the way without speaking to each other because of the sweetness such a provision left in their hearts. They knew clearly that God had done it because since the place was deserted the bread could not have been put there by any human means.

Another time that Father was going to Rome because of some need of the Order. They took with them a secular servant of the Duke of Nocera. One morning they were leaving the place where they had lodged after spending the night without any provision. After a good distance the secular asked that Father for a little bread. The companion replied, “Father, know that we emptied the pocket last night. There is nothing left.” That Father answered, “Look there carefully. You will find some.” Again he replied that there wasn’t any. Nonetheless, carefully looking into the pocket, he found nothing. Turning to that Father he said to him, “Now you see there is none.” Again the holy man replied, “Look well. The simplicity of little faith.” When his companion looked he found three rolls. Stunned, the companion said in a loud voice, “Dear Father, this is a miracle of God because without a doubt there was no bread in the pocket.” Taking them with great wonder and devotion they ate them one by one. Both the companion and the secular told of this miracle to the Friars and to seculars.

The Lord God displayed another miracle through this servant of his. It happened when he was Guardian in the friary in his home city of Reggio, while the friary was being built. One morning when came the time to eat, and there were many builders and other seculars in the place who were helping, the same thing happened. There was no bread in the house. For the questers were unaware that there was no bread in the cellar, because of the many things going on at the time. However that which was lacking due to the imprudence of the questers prayer to God supplied. When the hour to eat came, he ordered that (the meal) be prepared for the seculars. However he was told that there was not enough bread in the house. However the holy man did not get angry nor did he lose faith that Our Lord god would have provided for them. So he replied, “Prepare it anyway because the Lord will provide.” He immediately raised his mind to God and prayed a little while. Then he said, “God to the cellar because there will be enough bread.” At these words the cellarer went and likewise found the breadbox filled with bread miraculously provided by the Lord God through the prayers of the holy man.

This servant of God was also endowed with the spirit of prophecy. He often predicted things that were about to happen and revealed things that he could not know by human means but only by divine revelation.

Hence when he was preaching in the area called Seminara, one morning it happened that as soon as he climbed the pulpit he raised his hands and fixed his eyes towards heaven. When he had been there a good while without saying a word, he came down from the pulpit. The listeners wondered about this and some of them went to him out back and said to him, “Father, why have you come back down without preaching to us? Do you see something evil?” He answered, “Something quite evil has happened to me and to my city. Know that whenI was praying, raising my mind to God in order to preach to you, it was revealed to me and I saw clearly in the spirit that my city of Reggio had just then been captured by the Turks and sacked and burned by them.” On hearing this each of them was upset and for greater certainty they immediately sent a messenger to go and he found everything exactly as the holy man had said, that on that day and at that hour the city had been captured and with all its goods taken, those dogs burned most of it down.

When he was preaching in Terranuova della Piana he made another prediction. IN the middle of his great fervour he stopped for some time as if something had happened to make him lose his voice. Nonetheless the people realised that this did not happen to him through some accidental impediment but that he had seen something in the spirit, because his fame was widespread. This was the reason that when the sermon was finished one of his close acquaintances asked him with great insistence to tell him the reason for stopping that way in the sermon. With great humility he answered him, “I will tell you but keep it a secret.” He promised to do so and Father Louis told him, “Know that while I was so suspended in the sermon, God showed me that at that hour in my homeland there had been a great quarrel and some citizens had died.” This was later verified. That quarrel had happened in that very same hour.

Another time the holy man was on a journey and he met a nobleman form Montelione who had earlier taken a wife and was then going in order to bring her to his home. Since he was his acquaintance Brother Louis greeted him in a friendly fashion and asked him where he was going. The gentleman answered, “Father, I am going to bring my wife to my home.” The servant of God replied, “Have a good journey and be joyful and thank God because you will have ten children by this wife, five boys and five girls.” It was something amazing that in taking his wife he always remained in that hope because of the widespread reputation that he had the spirit of prophecy. That is exactly what happened, just as the holy man had predicted to him in a spirit of prophecy, because he had ten beautiful and naturally gifted children.

In the city of Reggio there was a good man who commended himself with great faith to this servant of God to pray for him so that if it pleased God, He might give him a son, for his wife was sterile. The servant of God Replied, “You will have one. However he will give you little joy, for by the just judgement of god he will be still born. Do not be sad over this. God does everything well.” Thus it was that not long after his wife became pregnant and gave birth to a stillborn son.

Another time this servant of God was in a certain region where it had rained fro a long time. When the people of that region begged him with great insistence and devotion to pray for them, he replied, “Do not worry. God will soon give you rain.” Not long after there was heavy rainfall.

This servant of God had one of his acquaintances to whom he revealed many things because he was his companion and a man of great holiness called Brother Angelus of Calanda. One day he was with and said to him in a personal way, “Dear Brother Angelus, do not be sad about what I am saying to you because the Lord God orders everything for the benefit of his elect in order to lead them with many merits to the desired goal of glory. Know, my son, that the Lord God wants you to pass through ‘fire and water.’ It will not be long and you will have a great tribulation. Be strong and let yourself be guided by God because not long after on such and such a day you will die.” And so it was for Brother Angelus had a great persecution. When it was over, at that same time, in the very hour that the holy man had said, he passed away to a better life. Brother Angelus told this many times to the Friars before he died.

The spirit of prophecy was not lacking in what he said to his beloved companion Father Bernardine, called “the George.” For one day they were having a spiritual discussion and turning with a very kind eye towards Father George he said to him, “By beloved Father, know that you will pass away to a better life six months before me. I will die on such and such a day and you will die at such and such a time and hour.” And so it was, giving clear testimony that he had spoken not as a man but as a prophet of God[325].

Once it was necessary for him, because of certain important matters, to send a letter from Reggio where he was staying to Motta di Filocasto to his beloved Father George. Having no one to send it, he asked a tertiary, a close acquaintance of our Friars, if he would do this act of charity for the love of god. The tertiary excused himself saying, “Father, I do not have the courage because I do not know the way.” Turning towards him with great joy he said to him, “You are so simple that you do not have the courage to find the way. Go in the name of God. Take my staff and this will be your companion. Do not worry because you will not lose you way nor will any evil happen to you.” Trusting in these words the tertiary set off on the journey. It was something marvellous, for although the road was quite long and difficult to find, nonetheless he passed through those wild regions without ever losing his way. Later he came across a cattle pen where there were many ferocious dogs that at other times had killed some men. By a miracle of God they didn’t move nor did they bark. Without any harm he passed them by. The shepherds were amazed. When he returned with the reply, before the tertiary could say a single word, the holy man could tell him everything that had happened to him along the way.

As a greater confirmation of the holiness of this servant of God and how he was very dear to God and his confidant[326] he predicted the hour of his death at three times on different occasions. This was verified when it happened later. When he was in the friary at Mota di Philocastro in his final illness, before it became grave and there were no indications of his dying, he said publicly to many Friars who were around him that he had to die from that illness. With a long discussion and very inspired words he exhorted them to the true observance of the Rule and to the perseverance of the holy Reform. One Friar said to him, “Father, we are very much afraid that with Father George dead and being without you now that our Reform will be destroyed, since those who sustained it will no longer be here.” The servant of God replied, “Do not worry, my son, because the Congregation is not founded on men. Just as me didn’t do the Reform but God did, so God will preserve and increase it, because it will grow to a great number. God will spread it in all the parts of Christendom.”

As the hour of his transitus drew near, with great humility he asked to be given the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ as viaticum. He received this with man tears and then Extreme Unction a little later. Having received this, well armed and quite ready for the passage of death so unknown and final, with a happy face he turned towards heaven and that happy soul passed away to its creator.

When the signs of death began to appear none of the Friars was with him except the Guardian of the friary at Motta. When he became aware of these he quickly called a tertiary that was there in the friary, a man of holy life. He commanded him to hurry to the Church and bring a blessed candle in order to commend the soul of the man of God. The tertiary went straightaway to the church and got the candle. At the exit of the Church he lifted his eyes and in the air he saw a light like a great burning torch come from the cell of the sick man and it went off towards heaven. Hurrying him the Guardian was at the door of the cell waiting for that candle. The tertiary replied to him, “Do not trouble yourself Father Guardian because the candle is no longer needed. The servant of God, Brother Louis, has flown to heaven.” And he told him about the light he had seen. Hearing this he returned into the cell and found that he had expired.

Therefore when the people from all around heard of the passing of this great servant of God Brother Louis, because of the great devotion that they had for him, in a flash there was such a huge gathering of so many people around the friary: men and women, small and great that it seemed like an army. They desired to see and kiss that holy body. And because there was such a multitude that sought with great insistence to see him it was necessary that the Friars keep him three days and nights without giving him a burial so as to satisfy everyone’s devotion. During that time three habits were torn off him for the devotion was such that anyone regarded himself as blessed if he could kiss and kept something that had touched that holy body. They sewed these relics on as if they were very precious relics. It was a wonderful that standing for such a long time that the holy body did not become at all contaminated. Nor did its colour change but always remained white and fresh, much fairer than when he was alive. A very sweet fragrance came from him. Hence there was a priest of holy life who he kissed his hands. Then when he was returning home in the company of many seculars, along the road all those seculars smelled a wonderful fragrance come from the hands of the priest. They said to one another, “Where does this fragrance come from?” the priest answered, “I am very amazed by this fragrance because I am not carrying nor have I touched anything fragrant that could have stayed on my hands.” However when he thought it over he remembered that having touched the hand of the blessed Louis. They all believed that the fragrance came from that. Just as the soul of the holy many was fragrant unto God and his life was always fragrant unto to men of the world through the excellent example that he had given to everyone and through the holy doctrine that he preached, so His Majesty wanted his body to be fragrant.

The Lord God did not fail to make this servant of his illustrious with miracles after his death. For there was a man who was completely cripple and gravely ill. He was in villa or castle of Philcastro called Saint Nicholas. When the wretched man heard of the fame and death of the holy man, with great faith and devotion he had himself carried to the house of the Friars. Touching that holy body, with many tears he commended himself to the Lord God that He might give him health through the merits of this servant of his. It was an amazing thing for he was immediately and completely healed. With great joy he returned home on his own feet, giving endless thanks to the Lord God. He was very devoted to the holy man for as long as he lived and made known the miracle to whoever wanted to hear about it.

Four years after his death the Friars demolished the church where that holy body was buried in order to rebuild it in another place. Wishing to translate the holy body, the found it whole, fresh and fair. What was more important was that his limbs were still flexible, as if he were alive, just like when he was placed in the tomb. Such a fragrance came from that body that it seemed that all the spiceries of Venice were there. This was a clear miracle of his holiness. A trustworthy Friar who was present at the translation of the body testifies to this, after the Father General enjoined on him by obedience to tell the simple truth about this. Many others who were present affirmed the same.

Many other things may be said of this servant of God that are worthy to be put down on paper. However because I do not have a perfect knowledge via trustworthy witnesses I have omitted writing about them.

Therefore no one should wonder that I have not kept the same order that I have used with the others by writing his life first and then his miracles. I have done this because the life and good ways of this servant of God are amply discussed in the Chronicle.[327] Moreover, because his life was illustrious with miracles so that narrating his life I have been compelled to write down the miracles too.

Therefore what I write in bad composition, since I cannot stretch my intelligence any further, may it be enough in order to know the life, virtues, fervour, devotion, austerity of life, love of poverty, full observance of the Rule, constant patience amid adversities and persecutions, deep humility and charity towards his neighbour that this most fervent servant of God had. Through all these things we may know how pleasing his soul is to God and that we can believe piously that his soul is happy and blessed in heaven and that he may pray for us continuously. May He grant us the grace to imitate him so that we may arrive with him to the glory that we desire. Through His mercy may he grant us this so that he may be praised with his most fair Mother and our father Saint Francis. Amen.

XXXI: About the holy man Brother Francis Palamone, priest and preacher

Called the Palamone, Brother Francis was from the city of Reggio of Calabria. He was born to honest parents. As a boy he attended school and became a very good humanist. However when he came to about eighteen years of age he recognised the fallacies of the world and turned his back on them. With great fervour he left them for the service of God and took up the habit in the Franciscan Order in which he led a most exemplary life. When those Fathers saw his keen intelligence and good ways, they set him to study because he was a devout young man already well introduced to learning. Applying himself to learning he became an excellent preacher in a short time. The Zoccolanti Fathers of that Province loved him very much. He was the beloved companion and compatriot of Brother Louis of Reggio, one of the principals who desired Reform.

As it pleased the Lord God, when he heard about the coming of coming of the Congregation of Capuchins, together with the other Fathers he took up the Capuchin habit and found himself amid the persecutions and travails of those early Fathers of the Province of Calabria. Among the notable things that are said about this holy man was that God allowed him a very great temptation for many months. It was this. He worried about whether the Congregation was from god or not since it was attacked so atrociously. During that temptation he was often in danger of leaving and returning to whence he came. However the Spirit told him that this was a temptation of the devil. It was very painful for him to be so embattled. In his heart he regretted it very much, given the great difference there was between the way of life where he was and the one to which he was tempted to return and when he thought about having to leave the company of the venerable Father Louis and all the other first Fathers whom he loved so much. Therefore he afflicted himself very much with fasts, disciplines and holy prayers. He commended himself with many tears to the Lord God so that He might give him victory over this temptation. In so far as human frailty permits he did not fail to help himself either by all the means he could, seeking the advice of different persons in which he hoped he could be enlightened. It pleased the Lord God who never fails anyone who hopes in His Majesty and faithfully commends himself to Him, that once when he was going to a friary of those Religious to whom he was tempted to return, and he found there a very good Father, his particular friend. Speaking with him secretly he said to him, “Father, you know how much I trust you. Tell me simply where, according to you, is the true observance of the rule: among you or among us capuchins?” Inspired by god he answered him, “How is it possible that you, being a learned and spiritual man, could be persuaded that there be more observance of the Rule among us than among you Capuchins since you have experienced both? Who doesn’t know that the true observance of the Rule is among the Capuchins? Begin with poverty. There is not a shred of it among us.”

He was very consoled by this reply and he decided to no longer want to leave. Nonetheless he still felt himself vigorously attacked in his mind by the infernal enemy. Therefore the following night, persevering in prayer in the church after Matins and commending himself with many tears to the Lord so that He might free him, His Majesty wanted to make him know very clearly that this was the worst kind of temptation from the devil. The Lord appeared to him visibly in the air and with a loud voice told him, “Why do you go asking those Friars about the observance of the Rule since they have turned their backs on me?” Thus with many sweet and suave words He encouraged him to perseverance. He said, “Know that the Congregation of Capuchins is very acceptable to me. I assure you that by your persevering in it you will be acceptable to me in the true observance of the Rule.” The Palamone knew clearly that this was a true vision and apparition of Our Lord Jesus Christ from then on he was completely clear in his mind and confirmed in perseverance without ever being tempted in this was again. He reveal this to a Father in his fraternity. After his death this Friar revealed it to the Fathers of the Congregation. Because he was a trustworthy man they wrote down this example on paper.

Therefore this servant of God was very fervent in all the virtues. Above all he was a man of great prayer. Usually he never went to rest after Matins and customarily persevered in prayer until day. He liked very much to speak about God and bore marvellous fruit both with the Friars and with seculars. His zeal for the salvation of souls was such that he often gave four or five sermons in a day. His great fervour, together with an immense love for God was such that he never seemed tired. He was very zealous about holy poverty, especially in regard to clothing. He always wanted the lowliest garments in the friary and that were completely patched. He rarely ate more than once a day. However on the vigils of Our Lady he always fasted on bread and water. He was very zealous about time. He always occupied himself for most of the time in holy prayer. He was never idle. He spoke little and no one ever heard an idle word come from his mouth.

The Lord God worked many miracles that I will not write down since I am not well informed about them.

It pleased the Lord to want to reward this servant of His for when he fell gravely ill, after having received the most holy sacraments, full of merits that happy soul passed away to its creator.

To the praise and glory of the Lord. Amen.

XXXII: About the holy man Brother Bernardine of Reggio, called George, priest and preacher

Brother Bernardine was from the aforesaid city of Reggio.[328] He was called the George because he was very learned just like the great Venetian called Georgione[329]. He was born to noble parents. At an early age he gave himself to learning in a short time became an excellent humanist. When he came to the age of eighteen years he desired very much to dedicated himself to learning. In order to become learned, he became a Friar Minor in the Congregation of Zoccolanti Fathers. When they saw his fine intelligence and his good introduction to learning he was set to study with great expectations of everyone. In a short time he became very learned, well instructed in all the sciences. He possessed an excellent grasp of the Greek language. He was a great theologian. He cared as much for this as he did about learning as such[330]. He was made a preacher and he preached in all the main cities of Sicily and Calabria with great approval. He was very careful about politeness of speech and because of this he was very acceptable. However he did not show much spirit. He preached more for show than for usefulness. The venerable Father Louis often reprimanded him gently about this since he was his compatriot and very close to him. It pleased the Lord God that when he came to the age of discretion and natural maturity he began with grow close to Father Louis and to visit him. Through his instruction the hand of God was laid upon him. For when the more zealous Fathers were undertaking the Reform, enlightened by God, Father George was one of the most zealous who dedicated themselves to that Reform. Because he was a man of great authority, he was a great benefit to the Reform. However when he saw that his plan could not come about, he heard on the hand that Father Louis of Fossombrone had obtained the Bull about the Capuchin Reform from His Holiness Clement VII. Because of other matters of his own he came to Rome. When he heard that Father Louis Fossombrone lived in a little place with some of his other companions, situated near the People’s Gate called Saint Mary of Miracles, and anxious to know about the Reform, he went to find Brother Louis and revealed to him the desire of his heart, that he was about to become a Capuchin along with his many companions[331]. Father Louis informed him well and exhorted him with many persuasive words to join this Reform. He gave him a cowl[332] so that when they took up the habit they should know the shape of the cowl and the habit. He was the one who that cowl in Calabria. When about fourteen of those Fathers who desired the Reform gathered with Father Louis in a secret place he gave them a beautiful sermon. In it he proved that the Capuchin habit was the true habit that our Father Saint Francis had worn. When he showed them the cowl with great joy they all tried it on their head. With the strongest arguments he proved to them that the shape of the habit that Saint Francis describes for us in the Rule and that all the ancient Monks and holy Fathers wore depended upon the cowl. He proved how taking up that cowl was not something new. Rather it was a renewal in the world of the habit that was very common among the Religious of ancient times and how by the will of God this habit was the occasion of many Reforms both in Holy Church as well as in particular Orders. For God gave the Order of Saint Francis as a support and help to the Holy Church, the first religion and universal mother of all. His words were so inspired that they all burned with an incredible fervour to want to take up the Capuchin habit. Experience has made it clear that god spoke through the mouth of this holy man. For from the Congregation of Capuchins preaching of the Gospel and the Sacred Scripture began and discussion about a Sacred Council began among the Prelates of the Church in order to start the Reform of Holy Church. Countless good things have come from this. I maintain that the example of the Capuchins was a good cause of the very noble Congregation of the Priests of Jesus[333] and the universal rejection of the licentious life by many religious.

When this venerable Father took up the habit and had begun the Capuchin Reform in Calabria he began to preach with such fervour that he set all of Calabria and Sicily abuzz. He was the one who wore the Capuchin habit in Sicily. The first friary was established in Messina where he preached with great approval. However when he went preaching in Palermo he was still unknown and so was the habit he wore. It had never been seen in the city of Palermo. Because of this he endured great hardship because the Jurors togther with the Clergy contested him preaching in the Cathedral. They though he was some vagabond. However with great humility, affirming that he was a Friar of Saint Francis, the Servant of God commended himself to them so that they might allow him preach. They let him give the first sermon. As it pleased the Lord God who wants nothing from His servants except humility, that sermon was a flop[334]. When sermon was finished the Jurors sent him a messenger who told him on their behalf, “Father, it would be better if you went to preach in some villa or castle because Palermo is not ready to hear sermons of the kind that you have given this morning.” The Servant of God replied, “By your kindness[335] I beg you to say to the Lord Jurors on my behalf that by their courtesy they may deign to hear another sermon. And if they are not happy with this one I will go to preach in those villas that they wish.” It pleased the Lord God that they were happy to hear another sermon from him. He gave it with so much fervour and with such a depth of beautiful concepts and doctrine that the Jurors and all the people were quite edified. They judged that he was a repository of knowledge a holy man of great valour. From then on he preached to them with the greatest approval.[336]

The servant of God used to go dressed in one coarse habit that was completely patched. We went barefoot summer and winter. Usually he ate once a day and with such austerity and paucity that it was amazing how he was able to endure so much effort amid such suffering. He was a man of continuous prayer for although he preached continuously, because he was very learned he did not need to study much[337]. In this way he spent most of his time in holy prayers during which he wept continuously, weeping for time spent badly. He often said to the Friars, “Oh how blind I was spending time in such vane and useless sciences and I observed so little that which I promised to God. What a great boon we have received from God who gives us light and the opportunity in this holy Congregation to observe that which we have promised to God. We are obliged to lay down our lives to defend it.”

He was the one who always defend it. Once he was in the house of certain religious. They put him in a very dark and strong prison with the intention that he should die there. However, that prison had a very small window that faced the forest. As it pleased the Lord God, one Sunday morning he saw a young man through the window as he went to hunt birds with a cross-bow. Calling to him from the balustrade, he said to him, “Son, will you do me a favour and take a letter to the Viceroy of Naples?” The young man replied, “Gladly, I will take it immediately.” He usually carried paper and inkhorn in his sleeve. In great haste he wrote to the Viceroy about how he was in prison. When the young man took the letter it arrived in the study of the Viceroy in a flash.[338] Because the Viceroy loved him very much, he set out on the journey immediately. When he arrived at that house he released him from prison and dressed down those Religious quite severely[339]. And everyone regarded the young man to have been and Angel.

It pleased the Lord God to want to reward this servant of His, for falling ill and well prepared, he passed away[340]. Amen.

XXIII: About the holy man Brother Francis of Cartoceto, priest

Brother Francis was from a little castle called Cartoceto situated in the dominion of Fano in the Marches. He was born to honest farmer parents. As a boy he attended school long enough to learn how to read. Then he was put to work outdoors. Nonetheless he was a very simple child, modest and very devout about the things of God. For he often withdrew by himself to places where he could not be seen and did his devotions very devoutly, commending himself to God to give him the grace to serve Him. He often disciplined himself and how much he suffered! His simplicity set to reading ordinary devout books. He fled conversation and games with other youth at all cost. At the age of about seventeen years he decided to leave the world and he took the habit in the Franciscan Order, being clothed in the Congregation of Zoccolanti. Because he knew quite well how to read he was received as a cleric. He did his novitiate with great fervour, dedicating himself to mortification in such a way that he was a mirror for all his other companions. Because of his simplicity everyone loved him very much. When he later became a Priest he burned with an incredible fervour to do penance. He was very austere about his body for he rarely ate more than once a day. However on the forty-days that Saint Francis was accustomed to do, he fasted most of the time on bread and water[341] as well as all the vigils of the Lord and Our Lady. He always remained withdrawn, applying himself to holy prayer or some praiseworthy exercise.

As it pleased the Lord God, one day an old book came to his hands. It spoke about Saint Francis, the Rule and about the customs and perfect observance of those early Fathers. Because of this he became inflamed with such an unutterable love of God and zeal for the true observance of the Rule. He wept continuously about not seeing in the Order the observance that he read about in the book. He became so unsettled about this that his spirit cold not accommodate the Friars’ way of life, especially when discussion began in the Order about Reform and when Fathers who had spirit and learning with who he took counsel said to him, “Know Brother Francis that we are not in the true observance of the Rule.”

The devout servant of God always sought to be assigned to the houses that were more devout, austere, poor and solitary. There he gave himself continuously to holy prayer. He composed a book of very beautiful examples of Father Saint Francis and other saints. He studied it continuously in order learn how to better conform himself with their life. When he saw that the Reform did not go ahead he asked of the venerable Father John of Fano, Minister at the time, the grace to be sent to stay in the devout friary of Saint James about two and a half miles from Matelica. No one wanted to stay in that little place because it was very harsh and in the wilds. This was the reason that house was assigned to him where he led an anchoritic life for many years, eating bread and water only just once a day almost continuously. Most of the time the servant of God remained alone. The people of those parts had a great devotion towards him. He went dressed in just one poor and completely patched habit. It pleased the Lord God that young man of his homeland was converted. Because of the great devotion he had for Father Saint Francis he took the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis who live in community[342]. He was called Brother Pacificus. He was a great servant of God. Because of his devotion, dressed in that habit he went off to Saint James of Galitia[343], since he had already become a priest. Then when he returned to the Marches he learned that Brother Francis led a holy life and stayed alone in that place at Matelica. A dream came to him and he said to himself, “You cannot serve God with greater certainty[344] that by being close to the holy man Brother Francis of Cartoceto – and all the more so since he from his own region. On this good inspiration and wanting to obey, Brother Pacificus went immediately to find that holy man Brother Francis. After revealing to him his heart felt idea, Brother Francis received him kindly. However he did not change the habit of the Tertiary in which he lived some years while serving the holy old man in all that he could. However because he was very old and also because he had wept so much and led a harsh life for such along time he had lost his sight almost completely. Brother Pacificus used to help him say the Office. The holy old man said by heart what he knew and Brother Pacificus read to him the rest. Thus they remained in holy peace.

However as it pleased Our Lord God when the blessed Brother Matthew obtained the permission of Pope clement VII to be able to wear the capuchin habit and go around the world preaching he returned to the Marches. On the vigil of the Portiuncula, a little before dawn, Brother Pacificus went as usual to the cell of the holy old man to say the Office. He found him at prayer and said to him, “Old Father, do we want to say the Office?” With many tears the holy old man answered him, “Son, what is the date?”[345] Brother Pacificus answered, “Old Father, today is the day of the Pardon of Assisi[346].” The holy old man replied, “Note this day well, my son, because today the true Reform of the Order has begun.” Brother Pacificus replied, “What do you know about it old Father?” The holy old man said, “Know that when you came to me and found me weeping it was because god had shown me a great vision and revealed to me the true Reform. I have seen a Friar hurry across a plain. He was dressed in a short habit half way down his leg and with a pointed cowl. He was barefoot with a cross in his hand. The one who showed me the vision said to me, ‘Know that in the one you see the Lord God has begun the Reform of the Franciscan Order.’” He said this at Matins. Not long after, quite early in day, Brother Matthew knocked at the door. As described in the Chronicle[347] he went to the old man who immediately took up the Capuchin habit. He was the second Capuchin Friar.

He lived some years and delighted in that holy habit so much that even though he was very old he went out none the less in order to be seen with that habit among seculars. With great joy he said to anyone who asked him what the near style of habit meant, “Know that this is the shape of the true habit that our Seraphic Father Saint Francis wore.” When Father john of Fano heard about this, he immediately went to Matelica and said to him, “Old Father you are excommunicated for not wearing the habit of the Order.” The holy old man replied, “Those who enemies of God and the Church through mortal sin are excommunicated. I am wearing this habit by a revelation of God. Furthermore His Holiness had said to Brother Matthew that he wants the Rule to be observed to the letter and has allowed him to wear this habit.” When the Minister saw that the old man was prepared to die rather than abandon that habit, and because he was holy and old, he didn’t want to grieve him so he confirmed it for him instead.

He persevered in a very holy life and fell ill in that house and Brother Pacificus gave him all the most holy sacraments. When he was near to death he said, “Brother Pacificus, my son, remove everything from the cell and give the place to anyone who wants to enter. I see a road to heaven all adorned with gold brocade and a great throng is set in order. Don’t you see it?” When Brother Pacificus answered that he did not see it, the holy old man marvelled and with hid head, hands and mouth gave indication of a great joy. The last word he said was, “Behold the Queen of heaven!” With this joy that holy soul passed away to its creator. He was buried in that place[348].

However when Brother Pacificus head such praises of the Congregation of Capuchins from the holy old man, kneeling down he made a vow to God to become a Capuchin. He came to the Province of Saint Francis and Father Eusebius of Ancona received him. He was assigned to the devout place of Narni where I was in the fraternity[349]. I was present to all these things and we were together for the whole of that winter. All these things that I have written about the holy old man I heard from Brother Pacificus.

Brother Pacificus persevered and was a very zealous observer of the Rule. He was Vicar of the Province of the Marches, which he governed with great zeal and maturity. Because he had particular devotion to the Province of Saint Francis where he had taken the habit he negotiated with the Father General to send him back to that Province where he lived giving the best example. He spent most of the time in holy prayers. He fasted most of the year and rarely spoke with anyone in order to have greater opportunity to pray.

When he was in the last days of his life in the friary at Panicale he fell gravely ill. After having received all the most sacraments in that illness, being well prepared and totally united with God, he passed away to a better life. He was buried in that place.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of his most fair Mother and of our father Saint Francis. Amen.

XXXIV: About the holy man Brother Anthony of Montecigardo, priest

Brother Anthony[350] was from a castle called Monte Ciardo situated in the Marches of Ancona. He was born to honest parents. At an early age he attended school where he became quite well instructed in positive grammar. When he was about twenty years old, touched by the Holy Spirit, he decided to serve God take the habit in the Franciscan Religion in which he lived with great austerity. Nor did he ever want to accept the office of superior[351]. He always stayed in solitary houses, applying himself day and night to holy prayers and mortification of his body.

When the Congregation of Capuchins came out the servant of God was in a very devout little place where he felt he had every opportunity to apply himself to the holy virtues. On the other hand, when he heard about the good reputation of the Capuchins and the poor, austere life that they led, he was put into great doubt about where he could do better, observing the Rule with greater perfection and living according to the will of God. Because of this for many days he afflicted himself more than usual in holy fasts, begging God more fervently than usual so that He would reveal or show to him in some way where it would pleased Him best for him to be. It pleased the Lord God that when he was in that friary a small boy used to visit. An orphan without father and mother, his head covered with sores, he used to come to that friary every day for alms. When this holy man saw him brought to such a bad condition he had the boys head treated by a Friar who understood these things. One day when the Friars were gathered together Brother Anthony said to the boy, “Son, you see there are two kinds of Friars of Saint Francis. There is us and there is another Reform and they are called Capuchin Friars. Which pleases God more, the Capuchin Reform or ours?” It was amazing, because he immediately blushed like scarlet. Then lifting his little hand, with fervour and a loud voice he went jumping around the cloister and said, “The Capuchins! The Capuchins are more acceptable to God! That one is the true Reform!”

This miracle moved the holy man and he decided to become a Capuchin. He knew for certain that the boy had never seen them, and if it had depended upon human factors, the boy would have had to praise more those from whom he had received so many benefits. When he came he brought with him some others of his companions. When he saw himself among the Capuchins he burned with an immense fervour to do harsh penance. So he always went dressed in a patched, rough habit. While he was young, he went barefoot in summer and winter. He fasted for the all the forty-days that our Father Saint Francis used to do. However he fasted on all the vigils of Our Lady on bread and water. He rarely and hardly ever ate more than once a day.

This was the reason that he went on bread and water so much for he said, “I always fast. So when the devout vigils and forty–days of Father Saint Francis come I would not have to do anything extra. It would seem to me that I don’t observe them.” Because f this he often fasted the forty-days of Sant’ Angelo on bread and water. When he was near to death Father Bonaventure of Areggio asked him how long he had fasted on bread and water. The servant of God answered, “If I count all the times, I have fasted on bread and water for more than thirty years.”

He always wore rough sackcloth until hi s old age. He said Mass almost every morning in which he celebrated commemorations of many saints for whom he had a particular devotion. Above all he had a particular devotion for Saint Jerome. Once when he was saying Mass someone counted thirty Collects. This did not please the Friars very much since the felt that this exceeded the practice of Holy Church. However his devotion was such that he could not rest unless he fulfil his intention, which was to help as much as he could the souls in purgatory and the many persons who recommended themselves to him.

While he was young after Matins he never went back to rest but persevered in holy contemplation in the church. When he had said Mass he withdrew into holy prayer and persevered until Terce and, just as I saw myself, he wept almost continuously. Once the Vicar of the Province of Saint Francis, Father Francis of Iesi at the time, sent me because of some need to our friary at Mantua. As I was making my way through the Marches I came across the holy man in the friary at Pietrarubbia[352]. I rested in that friary for some days and had some long discussions with him. Among other things he told me was about a Friar he had known who for a period of fourteen years always remained in the church after Matins without fail. The Lord God wanted to console him in this. For one night just before dawn he saw in an instant the larger door of the church open. A very beautiful procession entered. It was adorned with rich and very hobble vestments. They went in front of the high altar where the Blessed Sacrament of the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ was kept. After they had made a deep bow on both sides[353], he clearly saw the Saviour of the world enter, accompanied by the most important and glorious saints. Two of them placed a seat there that shone like the sun. As our Lord sat there he turned to his devout Friar who was in the oratory at the back of the church[354]. Calling him gently by name he signalled him to draw near to the throne[355]. Understanding this, the servant of God came forward, still kneeling and with great fear. The Lord said to him, “Because you have been to me a faithful follower of your Father Saint Francis who, insofar as human frailty allows, perfectly followed in the footsteps and example of my life, I have come to reward you. Ask of me the grace you want. With great fear he replied, “Lord, I am not worthy of any good nor would I know anything worthier to ask than that you grant in me in this world to carry you always carved in my heart. And I ask you the full remission of all my wickedness and great sins with which I have offended Your Majesty while I was in the world and in the Order I have not been your true servant.” The Lord replied, “It is done[356]. Now I will write you in the book of life and assure you that I will be always ready with my gifts and grace.” A beautiful young man gave him a book and pen. Taking them, Our Lord wrote him down with his own hand and blessing him the vision disappeared.

As far as I can tell he was speaking about himself. However, he spoke figuratively so as not to reveal himself.

He told me many other things in order to praise holy prayer. He said there was a holy man from the Franciscan Order who because of the many miracles he did the Pontiff called him to Rome in order to speak with him about the things of God. He passed by the Friary where Brtoher Anthony was at the time. He saw that holy man when he was at table with the Friars. When the Mirror of the Cross was being read, he rose off the ground some distance and stayed enraptured there in the air until the Friars finished eating. He went to the church to give thanks and when he returned to the refectory he found him still rapt in that way. He told of the example of a Guardian of that place who wanted to test to see if he was a holy as everyone said. One morning he called him aside and said to him, “Father, I would like you to help me work a little in the garden.” The holy man replied, “I can’t do much but what I can do I do very willingly.” Seeing the promptness of his obedience, the Guardian felt sure that he was a holy man. Nonetheless he wanted to test him again, though surreptitiously. He told him that he had a Friar in the house who was very dissolute. However as soon as the holy man heard to complaint he immediately threw himself down onto his knees and said to him, “Father Guardian, forgive me. I haven’t fed our donkey.” Since he was old, he used to lead a donkey and rode it sometimes. When he left the Guardian he went to the little stable. Fallen to his knees he thanked God with many teras for having given him the grace to flee from that complaining. While the Guardian was observing him he saw him rise in the air again. Turning to me the holy man Brother Anthony said to me, “I tell you this so that you may take example from it because these are the means walking through which we have a wide scope to please God. He persevered in this fourteen years and received from God the remission of his every sin and, preserved by God, the certainty of being no longer able to be condemned.”

Then he added, “Know that anyone who wants to acquire the grace of prayer in the Order must be detached from the passions and from wick inclinations. Self love and love of God cannot stay together without great detriment to perfection. Everything for which one has any affection, no matter how small it may be, retards him in the love of God. Because of this our Father Saint Francis never wanted anything for his own use except that which the Rule allows us. For anything we use beyond those things, need and dispensation are required.”

“Something happened among certain Religious in my time in the convent[357] that they had in Cingoli in the Marches. Because they was a great plague and great war they people in that place put guards on the wall at night. That convent is gone[358] in which many of those Religious died from the plague. When they died the guards saw a light come from heaven like a flask of fire. Straightaway in the morning they went to the convent and found that one of those Religious had died at that hour. Over different nights there were about fourteen different lights. One night they didn’t see a light come and when they went in they morning they found that an extern[359] had died. Amazed that they had not seen a light, both the seculars and the Religious also judged it very poorly. Moved by this one of those Religious set himself with great insistence to beg God to reveal to him what had become of that soul. One night that extern appeared to him. He was chained with chains of fire. Asked if he were saved he replied, ‘Would that I had never been born to the world. I am damned.’ He said to him, ‘Why are you damned?’ He answered, ‘I had five beautiful rosaries that I wanted to give to my relatives and I kept them hidden so that my Superior would not know about them and I had procured them without permission. Nor did I ever confess it although my conscience reprimanded me very much. So that you may be sure, look there under the bench in the Oratory where I used to pray because you will find them there. Therefore because I died in ownership I have been condemned to eternal pains by the just judge.’ Looking in the morning, they found the five rosaries.

“The Lord God does not take account of these things of the world, all of which he has created for us. However he takes account of whether we observe those things that we have promised him and whether we are wholeheartedly in his service or are busy about vane things. The good Religious should never have to seek anything other than God. When blessed Leo was crossing the river, the breviary was so heavy that he was about to drown[360]. How much heavier do you think it will be for those Religious who are tied up continuously in the things of the world?” Therefore this holy man said, “It seems to me great foolishness that we want to be wiser than Christ and our Father Saint Francis who did not allow us personal use of anything in the Rule except the habit, underwear, the cord, breviary, tunic and mantle. All the other things the Church allows us in common and of which he have an actual use – not of superfluous things but the things necessary for the sustenance of our nature and the carrying out of the offices of the Order. Following the clarifications of the Popes the Church keeps ownership of these things alone. Nor can we use them without offending our profession. Know that when the Friars are caught up in many little things it is difficult for them to have spirit since they are tied up with indulgence[361].”

Therefore this holy man did not want to have anything. He had a rosary that the Duchess of Urbino gave him. She visited him when he was near to death and when she was leaving the holy old man said to her, “My lady, I know that I am close to death. On dying, to who shall I leave your rosary?” Her Ladyship, considering the simplicity of the holy old man, turned towards another lady that was with her and said to him, “Leave it to this lady because I will make a present of it to her after your death.” She accepted it as a precious relic with great devotion for having received it from that holy man.

He was very tenacious in observing the holy fast and forty-days that he did out of his devotion. Hence one time, as he told me himself, when he was doing one of the forty-days, it was necessary for him to do a long journey. One morning when he was himself with his companion in a place his companion said to him, “Father, it would be better if you ate.” He answered, “I do not want to break the fast.” The companion said, “At least take some bread!” He replied, “Our Lord does not say so in the Gospel. Don’t you know that Our Lord has promised to provide for us in all our needs?” Quite angry the companion said to him, “Do not expect me to provide for you on the journey. At least give some thought to the walking.” When they set out on the journey the companion walked at a good pace. The servant of God Brother Anthony followed him for a good while. However when the meal time passed by later he felt faint. Worrying about bothering his companion he went ahead with great haste. Raising his mind to the Lord he said to himself, “Just as I am certain that you are God, the most kind provider for all, so I am certain that you cannot fail those who trust you with all their hearts.” His prayer was no sooner made than he arrived at a spring off to the side. Gazing at this the servant of God saw there on a stone half a loaf of fresh white bread. He recognised clearly that the Lord had provided this for him from heaven. Kneeling down, with many he thanked God gives such swiftness the prayers of His servants so that in the raising of the mind they penetrate all the heavens so quickly and arrive at the throne of the Divine Majesty. He ate the bread and drank some water from the spring. He was so physically refreshed that even though his companion had gained a good mile because he didn’t wait, Brother Anthony was able to catch up and overtake him. He was so physically refreshed that he ate nothing more until the following morning. We was so burned with the love of God that for many years he cold not contain his tears when he thought back to that act of kindness[362]. He no longer gave a second thought to taking nothing for the journey, but renewing his profession said, “My Lord Jesus Christ, I promise the Rule to you again which you have given us through our Father Saint Francis. Helped by your grace I never want to fail to observe it in so far as human frailty permits, even if I may be impugned by the infernal enemy, the flesh or the world.”

This servant of God was so humble and resigned to God that he never excused himself in a matter of obedience, even if it was hard and strenuous. For when he was very old he was elected Vicar of the Province of the Marches. He governed it in peace for many years. When he arrived at the friaries it felt as if Saint Francis arrived. His kindness and affability towards his subjects was such he did not appear like a superior but a very loving father who fathered[363] them all. And if some one was troubled by the temptation of the infernal enemy, the look on his face and his hand on Friar’s head comforted the Friar so much that it seemed as though the Holy Spirit descended upon him. Nor could anyone ever boast of having seen him angry. Rather with a cheerful face he comforted anyone, no matter how desperate, who trusted in him as a loving father.

He was very zealous about the Divine Office just as I saw. He was so physically composed in the choir for the Office and recollected in God. While he was standing he never his eyes except on the Psalter with his arms crossed and his eyes towards heaven as if he were lifted up in ecstasy. I have never seen anyone as composed as he was.

Once[364], when the Chapter was being celebrated in Rome, the servant of God came to the friary at Narni where I was in the fraternity[365]. He spent some days there. The Marquess Colonna came from Loreto, knowing that the holy man was there. Very devoted towards the Congregation she wanted very much to see meet him face to face since she was aware of his reputation. She came to that friary are Narni and spoke with him a long time about the things of God. Finally Lady said to him, “Father Anthony, is it true that your have raised up a dead man?” The servant of God answered, “My Lady, I am such a sinner that if he were alive I would have killed him. Sinful men do not have this grace of raising the dead. Only the Lord God can do that.” Lowering his head a little he wept. Such was his manner of speaking that did not deny it so as not to tell a lie. Nor did he admit it, in order to avoid pride. Because of this, if she already had devotion, it certainly increased in that Marquess of Pescara.[366]

The servant of Gad had this custom. When he was talking with someone and had said three or four words, he always added, “May the good Jesus be praise! May the good Jesus be praised!” Once I asked him why he did this. He answered me, “The tongue of the Religious is consecrated to God. Therefore it is not permissible in a discussion to distance oneself from the praises of God. Just as it is not permissible to stay for a long time with the mind alienated form God. When Saint Bonaventure was translating[367] Saint Anthony of Padua he found his tongue ruddy and fresh as if he were alive. This was because with his tongue he had praised God and given occasion that it be praised[368].

It pleased the Lord God to want to reward this servant of His. For when he became ill in the friary at Macerata, with great preparation and having received all the holy sacraments and having served God with great fervour for about sixty years in the holy Order that happy soul passed away to its creator.

Through the merits of this servant of His the Lord God worked many miracles just as I saw for myself in the friary at Pietra Rubbia. He put down the three names: Jesus, Mary and Joseph on a piece of paper[369]. All the sick in those parts sent for these. After putting these names on, nine out of ten were healed immediately.

He did another miracle when he was Guardian at the friary at Forlì in Romagna. There was a poor fellow sick with dropsy. He heard someone tell Brother Angelus Calabrese, Vicar of the Province of Bologna that this holy man did many miracles. The poor fellow had already exhausted all his goods on doctors. All had given him up as hopeless in that sickness so he began as best he could to go to that holy man in the Marches, putting such hope in his prayers so that God might free him completely. It was amazing! He hadn’t walked three miles when he felt himself perfectly healed. Returning to Forlì he notified the Friars about this great miracle. Father Angelus Saint Martin Calabrese, Father Augustine of Bagnacavallo and many other Capuchins were present for this. Devotion towards Brother Anthony, this servant of God, increased greatly[370].

The Lord God worked another miracle in my presence. A shepherd lit a fire in the woods near to our friary in Narni. Because it was summer and very hot, the fire became so intense that it […..][371]. All of a sudden it burned the big trees and the flames seemed to reach up into the sky. Because of this the Friars were frightened that the friary would burn down. They came outside to say the litanies kneeling down. When the holy old man heard the noise from his cell, he too came outside. Seeing the huge fire he returned to his cell. Kneeling down he prayer somewhat. It was amazing! Immediately the fire intensified and in the presence of everyone it went under a large pile of dry thorns. There the fire that burned large green trees earlier lost its strength through the prayers of the servant of God. It only burned the dry grass underneath the gathered thorns without burning the thorns themselves. Father Eusebius of Ancona, Brother Angelo of Coldiscepole, Brother Louis of Capranica[372] and other Capuchins were present at this.

I will not say anything about the almost countless miracles he did in the Province of the Marches as Our Lord God healed many sick persons from every kind of infirmity through the merits of this servant of his. However I feel that I should not remain silent only about this one. He was passing through the city of Ascoli and wanted to quest some alms in order to eat and continue his journey. He arrived at a house where there was great wailing. He asked what was the cause for the wailing. He was told that a poor widow was there who had no on else but a son who had died the previous night. She was com0letely desperate. When the servant of God heard this, moved by pity […][373] he went to the woman to console her. He knocked at the door and everyone called him in, hoping that his holy words and sound teaching would help the poor woman. He tried to comfort her. However the woman was beside herself like a drunk. She took the boy and placed him in his arms and said to him, “If you want to console me, beg God to revive him, because I am dying without my son.” When he heard this the servant of God also began to cry. He withdrew with the dead boy to a room and in a short while gave him alive back to her. Because of this everyone’s joy was such, and th-ey thanked God with so many tears that many people ran to the commotion. With one voice they all cried, “He is a true servant of God!” However he deftly left their midst and taking the back streets left the city. He never wanted to make the miracle known. Nonetheless it spread everywhere and it was said that he had raised up a dead boy. However now one knew how except his companion and a few Friars. Therefore I cannot write more amply about it.

May this suffice to make known how many merits Brother Anthony, the servant of God, had. May it suffice so that anyone who reads it may be invited to want to follow him in good works, always giving thanks to God from whom all good things come. May He be thanked. Amen.

XXXV:About the holy man Brother Bonaventure of Cremona, priest

Brother Bonaventure was from Cremona[374]. He was born to honest parents and attended school for a short time until he learned to read well. When he was about twenty years old he recognised the fallacies of this world. He decided to leave and took the habit in the Franciscan Order within the Congregation of Blessed Amadeus[375] in which[376] he lived some years, giving the very best example.

When the Congregation of Capuchins emerged he joined the Province of the Marches in order to better observe the Rule. He took the Capuchin habit in the devout friary at Pietrarubbia[377]. After not many years he was sent to the Province of Bologna where he led a life that was more angelic than human, spending all his time, apart from the necessities of nature, in holy prayers. Ordinarily he ate only once a day and very little. However he most fasted on bread and water for the forty-days of Father Saint Francis and the vigils of Our Lady. It was an amazing thing that an idle word never came from his lips. He rarely conversed with anyone but always stayed wither in the church or in his cell. Ordinarily he said every day the Office of the dead, the seven Psalms and other devotions.

Once he and I were in the same family in the friary at Forlì not long after the departure from us made by that wretched Brother Bernardine of Siena, the Ochino. This holy man, as he told me, was in the friary at Faenza praying in his cell at midday when he saw a shining woman enter his cell[378]. Startled very much by this vision, with great trembling the servant of God turned towards the woman and said to her, “Who are you Lady that you should come in so suddenly?” At these words the woman came closer and said to him, “Do not worry Brother Bonaventure. I have come to console you for I see you very melancholy. You have poured out many tears for your Congregation.” Brother Bonaventure concluded that she was the universal Advocate of sinners, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of everyone. With great humility and tears he said to her, “Our Lady, I commend our poor Congregation to you.” The lady replied without revealing who she was, “do not worry Brother Bonaventure god loves the Congregation very much. However, because there was an impurity He wanted to purge it.” Without saying anything else she immediately disappeared.

Then the holy man added, “the same thing happened to me today during the payer at None. I was kneeling on my stretcher in my cell. Suddenly I heard my cell door open and there was that Lady in front of me. Seeing me totally astonished she said to me with great joy, “do not worry Brother Bonaventure I am that woman who appeared to you last year in the Friary at Faenza and I have come to console you. Know that in your Congregation there is still some dissolution. Know that the Lord god has purged it and wants to purify it so that His Majesty may be faithfully glorified in it.” Naming certain Religious and a great Prelate of the Church she said, “woe to those Religious and to that Prelate!” And she suddenly disappeared[379].

He told me about other things, great visions that happened to him while he was young. Because of these I knew that he had always been a holy soul and good friend of our Lord God.

Often during the time of the plague he set out to hear the confessions of those infected and through the confessions of this servant of His God bore the greatest fruit, for he was quite expert in cases of conscience. However, above all, he rejoiced very much at having snatched a poor religious from the hands of the enemy. She had been in mortal sin for fourteen years. When she was at the point of death, all night long this servant of God fought visibly with the enemy who did not want this woman to go to confession. With the grace of God however he brought he back because in the morning, well prepared after having received all the most holy sacraments, she passed away to the Lord.

It pleased the Lord God that our Superiors sent this servant of God as confessor to the Nuns of Naples, whom he governed in a holy manner. There in the friary of Saint Ephraim, being well prepared and having received all the most holy sacraments, he passed away to the better life. Although he did some miracles, I am not writing about them because I do not full knowledge of them. Let it suffice to say that he served the Lord God in the holy Order for about fifty-five years, replete of every virtue.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and HIs most fair Mother and of our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

XXXVI:About the holy man Brother Peter of Todi, priest

Brother Peter[380] was from a city called Todi situated in the Province of Saint Francis and in the dominion of the Church. He was born of noble parents, of the Palamoni household. He went to school at an early age and became well instructed in positive grammar. However when he reached about the age of seventeen years he saw the great danger for his soul of falling headlong into sin, he resolved to flee the groups of this world to become a Religious. He took the habit in the Franciscan order.

However when the Congregation of Capuchins emerged, because he had desired the perfect observance of the holy rule for such a long time, he burned with an incredible fervour to do greater penance and to better observe the Rule he had promised to God. So in order not to be stopped by his companions he left secretly[381]. Having gone to Rome, he was received by Borhter Louis of Fossombrone and clothed with the Capuchin habit. He was sent back to the Province of Saint Francis and assigned to the friary of Saint Valentine’s in Foligno. Not long after, moving from that house, the one of Saint Joseph’s was established where the servant of God became the Guardian.

In that Congregation he led a very austere life for he was very zealous about holy poverty which he marvellously observed in food, dress and dwelling. Nearly the whole time he ate only once a day. He never wanted fancy foods but greens, vegetables and other simple, poor and basic[382] foods. He said, “Meat and other fine things are not the food of the servants of God who have promised to imitate Jesus Christ and to lead the apostolic life in the world.” He never wanted to be different from the others and ate always at the set time.

He was very zealous about holy prayer and spent all his time in it which he extended beyond the ordinary times that were customary in the Order. In order to be able to dedicate himself better to prayer he always sought to be in the more solitary and poorer houses of the Province. He often used to say, “We never read that our Father Saint Francis stayed in large friaries. Instead he stayed in Mount Alverna, Monte Casale, the Carcere of Assisi, at Farneto, at Speco di Sant’ Urbino and similar alpine, solitary and poor little places. He did this in order to observe better poverty, his beloved bride.

Even though he was very austere regarding himself, nonetheless he was very charitable toward his neighbour. Since he was Novice Master for many years, his students[383] testify to this. He governed them with such good example that he seemed like another Saint Francis. Such was the solicitude seen in that servant of God towards his sheep, especially when the enemy tempted them. He stayed with them day and night to comfort them; the same at times of sickness. No mother was ever as tender towards her children as this servant of God was towards his ill subjects. Similarly with seculars, they had such devotion towards him that whenever some discord arose among them, no matter how serious it was, the reconciled them. Whenever he saw anyone suffering, he would dissolve into tears out of compassion.

Once a governor of Perugia, called Pitta, hung fourteen men from Bastia for whatever crime I don’t know. Because of fear towards that governor, they hung on the gallows for many days. No one had the courage to bury them. With the permission of his Superiors, one night that servant of God buried them all. For a long time, no one knew who had done it except the Friars.

He wore almost continuously a rough hairshirt[384] against his skin. He said, “The servant of God should never be without some affliction in memory of the Lord’s passion.”

Therefore after Brother Peter had served the Lord God for about thirty-five years in the holy Order, it pleased His Majesty to take him to Himself, for he fell seriously ill in the aforementioned friary of Saint Joseph. Not long after, with much preparation and quite ready, he passed away to a better life. He was buried in that friary and he was the first Capuchin who died in the Province of Saint Francis. God revealed his death to him for when the church at Saint Joseph’s was built and the sepulchre was being built for the Friars, when he had finished it he said to all those present, “Know, my sons, that I will be the first to be place in this tomb.” This was fulfilled.

Not long after his death another holy friar died. When they opened the tomb in which there were no others except Brother Peter, such a strong fragrance came out that it seemed that all the spiceries of the world were there. This was a true sign of his holiness for the Friars and for a great number of seculars who said unanimously, “Now we see how great was the holiness of the servant of God, Brother Peter. It is clear that that holy soul is in paradise.” Weeping, they all gave thanks to God.

Another clear testimony also manifested his holiness. This servant of God had a nephew called Peter Paul of John of Gentilone[385]. When he was a boy he was in his father’s cellar. When he saw a vase of some liquid, I don’t know which, like a boy he began to taste it with his finger. Finding it sweet, he put it to his mouth and had a good drink. When he father became aware of this, he began to cry out loudly saying, “Oh my son, you are dead!” Hurrying on foot he took him to the apothecary of one of his relatives called Attorre who was very expert in that art. He immediately ordered certain remedies against the poison and in order to make him vomit. As it pleased the Lord God, the boy was freed from that death but he always remained quite ill and never had had any colour in his face. Because the servant of God Brother Peter loved his nephew Peter Paul very deeply[386] he advised him not to become involved in the things of the world but to always lead a spiritual life. Because of such good instruction she always lived in the fear of God. Not long after Brother Peter’s death Peter Paul was ill with a consumptive fever[387]. He had been in been for a long time when one day when he was in bed, alone, his uncle Brother Peter appeared to him surrounded by great splendour. Startled by this, Peter Paul began to cry, “Jesus Christ help me!” Then with a pleasant voice Brother Peter called him and said, “Peter Paul, my dear nephew, do not worry. I am your uncle Brother Peter. From heaven I have seen your illness and your great need. I have brought you a vessel of precious electuary[388]. Without taking any other this will last you until that day that will be the last of your life. Take it with devotion and wait for me because that day will come. Go to confession and receive all the most holy sacraments and prepare yourself devoutly.” And so he disappeared.

With many tears Peter Paul began to cry and call everyone in the house. They came running and he told them, “My uncle Brother Peter has visited me and has brought me this vessel of electuary. He told me to eat it until the day when he will return for me.” Although he held that beautiful vessel in his hand and they all smelled the great fragrance that came from the vessel and saw him eat it with great delight, nonetheless no one could see that vessel. From then one, for many days, he never wanted to taste anything else but that electuary. When that day came he passed away to a better life. Although he could no longer speak, with signs he indicated that he saw he could see his uncle with whom he went away in order to possess heaven.

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XXXVII:About the holy man Brother Anthony Corso, priest

By nationality, Brother Anthony was from the island of Corsica[389]. At an early age he attended school with the intention of becoming a Priest. However since there wasn’t a teacher on the whole island who taught grammar, nor was there anyone at the time who had such grammar, he only learned to read. However when he saw all the enmities and the licentious and backward way of life[390] that was on the island he dreamt of coming to Rome. Staying there for some time he drew close to the Theatine Priests[391]. However he felt that he was still in the world so in order to flee every occasion of evil he became a Friar in the Franciscan Order. He was received into the Congregation of Clareni at the age of ab0out twenty-five years. He stayed in that Congregation for some years and always led a very austere life. Most of that time he was in a very devout little place the Clareni had near Castelnuovo.

It pleased the Lord God that when the Congregation of Capuchins emerged, he burned with an incredible desire to become a Capuchin and live the anchoritic life. Because of this he went off immediately to find Brother Louis of Fossombrone who was staying at Our Lady of Miracles. Brother Louis received him with great charity and sent him to the Province of Saint Francis to the house of Saint Valentine’s near Foligno[392]. He led a miraculous life there for three or four years. For he got a mail jacket and wore it as a hairshirt upon his bare skin. When he felt that he could not give himself the affliction that he wanted, he managed to get another with and extremely coarse lining. Finally he had one made of hemp rope. He wore that almost until he died. He said it was the roughest that could be found. However because some one told him that skin of a sow cut in half and worn like a jacket could afflict him like no other, and because he never wanted to stop mortifying his enemy the flesh in order to feel something of the affliction that the Saviour of world, Jesus Christ, felt for us, he got hold of one and wore it until the day he died. He never failed to find many other ways to afflict his body, for when he was in that friary he decided that he wanted to imitate the abstinence of the early Fathers Saint Hilarion, Macarius, Anthony and the others. So he gave the order that he be given five ounces of soaked beans each day, or five ounces of figs or some other fruit. He persevered in this abstinence for an entire year without ever eating bread and while only drinking water. However when he felt then that it was hard to have that fruit, he decided to eat only bread and water. He persevered in this abstinence for many years. However when he was in the friary at Montemalbe he started not to eat at all except three days a week, and then only bread and water. So he ate on Sunday evening, Tuesday and Thursday. When he was transferred from Montemalbe he was assigned, according to his desire, to the devout little friary of Monte Casale where he finished his life.[393]

This servant of God was very austere in dress for he never wanted to wear anything else except just one habit without a mantle nor any other garment both in summer and winter. When he was young he went barefoot a long time. However when he was old he wore sandals. He did the discipline many times, giving himself six thousand six hundred and seventy six strokes. And just as I heard it from his own mouth, he used to withdraw into a secret place. There he took off all the clothes he was wearing, and with the discipline beat himself from head to foot, continuously saying psalms. He endured that beating for five hours. At the end of that time he said he had given himself many strokes. He knew this from experience because the first time he counted the hours because he had an hourglass[394] nearby. He taught this to many devout friars, however when they did it few were able to last because of the many molestations that the devil gave them during that action[395]. During the night he slept little, three hours at most. All the rest of the time he spent at holy prayers. After Matins especially he persevered until morning during which time he prepared at length for holy Mass. During winter, once he celebrated Mass he withdrew to his cell. During summer he withdrew to the woods. Because of the fast he continued in prayer until he ate. Once one of the Friars said to him, “How is it possible that you can pray for so long, especially at night? What do you do so that you do not fall asleep?” The servant of God answered, “Our Lord Jesus Christ gazes at the heart of His servants. He does not delight so much in good works, which come more from His Majesty than from us, as much as He likes good desires. I am content to stay with that desire to honour His Majesty and on my part to stand ready to receive, if it pleases Him to give me some gift or grace. If he gives it to me, it is because of His mercy. If He doesn’t, I have not wasted any time by paying my respects[396] to His Majesty in the church and being ready should it please him to make use of this lowly instrument. Know that the servants of God lose many graces because they do not do what they can on their part. The Lord does not say absolutely that He wants to give to us, however He urges and advises us with great insistence in the gospel if we want His good Spirit, which He wants to give it us if we ask it of Him. He says, ‘Knock and it will be opened to you. Ask and it will be given to you. Search and you will find[397].’ We do all these things in holy prayer. We contribute nothing of our own other than to prepare ourselves to receive. Therefore I a sinner, recognising that I am naked of any good, have recourse to the one who can give.”

After his meal, since he felt this (time) was not suitable for contemplation, he said the Office of the Dead or the Seven Psalms. All the rest of the time he spent in holy contemplation. Once when I was young I was in the forest of Montemalbe because I wanted to see what he did there. Once I saw him walking, saying in a soft voice, “My Jesus! My Jesus!” His face was so happy, his cheeks looked like two vermilion roses. This happened to him because his mind was continuously transformed in God through his great fervour of spirit. Once I said to him, “Father Anthony. You look like a young man with such a rosy complexion.[398]” The servant of God replied, “Many others have said that to me. I don’t know where the colour comes from. It can’t come from eating too much. I feel I am so red because of the embarrassment I have because of the love of the laity[399]. But that does not matter to me!”

Brother Thaddeus of Montepetriolo asked him how long he had persevered in that way of life. The servant of God answered, “I have persevered in this austerity for about twenty five years, but have I done in all this? Works are good only insofar as they please God, and they please His Majesty when they are done because of His love. I have striven in this to rid myself of self-love[400], which infects all good works. Who can ever free himself from vainglory in his good works? Unless Our Lord God directs our heart, all our works would be done by us and not by Him. If they come from us without the collaboration[401] of divine grace, they stink before God. Our whole concern consists in this – that were be purified from the poison of our passions. Then all our works, however small they may be, will be acceptable to His Majesty. It is necessary to prepare oneself externally. All those things we keep for our particular use without real necessity impede us so that we may not be called real observers of our Rule. They retard the Spirit in us and oblige us to the pains of purgatory.”

When I said to him, “God willing we will go to purgatory. We will be sure that the pains will come to an end. Speaking for myself, I would go there.” The holy man replied, “Not me. I will do as much as I can so as not to go there. What is this desire for purgatory other than the negligence of caring little about perfection? The bad habit we have taken up makes us care little about venial sins and keeps us in the great danger of bring ruined in mortal sin. It is necessary to be on guard against venial sins, to take then into account seriously and to be very careful to free ourselves of them. They oblige us to purgatory. However to be on guard against them so as not to go to purgatory would be a small thing. However the fact remains that we do not want to do violence to our negligence that hurt us so much. They keep us lukewarm. We are never in the hands of God, ready to do what pleases Him, and they impede us from perfection. The mortification of Father Saint Francis enriched heaven and earth. Such light came by it that was like a like a sun that gives light to the entire world. The Lord would never have led his exemplary life and that of his holy Order to such heights of perfection if Saint Francis has not tried so much to mortify himself. Therefore we do great harm to ourselves and to others who would have been enlightened by us if we don’t want to make a little effort. On the other hand, you do not know what the pains of purgatory mean. We are obliged to tend towards perfection, although we must not do good in order to avoid those pains, but for the love of God.”

Hence in order to avoid idle words he rarely and hardly ever conversed with anyone. He said, “We will have to give an account to God for every small moment of time we have spent uselessly.”

Therefore when he was in the devout friary of Monte Casale, in the greatest fervour he ever had, he fell ill[402] and endured it with amazing patience. He received all the most holy sacraments and when he was near to death, fixing his eyes on heaven, he said, “Oh blessed Friars, oh blessed Friars!” The he added with fervour, “I tell you, Capuchins, sons you a re blessed because you are in this first fervour. I see many crowns that Our Lord has prepared for you.” Yet at these words the Friars brought him some warm clothes to bring him some comfort in the in the great pain he felt. Finally, returning with the warm clothing they found him half kneeling, up against his pillow with his hands joins as if he were praying and having rendered his spirit to the Lord. The lay Friar John of Puglia, a man of great perfection, was present at his death and washed his body which now rests under the altar step[403] in the church at Monte Casale.[404]

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of His most fair Mother and of our Father Saint Francis.

Through this servant of His, the Lord God worked many miracles. For when they were in that friary of Saint Valentine, he had a lot of alms to the poor. From rich persons he often procured some wool. After having it woven and brushed[405] he had the poor clothed with it. In the same way he procured some grain from the rich and during the time of famine he helped poor persons in their grave needs. Because of this he reputation for holiness spread so that any one who had something wrong went ti him with great confidence[406]. Many were healed[407] by the sign of the Cross. These were almost countless and moreover no count was kept. They are forgotten and so I cannot write about them. There were many others who were ill and well off. He had them give alms to the poor and promised that they God would heal them when they gave the alms. So it happened and there was a great number of these.

Of the many miracles that I remember and for which there are trustworthy witness who were present, one was about the boy of John of Terni, doctor of Foligno. The boy had an incurable illness. The servant of God Brother Anthony ordered him to give alms to certain shameful poor persons. Immediately the boy was healed.

He did another miracle in the friary of Saint Valentine. Prospero of Verchiano had a boy who had been paralysed for about four years. On hearing about the reputation of this servant of God, his wife said to him, “Let us take the boy to Colle because our relative Jerome Trombaccio is very familiar with that holy many who does miracles. I hope that he will make a sign of the Cross over him and commend him to the Lord God and that by his merits God will restore his health.” On arriving at Colle, the father, mother and Jerome brought the boy to Saint Valentine’s. Calling the servant of God, with great faith they begged him to pray to God for the child. Lifting his mind to God, standing in the little courtyard of the friary, Brother Anthony went some distance from the boy whom his mother held in her arms. He said to her, “In the name of God, put him down on the ground and let him walk by himself.” The woman replied, “Father, he will fall over straight away if he is not held.” He said to her again, “In the name of Jesus, put him down and come to where I am.” It was amazing, when she put him on the ground the boy stood quite well on his own feet, as if he had never had any sickness at all. When his mother called him the boy came running with great joy and threw himself into the arms of his mother. He was perfectly healed. Many Friars were present when this happened[408]. Then his father and mother went before the Blessed Sacrament with the boy and with many tears gave thanks to the Lord God. They also thanked Brother Anthony very much and from then on regarded him as a holy man.

His fame spread so that Francis of Vegia with great faith brought his son to the holy man. The boy had been gravely ill for many months. When Brother Anthony made the sign of the Cross over him, he was perfectly healed straight away.

When the venerable and holy priest Don Vincent was a child, he often took epileptic fits[409]. Because of this, his mother, a very devout woman, brought her son to Saint Valentine’s. When Brother Anthony made the sign of the cross over his head they boy was perfectly healed and that sickness never returned. That Don Vincent Pacino testifies to this and I have it from his own mouth.

The Lord God worked another great miracle through this servant of His. It was when he was going to the friary of Monte Casale about a quarter of a mile from the Fratta di Perugia and near a shrine[410] like a tiny little church. A totally blind boy was presented to him. Taking the boy by the hand he led him into the little church. In front of a statue inside he had everyone present say five “Our Fathers” and five “Hail Maries”. When these were finished he made the sign of the Cross over the boy. Calling him by name he said to him, “My son, look at me in the face.” When the boy lifted his eyes towards him, Brother Anthony said to him, “Do you see me?” The boy answered, “I see you very well.” Because of this miracle, everyone again knelt down before the statue of Our Lady and gave endless thanks. Turning to the mother he said to her, “He is your son, healed. The holy Virgin has healed him. Raise him well and be devout towards the Mother of God.”

Furthermore, Silvester of Borgo San Sepolcro had lost his sight almost completely. Because he was very devoted to the Congregation he begged the Guardian of Monte Casale, who was Father Joseph Romano the nephew of Cardinal de Valle, that for the love of God he give him the spectacles of Brother Anthony. Taking them and putting them on with great devotion his sight returned immediately, exactly as it was in his youth and it lasted that way until his death. I heard this from his own mouth and from his brother Julius who was present.

The Lord God worked another miracle through this servant of his. There was a monastery of nuns in which some of the Religious were in the hands of the infernal demon. With his holy prayers and wound instruction he brought them back to the grace of God. Wanting to leave that Monastery he entered the servant’s quarters in order to have something to eat. The enemy of human nature, angry at having lost those Religious, changed into the shape of a farmer. He went crying out throughout the city, “Know that at the Monastery there are two male Religious up to no good. They are the one who have disgraced the monastery. If you do not believe it, look in the house of the Nuns servant. They are locked inside so that they can do what they feel like tonight.” In a flash he ran to that room and muttered some words that Brother Anthony did not understand and locked him inside. Then he immediately disappeared. Finding himself with his companion imprisoned, aware that the enemy had done it, with many tears he began to commend himself to the Lord so that He might free them from that infamy. The Nuns’ servant was some distance away and heard a voice that said to him, “Go back to your room as quickly as you can.” Returning quickly the city topsy-turvy, going to the Monastery with a possie. When he opened his room, because he had put the Friars there and given them to eat, he confronted the crowd. He made them all understand that the Friars were two holy men and that that farmer had been the devil and had locked them inside. In this way the prayer of the servant of God stopped the plan of the infernal enemy.

From this we can know how many merits the servant of God, Brother Anthony Corso had, so that we may believe that he now always prays to the Lord God in heaven for us. Amen.

XXXVIII: About the holy man Brother Bartholomew of Spello, priest

Brother Bartholomew was from a place called Spello. He was born to honest but poor parents[411]. He attended school when he was a boy until he learned to read. Then his father set him to work as a farmer. When he reached about twenty years of age he decided to leave the world. With great simplicity and fervour he was received into the Congregation of Zoccolanti. He always lived in a very holy way. Retiring to the poorest and most devout friaries of the Province. When he was involved with the Reform in the Order he was assigned to Speco di Sant’ Urbano within that Reform[412]. However when he saw all the controversies to become a Capuchin in order to better and more soundly observe his profession[413]. He was the first Capuchin of the Province of saint Francis.

Father Louis of Fossombrone received him and returned him to the Province of Saint Francis. He was the second Guardian of the Friary of Saint Valentine near Foligno. A little later Brother Luis obtained the first Bull. Brother Bartholomew led an exemplary life in the Congregation. We was such a lover of most holy poverty that although he was old he never wanted to wear anything other than one very poor, completely patched habit. In the beginning he was very austere about eating. He fasted for almost the whole year, however on the vigils of the Lord and of Our Lady he always fasted on bread and water. He rarely and hardly ever ate meat. When the minestra was well made he put water in it so that he would not taste it. I saw this my own eyes. He was a man of great silence especially at the appointed times. In that time silence was taken very much in account[414]. So when he was Guardian in that friary of Saint Valentine, Brother Louis sent his Commissary General on visitation. This was Brother Augustine of Bassano. When he came to the friary, the poor fellows didn’t have a bell to wake the Friars so that they would get up for Matins, Brother Bartholomew cried loudly, “Up, servants of God. Get up to praise the Lord.” Because of this, in the morning when the Commissary was hearing the culpa[415], he had Brother Bartholomew do the discipline, reprimanding him strongly for having broken the silence. The servant of God did that discipline so joyfully, as if he had gone to a wedding feast. He applied himself so much to humility that he wanted to do all the menial tasks around the friary himself – washing the bowls, washing the clothes, sweeping the friary. He also worked the garden and washed the feet of the Friars and other similar acts of humility. He didn’t want others to do these things.

He was so pleasant towards his neighbour and compassionate to those ill or troubled that he was amazing. When the Friars came in the beginning and said, “Our congregation is in great danger” – because of the great persecutions it suffered they expected it to brought to an end any day – the man of God, Brother Bartholomew always consoled them. He used to say, “Do not worry, my sons. God will help us. Know that because Our Lord had raised up the Reform among the Zoccolanti, and because they have been slow to reform and many of them a enthusiastic in persecuting it, God had taken it from them and given it to us. Just as the Eternal Father took the Messiah from the synagogue and gave Him to the church. Just as the early church was attacked and persecuted so are we. God will not allow anyone to deprive us of this opportunity to be able to observe the rule if we will be what we should be.” When the Friars said, “We are finished. The Pope wants to bring us to an end.” He used to laugh. There was never a Capuchin as constant in good faith as was this holy man. They all used to say, “It could be simply that God revealed to him those things that he says about the Congregation.”

He said Mass every day and after he continued for some time at prayer he went to do those above mentioned acts of humility. He went to rest early in the evening and he was always in the church one or two hours before Matins. He rarely went to rest but continued in holy prayers until morning when he was in his prime[416]. However in old age only a little of the rigour remained. He said often, “Do not be surprised if I eat some little thing because I feel my natural vigour is failing. If I do not eat a little minestra I cannot sleep. If I do not have some sleep I cannot pray.”

When Corsica was established, he was one of the first to go there with the venerable Father Joseph of Ferno. He stayed there on the island as Guardian for three years[417]. In the Province of Saint Francis he was almost always Guardian and he governed with the very best example.

When he was in the devout friary of Monte Casale, when the poor fellow wanted to cut some saplings, a large rock fell on him and struck him in such a way that he could not heal. The Lord God wanted this because of the great desire he had to go among the infidels[418] and die out of live for Him. Because the pain he suffered for many days and which he endured with such patience it was clear that the Lord God wanted to purify him in this world in order to give him heaven. He received all the sacraments and passed away to the better life[419]. Amen.

XXXIX: About the holy man Brother Louis of Stroncone, priest

This holy man was born in the area of Stroncone, situated in the dominion of the Church, in the Province of Saint Francis. His parents were nor very rich in temporal goods but were very devout and faithful Christians. They raised their son to be well instructed as a boy in the principles of the Christian life. He went to school until he learned to read. Because all his family was always very devout towards Saint Francis, they fostered in their son devotion towards the Saint and his Order. When he reached about sixteen years of age his parents devoutly offered the devout young man to the Order of Saint Francis. He made his novitiate with great fervour. He persevered with great fervour and was zealous about the perfect observance of the Rule. Because he was not very well educated he was never set to study. Instead he always practised holy prayer. He was Novice Master for many years, governing them with the best example. Moreover he taught them to practise holy contemplation, saying to them, “It is not possible to be brought to the true port of salvation with the perfect observance of the Rule nor acquire true perfection without attendance to holy prayer.”

Father Louis of Fossombrone received him[420] and he was almost among the first Capuchins. He was so in love with the observance of poverty that he only gave his body what was strictly necessary, as weak as he was, eating almost always only once a day. He said this was the best abstinence and it fostered good bodily health and gave him ample scope to be able to practice holy contemplation with greater sobriety. He said, “By not eating in the evening I gain two hours of time per day of which the evening meal would deprive me.” Because of this, the servant of God willingly stayed in solitary friaries. Without fail he fasted on bread and water for the vigils of Our Lady. Of the forty-days that our Father Saint Francis was accustomed to do, he did the one of Saint Michael the Archangel and during which he led a life that was more angelic than human, applying himself more strictly than usual to holy contemplation. He said that our Father Saint Francis had high regard for that holy forty-days in which he merited to receive from Jesus Christ the sacred stigmata through the intercession of Angel Michael. We must conform ourselves to that Father of ours. When he heard that the Capuchins had taken up the running of Saint James’ Hospital for the Incurable, in order to conform himself to Father Saint Francis, with great insistence he begged Father Louis so that it might please him to put him at the service of the poor lepers where he intended to carry out the lowliest tasks for the love of God. On the other hand when he reconsidered the matter he began to doubt and said to himself, “I do not know if God is calling me to this task. I have made a mistake to ask for such a thing. For in such undertakings it is necessary to search out the will of God.” Because of this he wrote again, “Venerable Father, my intention was to apply myself to mortification when I wrote to you about the Hospital. Now I withdraw myself and with all subjection I submit myself to your will.” However when it pleased the Lord God that his superiors assigned him there, he lifted his hands to heaven. Thanking God he said, “Now I see that the Lord wants me to apply myself to the virtue of charity towards my neighbour.” In that hospital[421] he wanted to vilest task there was for he prepared the bandages[422] for the lepers. The holy man was always with his apron on and with scissors in his hand cutting, sewing and adjusting the bandages in such a way that while that care lasted the poor sick in that Hospital called for no one except Father Louis. When he had distributed the bandages he went with a joyful face comforting them one by one, asking them if they had any needs. It was a marvellous thing that because of the charity he exercised in that Hospital the number of sick doubled as the good governance and charity of this holy man and the other Capuchins became known. Many gentlemen and important persons had themselves brought to that Hospital to be well looked after in their infirmity. Just as the Lord God multiplied the number of infirm, so on the other hand He also multiplied materials. Just as I heard form the mouth of this holy man, the Hospital was often in debt by six or eight thousand scudi because of the great expenditure caring for the sick and also because of the great expenditure it had because of the many staff[423] there: mule drivers, barbers[424] and others who served. When the matter came out, the holy man revealed to great persons – Cardinals, Lords and other important persons – how the Hospital was in debt. Within a very short time it received fifteen, twenty and thirty thousand scudi as alms each time.

The servant of God Brother Louis persevered in this act of charity about twelve years with the best example. Then the notion came to him, because he was old, to return to the Province of Saint Francis to have some respite from such heavy work. He obtained this permission thus with much difficulty both from the Guardians of the Hospital and from the Superiors of the Order. Because he was so well known and regarded as a holy man by everyone, his departure would hurt the Hospital very much both for the governance of the sick and also for the alms. Nonetheless they had compassion for his old age. Having returned he was assigned to friary of the Carcerelle of Assisi[425]. I was in that fraternity with him for many months and from his own mouth I got all these things that I am writing. When they saw the great harm of the Hospital, the Guardians and supervisors by way of Cardinals had our Father General forced to have him return. The servant of God rejoiced over this very much. This was because he felt it had been his own idea to have himself moved the Hospital. So kneeling down, with tears he thanked God who, against his wish and through holy obedience, had him return to die among those poor ones.

When he returned he was there about two year, but then both because of his old age as much as well as being quite ill there was little more service that he could do. After deteriorating and having received all the most holy sacraments, well prepared he passed away to a better life[426]. There was lament by all those poor ones of the hospital, and all Rome sorrowed about his death and said with a loud voice, “The great servant of God Brother Louis of Stroncone is dead! No man has ever serve in the Hospital with such charity. We hope that just as he has helped us in this world, from now oh he will help us much more in heaven near Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he served so many years so faithfully.”

To whom be honour and glory forever. Amen.

XL: About the holy man Brother Baptist of Norcia, priest

The venerable Father and holy man Brother Baptist of Norcia was in the Province of Saint Francis. He was born to honest parents. In his boyhood he went to school until he learned to read and write well. Then he was put to the wool shop. However when he reached the age of about sixteen years the youth began the Fraternity with other boys where he fell in love with God to the extent that he rarely went to the shop but remained withdrawn to that Fraternity, applying himself to reading devout books. He said the Rosary of Our Lady with much devotion.

He was physically handsome, tall and with a face that looked like an Angel. He was so well behaved, humane and modest that everyone wanted to see him. When his father became aware that he was so inclined and dedicated to spiritual things, a notion occurred to him and he said to himself, “One day this boy will become a Friar.” Because he felt as though he would die of sorrow if the boy were taken from him, he tried to tie him to the world and give him a girl to be his wife. However, when the devout boy became aware of this, a great fear entered his heart about losing his virginity. He asked the advice of some Religious and of his confessor advised whether it was permissible for him to leave the wife that his father had got for him against his will. They answered that it was not only permissible but even of great merit to leave her for the love of God. He did not need to hear any more. The following night, without telling anyone, he left home and took the habit in the Franciscan Order where he lived some years with much austerity. When the Fathers his good mind they tried to have him study. However he had come to the Order not to study but to serve God. They didn’t have the strength to make him study.

It pleased the Lord God that Congregation of Capuchins came. Because of this the servant of God Brother Baptist, along with the venerable Father Francis of Iesi left secretly and took the Capuchin habit and were in the same fraternity for some months in the friary at Camerino. Then Father Louis of Fossombrone sent them to the Province of Saint Francis and assigned them the friary at Foligno.

In that Congregation he led a life that was more angelic than human for he occupied himself continuously in holy prayers. He was very austere regarding his body. In dress he never wanted to use more than two garments, as the Rule allows, although he rarely had them. Once he was washing his tunic. I was wondering very much why he didn’t wash it all but only the top half. When I asked him, “Father, why don’t you wash it all?” he replied, “If you do not know what it does to wash clothes in strong lye as they Friars do, I do because that was my background. There is nothing that will wear out clothes more than washing them too many times. I have worn this tunic for fourteen years. I had washed it as the Friars do it would not have lasted four.” He was also very austere about food for while he was young he hardly ever ate more than once a day. He did the forty-days of Saint Michael[427] with great devotion and used to fast on bread and water on the vigils of Our Lady.

He was very zealous about poverty. He never wanted to get involved in buildings. He gave the example of the time when he was young in a poor little friary. He was very zealous about poverty. He never wanted to get involved in buildings. He gave the example of the time when he was young in a poor little friary. The Friars decided to leave that place and enlarge another one that was in the same city. Those Religious began to cut down the forest in that poor little friary in order to take the wood from there to the bigger house. As the Lord God allowed, when one of the trees fell, a branch struck the Superior of those Friars on the cheek. It injured a little, however since they could not heal it all they could do at that time was shave off his beard. The injury got worse and his head became swollen. So, he was in his cell, sick when the evening Angelus rang and a colossal stag with big antlers came into the dormitory and let out such a loud call at the door of that sick Superior’s cell that shook the whole friary. Frightened at this, the Religious ran to his cell and they all saw the big stag. They picked up some sticks and hit it. However, leaping about it jumped out through the window of the dormitory. Going into the cell of the sick man they found he could barely speak. Trembling, he said, “The stag! The stag!” After comforting him somewhat, they all went back to bed wondering if it had been a stag that belonged to one of the lords of the city. They locked up the friary well so that it could not come in again. At four o’clock in the morning, there it was again, was knocking ceaselessly at his door with its antlers. Woken by the din, the Friars got up and came running again and saw the same stag in the dormitory. Once more it jumped out the window. Then they understood clearly that it wasn’t a stag but the infernal enemy appearing in that form. For the friary was built on cliffs. If it had been a real stag, it would have died after jumping and falling from such a height. They also understood this by another sign too because when they opened the cell they found the sick man almost dead. He could no longer speak at all and within a short time passed away to the next life. The matter was seen in a bad light, for if he had been the real reason that they had to abandon that poor little friary, Our Lord did not allow this and he would have died condemned by the just judgement of God.

So this servant of God said, “When those Friars began to lose the spirit completely they tried to abandon all the devout friaries and build bigger, sumptuous ones near to cities. Because he was very zealous he always kept to poor little friaries and rarely spoke with anyone except about necessary and spiritual things. If it had not been for his infirmity, he was always in choir with the others at the times for the Office. He was supremely displeased with those Friars who avoided the choir for the slightest thing. He said that it is a sign of little spirit. He hardly ever missed Mass. When it was finished he always withdrew to holy prayer.

He was Novice Master almost continuously in the devout friary of Monte Malbe near the city of Perugia. While he was Guardian he never wanted two of anything, not matter how insignificant they were. Once some small plates were brought to them because they only had bowls. During the times of fasting they ate the uncooked[428] salad and the minestra from the same bowls. This caused no small upheaval in my presence and there was a great struggle to have those plates accepted. The holy man said, “If the bowls are enough, the plates are superfluous. Having superfluous things is not permissible for Friars.”

He was very zealous about holy honesty. Once he was assigned as to hear the confessions of certain holy women. However, the servant of God, although he was old, went to them with such a fear of staining the beauty of holy virginity in some way that he resisted the Superiors very much. They were amazed about this, since he was such a holy man and very zealous about obedience and he had dared to answer back. They felt it was an immoderate excuse and enjoined the task upon him under the pain of excommunication. Trusting in holy obedience the servant of God heard their confessions for some months. Then he managed to have himself removed from that.

Another time, at the General Chapter at Naples, he was made confessor of the Capuchin nuns[429] in the monastery at Naples. When the servant of God heard of this he began to weep uncontrollably[430]. When the venerable Father Bernardino became aware of this, he had him absolved from this office since he was aware of the man’s holiness. However the Father General made a great scene about this in the refectory. IN order to test him further he asked him if he had some fault and to answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This put the holy man into a great stuggle within his mind. He said to himself, “If I say ‘yes’ I will be lying. If I say ‘no’ I excuse myself.” Therefore he replied, “I am amazed that I have not done worse.” He wanted to imply that human frailty is such that it is no wonder that it errs. Rather it is a grace of God because according to human frailty he would have done every kind of evil. Everyone was very edified by this.

Because of his zeal for poverty he could not listen hear that Friars left friaries to build other more comfortable ones. He said, “No one has ever taken delight in buildings who has not received punishment from God. Nothing has ruined the Order more than excessive buildings. For a larger building[431] requires many Friars and from this comes familiarity with seculars. From this comes friendship and from friendship comes time-wasting and missing holy prayers and devotions. Also it is necessary to increase the number of Friars to fill those friaries and those who are unsuitable are received with indifference. Thus the Order is filled with useless Friars who ruin the Order and scandalise the seculars with their bad example. And where there are many Friars, little is not enough and poverty is brought down. Because of too much asking the seculars are scandalised and lose devotion. From their withdrawal come illicit stores and provisions. Thence the Friars begin to receive bonds, bequests, burials and deposits of money[432]. When it arrives to this, observance of the Rule is lost completely. It is very important that Religious be seen rarely by seculars. We see this, for example, in the city of Perugia, which is so devoted to us. When two Friars leave Monte Malbe, on entering the city the people from everywhere are moved by the desire to see them, just as if they were Apostles of Christ. This happens because they see us rarely. Once I had gone three or four months without ever leaving the site of the Friary – neither my Friars nor me. The quantities of goods that came to the friary were such that in order not to offend holy poverty, since it seemed to me that too much to receive everything, I went to great lengths to send these things back. From this one sees the importance of good example. The devotion of seculars comes derives from it. From that comes true observance of the Rule because they bring us what we need which otherwise we would have to get in some illicit way. By having recourse to exemptions[433] it would be necessary to have procurators and receive money. The devotion seculars have towards us frees us from all these things. Therefore it is good that the Friaries are some distance from the cities in order to be more remote. Know that solitude is the mother of the spirit and conversation with secular sit the mother of every vice. The secular can be a devout as he likes. However when he deals closely with the Friars for some time, he loses the devotion. Therefore buildings are dangerous because it is necessary to be continuously involved with seculars and prayer is missed completely. I have seen many who have seen this badly at the time of death. All those who do not take account of holy prayer and who are not zealous about coming to choir rarely persevere in the Order. On the other hand, those who are zealous about these things, as faulty as they may be God never abandons them. By attending holy prayer it is almost impossible that they won’t become good Religious since the divine worship has the power anyone who does it with zeal.”

When this servant of God went on a journey he always kept short distance from his companion, saying his devotions. He never missed the Rosary of Our Lady and when he found young ones who missed the Office of Our Lady of grace, he reprimanded them firmly, saying to them, “My son, you will not persevere in the Order if you are not devoted to Our Lady who is the mother of everyone, but particularly of her devotees.” When his companion would have said some vane word, he immediately raised his voice and said, “We are entering chatter. Let us do something good. There is nothing that inflames us more in the love of God like speaking about Him often. And there is nothing that takes the spirit from us as much as speaking about the things of the world.”

I was present at Monte Malba when he was Guardian there and needed to send two Friars for some undertaking. Turning to me, he said, “You could not believe how unwillingly I send Friars our of the Friary. I am really very sorry to have sent those poor Friars.” I asked him, “Why are you so sorry about it?” He told me, “Because little good can be done along the road. And being Guardian I am obliged to guide my subjects along the way of perfection. Each time I provide them an occasion to detach their minds from some good thought or from meditation on the things of God I am obliged to render an account of it. This is the office of the Superior[434]: to guide ones subjects according to the will of God and give them the opportunity to love God as much as possible and to remove them from all the things that stop them loving God. As Superior I have no authority over subjects except as an agent and minister of God in the matters relating to His service. Thus no one can perform this office well if he is not united with God and enlightened by Him. Nor is there any task in this world for which we must give stricter account to God than the care of souls. Nonetheless it is difficult to know how to discern whether we command subjects on God’s part or for our own sake; according to our feelings or according to the observance of the Rule and commandments of God; for the greater benefit of their souls and to fulfil certain desires of our own. You know well what the Rule says, ‘The Friars are obliged to obey their Ministers in the all the things they have promised the Lord to observe.’ This then is my office and that of any other Superior: to use great diligence so that the Friars observe the rule, particularly this precept on which all laws depend, that is, they might love God, using all the means necessary to come to that love. Because I would have given those poor Friars better opportunity to love God if I had kept them quiet in the Friary rather then send them on a journey, therefore this is what sorrows me about having sent out those poor Friars.”

This servant of God was very close to Father Francis of Iesi from whom he learnt to give himself to holy contemplation. Before that he very much occupied himself with vocal prayers. However when he heard him speak so highly about the things of God he became so fired up about holy contemplation that he always stayed with his mind lifted up in God[435].

This servant of God strongly reprimanded those bold persons who trusted too much in themselves. He said, “Every evil comes from this. All the good we attribute to ourselves we rob from God. Everything against the will of God that we want for our own comfort comes from pride. I maintain that humility is nothing other than a perfect resignation of oneself to the will of God and to know in truth how we depend upon God for our being and doing. Perfect humility will be to know that God works all the good in us and to attribute it to Him. There is no thing necessary for our salvation that will not be furnished by God. So when you are troubled do not seek consolation from men. Do not even ask it of God. Rather, desire that God do in you what pleases Him, for seeking consolation is nothing other than trying to ease the temptation that God allows us for our good.[436]

It pleased the Lord God to reward this servant of His. For when he was in the devout friary of Monte Malbe with his beloved companion Brother Francis of Iesi, in the month of January[437], both of them fell seriously ill. Just as the holy Apostles Peter and Paul who loved one another in life and were not separated in death, so it happened to these servants of God. Brother Francis fell ill at night after Matins and lived two more days. He died on the third day at the hour of None. Brother Baptist was at his funeral. He was healthy the following day. The third day he fell ill in the evening. He lived tow more days and died at the hour of Vespers on the third day. When he saw Brother Francis dead he immediately began to prepare himself for death. Even through we all tried to console him he faded[438]. This was because he had received a revelation from God that they had to die together. Therefore he was could feel happy as he thought about that horrifying and frightening passage of death.

While he lay sick, to give him a little hope I said to him, “Do not worry. With the grace of God you will get better.” He replied, “Yes, yes, still give the sign.”[439] He meant that we should have prepared what we had to say at his funeral, putting the bookmark[440] in the Breviary. Brother Rufino of Milan was the infirmarian was there. The servant of God began to say, “Brother Rufino, do you see that beautiful light?” When Brother Rufino said he could not see it, he said with great joy, “It is still beautiful.” I said to him, “Are you afraid of death?” He answered, “Not I.” Then after a little while he began to say, “Holy Brother Francis! Holy Brother Francis!” Because of this they thought he saw Brother Francis of Iesi in glory. Then he began to say straight away, “Sancta Maria, succurre miseris!” With these devout words that happy soul passed away to its Creator. He was buried in the same friary together with Brother Francis[441].

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XLI: About the holy and devout boy Brother Bernard of Assisi, priest

Brother Bernard was from the city of our Seraphic Father Saint Francis. He was born to parents who were quite good citizens. He was the only son of his father who loved him tenderly. When we read about Saint Nicholas or Saint Ambrose we see that while still in swaddling clothes they gave signs of being numbered among the elect of God and of being very privileged with certain particular gifts from His Majesty that He usually doesn’t give to many. The same happened with this devout boy, beloved of God. For Brother Bernard was so gracious in his appearance and honest by nature that we when the people saw him they all said, “He is an earth borne Angel.” He attended school and became a very good grammarian. At the age of twelve years, since his mother had died, the devout boy was so angelic and devout in his conversation that the whole city believed[442] that he just had to turn out to be a Religious. He was so zealous about honesty[443] that he never conversed with anyone, but above all he fled youth and the conversation of women. Rather, when the devout boy returned from school he immediately withdrew to his room, where he did his devotions before the evening meal[444]. Because his father saw that he was so devout he gave him every opportunity. So in his room he had a little altar made, adorned with statues, a crucifix, cloths and other adornments. At that little altar the devout boy prayed before an image of the Mother of Jesus Christ, commending himself with many tears to the Lord God, to Our Lady and to Saint Francis to give him the grace to avoid sin and especially to preserve him in holy virginity which he never wanted to stain. However when he saw the dangers of this world he assiduously prayed to His Majesty to show him the way he had to take and if he should become a Religious. To better restrain the flesh he slept nearly always on a table and quite often on the floor[445] of his room. When he came out to leave for school he turned down the bed as if he had slept there so that the maid would not become aware of it. Because his father attended to temporal matters he was unaware of these things. He had great freedom[446] to do what he wanted without anyone knowing. Hence many times he beat himself with the discipline so much that the young boy was completely black and blue[447].

It happened once that he was looking at the relics of Father Saint Francis on display in the Convento. There he saw the sackcloth he wore. Because of this the notion entered him of wearing such sackcloth to the degree that he acquired a very harsh one via some Nuns who were his relatives. He put it on in such a way that it appeared that he only wore his ordinary clothes.

It please the Lord God that the Capuchin Friars took up the friary of Le Carcerelle by order of Brother Louis of Fossombrone. Brother Louis of Capranica came and they took up the place. The first acquaintance the poor Capuchins had in that city was Louis Birello. Since he belonged to the Third Order and a very devout man, together with his children John Mary and Francis they welcomed them into their house and gave them every assistance. Because of this the devout boy began to see them going through the city questing alms. They were barefoot and poorly dressed in the time of great cold. So he burned with an immense desire to follow Father Saint Francis in that habit and in that austerity so that he no longer felt at home, weeping day and night because of that great desire. However because he was a timid boy he did not feel confident to reveal his good desire to anyone. However when he became aware that they visited the house of the said Louis he took courage and one day he went to find Francis, who like him was also young, and he said to him secretly, “I want to become a Capuchin but I do not know how to do it. I am aware that they visit your house. If you can help me I will always be most obliged to you. However for love of my father I beg you to keep it secret. Greatly inspired by God Francis consoled him and said to him, “Leave it to me so that I may have you received secretly.” It happened that not long after that Father Eusebius of Ancona was in his house. He was Vicar of the Province of Saint Francis. This venerable Father received the devout boy Brother Bernard, since he was seventeen years old when he came. When they removed his secular clothes to cloth him with the habit they found against his skin that sackcloth that he wore in such a way so that now one would have been able to know. That venerable Father was amazed at this since he was so young and delicate. He felt the boy would never have been able to endure such a harsh hairshirt for long without becoming ill so he removed it and did not want him to wear it any more as all his skin had been affected, since he had been raised so delicately so that he appeared no more than milk and blood. Later more Friars tried to wear it. However none of them could wear it more than three days although they were mature, austere and tough men. That devout boy used to wear it continuously and while wearing close fitting secular clothes that aggravated it.

Dressed therefore in the holy habit, the devout youth Brother Brnard was assigned to the devout and holy friary of Bargo San Seplocro called Monte Casale under the discipline of the great servant of God Brother Vincent of Foiano who fasted continuously on bread and water. This was in accord with the mind of Brother Bernard because our Seraphic Father Saint Francis had been there and also because it was very solitary and withdrawn in the Apennine. What was even more in accord with his desire was that his Master Brother Vincent was one of the most austere Friars that has even been in the Congregation of Capuchins. Brother Bernard had arrived in the friary of Monte Casale when he was told, “This is the cell where Father Saint Francis staid.” With the permission of his Master he often withdrew to that cell and poured out many tears.

Being a holy man, his Master showed him the way of heaven. This was very much in accord with his desire for Brother Bernard desired nothing other than to suffer for the love of Christ, imitating Saint Francis with harsh penances. Hence he was so afire with the love of God that until his death he did little else than pray, during which he always poured out tears. When he began to fast, his Master allowed him to be able to fast most of the time on bread and water. He remained so steadfast in that first impression his Master gave him that after he had been professed for some years, his Superiors became aware that if they had left him to the penance that he wanted to do in his fervour, he would become infirm within a short time, since he was so delicate and young. However Father Francis of Iesi removed him from Borgo and put him under the care of the holy man Brother Baptist of Norcia. Like a good shepherd, he kept his eye on him and found that he slept little but prayer continuously in his cell and wept continuously. At the table he pretended to eat so as not to be stopped[448]. When the Master became aware of this he commanded him to eat. However he ate so little, and then only touched some plain foods[449] and some wine. Because of this, the Master prohibited him from fasting without his permission, especially on bread and water. However because in his novitiate he had conceived such a great spirit so that if his Superior had not taken him from prayer he would never have eaten more than a little bread and water once a day in order to have more time to stay at prayer. Although the Superior would command that he should eat what he needed in everything and he was very zealous about obedience, nonetheless he was so used to it that he was unable to take more. When he commanded him to eat, he ate. However when the Master said nothing, he went back to the same way. His desire to suffer was such that once when his Master commanded him to eat some fresh beans, he thought about how he could obey and do penance at the same time. So he ate them whole, pod, shell and all. Because of this, as we will said in its place, at his death Our Lord gave him a small penance for it, for allowing him as a youth to be deceived by the devil under the appearance of good: thinking he was doing the right thing, he did not obey simply. The same in regard to sleep. He so allowed himself to be dominated by the fervour, sweetness and great love that he felt at prayer that if the Friars had not cared to make him sleep, he would have been on his knees night and day a never stopped beating his breast and weeping. Because of this he came to such serenity of mind and purity of heart that he hardly ever thought of anyone else but God. His mind was so firmly set in holy contemplation that he was occupied in God when eating, sleeping or attending to the other needs of nature. When he woke up he immediately began to say within himself, “O God, my every good, forgive the offences I have done.” Although anyone who knew him since he was a boy would have thought that he had never sinned mortally. Such was the good life that he led in this house of his father. Nonetheless he regarded himself as the greatest sinner in the world. He was so mortified that he rarely and hardly ever rejoiced about anything he saw or heard. However, when he heard talk about God he entered into such fervour that he felt that we would want to die. His face was so gracious and he was so well behaved that no one – neither seculars nor Friars – could ever boast of being able to see his eyes or have him say a single word of gossip. However he conversations were brief and rare either about God or doing penance.

He had these two things carved into his heart: abstinence and prayer and when he was not stopped by obedience he spent all his time at prayer. When sometimes the Superiors sent him to his town in order to console his father , the most they were able to draw from his lips was in a soft voice, “May God give you peace!” He did this in order to observer the Rule, for as I have heard from his own mouth, “I became a Friar with the intention and determination to observe the Rule to the letter, as our Father Saint Francis wants.” When his relatives asked him something he answered “yes” or “no’ with such modesty as soon as he heard it. However when he spoke with his sister he always reprimanded her about show[450] with a few modest and softly spoken[451] words, while adding to these that if she wanted to save herself she had to observe the commandments of God. He had such regard in that town that when he returned there they may such a fuss around him as if he were some great personage. When some of them said to him, “Brother Bernard, you are young. You need to be careful about doing so much penance that you will not be able to last.” He replied, “Well how much of it did Our Lord Jesus Christ do and our Father Saint Francis? I have taken a vow to follow them. One can’t go to heaven without effort. When I became a Friar I promised to God to observe the Rule as much as I could according to my strengths helped by His grace. Until now the Lord Jesus Christ has given me the grace. Until my death He will give me the grace to observe all that I have promised him. Who was weaker and more infirm Saint Francis? Nonetheless he did such great things that he enlightened the whole world, though not with his physical strength. Rather the Lord worked in him. For Him nothing is impossible! When I became a Friar if someone would have said to me, “I will give you one hundred scudi if you go barefoot as much as Saint Francis, I would not have gone more than two steps. To me that seemed so impossible! Now I go barefoot all the time over mountains and plains. The power of God is great. He does what He likes and is always wonderful in his creatures.”

When he was travelling he never wanted to take anything because his eagerness to observe the Rule according to the letter, as if this was his primary purpose. Once when he was in the friary of Monte Malbe he had to go to an ordination with some other clerics. Because it was a time of fasting and they left early in the morning, each of them took something eat along the journey at the proper time. Turning to Brother Bernard they said to him, “Take something too. We will not give you any of ours.” Brother Bernard replied, “The Gospel doesn’t speak in that way. Rather, our Lord says the contrary to his Apostles: Take nothing for the journey[452]and we have promised this.” Laughing at this reply his companions said to him, “We will see what happens when it comes the time to eat! The Lord says that we should not tempt him. Since we can provide for ourselves humanly we should not expect miracles. If you won’t take anything, that is your problem.” Brother Bernard replied, “This is something I would like to see, that the Lord would allow me to go without bread!” And so, as he was leaving he didn’t want to take anything. However, when hunger overtook them on the journey they all sat down and said to one another, “What will Brother Bernard eat?” He answered, “Now you will see what I will eat.” Looking around he saw a little hut[453] on the side of the road that no one would have thought was inhabited. Brother Bernard went and knocked on the door of that house. A man came out and gave him four loaves. And they all affirmed that you would not have found such beautiful loaves in all of Perugia. Returning to his companions with great joy he also sat down and ate some of the bread that the Lord God had provided for him so mercifully. Everything thought this was miraculous, that the Lord did not want to defraud the trust of his servant who served him with such simplicity.

It pleased the Lord God that he was ordained a Priest. And if early the providence of God was evident in all his actions, it was more so now when he began to say Mass. He celebrated it with such devotion that he seemed like an Angel at the altar rather than a man. Once Mass was finished he withdrew to his usual contemplation and so immersed himself in considering the kindness of Our Lord who was so generous towards His creatures that rivers of tears poured from his eyes.

That holy soul could not be kept within the prison of that poor body for a long time. For his fervour and his physical weakness were such that it was not humanly possible that he could last for very long. Since he was so governed by the spirit that he never gave his flesh any respite.

So he fell gravely ill in the friary at Narni. A very experienced infirmarian came on his way to Assisi for the Indulgence. When he found him so ill he took care of him. He did as much as possible to restore him to health. However since the Lord God wanted to take His servant to Himself He didn’t want those medicines to hinder his passage. Instead they were all in vane and to no advantage. Being so well prepared, having received all the most holy sacraments, that happy soul passed away to its Creator[454]. He was buried outside the chapel since no tombs had yet been made there.

Not long after a woman came. She was a long way from the friary. When she asked for Brother Bernard she was told he had died. She immediately began to weep very copiously. Throwing herself down on his grave she kissed the ground. With many tears she told the Friars, “Blessed son, Brother Bernard. It is not possible that you will not be canonised in heaven since Our Lord has shown how pleasing this servant of His has been to Him. Know that he did a miracle for me.” She told them everything. However the negligence of the Friars about committing this miracle to memory was such that I have been unable to obtain full information about it. For this reason I am not writing about it[455]. It seems to me I can only write about what happened to that infirmarian. For just as he said to many trustworthy Friars, the soul of Brother Bernard appeared to him seven days later. Calling him by name with a very pleasant voice he said to him, “May God merit you for the charity I received from you in my infirmity?” The infirmarian marvelled over that voice while he saw nothing and replied, “Who is speaking to me?” The blessed soul said, “Know that I am the soul of Brother Bernard of Assisi.” The infirmarian replied, “Oh beloved Brother, are you saved?” Brother Bernard answered, “By the grace of God I am saved and now I am going to paradise. However, because I hesitated sometimes in obedience, since I felt that my judgement was better than that of the Superior regarding the sounder observance of the Rule, and because I thought sometimes that if I did something differently than what the Superior had commanded of me that it would be for the greater honour of God, God held me back. His justice is infinite. Therefore for seven days I could not see His face without purgatory. This is the seventh day now and I have seen it and am perfectly happy and blessed. Now I am going to heaven. Moreover I tell you that ten Friars until now have died before me in the Province of Saint Francis. Eight of them have gone to heaven without even touching purgatory. One has gone to purgatory and one is damned.

When they heard this many Friars of the Province took a count of the number of Friars who had died and they found there were ten as Brother Bernard had said. They believed that the one who was damned was Brother Silvester, a lay Friar who wanted to ruin the Church of Porcaria and who died a sudden death, as will be described in its turn.

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XLII: About the holy and devout son Brother Louis of Foligno, priest

Brother Louis was from a city called Foligno in the Province of Saint Francis. He was born to honest parents[456]. He attended school until he learned to read and write. Then he learned the art of a rope maker[457]. However when he turned approximately eighteen years of age, touched by the Holy Spirit, he decided to leave this world and serve God in some Order, even though it saddened him very much to leave his father who was not very well off[458]. Nonetheless it pleased the Lord God that his desire to serve His Majesty prevailed over worldly love, for one day he left secretly and took the habit of the Franciscan Order. He always led a holy life.

Father Louis of Fossombrone received him and then he was sent to the Province of the Marches where he practised every virtue, especially holy humility, by doing all the lowly tasks in the Order for as long as he lived. He became a Priest and celebrated (Mass) with great devotion almost every day. When Brother Louis saw that he was a man of great example, even though he was not very well educated, nonetheless because there was great shortage of any who could preach, he gave him authority to be able to preach in the villages, castles and lowly places. He fulfilled this office with great simplicity, preaching the commandments of God and other useful things. Through the preaching of this servant of His, the Lord God bore the greatest fruit in simple persons. Once he was preaching in the mountains of Foligno in a village where a great enmity had started between two may households. Although many important persons and the Priors of the city of Foligno had tried to make peace among them, no one was ever able to prove victorious. It pleased the Lord God that both parties were present at the sermon when this servant of His was preaching. In great fervour he held a crucifix and had a dialogue with it. He said, “O Lord, who has put you on this cross? Were they scribes and Pharisees?” The Lord answered, “No.” Then he said, “Was it the Jews?” The Lord always answered, “No.” When he had made a long dialogue he finished when the Lord replied and said, “Those here at the sermon who do not want to forgive have put me on the cross.” At this he burned with such fervour that with a loud voice he turned to both parties and threatened them with the anger of God. Terrified by these words they all embraced there in the church.

He bore such miraculous fruits in countless numbers. When he had preached he wanted no one to provide food[459]. Rather he went himself with his companion to quest a little bread. Then he withdrew to some wood where there was some water. There he gladly ate the bread soaked in water with some onion, garlic or some truly pungent herb. The servant of led his life in this way. The fame of his holiness spread so much that when he preached in a village, people came from five or six miles around. He organised[460] societies so that when he left they would continue in some devotion.

He was very austere regarding his body. He never wanted anything other than only one completely patched habit both in summer and in winter. In front of his legs he had sewn a patch where he carried a book of his ordinary sermons. He did this so as not to have pockets. For a long time he wore harsh sackcloth. He always went barefoot in summer and winter. Most of the time he fasted on bread and water. He rarely ate minestra and almost never ate meat. He was the one who made the old friary at Fano called Santa Lia. He built it in such a poor style that it was finished in twenty-two days. He said the Mass of the Holy Spirit and began to live in the place with his companions. One day while it was being built the Priors of Fano went to visit the place. When they asked who was the Guardian the Friars immediately called Brother Louis and said that the lords wanted to see him. They saw him with his habit all dirty with clay, with more in his beard than anywhere else because they were applying clay to the lattice-work of the cells and a lot of it fell on him. When the Priors saw this holy man so despicable and wearied they were all amazed. Looking at one another they said, “Oh, is this man the Father Guardian?” With a joyful face he said, “I am that miserable sinner[461].” Frequently[462] speaking among themselves the Priors said, “I know that these poor fellows are not idlers. If the Father Guardian is so worn out, imagine what the others are doing. These are truly servants of God.” On going inside they saw their simplicity and the poor friary they had built and they all began to weep. They said to one another, “You have seen beautiful dormitories, refectories and beautiful lodgings! These ones are imitators of Saint Francis who have put the world beneath their feet with such fervour.” They felt such compunction in their hearts that they went back weeping and they did not speak to one another. When they had built it, they lived in that friary with such austerity that they rarely cooked anything. Instead they went into the fields and collected wild greens. That was the greatest delicacy that they ate.

It pleased the Lord God for Brother Louis of Fossombrone to send this holy man to the Province of Saint Francis where he was Guardian many times. He governed with great maturity and delighted in holy prayer most of all. He fled the friendship of seculars in every way to the extent that even though he had been in the friary for ten years he never had a friendship with anyone. I was often with him in the same fraternity, and heard him say, “Friendship with seculars is the cause of great laxity in the Order. They often give you alms for friendship and not for the love of God. Thus they lose merit. Their coming to our friaries makes the Friars waste a lot of time. When the Friars establish friendships they are ashamed about not showing affection, as it fitting, and often give a lot of bother to the officials and great reason for murmuring. And if affection is not shown them they are scandalised. Therefore if anyone wants to remain in peace let him not get attached to seculars. Usually all the secular Friars are enemies of the Order. There is no Friar who is able to see them and because of this many are ruined. Our dealings[463] with seculars should be rare and of the very best example. When they come to our friaries, let them come out of devotion in order to receive some good instruction for the salvation of their souls and not for secular friendship. For just as Religious have left the world and its goods[464] for the love of God, so they should leave friendship which impedes the spirit in us more than goods do.”

When he was the Guardian at Narni in the summer time this servant of God staid continuously in the woods. Once I found him in the woods. He was so lifted up in spirit and outside of himself in rapture that when I passed nearby he heard nothing and did not move. I saw him with his face turned towards heaven and his feet were motionless, as if he were a statue. He did not bat an eyelid. On many of the more devout times he withdrew into the woods. During the Holy Week of the Lord, the forty-days of the Archangel Michael and other devout times he took the discipline there, beating himself continuously for five hours just at the holy man Brother Anthony of Corso taught him[465].

When he was Guardian in the friary at Coldipedo he withdrew with Brother John of Ancaiano, a Lay friar, to the ruined and abandoned Abbey of Saint Apollinarius and to caves. They stayed there eating a little bread and water once a day. Sometimes for a week, three days or the like they did the discipline. They occupied themselves continuously in holy prayers without ever speaking to one another. He desired very much to die in solitude, but under holy obedience. This is why he went one day to be advised by the great doctor called Mons. Leonard. He said to him, “Would it be permissible for a servant of God to come out from an Order and go away to solitude, if while he was there would he be obliged to hear Mass on Sunday?”[466] The doctor answered him, “Without doubt it would be permissible because one may always go to greater perfection. If God gave you the grace so that you may contemplate Him continuously and if you were lifted up in God you would not be obliged to anything else because all the things that religious persons do have the love of God as their end. When one arrives at the end the means are no longer necessary. However for my advice no one should ever make such an undertaking unless it has first been certified by God that such is His will because it is a very difficult thing. Unless it is a particular calling from God that a Religious can do better outside of obedience than by living under obedience which is a bond which binds all religious persons with God Himself, and with the Church and with the Order, for it is necessary for them to regulate all their actions so that they may be acceptable to God. One must think that there may always be enlightened, learned and spiritual men in the Order who shed light for the simple ones so that they may not be easily deceived. Solitude however is very dangerous unless it is some gift of God. The one who does as much as he can in the Order does a great deal when it is well ordered and lives according to the precepts of the one who ordained it. Therefore it is called a Rule because if you follow the precepts of that Rule it will bring you infallibly to its purpose. Otherwise it could not be called a Rule. You do not have this in the desert. Rather you would walk according to the rule of your own will which errs easily if it is not regulated by God.”

The reply very much calmed the servant of God Brother Louis, for earlier he had always been bothered by the desire to go off into solitude in order not to see anyone and to give himself completely to holy prayer.[467]

It pleased the Lord God that when he was Guardian in that devout friary of Saint Valentine in Foligno he fell gravely ill with acute colic. In that illness he prepared himself very devoutly by receiving all the most holy sacraments. Thus well disposed that holy soul passed away to its Creator[468]. He was buried there. It was a miracle of God that his body remained in tact in the grave for more than twenty years. However when the new place was built near Foligno the Friars transferred his bones. When the venerable Father Stephen of Foligno[469] saw them, with great devotion and teras he kissed them and said to the Friars, “You did not know this man as I knew him. I am more than certain that his soul has been canonised in heaven.”

To the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XLIII: About the holy martyr Brother John of Spain, priest

Brother John was from the country of Spain[470] and from a very civilised and noble city called Quadalatazza in the Spanish idiom. He was born to very noble parents who were quite Catholic and God fearers of the very noble household of the Suazzi. At an early age he attended school. Within a short time he was quite well instructed in positive grammar. He had such a good bearing and religious conversation all judicious persons judged that he would have to become a great servant of God. For just as I was informed by trustworthy and religious persons who knew him in his city, during his boyhood one never saw the neglect and defects of youth that one is accustomed to see usually in other boys. Instead the devout boy always remained withdrawn without conversing with anyone. He read spiritual books and since his parents were very devout about spiritual things and of a very peaceful disposition, he was always with his father and his mother at those devotions. He grew as a person with the spiritual life.

It pleased the Lord God that when he reached the age of about seventeen years, and since that kind spirit could no longer remain hidden in his father’s house, like a valiant soldier of Jesus Christ, he decided to go public in the battle against the word, the devil and the flesh. Taking the habit in the holy Order of Saint Francis,, he was received among the Barefoot Friars of Spain[471]. In that Order, although he was there for a short time, he led a life that was more angelic than human. However since this great servant of God desired to go among the infidels to preach to them the Christian faith and to die for it, he took to the road to come to Rome so that he could do all this with the holy obedience of his superiors[472]. However when the came across the Capuchin Reform and knowing that he would have obtained that permission with difficulty and afire with an immense fervour to do harsh penance, he took the habit in the holy Capuchin Reform. Because he desired very much give himself to holy contemplation his Superiors appointed him to the fraternity[473] in the devout friary of Monte Pulciano called (Mary) Magdalen. He practised harsh penance there for a long time. For he used to go dressed in one rough, completely patched habit of sackcloth. He never wore any other in either in summer or winter. He chastised his delicate little body with harsh sackcloth which he wore on his bare skin. He fasted continuously on bread and water. When the Superiors saw the amazing abstinence of this servant of God and how he stayed ten and twelve hours at a time kneeling still in holy contemplation, so that he could practise it better they gave him a very solitary cell which was on top of the dormitory of the Friars. Giving himself there continuously to holy contemplation, he merited to be visited visibly many times by Our Lord Jesus Christ who revealed many things to him. Our Saviour Jesus Christ commanded him that he should write down those revelations. And so it happened as is seen in its place in the Chronicle[474].

Therefore, after Brother John persevered in such penance even though he was quite small and physically delicate, the Superiors sent him to the Province of Saint Francis and assigned him to the devout friary of the Carcere in Assisi. There he exercised himself according to his custom in holy contemplation and God gave him many new revelations. His mind was so transformed in God that the Friars rarely and hardly ever saw him except when he celebrated Mass with great devotion during which he remained rapt[475] the best part of the time, completely transformed in God. Because of this he lasted at Mass for the space of a good hour usually[476]. As soon as it was finished he withdrew either into the woods or into his cell and persevered in prayer until meal time. Just as I saw, he often had to say, “I lack nothing except time. I care little about anything else except contemplating my Lord.” The Superiors had given him absence from choir for all the hours of the day. He only said Matins with the others in choir. By this the servant of God was organised for holy contemplation. Once Matins was said he persevered until dawn. At dawn he said Mass and then he persevered in fasting until meal time. At the meal he only took some bread and would have drunk one and a half bowls of water. Then he rested a little. When Vespers was said he returned to prayer until midnight. He always persevered in this way of life.

This servant of God had the face of a boy, with a short, thin, black beard, with black, devout and such happy eyes that he cheered up everyone who looked at him. Although he was very austere towards himself, nonetheless he was so loving and kind to every person that many said that he resembled Father Saint Francis. Although he was rarely and hardly ever seen to laugh, nonetheless it seemed that he was always just about to laugh. A certain splendour and joyfulness shone from his face that he seemed like an Angel. Nor was anyone ever aware of him saying an idle word, so restrained was he in speaking! Most times he answered the words spoken to him more with gestures than with words, except when he was asked for some advice or to speak about the spiritual life. Then he replied so softly and humbly that the filled everyone with consolation. Once I asked him if it was permissible not to accept an office imposed him in the Order so as to give himself to holy prayer. He answered, “Know that where the Rule is observed and the office of Superior can be exercised with the observance of the rule and the good[477] of one’s neighbour it is not permissible to excuse oneself stubbornly. However it may be permissible to excuse oneself effectively and flee from the care of souls as much as one can, just as we have the example of many saints who have fled from it. However anyone who wants to avoid mortal sin cannot stubbornly rebel against holy obedience.” I replied that I was young and knew from experience how much harm I suffered in spiritual matters and how many were the dangers to which I was exposed by accepting to be a superior. The servant of God replied, “No good deed[478] done through obedience can impede the spirit in us. However this impediment you say that you find comes to you because you do not carry out the office with diligence and for the love of God. In such an office it is necessary to be on guard against seeking oneself by taking pleasure in being a Superior instead of the seeking the honour of God and ones neighbour. For those who desire it or exercise it mainly for their own benefit[479] so that they would not accept it if there was no such benefit, are in a bad state and are often abandoned by God. However I give you this advice. When some office is imposed on you which you accept and you do it without favour[480] for any person regarding the observance of the Rule and you are on your guard not to fear being deprived of it. Also do not fear shame, for the one who fears shame seeks to stay in such an office. And in order to stay in it tolerates some defects that he should not tolerate, closing his eyes when he should have them open. Ambition is evident when someone tries as much as he can, and with offence to God, to gain friends and keep for himself especially some persons whom he knows can help him to keep in a high position, often with gifts and with flattery, things that very often have been the cause of the ruin of the Order. May God forbid that these things enter among us! Our Congregation is so organised and with such a good attitude by the grace of God that even though we are Superiors, nonetheless we have ample scope to be able to do good and to exercise ourselves moreover in holy contemplation and every kind of virtue, as long as the perseveres in the observance of the Rule and in this simplicity. Therefore I say to you, my Brother Bernardine, strip yourself completely of self-love and of your very self. In all the friaries where you will be, whether as a subject or a prelate, be ready to do every good. However one dram of self-love to which you hold on contaminates all the good works that you do, so that they are not so acceptable to God as they would be. However you are young, take counsel from the old because I have heard many times from very holy men that the whole course of religious life is carried out and understood in this for anyone who wants to aim for perfection: in denying ones own will and to be totally conformed to the will of God.”

This servant of God was so assiduous in holy contemplation that he rarely spoke with anyone. However when it was necessary for the good of his neighbour he applied himself and involved himself so ardently in speaking about God that he was like an earthly Angel. His advice was so to the point and concise that it was well known that all his words came from that fine intellect God enlightened so profoundly through the continuous familiarity that he had with the Lord Jesus Christ in holy contemplation and the revelations that His goodness deigned to reveal to this servant of His.

He dwelt some years in the Province of Saint Francis great calm and contentment, particularly in the Carcere of Assisi, the city of the Seraphic Father Saint Francis. He said he had so impressed on his mind the deeds of the Seraphic Father that it seemed to him that wherever he looked he saw him kneeling at prayer. He said that there were few remote places on that mount that had not been washed in the tears of that Father. It pleased the Lord God that when the venerable Father Bernardino of Asti, the General of our Congregation at that time, came on visitation to that friary of the Carcerelle the holy man found that it was the time for the Assisi Indulgence. The great servant of God Brother John could no longer conceal that burning fire of the Holy Spirit that continuously burned in his heart to die for Jesus Christ. Moreover he spoke with the great servant of God, Brother John of Puglia, a Lay friar, who had the same desire. For more than twenty years he had insisted with the Superiors about wanting to go and receive holy martyrdom. He had never been able to obtain permission. Taking counsel among themselves they decided to ask Father General for that permission to go first to visit the holy places where Our Redeemer died and then to go among the Moors and preach the holy faith of Jesus Christ and so die for it, entrusting themselves to His grace so that He would give them the strength. Having considered this undertaking very much for many days the Father General prayed. With great humility he commended himself to the Friars so that they all should pray so that in such a difficult undertaking His Majesty might deign to enlighten him. Then having called upon some more judicious Fathers, the good Father sought their advice. In one accord they answered him that since these two men were so proven in every virtue it seemed to them that he should grant them permission. The Father (General) immediately sent to His Holiness. With his good grace and blessing he gave them the said obedience[481]. On receiving this they knelt down and raising their eyes to heaven they gave thanks with many tears to His Majesty that He allowed them to be able to die for His love. Commending themselves humbly to all those servants of God, all afire they took to the road to Venice and within in a very short time they were able to board a boat that was sailing immediately to Jerusalem. They carried nothing with them except the written obedience. They were dressed in a habit of natural wool that more resembled sackcloth than cloth, and also a poor mantle to protect themselves from the rain. They were unkempt and emaciated because of the great abstinence that they did. Like Apostles of Christ they showed they had nothing in this world. Rather all their desire and riches were stored up in heaven. They discussed little other than God and the undertaking they had to do. They were a mirror of every virtue for everyone who saw them.

It pleased the Lord God that they found themselves safe and sound in the holy city much to their satisfaction. They stayed there some months in order to have greater freedom to visit all those holy places where the Son of God had dwelt and suffered for our redemption. When they arrived at the grotto[482] where the holy cross was, because of the great sorrow both fell as if dead upon that opening[483] for a good space of time. After they came to their senses[484] and had poured out many tears, an immense fervour increased in them to die for Him who had died for us. No tongue could describe the devotion with which those servants of God visited the holy places. Then they took the road to the great Cairo of Egypt.

They suffered many things along the journey because they were among unfamiliar people. Helped by divine grace however they came to the city of Alexandria. When they were looking for somewhere they could find lodging they were told, “A Christian lives here in our city who is very friendly towards the Franciscan Order.” As it pleased God when they searched they found he was a Prelate who had become a son of the Order of Saint Francis. With great charity he received all the Friars of that Order into his house. When they showed him their obedience he received them with great charity. They rested there some days and revealed to that good man their desire to die for Christ. He was the one who shed light on the martyrdom of these two servants of God to Christians and to the Zoccolanti Fathers.

With great gratitude to their guest they departed and took the road to Cairo. If they had suffered earlier, on this journey they suffered much more. Finally they arrived and staying in Cairo they accommodated themselves as best they could in the house of some Christian merchants. Still they went quickly around the city and wept almost continuously on seeing such a multitude of people who, deprived of the Christian faith and deceived under the appalling law of Mohammed were all going to perdition. They desired to enlighten them. However, because they did not have Arabic they didn’t know how to find a way to preach to them effectively so that they would be understood and could bring them to convert. They concluded that the most effective way was to begin with the head. They hoped that being victorious with him they could be more easily victorious with the others. Since they had no one to introduce them to the Pasha[485], it pleased the Lord God to send them a Jew[486] who had been in the banks in Italy. Because he knew the Capuchins he gave them a great welcome. When the poor fellows realised that he was a good means since the Jew was a friend of the Caliph they told him that they had to tell the great Pasha some very important things. They begged him insistently to be their ambassador. Thinking that he Pasha would return the favour, the Jew went and told him that two Frankish priests[487] had to say some important things to His Lordship, if he was pleased to hear them. The Pasha commanded that they be brought into his presence. This was done very quickly. Then with great and incredible fervour Brother John announced[488] Christ to him with a long sermon. He added that if he did not receive the Christian faith he, along with the entire Muslim multitude would go to perdition with Mohammed himself. He listened to these words with great patience and gazed at them with a kindly eye. He thought they had gone mad because of all they had suffered. He commanded that they be given much to eat and allowed to sleep. He hoped that if these two returned to their senses, he would convert them either with force or love to the diabolical Mohammedan sect and that they would be big saints of Mohammed.

After some days rest they were led into the presence of the Pasha. When he saw them he began to use sweet words to persuade them to abandon the Christian faith. When they were given the freedom to speak, Brother John the Priest again magnified and exulted the Christian faith while despising and scorning Mohammed and his law. He said that in that sect it was not possible to be able to save oneself and find mercy with God. When the Pasha heard these words he became very angry and commanded them to be vigorously scourged. This was carried out immediately at the hands of the Moors. While receiving these atrocious and bloody beatings, in a loud voice and with great fervour they thanked the Lord God. They confessed with great constancy that Christ is the true Redeemer and Saviour of all and that all those who do not believe this will go to eternal punishment. When they had scourged them so that they were almost dead, they were brought back to a very dark prison. There the poor fellows consoled each other, saying, “We have already got one foot in paradise. Very soon our souls will fly to heaven with the palm of martyrdom.”

The imprisonment of these servants of God lasted for many days during which they suffered extremely for want of food and sleep and every thing else that is necessary for the sustenance of nature. They did this with a glad face and with such a joyful heart because their overflow of fervour made everything easier for them and the wounds they had received in their persons seemed like roses and flowers to them. They never stopped thanking God who had deigned to number them among the great army of holy Martyrs.

Quite often they were presented to that tribunal who when he saw their constancy had them scourged in different ways. However they always confessed Our Lord Jesus Christ with ever greater fervour. When they had reduced them to such weakness with beatings and other instruments so that the poor fellows were nothing more than blood and scourged flesh, they took them so badly treated back to that prison. Sated and satisfied with their blood, when the Pasha saw they had little time to live and with great hatred even to hear them mentioned and having lost all hope of converting them, he left them in that prison like perfidious enemies of Mohammed. He wanted them to die on their own. They were not mentioned any more and no longer cared about them.

Meanwhile the Ambassador of the King of France was passing though. When the Christian merchants informed him about these servants of God he went personally to the Pasha and asked for them as a gift. However when they went to the prison they found that both of them were dead. Because of this nothing more was done. I believe they were buried as Christians.

Therefore blessed are these servants of God who with such good example in religious life and who with the palm of martyrdom have gloriously terminated the course of their life. Now we can believe that Brother John of Spain and Brother John of Puglia, both happy and blessed in heaven pray for us. The grace of God was in them and with the Capuchin habit in the true observance of the Rule they flew to heaven.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of His most fair Mother and our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

XLIV:About the holy man Brother Peter of Portugal, priest

Just as he tole me himself, Brother Peter was from a little Island situated in the Ocean sea[489] near Portugal. At an early age he attended school until he learned to read and write with quite a good knowledge of the Latin language. At that early age he began to want to become a Priest. Because of this he was always with Priests and religious persons[490]. When he arrived at the appropriate age he sang his first Mass in his own country.[491]

Not long after the desire come upon out his devotion to visit the holy places of Rome and then withdraw into some Order. Therefore he set out on a journey with this intention. When he had visited those holy places according to the desire he had, he gathered information about which Religious in Rome were more withdrawn. He was told that a reform of the Order of Saint Francis had emerged again. They were called the Capuchins and he would find them at Saint Euphemia. Because of the great devotion which they have on that Island for Saint Francis, when heard tell that they were Friars of Saint Francis, he felt completely moved and burned with an immense desire to become on of those Friars. He went off to Saint Euphemia and not long after, since Brother Louis had learned of his holy life, he was received by him and sent to the Province of Saint Francis where he led a marvellous life. For he turned his heart completely against himself to mortify the flesh and do penance for his since. So in summer and winter he used to go dressed in just one old, completely patched habit. On his bare skin he wore harsh sackcloth. He fasted most of the time on bread and water and he usually ate never more than once a day. He occupied himself in holy prayer almost continuously.

Because Our Lord is accustomed to prove his servants, He permitted a great temptation for this servant of His. For the Lord God had endowed him with the greatest simplicity. He rarely spoke of anything else except fast days and doing penance. He didn’t sleep more than three or four hours a night. The rest of the time he spent in taking the discipline or praying. Often he used to say, “The early saints did great things.” Then he would conclude, “This body[492] is the greatest enemy I have. If I can win the battle of submitting this enemy of mine it won’t be a little thing.” He always wanted to find Superiors who would reprimand him and insult him[493]. He said that there was no greater demon for us than our own will[494]. So he persevered in this manner of living. The enemy who does not sleep had many battles with him. He appeared to him visibly in different forms, sometimes as a Friar, sometimes as an Angel. Once he appeared in the form of a Friar who knelt in front of him and who indicated that he wanted to go to confession. However when he became aware of the fact he turned to him and said, “I would like it very much that you be brought to penitence!” At this, he disappeared like smoke in front of him. The he changed style and began to tell him that he was a holy man and that those who appeared earlier had all been demons to deceive him. “However because the Lord God has seen that you are a valiant knight has decided that he wants to reward you. Know that I am the good Angel sent by God to show you how much merit you have before His Majesty. Know that the Lord God wants you to be Pope.” At these words, because of his great simplicity and because he wasn’t all that experienced, he began to believe him. The vision lasted for many months so that he often appeared to him and gave him great consolations and with familiarity showed him many secrets. Finally he was so tethered by the enemy that he was sure that this one was a good Angel. So one night when the enemy saw that Brother Peter believed him more than ever, he showed himself to him and said, “Know, Brother Peter, that I am the Angel sent by God to announce to you on His behalf that you are that Angelic Pope whom many holy men have spoken about and longed for. So that you may believe me, God has given you power to do miracles. If you believe me, you will experience this in the first sick person who comes before you. Make the sign of the Cross over him and he will be healed immediately.”

Brother Peter was very sad about this, and at the same time he was very joyful. He was sad because he worried becoming proud in the Papacy and he said to himself, “I am not suitable for such an office and I am quite amazed that Our Lord who knows that I am unsuitable and puts me into these intrigues.” Then he added, “He who has chosen me will instruct me.” So on the one hand he consoled himself and on the other he regretted it very much. Still he had great joy about having seen the Angel under such a beautiful form. It lasted for many days that the more the enemy captivated him, the more he did not know where he was. And his simplicity was such that he did not dare to reveal this to anyone.

When one day he was sent to the castles round about for alms, on the road he found a farmer who had one leg completely purulent. When he saw him he said to himself, “By this I will know whether the vision is good or a temptation of the enemy. If it is from God when I make the sign of the Cross the leg of this framer will he healed immediately.” Drawing nearer to him he said, “Poor fellow, your leg is in a very bad way. Allow me to make the sign of the holy Cross over you.” He said to him, “Do you have faith in Jesus Christ?” He answered, “Yes I have faith.” Brother Peter said, “Do not worry because I want to heal you.” When he made the sign of the Cross over the wound the man was perfectly healed immediately.” It was considered that this was a miracle of God through the faith of the farmer, healed by the power of the sign of the Holy Cross. Brother Peter thought that he did that sign of the Cross on the behalf of God, as the Angel had revealed to him and while thinking that the Angel was a good one.

Because of this Brother Peter was totally sure in his heart that because of what he had told him that he was a real Angel of God. So when the he appeared to him again he said to him, “Brother Peter, go to Rome because the Pope will die soon and woe to you if you do not obey God[495].” Because of this Brother Peter was very troubled because he did not want to go there alone much less without obedience, and Father Guardian didn’t want to send him.

Fate had it that Brother Louis Fossombrone sent Brother Joseph of Riete from Rome as Commissary and Visitator of the Province of Saint Francis because the Provinces were not yet organised. Rather, Brother Louis ruled everything. When Brother Joseph came to the friary at Coldipepo, with great joy Brother Peter knelt before him. He told him everything about the whole matter, how God had chosen him to be Pope and had revealed this to him through an Angel. He asked him permission and a companion in order to go to Rome because the Lord had so commanded him. When he heard this, Brother Joseph was very happy because he had had little experience in such apparitions. He said to him, “Thanks be to God. Now I know that He wants to magnify this Congregation. We will have a Pope revealed by God and by means of an Angel!” He gave him a companion very quickly and sent him straight to Rome. While Brother Peter knelt down in order to ask his blessing, Brother Joseph immediately threw himself down on his knees and said, “My goodness, you should be the one to bless me, since the Lord has chosen you as His Vicar.” So unawares he believed everything the dark[496] Angel had said to Brother Peter. The reason was because he had cured the farmer of the ucler.

The simple Brother Peter went to Rome very joyfully thinking to be enthroned when he arrived. He told Brother Louis the whole happening, thinking that it would make him very glad because at that time our Congregation was in very great danger. At this, Brother Louis cried out in a loud voice, “O demon, you are not short of ways to trouble us! I know now you have found the means. If His Holiness learns that we want to usurp the Papacy he will send us to ruin.” He commanded that Brother Peter be put in prison immediately. When Brother Peter saw this he was stunned and thought to himself, “That Angel was certainly a devil. This one is a holy man and the demon cannot deceive him as he has deceived me.” He sent to Brother Louis to ask for Brother Louis because he wanted to speak with him. Immediately he humbled himself before him and said, “My Father, forgive me. I would not have believed him if there had not been the miracle. However if you tell me that that Angel was a demon I will believe you.” Seeing his simplicity, Brother Louis brought him out and sent him well instructed back to the Province of Saint Francis. Afterwards whenever he heard talk about visions he used to begin to cry, “Do not believe them because they will deceive you. The devil deceived me once. I know he will not deceive me any more. I no longer believe spirits.”

From then on he persevered in great holiness and simplicity. However when Father Bernardine of Asti heard of his holiness, he immediately sent him to the Hospital for the Incurable to serve the lepers. He served there about ten years with such good example and holiness that all of Rome was edified. The servant of God embraced all the hard work with great fervour. He was never seen to have had enough in helping those poor sick people. Nonetheless he never missed saying his Mass every morning and withdrawing to holy contemplation for the time allowed him. Nothing but edifying words were ever heard from his lips. The modesty of his conversation with seculars was such that he seemed impeccable. He was never seen bothered, rather he was always adorned with a holy modesty in all the requirements of running that Hospital.

It pleased the Lord God to reward this servant of His. For when he fell ill, ready and well armed by all the most holy sacraments, that happy soul passed away to tis Creator. He was buried in the friary of Saint Nicholas.[497]

He gave an indication of his holiness to everyone. For when he was alive his face was dark and quite pale. However when he died, his face was so white and ruddy that he looked like a rose. Both Friars and seculars were stunned by this, and affirmed that this was unusual and a miracle.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XLV: About the holy man Brother Gratian of Norsia, lay Friar

Brother Gratian was from a village situated in the countryside of Norsia that is called Croce. He was born to honest but poor parents. At an early age he learned the art of the farmer. As it pleased the Lord god however, when he came to the age of about twenty years the desire came upon him to serve God. He heard about the Capuchins when the venerable Father Angelo of Sant’Angelo della Savina[498] was preaching in Norsia with great acceptance and he went off to Rome.

Brother Louis received him and sent him to the Province of Saint Francis after some years. However because he felt he didn’t have that quiet he would have had outside the Province of Saint Francis since it was his homeland, he asked the Father General if he would distance him from those parts. Thus he was sent to Sicily in which Province he was mirror of holiness for everyone[499]. Because he was a lay Friar he served the Friars with much humility. He had from God the special gift of silence. He was so moderate in speaking that no idle word ever came from his mouth. If it was necessary for him to speak sometime he always spoke about the Rule and spiritual things.

He was adorned with marvellous patience and great charity, even though in serving the sick and in carryout out the other offices that befit the Lay Friars, he had occasion to be angry many times but was never seen angry. He was short in stature and very pleasant in his ways and moderate in his way of working. He was very austere regarding his body for he rarely ate more than once a day and then very little. However on the vigils of Our Lady and other devout times he always fasted on bread and water. Nor did he ever want to use more than one completely patched habit of natural wool. He went barefoot continuously.

For many years he was Novice Master of the Lay Friars whom he instructed with great charity. He never wanted to learn to read. He said, “The office of the Lay Friars is not reading nor learning letters but in serving the Order.” He willing did the cooking with great zeal, charity and poverty. In order not to waste much time, in winter he always did the cooking after Matins when the Friars rested after the prayer was finished. Beginning with Prime he stayed in the church until all the Masses were finished. He said all the Hours in the church. He rarely and hardly ever slept after Matins. However, usually after eating he rested a little. He persevered greatly in holy prayer, having worn a hairshirt for a long time. However when he grew old he abandoned it. He did this because he was continuously busy in hard work and he felt not to add more affliction to his debilitated nature. He fled all familiarity with seculars and willing stayed either in the church or in the woods. He liked the country of Sicily so much more than the parts further up that he did belong to the Province of Saint Francis because it seemed to him that the people were wilder than with Friars, and also because he did not wear more than one habit, because he could resist better the warmer regions.

Finally it pleased Our Lord God to reward this servant of His. For when he was in Sicily he fell ill. After receiving all the most holy Sacraments he passed away to the better life. And just as I heard from many trustworthy Sicilian Father, he died in a very holy manner and with a great deal of holiness’ anticipation. I believe that he did many miracles. However because I have not been able to be certain about them, and even less about the place where he was buried, I cannot write anything about them except that in public opinion and fame he was a holy man. For the four or five years that he was in the Province of Saint Francis I saw his life and everyone regarded him to be a fervent servant of God.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XLVI: About the holy man Brother Albert of Naples, lay Friar

Brother Albert was from Naples. In his youth he entered the military and was at the war that Charles V waged in Hungary against the Grand Turk. However when he returned to Italy, touched by the Holy Spirit, he came to the Congregation of Capuchins at about the age of forty and was received into the Province of Saint Francis. There he led a very exemplary life for when he realised that he had given the flower of his youth to the world and had committed many sins he decided to do penance and give himself to God completely.

So it last for many years that he wept almost continuously. Usually he did not eat more than once a day and often fasted on bread and water. He continuously went barefoot. He wore a harsh hairshirt and always wanted old, completely patched garments[500]. He rarely and hardly ever spoke except words that were truly necessary. After Matins he rarely went to rest but continued in prayer until Prime and merited many consolations from God.

Because he was so exemplary the Superiors kept him with the Novices continuously. Because of this it happened that he was almost always like a Novice. When he spoke, he spoke with such a soft voice they he could hardly be heard. He had a great temptation form the enemy and one time when he was porter in the friary at Montemalbi near Perugia[501], someone knocked quickly on the door at the fourth hour of the night. When Brother Albert went to the door he found the devil in the form of a woman. When he saw him he made the sign of the Cross and quickly locked the door and fled. The demon disappeared with many cries.

He also had a beautiful vision. Father Baptist of Norsia had died at the time. This holy man was lifted up in ecstasy and saw Our Lord in judgement and Brother Baptist was kneeling before him and with certain other Friars of another Congregation. He clearly saw the Lord turn towards Brother Baptist and say to him, “You have been a little negligent at the Office. However I forgive you and receive you into my glory. I bless you for your faithful service in which you have served me for so many years.” Then turning to the other Religious He strongly reprimanded them for a long time while kept them and sent them to purgatory.

Once he saw a great multitude of demons leave a city because of the preaching of a Capuchin preacher. He asked Him, “My Lord, what is the meaning of this multitude of demons?” He was answered, “Know that these are the fruits of that preacher. His preaching has been so acceptable that many have been brought back to conversion[502]. They had been possessed by the demons that you saw.”

And I heard all this things from his own mouth.

This servant of God had great compassion for the sick. Once he was serving a sick Friar. When he had nothing to give him he went into the woods and laid two snares. Every time he went there he found two thrushes[503] snared. This was amazing because it wasn’t the season for thrushes. There were none to be seen in the whole region. When he brought them he showed them to the friars with great joy, and laughing a little, without saying a word, he prepared them for the sick Friar. So this was considered to be a miracle of God because of the great charity that his servant Brother Albert had.

Because he joined when he was old he was unable to endure in that austere life very much.[504] After about twenty years he had so aged that he could not do so any longer. While the friary of Montemalbi he fell seriously ill. After having received all the sacraments that holy soul passed away to its Creator. He was buried in that friary.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XLVII: About the holy man Brother Bonaventure of Montereale, Priest

Brother Bonaventure[505] was from a little place called Monte Reale situated in the mountains under the dominion of Aquila. He was born to honest and very God-fearing parents. At an early age he attended school until he learned to read and write. His mother nurtured him very much in simplicity and taught him to have the fear God, by using childlike examples, as is done with children. When the good little boy did something naughty, in order to correct him his mother put small ember from the fire in his little hand and made him hold it. She would say to him, “Does it hurt?” He answered with a great cry and told her that it hurt him very much. His mother would reply to him, “My child, how would you go if you had to be inside a fire? Don’t you see that anyone who sins will be put in a fiery furnace by Our Lord God; and that any one who does such and such (here she would tell him all the kinds of sins he could do as a child) will be put into the fire? Therefore, be careful.”

Therefore with these simple instructions he was nourished in such simplicity that when he something wrong he was so frightened about being sent to hell that he could not calm down until his mother told him that God had forgiven him. Once he was working on a walking stick one Sunday[506]. Immediately his mother applied the little ember. Because of this he was so fearful that while he was in the world he never wanted to do anything on Sunday no matter how small it was.

When he reached about eighteen years of age he heard about the fame of the holy man Brother Vincent, a Lay Friar of the Congregation of Zoccolanti Fathers, who was doing many miracles. Because of this there came upon him such a desire to become a Religious that from then on he could never rest until they received him. He did his novitiate with great simplicity. Then a short while later he was appointed to the fraternity[507] in the friary at Aquila. Because he was very simple by nature he was not promoted for learning but did the office of the Cleric with great humility. His simplicity pleased everyone so much that they all commanded him and he obeyed them all. So it turned out that the poor fellow was always swamped with hard work. When the blessed Vincent[508] became aware of this he often called him to himself and comforted him with many good words. That Brother Vincent was on of great austerity and had exercised himself at holy prayers for a long time, during which the enemy had many battles with him and often beat him in different parts of his body. Because of this he remained crippled in his hands and feet, and also since he was old he needed help. Brother Bonaventure was the one who helped him very much with such charity as if he were Jesus Christ. Brother Bonaventure received from that holy man many wonderful admonitions about how he should practise true observance of the Rule in the Order, saying to him, “My son, one cannot arrive at any degree of holy perfection without moderate abstinence accompanied by holy humility, practising holy prayer as much as human frailty allows.” This servant of God Brother Bonaventure took these instructions and holy words to heart and memory so assiduously that for as long as he lived he always kept abstinence and never changed this style and manner of living. He later wrote a book about the examples of that holy man and added other different saints as he thought fit. So when he heard that Montereale was in the Province of Saint Francis, out of devotion to the Saint he managed to come to that Province.

When he found that the Congregation of Capuchins appeared, while he was Guardian at Citobola, he took the Capuchin habit. His holiness and simplicity were such that when he told a certain Superior that he wanted to change habits, infuriated the Superior took a piece of wood and hit him many times. When the Superior had beaten him as much as he wanted and went off in a rage, Brother Bonaventure went after him, asking for forgiveness and saying to him, “Sir, forgive for I have made you become scandalised. If I had know that you would have become angry, I would not have said it.” Kneeling and with many tears he asked forgiveness and was not thinking about the beatings he had suffered. He only felt sorry that he had made that Superior angry. When the Friars spoke with him about it the holy man always excused him saying, “do not be scandalised. The poor fellow was not himself.”[509] From then on he always prayed to God for him. Nor did he want to leave him until that Superior forgave him.

This great servant of God led a marvellous life in the Congregation of Capuchins for he continuously practised holy prayer and he never missed saying every day the Office of the Dead and the seven psalms many times every day. When he found Clerics who were about to talk, he used to call them to himself and say, “My sons, we do not have time to waste. Have you given food to the dead?” When they said no, he replied, “You have eaten well, however.” He immediately intoned the antiphon of the dead. He was so accustomed to the holy prayers that after he slept about three hours he got up straight away and went to the church and staid at prayer until Matins. Once when the Vicar Visitator came he was told the this holy old man’s slept was so little that he could have easily lost his mind because when Matins and the prayer was finished he never went to rest; instead he staid in the church until dawn and waited so that he could finish at dawn when the day began to break. There was a window there from which he could see the sunrise and sometimes he would have opened and closed it thirty or forty times. He did this because of certain spiritual daughters of his whom he taught to get up for prayer when they heard the dawn bell. They also took the discipline three times a week and always led a holy life, living in virginity in their own homes. The holy old man was so pleased about having those poor women[510] do such a good thing that it was something out of the usual. The Father Vicar ordered him not to get up before Matins because he was very old. The holy old man observed the precept three or four times and then continued as before. I said to him, “Old Father, you are not doing as you were told.”[511] He replied, “Oh, what did I do?” I said to him, “Don’t you remember what the Father Vicar told you, that you should not get up before Matins?” He answered, “Oh it is true, my son. Forgive me. I am not aware of it until I get to the church. I have been doing it this way for more than forty years. When that hour comes I can no longer stay (asleep). It is necessary for me to go to praise my Lord, and I remember nothing.” This happened because of a good habit that he had acquired. He was so regular that when that hour came when he was obliged to sleep, it was impossible for him to stay in bed any longer.

I was aware often that he had a book that spoke about the passion of our Lord. The old man used to open that book and read four or six verses from it, until he felt overwhelmed. Then he quickly shut the book and would weep so profusely over the passion of Christ it was as if the Crucified was right before his eyes. Sometimes he remained with his arms crossed for a period of two or three hours while he wept. Because he could not stand a long time without leaning on something[512], he leaned on the chancel in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament. In the morning he hardly ever said Mass without taking the discipline.[513] When he couldn’t do this in the church because the Friars were there, the holy old man used to go out into the woods discipline himself rigorously. Then he said his Mass, persevering [indecipherable word] in either vocal or mental holy prayer.

This holy old Friar said, “In the Order it is impossible to acquire a true spirit unless one strips himself first of self-love. I have known of many who had the love of their relatives that never settled and great a lot of trouble to the Order. With time nearly all of them came to ruin.” I have known of many who had[514] the love of their relatives and who never settled. They gave a lot of trouble to the Order and in time nearly all of them were ruined.” He gave one example. He was in a friary[515] near Aquila which has all its woods enclosed by a wall. There was a young friar there [ … [516]] said Mass. One night after [ … [517]] he went out walking along a little path in the woods. He was saying the office of Our Lady. The light of the moon was bright and beautiful. Then saw his secular uncle in front of him. On greeting him the friar asked him what he was doing going about like that at night, and where did he get in. The uncle answered, “I came in through the wall because I do not want the Friars to see me. The reason why is this: you know about the poverty of your nephews, sons of our dead brother. I have found a great fortune of hidden treasure, but I cannot remove it unless a priest is there. Because of this I have come to you. Let’s go, so that we can do it quickly and then return without anyone knowing about it.” The friar answered, “I can’t come without the permission of the Father minister who is in the house.” The uncle said, “You do something that we will be discovered; you know the pain that is there.” The Friar answered, “I don’t want to go against conscience.” The uncle said, “You have no charity. Do you know how those poor girls can marry? This is not done through spite. With a little effort on your part and you will be the cause of so much good. Your good intention is enough. Let’s go and linger no longer.” He led him out through the walls and so the Friar went off with his uncle who was always talking about the things of the world. They went up some very steep mountains. Tripping on stones the friar fell many times but the uncle comforted him saying, “We only have a little way to go.” When they reached the summit of a great precipice, the Friar stumbled and fell to the ground on his back. Because of the pain he cried out loudly, “Jesus, Mary, Francis! Where have you brought me?” Turning towards that which looked like his uncle said to him with a horrifying look, “ You scoundrel, if you had not called that name by now I would have made you fall headlong down these cliffs.” Immediately he disappeared and left the Friar in so much terror that he was about to drop dead. Yet nonetheless comforting himself in the mercy of God as best he could, he returned with great trembling and saying psalms. “And in the morning in my presence,” said Fra Bonaventura, “the minister absolved him from the excommunication, and he trembled so much that he could not stand upright on his legs.”

See what the love of relatives brings to the servants of God. The greatest good that we can do for them is to pray for them. Our Lord also says this: One cannot serve two masters[518].

He also said that he saw the blessed Vincent do many miracles. That holy man was very zealous about holy poverty.

When the feast of some saint occurred the blessed Vincent would have the saint’s legend[519] read to Brother Bonaventure and he would expound on it with many tears, giving him many beautiful and devout instructions through the life that the saint had led. When he realised that Brother Bonaventure was putting the candles and oil lamps[520] on the altar without cutting off the consumed cotton he called him to himself. By way of instruction he said to him, “I am aware that you put the oil lamps on the altar without cutting off the consumed cotton from on top. Hear, my son, that there is no thing, however small, that we dispose of badly for which we will not have to give a strict account to God because we profess most high poverty. That consumed cotton us useful for putting in lamps or in ink and for other purposes.”

This servant of God was very austere about eating for usually, while he was young, he rarely ate more than once a day.[521] However on the vigils of Our Lady he always fasted on bread and water. He usually did the fast of the forty days of Saint Michael the Archangel. He always wore a completely patched habit and when he saw some part of it wear out he felt very sorry about it and would say to the Friars, “If the poor had this piece they would not despise as we do. Instead they would sew it onto their clothes. Nonetheless they have not promised poverty like we have.”

Lax Friars displeased him very much. He said, “Any one who does not take the little things in account will easily err in the big things. When the poor have bread they do not care about anything else. However when they have an abundance of bread they desire other foods as well. The Friar Minor should never fulfil his desire for coarse foods because when we satisfy ourselves with these rough things, we will easily desire fine foods.”

When he was gravely ill with a painful ailment[522] in the friary at Monte Malbi the Friars thought he would never get up again. Nonetheless when the Friars were eating in the refectory the holy old Friar got up from bed. Crawling along as best he could without anyone being aware of it, he arrived at the refectory. Going to his knees, with tears he asked forgiveness of all the Friars, saying to them, “Fathers and Brothers[523], I want to leave you. I feel that my Lord is calling me and because I have always been an ungrateful and bad Religious because of the bad example I have given you and because of the many inconveniences you have suffered for me in this illness of mine, I ask you all for forgiveness and beg that you pardon me and that you would deign to pray to God for my soul although I do not deserve it.” Then he removed the discipline, the rosary beads, the Rule and the handkerchief that he had in his sleeve and gave them to the Father Guardian[524] and said to him, “I give these things you have lent me while I had the need. Because I will no longer have any need for them I leave them with you.”

All the Friars wept when they saw with how much zeal the holy old Friar stripped himself and with how much resignation he resigned himself to his Superior, preparing himself for the passage of death. Getting up from table they led him by the arm back to bed. It pleased the Lord God that he should not die from that infirmity and after rehabilitating somewhat he returned straight away to his earlier way.[525]

His simplicity and love of God were such that his heart overflowed because he could continue in his longing to be able all the penances that he had done in his youth. So when he wanted to practise the same fasts and when the Prelates saw him so extenuated and old they commanded him not to fast. The holy old Friar replied, “I cannot fast because you do not allow it.” When they told him that he was too old, he replied, “All the more reason that you should let me do good now that I am closer to death.”[526]

The time came when it pleased the Lord God to call this servant of His from the miseries of this world. When he was in the fraternity[527] in the devout friary of Saint Anne near Spoleto he fell gravely ill. He bore the infirmity with a marvellous example of patience. In that illness, as serious as it was, he never wanted to miss the Office and prayer. The Lay Brother Angelus of San Martino in Poggio took care of the holy old Friar in his infirmity and never left him. He thought that as he was the holy old Friar would pass away in silence as if he had gone to sleep. Once when he was worse than usual he did not want to leave him. The holy man asked him, “Tell me Brother Angelus, what is the time? What are our Friars doing now?” Brother Angelus answered, “It is just on the hour of None. The Friars are praying in the church.” The old man replied, “Please close that window for me because I want to pray too. Go to the church.” Brother Angelus replied, “I do not want to leave you because you are worse.” He replied, “There is no time to lose. Therefore allow me to do good while I can.” Brother Angelus replied, “You are near to death and you want me to go away?” The old man said to him, “It is all the more necessary that I prepare myself.” He wouldn’t settle until he had closed that window. Leaving the cell he stayed alert still so that the he would not die without anyone being aware of it. The holy old man began to sigh and weep. Brother Angelus could not understand any more of what he said. Then a little later Brother Angelus called all the Friars. Just when they arrived in his cell, and since he had already receive all the most holy sacraments, that holy soul passed away to its Creator just as if he had fallen asleep.

His body was buried in front of the church because a tomb had not yet been built. Five years later one of his brothers came to Spoleto and ask the Friars where the body of Brother Bonaventure lay. He was told that because there was not tomb they had buried him in front of the church. Saddened by this his brother gave scudi to a friend of his to build a tomb for him. When it was finished the Friars came with many hoes to exhume the body. It was a miracle of God because although there had been a lot of rain, they found the body unchanged and very fragrant. So that everyone would know that the Lord God had preserved that holy body miraculously, one of the Friars struck it on the foot imprudently with a hoe and from that blow came a lot of blood, bright and fresh.

He did some other miracles. He predicted many things that really happened. However because I do not have adequate knowledge of these things I am not writing them down. It is enough that everyone know how many merits he had before God. He entered the sacred Order as a virgin – as I know quite well about this because I had had a close acquaintance with him – he served the Lord God for many years in the true observance of the Rule and adorned with ….[528]

XLVIII: About the holy man Brother Jerome of Montepulciano, Priest

Brother Jerome was from a city called Montepulciano situated in the domain of Florence[529]. He was born to noble and quite God-fearing parents. They raised him with great tenderness. He attended school and became a very good grammarian. However when the devout youth came to the age of discretion, because he was so well behaved and inclined to the spiritual life, he took up canon law and within a short time turned out to become a good canonist. He became [indecipherable word] Cathedral Canon. The entire time that he served God in the habit of a Priest he behaved so religiously that the whole city regarded him as the most honest and devout cleric there was in his time in that city. Nothing reprehensible was ever heard about him. He persevered continuously in his devotions.

It pleased the Lord God however that the Capuchin Friars started the devout friary of the Magdalen situated in the mountains of that city. It was one of the first friaries of our Congregation and built by the venerable Father and holy man Brother Francis of Montepulciano, founder of the reform of the Conventual Fathers[530]. The servant of God Brother Jerome decided to leave the world completely and came from the Zoccolanti to the Congregation of Capuchins. Brother Louis of Fossombrone received him in Rome and sent him back to the Province of Tuscany.

There he led quite an amazing life. Just like the early Fathers he established himself completely on the safest of foundations, holy humility, the foundation of the spiritual edifice and he did all the lowliest tasks of the Order. The mortification of his feelings[531] was such that the Friars said, “This man lives dead.” For he rarely spoke and when he was questioned, according to the counsel of Our Lord[532] he answered ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Then bowing his head a little he used to go away. Whole months used to pass in which no one ever saw him speak with anyone. He was accustomed to say the sentence of the Apostle James: the religion of the one who does not check his tongue is vain.[533] When he hear evil said of his neighbour, he immediately found some excuse and fled off.

He was very mortified in his eyes too since he was physically beautiful, tall, slim and with a handsome face. He adorned that physical beauty with modesty and the mortification of all his members, especially the eyes, for until he was old he stayed with his eyes lowered so much that they were seen rarely if ever. In every way he fled from conversation with anyone, especially women.[534] This was the reason that although he was capable and well instructed in understanding the Sacred Scriptures, none the less he could never preach even though the Fathers begged him very much. He did this in order to avoid conversation. He said that when he was asked what it meant that he did not preach, “I haven’t even preached to myself. It is necessary first to preach to oneself and to convert oneself and then preach to one’s neighbour so that it cannot be said, ‘Hypocrite, take the beam from your own eye first and then remove the splinter from the eye of the other.[535] Pride can be severely reprimanded in others while I am full of it. Similarly with the other vices. When I was young I had entered a great labyrinth for the bread I ate was from the income of benefices that I received and from the others that I would have had obliged me to preach to others with example and with teaching. The mercy of God was great that feed from this obligation, calling me to this holy Order. For I don’t know how well I would have fulfilled the obligation and dispensed the income according to the will of God, since I was not in that perfection that is fitting to one who takes up the pastoral care of souls[536] that have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. Now I find myself in the Order with this desire to preach to myself. When it pleases the Lord that have preached to myself enough, if it is asked of me, I will also preach to others.”

His conversation in the woods and solitary places was not vain because he continuously practised holy prayers, mental and vocal. When he became a Priest he usually celebrated Mass with great devotion every morning and then continued at holy prayer. He was very austere with regard to his body especially in eating for he rarely ate more than once a day and then so little that the Friars wondered how such a large body could go with so little food. He was also very austere in dress. Once in the friary at Rome, in my presence, Brother Matthew of Bascio the first Capuchin saw this holy man who went without a mantle and with just the habit during the greatest cold of the year. Brother Jerome was about to sit and Brother Matthew put his hand on his shoulder. Marvelling at that austerity he said to him, “How is it possible that you do not die of could?” – almost ashamed at being surpassed in austerity. When Brother Matthew lifted off his hand, the other moved in such a way that I imagined that underneath he had a harsh hairshirt. The holy man cringed[537] a little and answered him nothing.

He was often Provincial especially in the Province of Rome which he governed for many years with great holiness. When he was on visitation the servant of God never failed to come to choir and the prayer with the other Friars. Sometimes he would have missed Terce and Sext at which time he was listening to the Friars. He came for the rest (of the Hours.) He didn’t give many sermons but tried to preach to the Friars with example and always excused himself that he didn’t have the gift of speaking. Nonetheless the Friars said that they were happier that he preached with example than if he had preached to them with many words. He encouraged everyone in the observance of the Rule and other spiritual things when they saw that venerable Father go ahead of them with such holiness that a good effort would have been required for any one of them not to follow him perfectly. When some had not risen for Matins, at the (chapter of) faults the holy man only said this to him, “I arrived yesterday evening quite exhausted. By the grace of God I got up last night and did the prayer and the discipline with the others. I say no more.” Many times when he said these words the Friars were seen to weep with devotion, thanking God that He had given them such a holy man as shepherd and guide.

This servant of God had an outstanding devotion to the Mother of Jesus Christ. For in his day there was a saying for whenever there was a Friar who was very devoted to Our Lady: He seems like another Brother Jerome of Montepulciano. When a solemnity of Our Lady came he always did the octave fasting on bread and water, four days before and four days after. When he was not impeded he nearly always said the Mass of Our Lady. There was a strong opinion that the Queen of Heaven often appeared to this faithful servant of hers, even though this was not known for certain. The profound humility of this servant of God was such that never a word ever escaped from his lips that gave rise to self-praise.

It pleased the Lord God that he finally became Vicar of the Province of Bologna. It was the time of the great tribulation that our Congregation had because of the departure of Brother Bernardine Occhino. At that time His Holiness Paul III was in the city of Bologna. Because he had a brother by birth in the court of His Holiness and who loved him very much, the holy man went to visit him. When he was speaking with His Holiness very intimately, he very humbly commended the poor Congregation to him. The Pope replied, “My Brother Jerome, be grateful to the Lord because of the benefit you have receive because He has changed my heart for I had decided to bring you all down. However I have known that God loves you and has defended you. Since His Majesty is helping you I cannot fail to help you in the position I hold. Therefore do not concern yourselves because we will never fail you in all the favours that are fitting to Us if you are good sons of Holy Church. Go so that you may be blessed. Do not fail to pray to God for the happy state of the Church and for Us. He left His Holiness with this good news and advised the whole Congregation about it so that we would thank God and pray for His Holiness.

Therefore while this servant of God was in the city of Ferrara he fell gravely ill. After he had taken all the most holy sacraments and had given many beautiful exhortation his sons the Friars who were standing around him weeping at the loss of such a Father, well prepared that happy soul passed aware to its Creator. He was buried in the cemetery in front of the church.

However when the Friars built a tomb they exhumed that body in order to put the bones in the tomb it was amazing. For after being buried in damp, windy ground, after five years they found that body intact and sound as if he had only just died. Because of this the Friars made a coffin and put the body inside, and without burying it again they took it into the church. A great fragrance came from it.[538] When the General the venerable Father Bernardine of Asti came on visitation assembled the Friars of that Friary. I was present when all the Friars saw the body in that coffin. That venerable Father said, “He has always been a great holy man and I want a small tomb made for him and the coffin put inside.”

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

XLIX: About the holy man Brother Liberalino of Colle Vallenza, Priest and Preacher

Brother Liberalinus[539] was from a region called Colle Vallenza situated within the domain of Florence. He was born to honest but poor parents. At an early age this servant of God attended school. However as it pleased the Lord God, since his father often visited certain Reformed Conventuals of Saint Francis at (a place) called Barbarino, the devout boy went many times with his father to that friary and the wish to become one of those Friars came upon him. His father was happy with this and so he stayed with those Friars a long time and they taught him.

When he came to about the age of twelve years, since it was his God given lot to have an innate religiosity from his infancy, he could wait no longer to be clothed with that habit and stay with the other Fratini in that friary. The Guardian of that friary clothed him (in the habit) and although it would have been difficult for his father he nonetheless did not want to stop him since he was a God fearing man. Instead with the great joy the whole family made a beautiful meal for the Friars on the day that he took the habit. When the good boy say that the Friars ate with tears and a lot of spirit, he cried allowed at the table, “Lord, preserve me in this holy Order.” At the boy’s word everyone was move to laugh and cry at the same time, seeing the simplicity, spirit and devotion of that youngster. Because one of those Fathers was from his region of Colle, he had a special love for him. He helped the boy so much that he became a good preacher.

Not long after that Reform diminished in its fervour for those first holy men had died – those who had initiated the Reform and withdrawn to that little friary out of zeal for the observance of the Rule. That Reform was ruined especially after the death of Father Francis of Montepulciano, leader and founder of that Reform[540].

When the Congregation of Capuchins came, Brother Liberalinus, touched by the Holy Spirit, decided with some other companions of his to come to our Congregation. There he led a very wonderful life. These were the one who gave the Friary of the Magdalen to the Capuchins. Earlier it had belonged to the Reformers.[541]

Therefore Brother Liberalinus was very humble, so much so that he always lived as a novice. He rarely spoke with anyone and rarely conversed. He did the chores of the friary so willingly and obeyed everyone exactly as if he were a novice. He never complained about anything he suffered nor would he have ever said slightest word against his neighbour. Instead he regarded everyone as better the he. He never wanted to be Superior. He showed such gentleness that he seemed like an Angel of god. He spent the best part of the time praying or studying his sermons in the church, in the woods or in his cell. He took account of time very much. He slept little especially after Matins so that he rarely went to rest but stayed at prayer in the church. He said the Mass every morning with great devotion.

He was also austere regarding his body so he rarely ate more than once a day and on some devout vigils, especially those of Our Lady. On those he fasted on bread and water. He was small in stature and ate very little. He rarely ate meat and then only little. He was accustomed to say, “It is not without reasons that the early Monks put in their Rules not to eat meat. Know that every evil comes from the gullet and every good comes from abstinence. While Religious (Orders) practised abstinence and holy contemplation they were always full of holy men who performed miracles. However when they lacked austerity of life they lacked miracles and holiness at the same time and followed the miracles of Lucifer and countless scandals.”

He preached in the lowly places because he was not very learned and because he felt he bore more fruit preaching to simple persons. He strongly rebuked the vices and delighted in establishing some confraternities[542]. He said, “Unless some means is given by which they may persevere in some devotion and attend the most holy sacraments, in a short time after the preacher has departed all the doctrine they got from the preaching is sent to oblivion. However in the confraternities devotion is maintained.” He preached very devoutly and most about cases of conscience and the holy virtues as is obvious even today in his Quadragesimale.[543]

He was also very zealous about the observance of the Rule, especially holy obedience. Those who had been his familiars said that they never saw him object to holy obedience, no matter how difficult it was. He was also very zealous about holy poverty for he never wanted to use more than just one habit and one mantle in winter, both old and patched. He never wanted books except his book and the breviary. When he ate he was very content with herbs and said that these were the proper food of the servants of God. He did not like certain extreme abstinences but praised sobriety very much, eating all things but only a little and ordering his fast so that it would serve holy prayer. He said that too much and too little impede the spirit and both are deceptions of the devil. He was very zealous about holy honesty and a foremost enemy against dealings with women[544]. He said, “We have no greater enemy in this world than the dealing with women. Anyone who likes deals too much with seculars will always find harm in it and will have wasted time, given bad example and given trouble to the Friars.”

Finally after serving Our Lord God for about fifty years in the holy Religion and about five years among the Reformed (Friars) of Saint Francis, in this time no secular or Friar ever heard any scandal about him but was always in the highest regard of everyone and after having served Our Lord with great simplicity like another Brother Leo, he fell gravely ill. After having received all the most holy sacraments that happy soul passed away to ti Creator. He was buried in the friary of the Conception near Florence.

I cannot write about any miracles of his because even though he was at the same time as I, I did not have any familiarity with him. However what I have written I have received from old Friars of Tuscany, holy and trustworthy men who were very well acquainted with him.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

L: About the holy man Brother Jerome Rondinelli, Priest, from Florence

Brother Jerome was from the city of Florence, from a noble household called Rondinelli. At an early age he gave more attention to earthly pleasures rather than learning. When he was quite enmeshed in the beguiles[545] of the flesh, touched by the Holy Spirit he began to change life, fast often, attend the confraternities and sermons and had little to do with his earlier companions. He went to Holy Communion on nearly all the feasts. After persevering in this devotion for about a year the desire to become a Capuchin came over him. Father Michelangelo[546], the Vicar for Tuscany, received him and I was present when he was clothed. His conversion was so effective that within a short time he stripped himself perfectly of all his bad habits and loved the holy Order.

He was especially zealous about holy poverty. So he willing stayed in poor and solitary friaries. There he led a very austere life for he never wanted to use more than two garments, usually always old habits patched with sackcloth. Most of the time he went barefoot. He fasted for almost the whole year especially during the forty-days that our Father Saint Francis used to do. On the vigils of Our Lady he fasted on bread and water. He rarely ate either minestra or bread. He was very careful about the Divine Office and never missed the choir unless constrained by true necessity. He spent most of the time in holy prayer, mental or vocal. He slept very little. When the Friars saw his good spirit and such a religious life they often made him Guardian and Master of Novices whom he governed with great simplicity and the very best example. Although he was most austere towards himself, nonetheless he was very discreet with the novices and especially charitable to all the Friars. When his neighbour had some need he did not spare any effort. Instead he would have exposed himself to a thousand deaths for the salvation of his neighbour. He was also very careful in his speech and very secretive in preserving the reputation of his neighbour. He was most zealous about the observance of the Rule. At Chapters many times he was made Definitor, something which benefited very much from his simplicity because of the great zeal he had regarding good customs.

I never thought to write much about this holy man because reason would have it that I would die before him, and also because I did not want to write except about those early Fathers in whom miracles were evident. However since this holy man conformed to those early Fathers very much by imitating them in austerity of life, holy virtues and good customs I think he is also of great merit. Therefore I felt I should count him among them so that anyone who reads this may take up his example and try to imitate him. Although there may not have been obvious miracles in him, nonetheless we can say it was a great miracle that for about twenty years he lived in the Order and always persevered in austerity of life, and nothing but good was evident in him.

Finally the Lord wanted to reward this servant of His. When he was Guardian in the friary at Montealcino[547] he fell gravely ill. He endured this with amazing patience, always thanking God. When the Friars asked him, “How are you?” he answered, “I am very well because I am with my Lord Jesus Christ.” After he had received all the most holy sacraments with great contrition and devotion he passed away to the better life[548]. His body was buried in the church of Montepulciano. We believe piously that in paradise he enjoys the benefits of his efforts and the he prays for us continuously to the Most High Giver of every good.[549]

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His most fair Mother and our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

LI: About the holy man Brother Vincent of Foiano, Priest

Brother Vincent was from a region situated in the dominion of Florence called Foiano, in Val di Chiana. He was born to honest parents in the household of Mannozzi which was a so called family of the city of Florence. However Brother Vincent’s father left Florence and went to Foiano where he bought many fields[550]. From then on he lived in that region and left the city of Florence completely. He had that son whom he raised with great tenderness and very delicately. He attended school and became quite well instructed in grammar. Because his father was procurator for the Zoccolanti Fathers the devout boy carried with him from infancy an innate religiosity. Seeing that the boy was always so devout and inclined towards the things of God, judicious persons always thought that he should become a Religious. Just as I heard from his own mouth, because he was very close to me for many years, the Lord God very often showed signs during his childhood that He had chosen him for His service. Once when he realised that the flesh was rebellious the devout boy had such a dislike for it, since he felt it was a diabolical machination, that he stripped himself naked in a secret place and bound himself so tightly with a cord that from then on he remained lamed by it. And he scourged himself more rigorously. He decided never to commit a carnal sin even though he did not make an explicit vow because at that age he was able to do more. Holy honesty remained so firmly carved in his heart nonetheless that he never committed a sin of the flesh for as long as he lived.

Once when the boy was in bed with his mother, the devout boy woke up with a loud cry and jumped out of the bed so that his mother was unable to hold him down. Wearing just a shirt he went very quickly to the place of the Friars while crying, “Oh dear, the crucifix is falling!” When he arrived at that friary and finding the church closed, since he knew the custom he went to the lower door and rang the bell very loudly. When the porter came he saw barefoot boy dressed only in a shirt and weeping so copiously, he suspected that something very bad had happened to him and wanted to comfort him. He cried in a loud voice, “Go to the church because the crucifix is falling!” At this noise the Friars ran to the church and found a beautiful crucifix that was on the altar. The nails had come out of the feet and one arm and just a nail in one hand held it up. Was this considered a great miracle? I asked him, “How was this shown to you?” He answered me, “I was asleep. In my dream it seemed as though I saw the Lord and He said to me, ‘God quickly because my image is falling in the Friars’ place.’ Then I was shown that crucifix in a vision.”

The boy persevered in reading devout books and had made himself a little altar in his room where he said the Office of Our Lady and many prayers with much devotion. When he reached the age of about fourteen years, through his great insistence and although his father was not happy about it, the Fathers received him and put him into the care of a holy man, his master. Because he was so young he was not taken from that master for many years. His fervour to do penance was such that his master had to keep him check so that he would not fall ill.

It pleased the Lord God that when he was already ordained a Priest that the Congregation of Capuchins emerged. When the devout young man heard that the Capuchins had taken up the place of Saint Euphemia in Rome, without thinking about anything else he immediately went to Rome. Father Louis of Fossombrone received him and sent him to the devout friary at Scandriglia where he spent some months in harsh penance, fasting continuously on bread and water[551]. However when Father Bernardine of Asti was elected General in the first Chapter he desired to do still greater penance and asked that Father for the favour to send him to the devout friary of Monte Casale where our Seraphic Father Saint Francis had been because it was a place that was very devout, solitary and harsh. He kindly granted him this, giving him the obedience so that he could carry out his devotions and penances as much as he wanted. He stayed in that place for about eight years and always in a little cell near the cell of Father Saint Francis alongside the room of the seculars where he live a life that was more angelic than human. For that habit that he wore from Rome, which was made of black slave wool and completely patched, he wore for about eighteen years. During that time he never wanted put on anything but that tight, short habit that went just down to his shins[552]. It was amazing that since the friary was in the Apennines where there are heavy falls of snow and bitter cold, this servant of God never wanted to put on a mantle or other garments. Nonetheless he persevered without ever becoming ill[553].

He always went barefoot in summer and without shoes in winter. He did all the forty-days on bread and water that our Father Saint Francis was accustomed to do. Often he went many days without eating anything. The servant of God restored himself from Christmas until Epiphany and then he fasted the whole forty days called the fast of the Blessed[554] on bread and water as well as the big forty days. On Good Friday he ate nothing. He restored himself during the three days of Easter and then began the forty days of the Holy Spirit. For the three Pentecost feastdays he ate with the other Friars and ate what they ate. Then he began the forty days of the Apostles. When that was finished he began the one of the Our Lay in the middle of August and then the one of Saint Michael the Archangel.

He persevered in this way of life for about twenty-five years. Then when he felt his strength weaken he eased off. He only fasted on bread and water on the vigils of Our Lady and Our Lord. All the rest of the time he ate what the others ate. However he never failed to fast the forty-days of Father Saint Francis.

For a long time he wore a harsh hair shirt. The cord he wore was coarse hemp and he wore it for more than twenty years. When he saw it wearing out somewhere he repaired it with short lengths of cord.

While he was at Monte Casale, when he said the Office he remained kneeling with his hands joined, contemplating with his mind what he said with his mouth and heard with his ears. He celebrated (Mass) almost every morning and always reconciled. The rest of the time he occupied himself completely in holy contemplation. Since he usually slept three hours before Matins he got up for holy prayer. Rarely if ever did he sleep after Matins although he would have withdrawn to his cell in order to be quieter there. Many times he was heard fighting with the devil who had the greatest battles with him.

During summer a times of fine weather after Mass in the morning he went off into the woods and continued in prayer there until the bell rang for the Office. He did the same after Vespers. He was often seen elevated in ecstasy. His fervour was such that every great penance seemed easy for him. Very often he said, while sighing, “O Lord, forgive my sins!” This was because he considered himself to be the greatest sinner in the world even though it would have been certain that he never sinned mortally since his life had been so holy since childhood. His soul was so lifted up in God so that when he heard talk of God rose in ecstasy and emitted very soft words. Then he jumped three or four times and sped off quickly to his cell. There he staid suspended for a good period of time. This was seen many times. Once the venerable Father John of Fano was passing through while on his way from Borgo San Sepolcro to Marches. He gave the Friars some spiritual talks[555]. This servant of God stayed there for the space of two Miserere and then rose up with a great cry and did as I said above. He did the same during the sermon of Father Bernardine of Asti and of others. When secular persons call for him out of devotion he could only be brought to them with great difficulty. When they ask him to pray to God for them he bowed his head a little and fled away, saying, “And you pray for me because I need it very much.”

It pleased the Lord God that the Superiors sent him back to the Province of Tuscany and became the Master of novices. Because they saw that he liked the solitary places very much, most of the time he was assigned to the devout friary of the Magdalen near Montepulciano. He led such a miraculous life there that both Friars and seculars regarded him a saint. Once, when he was afire with the Holy Spirit, filled with a prophetic spirit he could not constrain himself for God had shown him a great ruin that had to come to Tuscany because of their sins. Compelled by fervour he took off the habit and picked up a large cross. Naked in just his underwear with that cross he began to cry out, “Do penance!” In less than eight hours he travelled through [556]many castles for a distance of about fourteen miles. Then he came to a hill[557]. Because of all his shouting as well as the effort in the travelling, and since it was also a time of fasting, he leant against a tree and there he found that he could no longer move. Behold, immediately a woman appeared to him. She put a slice of bread into his mouth and immediately vanished. He was so refreshed as if he had eaten an excellent meal. Taking up the cross he began to shout again, “Do penance because the anger of God is upon you!” From then on he was certain that the woman had been the Mother of God.

At this new the whole region was in a commotion and they all said, “He is a great servant of God. He has not done this lightly, but the Holy Spirit has moved him to give us these warnings just as he did through the holy Prophets in ancient times.” It was because they did not change that God sent a war upon them so that they lost everything and were all turned out of their houses and sent everywhere to foreign regions. The majority of them were killed. They all believed that God had warned them so that they might convert. However since they took no account of the threats the just scourge overtook them and their land in particular was sacked and burned.[558]

For the sustenance of his nature this servant of God liked to eat greens, legumes or chestnuts. He ate very little bread. He said to the porter, “Please, I beg you for the love of God to give my portion of bread to the poor and give me some chestnuts.”

He arrived to such simplicity that he could not think that anyone would sin. When the novices accused themselves of some negligence, as small as it might have been, the holy man replied, “Poor fellow, should I punish you for having done this wrong?” When the novice answered, “Father, I did it” he replied, “Poor fellow, you must have had a good intention. It is not true that you have done this wrong thing.”

Once he was told about a Lord[559] who oppressed his vassals. Father Vincent replied, “I do believe that he would do such a wrong thing because God would take the State from him.” When he was assured that the he did that and worse, Brother Vincent said, “The poor fellow must have some very grave reason. No one can know the secrets of the Princes. I have heard tell that he is a holy man of good will. I do not believe that the Lord would allow him to stay in such a grave sin.” In this way he always had a good opinion of his neighbour.

Once he was asked why he afflicted himself with such harsh penance. He answered, “Know that I have been very well informed by a wise and learned man that for anyone wants to please God it is necessary to accompany Jesus Christ with the Cross, to suffer for His love as much as possible and where our efforts do not succeed to succeed with the desire to suffer for His love more and more. Some do good as long as the Lord visits them with many consolations in prayer. However without these they turn back. This is a sign that they do not love God but themselves. True love consists in suffering willingly for the love of God and to love Him more the one sees himself scourged and abandoned, having a clear sign that God loves him very much. Know that God does not give spiritual consolations except to weak persons so that they may not stray from the path of doing good. To those true servants of God who love the Most High with a strong love, He gives nothing but woes and tribulations in this world because no greater gift can be given them.

That Father told me an example. A holy man was praying one time and he saw three women appear in front of the altar. One had been a prostitute a little earlier. Another had been a sinner but had served God for a long time. The third had always been a good woman. With his bodily eyes He saw Christ appear on the altar dressed as High Priest. He embraced the prostitute and kissed her and with great joy gave her His Body and Blood in Holy Communion. To the second woman who was more perfect He her a terrible look that made her tremble all over and did not want to give her Holy
Communion. To the third woman who had always been holy He gave her an awful gaze and slapped her on the face. “Through this example He showed that He nourishes those who a young and beginners in the service of God with the milk of tears and spiritual sweetness. With those who are more perfect he mixes both together. However for those who are experienced and well founded in the service of God He gives heavier gifts than those He gave to the early saints whose whole life was hard due to grave persecutions and a cruel death. This is what always makes me desire to always suffer more. For many years now if it had not been for the goad of holy obedience through which I am bound to my Superiors by a vow, I would not have been in the Order but rather in a harsh desert where I would have never seen the face of man and lived as the early Fathers lived on herbs, fruit and different foods that the Lord God would provide for me. This is what stimulates me to scourge myself continuously so that I would not have to converse with anyone else in order not to see any other than my Lord Jesus Christ. If the Father General does not give me the opportunity to do so in the place of Monte Casale, I would be determined to beg permission from His Holiness and go away to the desert. However now I know that my conscience is surer under holy obedience and I wonder whether that was a temptation although the desert would have been …… especially because in these parts there are no suitable deserts where one can live as the saints did in Egypt. They are hostile places and therefore I am happy to finish under holy obedience.”[560]

When this servant of God was in the friary at Pistoia he fell gravely ill. When he was near to death he wanted to throw himself onto the ground. When the Guardian saw this he said to him, “What do you want to do, old Father?” The servant of God answered, “I want to die on the ground and I beg you to grant me this so that I may die as our Father Saint Francis did.” Since the Guardian was worried that if he got up from the bed his death would be accelerated he did not allow him to get up. After having received all the most holy sacraments he was totally absorbed in God and had a very joyful face. Having served His Majesty in the holy Order for about sixty years that holy soul passed away to its Creator. He was entombed at that friary. It lasted for many months that the Guardian with all the Friars lifted the stone lid at least once a week and visited him with great devotion. He was in the tomb exactly as if he were sleeping in bed – whole, fragrant, fresh and fair.

The Lord God performed many miracles through this servant of His. When he was in that abovementioned friary of St. Mary Magdalen, the people from all around had recourse to this holy man in their infirmities. In order to show that he did not perform the miracles he used to give them a certain oil that he had blessed. He commanded them to anoint themselves with it and to commend themselves to Our Lady so that she might heal them. It was a marvellous thing that nine out of ten were healed. He performed an almost countless number of these miracles.

One Friar[561] had a sharp pain in his knee for a long time. When Brother Vincent made the sign of the cross over it he was healed.

He did many other miracles that I am not writing down because I do not know enough about them. May this be enough in order to consider the holiness of the holy man Brother Vincent of Foiano.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LII: About the holy man Brother Dominic of Bologna, Priest

Brother Dominic was from the city of Bologna. He was born to honest parents who were quite good citizens. He attended school at an early age until he learned to read and write. However when he came to about the age of eighteen years an immense desire to serve God was born in his heart. However because his parents were not happy about this he went away secretly to Florence so that they could not stop him. Since he felt that the Order of Saint Francis was the poorest and most adverse to earthly burdens he took the habit in the Congregation of Zoccolanti Fathers. There he never wanted to study and apply himself to the sciences. Instead from his youth he was always in poor places where with great diligence and humility he carried out the office of cleric and all the lowly tasks of the place [. . . ][562].

[563]He came to the holy Congregation of Capuchins and Father Louis of Fossombrone received him[564]. Here he led a life that was more angelic than human, embracing with great fervour all the efforts that belong to the holy Order, especially in those years when the poor Capuchins did not have friaries. I saw this [565]when the friary near the city of Siena[566] was established.[567] Until the friary was built the poor Capuchins stayed at Our Lady of Fonte Giusto in Siena and most of the time they slept on the cobblestones. This servant of God had withdrawn to a little hut. There he trained his delicate members with penance, sleeping on a beam of wood while he used a piece of wood for a pillow. When he had slept until more than three hours before Matins he prayed on the same beam where he poured out many tears. At the same time he tasted the passion of Our Lord in his mind he also felt it in his sense through the afflictions and penance that he did. In this way that beam served him more as an oratory than as a bed. With many tears he said, “Now I know what poverty means [ . . . ].[568] . . such peace of mind that he accepted everything from the hand of God. This was just as I saw when Father Angelus dal Palla of Siena dressed him down[569], saying to him very harsh words. I believe that the venerable Father did this precisely so that I, who was a youngster at the time, would take example from that holy man. He went mute like a statue except for a little laugh. Lowering his head he gave reverence to the one who said these things to him, and without his face changing he went away. I saw other signs of his invincible gentleness.

He rarely ate more than once a day and then very little. He cut a big loaf of bread into thin slices and then wet them a little with water. That was his food almost always.

He spoke little or hardly ever and when he spoke about the things of God he did so quietly with a soft voice and with inspired and few words. Then you would not realise that he lowered his head a little and rose in front of you as if some very important persons were waiting for him and that he had to do things that were very important for him. For it was according to his custom that he staid continuously at holy contemplation in front of the Blessed Sacrament or in his cell or in the woods.

He was very devout towards the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, usually fasting on the Saturday dedicated to her and he also fasted on bread and water for all her vigils. It was amazing that he persevered in this way in which he started at the beginning without variation for all the time he lived.

He wore a harsh hairshirt for a long time. After Matins he rarely went to rest. He persevered in holy prayer – at night in mental prayer and during the day he practised vocal prayer. He said the Office of the Dead each day as well as the seven psalms and other devotions.

I cannot write too much about him because I was only in the same fraternity as he in the friary at Siena for quite a few days. From what those venerable Fathers told me he was regarded as the holiest man in the Province of Tuscany during his time. He did many miracles which I will not write down since I am not quite able to do so.

It is enough that after having served the Lord God with all fidelity for about fifty five years[570] he passed away happily to his Creator. I don’t know where his body rests. Amen.

LIII: About the holy man Brother Baptist of Arzona, Priest

Brother Baptist[571] was from a land called Arzona situated in the Province of Calabria. He was born to honest parents. In his childhood he attended school until he learned to read and write. However when he reached about twenty years of age he decided to leave the fallacies of the world and to lead a religious life. Because the venerable Father Louis of Reggio and his companions led such an exemplary life in the Province of Calabria that the fame of their holiness, of the harsh life they led and of the many miracles that the Lord God worked through them spread throughout all of Calabria, this devout young man decided to follow them. When he went to find them, Brother Louis received him. In regard to food he followed the community life quite well. Nonetheless he was very zealous about the observance of the Rule and very careful in regard to holy prayer. After he had done all the necessary things for the sustenance of nature or the things that may have been imposed on him under obedience by his Superior, he spent all the rest of the time in prayer. There the servant of God laid the foundation of dedicating himself completely to holy contemplation since he felt that everything else was of little moment and that the goal of the Rule and of Religious life consists in it. Hence he rarely conversed but always stayed either in his cell or in the church. Both Friars and seculars who knew him regarded him as a man of great perfection. After his death many of them said publicly that they had received many graces from God through his prayers and that he had done the greatest miracles for them.

According to public opinion and reputation the clear experience was that God had endowed him with a prophetic spirit by which he often revealed hidden things and things about to happen. Once there was a gentleman from Catanzaro who was sick. With great faith and devotion he commended himself to the prayers of this holy man. The servant of God said to the messenger who was sent by one who asked him to pray for him, “Speak in this way to the Lord Baron. You cannot be healed of this infirmity unless you marry the woman in your castle.” The gentleman was amazed by this reply because secretly he had promised to marry her so that only God and the woman could have known about it. Because of this he realised that the servant of God Brother Baptist could not have known this except by a revelation from God. Because of this the gentleman grew in much more faith and devotion towards Brother Baptist than before. Realising that he was a true servant of God, he did not want to fail to obey his words for he immediately undertook to marry the poor woman, so fulfilling his promises. When this was accomplished he was perfectly healed. He gave thanks to God for it and he held the servant of God Brother Baptist in greater veneration from then on. He said to his friends, “I am very obliged to Brother Baptist of Arzona because by his holy prayers God healed me in body and soul at the same time.”

That this servant of God had the spirit of prophecy was demonstrated again. For there was a gentleman from the region of Stile who was in Catanzaro when his son fell so gravely ill that everyone thought he would die. Because of this, with great faith and devotion he went to find the holy man and very strenuously commended his son to him so that he would pray for the health of his body, since Brother Baptist was in Catanzaro[572] at the time. Replying to him the holy man said, “Do not worry because your son with recover from this infirmity by the grace of god. He will be the mainstay and joy of your home.” And so it was, for the youth was restored to health immediately and then he came into great prosperity.

Another time in the same city of Catanzaro a trustworthy gentleman told about how he had made a feast and had spent a sum of money on it. The servant of God could not have known about it in any human way. Nonetheless one morning he met this gentleman. Because he was one of his devotees he reprimanded him firmly over the expense he had pain for such a contemptible vanity. Amazed by this, the gentleman knew clearly that holy man knew about if through a prophetic spirit and a revelation of God.

The holiness of this servant of God was manifested another time and it was a few days before his death. A lady, also from Catanzaro, because of the great devotion he had for Brother Baptist cut off a large part of the cord he wore in order to keep it with herself as a relic. When this saddened the man of God, she said, “Do not worry Father because I will get another better one for you.” However the servant of God was not pleased to be considered holy and he said to her, “Go and be blessed. I will not need another cord after this one, nor will you have any use of the one you have cut off.” And so it happened, for not long after that lady passed away to the better life, as did the man of God, Brother Baptist. Without needing another cord he passed away to the Lord.

Another time this servant of God was in a fraternity in a friary near the sea. When he was looking at the gulf he saw some sails and said to different Friars, “You are blessed because you will see thing in favour of the Christian faith which have never been seen in our time.” He wanted to hint at the destruction of the Turkish nation by the Christians on that sea, just as it happened in the time of Pius V.

It pleased the Lord God to want to reward this servant of His. For when he was in the fraternity in the abovementioned friary at Catanzaro, he became gravely ill. After having received all the most holy sacraments of the Church, that holy soul passed away to its Creator.

When news of this spread, the gathering of people who came from all around to see that holy body was such that the Friars were stopped for many days so that he were unable to bury it. However, after having recourse to the Bishop, he commanded that the holy body be buried and asked the crowd that they let him be buried. The Lord God wanted to demonstrate this miracle in order to manifest the sanctity of this holy man. There was a secular who had his spectacle case and he kept it with great devotion. It happened not long after that a friend of his became very seriously ill and remembered he had that case. With great faith and devotion he put it on him while praying to blessed Brother Baptist so that he might beg God through his holy merits for the health of the sick man. It was amazing! As soon as he put it on him he jumped out of bed perfectly healed, giving thanks to God and to blessed Brother Baptist. Therefore the great servant of God Brother Baptist was buried in the friary at Catanzaro.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LIV: About the holy man Brother Francis of Bisignano, Priest

Brother Francis was from a city called Bisignano situated in the Province of the Calabria. He was born to honest parents. In his early years he attend school and became quite well instructed in positive grammar. However when he reached the age of about sixteen years, considering the fallacies of this world and moved by the Holy Spirit the devout youngster decided to leave it and come to the Congregation of Capuchins where he could serve God more soundly and put the world beneath his feet.

He was received into the holy Congregation. When he was clothed in the habit of the Seraphic Father Saint Francis it lasted for many months that every time the devout youth remembered, it please him so much to see himself with that habit on that he could not hold back the tears. He led a very austere life for as long as he lived he never wanted to wear anything other than one completely patched habit, without a mantle or anything else. Most of the time he went barefoot. He fasted almost continuously however he always fasted on bread and water on the vigils of Our Lady and at other more devout times. In public opinion and reputation the whole Province regraded him to be the most austere that lived in his time. The devout you had an innate gentleness and beautiful disposition. He was so dedicated to despising himself that it was an amazing thing how he always gave of himself completely[573] for everyone, especially the poor sick. He served them with so much charity that he seemed to be like and Angel. He did the lowliest tasks in the friary and was never seen upset. He rarely spoke with anyone. Outside of the tasks done for charity he always stayed in the church or withdrew to his cell for holy contemplation. When it happened that his Superiors sent him somewhere on a journey he never wanted to take anything, trusting in the providence of God. Hence once he was going on his journey with his companion. Night overtook them in a certain desolate places far from any dwellings. And as it pleased the Lord God, as they walked through these desert places they did not know where they were. Miraculously God guided them to a shepherds’ hut where there was a flock of animals. However that night there was no one there and the hut was locked. When the servant of God saw this he rejoiced very much. He thought, as it was, that God had prepared them there, because going a little further he ran the danger of coming to grief over some cliff. His companion went near because he wanted to open the little room but he could not do so because he was so tired. When the holy man of God saw this he said to his companion, “Let me try a little.” Making the sign of the cross, as soon as he touched the entrance it opened wide. They stayed quite comfortably in that little room. Recognising that benefit from the Lord God he could not thank Him enough. When they wanted to depart in the morning, so that the shepherds would not receive some detriment because of the bits and pieces that were there, the companion tried very hard to lock the entrance but couldn’t. When the holy man approached he closed the entrance in the same way as he opened it by the power of God. As soon as he touched it, the door was perfectly locked.

He lived many years in the holy Congregation with such exemplarity and a holy life that everyone believed that he had to perform miracles. Many noteworthy things could be written down about this holy man but which I Passover because I don’t have enough information. Let is suffice to say that it pleased the Lord god to reward this servant of His. When he was in the friary at Cosolito he fell mortally ill. Nonetheless, since the infirmity was so grave, on the morning of the Passover of the Resurrection of the Lord, God wanted to give this consolation that by himself, as if he had no illness, he went to the church and with the other Friars received the Most Holy Sacrament. At Vespers on the same day after having received all the most holy sacraments, that holy soul passed over to its Creator. To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

LVI: About the holy man Brother James of Cetona, Priest

The highest virtue with which our Lord God adorns our soul, when He frees it from all diabolical bonds, is the virtue of charity and the perfect love of God and neighbour. This virtue has no greater enemy than the disordered love for ourselves and for all earthly things. The Saviour of the world wanted to show us this when He came and took on human flesh. In this world he wanted to possess nothing. Rather in His childhood sustained His most holy Humanity and that of the Queen of Heaven with alms offered them to sustain Him. All this was to show us that this world is nothing more than a pilgrimage. Rather our goal should be future blessedness in the next world. Therefore since His Goodness wanted to start to teach us His servants how we should walk in order to arrive at that goal preordained by His Majesty, He took the pilgrim life, journeying all the time that He deigned to dwell with us. He did this to teach us that the infernal enemy has always sowed the love of earthly things in our souls in order to stop this act of loving God and neighbour that is so acceptable to His Majesty. Therefore this was the highest sentiment that His Majesty gave to the early Founding Fathers of the Church. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit they ordered that all those who wanted to be in the family of Christ to live in common. Understanding this, the servant of God Brother James always led a pilgrim life in this world.

Brother James was from a land called Cetona situated in Tuscany in the domain of Siena. He was born to honest parents. In his childhood he attended school until he learned to read well. However at about the age of seventeen, when he recognised the fallacies of this world, he decided to leave it and lead a religious life. It pleased the Lord God that he was received into the holy Order of Saint Francis. However not long after when the Capuchins came, and since he burned with an incredible desire to suffer, he came to the holy Congregation and was one of the first Fathers of the Province of Tuscany. However since he knew that to stay where he was well known would have been to his great detriment because of relatives, friends and also Friars who were close to him, he immediately came to the Province of Saint Francis. There he led a life that was more angelic than human just as I saw with my own eyes for I was very well acquainted with the holy man.

The servant of God went barefoot continuously. However when the severe cold came he would have worn some sandals. He wore so few garments that it was incredible how a human body in such extreme cold with so few clothes could live. He was physically small and with a very gentle countenance and it was well know that the strength to suffer had been given him by God and not human nature. He ate very little and almost continuously ate once a day since he felt that leading a frugal life would serve contemplation more than would fasting on bread and water, so as not to weaken the body too much. Nonetheless he fasted on bread and water for the vigils of Our Lady and the Fridays of the great forty-days. He conversed little with anyone. That little was with such kindness and gentleness that he was like an earthly Angel. His face was very gracious and he almost always spoke about the things of God. When he heard such talk he was moved. With a smile on his mouth he bowed and fled away either to the church or to the woods. Because of this he always sought to stay in solitary friaries, occupying himself continuously in holy prayer. He was very careful not to be known by seculars and said that dealings with seculars was the cause for Friars to waster a lot of time. He said, “Many times I have been talking with seculars and they left my head full of tales so that when I returned to prayer the enemy makes them come to mind and very I often I haven’t been able to do a scrap of prayer.” Many times addressing the young he said to them, “My sons, love solitude, because it is the mother of the spirit without which it is impossible in the Order to have the grace of prayer. Therefore three things are necessary: silence, abstinence and solitude. The fourth is purity of mind. Know that just as our body is nourished by food and without it we would die, so our soul is nourished and strengthened and lives on holy prayer. When a Friar leaves aside attendance to holy prayer his soul immediately becomes infirm. It weakens and cools down and is quite disposed to sin. If it does not return to the solid food of holy prayer it dies in a short time.” He said, “Know that our Rule attends to nothing else but to regulate us for holy prayer, the goal of religious life.”

This is the reason why this servant of God never wanted to accept any office in the Order. Rather with such charm and modesty he excused himself from what the Superiors granted him. This was obvious in the Provincial Chapter assembled in Perugia. When the Father Definitors chose this servant of God they did all they could to make him Guardian. However he excused himself with so much charm and kindness that the Fathers left him be.

For many years he stayed in the Province of Saint Francis. However when he realised that almost all the Friars knew him he decided to do all he could to be moved from that Province in order to observe his prime purpose which was to live unknown and without any impediment to holy prayer.

Just as I saw in the friary at Collepepo, this servant of God was adorned with the spirit of prophecy. In that friary and in my presence he showed clearly that he saw things of the future. So two young fellows were there, one a Priest and the other a cleric. The Friars thought both of them were very spiritual. This was because they were very fervent at holy prayer and very recollected. They fasted on bread and water almost continuously. The Friars talked about the holiness of that Priest quite a lot. However when this servant of God Brother James came to that friary of Collepepo, when he saw that Priest he looked at him just once and then shrugged his shoulders. He was completely astonished. Then he lowered his eyes and never looked that Priest in the face again, as if he had received some great scandal. On the other hand the Cleric often talked with him and showed him great affection. Astonished at this it occurred to me that that Priest did not like the way he behaved, especially since it was the feast day of that friary he showed special gladness. However it turned out exactly like what happened to our Father Saint Francis. When he was going on visitation a very enthusiastic Friar was highly praised to him as a very holy man who fasted on bread and water continuously. He was so enthusiastic about holy silence that in order not to break it he used sign language when he went to confession. The Seraphic Father recognised the deception of this poor fellow and speaking prophetically said to those who praised him, “Not much time will pass before this Friar whom you praise as holy will leave the Order. He will return to the world and die horribly.”[574] And so it was. When the holy man Brother James saw that Priest who was so austere, with signs rather words he revealed the same thing that the Priest would leave the Order. That is what happened. Shortly after he left the Congregation and was an apostate for many years and died suddenly so that many thought that he had been strangled by demons.

Further to this, this holy man was in a Provincial Chapter at the same time when there was a big difficulty. This was not from the Friars but came about because of a wicked man who gave that Chapter great trouble. This holy man consoled everyone so that they might have patience because the matter would turn out in such and such a way. This was something from God because it turned out exactly as he said. Father Baptist of Norsia told me this. He was first Definitor at that Chapter.

Of no lesser importance was the time when a young Lay Friar was tempted by the devil to attempt to become a Priest. He left our Congregation. This was in the Province of Tuscany where he was and where he, a native of the state of Siena, had been clothed. The wretch went to another Order. Since he knew somewhat how to read, he knew what to do in order to get permission from those Fathers to become a priest. After receiving Orders he celebrated Mass for some years. He knew that he could not celebrate Mass legitimately since he had been ordained under false pretences because he had made profession as a Lay Friar and because a simoniacal Bishop had ordained. Still liked that dignity so much that he did not care about staying in sin so as not to lose it. It pleased the Lord God to strike this poor fellow with such a great fear of dying damned so that he could no longer resist the goad of his conscience. So one day he decided to return to the holy Congregation of Capuchins. The General of our Congregation Father Bernardine of Asti received him kindly. After seeking the advice of many learned men about whether the poor fellow should remain a Priest or be obliged to return as a Lay Friar, the matter finally came to His Holiness Julius dal Monte[575]. His Beatitude wanted him to return as a Lay Friar. However so as not to submit him completely to despair, the Father General granted him the Breviary and to be able to say the Office by himself, but could not come to the choir. It seemed that he was contented. Later however he often felt so desperate that he could not rest day or night. Once he was so blinded by temptation that even though the Friars consoled him and were around him continuously nonetheless he took a piece of cord and hung himself. However the Friars came running and by the grace of God did himself no harm. This servant of God Brother James said that he was dissolute and that it turned out just as he said. One day he was in a friary with many Friars as they were carrying out certain important devotions ordained by Holy Church. A very loud voice was heard. When the poor Friar heard that voice, without saying anything he sped off quickly towards that voice. Fearing some evil the Friars ran behind him. However when he opened the door of the friary he ran away as quickly as he could and when the Friars called in order to stop him he turned away. The Friars said to him, “Where are you going, poor fellow?” He answered with a very loud voice, “To hell! To hell!” He was never seen again and no one knew what became of him. It was thought that that loud voice was the devil and that the devil led him away body and soul by means of that desire and great sin he had committed in leaving the Order to go away to become a Priest. It was guessed that there had been an apparition of demons who deceived him to make him leave the Order to have him become a Priest, and that there was pact between them that would have been made freely with the devil. It could easily have been that God had shown this to the holy man Brother James. Therefore he said to those with whom he spoke about it, “With him there is nothing else to say because he has had it. You will see.”

This servant of God was so humble that anyone who had any dealings with him would have thought him an ordinary Religious because he never showed anything special[576]. Rather he always concealed is good works and avoided all individualism[577] in public in every way. He conformed himself to the others in everything. Secretly however he worked so that he was always occupied in the things of God. Therefore he always avoided all those things that display superiority[578] and always made himself subject to everyone. He did this to avoid all the offices of the Order in order to flee from being superior since in his heart he considered himself as the vilest creature in the world. He never tired of serving his neighbour especially the old and the sick. He served them with such patience that no one ever saw him exhausted or angry. This was the virtue in which his soul most exulted and glorified in divine grace. You would never have heard anything unpraiseworthy come from his mouth; rather he always portrayed himself as the most useless Religious that there was in the world and he always avoided becoming known. Because of this he had himself removed from the Province of Saint Francis because the Friars began to have a great devotion towards him. When the servant of God became aware of this his humility was such that he could not stand for those praises. Just as one cannot displease a proud person more than by dishonouring, on the other hand one cannot displease a truly humble person more than by praising and honouring him; for the truly humble person has no greater enemy than himself and when others help him to confound his own self nothing gives him greater pleasure. That is what Father Saint Francis did when he always wanted to be reprimanded by his companion, and wanted him to say, “Wretched son of Peter Bernardone!”[579] So when anyone one told Brother James some fault of his as a test, it seemed that he was thrilled. With joyful eyes and a smile he answered, “Are you surprised that I have that fault? Don’t you do not know the worse ones that I know about; that if God lifted his hand from me I could leave the Order and do all kinds of evil and condemn myself like many others. Know, my dear brother, that if God took His hand from someone’s head, there is no one who would not fall into every wicked vice. Do no be surprised when one of your brothers commits some fault. Instead marvel when you see him walk uprightly and remain in the state of perfection. For sinning is proper to corrupt nature and doing good is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore when we sin, we sin as men. However when we do good, we do it as servants of God, purified, renewed and established in doing good through grace by God Himself. This is one of the greatest miracles God does: that a man who is all sin who becomes an Angel of God by the grace of the Holy Spirit and who clothed in virtue lives in this world as though he does not have a body. This is a change that no one else can do except the Holy Spirit. I remember when I was in the world having seen such a dissolute man who, if he did not commit more sins it was because he was worn out. He was so habituated to doing wrong. I saw him convert in a flash and become a holy man. What do you think converted him? You will answer me that it was some preacher or someone who turned him around from bad to good with sound instruction. You are deceived. I am not saying that these things are not good, but if God does not touch his heart all the words are vane. Know that I am that big sinner and I know how may Lord spoke to my heart and brought me to this holy Order almost by force. And I know that there is no more effective virtue in the world in truly giving our very selves to God than holy humility. It brings us to the highest knowledge of God had in this world. When you see a young man who behaves like an Angel in the novitiate and who soon become lax, blame nothing but the lack of humility. Little by little he begins to consider the high offices[580] of the Order. So he becomes so infatuated with himself and in order to have those ranks he puts prayer aside and gives himself to studies with the desire to become great. Little by little, completely blinded by the enemy, he forgets humility. He comes to the point where he no longer serves God but himself because all the works he does are for the purpose of making him great. In this way be comes a reprobate without any merit before God. This was the light that God gave me in the beginning of my novitiate – that if I wanted to avoid every wrong I should embrace holy humility with every degree of perfection and never abandon it. In this way I would be freed. May it please the Jesus Christ who inspired me to give me the grace to persevere and die in that humility.”

After this servant of God had been in many Provinces and had given the greatest example of humility in them all, with holy obedience he decided that he wanted to die in the Province of Genoa. He resided there some years with such edification of those Fathers that they all regarded him as holy. Even though he was already old nonetheless he did not fail to do what the others did, getting up for Matins even during the bitter cold and coming to most of the Hours. The Father Guardian said to him, “Father James, you are doing too much. You are an old man and can no longer do all this.” The servant of God replied, “My Father Guardian, this is the greatest incentive that I have: my conscience tells me that I have never done anything good. Now I am old and truly cannot do anything more. Nonetheless I do not want to fail to do this little bit so that God, through His mercy, may forgive me for what I would have been able to do and did not do.”

Therefore when this servant of God was in the friary at Asti in Piedmonte he prepared himself for death. With careful preparation he made a general confession. God gave him the special grace to know some months in advance that he had to die soon. In that time he gave himself more than ever to fervour that it seemed he had just begun to serve God. When the time came he fell ill. In that sickness the servant of God received all the most holy sacraments and passed away to his Creator. He was buried in a chapel. Some years later when I arrived at that friary I asked the Friars where they had buried him. On going to that chapel I saw his skull[581] on top of the tomb where the Friars had put it out of devotion. I asked the Friars if they had seen any miracles. The whole Province had the greatest devotion towards him. However, because those Friars were young and since he had been dead many years, they said that from the old (Friars) they had heard about great things God had worked through this holy man. However since I was not able to get reliable information I am not writing them down. Quite enough is his life of forty-five years approximately in the holy Order, where he never wavered and always persevered in the best example until the end of his life. He flew away to heaven full of merits and now we may piously believe that that blessed soul does not stop praying for us.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of His most fair Mother and of our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

LVI: About the holy man Brother Francis of Novara, Priest

Brother Francis was from the city called Novara in Lombardy. He was born to noble parents of the Micchi family. As a child he attended school and became quite a good grammarian. He grew with holy virtues and good ways for from the time he was in nappies he was adorned with a good manner so that in his family home he led such a religious life that everyone regarded him as an Angel of God. What one usually sees in youngsters was never seen in him. Instead he had such respect[582] for his parents that no one ever saw him commit any kind of neglect. All the judicious persons held that he would become a Religious.

It pleased the supreme Creator that when he was at the tender age of about sixteen years the devout youngster began to dislike the world so much that he used to stay withdrawn by himself. He occupied himself either in carrying out some devotion or in reading devout books. So from this it happened that he became so afire with the desire to serve God that after having left his family home he went to be clothed in the Order of Saint Francis. He was received into the Congregation of Zoccolanti Fathers where he led a very religious life.

However, when the Capuchin Reform emerged, burning with an immense fervour, in order to imitate Father Saint Francis more in the perfect observance of the Rule he decided to leave that Congregation and come to eh Capuchins. So when he found himself in the friary in the region of Pallanza, situated at the great lake, he heard about the good reputation of the Capuchins and that the Reform was growing still by the grace of God. Then like a true servant of God he began secretly to speak with and invite to come to that Reform Friars whom he knew had the same desire and zeal to observe the Rule. Because everyone regarded him to be a holy man, his words and holy admonitions were not in vain. Five of those Fathers decided to come with him and when they left that friary they came to Milan where the Capuchins received them with great joy. He then led a life that was more angelic than human and was almost always in the Novice Master in the Province of Milan. He governed them with such prudence and good example that everyone, both Friars and seculars, called him the Master of Bergamo. He continuously gave those Novices sound regulations and good instruction on what they had to do in order to come to perfection, the goal of religious life. Therefore this servant of God said, “The end cannot be achieved without the means. The goal of religious life is to become inflamed with the love of God. The means to come to this end are the holy virtues. And because God communicates Himself to pure minds, therefore the one who wants to have Jesus Christ in his heart and to love Him perfectly above everything needs to purify his heart. This is done in the novitiate because just as a man strips himself of his secular clothes and is clothed in the holy habit that the Seraphic Father Saint Francis wore, so he should strip himself of all bad, worldly behaviour and be clothed in religious ways. Therefore speaking very loudly is not religious behaviour but a worldly abuse. Therefore take care to say little, and about necessary things with a soft voice. All the Rules impose silence except that of Saint Francis. Nonetheless we read that Father Saint Francis took great account of silence as the guardian of all acquired virtue and as a restraint on every vice. I suspect,” he said to his novices, “that if any Friar harms himself it is, he does this no other way than by the sin of the tongue, and that of the then who harm themselves, nine do it with this vice. We see that from the beginning in the Constitutions of the Order silence was included as something very important[583]. This is the one that mainly reminds any one who wants to practice holy contemplation. The beautiful memoir of that holy Father was not without good reason: the tongue is like a fly. One moment it lands on honey, the next it lands on dung[584]. That is what the tongue of the wick religious does who one minute praises God and the next murmurs against his neighbour and speaks evil. A young novice who stays with his eyes lowered and who speaks little and with a soft voice resembles[585] an Angel of God. The one who is badly behaved and poorly disciplined and who talks a lot is like a worldly person- vain and full of vices. Therefore with great care take up this beautiful manner of speaking little. Be in love with holy silence, a virtue so high that anyone who is not adorned with it cannot be called ‘religious.’ That is what Saint James says, “the religion of one who does not restrain his tongue is vain.”[586] We find that Our Lord spoke few times; the same for the Mother of God. The early saints took great account of holy silence. Not without reason did Saint Basil praise it and Father Saint Benedict observe it. These very holy Fathers imposed it in their Rules. Many sins are done with the tongue and many evils come from unnecessary conversations. Therefore just as the stamp imprints a beautiful character, so the novitiate imprints in the novices the beautiful form which those novices have to keep and observe with great care in the holy Order for as long as they live, offering this beautiful norm with their example to those who come to the holy Order after them.”

This servant of God informed his disciples with these and similar instructions. Just as it is said of Our Lord that He first began to do and then He instructed[587], so he was a very good imitator of His Majesty, for just as the Apostle Paul says[588], he did not dare to preach any virtue to others if Christ Our Lord had not first exercised it in him. Therefore he was full of every virtue. Especially, he was so regulated in his speaking and well practiced in holy silence that rightly none of his disciples could say to him, “What are you doing?” He spoke so rarely and softly that he truly showed he continuously carried Jesus Christ carved in his heart. His words were so kind, inspired and humane that they restored everyone very much and many desired to hear him speak about the things of God. His reputation was so widespread that every one who was troubled wanted to listen to him and they went away consoled.

Because he was very weak he could not do much abstinence, nonetheless he ate very little. He was very zealous about holy poverty and when he saw something go wrong he was very much afflicted. He never wanted anything for his own use except what the Rule allowed him. He was very zealous about holy modesty and everyone, both seculars and Friars, considered him a virgin with such innate purity and simplicity because he always bore a beautiful disposition of being always united with God in his mind. So it happened that apart from the necessities of nature he was always occupied in mental or vocal prayer to the extent that he was hardly seen outside of his cell or the church. If there had not been the need to teach the novices he would have done little else night and day than pray. He was accustomed to prayer that when he needed to come to some manual exercise for the sake of the novices, he felt the greatest repugnance since he felt he was separating himself somewhat from the beloved spouse of his soul.

Therefore after this servant of God persevered many years in the holy Order with an irreproachable life and was regarded a saint by everyone in public opinion and reputation, it pleased Our Lord God to reward the efforts of this servant of His. When the Fathers of that Province took up the friary of Novara[589] this Father was sent there. He stayed in that city, working with some young men, still with great prudence, to make ready the friary. However since the servant of God was a weak old man, because of the great suffering he fell gravely ill in the house of Messer Joseph Berghamo, a man very kind to us. He lived for many days in that infirmity and endured it with such great patience that was a marvel for the entire city. Many Friars came, some to visit this Father, others because of the friary. They all lodged in the house of that Messer Joseph. Since he was not very rich he could not find a way of meeting the expense, nonetheless because of the great devotion he had for that holy man and the whole Congregation he did not reveal his difficulty to them for fear of distressing them. Instead he fed everyone with a glad face. The Lord God did not want this act of charity to pass in silence without showing through His providence how much that charity pleased Him. For when Messer Joseph went into a church to commend himself to the Lord God so that He might give him the ability to provide for all the needs of those servants of God, someone immediately appeared to him in that church and gave him thirty scudi and said to him, “Take these Messer Joseph because I owe them to you.” Marvelling over this he said to him, “Excuse me, excuse me. I do not know you and I don’t know about your having to give me anything.” He replied, “Take it in good conscience because I owe them to you and do not ask further questions.”[590] Leaving the money he disappeared in an instant and he never saw him again. Messer Joseph told this miracle to anyone who wanted to listen.

Therefore in that house this servant of God passed away to a better life. He was regarded a saint by everyone and the whole city. Because of the great devotion that they had for him since they knew about his holy life from his childhood in the world and also from the great example he gave in his infirmity, almost the whole city and all the clergy and all the Orders were at his funeral. That holy body was buried in the cathedral church.

Because I did not know him I cannot tell about the miracles that this holy man did. Everything that I write I have had from the very venerable and trustworthy Fathers of that Province.

I will only about this miracle about which I have been completely informed. When the funeral service was over and the holy body had to be interred, because the one who had to carry out this task was very poor, it pleased the Lord God that a good man was inspired to give alms to the poor fellow so that he could bury him. Because he was completely blind in one eye and had very poor sight in the other, with great devotion and faith he knelt down on the tomb stone where that holy body was buried and said, “Brother Francis, servant of God, I done this act of charity to have you buried, giving all my means in order to bury your body. I am sure that you holiness is so great that you can do much in the presence of the Lord God. If I have done an act of charity for you, do one now for me. Beg the Lord God that through your merits he may restore my sight.” Wonderful God! As soon as he got up he was healed perfectly. From then on he always saw very well and God returned his sight to him so firmly through the merits of this servant of His, that even when he grew old, until he died, his sight still never failed him as usually happens to the old.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LVII: About the holy man Brother Jerome Avogadro of Novara, Priest

Brother Jerome was from a city in Lombardy called Novara[591]. He was born to very noble parents of the Avogadro family. At an early age he applied himself to learning and became quite well instructed in positive grammar. He was tall in stature and was physically elegant. He was so delicate that he resembled a bride. He was adorned with such a fine bearing that all those who saw him regarded him to be of high blood. When he came to about the age of sixteen years he recognised the fallacies of the world by the grace of the Holy Spirit and decided to abandon it and serve God in some Order. Because his family was always especially very devoted to the Franciscan Order, the devout young man took the habit of the Zoccolanti.

Not long after when the Congregation of Capuchins emerged, when he was in the friary of Cumaccio with the venerable Father Joseph of Ferno whom we mentioned above, he came to the Capuchins. With great devotion and the desire to observe the Rule promised to God he took the habit at Milan. When our Fathers saw his irreproachable and holy life they gave him the care of the novices. As long as he lived in the Congregation he was always Novice Master. I who write spoke with him very often. About things I did not know I have been well informed by trustworthy Friars who were his disciples.

Therefore this servant of God was a very fervent zealot of the perfect observance of the Rule. He was so obedient that it was found that he never objected when his Superior imposed some task on him. He was so humble in his conversation that even though the novices tried to imitate him, nonetheless very few of them achieved the mortification of their Master. All this came about because since he was in nappies God endowed him with such an innate gentleness that it was impossible for him to get angry. He was an amazing observer of holy poverty. He wore just one old, completely patched habit. He ate a little – rough foods seasoned simply. He hardly ever ate more than once a day. He was very modest and regarded a virgin by everyone. He was so mortified in his behaviour, his speech, his gaze and conversation that he resembled an Angel. However more importantly through his great purity the Lord God gave him the gift of high contemplation. He many trustworthy Friars saw him elevated in ecstasy at prayer that he practised so perseveringly that apart from the needs of nature he spent all his time at it. Once when he was in the Friary at Monza, since he was the Guardian, it happened that a secular asked that he come to the door. Because of this the porter went to the choir where the servant of God was at prayer. The porter was called Brother Luke of Vigevano. He said to him, “Father, you are called to the door.” The servant of God was so elevated with his mind in God that when Brother Luke touched him he returned to himself and said to him, “Go, I am coming now.” After Brother Luke left he was wrapt by the Spirit again and he did not leave that place. However the one who was waiting for him at the door knocked again very quickly. When Brother Luke heard this he thought that it was someone else. Returning to the door he found it was the same person who was waiting. Surprised that the Guardian was so slow in coming, Brother Luke returned to him and found him kneeling in the same way and elevated in ecstasy. Shaking him strongly he said to him, “Father, you haven’t gone to the door. Please go so that you do not scandalise that good man.” When the Guardian said, “I am coming now” Brother Luke was not sure. He didn’t want to leave the church. Standing at the choir exit he carefully observed what he did. He saw him fall to his knees again. With his face lifted up towards heaven, he stayed motionless. Meanwhile the man knocked at the door again. Because of this Brother Luke became quite distressed for on the one hand he did not want to stop his prayer, and on the other hand he was worried about scandalizing the secular. He decided to take him to the door. When the holy man rose to his feet and came towards the choir exit. Taking some holy water Brother Luke went outside. Again the Guardian forgot and returned to his place and was lifted up in ecstasy again. So the porter was forced to lead him to the door by hand since his mind was so transformed.

This servant of God rarely spoke except about the things of God and necessary things. An idle word never came from his mouth. He celebrated Mass every day with great devotion. When he was in the friary he never failed to say the Office in the church with the others until the end of his end. Even though he could not stay on his feet because of a illness in which his leg was nearly completely ulcerated, the servant of God remained kneeling. He carried this infirmity with amazing patience for about thirty years. However for many years before that infirmity aggravated him, the servant of God always stood for the Office and for prayer without ever leaning. In his old age when he could not go to the Office by himself in the church, he had himself brought there and the venerable old Friar stayed kneeling and leant on a bench. This was because the Province of Milan does not keep anything in the oratory upon which to lean. It was something wonderful that in this infirmity of his he never wanted special treatment but always lived and led the common life. Many times he was seen rapt in the spirit at table.

His simplicity was such that he believed everything told him.

In his old age when he was in the friary at Cremona he wanted to go to the friary in Rezzato in Bresciano because it is warm. He fell ill in Brescia where our Fathers sent him from Milan and where he took the Capuchin habit. Staying there some days his illness deteriorated. Armed with all the most holy sacraments, well prepared, that very holy soul passed away to its Creator with the greatest example of holiness.

To the praise and glory of the Supreme Creator. Amen.

LVIII: About the holy man Brother Francis of Cannobio, Priest

Brother Francis was from a region called Cannobio situated in the domain of Milan. He was born to honest parents. He attended school at an early age and became a very good grammarian. When he reached about eighteen years of age he decided to leave the world and was received in to the body of the Franciscan Order where he led a very sensual life. For just I he informed me very well because of the long acquaintance I had with him, he was very sumptuous in his eating, delighting in good food; similarly in dress and other things. Although he was young, nonetheless when he went outside the friary he always went on horseback with two little pillows on the saddle.

It pleased Our Lord God that when he saw two Capuchins the Holy Spirit so touched his heart that from then on he could not rest until he took the Capuchin habit, with all sensuality despised and trampled down with great fervour. He was so austere that it caused great wonder to anyone who knew him earlier. With many tears he said, “I regard it the greatest favour that God has called me to this holy Reform since He had me born a Christian. For I was so engulfed in sensuality that I remembered nothing or little of God or of my vows[592]. Nor did I ever understand the Rule until know when I find myself where it is observed.”

As long as he lived in the Provinces of Rome and Bologna he never wanted anything other than one habit of natural wool. He ate very little, sustaining his life with a few simple foods. However he was a very zealous observer of most holy poverty more than every other virtue. He was the one who composed that little treatise about holy poverty and was so enthusiastic about that poverty that where he staid he made an house inventory of what was were there and of all the furnishings such as altar cloths, chalices, tablecloths and similar things. He wrote in the inventory the things in the house such as cauldrons, tools, blankets and similar more notable things that were there. Every year he gave back the friary to the owner. When the tools were worn out so that they were no longer any good for use, he returned them to the proper owner. He did this in order to avoid ownership and control[593]. Nor could he suffer any significant excess in the friary to the extent that the Friars thought he was extreme although they knew this came from his holy zeal for the perfect observance of the Rule and from his great simplicity. Therefore no one was bold enough to distress him. He was very zealous about spiritual things and very untiring in holy prayer. He was very merciful and kind to his neighbour and was so in love with the things if Saint Francis that he went throughout Italy where our friaries were and with great care researched the libraries of the Conventual Fathers and the Zoccolanti Fathers where he could find anything written by Father Saint Francis. When he came to the Province of Saint Francis and collected almost everything, he brought it to the Province of Milan and arranged them all in a suitable way with the intention of having them printed. However the neglect of the Friars to help him meant that when the holy man was near to death and had received al the most holy sacraments, he passed away to a better life without being able to fulfil his holy desire[594]. Just I have understood from trustworthy Friars he appeared shortly after to a holy man among our Friars and said to him, “The Friars take little account of our writings. The time will come when they will need them in order to know the footsteps of Father Saint Francis.” Then he disappeared. However as it pleased the Lord God a great Portuguese Father from the body of the Order came to Italy in order to be better informed about the things of Father Saint Francis. In particular he came to the Province of Saint Francis that has always been the source of these things and he collected many things. However when he heard that the suitably arranged collections of that good Father were in Milan he wanted to have them in his hands. With great insistence he begged Father Evangelist[595] of Cannobio to give them to him. However since the Capuchins did take much account of these gave them to that Father who them returned very happily to Portugal where he had them printed in two volumes. Later these were been translated into our Italian language by Messer Horatio Dioli of Bologna and called the Chronicles.[596] The Lord God did not want the efforts of this holy man to be lost, for they have made the Order of Minors famous.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LIX: About the holy man Brother Matthew of Schio, Priest and Preacher

Brother Matthew was from a region called Schio situated in the domain of Venice and in the Province of Saint Anthony. He was born[597] to honest parents[598]. As he boy he attended school until he learned to read and write and have a little knowledge of positive grammar. Further more since his father was poor he started work[599]. However when he reached about eighteen years and recognised the dangers and fallacies of this world, the good youth decided to become Religious.

It pleased the Lord God that he was received into the Franciscan Order. Once he had made his profession and the Friars recognised his fine intelligence and very lively nature, the set him to study. He profited from this very much and within a short time became a preacher. He was physically quite healthy and very suitable for labour. This servant of God gave himself to study by himself and composed sermons. Where he preached it turned out very well.

When the Congregation of Capuchins came, as a man vigilant about the observance of the Rule, he began to reconsider his situation. As he said himself, he never had any qualms nor did he think that he was in a dangerous situation. Instead he continued along at a trot with the others and thought that his situation was fine. However when he saw how the Capuchins observed the Rule the Lord God opened his eyes. He got hold of some books that spoke about our Rule and he realised how far he was from its observance. He became so frightened about having to be damned that he could not think of anything else night and day. On the one hand he felt the difficulty of leaving that comfortable life in order to enter such an austere life. So he was preoccupied about this and commended himself adamantly to God so that He would be pleased to enlighten him and give him the grace to decide for what was more acceptable to His Majesty. One day when he was visited by the Holy Spirit, he said to himself, “Oh Brother Matthew, where you if you think not to quickly accept this great opportunity that God is offering you for your salvation? You are not observing the Rule in your present situation and yet you are obliged to observe it. If you had some excuse before because you were going on mindlessly, now that God has enlightened you what are you going to do?” Because of this he immediately took himself off and went to the Capuchins. He was among the first Capuchins in that Province. Finding that harsh life in the true observance of the Rule, the servant of God loved and had was so zealous about true observance that within a short time he became one who taught it to others. When the Capuchin Fathers saw him so zealous, devout and willing to suffer, as well as being well educated in the sciences, they often elected him as Vicar Provincial. He governed the Province of Saint Anthony with great maturity.[600]

He was a most austere man and very zealous about holy poverty. He never wanted anything of his own use except what the Rule allowed him, except some books of sermons. Nor did he ever want to have more than one completely habit and a mantle[601]. He went barefoot in summer and wore sandals in winter. He fasted on bread and water for all the vigils of Our Lady and other devout feasts[602].

Once[603] on the Assumption, because he was old, out of compassion I begged him not to fast on bread and water so that he could withstand the effort to preach. The servant of God replied to me, “I have a robust constitution, and I believe that you are aware that when I eat a little I go red as scarlet in the face. Furthermore if someone can refrain from fasting on bread and water on the vigil of the Mother of the God, how is it possible to call him Christian if he is not devoted to Our Lady, and especially for Friars Minor because she is their special advocate?” It was a wonderful thing that when he took me as his companion he gave such a fervent sermon on Our Lady that it seemed like a flame of fire would come from his mouth. After preaching the servant of God went home to eat at the friary which was about two miles from the city.

This was his custom. When he preached throughout the year he always returned to eat with the Friars. He said he didn’t feel as though he had eaten if he ate outside the Friars’ refectory. He said, “Each time I find myself outside the Friary I don’t feel as though I am a Religious. I eat what my other brothers eat. For me all that is like mothers’ milk[604]. When I eat things that my other brothers do not eat, they become poisonous for me. I have received this gift from God that I like this holy Congregation so much that it feels as though I was born here and that it is my paternal home. I don’t know what else I would be if not a Capuchin. I regret that this holy Reform did not come along earlier so that I could serve God in it as a young man and give him the flowering of my life. How many years have I spent badly while I lived like a senseless man without ever considering my obligations! May it please the Lord God that these few days of my old age be acceptable to Him. The more days I have the more I will give Him and if I could do more I would. Apart from holy baptism, I can’t think of any greater benefit that I have received from God. How obliged I feel towards His Majesty for having preserved me until this holy Reform came. How many times it entered my mind to want to see what Father Saint Francis was like. Now I see him. Now I see how Father Saint Francis and his companions observed the Rule because I observe. I tell you frankly that no one can understand the Rule unless he observes it because the Rule does not consist in the observance of formalities. Rather the one who is in love with God and is enlightened by the Holy Spirit can observe the Rule of the divine Francis because it consists in a true love of God, a true despising of oneself and in avoiding all the things that by their nature occupy the heart. Because the Rule is spiritual it must be observed by the spirit through the spirit. Therefore let us thank the Lord God who has given us the grace to see Saint Francis revived – not him but his life.

He was co austere that the Friars felt that he preferred the extreme rather than take the middle course. Once he was told, “Father, you will have to give an account to God because you have guided us so strictly, making us observe more than the rule and having had us do so many disciplines. I don’t know if your conscience reprimands you over this.” The holy man smiled and answered, “May God forgive you my sons. Our Father Saint Francis based the Rule on most high poverty. He was very strict towards himself and towards others. Therefore, was he doing the wrong thing? As Our Lord says, it is necessary all those who want to go to heaven to go along the narrow way. Because few go that way, few are saved[605]. I will not have to give an account to God if I have made you walk along the way that leads you to heaven. Rather, I will surely have to give an account to God for when I have been too easy to grant you those things that accord with self-indulgence because I have let you go along the broad path that leads to hell. Our Rule is so high that it is impossible to do more than the Rule. On the other hand instead we are so inclined to obey our self-indulgence and become lax that it has been no small thing if I have maintained you so that the Province has not become lax. Woe to you if you have a Vicar who is so nice that he allows you everything you want, because he could not be called a shepherd but a squanderer.”

This servant of God became quite old. Nonetheless he remained very austere until his death. He could no longer govern he did not fail, however, to enlighten each one about how he should walk. He gave the very best example. With sound teaching and holy exhortations he encouraged everyone in the perfect observance of the Rule. When it was obvious later that he was nearing death, he seemed to grow in even greater fervour. He went to confession often and practised mental or vocal prayer almost continuously. He said, “This is the boat that brings us to port in this stormy sea of the world. Without prayer it is very difficult to persevere in the grace of God.” When the young Friars asked his advice, the servant of God answered them, “My sons, think about the end so that the flesh does not deceive you. Our battle is very important because if we allow ourselves to be conquered by the flesh we will gain hell. However if we walk according to spirit we will conquer and gain paradise. The one who loses paradise loses a lot. Therefore Father Saint Francis said, ‘So great is the good I am waiting for that I delight in every pain.’[606] Therefore about the end and you will know how to suffer easily for the love of God. In order to profit four farthings a merchant exposed himself to many dangers on sea and land. What must we do to profit such a good which will make us happy and blessed – not for one year, nor for ten years, but forever?”

It pleased the Lord God that this servant of His fell ill with a long and grave infirmity. The Fathers always said to him, “How are you Father?” The servant of God answered, “I am well. I am still waiting for the door to open so that I may go away to see my Lord, because I have been in this world too long and I am aware that I have done little good. However I trust in God that my Lord Jesus Christ will have done for it for me. I hope to be saved through His merits and I am completely happy.” With great fervour he received all the most holy sacraments and having many Friars around him that blessed tongue always exhorted them all to good for as long as he was able to speak. When he was at his very last breath he seemed to fall asleep and that holy soul passed away to its Creator after having served his Creator for about fifty years. With many tears he was buried. The Friars felt that they had lost a very important Father[607].

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LX: About the holy man Brother Dominic of Boschetto, Priest and Preacher

Brother Dominic was from a little castle called Boschetto situated in the dominion of Nocera. His father was Anthony and his mother had the name Bartholomea[608]. She was a holy woman and always led a holy life. She was materially poor but rich in the fear of God. She was very devoted to the Franciscan Order. When her husband died she never wanted to sleep in bed for a period of seventeen years. Instead the servant of God stayed the whole night in a corner of the house where she had arranged a little bench. She spent the whole night there. She spent the first evening spinning and when she felt slept come heavily upon her she began to pray in order to conquer herself and deny her nature of too much sleep. There she spent most of the night. Then as she felt sleep over come her, she laid her head on the bench. When he woke very early in the morning she took up her prayer again. I heard Brother Dominic say many times, “My mother’s prayers have brought me to this Order.” Batholomea’s holy life was not in vane nor fruitless for she raised her son according to her simplicity in the fear of God. When he was about twenty years old he decided that he wanted to serve God in the holy Order of Saint Francis. She took great pleasure in this and encouraged him very much.

Recognising the fallacies of the world, Brother Dominic decided to abandon it and to serve God. He was received into the holy Order of Saint Francis in 1533. We did our Novitiate together and he was always a particular companion[609] of mine. By nature he was very simple with little learning. However he was very fervent in the service of God. In his youth he was very austere. However because his constitution was weak and ate so little the poor fellow could not fast. Nonetheless he kept many vigils on bread and water. For a long time he wore a harsh hairshirt. He slept very little and spent most of the time at holy prayer and because of this the Holy Spirit gave him the gift to talk about God. So when our Fathers became aware of the great fruit he bore, they allowed him to preach. He exercised this office for many years. He always preached in castles, villas and lowly places. The Lord God worked many good things through his holiness and simplicity and inspired everyone in the love of God. Often when these places were offered educated preachers they didn’t want them but the simple Brother Dominic instead. As difficulty as they might have been, he was able to accomplish all the reconciliations. The devotion of the people towards him was such that on considered himself happy[610] if he were blessed by him. He did many miracles with the sign of the cross.

For about twenty years he stayed in the Province of Saint Francis. Then he was sent to the Province of the Marches where he aroused the greatest devotion among the people because of his simple words. His fame increased so much that they brought him the sick from everywhere around. Many of them returned, completely healed by the sign of the cross. This holy man also freed many possessed persons. In the friary where he was, the poor Friars could not bear up because of the multitude who gathered there from all over the Marches. They said that the Our Lord God gave him this grace of healing all those whom he touched with his hand.

He had many visions, especially in the friary at Narni. A holy old man was sick there and Brother Dominic visibly saw a procession of saints who came to accompany the soul of the holy old Friar. Not recognising them, the servant of God took courage and approached them. He asked them who they were. So they answered him, “We are all Friars Minor whom Our Lord God has sent from heaven so that we may honour and lead to heaven in our company the soul of the holy man Brother Justin[611]. Brother Dominic ran to give the good news to the holy old man who replied, “My son, I have seen them. As they greeted me they passed through this cell. Therefore assemble everyone.” When all the poor Friars gathered in the cell of the holy man, he passed away within a short time. Abandoning the burden of the flesh flew away to heaven with that holy company.

Another time he was in the friary at Bettona when someone knocked hurriedly at the door at the beginning of the Angelus bell[612]. When Brother Dominic went out to see who it was ad very poor man presented himself before him. With great humility he asked him alms for the love of God. Brother Dominic went and got him a loaf of bread and said to him, “Brother, forgive us. We are also poor and have little.” The poor man replied, “I know that you are poor. I know how much you have and what you can do.” Immediately he disappeared and at that same moment appeared to the Father Guardian of the same friary and said to him, “I have received this bread from your Friars.” Then he immediately disappeared. Everyone believed that he was Jesus Christ and I heard this from the mouth of Brother Dominic himself.

The zeal this servant of God had for the salvation of souls was such that if was not all to be able to go to preach on Sundays he filled with melancholy since felt he was wasting time. Many times when he felt very badly, the Friars who understood his character said to him, “Brother Dominic, if you were not ill you could go to preach.” The servant of God immediately leapt out of bed and said, “I am not too bad. With the grace of God I will get better. Send me to bear some fruit.” Then he was immediately healed. Once when he was in a castle the assembly of people was such that he withdrew to a big house and preached to them most of the night. Then he let them go, saying, “Come back tomorrow.” While trying to prepare for the morning, he found nothing that he liked very much. While he was praying everyone was overcome by love in the morning and countless reconciliations were accomplished.

In the same friary at Bettona he was fulfilling the office of sacristan. He wanted to draw some water from a very deep cistern and dropped the keys in. It was amazing. With great faith he made the sign of the cross and dropped in a little hook. Straight away he pulled up a cauldron with many other pieces of ironware. Inside were the keys. The iron implements had been thrown in many years earlier because of the war and no one knew this.

At Macerata the wife of a doctor was in bed because of an incurable sickness. The doctor begged him to pray to God for her then said to him, “What do you believe will happen?” The servant of God answered, “I am not God who knows what will happen.” When the doctor begged him to make the sign of the cross he went closer. Having made the sign of the cross he said to her, “Get up and come to the sermon.” Amazing! She immediately got up from bed with he daughter who was also sick. She was as healthy as if she had never been sick and both of them went to the sermon.

Because the countless miracles and other similar things he did have not been collected and examined and proven by some tribunal of holy Church, and also because I am very familiar with them, I am not writing them down – so as not to err.

Suffice to say that in 1589 when the servant of God was praching in some villas in the State of Urbino, about eight miles from Sant’Angelo in Vado, he did so with greater fervour than ever in the past. Like a swan that they say when it is close to death it sings more sweetly that it has ever done. So it was with the servant of God. Since he was already close to death, he bore more fruit and to the greater satisfaction of the people than he had ever done before. When his preaching was finished, with great contentment in his heart, he returned to our friary in Sant’Angelo in Vado. Falling gravely ill there he received all the most holy sacraments. Within a few days he passed away to a better life after having served Our Lord God with great fervour and purity of mind for about sixty [?] years in the holy Congregation of Capuchins. He was buried there. However when this reached the ears of the holy [?] and Illustrious Duke of Urbino[613], because he loved the Friars and was well acquainted and informed about his holiness, he immediately undertook to have that holy body brought to Pesaro and put in a fitting tomb when it arrived with a great funeral procession However, since the weather was getting cold, it was not moved elsewhere.

Therefore we can piously believe that his soul is in paradise and together with the Angels and blessed spirits he enjoys the Supreme Goodness. Amen.

LXI: About the holy man Brother John Baptist of Terni, Priest

Brother John Baptist was from a city in Umbria called Terni, in the dominion of the Church and the Province of Saint Francis. He was born to honest parents, citizens of that city. At an early age he attended school, however when he reached the age of about twelve years, inspired by God the youngest decided to leave the world and enter the Franciscan Order. When saw other youngsters in that friary of Saint Francis he liked that Order very much. He hung around with those little Friars from some days and revealed to them his good desire. These little Friars made him known to a very good and venerable Father and Master called Mastro Nuntiangelo. When he heard this he called the devout youngster and said to him, “My son, if you want to be a Friar I will cloth you at my expense. If you want to learn I commit myself to make you a man.” When the youngster heard these words he was very happy. Within a few days he was clothed. He behaved so well that the Master had a great love for him and watched over him so jealously that he could not associate with anyone. He gave him a separate room and had him sleep alone. It was an amazing thing. Guided by God and on his own initiative he fasted on all the forty-days that the Rule imposes. He was a mirror to all those venerable Fathers. His Master said to him, “Brother John Baptist, you are doing too much by wanting to fast on all the forty-days. You’ll quickly get sick.” The devout child answered him, “It is better that the body become infirm than the soul die through mortal sin. I am obliged to fast.” Amazed at these words his Master grew even more devoted towards him and gave him every opportunity to be able to fast. He heard from the Friars that Saint Francis wore hairshirt. They told him how it was made from horsehair. Immediately Brother John Baptist secretly procured one of them by means of his mother and wore it and no one knew about.

It happened that the venerable Father Francis of Iesi, Capuchin, preached the Lent in the church of that convent with great approval. When Brother John Baptist heard that preaching he became very fervent. Since that Father had his room in the convent Brother John Baptist took up friendship with his companion. One day he asked him, “Which friars are you?” He answered that they were Friars of Saint Francis. He replied to him, “Well, why don’t you dress like Friars of Saint Francis?” The fellow answered, “Son, you are mistaken. Saint Francis never wore that habit but he always went dressed like us. However when the Order grew lax, the friars abandoned the habit of Saint Francis and took up the one that you are wearing. Even the Rule is not observed among you. As for the truth, you can read it for yourself.” Taking the Rule out of his sleeve, he gave it to him. Full of joy then the devout boy retired in his room and read it during that Lent many times. When the Father Preacher left that Easter, without saying anything to anyone, he set off after him and found that the Father Vicar of the Province was in the friary of Narni. He presented himself before him and on bended knee asked him to be received. The Father Vicar told him that he was too young. Brother John Baptist answered him, “Father, I am sixteen years old and I do not want to go back to that friary convent any more.” He replied to him, “You won’t be able to fast.” Brother John Baptist said, “I began to fast when I was twelve and in that friary I have always fasted for all the forty-days which the Rule imposes. Won’t I be able to fast now that I am sixteen years old?” The Father Vicar felt that those replies were those of a mature man and not a boy. He realised that God endowed the boy with a good understanding and so received him. He sent him to the novitiate in the friary of the Carcerelle in Assisi.

This boy was so frail and striking in appearance that the Master was ashamed to let the seculars see him. The Father Vicar wanted him to spend two years in the novitiate. He behaved in such a holy way that he amazed everyone. He always fasted with more austerity than the others. He was so mortified and shy towards the friars that if he was not at Office or called by his Master, he never let anyone see his eyes nor to hear him speak. Because he was so frail and young, his Master worried that the sharp air during cold times would make him sick. He always had him wear a piece of woollen cloth on his head. By the grace of God he bore up very well and at the end of the year made his profession. He always behaved like an Angel.

He had his mother who was a holy woman who practised holy prayer very much. The poor woman always tormented by one of her sons who had become quite wild. Some said he was lunatic or truly possessed because sometimes when he was sensible he suddenly erupted into a dangerous rage. Once it happened that when came home he found his mother kneeling in prayer. He thrust his hands to the sword and clean cut her throat. He was then taken by the court and sentenced to the gallows. No one knows what happened to him after that. When Brother John Baptist’s Master learned of this for many days he did not want to say anything. However when he reconsidered that he also needed to know, he was speaking to him one day and said to him, “My son, you know the goodness of your mother. Because she was such a holy woman she lacked nothing but martyrdom in order to be exalted in heaven. God has given this to her now. Know that your mad brother, when he found her praying, cut her throat with a sword.” Amazing! As moved as he was, he gave no sign of sadness. He was like a stone. He only said, “Nothing else was expected of the poor fellow.” His Master said to him, “These are not things to worry about but to rejoice over very much because God has allowed such a good and holy woman to go to the Lord with the palm of martyrdom. We have no surer way of dying in the grace of God than martyrdom. Therefore son, thank God and be glad because your mother is in paradise.”

He became a Priest and always lived in great austerity. Though he was very gentle by nature, nonetheless he was very inclined towards abstinence and suffering fro the love of God. More importantly, he was very humble, to the extent that everyone loved him very much. While he was young few if any at his sage could equal him in the virtue of humility. He was so resigned in the virtue of obedience that he was like an Angel of God.

He was Guardian and Novice Master for many years. He governed them with great simplicity and prudence and with such charity that he had more love for them than if he had been their father himself. He said that above all the Novice Master should behave in such a way that through visible signs the Novices are sure that he carries them all in his heart and they have great confidence in him. For when they lose confidence, they are finished.

God enlightened him very much at prayer and I believe that in part his great purity and simplicity heart came from this. Such was the purity of his mind that it was a great effort for him to think ill of anyone. God disposed him when he was a child to begin to serve God and he always maintained that purity. Just as I heard from his own mouth, God gave him and preserved in him the precious gift of virginity. Just as his mother gave birth to that virginity, so he preserved it with out staining it in anyway until he died. Therefore from this came the keenness of his intelligence in holy contemplation with a great peace of mind that made him so familiar with God that it showed externally. He always appeared joyful and loving towards everyone. Many times God enlightened him so that he could tell things that were about to happen. Once he was in the friary at Terni when it was being built. He went to the city and asked for a cask of wine from a very rich citizen. He said to him, “Brother John Baptist, I want to give it to you but I don’t have time now.” The servant of God replied to him, “Give it to me now because you won’t have it next time.” The citizen replied, “Yes, I will have time.” It was amazing. Not long after he was walking through his garden with some friends of his when a cloud appeared and a flash of lightning came down and hurt no one but him. It struck him so violently that one could not tell his head from his feet. He was like a burnt tree stump.

At other times he also predicted other things, but because I don’t remember them I will leave them out.

It pleased the Lord God that he became Guardian in the old friary at Todi where, because of his great purity, the Lord God sent him the greatest trial without any flaw on his part. His Majesty allowed that it would he a great struggle for him to put up with it because since he was close to death He wanted to purify him in this world. This was not enough. When he fell ill with a very serious sickness, he endured it with amazing patience. He always thanked God who had deigned to visit him. He showed very gladly that he passed to the better life quite willingly since he knew that while we are in this world we are always in danger of damning ourselves. “Now that I am ready I am happy to die. I only regret that I did so little good in the holy Order.” While preparing himself still with prayer and by receiving al the holy sacraments, the servant of God was assailed by a great temptation. Almost beside himself he battled inwardly with the infernal enemy. Some words were heard that he said while he clashed with the enemy. However the Friars could not understand them. They only knew that the temptation changed several times. This lasted for some days and nights. They only understood the servant of God when he said, “When will this trial finish?!” Such was the fearful violence that the enemy brought against him that he split his eye. The Friars were all terrified and helped him with their prayers. However when the trial was over, in a flash he returned to himself with such a completely joyful and flushed face that he looked like a heavenly Angel. He only offered a few words, saying, “Thanks be to God! We have won!” Immediately that blessed soul passed away to its Creator, leaving all the Friars happy about the victory had against the enemy.

He was buried in that friary and for more than twenty years that holy body has been seen entire and sound, as if he had just died. Now that servant of God enjoys heaven. On earth he strove to serve his Creator from childhood and without doubt that holy soul prays for us.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXII: About the holy man Brother Peter of Mazara, Priest

Brother Peter was born to noble parents from a city called Mazara situated on the Island of Sicily[614]. He went to school when he was young. However when he was about twenty years old he dedicated himself to the military arts. Exercising himself at this aroused in him a certain anger and because he was a courageous man and held a very high regard for honour, he acquired a lot of enemies and fell into disfavour with the court. When he saw that he could not save himself, he bolted for the countryside and became the leader of some bandits. He did many wrong things in different parts that everyone feared him and his band very much.

It pleased the Holy Spirit to put into his heart to leave that evil life and to lead a religious life. He lasted in this good inspiration for many days during which time he did many good works, saving many from the hands of his company and he was very zealous about the honour of women. No longer able to resist the strong inspirations that the Lord was giving him he secretly left the other bandits. When he considered that it would not have been a good thing to be clothed in the religious habit in Sicily, and after inquiring about which Province was best for him to join the Order of Saint Francis he was told: ‘If you have devout towards Saint Francis and his Order you cannot do better than to go to his Province where his holy body is preserved.” Brother Peter answered, “I don’t believe I have been delivered from the hands of the enemy and received this inspiration from God except through the merits of Father Saint Francis. Because I was among highway robbers and murderers and I heard in his Fioretti[615], about Father Saint Francis in the mountains of Borgo San Sepolcro. With great kindness he had the three worst robbers sought out: Galasso, Mazzone and Calcagno. With his prayers and good words converted them so that they not only abandoned their wrongdoing but two of them became Friars Minor and lived and died in a holy manner in his Order. When I though about this I recommended myself fervently and begged this grace from God for me to come out from the hands of the enemy.”

Accepting this, Brother Peter came to the Province of Saint Francis and was received into the Congregation of Capuchins. His conversion was such that everyone knew that the Holy Spirit had guided him. He applied himself so much to despising himself that all his fury changed to gentleness. He was a mirror of patience and never desired anything else than to suffer. When he heard of some austere Guardian who dressed down the Friars a lot, he asked the grace of the Father Vicar to be put with him whom he wanted to be outstanding in saying to him words that debased him. He almost always spoke while kneeling down. For a long time he felt it was difficult to have found mercy before God for all the many evils he had done and unless he gave his life for Christ he could not feel satisfied. Because of this he sought with great insistence from our Fathers to be able to go among the infidels and be martyred by them – preaching the Christian faith. With whomever he spoke the servant of God said, “I see no way of being able to save myself except at the hands of the Turks or infidels because I have crucified Our Lord so many times that I am not worthy to die in my own bed.”

It did not please the Lord to put it into the heart of the Superiors to give him that permission. So them Brother Peter thought and said to himself, “The Lord God does not see me fit for such a difficult task. It is not granted to many to go to God with the palm of martyrdom. I will try as much as I can and with the good grace of my Order to martyr myself.”

He began to fast on bread and water with such fervour that he fasted almost continuously. Because many told him that he was doing too much and that he could be deceived, when that servant of God was passing through our friary of the Carcerelle, with great humility asked me what I thought about it. I answered him, “If you know that you are doing no harm to your body, continue on because when it is done simply for the love of God, abstinence brings with itself for the one who practises it that if there is any deception it uncovers it, mortifies the body and enlightens the intellect marvellously. And a moderate abstinence is necessary for anyone who wants to give himself to contemplation.” When he heard this the servant of God was very happy.

On his skin he wore a harsh hairshirt and practised contemplation almost continuously. For many years he held firm to the opinion of not having to say Mass but then, because it was unusual, our Superiors asked His Holiness permission for him. When he was ordained Priest he celebrated Mass almost every day with great devotion. He spoke little with the Friars and hardly ever ate more than once a day and then very little. He went barefoot continuously nor did he ever want to wear more than one habit of natural wool which he used more as a hairshirt than a habit. He was in the Province of Saint Francis for many years and then Father General sent him to the Province of Sicily where he gave the very best example to everyone. Everyone gave thanks to God that a man who lived such a bad life and was so proud had arrived at such gentleness and they saw him so very austere in his life. The poor fellow went to where he knew he had given bad example. Kneeling down and with great humility and tears he begged forgiveness so that even his enemies felt satisfied and were reconciled with him.

Not much time passed and he was elected Vicar Provincial of all of Sicily. He exercised that office with great prudence and good example. He was very merciful and kind towards his brothers and it was well known that he was regarded a servant of everyone according to what our Father Saint Francis wanted[616]. He never missed the usual abstinence even though he suffered the greatest fatigue because of his office. He was also Master of Novices and everyone said it was not good for the novices because he was so kind that often when a novice deserved the discipline he had such compassion on him because he was young that he preferred to do it himself. He used to say, “My son, you have deserved the discipline but I want to do it for you.” When Friars told him that this was not good because they novices were not being mortified he answered, “They are Angels and don’t know what sin is. I am the worse man in the world and it is fitting for me to take the discipline.”

It pleased the Lord God that the Emperor Charles V made a great army to go to Africa which was held by the Moors. He was worried that this must be a great tribulation for Christendom because it was a nest of corsairs which effectively produced a lot of harm throughout the Lion sea[617]. Because this was an enterprise against the infidels, and since he still had the desire to die for Christ, the servant of God very humbly asked permission of the Father General to be able to go with the armada. He always exercised himself in preaching to them with great fervour saying that they should go on this expedition simply for the love of God and not in order to get booty or honour and that they should first go to confession. “And if it happens that we should die there, you will be martyrs of Christ.” He took care of the sick, the wound and others in need. The good example these servants of God was such that the entire army regarded them as saints. When the city was taken he played his part since he was a valorous man.

It pleased the Lord God that all of Africa was burnt and consumed[618] and completely dispossessed[619]. Then as the army returned, Brother Peter, with his companions, did not fail in due charity because there were many wounded, many of whom died. These servants of God confessed them and gave them Holy Communion. Brother Peter saw to the needs of the many poor who could not provide for their physical needs because of their infirmity. He was a great comfort to everyone.

Finally as he was returning by sea, because of the great sufferings he had undergone, the servant of God fell gravely ill. The sickness lasted some days. He was very happy about this and said to his companions, “May God be blessed! I have always desired holy martyrdom and I came on this undertaking with that desire. I t has not pleased His Majesty that I die at the hands of the Moors. Now I hope he will allow me to die because of the many efforts I have sustain because of this holy enterprise. That will be like a martyrdom. He still preached to the soldiers and gave them the very best example. Having prepared with great fervour for the passage of death that holy soul passed away to its Creator.

Because they were a long way from Sicily some soldiers said to the Captain that the body should be thrown into the sea. The Captain and almost everyone replied with one voice, “If it was in the sea, it would be necessary to fish for it in order to have such a holy relic. The body of a man of such holiness as his has been deserves to be honoured by everyone.” With great devotion on everyone’s part they brought the body to Sicily and it was buried in one of our Friaries.

I heard the at he did some miracles in life and after his death the Lord God worked many miracles through him. However since this was in 48 or 49 I can’t remember any of them. Therefore since I am not well informed and I am not writing about them.

May this be enough to give confidence to everyone who reads this, though he may be a sinner, to trust in the mercy of God. Having forgiven Brother Peter he will forgive everyone who commends himself faithfully and who does as Brother did who left his sins and clothed himself in the holy habit of the Seraphic Father Saint Francis and with it did penance. If at first he had given bad example, with his good life he reconciled everyone.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of his most fair Mother and of our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

LXII: About the holy youth Brother Cherubim of Spoleto

Brother Cherubim was from a city in Umbria within the dominion of the Church and the Province of Saint Francis. He was born of noble parents and attended school when he was young and became quite a good grammarian with a beautiful handwriting. Since the time he was a tot[620] he was always a devout boy and always listened carefully when something devout was read or something about God was discussed. He had a brother a Priest called Don Melchior[621] who was very careful about spiritual things. He directed Brother Cherubim since his boyhood towards spiritual things and organised it for him to enter a Fraternity that lived very spiritually. In this way he protected the child so that he never tasted the things of the world and he always told him about the miracles that the Mother of God and the other saints did in order to inspire in him the desire to do good.

Once a holy Bishop from Armenia was passing through Spoleto. HE had gone to Rome to kiss the feet of His Holiness and to visit the holy places. Don Melchior loved to welcome[622] religious persons, especially foreigners. When he saw this Bishop, with great joy he took him to his house. He brought with him two interpreters. When the holy Bishop noticed what Don Melchior did, putting meat in front of them to eat, the Bishop asked him what was the reason why they put meat with a bone on the table before Priests. He answered, “Among us that is the way it is done.” The Bishop said, “That is not good because the Priest puts that bone in his mouth. Then the dog comes and eats it. Thus what has been in the mouth of the Priest, when he has said Mass, goes into the mouth of the dog.” Then later in the morning the holy Bishop wanted to celebrate (Mass) and after he had celebrated he stayed at prayer for more than an hour. The following night Don Melchior was struck by a fever. When the holy Bishop did not see him he asked about him. When he heard that he was ill he had himself brought to his bedside. After praying for some time, he made the sign of the Holy Cross over him and the fever left him immediately. Turning to the boy he said to him, “See, why do you think that this Bishop is holy unless it is because he had been devout and humble.” He showed him many virtues and good works that the Bishop had done. When he was a boy he always prayed.

These things helped very much to impress in the heart of the good boy the desire to do good so that while he was in the world he was always nourished in spiritual things. When he reached the age of about sixteen years he got hold of the Praise of Blessed Jacopone of Todi. He drew so many beautiful things from it and read them with such devotion that everyone in the Association[623] was astonished. He was so inspired in the love of God that while he was in the world he led a life that was more angelic than human so that the whole of Spoleto had to talk about it. Secretly he gave much alms by himself to certain embarrassed poor people. He often fasted on bread and water and received Holy Communion every Sunday[624] with great devotion. One day when he could not longer [withstand] the flame of the love of God that burned in his heart he decided to leave the world and to serve God quite seriously[625]. Now at that time in Saint Isani there was a holy man called Brother Bernard who confessed most of Spoleto. He often spoke with this servant of God, whom everyone regarded as a saint and who bore the greatest fruit. So the youth called Galeazzo wanted to make this step of leaving the world prudently with advice. When he went to find Don Bernardo he confided to him that he desired to become a Religious if he so advised him. The holy man replied to this, “My son, God cannot put anything better than that into your heart. Therefore, do not delay because there will be no shortage of opponents whom the devil will obtain for you in order to remove from you this good purpose, because there is no better place in the world where man can spend his life than by serving God in some Order. Because you have sought my advice I give you the advice that you do not enter any other Order than that of the Capuchin Friars because that holy Order has begun in the world. The people of Spoleto have a robust nature and therefore you need an Order that may mortify you and because it is the most austere and detached from the world to be found. Therefore my son be on your way and do it very secretly because your relatives will make a lot of trouble about it.”

These words marvellously entered the heart of the good youth. Concurring with his two companions secretely they left and came to the frairy of the Carcere of Assisi where I was and they were received kindly. Because the Father Vicar was a long way away they could not be clothed immediately. When they became aware of what had happened, the relatives were furious and came to that friary and caused the greatest storm. With their din they forced their way into the friary and searched all the cells for the young men. It was necessary to let the relatives see them. They attacked them so vigorously that I felt that the constancy of the holy young man was miraculous. He answered them judiciously in such a beautiful way without becoming disturbed that he seemed like an Angel. So that they could battle with him all night more easily the relatives wanted to stay in the friary. When I realised that I could not send them away I decided to call all the novices and pretend that I want to leave there. When the young man saw that I had gone outside with all the Friars, the turned to his relatives and told them, “”Do you think that I want to stay with you? You are very much deceived because I want to go with the Friars. You can be at peace in your hearts that even though I am young in years, nonetheless God has so firmly given me the resolve to want to serve him in this holy Order that neither you nor the whole world could take me from it.”

Then they decided to go off to the city. When I considered that they would return in the morning, I thought to myself, ‘It would be good if they found him clothed in the habit of the Order.’ Without authority from the Father Vicar I called all three after Matins and said to them, “My sons, I do not have authority to cloth you. However in this case I can easily lend you the habit of the Order so that you can defend yourself more easily against your relatives.” This was the best remedy because they returned in the morning and when they saw them clothed they softened. Weeping they gave them a beautiful exhortation to be on guard about caring so much about life that they leave the Order. Completely edified they left.

However when the enemy of human nature saw that they (sic) were unable to defeat the young man through the relatives they gave him such a great temptation that he was about to go crazy. He said to me, “Father, I want my relatives to come back so that I can go with them. It is not me, but the devil has given me this temptation and made me come to hate the habit, the Friars and everything you tell me.” I answered him, “Now is not the time for me to preach to you because you have been benighted by the devil. I only say to you to remember how much you liked the Order when you were on good terms. That which you dislike now does not come from you but from the devil. God will not allow this to last long because you will return to the right path.”

It was something amazing. That was his first and last temptation, for as long as he lived he lived religious life so much that he seemed like and Angel on the earth.

No less was the temptation that the enemy brought upon him by means of an uncle of his who Guardian at Our Lady of the Angels called Brother Bernardine. He was truly a venerable Father and a good man. However he felt that his nephew could not last in our Congregation because of the harshness of our life and that he would not have been able to study here. He knew the young man was well educated and with a fine intelligence and did all he could to remove him. When he realised that he could not speak to him he tried to send him letters via seculars. Moreover he often sent Friars to try and speak with him. Once a ladder was found leaning against the window of the choir. IN this way he thought letters could be thrown down to him. Failing this, he came in person. Since I did not want him see him, let alone speak with him, as he was leaving he saw the novices a short distance away cutting wood on the mountain and he could not refrain from calling out to him. However the young man looked towards him when heard him call and replied to him, “Hey, glutton. Go and gorge yourself since that is your speciality.”[626] At this response he left.

It pleased the Lord God that the young man made profession. When the venerable Father Francis of Iesi recognised the prudent and fair ways of the boy, as well as his sound mind, he adopted him. Within a short time that he spent with him he instructed him very well in the sciences and in sacred theology. Because this venerable Father was so profound in sacred theology so that there were few like him in the Order, he communicated sacred theology to the young man in a wonderful way that was useful to the young man at the same time to become learned and it served him at holy prayer by giving him all the salient things[627]. From then on he was so inflamed by the love of God that he always had his mind transformed in the Lord.

However since the judgements of God are different to those of men, when His Majesty saw the youth ready and completely transformed in him, he drew him to Himself so that the evils of the world would not change his heart. When he was in a friary in the Province of Rome with his Master, he passed away to the better life and was buried in that friary. Then when that good Father returned to the friary at Perugia he told me, “I often commend myself to Brother Cherubim.” He was inferring that his soul was canonised in heaven.

To the praise of Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXIV: About the holy man Brother Francis of Macerata, Lay Friar

Brother Francis was from a city in the Marches called Macerata. He was born to honest but poor parents. In his youth he attended to the ways of the farmer. When his father died he was left with his poor mother. In the world he was a always devout youth, universally loved by everyone.

When he turned about eighteen years old, moved by the Holy Spirit, the desire to serve God came upon him. Because he was a poor man he did not want to enter an Order where he would have to go around well dressed. He said to himself, “You are poor. IN the world you have to struggle. If you enter and Order where you will suffer less than in the world, you will not be going there to serve God or to make an effort but to flee poverty and leave behind the struggles you have in the world. Therefore it is better that you become a Capuchin where at least you will add obedience to your poverty which is something you do not do in the world, as well as honesty which have not observed in the world. There you will fast because in the world you did not fast.” In this holy discourse and discussion he decided to become a Capuchin.

Received by Brother Louis of Fossombrone into the Congregation he was one of the first Capuchins[628]. He led a life that was more angelic than human for he was so zealous about the observance of the Rule. It was something amazing. He always went barefoot in summer and winter. He never wanted to wear more than just one habit only – a poor, coarse and completely patched habit. When the Friars left some off-cuts, thinking that they were of no use, Brother Francis put them onto his habit and he always wore it almost completely covered with sackcloth. He was marvellous in his abstinence since he rarely ate more than once a day. With great devotion he did the forty-days according to the custom of Father Saint Francis. However he also fasted on all the Fridays of March, on the vigils of Our Lady as well as the other more devout times. He desired nothing other than to do penance. Even though he suffered extremely, sometimes he felt that he was not doing as much as he desired. Nonetheless his great enthusiasm to imitate the early Fathers who went into the deserts as solitaries was such that he also went into some woods or harsh mountain and remain withdrawn into that solitude for two months, or fifteen days, or something similar. Then he returned to the place of the Friars because he would become concerned about being outside obedience. He did this because of his simplicity since some of the Friars said to him, “Brother Francis, we are living too comfortably. It is necessary to be like the holy Fathers who stayed in the desert and never saw the face of man. They lived on whatever herbs and fruit they could find and drank water. This was the true religious life.” Brother Francis heard this and the following morning the Guardian waited for him to make a little minestra for the Friars to eat according his custom. However there was no Brother Francis. However because they knew very well about his desire and knew him for his simplicity and goodness so that he often made these excursions, they did not wonder about it. They knew that we was a man who could be alright and did not worry that he would do anything wrong. Then after a little while the news came that he was staying on some mountain. When he returned they laughed about it and said, “Her comes the anchorite!” They never gave him a penance however the Father Guardian said to him, “You poor fellow! How did you leave without an obedience?” With great humility he answered, “My dear Father, aren’t I obliged to do the very best I can? I went away to do better. Holy Friars told me that that is the true life and I believed it.” The Guardian said, “You are too simple. If you had died outside of obedience your soul would have gone badly.” The simple servant of god replied, “P Father Guardian, God is making you speak. It is no wonder that I felt so compelled so that I felt I could not stay there any longer. See how the Lord takes care of me and has made me come back.” So he continued. With this feeling in him he never wanted to leave again.

He was so dedicated to holy prayer that no one ever saw him converse with Friars except put of necessity. Never did an idle word leave his mouth. When he was questions he answered ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ His simplicity was such and he was so cleansed from love of the world that his mind was always on God. When he went on a journey, since he had no need to talk he always went a little ahead of his companion or stayed back a little while doing his devotions. When seculars greeted him he answered, “May God give you paradise.” His voice trembled somewhat. He always appeared as if he were about to weep. His charity towards his neighbour was marvellous and when he looked into someone’s face he had such a kindly gaze that it seemed that he carried everyone within his heart. He could never think evil of anyone except himself whom he regarded to be the greatest sinner in the world. When he went to collect alms he often returned him with empty pockets because for the love of God he usually gave away nearly all the he found. His simplicity was such that whenever he saw poor people who begged from for the love of God, his heart became so softened that he was almost outside himself. It was not possible for him to withhold alms from them if he had some in his pocket even if the Superiors often reprimanded him about it. He served the sick with such simplicity and charity that he would have gone most nights without sleeping. Nor did he worry about eating so that he could some work of charity for his neighbour. Father Louis assigned him to the Hospital for the Incurable. He served there many years with such care and charity that all of Rome spoke about him and everyone called him the mother[629] of the sick. He wore a very rough hairshirt so that he could always be aware of the pains of purgatory.

Because he had to serve at the Hospital he felt that he could not give himself to prayer as much as he desired. So when he assigned to the Province of the Marches he gave himself to holy prayer with such fervour that he stayed in the woods almost continuously. He never went back to rest after Matins but always persevered at prayer in the church until the first Mass had been said. He always said the Office very early in the morning and did his devotions. Then he returned to whatever task had been imposed on him. His desire to give himself entirely to holy prayer was such that he was severely tempted by solitude for many years. However when he sought the advice of Father Bernardine of Monte dell’Olmo who told him that this was a temptation from the devil he completely calmed down. When he felt tempted he used to respond loudly, “Devil! Devil! You will not deceive me any more!”

However because Or Lord God usually tries the servants He calls to the state of perfection, His Majesty did not want this simple servant of His to be without some trial. With him refined and purified quite well by it He could reveal to him His secrets. With the temptation about solitude gone He allowed him another, more serious temptation. He came to such a state that he was in no way able to say the Our Fathers. However when he wanted to begin to say the Hours as the Rule imposes, his mouth twisted and his eyes rolled back[630] so that he seemed to be possessed by the enemy. He couldn’t say a single word especially this: Adveniat regnum tuum[631]. Here the devil turned his tongue in his mouth and made him say Adveniat regulum[632] tuum. Because of this he was so perpelexed about not being able to say the Hours that he could not rest day or night but was always full of regret and wept. He said, “These are my sins. The Lord cannot tolerate me because I am the greatest sinner in the world. Nor do my prayers please Him.” At the same time he continued to try to commend himself with many tears to the Lord God so that He would allow him to be able to say the Our Fathers. However when he tried, he felt that he would burst[633] and his whole body became so weak and his mouth locked shut, he was as breathless as if he would die. The Friars had compassion on him and to calm him they sent him to the Pope. He was introduced to His Holiness by Mr. Francis Vannucci[634], who was very friendly towards the Congregation and was very devout to Brother Francis in particular. Since he was the almsgiver of His Holiness Paul III he wanted to strongly recommend to him that he dispense Brother Francis[635]. However His Holiness wanted to have him say the Our Father and when he saw these the horrible gestures that Brother Francis did he was stunned. Nonetheless he did not want to dispense him completely but said to him, “Go my son. Say whatever little you can. I absolve you from that which you cannot say. From now on, be in peace about this.” However because he had said that he should do as much as he could, and since he felt as that he could never do as much as he could, he returned to His Holiness again who calmed him much better. After many years he began to say most of it however it was necessary for him to have the help of some Friar. When he faltered the other said to him, “Continue on, you have said it well.”

He bore this trial until he died and it was a grave purgatory for him in this world. It kept him so abashed that he regarded himself to be the worst man and greatest enemy of God in the world. The poor fellow was always solitary, weeping with his eyes lowered, considering himself unworthy to be seen by men. He was ashamed to speak with the other Friars. When he started to lose his physical strength due to old age and could not continue the abstinences that he used to do when he was young, he felt that he was unworthy of water. Since he was just as enthusiastic about holy poverty the servant of God did not dare to satisfy his hunger with bread and always ate the things that had gone off[636] and which were despised by the others. When he heard about Friars being troubled the servant of God did not rest until he consoled them. When he could not do this with words he went off into solitary places and disciplined himself there very vigorously while praying a long time to the Lord for his troubled brother. Then he returned to him to see if the trial had left him and when he found him comforted he embraced him with great tenderness and said, “My son, I have great compassion for you. I know very well how serious it is to be tried by the enemy.” When he heard about the tribulations of the poor seculars he poured out tears for them continuously and said to the Friars, “My brother, I do know if you know about the tribulation that our benefactor is suffering. Do not forget him but pray to God for him to give him the grace so that poor soul may not be lost.”

This servant of God was so used to suffering and so kind by nature that it was almost impossible for him to get angry except against himself. When he was asked about some worry, he answer with his head lowered as if he would weep, “My brother, I know nothing nor can know. However if it will do you any good I will pour out my blood for you.

Because he did not know how to read it was his custom to commend himself to the Friars so that they would read the Rule to him. When someone came to read he threw himself down to kneel upon the ground. With his faced lifted towards heaven he listened with incredible devotion to what the Rule contained. He pondered verse by verse whether he failed to observe the Rule in any way. Recollected within himself he asked God very devoutly for forgiveness for that in which he failed.

It pleased the Lord God to want to reward this servant of His. For after he had served in the holy Order for about fifty years, when he was in the fraternity of the old friary at Pesaro, he fell gravely ill. In that illness he gave the very best example of marvellous patience. Completely recollected in God, armed with the most holy sacraments, he passed away to his Creator. He was buried in that friary.

[637]How acceptable this servant of His was to God, His Majesty wanted to show by making him illustrious with many miracles. When he collecting alms int eh place of Macerata it happened that when he was returning home he was surrounded by an almost countless number of poor people, for it was a time of famine and he had found a fair amount of bread while questing. Because of this he had great compassion on them. Urged by kindness and without considering the needs of the poor Friars, indeed with a fearless faith and the hope that the Lord God would not fail His servants, he gave all that bread to them. When he returned to the Friary without any bread, he found the Friars were waiting for him with great expectation since it was dinner-time and there was not one crumb of bread in the house. Furthermore, since the friary was being built there were many masons. Therefore when the Guardian heard that Brother Francis did not bring any bread he said immediately, “Brother Francis has done his usual and had to give it to the poor.” The Guardian was very worries and did not know how to provide. He worried more about the masons being scandalised because their meal time had passed. He could not refrain from giving him a strong reprimand. HE said to him, “I was wondering if you did your usual thing. Where can I go now in order to give food to so many Friars and seculars? There is not a crumb of bread in the house. You have behaved badly. And so that you may learn for next time go and give yourself the discipline soundly.” The he gave the order that two Friars go again to the city to find some bread. Brother Francis did the discipline joyfully and when he heard that he commanded the two Friars to go and find some bread, while still beating himself he said, “Father Guardian, do not send more Friars. Go and look in the cellar. There may be some there.” The cellarer replied, “There is not even a mouthful. There is no need to look.” Weeping, Brother Francis replied, “Go, Father, in the name of God and look carefully.” Moved by these words the Guardian went to the cellar. When he opened a chest there he found if full of fresh, white bread, all of one kind.” Stunned by this the Guardian knew that this was a miracle of God because His Majesty was so pleased that His faithful servant Brother Francis had given the alms out of love for Him that he did not want anyone to suffer.

From then on the Guardian bore the greatest reverence and devotion towards him. Because all the masons saw this news of the miracle spread everywhere both in the city and in the countryside where even today some still remember it. Because of it there was such a gathering of people who came out of devotion to visit Brother Francis and to commend themselves to his holy prayers because of different sicknesses that it was necessary for the Father Vicar of the Province to transfer him from that friary because of the trouble it gave to the Friars. Nor was Brother Francis able to endure it.

He also did another miracle. It was when Lady Antonia Topina, a lady from Macerata, had been seriously ill for a long time. She sent a servant to the Friary to beg the Father Guardian so that for the love of God he would send Brother Francis, for whom she had the greatest devotion. Since the Guardian could not disappoint the lady he sent her Brother Francis and gave him Brother Modestus of Macerata as his companion. When they had entered the house of the Lady they found her so sick in bed that she cold not turn to either side. When she saw him the lady said to Brother Francis, “Father, I sent for you so that I may ask a favour from you and I hope that you do not refuse.” Brother Francis replied, “If there is anything I can do and if it is for the honour of the Lord, I will do everything for the love of God and for love of you.” The lady answered, “I don’t want to tell you unless you promise it me first.” She did this because she knew about the humility of this servant of God. Finally Brother Francis promised her. The lady said, “The favour I want, Father, is that you pray to God for me and that you make the sign of the Cross over me.” Brother Francis answered humbly, “My Lady, this is more fitting for Father Modestus than me because he is a priest.” However the lady repeated many times with great insistence, “Brother Francis, you promised me and you cannot refuse. Therefore make the sign of the Cross for me.” When Brother Modestus said that he would do it for her, the devout servant of God pulled up his cowl and lifted his eyes and made the holy sign of the Cross. Without saying anything else he left the woman with great haste. It was amazing! He had not yet arrived at the foot of the stairs when the woman felt perfectly healed and began to thank God with many tears. She immediately got up from bed and from then on she spoke about the miracle to anyone who would listen.

This servant did another miracle when he was in the friary at Pesaro where he was collecting alms. Once a lady from the court of the Duchess was gravely ill with a flow of blood. She had borne this infirmity with great discomfort for twelve years. In that time she had taken many medications but none of them had been any benefit to her. So she thought to herself that if the holy man, Brother Francis – who had the reputation for doing miracles – should pray to God for her He would heal her. With this good faith she sent a servant to ask Brother Francis if he would visit her in the palace of His Excellency. Therefore when Brother Francis went there, with great humility the lady commended herself to him and told him about her grave infirmity. When Brother Francis heard this he had great compassion towards her. Without saying anything else he took a loaf from his pocket and said to her, “This is alms bread given to us for love of Jesus Christ. Eat it and you will be healed.” Taking the bread with great devotion the woman ate it and immediately she felt perfectly healed.

News of this miracle spread throughout the whole city. Because of this the Duchess, Lady Victoria Farnese[638], had such great devotion towards him that every time Brother Francis went to her for almsshe had a loaf given her from his pocket and with great devotion she ate some of it them gave some to her children. Brother Anselm of Thiano, the Guardian of the friary at Pesaro at the time, testifies to this and affirms that he heard it from the moth of the healed lady herself.

The Lord worked another miracle through this servant of His. It was when he was in the old friary of Corinaldo. Mr. Anthony dal Sale from Corinaldo was very devoted towards the Friars and used to come quite often to our friary out of devotion. When he found the Friars eating or praying he did not knock at the door but waited outside the friary by himself busying himself at his devotions until the Friars had finished what they were doing. Once he found that the Friars were praying and the notion came upon him to enter, even though it was contrary to his custom. Not wanting to disturb anyone he entered by the forest and walked through the woods. There he saw Brother Francis in before under the shade of a tree lifted up a good distance into the air with his face lifted up towards the heavens. He was completely absorbed in ecstasy so that he no support on any side and did not touch the ground or anything else. Amazed when he saw this he went back modestly so as not to disturb him. When the prayer was over he told all this to Brother Anselm, the Guardian of that friary.

No less amazing was what happened to this servant of God when he was compelled by the doctors to go to the bath at Porretta because of serious illness. He was staying the house of a woman who was very devoted towards the Order. One evening the woman had to pass in front of the room where Brother Francis was rested. Through the cracks in the door she saw that the room was filled with light. Amazed at this she quietly drew near to the door and she heard Brother Francis weeping and devoutly speaking as if there was someone else with him. Knowing that there was no one else in the room apart from Brother Francis and that he had no lamp or other light she was even more amazed. Drawing nearer in order to hear whom it was with whom he spoke she clearly heard that Brother Francis was speaking with Our Lady and that that the light was not the light of a fire but from the divine radiance that came from the Mother of God. Because of this he devotion towards him grew greater and then she told of the miracle to the Friars and anyone who wanted to hear about it.

The Lord God worked many other miracles though the merits of this servant of his but because I do not have perfect information I will not write about them. Also it seems to me that this are enough in order to know about how many merits Brother Francis of Macerata had and so that we should follow in the footsteps of this servant of God. Amen.

LXV: About the holy man Brother James of Spello, Lay Friar

Brother James was from the land of Spello situated in the valley of Spoleto. He was born to honest parents, farmers nonetheless. In his childhood he practised the ways of agriculture. However when he turned about twenty years he decided to leave the world and he came away to the Congregation of Capuchins[639].

Brother Louis of Fossombrone received him in Rome who before clothing him told him the words of the Rule that he should distribute all his goods to the poor. Having fulfilled this, because of the great devotion the devout youth had for Our Lady he left the most beautiful possession he had to a principal church in Spello under the title of Our Lady with the obligation that the canons there would have to say the Mass of Our Lady every Saturday. Otherwise they would lose the inheritance. When he was clothed he was completely inspired to the love of God and started to do great penance. He went barefoot continuously both in summer and winter. He fasted almost continuously, spending all the time he had after the necessary tasks in holy prayer. The fervour lasted about ten years. When he was in the friary of Saint Joseph at Foligno with the holy man Brother Anthony of Corse, because of his simplicity he became somewhat involved in the building, procuring alms of money for the building. Because he was very gracious towards the seculars and because of the great mortification and good example they saw in this servant of God, they graciously gave him whatever he wanted. Thinking that he was doing the right thing, he procured money for the building from many of his devotees at different times. Because of this Our Lord God gave him a dreadful punishment[640]. For when he was ill in that friary with an acutely painful condition he was near to death in that sickness and had a great battle with the devil. The devout and good servant of God Brother Domenic of Buschetto testifies to this and was present for all these things that are written below. The good Father says therefore that Brother James had a fight with the devil for three or four days and that he did many frightening signs while answering and fighting with the devil. However it pleased His Goodness not to abandon this servant of his for, at the end he turned to Brother Domenic and said to him, “Brother Dominic, I have suffered great tribulations brother from the devil but now by the grace of God things are going well.” Not long after he departed for the Lord with a very happy face and with signs and gestures of joyfulness. Angered at this by his loss, the infernal enemy gave signs and frightening terrors to the Friars in order to defame that servant of God. For when he had died, on the first evening at the beginning of the night after he had expired, after some time, the Friars carried the body to the church. Then all the Friars had already gone to bed such a destructive wind arose that when it hit the roof it brought most of it to the ground and unroofed almost al the church and dormitory. It lifted the tiles and broke most of them. Avery great din was heard over the roof of the church like people were lifting the roof and throwing the tiles everywhere. Suddenly all the windows of the church flew open and shook violently, shattering all the panes[641]. The Friars could not lock them without them flying open again. This frightening tempest lasted for about four hours until Matins. The wind was not heard in the surrounding countryside except at the place of the Friars. As soon as Matins began the wind stopped straight away. The Friars, however, were so frightened that they could stand up straight on their legs. Furthermore, for fifteen days after the death of Brother James a voice was often heard[642] in the church and in the oratory where Brother James used to pray. It was a wailing voice like some one languishing, like someone suffering some great pain. When they had the funeral in the church something like a wind came and took the little torch[643] they had lit at the head of Brother James and broke it to pieces, throwing the pieces all over the church.

Because of all this the Friars thought badly of it. Nonetheless, knowing his holy life and that he confession with great contrition at this death and received all the most holy sacraments, they thought – as it was indeed- that because the enemy was unable to defeat that servant of god he showed his anger in order to frighten still the other Friars.

Later, so that his servant might not remain defamed, it pleased the Lord God to reveal his salvation to blessed Brother John of Puglia, martyr. Together with Brother Anthony Corse, Brother James appeared to him in the friary at Monte Casale. He told him that because of that building he had been in purgatory until them, which was about ten years.

May those who collect money for buildings or who get involved with money in other ways remember that if this holy man who had such marvellous life was punished in this way by the Lord God, and was in danger of being damned[644], how much more so will they be punished who go against their profession by getting involved in money and acting against poverty which we Friars Minor have promised to God.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXVI: About the holy man Brother John of Puglia, Lay Friar

Brother John was from an ancient city in Puglia called Troia. He was born to honest, though not very wealthy parents. When he was young he was the servant of a Spanish gentleman. When he was returning to Spain, and since the young fellow had served him well, he asked him to go with him to Spain. Not long after while he was staying he Spain at the service of his patron, one day he saw some Friars of the Spanish Reform from the Holy Angel Province. Moved by the Holy Spirit he decided to leave the world and become one of those Friars when he heard of their extraordinary reputation. They went barefoot continuously. They did not drink wine. They dressed roughly and were very zealous about the observance of the Rule. In order to do harsh penance for his sins he was clothed in that Province of the Holy Angel where he spent many years[645] in harsh penance. Because of this he was called Brother John of Spain. He always went barefoot, clothed in a rough habit of natural wool. He fast almost continuously. The desire came to him to die for Christ, to go among the infidels and preach the faith of Jesus Christ in order to receive holy martyrdom from them. Because many holy men told him that this was an undertaking of perfect men, the servant of God applied himself to every kind of mortification so that when he was given the permission he would have been well prepared and will practiced in the holy virtues, especially in humility, the foundation of every spiritual edifice.

As it pleased the Lord God, it happened that he received the obedience from the General to go to preach the faith in the land of the infidels. When he arrived in Italy he was accompanied by the holy man Brother Bartholomew of Città di Castello[646] and they crossed over to the land of the Moors. With great constancy they preached the Christian faith, disregarding the false law of Mohammed. They received many beatings from the Moors then they put them more dead than alive into a dry, very deep well where the Moors were accustomed to keep grain. There every morning they threw a tub of urine over them as well as other filth. The stench was such, and because the place was so confined that they were about to expire. There were four Friars and they staid there about twenty tow days. The leader[647] of the Moors however did not want them martyred but wanted to profit from them and had them removed and gave them to a Christian merchant who paid a lot of money for them on the strength of an agreement that they stay with him in the land of the Christians. In that pit at the time there certain Jews moved to compassion who gave them some bread and other necessary things.

Brother John was not happy about this and was restless because of being so close to martyrdom and yet did not die for the love of Jesus Christ. He never rested until he returned alone once, though to a different country of the infidels. Since he found certain Christian merchants who went to various parts belonging to the infidels, he begged them insistently to take him on their ship until they arrived in the land of Turkey where, when they were near a beach they would put him ashore secretly so that they came to no harm. That is how it was done. Not long after some Turks found him and gave him many blows. Then on tying him tightly they him quickly to their leader with whom he spoke through an interpreter. However the Turkish interpreter said to him many times in Italian, “Father, you are saying these things to our Bishop[648] who will have you burned alive.” Brother John replied, “This is what I desire – to die for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.” The interpreter replied, “I don’t believe that you want to die because if you had such a desire it is not necessary that you come to us. It would have been enough to go off to Rome and speak the truth to your Pope and he would have had you killed.” Brother John replied, “You scoundrel, you are a renegade Christian because you speak our way so well.” The interpreter said, “That is not true. Rather I am a true Moor, but I have learned to speak the Christian language.” Brother John said, “Say to your Lord what I say to you: Since I am the servant of Christ I tell you on His behalf that if you do not convert you will die damned like Mohammed and all those who have followed him.” The Turk said, “Be warned that this will cost you dearly.” “Say it nonetheless,” replied Brother John. Turning to his Bishop, called a Cadì in their language, the interpreter did not tell him what Brother John had imposed upon him but more pleasing words instead. When Brother John saw that the Cadì did not get angry he realised the interpreter’s trick and so with great fervour turned to towards him and said, “Tell him what I tell you.” Provoked by these words the interpreter told the Cadì everything. When he heard these things the Cadì immediately became furious and commanded him to be bound and had him thrown to the ground and given more than fifty strokes to the soles of his feet with a piece of wood. Brother John also received countless other blows to the head. Then he had him put in prison. Taking advantage of some merchants, without seeing him again, the Cadì had him returned to the land of the Christians without Brother John being satisfied.

Brother John did not settle for this and returned there two more times but the Lord God never allowed him to die completely. Nonetheless he received countless scourgings from them every time. I heard this from his own mouth and he showed me his scalp covered with wounds, albeit healed.

It pleased the Lord God that when he was in Spain he was told that the Capuchins had emerged in Italy. Thinking that he could obtain permission more easily through the Capuchins he came to Rome with the obedience of the General. Although he had the obedience, he nonetheless suffered many tribulations on the journey because he came alone. Out of devotion this servant of God came to Mount Alverna and when had visited those holy places he left with the intention of go off to Rome and become a Capuchin. However he did not reveal this intention to anyone. However the Lord who always gives his servants the opportunity to merit allowed him the gravest tribulation as he come down from Mount Alverna. For when he arrived at the castle called Pioppi situated in Casentino under the dominion of Florence, and when the people there saw him going barefoot in that way wearing an unusual habit, they wondered if he were a spy because at that time in Florence there was a big war. Therefore they put him in the basement of a tower. In that tower basement, and because he was tall, there was a plank wide enough which he was able to use for a bed. He stayed there for fifty four days where that servant of God ate nothing except for the stagnant water and a little straw he drank and ate from underneath the plank. None of those people remembered to give him even a slice of bread. When he told them he was a Friar of Saint Francis they sent for the Friars who denied that he was one of their Friars or followed their Rule. I don’t believe they remembered[649] that he was not dressed like them because he went barefoot like the Discalced (Friars) of France. However the just retribution of God did not fail him because the Pope’s army arrived there shortly afterwards and gave battle to that castle which they took and sacked. When the servant of God heard the noise he began to cry out as loudly as he could from the bottom of that tower. When the soldiers heard him they went around the tower but could find where the voice was coming from. This was because it did not have a lower gate. Rather its entrance was through a portcullis[650] almost in the middle. Looking through the portcullis they saw the poor Religious there half dead and lying on that plank. The Lord Alexander Vitelli ordered that he be brought out to him. When he saw that he had been so mistreated that he could no longer open his mouth or speak, he had his mouth forced open with a knife and gave him some soothing drinks so that within a short time he was himself. When Brother John showed him the obedience he knew that he was one of the Spanish Reformed Friars of Saint Francis and that he was a great servant of God. He gave him a very warm welcome and sure passage to be able to go off to Rome.

When he arrived he immediately went to find the Capuchins and commended himself to them with great humility. Father Louis of Fossombrone received him and clothed him in the Capuchin habit. He was sent to his home country of Puglia. Because he desired nothing else than to suffer for Jesus Christ, he begged the Father Guardian to be able to stay withdrawn into a cave on the site of the Friary where he continuously practised contemplation and fasted on bread and water[651], desiring above all to be conformed in his suffering with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Because the Lord saw him eager and well prepared to merit, he always gave him great opportunities to do so at different times. For it happened that the Father Guardian sent him with another companion to quest for alms in some mountains when there was a very heavy fall of snow. When the poor fellow found himself barefoot in a place where there were no dwellings he set out as best he could through the snow in order to arrive at a Friary of our Conventual Fathers. When Brother John arrived there more dead than alive after having walked barefoot through knee deep snow, out of compassion those Fathers heated a pale[652] of water to wash his feet. However Brother John Brother John knew that the hot water would have hurt him said, “Father Guardian, do not make me wash because it will hurt me.” Still thinking that it would do him some good, the good Father said to him, “Oh Brother John, you want to be a martyr and you can’t suffer a little heat!” When the servant of God heard martyrdom mentioned with great fervour he thrust his feet into that hot water. As a result of the cold fighting with heat he lost the tips of his toes up to the first joint which fell off. Because of this the poor fellow was martyred continuously by intense pain for months.

Not long after the General Chapter was convened in Naples[653]. The servant of God Brother John was there and out of devotion towards Father Saint Francis he sought from the Father General the obedience to come to the Province of Saint Francis and to be able to stay in devout Friary at Borgo San Sepolcro called Monte Casale. He was added to that friary and on the site of the Friars there is a place called the Spisciolo because a little river of water falls from that crag down a very high precipice and because of this it makes a very loud noise. Below that cliff there is a cave that could easily hold three hundred persons. The overhang is so big that is just like a flat roof. Underneath it the servant of God made a little cell of wattle daubed with mud and there he stayed at contemplation. He ate only once a day just a bowl of beans or other vegetables – what ever was there, cooked only with water and without slat or other condiments. When he wanted to drink he had put the neck of a gourd on a pole. With that he collected water which fell down the crag and drank from the gourd. In that cell he never kept anything except a small pot, a bowl and a poor mantle that the servant of God used to cover himself at night. He slept on the ground. He also had a very beautiful crucifix about half a metre long[654] in the cell. Most the time, day and night, the servant of God poured out his tears there. Often both seculars and Friars heard him weep so bitterly[655] over the Passion of Our Lord that he could have been heard easily[656] up to half a mile away. Once I said to him, “I think it is wrong when you cry out so loudly.” He replied, “I cannot contain myself when I think that Our Lord died for us and when I think about the terrible agony He suffered for such a bad sinner. I cannot be calm until I have poured out a bowl of tears. I wear myself out so much from weeping that my physical strength fails me completely.”

This was the crucifix that he carried in the armada when Charles V took Tunis from Barbarossa[657]. He told me that during the assault at Tunis he carried that crucifix ahead of the army in the ships. It was something amazing that falconet[658] struck stand of the cross and blew away the figure, leaving only part of the cross in his hand. Nonetheless neither he nor the figure came to any harm. Because of this wherever he went always carried it with him in a twine cloth[659].

He staid in the friary of Spisciolo for about eight months in such harsh penance, dressed in a habit of natural wool which was completely patched and only came halfway down his leg. Every morning he came to Mass at dawn at the friary and received Holy Communion nearly every day. On a journey he could be heard from a good distance say with a sad and tearful voice, “O my Jesus! O my Jesus!” When he was at Mass he always languished, often emitting ardent sighs that penetrated heaven and inspired the heart of everyone who heard him.

In that place he suffered great trials from the infernal enemy. Often appearing to him under different guises the enemy troubled him very much with his words. However, armed with the holy sign of the cross Brother John did not worry about any of these things. Once the servant of God was working with a window that he had made for his cell and wanted to fix it to its opening. He hit a nail with the little hatchet he had. When he was about to hit it, the devil cried out loudly behind him. At the sudden voice, he missed the nail and hit his hand. Realising it had been the devil he said to him, “May it be for the love of god. Do to me the worst you can. I am not frightened of you.” The devil laughed at this response.

Once three thieves had been hung up on the mountain. The following night the devil gave him so much trouble that it seemed as though he wanted to make the mountain collapse so that the servant of God could not sleep. Crying out once with a loud voice he said, “What do you think you are doing, devil!?” He answered, “It is not the devil. We are the three the Duke of Urbino had hung yesterday.” Brother John answered, “Whoever you are, I am not frightened of you. I have my Lord Jesus Christ who guards me. I am not afraid of your actions.”

Another time the devil called him from above the crag and Brother John said to him, “Who is calling me?” He answered, “I am Beelzebub.” Brother John said, “May God rebuke you, I am not afraid of you.” Beelzebub answered, “You think you will drive me from this place. I was here before you were and before Saint Francis. I don’t care less about you but I do mind that you are converting seculars with your example. They go to confession and because of you they are escaping from my grasp.” And so he disappeared.

Another time Brother John was cutting wood in a very steep place and the devil appeared to him in the guise of a shepherd and said to him, “I have come to make you fall down these cliffs.” Brother John said, “And who are you?” He answered, “I am Beelzebub.” Brother John didn’t want to hear any more and ran after him with the hatchet, saying to him, “Come closer, devil, come closer, because today I want to see what you are made of.[660]” Laughing, the devil immediately disappeared.

Another time the devil went around him in his cell as if he were a rooster and then said to him in a human voice, “Poor Brother John. You have some hens but you don’t eat eggs.”

Often when he was eating the devil threw excrement, dirt, pebbles or other dirty things into his bowl. He endured all these things with great patience and thanked God for giving him the opportunity to suffer. He often said, “You are just, my Lord Jesus Christ. I have offended you, the Creator of all things. It is just that Your creatures make retribution for the offences against their Creator. It is enough for me to suffer willingly for your love who and whenever you please.”

One night the devil grabbed him by the leg and caused him such pain that he was about to die. However, when he commended himself to the Lord, the devil fled away and left him like a cripple for many days.

Another time when he was coming to Mass the devil appeared to him amid some withered briars in a very dark place in the form of a fire-breathing dragon. He told me this gave him the greatest fright and showed me the place where the devil had appeared to him. [661]

I cannot express nor put on paper all the cruel battles that the devil gave this servant of God at different times. I who was unworthily the Guardian in that friary at the time know in some detail all the things that happened around this servant of God. However, so as not to tell too long a story and bore the reader, I pass over them briefly.

However, I feel I should not remain silent about this. When Brother John was at the death of a holy man, that man promised him that if it were the will of God, he would appear to him after his death and make known to him what happened to his soul[662]. Nonetheless for a space of about three months Brother John waited for that Friar to appear to him. He often told me, “I very much want to know what has happened to the soul of that Friar.” I sadi to him, “Brother John, do not wait for visions because we can be deceived by the devil.”’ However the idea could not be taken from him. It pleased the Lord God that at dawn on the morning of Saint Bernardine, when Brother John wished to leave his cell, the Friar appeared to him. Greeting him he said, “Ave Maria, Brother John! When he saw him wearing the habit he had put on him when he was buried with the cowl half over his head, and with a shining and happy face, Brother John said to him very joyfully, “O my brother, why have you been so long and not come sooner?” The Friar answered, “I wasn’t able to. It was not the will of God.” Brother John said, “Have you been saved?” The Friar answered, “By the mercy of God I have been saved, however because I was in a certain friary and because of my simplicity I carelessly and obtained money alms in the wrong way for the building of the friary of Saint Joseph at Foligno, at my death I was in great danger of being damned. Nonetheless, placing my hope in the passion of Our Lord, He helped me by giving me a great apprehension. By His mercy He has given me purgatory where I have been until now with Brother James of Spello, the lay Friar, who is with me here.” He pointed to him but Brother James never said anything. Brother John said, “Do you have great pain?” The Friar replied, “A little, but I will be freed soon.” Brother John said, “Will we Capuchins be saved?” The Friar answered, “Brother John I cannot tell you many things because the Lord god does not want me to. Brother John wanted to ask many things and had him sit down. The Friar said to him, “Most of the Capuchins who die in the fervour of this Order and are not involved in buildings fly straight to heaven with experiencing the pangs of purgatory. All the Friars in the Order of Saint Francis who die as owners and are involved especially in money, if they do not rid themselves of ownership and do not do penance and go to confession with true sorrow are all damned. However if they do penance and go to confession, God forgives them. Those who do not have time to fulfil the penance God sends to purgatory out of His mercy, just as He did with me and these others that you see. (He showed him some other Friars who had appeared in his company. Brother John did not know them by name.[663]) Brother John said to him, “How are the seculars saved?” The Friar answered, “Just as one finds very few white hens, so it happens in the multitude of the world that very few are saved.” Then he added, “Forgive me Brother John, because I cannot say anything else.” Then he disappeared in a flash[664].

I said to him, “Who knows if you have not been deceived, that it seemed to you he was that Friar but was a demon.” The servant of God replied, “I have received this grace of recognising inwardly when a vision is good, whether it is sent by God and or by the devil. By the grace of God I cannot be deceived.”

Another time he came to the friary very happily and told me, “Father, good news!” When I asked him what the good news was, he answered, “Know, my Father, that the tears I have poured out to obtain from God the gift of martyrdom – to be martyred for His name – will not have been in vane. Now, though I am not worthy, in His mercy He has heard me and I am certain that I will be a martyr because when I was at these prayers before the crucifix, I clearly heard the voice of Our Lord in the air. He said to me, “Be sure that you will be a martyr and you will leave this Province in order to go to holy martyrdom.” This was later fulfilled, as will be told in its place.

He was so enlightened by God. When the venerable Father Francis of Iesi came – the Vicar of the Province of Saint Francis at that time – he gave the most beautiful sermons to that Friars that touched upon the highest things of theology that the learned would have found difficult to understand them. He was present for those sermons and he often told me, “Know that I understood all these things in my mind, however I would not have been able to explain them to others.”

He also told me about a beautiful vision that he had in the old friary at Spoleto. When he was in that friary at prayer in the woods he was lifted up in ecstasy. He saw a beautiful youth draw near to him and take him by the hand and say to him, “Come, Brother John I want to show you amazing things.” Instantly he was led to a very beautiful church covered with a very beautiful, very decorative roof that stood on four columns. Two of these were ruined and brought to the ground. However at one of the other two was a man of terrible stature. Like an angry man he held a hammer and it seemed as though he wanted to strike the column to destroy it completely and make the roof fall. “Coming near to me the youth who was leading me said, ‘What do you make of this?’ I answered, ‘Lord, I do not know the interpretation. Nor do I know what it should mean.’ The young man replied, ‘Know that this represent the Church of God, the bride of Christ. As you see the Holy Spirit gave her four pillars which are the four Orders so that they may sustain her by teaching, good example and holy prayers. As if by four invincible pillars she would be defended from the false opinions and wrong teachings of heretics that contaminate Holy Church through the instigation of the devil. Therefore understand well. The two ruined pillars are the two Order that are almost entirely lax already and have departed form the first fervour and beautiful customs that their holy Founders gave them. The two columns that you see standing upright and hold up the roof are the two Orders which, by the grace of God, in which most of them still strive with their teaching and good example to hold up the roof so that it not fall. The one whom you see holding the hammer in order to strike the pillar is the enemy of human nature who continuously strives at hammering the two columns by sowing wrong teaching, ambition and bad example among them. The beautifully adorned roof is the hypocrisy that reigns in those who rule and that usually dresses up under the appearance of the formalities of religion. However these hypocrites are in great danger of being damned since the Church will not fall because the Holy Spirit rules and governs it. Therefore you will soon see her Divine Spouse reform her and by the grace of God many good shepherds will rise up who will reform her.’”[665]

According to my judgement this was truly a vision and a true prophecy. For not long after that the holy Pastor of the Holy Church gave orders that the sacred Council be assembled. Everyone can see for himself just how many reforms and good things followed on from it in the Church: how many holy and very vigilant shepherds over the flock of God have been raised up in her by God and provided in different parts of Christendom.

He also told me about having seen and known a Friar of our Order who for the love of God usually gave to the poor the crusts that the Friars had left over. The Father Guardian of that friary felt that this Friar was a little excessive in this and commanded him to be more moderate in giving alms. However the servant of God was so compassionate that when the poor increased he could not constrain himself from giving them alms. Once it happened that in the apron he used when he served the Friars at table he carried a large quantity of bread and crusts. Learning of this the Guardian said to him, “You are doing too much. What are you carrying in the apron?” He answered, “Father Guardian, they are fresh roses.” The Guardian said, “It is bread, not roses.” The servant of God replied, “They are indeed roses which in the middle of winter the supreme Creator has created to correct, in part, your avarice because we trust so little in His goodness.” When he opened the apron that which had been bread earlier the Lord God had changed into very fresh roses. When the Father Guardian saw this, stunned with great amazement he threw himself to his knees in front of him and admitted his fault. He added, “From now on, Father, you have permission to give to the poor as much as you want.” He was completely edified by that holy man. This was the reason that when Brother John was in Rome in 1536, when the first Constitutions were composed, he had it written that the Friars should give to the poor whatever was left over from the table, because that is what the Spanish Discalced Friars did.

When he was in the friary at Monte Casale, in the cell of the Spisciolo, there was a certain farmer called Julian. He lived near the friary and his wife had been in danger of death for a long time in childbirth. Because of this the same Julian sent a messenger to Brother John so that he might pray for his wife. With a prophetic spirit he answered the messenger, “Go and say to Julian that I was aware of the danger for his wife before he was and I have prayed for her. Bu the mercy of God I have been heard because she has already given birth to a boy child.” When the messenger returned to Julian who had been working in the field, he found everything just as the servant of God had revealed it to him. Out of devotion towards the holy man he gave the child the name John. News of this spread everywhere.

It pleased the Lord God that the revelations he had in the place of the Spisciolo be fulfilled. For the General of our Order at that time, the venerable Father Bernardine of Asti came for the Assisi Indulgence. Brother John of Spain (of whom we spoke above[666]) also came. Both of these servants of God (both Bothers John) found they had the same wish to die for the holy faith. During a long discussion they consulted together and said, “This is the time, brother, that we completely ready ourselves to lay down our lives for Jesus Christ. Le us make one last effort with Father General so that as Saint Francis orders in the Rule we go to undertake such a deed with holy obedience.[667]

They were both servants of God – one a Spanish Priest, the other a Lay Friar from Puglia. Both were very austere as was clear from their lives. For the sake of brevity I will leave out writing in this place about their martyrdom, having already amply written about it in the life of Brother John of Spain.

It only remains to be said that this servant of God did many miracles in his life but because I do have adequate knowledge about them I will leave out writing them down. I only have this from his own mouth. Once he was called to visit a lady, a virgin and very devout. The poor woman showed him a cancer which had begun on her face and was eating away at it. When he saw the servant of God had great compassion on her. Raising his mind to God he felt that he heard in his mind, ‘Trust in the Lord Brother John. Bite her in the effected area because the Lord God has heard your prayers. She will be healed by the grace of God.” Feeling himself inflamed with a great charity towards his neighbour, and invoking the name of the blessed Jesus Christ, he approached the girl. Putting his hand on her head he gave her a bite on the effected part and with his teeth removed the rotten part completely. It was something amazing because immediately she was perfectly healed, as if she never had a sickness.

To the praise of God. Amen.

LXVII: About the holy man Brother Justin of Panicale, Lay Friar

Brother Justin was from a village in the countryside of Perugia, near the castle of Panicale. He was born tho honest parents, though farmers[668]. When he was young he applied himself to the trade of rope making[669]. However when he was about eighteen years old, inspired by God he took the habit in the Franciscan Order. Because he was young and bright, even though he was uneducated, he was assigned to the office of the infirmary where he served with great charity for some years and had the greatest experiences in his practice.

When the Congregation of Capuchins came he burned with an incredible fervour to imitate perfectly the example of Father Saint Francis. He went to find Brother Louis of Fossombrone who received him the friary of Saint Euphemia[670] and assigned him to the fraternity in the friary at Scandriglia. However a little later he transferred him to the Province of Saint Francis where he led a very remarkable life, exercising himself in continuous fasts and dedicating himself continuously to holy contemplation in which God gave him many revelations. She had Brother Bernardine get in one barrel and this servant of God, Brother Justin, get into the other. One reasons she did this so that first of all certain Religious would not see him because it was suspected that some harm would come to him on the journey. The other reason was so that he would arrive more quickly. As it pleased God, the Congregation was freed and benefited greatly from the presence of the Occhino as on many occasions while he was still a good man. Therefore when this matter in Rome was over Brother Louis sent Brother Justin to the Province of Saint Francis and to the friary of Saint Joseph in Foligno. I was in the fraternity at the time. For many years we were close and I saw marvellous things in him.

Once when he was in the friary at Bettona, there was a knock at the door late in the evening. When the porter went to the door a poor man asked him for alms with great humility. The porter asked him to wait. Returning he brought him some bread and said to him, “Forgive us because we only have a little.” The poor fellow replied to him, “I know how much you have and I know what you can do.” As the porter closed the door the holy man Brother Justin was praying in the church. Immediately Our Lord appeared to him with the bread in his hand and because he was Guardian at the time He said to him, “I got this from your Friars.” The he disappeared straightaway. Brother Justin then began to weep uncontrollably and said, “My son, what have you done? That poor man was Jesus Christ, and you have sent him away with a loaf of bread.” From then on, every time he remembered this he wept and said, “Know that Lord wanted to make us aware of our lack of charity.”

Another time when the holy man was in the same friary, someone he did not know appeared to him while he was praying. This person put before him a round stool with three legs, “This belongs to a certain Guardian.” Since the holy man did not understand the vision, the one who appeared to him told him inwardly with a clear voice, “The vision is profound. It means trinity and stability.” Because that Guardian[671] was in the midst of great tribulation because of a persecution Religious of another Order were bringing against him, he understood from this vision that God would preserve him and that it would result in victory, which it did[672].

Another time this servant of God was in the serve of plague victims. A great plague had come and with the permission of the Superiors he plunged into it. He brought great benefit to the poor plague victims in both soul and body. He had them confess to his companion who was a Priest. He medicated their wounds. Because of their poverty many of them had no one to bury them and so he gave them burial. However the enemy of human nature who cannot tolerate good being done brought him the greatest temptation by having him see a very beautiful girl who would tempt him in holy purity[673]. He told me, “I would have fallen completely if the Virgin Mother of Christ did not help me straight away.” While he did not want to elaborate any further to me, it was believed that the Mother of God appeared to him visibly.[674]

I will leave aside telling about the many revelations that he had and told me about because they do not seem very useful things to me. I will only write that he was taken in a vision into the church of certain Religious who led a very lax life. It was at the hour of Matins. The Religious began Matins and he had the impression that all their words were curses. Stunned by this, with great sorrow and tears the servant of God turned to the one who showed him this and said, “Oh my! These poor fellows are cursing the Supreme Creator.” He was answered, “Their words are not curses per sè. Rather their bad life so displeases the Lord God that since their hearts do not please him He receives their praises like curses. If they do not change their life they will be abandoned by god.” Then later it was obvious that as they worsened they fell headlong into every vice.

He was very zealous about holy poverty. Sometimes when he was there when Friars established houses[675] he always said, “The words that our Father Saint Francis says in the Testament about himself and his companions are not without reason – that they freely stayed in abandoned churches. So I say we should do the same ourselves. There are many devout, abandoned churches that no one uses. We should take up one of those so as not to incur further expense and build for ourselves so that we cannot stay and observe our Rule there. This was the intention of Father Saint Francis, because I tell you that new people will come and they will not be happy with out simplicity. Rather, they will abandon these little places that we are making with so much effort. They will build others – bigger, more sumptuous and close to the cities. God has given us this spirit and we have known by His grace in what the true observance of poverty and the Rule is. Let us make these little places as poor as we can and with the least expense possible so that when they are abandoned not much will be lost.”

We see that this opinion has been shown him by God and not by men. It is appears to be more a prophecy than an opinion.

He never wanted more than one old, completely patched habit. He ate very little and usually ate only once a day. He always fasted on bread and water for the vigils of Our Lady and the Lord. He could not do much because he was old. However because he was Guardian quite often, and because at that time friaries were built, he suffered the greatest exertions. He governed very prudently because of which he was Commissary of the Provincial many times. He was very charitable towards neighbour. Wherever he was, when he heard about the sick, he went to visit them with great charity. He performed for them many tasks related to his trade[676]. Many said, “When I was sick, if I could have Father Justin I would not care about other doctors.”

Once in the Province of Romagna, in the friary at Forli, there was a lay Friar called Brother Bonaventure of Brescello. Because of ulceration[677] the whole leg had gone bad. The surgeon Master Matthew had cut away all the flesh. During the cutting Brother Bonaventure felt nothing. Only the bone remained. Desperate about being able to do anything more to restore the leg, four doctors advised that he should amputate the bone. On the morning he had to amputate it, with the other doctors present, as it pleased God, Brother Justin happened along. At time he was Guardian of the friary at Faenza. When he saw that they wanted to cut the bone he said to the doctors[678], “Do not amputate it. Let me take care of it.” Believing that he was a skilled infirmarian the doctors were happy to do so. The holy man immediately began to treat him and within a very short time the leg returned to how it used to be. Everyone regarded this as a miracle from God who had healed him through the merits of this holy man. He then lived for many years carrying out all the tasks that were imposed on him through obedience.

Finally when the holy man was in the friary at Narni he fell gravely ill. Enduring it with great patience he equipped himself for a blessed death. It happened that one night there was a holy Friar in the church. He is still alive but because he asked that I not name him therefore I am not mentioning his name[679]. Raise up in ecstasy in an instant he saw the door of the church open. A beautiful procession of Capuchin Friars entered in two lines, numbering about two hundred Friars. This Friar stayed in the oratory at the back of the church. As the procession passed by the entered the choir and from the choir they entered the dormitory. They all went to the cell where the servant of God Brother Justin was ill. Stunned at this vision the Friar, as if outside himself, did not dare to say anything. However when nearly all had passed by, he took courage and asked the last two, “Who are you?” Very gently they answered, “We are Capuchin Friars who have already left this world and by the mercy of God are now happy and blessed. We have come to visit our beloved Brother Justin to let him know on which day we will return for him.” And so the vision disappeared. The Friar who saw the vision came to his senses and understanding the mystery he went with great joy straight away to the cell of the holy man and said to him, “My dear Father, good news! On such and such a day you will die. Prepare yourself.” With great joy the servant of God replied, “My son, I know about it. I must die on such and such a day at such and such an hour.” Because of this the Friar was certain that he too had seen the vision. And so it was that he died on the day at the time that God had revealed to him, at the hour of Vespers[680].

As he approached death, the servant of God Brother Justin had all the Friars of the house called and gave them a few devout words, encouraging them about the true observance of the Rule. As best he could he turned a little in bed and half sitting and half kneeling, with great tenderness and tears he embraced everyone of his sons one by one. Then with great humility blessed them and asked their forgiveness, saying, “Thank you, my sons, for the humble and kind obedience that I have received from you and I ask your forgiveness for all the bad example I have given you. I beg that you may wish to pray for my soul. May the Lord God from whom all blessings come bless you and keep you in His holy service. Then picking up a crucifix that had been painted on a piece of paper, he said with many tears, “My Lord, I beg your forgiveness because I have not been that true servant that I should have been.”

Then at about midnight, while still kneeling, he said many times, “Jesus! Mary! Into your hands my Lord I commend my spirit.” Then having received all the most holy sacraments of the Church that happy soul flew away to its Creator. He was buried in that place.

To the praise of God. A-men.

LXVIII: About the holy man Brother Martin of Flanders, Lay Friar

Brother Martin was the companion of the venerable Father Francis Tittelmans. He took the habit of the Franciscan Order in his fatherland when he was young. Because he was illiterate he applied himself to the duties of the Lay Friars and served the Friars with marvellous humility.

However when the zealous servant of God Brother Francis Tittelmans wanted to come to Rome to become a Capuchin, he was also keen about the perfect observance of the Rule. He humble commended himself to him so that he might want to take him with him. Since the good Father knew about his firm desire and that he had always led a a very holy life in the Order, he willingly accepted him as his companion. When they came to Rome they brought with them Brother Leonard, a Priest and a very agreeable young man. The venerable Father Bernardine of Asti received them in the friary in Rome. To better mortify himself and to imitate Father Saint Francis he immediately asked for the grace to be assigned to the leper Hospital and to serve those sick people. At that time the Capuchins took care of them. When the Friars saw his firm desire and good life they granted him the grace.

In that Hospital of the Incurable he gave an example of the greatest perfection because he always did the lowliest and strenuous tasks in the Hospital with remarkable silence and incredible patience so that no one could have boasted of ever seeing him angry. He washed the bandages, swept the Hospital and took the filthy clothes of the sick to the laundry. Never an idle word came from his lips. Although many times it was necessary for him to go to Rome to quest for alms for the poor sick people, Brother Martin never stopped praying. While his companion knocked and waited at the door, he faced the wall and prayed with his face raised towards heaven. He did the same in all his duties because he always did them with his mind raised up to God.

He never wanted to wear more than one completely patched habit. He went barefoot continuously. He benefited very much from being a foreigner who knew no one and also because he did not know too much about speaking Italian. He continuously wore a rough hairshirt and always kept his mind recollected. Although it was necessary for him to be among people nearly all the time because of the task he had nonetheless because he didn’t understand the language and did not know people his mind remained quiet, as if he were in the forest. Because Tittelmans told him that in his service he perfectly observed the Rule – to eat the bread gained by his own efforts – he was so much a peace that he never asked to be transferred from it. Because of this the Lord God gave him such a clear perception about things of the next life that he could not possibly be disturbed or impeded from praying continuously.[681]

He persevered in these tasks for about fourteen years with such example and a good life that all of Rome had the greatest devotion towards him. Then because of a grave illness, and after having received all the most holy sacraments, the servant of God passed over to his Creator. The Friars brought his body for burial in the friary of Saint Nicholas. The whole Hospital mourned and when he died a great number of people came to see him. Kissing his feet they said tearfully, “O servant of God, pray for us, because you have served Him so faithfully.”[682]

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXIX: About the holy man Brother Francis of Torri, Lay Friar

Brother Francis was from the land in Savina called Torri. He was born to honest parents. When he was young he applied himself to the arts of the farmer. However when he reached the age of about eighteen years, inspired by God he decided to leave the world and to serve God. Because he was used to suffering he said to himself, “If I have to leave the world, I want the strictest and poorest Order there is in order to do penance for my sins.”

As it pleased the God, when the Capuchin began his heart set on them and when he was told that they were at Saint Euphemia in Rome he immediately went to find them and Brother Louis of Fossombrone received him. He always led a life that was more angelic than human. He dedicated himself totally to despising his own self and in the Order carried out the lowliest duties. He served the Friars with great charity, especially the sick.

Once when he was in the friary of Collevecchio where there was one gravely ill Friar, the servant of God went with haste straight to Cività Castellana in order to see the doctor and taking with him the symptoms of the sick Friar. However when he arrived at the Tiber the boatman would not let him cross, saying that he wanted to be paid. He begged him with great humility and when said, “We are Religious and do not have money” the boatman still remain stubborn. Having nothing to give him the servant of God went aside and pulled off some patches that he had sewn to his habit. He gave them to him as payment for the passage. However not long after this the just retribution of God came upon him because when he wanted to cross over he fell in the Tiber and drowned. When they heard this all the other boatmen who made the crossing became very frightened and from then on allowed the Friars to cross over for the love of God. Many of them said, “I don’t want happening to me what happened to that one who did not want to give passage to those holy Friars and drowned.”

Brother Francis served the poor sick people with incredible love. He said, “I am not sure that everything I do in the Order please God. However when I try to help my neighbour in his needs I am very certain that this pleases the Lord God. Our Father Saint Francis laid the foundation with the work of charity when he served the lepers with such solicitude, even though they were often great sinners. The Lord often showed him that he liked this service especially when He appeared to him as a leper covered in sores. Now if it pleases Our Lord so much when we serve lepers and other sick people even though they may be sinners, how much more does it please him when we serve our sick Brothers who are Religious and servants of God?”

He also performed all the duties fitting for Lay Friars with great charity. He was also very kind towards his neighbour in serving everyone while being very austere towards himself. For he never wanted to wear more than one habit and he always went barefoot in summer and winter. He fasted almost continuously and often did the forty days on bread and water. He was a person of great prayer. He had from God the particular grace of perpetual silence and rarely let a word come from his lips. This enabled him to have a great tranquillity of mind so that he always had his mind raised in God. He said, “When I want to go to confession I rarely confess anything more than idle words and grumbling. However when I keep inward silence and external silence of words about the actions of my neighbour, I don’t know what I have to confess. In the Order it is a great battle to conquer the vice of grumbling. When we strive at prayer and other good works for a long period of time we don’t gain as much as we lose through grumbling. We endure many difficult things in the Order with very little fruit so as not to do violence to our wicked inclinations that always keep us involve in many defects. As a result from this soul cools in the fervour of its charity towards God and towards one’s neighbour. However we strive in vain if we do not know how to tame the poisonous serpent of the tongue. In the Order I have always had the desire to suffer for the love of Jesus Christ. Nonetheless I have understood that if my suffering does not result some way in honour for God of in the good of my neighbour it is worthless. What good is it for a Friar Minor to scourge his flesh, to fast and do other works of penance if he does not love God above everything and his neighbour as himself? The desire to mortify to mortify oneself and to be of benefit to ones neighbour was always rooted in the heart of this servant of God. So when he was in Rome he had such an extreme fervour to mortify himself that without saying anything to anyone he took off his habit, then just in his underwear he took a big cross and left the friary. In a very brief time he quickly went along all the main streets and squares of Rome with that cross on his shoulder, crying out with a loud voice, “Do penance, because Our Lord God is angry with us!” He terrified everyone. When he returned to the friary in that fervour the Father Guardian reprimanded him strongly. Then later when he was asked more personally what had moved him to do that excursion he answered that he was not aware of it, but that it had been a profusion[683] of spirit. The Guardian decided not give him a penance for this, so as not to please him, because he desired nothing but to be put in prison for many months on bread and water.

It pleased the Lord God to wish to reward this servant of His for he became seriously ill. Well prepared and well armed with the most holy sacraments he passed over to his Creator. Amen.

LXX: About the holy man Brother Anthony of Reggio, Lay Friar

Brother Anthony was from a city situated in Calabria called Reggio. He was born to honest parents. When was young he went to work at manual duties. However when he was about seventeen years old, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he decided to take up religious life. When he heard of the fame of Brother Louis and his companions he went one day to find him and revealed to the secret of his heart which was to serve God in the holy Congregation of Capuchins. Recognising him to be very suitable for the service of God he encouraged him very much to maintain that good desire but to think it over very well. He explained to him everything that he would have to observe. However because Brother Anthony desired nothing else than to suffer, he felt more strongly about it and was received within a short time and was then close to the holy man Brother Louis and was his companion for a long time.

Once he was clothed he began to do great penance. He always persevered in the same way for as long as he lived in holy Congregation which was for about fifty years. Above all however he was very fervent and assiduous in holy prayers and received from the Lord the grace of contemplation. He slept very little. After attending to the necessities of nature he spent the rest of his spare time praying in the church. So after Matins he rarely and hardly ever went back to sleep but persevered in holy prayer until morning when the first Mass was said. He was never seen idle. He spent all his time usefully. He was always at prayer or at some useful task. The Friars often heard him sigh and stir[684] himself with many tears. He was very kind towards his neighbour – serving the sick and needy with great charity. No one ever saw him exhausted or disturbed. However when he saw his neighbour he dissolved out of love. Because of this the Lord God often showed with clear signs just how acceptable was the service he gave his neighbour by giving him this gift. Whoever had any kind of sickness and went to him with faith and devotion, he healed that person immediately with the sign of the holy cross. This will be spoken about in its own place[685].

Once when the Turkish armada approached Sicily, it indicated that it wanted to go to Reggio[686]. Because of this the frightened people fled, evacuating the city. With great faith the holy man Brother Anthony encouraged them like some one who knew by divine revelation what should happen. He said, “Do not worry. Do not flee. Pray to God. Repent of your sins and I promise you on His part that you will be spared and no harm will came to you.” Since everyone well knew about the holiness of Brother Anthony and how acceptable his prayers were to God, the people stopped when they heard his words, certain that the holy man was speaking through the Spirit. It was truly marvellous, that even though the armada wanted to come to Reggio, such a great windstorm arose that they were totally impeded and they could not approach.

He was very austere because he always wore a coarse hairshirt against his bare skin. He fasted almost continuously, however with great devotion he did the forty days that our Father Saint Francis was accustomed to do. For the more devout times he always fasted on bread and water. He was marvellously helped by a certain natural simplicity because he always had such quiet and tranquillity temperament that he seemed to be an Angel. Because of this had a great intimacy with Our Lord in his holy prayers, and because of this it is believed that he often spoke with Our Lady.

Once there was a great plague in Reggio. Because of this, with the obedience and blessing of their Guardian for Capuchin Friars – two Priests and two lay Friars- went from the friary at Reggio to serve the plague victims. After they persevered for some days with great fervour in that charity, it pleased the Lord God that one of the Priests passed away to the better life after succumbing to the plague. The Friars at the Friary knew nothing about it. So one day when the Guardian was in his cell he clearly heard one of those Friars, a Priest, who served the plague victims speaking with Brother Anthony who kept the door. This bothered him a great deal. He worried that he may have returned to the Friary and abandoned that work of charity. He also worried that he might come in and infect the whole friary. While he was listening attentively, anxious to know what they were discussing, he clearly heard the voice of that Friar. When the Guardian ran to the door he found Brother Anthony alone and said to him, “I heard the voice of Brother James – for that was his name – has he retuned?” Brother Anthony answered, “Yes indeed, Father, he has really retuned and I have spoken with him for a good while. However he has not returned physically as you think. Know that he died just now and came to ask you for your blessing and to visit us his brother before he went to heaven.” He had no sooner finished conversation than a messenger arrived from the city who brought the news that Brother James had passed away to the Lord. When the Guardian asked him at which hour he had died, he realised that it was precisely at that point in time when he appeared to Brother Anthony that that soul had left his body. A few days later the Guardian went to his cell early one morning to prepare for Mass. He heard knocking at the door of his cell. When he said, ‘Ave Maria’ he clearly heard a voice that said to him, “Bless me, Father.” He clearly recognised that the voice was that of another of the friars who were serving the plague victims. Quite frightened, he opened the door of his cell, firmly believing that he too had returned and would infect the other Friars. When he came out he carefully looked all around for where he might be. He found no one. Amazed at this he went straight away to Brother Anthony to ask him about the matter. Brother Anthony was the porter. Again the man of God said to him, “Know, Father, that like the first one, this one came to ask your blessing before flying to heaven because he has just died. I have seen him in a vision and have spoken with him and he told me that he came for the blessing.” The Guardian inquired carefully about the hour in what he had died and found that he died at that point when he knocked at his cell.

Out of obedience to the order of the very Reverend Father General of the Order, Brother Jerome of Montefiore, the Guardian reported all these things to his Provincial Vicar. And just as we said above, The purity and simplicity of this servant of God, Brother Anthony, show just how purified he was of affection for earthly things, having such close familiarity with those in the next life who had already become citizens of heaven. Therefore this servant of God did not lack troubles given him by evil spirits and perverse men. For whenever he was praying once the devil pestered him visibly for the space of two hours. Nonetheless this servant of God proved how much virtue he had in the presence of God for he fought in every tough battle, like a valiant captain, he defeated and won over the devil through the virtues of the triumphant Jesus Christ in His servants.

Therefore when the Lord God wanted to reward this servant of His, when he was in the friary at Reggio in the year of the Lord 1579, he fell gravely ill. He revealed his sickness to one of his trustworthy confreres and said to him, “Know, brother, that the Lord God has revealed to me the hour and the point at which I will die. Because of this, after much preparation, he was ready and organised for the passage of death. After having received all the most holy sacraments with great devotion, that soul happily passed over to its creator. He was buried in that friary.

His Majesty has shown just how acceptable this servant of His was, illustrating it with many miracle. I write some of them the trustworthy testimonies that were given to the General, the venerable Father Jerome of Montefiore. In particular there is the story of the young son of a gentleman, one of the prominent men of Messina. When the boy had a mortal illness, the gentleman, because of the great devotion he had for this holy man, sent a message to him and begged him with great insistence to come to visit his child. The Father Guardian of the friary sent him there. When he entered the house he was led to the bed where the boy lay and when he saw the child so gravely ill he felt a great compassion. The gentleman begged him to pray to God for him and make the sign of the holy Cross over him. With great humility, the holy man raised his mind to the Lord and made the sign of the holy Cross over him. It was amazing because he immediately began to improve and within a very short time he was perfectly healed. With great joy his father and the whole family thanked God and from then on bore a greater devotion towards Brother Anthony.

Another time there was a lady of Reggio who had been many years with her husband but had never been able to conceive. She went to find the holy man and with great faith commended herself to him. He replied, “Be assured that the Lord God will give you a son. Make sure you give him the name Francis because God has already granted this to you through the prayers of the Friars of Saint Francis. And make sure that to acknowledge that this comes from God through the merits of Saint Francis.” And that is what happened for not long after the woman had a son whom she named Francis.

This servant of God did another miracle. It was in the friary at Reggio and happened once when six young Friars came unexpectedly one morning for holy Orders. Since they ate before the others in the Friary there was not enough bread left for the Friars that morning. Brother Anthony was looking after the cellar. He said to the Guardian, “Father, there isn’t any bread!” The Guardian replied, “Because it is late and the city is far away, they would not return in time if we sent them questing. Take what little bread there is and give a little to each one. They will have to have patience this morning.” Then not long after fifteen persons, both Friars and seculars, arrived and the fraternity numbered fourteen. It was an amazing thing. That bread which would not have been enough for the Friars of the house was more than enough for twenty nine persons though the prayers of the holy man.

The same thing happened when fourteen soldiers arrived tired and hungry outside the door of the that friary the Guardian said to Brother Anthony, “Give them something to eat!” He replied, “There is not enough bread for the Friars and very little wine.” Nonetheless through the prayers of the servant of God, Our Lord multiplied the bread. For when he put in front of them the small amount of bread and wine there was more than enough for the soldiers and the Friars. The Guardian and other trustworthy Friars who were present for the miracle testify to this.

He did another miracle after his death. It was when there was a man who was completely shrivelled and crippled who couldn’t move at all. He was from Seminara. With great faith and devotion he had himself brought to the holy body before the Friars buried it. Kissing wit with great faith and devotion he was perfectly healed immediately. And where he had been brought upon a horse he returned on foot, healthy and robust with great joy and thanksgiving to God.

I will finish by narrating that many people took pieces of the habit of the holy man and kept them as precious relics with great devotion. The Lord God worked many, many miracles among the sick who were troubled with various kinds of illness. They were healed straight away when they put on one of those pieces.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXXI: About the holy man Brother James of Reggio, Lay Friar

Brother James was from the city of Reggio in Calabria. He was born to honest parents. When he was young he applied himself to manual things. He was raised with great simplicity, doing devout exercises since he was a tot.

It pleased the Lord God to call him to the Capuchin Congregation when he was about sixteen years old. He was one of the first Capuchins. Those first Fathers who began the Reform of that Province received him. In the Congregation he led an ordinary life in clothing and food. However he received from the Lord God a special gift for holy prayer. This was because of his great purity and simplicity. He was naturally endowed with great simplicity and with it he applied himself completely to holy contemplation and he derived the greatest profit from this. Apart from the needs of nature and when it was necessary to labour out of charity for his neighbour, he spent all the rest of the time in holy prayer. He was very enlightened. Because he was a Lay Friar and didn’t know how to read, out of the desire to understand something of the Scripture, out of devotion he had someone read the bible to him. Once he asked a cleric to read to him. Opening the Bible at random he came across that sentence of Solomon, “Weep for the dead.”[687] Behold, some one knocked at the door straightaway who brought news that the natural brother of that Cleric had died. It was considered miraculous that God had revealed the death of that secular to the holy man.

This servant of God was also marvellous in the charity he had for his neighbour. For when some Friar fell and ill and the Guardian did not place him in his care, he felt very sad. When he was given to his care he served him with as much diligence as if he were Jesus Christ. During that time he slept very little so as not to leave his sick brother.

It happened once that a great plague came to the city of Reggio. For many days the holy man laboured at holy prayer more than he usually did. He begged the Lord God to inspire the heart of the Guardian to have him go to serve the plague victims. And what he desired is just what happened for the Guardian called him one day and said to him, “Brother James, where is your fervour? How many poor men are dying who do not have a drop of water! Up now, I have decided for you to go to serve them.” When the servant of God heard this, he was inspired with as great fervour that he was beside himself[688]. Kneeling down he kissed the hands of the Father Guardian. He said to him, “May God reward you Father because you have deigned to give this reward to me – I who am the lowest and most useless friar of them all.” He called a particular Friar with whom he used to speak confidentially. He said to him in secret, “Know, my brother. Ever since I heard that the plague was in the city of Reggio, I have wearied myself with the Lord begging Him insistently that He would give me this grace which He has kindly granted me and He has revealed to me that I must die there.”

So it was, for after serving some days with great charity, the servant of God fell mortally ill. Having received all the most holy sacraments he happily passed over to the Lord. He was one of those who spoke with the holy man Brother Anthony after his death and death the blessing of the Father Guardian, when he flew off to heaven. It was right that in giving his life for his neighbour that the Just Judge gave him eternal life. His is the honour and the glory. Amen.

LXXII: About the holy man Brother of Radicina

Brother Bernard was from the land called Radicina[689]. He came to our Congregation when he was about sixteen years old. In it he led a very exemplary life, spending nearly all his time in his holy prayers and other spiritual exercises. He had the special gift of speaking about the things of God. He spoke about these things with such love that anyone who heard him dissolved into tears. He took great account of using time well. This was the reason that he was never idle but always occupied himself in useful things. No one ever idle or frivolous words come from his lips. His kindness and humility were such that everyone loved him. He was so charitable towards his neighbour that it seemed as though he bore everyone within his heart. He was very zealous about the observance of the Rule and he was a great lover of holy poverty. He always fasted on Wednesday and Saturday and did all the forty days with great strictness regarding food. He persevered in this abstinence until he died.

Finally, when the Lord god wanted to reward this servant of His, he fell ill in friary at Terranova. After having received all the most holy sacraments, that soul passed over happily to its Creator. He was buried that friary.

To the praise of Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXXIII: About the holy man Brother John of Seminara, Lay Friar

Brother John came from a region called Seminara situated in the province of Calabria[690]. He was born to honest parents. At an early age, when he was around sixteen years old, and touch by the Holy Spirit, he came to the Congregation of Capuchins where he led a very austere life in which he persevered until his old age. He was one of the first Fathers of the Province of Calabria. He loved abstinence very much, for he continuously never ate more than once a day. With great devotion he did all the forty days that our Father Saint Francis was accustomed to do. It was amazing that every Friday throughout the year he always fasted on bread and water. Once he did a forty-day fast without drinking either water or wine.

Like a valiant servant of God he persevered at holy prayer most of the night even though the devil attacked him. He was hardly ever seen to speak with anyone. He was very zealous about the observance of the Rule and very obedient which he always carried out without answering back the slightest word.

He persevered in this good and holy life, well practised in every degree of virtue, for about fifty years. After having received all the most holy sacraments that happy soul passed over to its Creator.

To the praise and glory of Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXXIV: About the holy man Brother Anthony of Sicily, Lay Friar

Brother Anthony was from Sicily. I do not know which region he came from. This servant of God came to the holy Congregation of Capuchins as a youth. He was always a mirror of every virtue. When the Friars recognised his beautiful manner and great charity, he was assigned to the fraternity in the friary in Rome for the care of the sick during the time of the venerable Father Bernardine of Asti. He was a disciple of the holy man Brother Matthew of Naples from Fucino. This Brother Matthew was infirmarian in the friary in Rome and a man of great prayer and a very austere life – so much so that at no time did he ever eat more than once a day. He hardly ever ate meat. He always went barefoot both in summer and winter. He never wore more than one habit. He persevered in this austerity until he died. He passed over to the Lord in the friary of Saint Anne in Civita Castellana.

After him Brother Anthony was the infirmarian in Rome where he served with such charity, kindness and patience that despite the many labours and trials that he had no one ever saw him disturbed. Nor did he ever show the slightest sign of impatience. When he went to the butcher shops to get meat for the poor sick ones, there was one butcher who was very rich. When Brother Anthony asked alms of him, without ever saying a single good word he left in front of him and often insulted him. The servant of God delighted in the insults for the love and God and returned every time. Annoyed by this the butcher always gave him a litany of insults. Brother Anthony always laughed a little. Lowering his head with humility he said to him, “Oh well, next time!” The patience of the servant of God was not futile. This continued for many months. One day God enlightened the butcher who gave him so many insults and he said to himself, “This fellow can be none other than a servant of God. Despite all the insults I have given him I have never seen him disturbed.” Stung at heart by this the butcher said to him, “Father, I ask your forgiveness for the insults I have used with you. Now I know you that are a true servant of God. Therefore I tell you that from now on do not go anywhere else for your meat than to my butcher shop. I will give you all the meat you need for the love of God.” He became so devoted towards our Congregation that he gave as much meat that Brother Anthony needed for the sick for as long as he lived.

This servant of God had the special grace and gift of holy prayer. When he did not have to care for the sick he stayed most of the night in the church. He never ate more than once a day. He never wanted to wear more than one habit that was completely patched. He wore a rough hairshirt against his skin and always went barefoot in summer and winter. He fast one bread and water on the vigils of all the more devout feastdays. He was so kind towards his neighbour that whenever anyone asked him for something he never rested until he met his brother’s need. His conversation was so exemplary that all of Rome regarded him as holy, particularly His Holiness, who had such great devotion towards him that he often wanted to speak with him. He loved to hear him speak so simply. He was so correct in his speech that no one ever heard him say an idle word. When he heard some evil spoken of his neighbour, he would hug himself. He felt so sad at hearing his neighbour maligned and turning towards the speaker he said, “O my brother, do not speak. Do not say this. Know that the one you are speaking about is your brother and is holier than I am.” Then he would flee.

He spent all his time usefully either in serving the sick of at his holy prayers. The Lord God endowed him with a marvellous humility because he regarded himself as the greatest sinner in the world and always wanted to eat the poor crusts left over from the others. When some lowly task had to be done Brother Anthony was always there. Often when the Clerics went to sweep the friary or the refectory, they found that Brother Anthony had beaten them to it. He nearly always washed the kitchen utensils. When there was some old man who could not help himself, the holy man often visited him during the day and offered himself to him with such charity that he was like an Angel. I who write have seen all or most of these all these things with my own eyes.

It is believed that God gave him many revelations. However his humility was such that he never let a word come from his lips that might result in his praise.

It pleased Our Lord God that after having served the friary in Rome with great fidelity for nearly twenty years, he fell gravely ill. Well prepared after having received all the most holy sacraments, he passed over to his Creator and went to receive the reward of his efforts from the One who said, “That which you do to the least of my little ones, you do it to me.”[691]

To whom always be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

LXXV: About the holy man Brother Rufino of Gallarate, Lay Friar

Brother Rufino was from a region called Gallarate situated within the dominion of Milan[692]. He was born to honest parents. At an early age he applied himself to the work of the farmer. However when he reached about twenty years of age he took the habit of the Conventual Fathers. Because he was very simple, devout and very dedicated towards the Order he got permission from his Superiors to come to serve God in the Sacro Convento in Assisi because the body of blessed Father Saint Francis is there. He never wanted any other duty in the Convento except to serve in the sacristy, ring the bells, sweep the church and other lowly tasks. The poor youth always went about barefoot and poorly dressed.

An organist was there who was very devout and enthusiastic about his profession. It pleased the Lord God that when the organist was there it happened at the time that a young man died who because of his poverty often went to the Convento for alms. This organist often gave him alms. One day this boy died and passed away to the better life and was buried in the Convento. Behold the Lord God wanted to enlighten the organist. While he was at prayer he fell into a kind of ecstasy and God showed him a frightening vision. He felt as though he was led to a very deep lake situated in the middle of a valley. He saw a very narrow bridge that crossed the lake. Anxious to cross it he hastened to the bridge. Looking at the side of the road he saw a beautiful garden full of many beautiful roses. Inside the garden was the young man who was collecting the roses. Recognising him he said to him with great joy, “Son, what are you doing here?” He answered, “I am collecting some roses in order to make a wreath for my mother. But you, Father, where are you going?” The organist answered, “I am going to the bridge to cross the lake.” The boy replied, “Don’t go. The lake is full of dragons[693]. The bridge is so narrow that you will soon fall off and be devoured. Go to the top of the lake and you can pass there. When the organist arrived between two mountains he saw a wheel that seemed to touch the sky. The wheel was terraced and to each terrace a person was attached by the feet. The wheel spun very quickly and the poor wretches hit their heads on the mountain. Then when they arrived at the other side they did the same. When the organist stopped to see if he could see anyone from his region, he saw a great number whom he had know. He came to his senses. So the he knew that it was a vision and not a dream, the mother of the boy died a few days later. The organist was frightened by this and went to the Carcerelle, the friary of the Capuchins, to speak with the Guardian who was Brother Justin of Panicale[694]. He wanted to become a Capuchin. Since the Father Vicar was not there, he could not be clothed. So he set out from the friary and no one knows what became of him.

News of the vision went around and came to the ears of Brother Rufino. Frightened, he left and went to find the Provincial of the Capuchins who received him kindly and put him the novitiate under the care of the venerable Father Seraphim of Villafranca[695]. He instructed this good youth every type of good conduct and with devout sermons showed him and the other novices what religious life is.

It was marvellous how this servant of God used all the time of his life in the service of God. He loved the holy virtues to such an extent that he kept himself as mortified, humble and devout as if he were always a novice. The virtue of charity, of doing good to his neighbour was so dear to his heart that no one ever saw him tire of it, especially in serving the sick. He served them so happily and carefully and with silence that he was like an Angel of God. He was the one who took care of the holy old Friars Father Francis of Iesi and Father Baptist of Norcia when they died in the friary at Montemalbi.

He stayed in the Province of Saint Francis for many years. Then the Father General sent him back to the Province of Milan where he led a life that was more angelic than human. He fasted often, more than the usual fasts of the Order. He practised holy prayer continuously. He was a man of few words and rarely spoke with anyone. However when it did happen he always spoke about the things of God or about some passage of the Rule. Idle words never came from his mouth. He knew how to read a little and when he finished serving the needs of the Friars he withdrew to say the seven psalms and the Office of Our Lady. He was never idle. He was very zealous about holy poverty, especially in clothing. He always wore rough, patched habits. When he saw things wasted the servant of God felt very sad. He was always accustomed to keep the friary clean and that things stay in their right places. He said to the Friars, “Brothers, we have to give an account to the Lord God for the littlest things because they are all alms and the blood of Christ. Don’t you know what happened to the Zoccolanti Fathers in the Province of Saint Francis, in Our Lady of the Angels? A sacristan had the custom of carrying lots of tapers in his sleeve. He used to burn one of the tapers at night and when he came across some Friars he used to strike up a conversation with them. When the taper finished burning he lit another. He used up many in this way. This went on for many years. Finally he arrived at death. The devil brought all those tapers to his cell. Even though his cell was large, the tapers nearly filled it half way. The devil stood on top of them and said to him, “You are damned because you have gone against holy poverty. When he returned to his senses, the temptation was such that he said he was completely lost. It pleased the Lord God that he recovered from that illness. He went to confession with many tears and from then on changed his life. He said to the Friars, ‘Brothers, take me as an example. I thought it was nothing to burn a taper. I gave no consideration that they amounted to such a great number over many years.’ That’s what we do,” said the servant of God, “when we waste one thing today and tomorrow another. Today we take some superfluous either in food or something else and something else tomorrow. In a short time these things all add up. It is not permissible for us as poor men to take more than what we need for our physical sustenance. How many unnecessary things do we send down our throats and take them from the poor, things that would sustain many of them. Our Father Saint Francis did not dare to drink some water and said, ‘I don’t have to give an account to God for what flows down the river, but for what I drink.’[696] There can be no poverty where there is abundance. Yet we have promised poverty.” He was always careful and very adamant not to use more for himself than what was necessary. He was very frugal in everything.

God gave him the gift and virtue of holy humility for a profound humility shone in him both inwardly and outwardly. He regarded himself as the greatest sinner in the world. This is what exalted and magnified all the glorious saints before God. The Mother of Christ attributed his taking human flesh from her to this virtue when she replied to Saint Elizabeth who said to her, “You are blessed because you have believed.” She replied, “Because God has gazed upon the humility of his servant.”[697] Because she was the humblest girl there was in the whole world, the son of God left aside all the others and took the humble and holy virgin as His Mother. This was the virtue that exalted our Father Saint Francis so much. For when his companion Brother Pacificus saw him saw a throne in paradise that was higher and more beautiful than all the others, he was told, “this throne is reserved for the humble Saint Francis.”[698] Therefore this virtue exalted this servant of God who always persevered in humility in the holy Order for fifty three years. He always did the humblest and most menial duties and tasks: cook, quester[699], gardener, sweeping the friary and countless other things without ever lifting the yoke of holy obedience from his neck. If those servants of God who do miracles are recognised a acceptable to His Majesty, his perseverance for so many years without doing anything to the contrary may be regarded as the greatest a miracle that a servant of God can do, that is, to live so many years without ones own will and subject to holy obedience. Perseverance is what crowns the chosen of God. It is not enough to begin to serve God. However the one who perseveres until death earns the crown. All the more so if one perseveres without every breaking the covenant that we have made with Jesus Christ to observe the Rule all the days of our life. For if we go against it just once, our life is denigrated. However, perseverance from the beginning until the end, as this servant of God obviously did, is most praiseworthy.

Hence as he reached old age when he could not work hard anymore, he was so worn out and doubled over that his head nearly touched the ground he walked along. Nonetheless, because of the good habit that the servant of God had acquired, the servant of God never wasted time. He prayed either in his cell or in the woods. He received the most holy sacraments more than ever, going to Holy Communion nearly every day. Nothing but good words ever came from his lips. He loved to speak about the Rule so much and exhorted the young to observe it. Being unable to fast, he still ate so little that everyone was amazed. When he was in the friary in Milan he usually heard the first Mass and most times went to Holy Communion. However once when the holy old man did not come to Mass and did not come to eat at his usual time, the Friars wanted to see what he was doing. When they went to his cell they found him kneeling in bed. He was just like the great servant of God, Paul the first hermit, whom Saint Anthony found kneeling with his face lifted up to heaven. Having given up his spirit to God he saw the glorious Saint Anthony placed in the choir of Seraphim. This happened to him because in this world of holy contemplation he loved the Lord god with such an ardent love that he imitated the holy Seraphim, those supreme creatures who love God more than all the rest of paradise. After this servant of God had imitated the servant of God, Paul the Hermit, in this way according to his own capacity, it pleased His Majesty to make him the same again in the passage of his death. For while the Friars thought he was praying, when the called him he did not answer. When they touched him, although he was kneeling, they knew that he had given up his spirit to God. That is just what he wanted because if prayer is necessary, it is needed especially at the time of death when we receive the last temptations from the devil. That body was buried in the same friary in Milan, and he left behind the best example to his brothers so that they should imitate him.

I won’t write about miracles. Even though there are some deeds, because he died in the Province of Milan, I do not know about them. It is enough that we can piously believe that his soul is paradise and may pray for us and for everyone. Since he had such great charity towards his neighbour in this world, in heaven it will be completely fulfilled.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

LXXVI: About the holy man Brother Felix of Cantalice, Lay Friar

The vocations that God has given men in his service have always varied at various times. Equally various are the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit, as is clear for the Apostle Paul. God chooses some as Apostles, others Teachers of the Holy Church[700]. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit even temporal kings have gone into His service in different states or Orders. Some have been called while in their mother’s womb, as is obvious in the Gospel of Saint Luke regarding Saint John the Baptist. The Saviour of the world, who first had predestined him from eternity, visited and sanctified him in the womb of his mother[701]. Others were called when they were children like the prophet Daniel, Saint Nicholas and many others. What will we say about Saint Peter, with the other Apostles, who were fishermen at a mature age[702] and became Apostles of Christ? There were some others such as Saints Matthew. Zaccheus, Paul and countless others who while in the world we involved in every sort of vice, so that Our Lord shows us the zeal he has for our salvation and that no one should despair of his mercy and goodness and that he always calls us in every age and helps us follow His Majesty’s footsteps. And thus appears recently in our times the miraculous vocation of this servant of God, Brother Felix[703].

Therefore Brother Felix was from a place called Cantalice in the dominion of His Majesty, King Phillip and in the diocese of Cività Ducale. One must believe that by the special providence of God this holy man was born to a man who had the name ‘Santi di Caratto’ and to a woman likewise surnamed ‘Santa’ – that a truly holy man was born to two who were ‘holy’ by name. Santi and Santa, the parents of Brother Felix, from the aforesaid castle, were not very well off. However they were God fearers and although they had a lowly state in the world, they nonetheless raised this son with the fear of God, just as we can find some kinds of people who live as good Christians live that with rustic simplicity and make present that ancient piety of the holy Patriarchs. These happy parents had four sons in Cantalice, the third of whom they called Felix at his baptism. That name was by the providence of God because he was called Felix[704] in the world and was clothed in the holy Order on the feast of Saint Felix. He led his life happily[705] according to God while he lived, and piously we hope he is happy[706], blessed in heaven since he died on the on the feastday of the same saint.

Therefore he followed the work of his father, which was the art of the farmer, until he was thirty years old. One day when he was in alpine places to pasture some animals he heard a voice which resounded in the sky. It said to him, “Felix?”

With his innate simplicity he answered it, “What do you want?” The voice answered him, “Know that I am the Angel of God who wants that you go into his service.” Felix answered, “Where does he want me to go?” The Angel answered, “Into the Order of the Minors.” He replied, “And where will I find them?” “Go off to Leonessa,” said the Angel. You will find them there.”

The servant of God wasn’t lazy. Rather he was like John the Evangelist, the Beloved of the Lord. When the Saviour of the world called him with his brother he left his father Zebedee, the boat and the nets and followed him without any objection[707]. So Felix immediately left his animals and went off to Leonessa to the friary of the Capuchin Fathers. When the Father Guardian called he revealed his intention to him with that simplicity of his, though he did not tell him about the revelation of God. However since the Guardian didn’t know him well enough he told him to go to find the Father Vicar. However he could not tell him where he was. Felix was a simple man and not accustomed to hear Angels speaking, he thought no more of it and went back to looking after his animals. Nonetheless he still attended to the strong desire to live in a Christian way. He withdrew as much as he could from the usual dealings with others and from the danger of sin. He held fast in preserving the fragrant flower of his virginity. Similarly divine grace generally guarded him from other sins.

So it is not surprising that the desire for Christian perfection burned so easily in such a ready heart. Once he heard the lives of the holy Fathers read. He thought about their penance and how they sustained their lives with some fruit and vegetables without any bread. He decided that he also wanted to abstain from bread and wine and to imitate those saints in their abstinence. In order do this he deliberated seriously about becoming a Capuchin just as God had revealed to him. He thought that in the Capuchin habit he could do all these things. Although there was no shortage of desire, nonetheless in his simplicity he didn’t know how to go about it.

So the Lord God again did not fail to send him his Angel who said to him, “Felix, I am the Angel of the Lord. He has sent me again to tell you so that you to go into his service.” Felix answered, “I went there and they didn’t want to receive me.” The Angel replied, “Go to Rieti and there it will be told you what you have to do.”

Felix went straight away to Rieti. When he spoke with the Father Guardian of the Capuchins, he led him into the church. He showed him a crucifix all bloody and bruised and said to him, “See young man how much Christ has suffered for us!” That pitiful appearance of Christ crucified and the strong words of the Guardian wounded the heart of the devout Felix. He felt full of loving compunction, evidenced by the tears that flowed abundantly from his eyes and his heavy sigh. The Guardian concluded that this was a clear indication of the holy disposition of his heart, pure and unburdened by sins and worldly affections. He saw these as a sign of his holiness and especially his holy fondness to weep over the passion of our Lord, which had been a very familiar practice for him.

After praying in the church for a good while, the Guardian led him back into the house. When he recognised that the young man was devout and suited to the Order, he directed him to Rome with a letter to the Father Provincial who receive and clothed him kindly. He was sent to the novitiate friary at Anticoli. During his novitiate under the Master Brother Boniface of Anticoli, a man who led a very holy life, the devout young man bore great profit in the service of God. And no wonder because when that holy Master saw that the young man was so well disposed, he engendered in him every good and religious conduct, according to his wish. He instructed him in the perfect observance of the Rule and taught him above all that if we wanted to achieve religious perfection, it was necessary for him to found himself on the sure foundation of holy humility, the perfect footing of every spiritual edifice. This servant of God immersed himself so deeply in good instruction that he did his entire novitiate in a marvellous way. He was so ready and disposed to holy obedience that just a hint sufficed for him. He was so mortified that his Master related how he never had a novice who applied himself so easily to all the virtues as he did. He dedicated himself to prayer in such a way that while he carried out his duties in the friary his mind never departed from the contemplation of God. This because he was so willing to make progress that he only needed to be shown the way and he persevered in it until his death, always growing to greater perfection.

Nevertheless the Lord God wanted to do with him what He has done with most of His friends. In his novitiate he gave him a very grave illness that, according to what the Seraphic Doctor wrote[708], He also did with our Seraphic Father Saint Francis. This is no wonder because Our Lord wanted to enrich the soul of this servant of His. To do this it was first necessary to weaken and scourge the flesh that resists the spirit so much. His illness was such that the Friars began to whether he was suited for the Order and if they should send him home. However it pleased the Lord God that all this resulted in his favour because when the Friars considered his good life and religious conversation when this servant of God was healthy they were unable to decide to send him away. So he made profession when his time came. His profession and was much more acceptable and proven because the Order had tested him when both healthy and ill, and similarly he had tried out religious life when both sick and healthy[709].

Not long after the Superiors gave him as the companion of the holy old man Brother Angelus of Collescipoli[710] who was quester at the time in Rome. Shortly after the whole burden fell to this servant of God, Brother Felix. He persevered in it for about forty years continuously and with great edification to everyone that even though there may have been other holy men in the same office who lasted many years. One was Brother Giles of Sant’Angelo in Vado who persevered for thirty years in the same task and always went barefoot all the time and dressed in just one habit. He never ate more than once a day[711]. Nonetheless he did not disclose his holiness as much as this servant of God Brother Felix did. He dealt with so many people of every condition for so many years he never upset anyone. He edified them with his holy life and brought every kind of spiritual benefit as much as possible. He helped pitiful persons with alms. He gave such good example to great lords and noble persons that everyone loved him and regarded him as a holy religious. Although God had given him a rustic nature[712] and he was very simple in his speech and conversation, nonetheless the Holy Spirit worked in this servant of His so that his rusticity[713] resulted in greater benefit for souls, especially noble women and great lords. He conversed so naturally with them like an earthbound Angel. He produced the greatest fruit in them. They liked his manner so much that even though he would often reprimand them very strongly, though with such modesty, that they all bore him engraved into their hearts. When the welcome him into their homes, they felt that they were welcoming Saint Francis.

Because of the great devotion and faith they had towards him, the Lord God worked many miracles at this time. On the one hand, even though this servant of God dealt with many different kinds of people for many years, it was amazing that he was never became defiled in mind or body. The Lord God gave him so much grace that he behaved in the world as if her were in the middle of the woods. In fact he even produced fruit from this. Because when he saw the miseries of the world and since he was full of charity he spent the whole night in the church praying to God for the many needs he saw in poor creatures. This was something great because, since he was acquainted with everyone because of this task, the Holy Spirit had it so that his holiness was never known. Instead everyone thought he was an ordinary man, though a good one. His holiness was unknown not only to seculars but also to the Friars. He knew how to hide it well! It seems as though the servant of God was quite good at this since even though he was full of spirit and perfection, others hadn’t know this.

This servant of God was so prudent and restrained in his conversation with the Friars that he never went to extremes. He did not indulge too much in conversation and waste time. Nor did he hold back when conversation was necessary as an act of charity either for the sick or for the tasks that benefit the community of Friars so that his conversation was always meritorious. He was so united to God through long and intimate prayer it was always his mind was to flee every vain occupation. When he saw himself free from these charitable tasks, he withdrew straight away to the church.

In this servant of God it was no less important that he led life that was both spiritual and purified of every corrupt infection in these times of ours which are so hard and unsuitable for anyone who wants to maintain such a perfect life. Equally it shows the splendour of his perfection since our Order had grown to such a large number and to a great extent missing that first fervour of the early Fathers. For companionship and example very much support the spiritual activity[714] and it is generally obvious that anyone who wants to aspire to contemplation, the perfection of religious life, he avoids as much a possible having dealings with many people. Instead, withdrawn into woods and solitary places, they derive great profit so that even though they have some imperfection within themselves it is not really apparent. It is like a vessel full of very clear water which has some sediment on the bottom. When it is shaken it becomes cloudy. However when the liquid is completely purified, no matter how much it is shaken it always remains clear. This is a very good illustration of the Brother Felix’s holiness and purity of heart. Although he was shaken through conversation with so many imperfect persons and through the tiring and perilous task of quester that he had. Nonetheless for such a long time the vessel of his heart has never shown anything but being full of nothing but purity, spirit and goodness so that for a period of forty years no one could point to a single unreligious act. To be truly good among the good is nothing great. However to be good among the wicked is a sign of great perfection. He was like this with the experience of a cosmopolitan Rome. Over so many years and amid so many obstacles he achieved the end to which the observance of the Seraphic Rule of Saint Francis aspires which is the spirit of the Lord, prayer and devotion. As our Father says in the Rule, “Let the Friars not care about study since the goal of the Rule is not learning. Above all, instead, they should desire to have the spirit of the Lord and His holy working.”[715]

Therefore this was the mine from which Felix the servant of God won the pure gold of the perfect love of God. For just as we mentioned above, he laid a good foundation in the novitiate and he always burned with greater fervour by continuing this most noble practice of prayer. This was how. Even though it was clearly obvious to the Friars that he was exhausted from the effort of questing and from fasting, when they Friars went to sleep he stopped sleeping at two in the night and to church to pray so that the Lord would not be alone. He prayed there until Matins. When the Matins bell range and the Friars began to say the Office, he went to get a little sleep that was physically required. When the prayer after Matins was finished and the Friars went back to bed, he stayed in the church and prayed until dawn. When the dawn bell rang he served at the first Mass that was usually said at dawn and he received Holy Communion. Then when he had prayed for some time he went to his task of questing, or whatever had been imposed on him by obedience.

Not much is known about the way he used to pray because when he entered the church he explored it with a lighted candle to see if it was free of anybody else so that he could speak out loud with Our Lord. However he could not guard against some Friars who wanted to know what he did and crouched in hiding off to the side of the church so that he could not see them. From them we have heard something of the way he prayed.

So once he was seen to enter the cemetery underneath the church. There he burst out in these words, “Dear Brothers,” (he was speaking the dead), “you have done you bit, now it is up to me.” He said this, recalling the great fervour of those servants who were buried there and whom he had known. Then with great fervour he began to take the discipline while saying the Miserere. When he had said two or three verses be broke down in tears. The one who observed him heard him weep as uncontrollably as if with his own eyes he had seen Christ scourged by the torturers. After this lasted a long time, he took up another verse of the psalm. While taking the discipline, he exercised his mind in the contemplation of God and the passion of His Son. He nearly always began his prayer by afflicting his flesh, scourging himself energetically. The wen sat in the middle of the church and was often heard to say, “My Lord, I commend this city to You. Then he included particularly needy people.

Once his weeping was heard to be quite extreme while he was standing up. Then when he calmed down even his breathing couldn’t be heard. The Friar who was listening was amazed at this. To see him standing so still touch him in a way that he knew he was absolutely rigid and frozen like a statue. He understood clearly that his spirit was elevated in ecstasy and his body was insensible.

It would take too long to tell a bout all the happenings that different ones have seen in the prayer of this servant of God. But anyone who thinks carefully about his outward life, which was so good and well ordered, can easily surmise that everything proceeded from that pleasant duty of holy prayer in he occupied himself most of the time and from which every good emerges in the good Religious. It is more pleasing to His Majesty than any other exercise, since prayer is the goal of all the other exercises.

So the foundation for the servant of God Brother Felix was good, since he founded himself on the mortification of the flesh and on true humility. And what is more important is the perfect mortification of ones own will and knowing how to keep the fervour of his spirit calm among so many occupations and so well resigned to the will of God shown him through holy obedience that had assigned him to the office of quester. Never at any time did he try, either directly or indirectly, to have himself removed from it. However with unquestioning faith he accepted it as the will of God and peacefully endured all the physical and spiritual difficulties, hoping in God who amid so many efforts and distractions could preserve him as if he were in the woods where there are no other creatures. This made him great and God guarded him from every evil because the mortification of ones own will is the foundation of perfection. On the other hand, even with one gram of self-will it is impossible to be in true perfection, although one may be in the grace of God.

This servant of God was so resigned to obedience that he never objected to anything that might have been imposed upon him no matter how difficult, inconvenient or arduous it was. However with great humility he embraced and fulfilled everything his Superiors commanded him without regret or complaint. In everything he did he wanted them done under holy obedience. Nor would he have made visits or given alms while questing without the permission of the Father Guardian. He was so good and reliable that all the Friars had the greatest confidence in him. He never failed in obedience to anyone who asked him to do something.

He was a perfect observer of holy poverty. Regarding clothing he never wanted more than one completely patched habit of natural wool. Sometimes he wore a little mantle of the same cloth. There was nothing else in his cell than a board on which he slept with a block of wood for a pillow. Regarding food he usually fasted most of the time while he was young. When he came to the table he never said a word to the cook and when the cook saw him and brought him a little soup, he ate it. However when the cook was not aware of him he ate whatever was provided and whatever water or wine was there. Then he went about his business, accepting from the hand of God whatever there was at the table.

For a long time he wore a very coarse hairshirt and he always went barefoot during both winter and summer until he became old. When it was obvious that he could not longer do this, the Superiors had him wear sandals during winter.

Regarding holy chastity, everyone always regarded him to be a virgin and it seems that he showed this at his death. While he was alive his skin was marred, dark and rough. At his death it became smooth, clear and delicate like the skin of a young boy. His limbs remained flexible as if he were still alive. One cannot believe otherwise for although he had had dealings with people for such a long time there was never a hint of the slightest suspicion.

I will not say much about his humility except that he used to say, “I say with the Friars, but I am not a Friar. I am the Friars’ little donkey.” In all his words, conversation and actions there was nothing but obvious humility. If it had been otherwise the spiritual edifice he had built over so many years would have fallen if he had not had holy humility as its very sound foundation. Nor would have the Lord God displayed so many signs and miracles through his holy merits.

When he reached the end of his life, it was clear that Our Lord God had revealed to him the end of his life. Many seculars verify that he had said openly that he knew about the end of his life as he did in the Palace of the Lord Alexander Olsiati, where he said to a certain gentleman, John, who was the steward of that lord, “I will no longer come here for alms. I commend to you my Brothers.” He said similar words in the house of Lady Julia, the wife of Mr. Francis Cesarini. Our Friars testify to the same, that they knew clearly from the words that came from his mouth, like these and similar, “The Friars’ little donkey has fallen and it will not get up again.” This is not something new because most of the time the Lord God reveals the end of their lives to his dearest servants.

They also say that the infirmarian had put out a mattress for him, as is done with all the sick. Because of his austerity, the servant of got up off that mattress up to three times. According to his custom he wanted to die on a board, that very uncomfortable bed where he always used to lie before. When the infirmarian commanded him to do it, he made no more resistance. He gave told of an example, though with naming who it was. “A sick Friar wanted to stay in his bed but the infirmarian who was taking care of him gave him a mattress. While the sick man was on the mattress the devil appeared to him and said, “Well, you are done for[716]!” The sick man went and took the mattress away and stayed on his hard little bed. When the infirmarian came he returned the mattress and put it back in place. While the sick man was on it the devil appeared to him again and said, “Twice!” The sick Friar went and removed it again. When the infirmarian returned the third time he put the mattress back and the devil appeared to him again, saying, “Three times!” Then the sick man replied, “No go away because I want to stay here out of obedience.”[717]

All the Friars thought that this happened to him. From these and all the other examples that could be written about one may be certain that God revealed to him the end of his life.

He fell ill with fever on the last day of April and in this his last illness he never complained. As if it were not his concern he asked for nothing and did not bother any of the Friars in their duties[718]. Rather to have him take the necessary things usually given to the sick it was necessary to do so through obedience. Although he was getting worse he couldn’t stay in his cell. Instead when he felt some relief from the pain as best he could he went quite often to the church to pray. Indeed it was necessary to compel him under explicit obedience to stay in his cell like a sick Friar. His zeal to suffer for the love of Christ was such that he always treated his body like a donkey he kept, as was his want to say. No did anyone ever see him give his body any rest since he desired to always keep it crucified to the Lord. Once a Friar asked him how he was. He answered, “How do you want me to be? They have put me on this mattress!” In this he showed that he disliked the mattress very much.

He was accustomed to say, “I have no greater enemy than my body.” He disclosed this also to a Friar when he said to him, “Know that the devil has wanted to tempt me and I replied to him, ‘You are not my judge. You are damned and I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.’” He said this inadvertently because he was usually very careful not to show his holiness in any way. When a Friar asked him if the devil gave him any trouble, he answered, “He leaves me be. The devil tempts holy men. Who would want to tempt me, I who am a rotting carcass?” It is impossible that persevering so long alone in the church that he did not suffer many tricks from the infernal enemy, but about these nothing is known.

While he was sick and near to death and because he was very devout towards Our Lady, that kind Mother did not fail to visit this servant of hers. It is believed that she visited him at times in order to console him in his extremity which was the same day that he passed away to the better life. He had eaten a little and was resting however the Friar who had served him did not leave him. Suddenly the servant of God raised his arms into the air and holding them open said, “Oh, oh, oh!” three times. He staid like that for the time it takes to say the Miserere three or four times. The Friar asked him what he could see. He answered, “I see Our Lady with the Angels.” He asked the Friar to leave the cell, which was open. He did this and returned a little later. HE found Brother Felix doing the same thing, raising his arms. However since he wanted to enjoy freely the happy visit of the Queen of heaven who wanted to comfort her servant Felix, he asked the Friar again to leave. So he did so as not to disturb him from these consolations and left him alone with that happy company.

As the happy passage from this world finally drew nearer, with great humility the servant of God asked for the most holy sacraments. After having received some of the them, the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist was brought to him. The Father said to him, “Brother Felix, my brother, behold that Lord God has come to visit you.” With great humility he cried out, O sacrum convivium..etc., and with all the reverence he could he received that holy Viaticum. Not long after that very holy soul passed happily to its Creator whom he had served so faithfully for so many years. It was about the twenty third hour on the twentieth of May, in the year of Our Lord 1587, on the second day of the sacred feast of the Holy Spirit, that is, Pentecost. At that time they were celebrating the General Chapter of the Order of Capuchins.

After his blessed death the Lord God wanted to show to the world how much this servant of His pleased Him. It was not without mystery that he should die on the feast of Pentecost and at the time of the General Chapter. Divine Providence was used the Chapter to make him well known to the Order and to the world for benefit of all. The Lord God used his glorious passing over[719] as a sermon, which are usually done at General Chapters. This time hardly anyone gave one since at that time God wanted the holy death of a poor Lay Friar be more valuable that all the learned sermons of the Preachers. His death preached so much better as a witness to his holy life and they did not seek to add their own words. Because when he was dead they saw that his flesh was soft and doughy like that of a child. His limbs were easy to move, bend and turn – much more than when he was alive. They had to remove his habit in order to wash the body and put one back on it again since the first one had been mostly cut off because of the devotion of the people. The undertaker[720] had to remove the old habit and put another on the body and it was done easily, as if he were still alive, if not better. His limbs were so tractable, flexible and yielding. They had a whiteness that was unusual for him. While he was alive his skin was dark and weathered. Just as the roughness changed into softness, his dark complexion became light. His feet that had been as hard as wood had now become fleshy. After he died, his heals that used to used to have those great cracks that looked like wounds had not sign of them. They were perfectly intact. The doctor of the Friars was amazed at these things.

So because of this, which was a sign of the purity of his body and the holiness and blessedness of his soul, and the great reputation that he had in Rome, a special devotion towards this blessed Friar awoke in the hearts of the people to the extent that brought both by the Holy Spirit and by union and concord, they gathered in the church of the Friars where he had been placed for the funeral rites. There was such an attendance of men and women clearly moved by the Holy Spirit, which declared his holiness to the world. The people stood around his holy body and vied to touch the rosary. They cut small pieces from the habit in such a way that it was missing right up to the knees. His sleeves were gone too. His hair and beard were cut because they all regarded him as a saint. Whatever of his they could have, they esteemed as a holy relic.

So the Friars were compelled to move the body inside the chancel where the people could see it but not touch it. They put another habit on him. Therefore he still could not be buried until the twelfth hour on Thursday. Meanwhile so many people were there as well as Roman lords and ladies that not only was the church full, so was the friary, and amazingly, so was the square outside, the streets and all around the friary so that no one could leave or enter. It was necessary for some of the Friars to return home by climbing over the garden wall.

The devotion of the people increased even more because of what happened while his body was in the church. The daughter of a gentleman was possessed. Because the gentleman’s household was devoted to the Order Brother Felix sometimes went to visit. Eight days before he died the girl made a great din saying that that “the sack”[721], that awful friar[722] that he has to die. While his body was in the church the poor girl was brought there forcibly. As soon as she touched that body she fell in a dead feint and stayed on the floor for sometime while the Priest exorcised her. He said, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ and when he came to the words ‘A man was sent by God whose name was John’ he repeated them a many times and she began to breathe a little. A little while later she opened her eyes and then joined her hand s as if she wanted to pray. When she drew near to the bier she embraced and kissed the body of Brother Felix with great devotion. From there she went some distance to the main altar to thank God for the grace she received. Never again was any wrong heard from her.

Because of this amazing and huge gathering, until it was buried, the body was moved to where the body could not even be seen. Meanwhile the Protector of the Capuchins had it placed in a lead coffin, giving him a resting place[723]. It was transferred into the chapel of the Crucified, which was precisely the mystery to which he had been most devoted, as if God were making clear that He had made him a sharer in heaven in the consolations of His Son, Jesus Christ. For on earth he had been His companion in His sufferings. As Saint Paul says, the one who suffers with Him will reign with Him[724].

About a month after his death the Lord God wanted to reveal the glory of this servant of His by means of Thomas of Mondavio in the State of Urbino. He was gravely ill in the house of Mr. Peter Valentini near San Pantaleo since he was his beloved servant and who knew he was an outstanding, God-fearing Christian. The illness got worse on the eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi he had received all the most holy sacraments. He stopped speaking at about the twentieth hour and was unconscious until two or three in the morning. Meanwhile it was thought that he would expire. Suddenly he opened his eyes and sat up in bed and began to cry, “Victory! Victory! Viva Cristo! Viva Cristo!” and similar words. There were about ten persons present and they asked him why he was crying out. He said nothing except, “Victory! Victory!” They called Mr. Peter who had gone to supper a little earlier. When he came he asked the sick man what those words meant. To this he replied, “I have won against the devil. I was led into hell. There I saw great things and recognised some, in particular those who had been executed at Porta Latina. The devil accused me of many sins. However Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, Saint Francis and the blessed Felix appeared to me. They had brought me back and fought for me. By the mercy of God I have won because when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me with His most holy Mother the devils fled away and are a good way off now.” When Mr. Peter asked him if he recognised blessed Felix and how was he dressed and what did he say, he answered, “I recognised him very well. He was dressed in a very beautiful and shining white silk gown with an aura[725] of a similar colour but more beautiful and resplendent than his clothing. When the devils were accusing me he said, “Be strong. Do not worry. Believe in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Catholic Church and you will be victorious. So with these words he encouraged and consoled me very much.” Not long after he passed over to the better life.

All this has been written about the blessed Felix but much more could be written. Let this suffice in order to know his holiness.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His most fair Mother and of our Father Saint Francis.

Here are written some miracles that Our Lord God worked through the merits and intercession of blessed Brother Felix.

Because of the great devotion of the people this servant of God began to shine with many miracles. When he heard this, Sixtus V of happy memory ordered his process be written. When those appointed did this there were many proven miracles from which I thought I would take some. So as not to tire the reader I will not go on too long. Therefore the blessed Felix did these miracles during his life and after his death.

First, those done during his life.

When the Roman, lord Bernardine Olsiati, was gravely ill with an abscess on his back, Brother Felix visited him. He asked him to make the sign of the holy cross over him. This was no sooner done and he was completely healed.

Brother Felix asked an alms of wine from Lady Lavinia Carpi. She answered him that there was none in the barrel. When the servant had great difficulty drawing any, he approached and kneeling on the ground prayed for some time. Then taking spigot and widening the barrel bung it miraculously gave out wine, as if it were full. He filled his container and then it was enough for those of that house for a period of three months. He was given a lot of it for the love of God.

In the courtyard of the same house there were some sheaves of corn. When Brother Felix and his companion saw that they were spoiling, they turned them and set them out to dry. The corn was completely restored. The lady made many cakes from this grain and out of devotion to the holy man gave them to many sick people who were healed straightaway when they ate them.

The Roman, Lelio Cicala was riding his horse when the horse put its leg through an iron grate. It was not humanly possible to free it, the more so because it kicked so much that no one dared go near it. When the servant of God Brother Felix arrived he went up and taking his mantle said to the horse, “This is the mantle of Saint Francis.” He put it on the horse’s neck and he settled immediately. Then his leg was pulled very easily out of the grate. Everyone thought that this was a great miracle of God.

In the month of September 1584 Mr. Attilio da Velletri was ill and the pain in his feet was such that he could bear even for the blanket to touch them. It happened that after blessed Felix said both and Our Father and Hail Mary he made the sign of the holy Cross over him. Immediately he was completely healed and the following day he went the Friar’s church to give thanks to God.

The Lady Marchioness della Valle, a Roman, was very ill with a worsening stabbing pain[726]. When the holy man Brother Felix arrived there she begged him with great faith to make the sign of the cross over her. When he did this she was healed straightaway.

The Roman lady Crelia della Valle was ill with a serious fever so that the doctors had no doubt. Blessed Felix visited her and with great insistence she begged him to pray for her and make the sign of the cross over her which gave her so much pain. When this was done, the pain stopped and she was completely healed.

The Roman lord Mutio Mattei was deteriorating with a grave illness and the doctors had given him up for lost, or that at least the sickness would last a long time. The blessed Felix visited him. With great faith he begged the holy man to make the sign of the holy cross over him. With great humility the servant of God commended him to the Lord. When he made the sign of the holy cross he was completely healed to the great amazement of the doctors.

The lord Marius, son of the Lord Mutio was fourteen years old and had deteriorated with fever and catarrh. The doctors had judged that he had no hope since the illness was usually long and incurable. The blessed Felix answered him and the begged him resolutely to pray for him and to touch him. When he did this the boy recovered completely.

The Roman Fulvio Fusco had become totally blind. The blessed Felix visited him and was begged to make the sign of the cross over him. When he did this he recovered completely and from then on he saw the eyes of a young boy.

Sister Felicity, a Tertiary, suffered from a very dangerous abscess on her side. When the blessed Felix made the sign of the holy cross she was completely healed.

Some of the miracles done after his death

with the habit or other relics of the blessed Felix

The Roman Lady Sestilia di Nardi was sick with a pestilent fever and petechia. The doctors had give up. When a small piece of the habit of blessed Felix was put on her she was completely healed.

Maria, the wet nurse of Lady Victoria de Massimi, was ill with a serious sickness. A nose-bleed came upon her and doctors tried many remedies but all were in vane. However she was near death and her mistress the Lady Victoria, after she had lit a candle for her, gave her three threads from the habit of blessed Felix as a last remedy. The were finely ground and drunk with a little wine. She was healed immediately.

When he was about sixteen years old, Dominic Coderoni, the son of the Roman Lady Gieronima Pignatelli, was sick with a very serious rupture which incapacitated him completely and which oozed great quantities. His mother prayer to the blessed Felix to heal her son who would have to go to visit his tomb ten times. However after the second visit the boy was completely healed through the merits of Brother Felix.

Francis was born mute. He was 16 years old. A devout Sienese woman called Lady Portia cared for the child for the love of God. Nonetheless because of poverty he stayed at the Porta della Pace in Rome in order to receive some alms. Moved by compassion and with great faith, the Lady Portia touched his mouth with a small piece of the habit of Brother Felix. Immediately he began to speak and from then on he spoke very well.

The English Brother Constantine, a Capuchin, had suffered a very harmful[727] fever for eleven months. Inspired by God, he went one day with great faith to the tomb of this servant of God. With many tears he commended himself to him, throwing himself upon the tomb. He got up straight away healthy and robust.

Miracles done in Naples

Mr. Francis Janga, a doctor, had a son about seven years old. Along with other infirmities, he was burdened by a continuous fever with chest pain[728] so that he could not speak. Having tried many remedies over a long period of time, nothing worked and there was little hope for the health of the boy. Brother Gregory, a Capuchin of Naples, visited him and touched the boy with a little piece of the habit of the holy man. He was healed immediately.

The same Mr. Francis also had an afflicted daughter. When he saw the miracle God had worked in his son, with great faith he touched her with the same piece of habit and she was freed immediately.

The wife of the same man was afflicted by a life threatening illness. Touching her with that piece of cloth she was healed straight away. It was amazing that through the merits of this servant of His, the Lord God worked three miracles in the same important household at the same time.

In the monastery of Saint Ligorio there was nun, Petronilla, who suffered from a nose-bleed for about two or three years. Because of another infirmity she suffered from such severe haemorrhaging that often left her as good as dead. However around the feast of Saint Anne the sickness seized her with such vehemence that it made her go forty eight hours without speaking or eating anything. Also it so twisted her mouth that it made her frightening to look at. With great faith the Nuns, who got small piece of the habit of the holy man, touched her mouth on both sides and it immediately returned to its normal position. She opened her eyes and spoke very well. They gave her something to eat and she was completely healed.

Peter Paul, the son of Mr. Bernard Bellis, was afflicted with pox or glanders to the extent that the doctors made the judgement that he would die or become completely blind since it so covered his face that he had not opened his eyes for many days. His grandmother, Lady Julia di Prisco touched his eyes with a piece if the habit and his sandals while saying the Our Father and the Hail Mary. When this was done he immediately opened his eyes and lifted his head. When she touched his knees where he suffered much more he was completely healed.

Adrianella, the daughter of the Lord Marquis of Castelnuovo, as a girl suffered from a grave illness in her stomach. Because of this she could not keep down her milk and had deteriorated so much that her eyes had rolled back and everyone in the palace mourned her death. When they touched her with a little piece of the habit she was completely healed immediately.

About the miracles done in Procena, the land of Sister Paola Sforza

The three year old son of Lady Julia, Ambrose often came down with epilepsy. When his mother heard that the Rector of the place had some cloth that the holy man kept over the door of his cell, she had a sash made from it and wrapped upon the boy’s skin and he was completely healed.

Lady Lavinia, the wife of Richard, had deteriorated with pain throughout her body. She had begun to use a walking stick. Many other remedies were tried but the pain increased. With great faith she put on the same sash that the Rector had and she was completely healed. As a sign of this she sent a silver votive offering to Rome.

Croda was the daughter of Joseph Guercetti. She had come down with petechia and had an acute fever. It was not humanly possible for her to recover her health and she had lost her speech. With great faith her mother, Lady Faustina, put the sash on her made from Brother Felix’ cloth and she was completely healed.

Miracles done in other parts

In Gallicano, a castle in the diocese of Pallestrina, Lady Portia had deteriorated from schiantia and was already near death. With great faith Lady Salvaggia Sordi told her to commend herself to the blessed Capuchin, Felix. She said to her, “Kiss this habit of his.” When she did this she was completely healed.

In the city of Modena in Lombardy, the lord Nicholas Sudenti had a daughter, Barbara. For many days she had deteriorated with a serious fever in June 1587. The doctors and everyone considered her lost. The illness got worse and she went part of the day with her eyes clothes and took nothing. When she stopped speaking completely she was mourned as death. When the Capuchins Brother Thomas and Brother Pacificus heard about this, they went to console her mother. When they did this, inspired by god, they said to her, “Lady, have faith in blessed Felix who does many miracles and commend yourself to him.” As they touched the girl with a little piece of his habit the fever stopped immediately and she got up from bed completely healed.

These few miracles are just a few to write about because Our Lord god has worked countless others through the merits of blessed Felix. These were done during his life and after his death with his habit and with other cloths he had touched, as well as his sandals and rosary. A “manna” came from his members and bones and it still comes continuously. It springs from his tomb and many ampules of it were sent to Princes and great persons throughout Christendom. Many miracles have been done with this liquid. There is a large quantity of wax and silver images which demonstrate and testify to the many graces that have been received from God through the merits of this servant of His. Almost every week until to day some of these arrive at his tomb. We hope that through all these that Our Lord, just as he had indicated through his name Felix, that He would have made him happy in heaven. There, fulfilled in charity, he continuously prays for us to Jesus Christ Our Lord to whom be all honour and glory and from whom miracles come.

May everything be written for His praise and glory and that of His most fair Mother and our Father Saint Francis. Amen.

LXXVII: About the holy man Brother Raniero, Lay Friar, from the Villa of Calipardi within the Dominion of Florence, near Sasso di Simone

In the beginning God created the first man innocent and placed him in that earthly paradise. He was given free will to be able to preserve himself acceptable to God in his innocence. However by sinning he lost innocence and all the free gifts for himself and for all of us. Such was the potency of the poisonous fruit that it came down to his descendents, affecting the entire human stock. Because of this it was necessary that the Son of God come down from heaven and clothed in our humanity on the wood of the Cross, wash us with His precious and blood and remove the ancient error. When he was leaving us he left us this as an everlasting covenant: whoever wants to please Him and save his soul should follow him, leading a spotless life in this world. So, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, cutting themselves of from the tumult and noise of the world, those early servants of God plunged into harsh desert and led a life that was more angelic than human. Leading there an immaculate life, they gave all their effort to regain lost innocence and simplicity of mind for since God instructed them they knew that God communicated Himself to pure minds. The simpler and purer the Holy Spirit finds our minds, the more He communicates Himself to us with greater abundance, just as we see in the Mother of God. Through her innate innocence, high purity and profound humility, being predestined from eternity as such by the Eternal Father, she merited to become Mother of the Son of God. Also the virginity and simplicity of John the Evangelist meant that as a special privilege he was called the beloved of the Lord[729]. Therefore in order to regain innocence and simplicity the early holy Religious abandoned the world and began religious life and attained it greatest possible height. The fervour of those servants of God was such that when we read in books about the magnificent things they did we can hardly believe how marvellously they triumphed over the world, the devil and themselves – spending all their lives in fasting, silence and other afflictions in order to come to that quietness[730] of mind so that they could give God the appropriate fruit of contemplation.

Therefore the precious gem which adorned the great servant of God Brother Raniero was an innate simplicity that made him so acceptable to Our Lord God, as will be said below.

Brother Raniero[731] was from a area called Calipardi near Sasso di Simmone, from a little Villa called Ruffelle, in the diocese of Borgo San Selpocro. However before he was born a war broke out between the Republic of Florence and Francis Mary, the Duke of Urbino. Because of this war the Urbinese imprisoned Brother Raniero’s grandfather, called Julian. Brother Raniero’s father, called Novello, as a God fearing son, sold everything he had in this world in order to ransom his father. This was the reason that he left the area he was born and came to live on the mountain of Battuta. There in a village called Prato, about five miles from Borgo San Sepolcro, Novello married a very good woman called Gentile.

It pleased the Lord God that the devout servant of God Brother Raniero was born to Novello and Gentile in 1504[732]. His baptismal name was Santi. Novello was a simple man, poor in goods but very God fearing. His family was that of the Sfaldelli. Gentile’s was that of the Carlucci. They raised their son in the fear of God, instructing him according to their simplicity to walk along the way of the commandments of God and especially to be careful that he should never steal from others. Because of these sound instructions the devout youth always led an irreprehensible life. Everyone loved him very much and had compassion on him in his poverty. The well-off helped him. In his youth and since his childhood he tried himself just as we read from Saint Ambrose that Saint Nicholas began to fast while he was a tot. So once Santi was in a vineyard and a bunch of grapes was cut for him. He set to work and from his labours he earned the equivalent of what had been cut for him and he gave that to the owner.

It pleased the Lord God that from 1528 until 1530 there was a very bad plague in which Santi’s parents died. The only other remaining with him was his little sister called Maria. Having fled from the plague they found themselves in a forest. With many tears the devout young man commended himself to God so that He might take care of his little sister. It was amazing. The tears had no sooner come to the eyes of the poor Santi than they arrived to the ears of God and to the Mother of most holy mercy and who appeared to him in an oak tree dense with branches and leaves and said to him, “Take courage, my son Santi. I will take care of your little sister. Serve me faithfully and I will always be with you.” Then she immediately disappeared. I heard this from Brother Raniero himself. From then on he was always very devoted to the Mother of God. When he felt indisposed because of some physical accident that happened to him, or through some other travails which usually happen to us wretched mortals, he would kneel very devoutly and commend himself with many tears to the Mother of God.

Therefore once when he felt that he was seriously ill he did not go to the doctor as is usually done. Instead, as soon as felt ill and could not earn any bread for himself and his little sister, with great faith he appealed to her who promised so sweetly to help him. He made a vow during all that time that Our Lord had kept him infirm that if He gave him his health, he would serve Him for a month in the Holy House at Loreto for the love of His most fair Mother. It was marvellous because he immediately felt free from all infirmity and devotedly fulfilled the vow.

He then returned to the mountain of Battuta and considered how difficult it was to support himself and his little sister he began to work for a rich man Jerome Mancinelli of Villa Santo Angelo. There he worked as a farmer. He served him so faithfully that all the people loved him very much. He never missed his usual devotions and being unable to do them during the day he did them at night. He had a particular devotion each day of saying five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in the church of Santo Angelo with his arms in the form of a cross, remembering the passion of Our Lord. It rarely happened that he did not pour out many tears. One morning he was at this devotion he remembered a bull belonging to his master. It was so wild and fiery that he threw people into the air with his horns. Because of this they always led him around with a piece of rope. He worried that the bull would do some harm and left that church very quickly without finishing his devotion. He ran back for a distance of a mile to the bull and when he arrived he took hold of it by the halter. However that extremely fiery and terrible animal turned on him. Lifting him with his horns he threw him high into the air and gored him slightly. Then he began to bellow so much that everyone was amazed. It seemed that he must have hurt the devout and simple fellow. Santi took everything as from the hand of God and felt sure this had happened because he had not finished his devotions. The simple fellow said to himself, “O Santi, you are a fine one. If you had finished the five Our Fathers God would not have let the bull hurt you. You have trusted more in you own strength than in the providence of God.” Then lifting himself up as best he could he took himself of to a little church nearby and with great devotion said the five Our Fathers. He prayed to His Majesty to tame the bull. He returned boldly and took hold of the bull. He led him home as tamely as if the bull were a gentle lamb. From then on the bull harmed none but tamely allowed everyone to handle him. Everyone thought that this was a miracle of God and they still talk about it today.

No less important was the time he was handling a rather malicious mule. He was trying to put a load of firewood on the mule and the animal threw the load to the ground as many as ten times. Santi did not fail to have recourse to his usual refuge of prayer. So when he had given up being able to load the mule with his own efforts, with many tears he commended himself to the Lord God so that He might give him the grace that the mule would tamely allow him to place the load. With great faith he got up and said, “Stay still, creature of God so that with His help you will be able to carry this load. And you, the devil in this animal – go away and never come back to him.” It was amazing. Just like a very tame animal he allowed himself to be loaded. From then on he was always tame and never kicked again.

He stayed with this Jerome for six years and served him with great faithfulness. It pleased the Lord God in His mercy to give peace and abundance to the world, for at that time there had been many tribulations brought by the plague, wars and great famines. Then Santi decided to leave the world, as his sister had already married.

By the providence of God the community of Borgo had a showing of Blessed Raniero. This Blessed was from the city of Borgo and from the Strafolati family. His holy body, which was intact, was exhumed from beneath the altar of the church of Saint Francis and shown to all the people. He was Friar Minor and died before the Order had abandoned the habit that Father Saint Francis gave to the Order – a habit of poor, rough cloth and with a pointed cowl. The habit of Blessed Raniero was like that and it was used as a relic. Anyone could see it that is exactly like the habit that the Capuchin Friars wear today. Blessed Raniero of Borgo died on 1 November 1304 and this is obvious from a public instrument done by the hand of a notary. He did many miracles. Among these was this one. The community wanted to embalm that holy body and sent some men to a Cardinal in Rome who kept the balsam. The night before they arrived, he appeared to that Cardinal and revealed he had died and asked him to supply the balsam for the love of God. And so he did and from then on he was very devoted towards Blessed Raniero.

The showing took place on the 19 May 1532 lasted three continuous days. The devout young Santi wanted to be there and derived such devotion from it that he decidedly to leave the world completely. He was 28 years old and although he was full of fervour so that night and day he could think little else than of becoming a Religious, nonetheless his simplicity was such that he didn’t know how to go about it. One of his close neighbours often told him about a very holy man whom God endowed with a prophetic spirit. His name was Piersadoccho. Often he had heard this holy man say, “Know that soon, from the Order of Saint Francis, will emerge a Reform by a certain kind of Friars who have not been seen for a long time, dressed in a rough habit with a pointed cowl. They will have such and inestimable perfection. They will suffer great persecutions but God will free them from every evil. They will re-establish the friary at Monte Casale and not long after there will be a great persecution. A schismatic Pope will do this and he will do as much as he can to uproot this Reform. If you are around then, do not believe that Pope because he won’t have been canonically elected.” When the simple Santi heard these things he waited to see these Friars in the friary at Monte Casale and cloth themselves in the habit of Father Saint Francis.

His desire was not in vane because if 1533 Brother Angelicus came form Fratta di Perugia who on his own authority clothed himself in the Capuchin habit and had also clothed others. Shortly after taking up the friary at Monte Casale, he received a good young man called Brother Tullio of Potenza who was in the Friary at Borgo[733]. He preached the coming Lent in the Cathedral of Borgo with such acclaim that set the whole region abuzz. When Santi heard those sermons he became so fired up that he said to him, “Why are you waiting, and not go to Monte Casale?” The providence of God guided this. Because Brother Angelicus was not incorporated into the Congregation of Capuchins he could not receive Friars.

When Father Louis Fossombrone heard about this disorder he sent Father Louis of Capranica there from Rome to tell Brother Angelicus to submit to the Congregation or abandon the habit and the friary. At that time Santi went to Monte Casale and Father Louis of Capranica received him. He did his novitiate with great fervour. The infernal enemy tried him so hard that if God had not helped him he would have gone mad. I saw this with my own eyes because we were in the same fraternity for an entire winter in the devout friary at Narni. He made his profession in spring and the poor fellow was so overwhelmed that he did not know how to speak or walk or do anything. Instead he always wept. This was something ordained by the providence of God who is like the one who wanted to build another palace. The higher he wanted to make it, like a wise architect, the deeper he tried to make the foundations. The Lord God wanted to raise this servant of His to such heights so that well founded upon deep humility and well practised in the holy virtues the ancient serpent would not elevate him in pride which is at such enmity with Our Lord God.

He was very austere with regard to his body. For many years he dressed in just one habit and always went barefoot in summer and winter. Although he very strictly observed the forty day fasts practised by the Order, nonetheless he always fasted on bread and water on the vigil of the feastdays of Our Lady as well as other more devout feastdays.

It pleased the Lord god try this servant of His with a very serious illness for such a terrible malady affected his neck that it seemed that it would eat it all away. Our Fathers sent him to Rome. However, after being treated by many very sound men it could not be healed. However, when he turned to the Lord God, a surgeon healed him with cornel[734] oil. Then because he had not moved his bowels someone told him that colocynth was good. Being simple he took a good dose and swallowed it. Because that medicine is poisonous it purged him so that when there was nothing left in his body he began to pass blood, so that little remained in his veins. From then on the poor fellow was so weak that he could no longer persevere in his usual austerity.

However he did not fail to do as much as he could. For since the Friars at that time had no houses they took up many little places which the poor fellows built with their own hands. The servant of God Brother Raniero laboured faithfully and God blessed his hands so that all the things he made were done so properly and well that our Fathers sent him to almost all the friaries that were being built in the Province. He laboured during the day and spent most of the night in holy prayers. Our Lord God visited him many times.

His humility and his holy devout conversation were such that everyone sought him. He was made Guardian often. He exercised this office with very good example and great peace for his subjects. Although he was a Lay Friar he governed so prudently that all the Friars everywhere wanted to be with him.

It pleased the Lord God that as our Congregation grew, the servant of God was freed from this burden. It seemed that this was the hand of God because he no sooner saw himself free and he dedicated himself to contemplation. It seemed as though he had completely changed into another man. He achieved such purity of mind and inward tranquillity that he seemed continuously to be among the choirs of Angels. He conversed little and spoke little. It was understood from his own mouth that Our Lord often appeared to him in the shape of a baby whom he received into his arms. When he heard the child named, he felt such fervour in his soul that he jumped and staggered about[735] like a drunk man since human weakness cannot endure such a burning love. His soul was so attached to Our Lord God by the bond of love and it seemed that he always had Him before his eyes.

The Holy Spirit enlightened him so amply that he knew how much love of neighbour pleased God and so it seemed that all people were his dear brothers. He loved everyone so tenderly and without distinction that he had all his neighbours engraved in his heart. Whenever someone commended himself to him so that he might prayer for him or make the sign of the holy cross over some infirmity that he suffered, he immediately threw his arms around his neck and kissed him so tenderly and without distinction, whether the person was male or female, a youth or a girl or old woman, like an innocent and simple boy, without remembering religious modesty. These things seem unfitting and should not be done by a Religious. When his companion said to him, “Brother Raniero, you have done something wrong!” the servant of God replied, “Forgive me, I was unaware of it.” This came about from his great purity of heart that God had given him. So that everyone would know that this business was of God, His Majesty very often cooperated by giving perfect health to the majority of those whom the holy man signed with the sign of the cross.

For many years he was in the fraternity in our place near the city of Gubbio and his reputation for holiness began to spread about in such a way that there were few in the city who encountered some sickness or in some trouble who did not send straightway for the holy man Brother Raniero. There were very few whom he did not satisfy since the Lord God worked many miracles through this servant of his.

His fame spread everywhere so that throughout all the cities in the Province of Saint Francis that they all sought him out. One heard that he had performed miracles in almost all the cities, especially in Gubbio and Todi. His fame came to the ears of the Cardinal Monsignor Santa Severina, the Protector of our Congregation. He wanted to ascertain whether the things told him were true and had him go to Rome where he staid for some months to the great satisfaction of all so that it was necessary to keep him hidden in the house. He commanded him not to speak with anyone without his permission because the gathering of people was such that the poor fellow didn’t even have time to tend to the necessities of nature.

It pleased the Lord God that when he was returning he staid in our friary near the city of Todi. There the Lord God wanted to bring to an end the course of the life of this servant of His and to reward his many labours. For on the 21 August 1589 he fell seriously ill. He endured it very patiently for four days and then, full of merits, he went to the better life on 25 August, the feastday of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. It was between the 23rd and 24th hour. He had served the Lord god for fifty six years with the very best example.

Just as I heard from the Father Guardian[736] of that house and from many others who were present at his death, Brother Raniero said little or nothing during all the time of his sickness. However after having received all the most holy sacraments and completely recollected in God, he practised as much as he could at keeping his mind at contemplating his beloved Jesus Christ whom he had loved so much in this world. He waited from hour to hour for the Spouse of his soul to come to the door of his heart in order to welcome his soul into the arms of His mercy. He still thought that he had not done the necessary preparation for such a journey from this world to the tribunal of Jesus Christ. He believed that he had not done everything required of a true servant of God and that he didn’t have that wedding robe with which he had to stand before the judgement seat of the Divine Majesty. Although he was visited a lot, he spoke few words to them, but indicated to the Father Guardian to send them away. When they left he turned on his side and stayed with his beloved Spouse.

Because of the great devotion the entire city had for him, after that holy soul had flown to heaven, some citizens came forward and with the consent and good grace of the Bishop[737] and also with the agreement of the Father Vicar of the Province[738], they decided to embalm that holy body. It was amazing because they found three stones in his gall. The first was cube shaped, the size of half a chestnut. On one of the faces Our Saviour Jesus Christ could be seen against a black mountain. He was young with a green diadem. His face and chest were white and he had tunic the same colour as the stone, that is, a bright, shiny green. He only appeared from the torso up. On the other surface, that is, on the opposite side, Father Saint Francis could be seen with the pointed cowl on a mountain as when he received the sacred stigmata. The second stone was like the first in size, material and shape and had the same colour. However no image appeared on it except mountains of different sizes could be seen on each surface, one bigger than the other. They weren’t green like the stone but black. The third was the size of half a hazelnut and shaped like half moon. Like a knife it was coarse on one side and fine on the other. On one side one could see the impression of Our Lady and on the other side a blood coloured burning column. You should know that the images of Our Lady and the Saviour too were concave like a seal. Those who were present when the stones were found testify to this. The Monsignor Bishop saw them with great wonder and so did many gentlemen. By order of the Cardinal Protector they were sent to Rome. His Holiness Sixtus V saw them with many Cardinals and lords and now they are in our friary in Todi.

The gathering of people to see the body of this holy man was such that out of their great devotion they cut two habits and other garments to pieces. They cut off nearly all his beard. One thought he had a great treasure if he could have a little strip.

At this time he did three miracles which were written down by trustworthy witnesses. However, in so far as we can know, it is believed that the miracles he did during his life number more than two hundred. However because they have not been examined and proven by a Prelate of Holy Church I am not writing them down – also because it would be too long.

It is enough that the great servant of God Brother Raniero departed this world and left behind a great odour of sanctity. In all piety one may hope that that now in the blessed life he prays for us. May he lead us all to that life through his mercy and give us the grace to follow him with good works.

To the praise and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy Mother. Amen.

On the miracles that Our Lord God did through the merits and intercession of the servant of God, Brother Raniero, a Lay Capuchin from the Villa called Calipardi

Divine Providence never fails to show to the world those things which redound to the glory and honour of His Majesty and for the benefit of all of us. As Providence permitted and ordained, Cardinal Santa Severina the Protector of the Congregation of Capuchin Friars heard about the miracles that Our Lord God worked through the merits of the Capuchin Brother Raniero del Borgo (as he is called). Like a zealous shepherd he gave the order and commissioned Monsignor Bernardine Falconi of Todi to initiate the process of these miracles. This man was Canon in the cathedral of Todi and a gentleman of His Lordship and was very dear to him as well as very faithful and diligent in everything. He collected all the reliable witnesses he could find. With his customary prudence Monsignor Bernardine has diligently written down on paper the miracles and presented it to His Lordship. With great pleasure he has commanded that this be noted. Since such a worthy Prelate of the Holy Church has written these down, I am confident in petting them in this book and numbering them among the true things said about this great servant of God Brother Raniero. Since these miracles have already been authenticated by worthy witnesses, I will write succinctly about how and when and to whom they were done in order to be brief and not bore the reader. The miracles are those which follow.

  1. Mr Alexander Sabbini of Todi had a ruptured vein in his breast. Doctors did a lot for his deadly infirmity. However since he did not benefit from the many treatments he then had recourse with great faith to the servant of God Brother Raniero. He made the sign of the most holy cross over him and he was completely healed straightaway.
  2. Mr John Paul Crispoldi of Bevagni had a daughter who was almost totally blind. With great faith he had her brought on a stretcher to Spoleti and presented there before the holy man Brother Raniero. He asked him insistently to pray to Our Lord God for her so that He might deign to restore the sight of his daughter. He made the sign of the holy cross over her with saliva from his mouth and her sight was restored completely.
  3. The mother of our Brother Giles, a Lay Capuchin from Ameila, fell to the ground in a dead feint for two or three hours two or three times a week. Sometimes she bellowed like a bull and did other awful things because of the great pain. She commended herself with great faith to Father[739] Raniero and he made the sign of the holy cross over her and she was freed immediately. She never felt that infirmity again.
  4. Mr Guido dell’Atti of Todi had a cousin, Mr Joseph Carduini, who was at the point of death. The Priest had already commended him, the candle lit and he was in his last agony. Mr Guido had recourse to Brother Raniero. After praying for some time he then got up and spoke to the sick man, “This time the Lord has forgiven you.” He touch the man who immediately came to his senses and with a short while got up safe and well from the bed.
  5. Lady Lucretia Toseroni of Gubbio had a natural sister at the point of death. She had recourse to Brother Raniero. He went to the church and immediately prayed for her to God. When he returned to the sick woman he said, “Take courage because Our Lord God has lengthened your life by three years.” And so it was because within two days she got up from bed completely healed. And exactly at the end of three years she passed to a better life as Brother Raniero said.
  6. The Lady Hippolita, the wife of Count Bald0 Fallucci of Gubbio was at the point of death. She sent for Brother Raniero who prayed for her insistently to the Lord and he said to her, “My Lady, are you content to die? I assure you of your salvation. However if you are not, I will pray to God for you and He will give you your health. However I will not assure you of salvation.” She desired to die in the grace of God and was content to do so and thus she passed over to the better life.
  7. When Medoro, the tanner of Gubbio, was reviewing the tannery he found all the skins ruined. Because he was poor, with great sorrow he went like a desperate man to find Brother Raniero. After telling him the situation with many tears, he asked him to pray to God for him because he was obviously totally ruined. With great insistence Brother Raniero prayed for this poor fellow before the Blessed Sacrament. Knowing that God had heeded him he returned to the tanner and said to him, “Have faith in Jesus Christ and give him thanks because he has looked upon your poverty. Go. May you be blessed. There is nothing wrong.” When the returned to the tannery he found all the skins were fine and perfect.
  8. Since the wife of Mr Gabriel Pelloni of Gubbio was gravely ill, he quickly sent for Father Raniero at the house of the Friars. Taking his time somewhat he found the woman in her final agony. The candle was already lit and she was about to die. When the servant of God saw her in such danger he approached her with great fervour. He embraced her and kissed her mouth. It was amazing. She immediately came to her senses and said, “May the Lord God be blessed who through the merits of this servant of his has given back my life with perfect health. When he kissed me on the mouth I felt something let go inside of me.” She was perfectly healed.
  9. Lady Visolina, the wife of Mr Benedict Marioni of Gubbio, had been full of aches for many years. When Brother made the sign the cross over her she was completely healed.
  10. The Capuchin Father John Lombard, Guardian in the friary at Norsia tells that in his presence Brother Raniero, with the sign of the cross, healed a young girl of a great wound she had beneath her breast. She was married but had not yet gone to her husband.
  11. The lord Angelus of Oddi from Perugia did not have children and commended himself to the holy man. After praying for him he said to him, “Go, and you will have a son.” So it was. His wife conceived and gave birth to a son. He gave him the name Francis and always called him the son of Brother Raniero.
  12. At the monastery of the Dames of Todi[740] in the presence of Mr. Julian Stefanucci and many others, Brother Raniero made the sign of the holy cross over Sister Octavia. For a long time she had been continuously sick with great pain. She was immediately healed.
  13. Paris of Peter da Montecchio, a farmer in Todi, had been ill for a long time with a pain in the side. When Brother Raniero came to the castle he made the sign of the holy cross on him and he was completely healed.
  14. Lady Mitilla of Stephan of Montecchio had dropsy for many years. When Brother Raniero was in that castle she had recourse to him with great faith. When he made the sign of the holy cross on he she was entirely healed.
  15. Francis, from that same castle, had suffered pain for many years, especially headaches. When Brother Raniero touched him he was completely healed.
  16. When Lady Madeline Carofani of Perugia came to visit the tomb of Brother Baniero she related how she had been present when the Lady Luderina Montesperelli had an abscess on her throat for a long time. Treatments had used for a long time had not helped. However with great faith she had recourse to the holy man Brother Raniero. When he made the sign of the cross over the effected area she was completely healed and went home on foot, because she had been carried there in the arms of her relatives.
  17. When Mr Alphonsus Franchi, a Perugia was very ill, sent his wife to Brother Raniero who, after he prayed for him, said to her, “Go back because your husband is no longer ill.” And it was, because she found him completely healed.
  18. In our friary at Acquasparta the companion of the Capuchin Father Lupo was sick with an acute fever. He was unconscious and it was thought that he would die. Father Raniero happened to be there and after he had prayed for some time he made the sign of the holy cross on his head. Immediately he came to hi senses and got up a little later.
  19. The Roman lord, Curtio Cinquini was quite ill with inflammation[741] of the eyes which were always bloodshot. When he heard about the fame of this holy man he want to find him in the friary in Rome. With great faith he commended himself to him. After he had prayed for some time, he made the sign of the holy cross over him and he was healed completely.
  20. The Roman Lady Flaminia Nari had an infection which flowed all down her back[742]. When he heard of the fame of the holy man she went to find him at the friary. She went standing up in a carriage and holding on to a curtain since she could not sit at all. As soon as the holy Father touched her and signed her with the cross she felt completely healed. She returned home sitting in the coach.
  21. The Roman Lady Faustina Lampadia had a sister called Dionora who suffered from epilepsy and had seizures three or four times a day. When the holy man signed her with the holy cross she was healed completely.
  22. Mr Francis of Perugia, the brother of Bechetti the innkeeper, suffered from such pain that he could not move and had been in bed for about two months. He had recourse to the holy Father who signed him with the holy cross. The following day he got up from bed completely healed.
  23. Lady Maria of Benedict of Montecchio, a castle in Todi, was covered entirely with something like leprosy. With great faith she had recourse to the holy Father Raniero. When he made the sign of the cross over her she was healed immediately. She never felt such a sickness again. It was treated continuously before but this did not help.
  24. In that castle was Lady Esmerelda di Clemente who had a paralysed hand that was completely withered. With great faith she commend herself to Father Raniero. Taking that hand, he rubbed it with his hand and then made the sign of the holy cross over it and it was healed immediately.
  25. James da Gualdo, a farmer of Foligno, was completely paralysed down one side[743]. With great faith he came with his wife called Contadina to the friary in Foligno. With many tears he commended himself to the holy man Brother Raniero who signed him with the sign of the holy cross and he was completely healed.
  26. One of our Capuchins, Brother Jerome of Montefalco, had a niece who was mad because of a sickness and was almost completely lost. She continoulsy sat and ate her own clothes. When the holy saw this, with great faith he made the sign of the holy cross over her and she was healed at once.
  27. Mr Joseph de Lodolo of Spoleto had his only son at the point of death. With great faith he sent a message to our Friary in Spoleto where the holy FatherRaniero was to pray for the sick boy. When he heard this he went into the church. After he had prayed he had the messenger called who had already left and said to him, “Tell Mr Joseph that God has heeded us and you will find the boy healed.” When the messenger returned he found him healthy and well – him for whom they had already lit the candle and he was about to expire.
  28. Our Capuchin Father Urban of Manfedonia was Guardian at Gubbio at the time. The Friars had finished the forty-days of the Blessed and they were all going to choir after Compline according to the custom of the Order and asked the blessing of the Father Guardian. With his bodily eyes Brother Raniero clearly saw the crucified, which is very prominent there, take his right hand from the nail and bless all the friars and then return it to its place.
  29. The Capuchin and Guardian of our friary in Bevagna, Father Michael of Castello, had been in bed for about fifty days because of a fall. He could not move. When the holy Father Raniero arrived he made the sign of the holy cross over him. He immediately got up from the bed and went completely healed to the refectory.
  30. Lady Argia d’Amelia of Nacci was totally cramped up and had herself brought to our friary in Todi where Father Raniero was. With great faith she commended herself to him to pray for her. When he made the sign of the holy cross over her she was freed right away. She returned home healthy and robust.
  31. Lady Maria Antonia, the wife of Mr Caesar Oddo, doctor of law in Todi, had an abscess for three years and all the doctors had given up. With great faith she commended herself to Brother Raniero and he answered her, “Do not worry. You have nothing wrong with you.” It was something amazing because the following morning at dawn the abscess ruptured and poured out a lot of puss and blood. Thinking that she was lost, the husband sent for Brother Raniero again. He made the sign of the cross over her and she got up at once healthy and well and never experienced that sickness again.
  32. The son of this Maria Antonia had catarrh in his head that continually blocked his nose and he could not breath. He wore a cord on his head for along time but this did not help at all[744]. When his mother commended him with great faith to the holy man, he made the sign of the holy cross over him and he was completely healed.
  33. Because of all the miracles she had seen the holy man do, the same Maria Antonia with great faith had him bless a quantity[745] of grain. It was amazing because that grain sufficed for twice of what it should have been. There was more than enough for three extra mouths.
  34. The maid of Lady Tarquinia, wife of Mr Braviero Urbeni of Todi, had been troubled by a bad fever for a long time. With great faith Lady Tarquinia commended herself at our friary to the holy Father Raniero so that he might pray for this servant of hers. When she returned home she found her completed healed and was doing the house work.
  35. Lady Sabatine of Basil of Todi suffered severe headaches for many years. When she heard about the death of Brother Raniero she went personally to his body before it was entombed. She placed her head under his hands and was completely healed.
  36. Lady Sapphira of Mr. Juliantonio Stefanucci of Todi had a bad illness in her stomach and throughout her body for more than twelve years. After having treatment for a long time she was never healed. When she touched the body of Brother Raniero she was completely healed.
  37. Lady Julia de Pellegrino, from Bologna, lived in Todi. She had an illness for many years that hindered her entire body. She felt as though she had and unbearable weight in her nose which always kept her stooped. It was believed that evil spirits possessed her. With great faith, when she heard about the death of Brother Raniero, she placed her head under the hands of the holy man and was healed at once.
  38. Aquilante of John Augustine of Todi was in the Villa in the countryside of Todi. She was sick with a very bad fever. With great faith she put on a small piece of the tunic and other relics of the holy man. She was healed completely.
  39. Francis, from the same Villa, was troubled with incredible tooth aches. With great faith Mr Nino touched the teeth with one of the stones found in the gall of the holy man. He was healed at once.
  40. An old woman form Colle Pepe, called …[746] was completely hampered and crippled by a serious infirmity in her feet. With great faith she knelt over the place where the body of the holy man was buried and she was immediately healed.
  41. Mr Claude Ceccholini of Todi found himself ill with a very bad fever and especially in the middle of the night the pain became so bad that he could no longer bear it. His wife remembered that she a small piece of Brother Raniero’s tunic. With great faith she put it on him while saying the Our Father and Hail Mary. He was healed immediately.
  42. Don Caesar Fabeni from Todi, Rector of the Parish of San Silvestro de Fiore, from the countryside of Todi, had for four years continuously felt such a great catarrh in his back that he could not bend over and he went about with a stick like a cripple. With great faith he went to the friary of the Capuchins in Todi and lay down on the little bed where the holy man had slept. He was completely healed and never experienced any such pain again.
  43. Mr Bernardine Alvi of Todi had a little son who could no longer take any more milk because of the catarrh that went down into his stomach. Given up by the doctors, as a last resort and with great faith they put on his head a ribbon of cloth that had touched the body of the holy Father Raniero. Fro three days the boy’s head perspired so much that he wet all the feather pillows[747]. He was certainly healed completely.
  44. Lady Samia of Romulus, d’ Amelia heard of a womn who could not give birth and was in danger of death. With great faith she put on her the chord of Father Raniero. The woman held it close and gave birth safe and sound.
  45. Master Peter, a stone mason and resident of Todi, had suffered from an pain[748] that troubled him very much for many years and it always felt it was burning. With great faith, while he was there for the burial of the holy man, he embraced the casket where the holy body was and he was completely healed.
  46. Mr Denis Compagni of Todi for many years had a pain in the kidneys that kept him crippled up. With great faith he went to lie on the bed of the holyman. However since he could do this because of the crowd of people, he pulled himself onto the table where the holy body had been. He got up healthy and well without ever feeling that trouble again.
  47. Lady Ciana of Julius, from Todi, was obsessed by evil spirits for many years. With great faith she went to the place of the Friars on the day of the death of the holy man. When she touched that body she felt icy cold[749] in the stomach. Swelling up she felt something like a vent come from her stomach and she was completely healed.
  48. Sister Christina Pacina, a nun in the monastery of Saint Andrew, had sciatica that kept her almost continuously confined to bed. With great faith she put over the pain the towel[750] that had touched the body of the holy man and she was healed at once.
  49. Captain Anthony Lioncini of Todi had been ill for a long time with catarrh in the head. The doctors had given up on him and was almost about to die. With great faith he put on the rosary of the holy father Raniero. At one he felt a blow to the head, as if a hazel nut had been fired and he said, “Thanks be to God! I am no longer sick.” A lot of muck came out and after a little while he got up from bed healthy and well.
  50. Don Dominic, Rector of the parish of Ripabianca, from the country side of Todi, was deaf in one ear for many years. With great faith he touch it with a small piece of the tunic of the holy man and was completely healed immediately.
  51. Lady Usebia, the servant of Bravieri Urbeni of Todi had a very bad fever. With great faith she put on a little cross of the holy Father Raniero and was healed straight away.
  52. Lady Tarsia of Paoletti, a worker of Sir Chrisonio of Todi was ill to the point of death. With great faith they touched her forehead with a small piece of the heart of the holy man. At once she regained her senses and said, “That thing that touched my forehead has healed me.” And so it was because in a short while she got up from the bed healthy and well.

I felt I should write about these miracles that the Lord God worked through the merits and intercession of the holy man Brother Raniero for the glory of God and inspire devotion in the reader towards this holy Father. I have left out many that I could have written about. The Lord God worked almost countless miracles at different times before and after his death in order to show how acceptable this servant of His was to Him. They also show how acceptable are the lives of the saints so that each of us may strive to follow in the footsteps of the servants of God whom He honours so much in this world. Since he makes them illustrious with miracles we should hold with doubtless faith that He will reward them even more in paradise. Even though the works of holy men may be few, He Majesty has deigned to reward them so abundantly in this life and in the next.

Let all of us give infinite thanks that since the beginning of the world He has always deigned from time to time to reveal His servants to us. So then we may have them to imitate. With great humility and faith we commend ourselves to the glorious saints canonised by the Holy Church so that they may pray for us. So then we who have received so many benefits in this world should hope to receive even grater ones in the presence of His most high and divine Majesty.

To whom be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen. In memory of the holy Father Raniero, Capuchin, true servant of God in the Seraphic Order of Father Saint Francis. Amen.

Appendix:

This fragment appears in only one codex available to Pobladura (namely, cod. Ro, f.88r-98v). He points out that it should be attributed to Jerome of Montefiore and his companions and not the Bernardine of Colpetrazzo.

On Brother Bonaventure of Reggio, Lay Friar

He was a man of great patience and humility and very charitable towards his neighbour. Above all he was a man of great devotion. He had the particular gift of compunction. Therefore he exercised himself very much in prayer and contemplation. He always wept when he prayed. Even when he heard the Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ at table he began to weep and could no longer eat.

This venerable Father and servant of God went with a pair of oxen once to bring certain things for the construction of the friary in Reggio. As they descended an incline he went ahead to guide the oxen. Because the way was very steep the oxen fell on him along with the load that they were hauling. He should have died and the bulls lamed. However, it was a great wonder to those who were present, he came out from underneath without any injury and the oxen were unharmed. All those who saw or heard about the matter considered it a great miracle.

His death was predicted shortly before his passage from this life. When he died it was with such readiness and he left behind a reputation for holiness. His body became while and supple. It was something miraculous to see. That which most reveals just how acceptable his soul was to God was both the cell where he died and the church where his funeral was celebrated: there was a marvellous fragrance. He died in the same friary in Reggio.

To the praise of the most high God who deigns to honour his servants both on earth and in heaven.

Peter of the Quartieri

From the same Province of Calabria was another good Friar called Brother Peter of the Quartieri, a great servant of God adorned with many virtues. Among the others he had this particular grace of persevering after Matins until the morning without going back to sleep. Once when he was going along the road he met three secular men. They were very thirsty and with great insistence they asked him for something to drink. With great charity he directed his companion to give them some. His companion testified that they had a very small quantity of wine in a small gourd which would have been just enough for one person to have one drink. Nonetheless when the three men drank there was enough for them. When they had drunk, there was the same amount of wine in the gourd as there was before. The companion, as well as the Friars who heard about this, regarded it a great miracle done by God through the charity of that Father. When he came to die, the hour of his death was predicted. With the best readiness he passed from this life in the friary at Cassano.

There have been many other Friars in the same Province of Calabria who left behind them an outstanding odour of sanctity just as they had given the very best example of virtue in this life.

Brother Anthony of Malta

One Brother Anthony of Malta is commended for his great silence. It was such that at times he went two or three months without speaking except for just the necessary things. However he is praised more for his obedience because he made his profession not only to obey the Superiors but whoever commanded him. He was commanded many extravagant things in order to test him like going to the city naked, and similar things. He set to do everything without answering a word. However sometimes the Friars called him back and did lot let him fulfil such an obedience.

In the world he was the Captain of a galley. The Turks captured him three times while en route. He was often tortured to make him renounce his faith, which he never wanted to do. Hence we may think that he was half a martyr in the world earlier and in the Order he was a perfect confessor. Therefore he finished life a frail old man in a very holy way, just as he had lived in a very holy way.

Brother Bernard of Catanzaro

Brother Bernard of Catanzaro was also commended for his great humility for his perfect scorn of the world. When he lay on his death bed, as often and best he could he made certain signs of reverence to some person who was present. The Guardian, Brother Cosmo of Castelvetere, was made aware of this by the infirmarian, commanded him to say why he was making those actions. He replied, though unwillingly and only because he was compelled by obedience to reveal it, he said that at that hour Our Lady had appeared to him and revealed to him the hour of his death. Shortly after, and from the same infirmity, he rested in peace.

Brother Juniper dal Campo

Brother Juniper dal Campo was also commended for his great patience. For the whole year he was accustomed to fast three days a week and he did all the forty days of our father Saint Francis. At his death he was found to wear a very heavy iron cuirass. During his life the Friars never saw it except secretly by the Superiors. He observed very strict silence. He never spoke except about necessary things. He was very careful about prayer and very inclined to serve the sick.

Brother Anthony of Gerace

When Brother Anthonny of Gerace was approaching death in the old friary at Galatro, the old Brother Eliseus of Galatro wanted to go and visit him. As he neared his cell, he heard a very beautiful song in there that he thought was truly the song of Angles, just as he reported to most Friars.

Brother Daniel of Seminara

I do not want to be silent about the death of a Novice from Seminara. He was called Brother Daniel. After he had confessed to his Guardian who was Brother Peter of the Quartieri (mentioned above) he revealed to him that Saint Francis had appeared to him and revealed to him which day and hour he would return to him. On that day and as that very hour he passed from this life as Father Saint Francis had revealed to him.

Brother Santi of Anoia

Brother Santi was a man of great penance and prayer. He kept vigil very much. While he was in the Order he always went barefoot. He had the special grace of making peace between litigants. Once it happened to him when he was going on a journey that a hare, followed by hunters, sat in his lap. He brought it alive to the Friars place.

Brother Jerome of Paradisoni

Brother Jerome was also a man of a holy life. When he was approaching death, he was feeling good and sang certain praises of Our Lady with a Friar. He told the Friar to go and call the Father Guardian and all the Friars of the house because he wanted to ask their forgiveness. He also wanted Extreme Unction because he wanted to leave. When this was done and he had received Extreme Unction, he suddenly breathed his last. While his body was in the church the time for burial had not yet come, lights like burning torches were seen around the body although no one had put a light there.

  1. The Minister General Vincent Lunelli OFM sent Matthew letters of obedience from Mantua on 15 May 1536, so that with John of Foro Livio he could continue unopposed in the form of life granted him by the Pope. These letters of obedience were confirmed by John Calvo in 1541, by Clement Moruliano in 1547 and even by Andrew Insulano in 1550. Such confirmations give weight to the question as to whether Matthew returned to the Observants, or whether the Observant claim he did. Here the Chronicler enters the debate. As the reader will see, the question remained an issue even at Matthew’s death.
  2. contaminato
  3. Te la manda Dio, non cercar’ altro.
  4. There is some difference of opinion about which day, whether it was the third, fifth, sixth or seventh. The epitaph on his tomb read the fifth.
  5. The decree of the Apostolic Nuntio Louis Beccadelli was given on 8 August 1551. Cf. AOC 46(1930) p.44.
  6. formichella
  7. lascio` ivi le crocchie
  8. fu che una donna pescionante di Mr. Dionisio Contarini
  9. A collection of the miracles of Matthew had been edited before August 1553. CF AOC 46(1930) p.48-49, not. 1
  10. Matthew’s cult began to appear immediately after his death. In 1620 the Patriarch of Venice (John Tiepolo) numbered him in two catalogues of the saints and blessed. Cf. De cultu de, Matthaeo antiquitus exhibito in AOC 46 (1930), pp.44-51.
  11. Cf MOHMC II, PP.108+
  12. genti
  13. S Cor 11:23; Acts 9:1+
  14. Giuro` alla penna e fecesi notagio
  15. ma quel che piu` gl’importava era per non lasciar suo padre e sua madre, et massime per esser’ aggravati di quattro fanciulle
  16. tutte le cose vole che servano allo spirito.
  17. di dare opera et tendere alla perfettione.
  18. …passandosene suo padre a miglior vita e restando la sua povera madre vedova con tre figliuole femine alle spalle..
  19. essendo veramente specchio lucidissimo di ogni buon costume.
  20. Quadragesime or forty days. Such lenten fasts were held before Easter and before Christmas.
  21. ..in procurar’ lemosine per dispensar’ alle pover’ persone vergognese.
  22. MHOMC II, n. 242. At this point, one of the codices adds the following: Because he was learned he began to preach immediately. Because of that preaching they drew many to themselves and Brother Angelico clothed him in the capuchin habit as a professed, without giving him the caparone. In this the venerable Priest Don Joseph Veneziano is deceived. He has written a book and had it printed. In it he asays that Brother Paul of Chioggia was the first in those parts and that the Congregation of Capuchins had its origin in him. This is very false. I know this myself because when Brother Angelico returned from Venice during my time he came to Borgo di San Sepolchro and took up the house of Monte Casale and clothed Brother Tullio of Potenza with the capuchin habit.
  23. romitorio
  24. romito
  25. arbagio of slave-wool, which is coarse, undyed wool.
  26. John Barbieri, son of a barber.
  27. Pobladura has [per via?]
  28. Another codex adds here: …much good and incredible fruit. He was a great boon to the Congregation because it received so much more credit. When there was an important case everyone had recourse to him. When someone spoke to him of spiritual things he used to dissolve completely into tears and say, “I have been a traitor to my Lord. Nonetheless his goodness has drawn me out of my dreadful ingratitude. Like a lost sheep he has led me back to the flock and to the harbour of salvation.” He always used to say, “I desire to die for Christ.” In the midst of those grave persecutions he did not waver. Instead with a happy face he comforted all the others and said, “We can have no greater sign that this is the true Reform and a Congregation loved by God, beloved brothers, than to see it attacked so atrociously. Therefore do not worry because just as the early Church grew and bore fruit in tribulations, so our Congregation will bear fruit of souls in the midst of these persecutions. The Lord God never eases the reins of the devil completely. Nor does he allow him to tempt the servants of God as much as he could. Rather with his mercy he keeps him in check so that he cannot tempt anyone beyond his strength. Now don’t you see that just by showing this holy habit has moved the whole world to penance? If on the one hand we are persecuted by Religious, on the other we are cherished by seculars. God would want us to be so perfect, my sons, that we would merit to be persecuted by the whole world! However god has compassion on our frailty because we are young and need milk like babies. However if we exercise ourselves in penance and in the perfect observance of our Rule, like perfect men the Lord God will give us the solid food of tribulations without comfort, just a he gave to his Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Abandoned by all human support the heavenly Father left him on the cross to suffer as much as he could without comfort. Our Father Saint Francis was persecuted even by his father and his brothers.” Because this servant of God was well instructed in Sacred Theology he often gave sermons to his other poor, simple and uneducated companions. These sermons penetrated heaven and inflamed them all to the love of God. During the short time he lived, he was a very solid column for the poor Congregation.Father Bartholomew d’Aspello and other venerable Fathers who were with him told me all this. When he passed from this life the entire Congregation mourned him. Although I was young and had never seen him, yet I was moved to tears to see those good Fathers so saddened. They said, “A great servant of God and a great comfort to our Congregation has died.”I never saw Brother Paul, Brother Matthew of St. Leo and Brother Raphael, the brother of Brother Louis. I have only known them by reputation. I knew all the other early Fathers and have spoken with them with some familiarity for at some length of time. They informed me about most of what I write. Having often discussed with them at different times the things that happened during those beginnings, these things have remained fresh and impressed upon my mind. This is with the providence of God, for when the time came to put them down on paper by obedience to the Father General, all these things make themselves present. Hence I cannot that this be for any other reason than by the merits of those great servants of God whose works our Lord wanted to illumine the world so that their holiness be partly known and so that the anyone who praises them may derive instruction and be inflamed to want to imitate those works.
  29. Cf. Luke 23:46; 2 Cel n.214
  30. Pobladura points out that Colpetrazzo joined the Capuchins in 1534.
  31. In 1526 he was the first non Religious to take up the Capuchin habit. He died in 1539 (Lex).
  32. Another codex adds:.. born of honest parents, though not very rich. When he was young they started him in the trade of shoemaker and he became a master at it. However when he reached the age of about twenty five years …
  33. Cf Matthew 19:21
  34. Cf. 1 Cel 24.
  35. Io sono de penna roscina e abbondo de sangue, il vino non fa per me.
  36. Another codes adds: I believe that he was buried in the house at Fossombrone, although I do not know it for certain.
  37. He was born about 1508 and became one of the first Capuchins in 1526. He later fulfilled the offices of Guardian and Novice Master. He died in about 1567.
  38. Another codex adds: He was born of honest and God fearing parents. When he was young he went to school for a while, but because the family was large he was set to work as a farmer once he had learned to read. When he reached the age of eighteen he was inspired by God to leave the world and come to the Congregation of Capuchins. The was because he had heard of the great reputation of holiness the early Capuchins had. For since the time he was a boy Brother Joseph always led a religious life in his home. The mindless life of vice usually seen in other boys was never seen in him. Instead there was an innate modesty in him. He was so obedient to his father and mother and to his elders that the hold family held him dear and they all were devoted towards him. The devout boy fasted on all the obligatory vigils with great devotion. He was quite inclined to kindness towards the poor. When his mother gave alms he rejoiced very much. However when someone was sent away without alms he was very sad. This was amazing, just as his relatives testify. He never wanted to converse with the other boys but always remained withdrawn at some exercise enjoined on him, reading some devout little books. When he heard swearing or some sinning, he filled with sorrow.
  39. Giorni festivi… These would include Sundays.
  40. Questo buon Padre e` la fedelta` del mondo.
  41. One codex adds: He always delighted in the essentials of the Rule and always continued to lived in this way. Although the Congregation was maltreated with persecutions, this servant of God was always full of hope and firm in his one resolve. He never worried about whether the Congregation fail. When he was asked, “Father Joseph, what will we do if His Holiness disbands us?”, the good Father gave a little smile and answered nothing, except to shake his head make signs to fear not, joking with the one who was afraid. He persevered in the Congregation for forty eight years or thereabouts…He passed away to the Creator in his Province of the Marches… Another codex adds instead: None the less, with great humility he carried out all the lowly tasks in whichever friary where he was, such as sweeping, washing pots, sewing, doing the garden and similar things…
  42. Held in June 1549.
  43. Various codices here include this introduction: The poor family and Order of Saint Francis found by God Most High was very innocent and quite purified of every earthly affliction in the beginning. For the Supreme Creator did not want it founded according to the vanity of the world, that is, by learned and noble men or those held in high esteem by the world. Rather he wanted it founded by simple, uneducated and pure men so that it would be clear that the Order was given to the world for its universal salvation and good not by men nor human ingenuity, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is just what the Seraphic Holy Father when he was with his twelve companions in the devout little place called Rivo Torto in order to encourage them to perseverance in the life they had taken up. It was after the apparition of the Father himself in a fiery chariot. He said to them, “Beloved sons, you must not be discouraged because you are few, simple men. Because God has revealed to me that upon this foundation of simplicity that God wants to spread his Order to all parts of the world.” All sorts of people came to the Order, not only Italians, but French, Spanish and Germans. These were not only simple men but also noble and learned ones. And behold the sound of their feet is in my ears.” [cf. 1 Celano ch.11, n.27] Such was the beginning of the poor Capuchin Reform began. It was begun miraculously by simple men. And the Venerable Father Francis of Iesi said, “Abstinence has the effect upon the human body of purifying of all ill dispositions so that neither doctors nor medicines are needed. Austerity of life in the Order has the same effect. For strictness in poverty and suffering all things purifies the body of the Order so that perverse men and wicked persons who are not called by God do not come. And when it happens that one of them does come he is unable to endure because suffering sends quickly him away. For the Holy Spirit works like the good gardener who always cleans the garden of weeds. So the Holy Spirit cleans the garden of God – the holy Order – for while it remains within that austerity of life it does not allow men to stay long who would destroy it with bad example and a lax life. Without the syrups of novitiates and chapels and without the medicine of bells and jails they go away by themselves.” He said, “Know that suffering for the love of Jesus Christ is the main foundation of our Congregation. Suffering purifies the soul, which once purified, God fills with spirit and many gifts and graces. Every other good comes from this. However every evil comes from souls subject to the passions and that are not mortified. This was the reason that the Congregation did not grow much in t e beginning. Because it suffered extremely none came to it except men who desired very much to suffer. And when they saw that they were not cheated of their prime desire, finding themselves in the midst of a suffering much greater than what was commonly known, they were filled with joy. They rejoiced so much in that suffering that it would have been necessary for them to die rather than leave that habit. What happened among them was like what happens to someone who holds a warm ball in his hand. The ball warms the hand and the hand keeps the ball warm. So suffering inflamed them in the love of God and that love warmed and comforted them in their suffering..
  44. With some companions, in virtue of the Brief Ex parte vostra (11 September 1528) he transferred to the Capuchins. He lived among them a short time, dying in Camerino in 1531.
  45. Et stava da dì in dìcome l’uccello intra la frasca d’andare a trovare li detti Capuccini. Literally, “Day by day he was like a bird among the fronds about going to find the Capuchins.” In other words he was restless and undecided.
  46. Matthew went to the Capuchins armed with the permission of the Apostolic Brief Ex parte vostra. Cf footnote 44 page 10
  47. Capo ordinario
  48. cercava un pezzo di pane– he quested a piece of bread.
  49. One codex has this variation: Finding himself in a village near to Camerino he became gravely ill. Certain farmers put him in a decrpit house where there was nothing but a little straw. Nor did he have anything with which to cover himself except the mantle he wore. He only ate what those farmers brought him out of their kindness (pietà). Nevertheless he was joyful and always thanked God that he found himself within the perfect observance of most high poverty. However as it pleased our Lord God, when certain good persons saw him so gravely ill without any provision, the had compassion on him. Some of them agreed and carried him in their arms as comfortably as they could and brought him to the villa of Camerino and into quite a comfortable house of a good man and there … he died.
  50. Schiavina a mantle or blanket made of coarse cloth, made of lane schiave, like their habits (cf. MHOMC II, p.258.
  51. Pobladura’s manuscript has two illegible words here. One word is illegible in the next part of the sentence.
  52. convicina
  53. One codex concludes this way: When the city heard this and the miracle became known that the bells rang by themselves, the people began to run. When they found that servant of God dead in the house they knew well that they rang for his death. Hence the Duke, with his Court, and all the Clergy and nearly all the people, with great pomp and many candles and other ceremonies and great devotion, buried that holy body in the same church where the bells had rung. New os this spread everywhere and everyone thought it was a miracle and that Brother Matthew was a holy man. Although the Congregation of Capuchins was small it derived the greatest support because of this, because from then on the Duke, John Varano held them in the greatest devotion and always supported them with His Holiness. Also it evoked scruples with many Friars. Although they desired to observe the Rule, none the less none of them dared to join the Capuchin Congregation because they were worried about whether it pleased God since it had detached itself from obedience to the General of the Zoccolanti. However when they saw these miracles they knew quite well that it was a work of God. The seculars also increased in their devotion.
  54. tutti i primi
  55. RB VI,8
  56. 1 Cel Chap 7, n.17; Test. 1-3
  57. quando non si tritrovava occupato dall’obnedienza
  58. One codex reads: Because he was so eager for the perfect observance of the Rule he always sought to be assigned to he solitary and poor friaries.
  59. Another codex reads: But when he heard that the Congregation of Capuchins had come out, he went straight away to find Brother Louis of Fossombrone, who said to him, “Brother Bernard, think this over carefully because we do not have friaries or refuges (ridutti) where we can gather. Because of this he returned and still remained with that good desire and afflicted himself with fats, silence and prayer.
  60. Pobladura states that this page is ruined, though he believes he has deciphered it accurately.
  61. The next four lines in the codex cannot be read at this point.
  62. Next word is illegible in the text.
  63. Ditto.
  64. Another codex reads here: He was elected Guardian quite often. Although he was a lay Friar he nonetheless governed with great prudence and maturity. The Friary of Saint Valentine was established near Foligno, Brother Bernard was the first Guardian sent by Brother Louis of Fossombrone. He himself gave the best example to all the people. Before the Friary was accommodated for them, the poor fellows stayed in the greatest poverty in a house in the Villa di Colle. They quested nothing else but a little bread and some fruit. They worked during the day and spent most of the night at prayer. They slept very little, and that little sleep was on some boards that they adapted for themselves. Because of this the entire city of Foligno was moved with devotion towards them. Anyone who was able to see them and receive their blessing considered himself truly blessed. Everyone embraced them and regarded them as saints. Because of their great faith the Lord worked many miracles. A very wealthy man Mr. Jo. Francesco prepared the friary of Saint Valentine. He was very friendly towards the Congregation. It was a marvellous thing that the beginning of the Capuchin Reform took place in the city of Foligno in the province of Saint Francis. This was about the year 1531. Because they built nothing but a chapel, a kitchen and some dark humid, and quite unsuitable little cells, many of them made little shacks of with mud walls covered with broom. [Et perche` non ce furno fabricate se non la chiesa, la cucina et certe celluzze scure, humide et male accomodato, molti di loro si feceno cappanuuze a muro morto et coperte di ginestri…]. There they remained in great poverty, pouring out tears and taking the discipline. When anyone said to him, “Father Guardian… (The text above resumes here.)
  65. The friary was established in 1530. Cf. MHOMC II. p.306. footnote 1.
  66. Pobladura found this part of the text too obscure to decipher. However he says it seems to recall the great austerity of the first community at Saint Valentines.
  67. Plural.
  68. One codex adds: When he finished his Guardianship he returned to the Province of the Marches. As Guardian of the Friary of Saint Valentine, the holy man Brother Bartholomew of Spello succeeded him. Brother Bernard resided in the friary at Camerino and persevered more than usual in holy prayers and the harshest penance. He though now he would begin to serve God. The older he became the more his eagerness and desire to suffer grew. He was accustomed to say to the Friars, “My sons, never fail to pray for the poor seculars and our benefactors who are amid such problems and dangers so they will not be lost.” When he heard about some tribulation, he immediately began to weep out of tenderness and compassion.”