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THE LITTLE BEDESMAN OF CHRIST
HIS is the legend of Francis, the Little Bedesman of Christ. Seven hundred years ago was he born in
Assisi, the quaint Umbrian town among the rocks; and for twenty years and more he cherished but one
thought, and one desire, and one hope; and these were that he might lead the beautiful and holy and
sorrowful life which our Lord lived on the earth, and that in every way he might resemble our Lord
in the purity and loveliness of His humanity.
Home and wealth and honour he surrendered, and the love of a wife and of little prattlers on his
knees; for none of these things were the portion of Christ.
No care he took as to how he should be sheltered by night or wherewith he should be clothed by day;
and for meat and drink he looked to the hand of God, for these were to be the daily gift of His
giving. So that when he heard the words of the sacred Gospel read in the little church of St. Mary
of the Angels—"Provide neither gold nor silver nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey,
neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves"—he went out and
 girt his coarse brown dress with a piece of cord, and cast away his shoes and went barefoot
Even to this day the brethren of the great Order of religious men which he founded are thus clothed,
and girt with a cord, and shod with nakedness. And this Order is the Order of the Lesser Brethren,
the Fratres Minores; and often they are called Franciscans, or the Friars of St. Francis.
But as to the thought he bestowed on his eating and drinking: once when he and Brother Masseo sat
down on a broad stone near a fresh fountain to eat the bread which they had begged in the town, St.
Francis rejoiced in their prosperity, saying, "Not only are we filled with plenty, but our treasure
is of God's own providing; for consider this bread which has come to us like manna, and this noble
table of stone fit for the feasting of kings, and this well of bright water which is beverage from
heaven;" and he besought God to fill their hearts with an ardent love of the affluence of holy
THE LITTLE BEDESMAN OF CHRIST.
Even the quiet and blessed peace of the cloister and the hermitage he denied himself; for he
remembered that though the Lord Christ withdrew into the hills and went into the wilderness to
refresh His soul with prayer and communion with His Heavenly Father, it was among the sons of men
that He had His dwelling all His days. So he, too, the Little Bedesman, often tasted great
happiness among the rocks and trees of solitary places; and his spirit felt the spell of the lonely
hills; and he loved to pray in the woods, and in their shadow he was consoled by the visits of
Angels, and was lifted bodily from the earth in ecstasies of joy. But the work which he had set his
hands to do was
 among men, and in villages and the busy streets of cities.
It was not in the first place to save their own souls and to attain to holiness that he and his
companions abandoned the common way of life. Long afterwards, when thousands of men had joined his
Order of the Lesser Brethren, he said: "God has gathered us into this holy Order for the salvation
of the world, and between us and the world He has made this compact, that we shall give the world a
good example, and the world shall make provision for our necessities."
Yet, though he preached repentance and sorrow for sin, never was it his wish that men and women who
had other duties should abandon those duties and their calling to follow his example. Besides the
Order of the Lesser Brethren, he had founded an Order of holy women who should pray and praise while
the men went forth to teach; but well he knew that all could not do as these had done, that the work
of the world must be carried on, the fields ploughed and reaped, and the vines dressed, and the nets
cast and drawn, and ships manned at sea, and markets filled, and children reared, and aged people
nourished, and the dead laid in their graves; and when people were deeply moved by his preaching and
would fain have followed him, he would say: "Nay, be in no unwise haste to leave your homes; there,
too, you may serve God and be devout and holy;" and, promising them a rule of life, he founded the
Third Order, into which, whatever their age or calling, all who desired to be true followers of
Christ Jesus might be admitted.
Even among those who gave themselves up wholly to the
 life spiritual he discouraged excessive austerity, forbidding them to fast excessively or to wear
shirts of mail and bands of iron on their flesh, for these not only injured their health and
lessened their usefulness, but hindered them in prayer and meditation and delight in the love of
God. Once, too, when it was revealed to him that a brother lay sleepless because of his weakness and
the pinch of hunger, St. Francis rose, and, taking some bread with him, went to the brother's cell,
and begged of him that they might eat that frugal fare together. God gave us these bodies of ours,
not that we might torture them unwisely, but that we might use their strength and comeliness in His
So, with little heed to his own comfort, but full of consideration and gentleness for the weakness
of others, he and his companions with him went about, preaching and praising God; cheering and
helping the reapers and vintagers in the harvest time, and working with the field-folk in the
earlier season; supping and praying with them afterwards; sleeping, when day failed, in barns or
church porches or leper-hospitals, or may be in an old Etruscan tomb or in the shelter of a jutting
rock, if no better chance befell; till at last they came to be known and beloved in every village
and feudal castle and walled town among the hills between Rome and Florence. At first, indeed, they
were mocked and derided and rudely treated, but in a little while it was seen that they were no
self-seekers crazed with vanity, but messengers of heaven, and pure and great-hearted champions of
Christ and His poor.
In those days of luxury and rapacity and of wild passions and ruthless bloodshed, it was strange to
see these men
 stripping themselves of wealth and power—for many of the brethren had been rich and noble—and
proclaiming the Gospel of the love and gentleness and purity and poverty of Christ. For not only
were the brethren under vow to possess nothing whatever in the world, and not only were they
forbidden to touch money on any account, but the Order itself was bound to poverty. It could not own
great estates or noble abbeys and convents, but was as much dependent on charity and God's providing
as the humblest of its friars.
Was it a wonderful thing that a great affection grew up in the hearts of the people for these
preachers of the Cross, and especially for the most sweet and tender of them all, the Little
Bedesman of Christ, with the delicate and kindly face worn by fasting, the black eyes, and the soft
and sonorous voice? Greatly the common people loved our Lord, and gladly they listened to Him; and
of all men who have lived St. Francis was most like our Lord in the grace and virtue of His
humanity. I do not think that ever at any time did he say or do anything till he had first asked
himself, What would my Lord have done or, said?
And certain it seems to me that he must have thought of the Thief in Paradise and of the divine
words Christ spoke to him on the cross, when Brother Angelo, the guardian of a hermitage among the
mountains, told him how three notorious robbers had come begging; "but I," said the Brother,
"quickly drove them away with harsh and bitter words." "Then sorely hast thou sinned against
charity," replied the Saint in a stern voice, "and ill hast thou obeyed the holy Gospel of Christ,
who wins back sinners by gentleness, and not by cruel reproofs. Go now, and take with thee this
wallet of bread and this little flask of wine which I
 have begged, and get thee over hill and valley till thou hast found these men; and when thou comest
up with them, give them the bread and the wine as my gift to them, and beg pardon on thy knees for
thy fault, and tell them that I beseech them no longer to do wrong, but to fear and love God; and if
this they will do, I will provide for them so that all their days they shall not lack food and
drink." Then Brother Angelo did as he was bidden, and the robbers returned with him and became God's
bedesmen and died in His service.
Not to men alone but to all living things on earth and air and water was St. Francis most gracious
and loving. They were all his little brothers and sisters, and he forgot them not, still less
scorned or slighted them, but spoke to them often and blessed them, and in return they showed him
great love and sought to be of his fellowship. He bade his companions keep plots of ground for their
little sisters the flowers, and to these lovely and speechless creatures he spoke, with no great
fear that they would not understand his words. And all this was a marvellous thing in a cruel time,
when human life was accounted of slight worth by fierce barons and ruffling marauders.
For the bees he set honey and wine in the winter, lest they should feel the nip of the cold too
keenly; and bread for the birds, that they all, but especially "my brother Lark," should have joy of
Christmastide, and at Rieti a brood of redbreasts were the guests of the house and raided the tables
while the brethren were at meals; and when a youth gave St. Francis the turtle-doves he had snared,
the Saint had nests made for them, and there they laid their eggs
 and hatched them, and fed from the hands of the brethren.
Out of affection a fisherman once gave him a great tench, but he put it back into the clear water of
the lake, bidding it love God; and the fish played about the boat till St. Francis blessed it and
bade it go.
"Why dost thou torment my little brothers the Lambs," he asked of a shepherd, "carrying them bound
thus and hanging from a staff, so that they cry piteously?" And in exchange for the lambs he gave
the shepherd his cloak. And at another time seeing amid a flock of goats one white lamb feeding, he
was concerned that he had nothing but his brown robe to offer for it (for it reminded him of our
Lord among the Pharisees); but a merchant came up and paid for it and gave it him, and he took it
with him to the city and preached about it so that the hearts of those hearing him were melted.
Afterwards the lamb was left in the care of a convent of holy women, and to the Saint's great
delight, these wove him a gown of the lamb's innocent wool.
Fain would I tell of the coneys that took refuge in the folds of his habit, and of the swifts which
flew screaming in their glee while he was preaching; but now it is time to speak of the sermon which
he preached to a great multitude of birds in a field by the roadside, when he was on his way to
Bevagno. Down from the trees flew the birds to hear him, and they nestled in the grassy bosom of the
field, and listened till he had done. And these were the words he spoke to them:
"Little birds, little sisters mine, much are you holden to God your Creator; and at all times and in
every place you ought to praise Him. Freedom he has given you to fly every
 where; and raiment He has given you, double and threefold. More than this, He preserved your kind in
the Ark, so that your race might not come to an end. Still more do you owe him for the element of
air, which he has made your portion. Over and above, you sow not, neither do you reap; but God feeds
you, and gives you streams and springs for your thirst; the mountains He gives you, and the valleys
for your refuge, and the tall trees wherein to build your nests. And because you cannot sew or spin,
God takes thought to clothe you, you and your little ones. It must be, then, that your Creator loves
you much, since He has granted you so many benefits. Be on your guard then against the sin of
ingratitude, and strive always to give God praise."
And when the Saint ceased speaking, the birds made such signs as they might, by spreading their
wings and opening their beaks, to show their love and pleasure; and when he had blessed them with
the sign of the cross, they sprang up, and singing songs of unspeakable sweetness, away they
streamed in a great cross to the four quarters of heaven.
One more story I must tell of the Saint and the wild creatures.
On a time when St. Francis was dwelling in the town of Agobio, there appeared in that countryside a
monstrous grey wolf, which was so savage a man-eater that the people were afraid to go abroad, even
when well armed. A pity it was to see folk in such fear and danger; wherefore the Saint, putting his
whole trust in God, went out with his companions so far as they dared go, and thence onward all
alone to the place where the wolf lay.
The wild beast rushed out at him from his lair with open mouth, but St. Francis waited and made over
him the sign
 of the most holy cross, and called him to him, saying, "Come hither, Brother Wolf! In the name of
Christ I bid you do no harm, neither to me nor to any one." And when the wolf closed his jaws and
stopped running, and came at the Saint's bidding, as gentle as a lamb, and lay down at his feet, St.
Francis rebuked him for the slaying of God's creatures, the beasts, and even men made in God's
image. "But fain would I make peace," he said, "between you and these townsfolk; so that if you
pledge them your faith that you will do no more scathe either to man or beast, they will forgive you
all your offences in the past, and neither men nor dogs shall harry you any more. And I will look to
it that you shall always have food as long as you abide with the folk of this countryside."
Whereupon Brother Wolf, by movements of body and tail and bowing of head, gave token of his good
will to abide by that bargain. And in sign that he plighted his troth to it he gave the Saint his
paw, and followed to the market-place of Agobio, where St. Francis repeated all that he had said,
and the people agreed to the bargain, and once more the wolf gave pledge of his faith by putting his
paw in the Saint's hand.
For two years thereafter Brother Wolf dwelt in Agobio, going tame and gentle from house to house and
in and out at will, doing hurt to none, but much loved of the children and cared for in food and
drink and kindness by the townsfolk, so that no one lifted stone or stick against him, neither did
any dog bark at him. At the end of those years he died of old age, and the people were grieved that
no more should they see his gentle coming and going.
 Such was the courtesy and sweet fellowship of St. Francis with the wild creatures.
It remains yet to say of him that he was ever gay and joyous as became God's gleeman. Greatly he
loved the song of bird and man, and all melody and minstrelsy. Nor was it ill-pleasing to God that
he should rejoice in these good gifts; for once lying in his cell faint with fever, to him came the
thought that the sound of music might ease his pain; but when the friar whom he asked to play for
him was afraid of causing a scandal by his playing, St. Francis, left alone, heard such music that
his suffering ceased and his fever left him. And as he lay listening he was aware that the sound
kept coming and going; and how could it have been otherwise? for it was the lute-playing of an
Angel, far away, walking in Paradise.
Sweet new songs he made in the language of the common people, folk of field and mountain, muleteers
and vine-dressers, woodmen and hunters, so that they in turn might be light of heart amid their toil
and sorrow. One great hymn he composed, and of that I will speak later; but indeed all his sayings
and sermons were a sort of divine song, and when he sent his companions from one village to another
he bade them say: "We are God's gleemen. For song and sermon we ask largesse, and our largesse shall
be that you persevere in sorrow for your sins."
Seeing that ladies of the world, great and beautiful, took pleasure in the songs of the troubadours
sung at twilight under their windows, he charged all the churches of his Order that at fall of day
the bells should be rung to recall the greeting with which Gabriel the Angel saluted the
 Virgin Mother of the Lord: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among
women." And from that day to this the bells have rung out the Angelus at sunset, and now there is no
land under heaven wherein those bells are not heard and wherein devout men hearing them do not pause
to repeat that greeting angelic.
In like fashion it was great delight to him (the Pope having given him leave) to make in the
churches of the Order a representation of the Crib of Bethlehem on the feast of the Nativity. Of
these the first was made at the hermitage of Greccio. Thither the peasants flocked on Christmas Eve,
with lanterns and torches, making the forest ring with their carols; and there in the church they
found a stable with straw, and an ox and an ass tethered to the manger; and St. Francis spoke to the
folk about Bethlehem and the Shepherds in the field, and the birth of the divine Babe, so that all
who heard him wept happy tears of compassion and thankfulness.
And as St. Francis stood sighing for joy and gazing at the empty manger, behold! a wondrous thing
happened. For the knight Giovanni, who had given the ox and the ass and the stable, saw that on the
straw in the manger there lay a beautiful child, which awoke from slumber, as it seemed, and
stretched out its little hands to St. Francis as he leaned over it.
Even to this day there is no land in which you may not see, on Christmas Eve, the Crib of Bethlehem;
but in those old days of St. Francis many souls were saved by the sight of that lowly manger from
the sin of those heretics who denied that the Word was made flesh and that the Son of God was born
as a little child for our salvation.
 The joy and gaiety of St. Francis were of two kinds. There was the joy of love, and there was the
joy of suffering for love. And of this last he spoke a wonderful rhapsody as he journeyed once with
Brother Leo, in the grievous cold of the early spring, from Perugia to St. Mary of the Angels. For,
as Brother Leo was walking on before, St. Francis called aloud to him:
"O Brother Leo, although throughout the world the Lesser Brethren were mirrors of holiness and
edification, nevertheless write it down, and give good heed to it, that not therein is perfect joy."
And again, a little further on, he called aloud:
"O Brother Leo, though the Lesser Brother should give the blind sight, and make the misshapen
straight, and cast out devils, and give hearing to the deaf, and make the lame to walk and the dumb
to speak; yea, should he even raise the four days' dead to life, write it down that not herein is
And yet a little further on he cried out:
"O Brother Leo, if the Lesser Brother should know all languages, and every science, and all the
Scriptures, so that he could foretell not solely the hidden things of the future but also the
secrets of the heart, write down that not therein is perfect joy."
A little further yet, and once again he cried aloud:
"O Brother Leo, God's little sheep, though the Lesser Brother were to speak with the tongue of the
Angels, and know the courses of the stars and the virtues of herbs, and though the treasures of the
earth were discovered to him, and he had craft and knowledge of birds and fishes and of all living
creatures, and of men, and of trees and stones, and
 roots and waters, write it down that not therein is perfect joy."
And once more, having gone a little further, St. Francis called aloud:
"O Brother Leo, even though the Lesser Brother could by his preaching convert all the unbelievers to
the faith of Christ, write down that not therein is perfect joy."
And when, after St. Francis had spoken in this manner for the space of two miles, Brother Leo
besought him to reveal wherein might perfect joy be found, St. Francis answered him:
"When we are come, drenched with rain and benumbed with cold and bespattered with mud and aching
with hunger, to St. Mary of the Angels, and knock at the door, and the porter asks wrathfully, 'Who
are you?' and on our answering, 'Two of your brethren are we,' 'Two gangrel rogues,' says he, 'who
go about cheating the world and sorning the alms of the poor; away with you!' and whips the door to,
leaving us till nightfall, cold and famished, in the snow and rain; if with patience we bear this
injury and harshness and rejection, nowise ruffled in our mind and making no murmur of complaint,
but considering within ourselves, humbly and in charity, that the porter knows well who we are, and
that God sets him up to speak against us—O Brother Leo, write down that therein is perfect joy."
And perfect joy, he added, if, knocking a second time, they brought the porter out upon them,
fuming, and bidding them betake themselves to the alms-house, for knaves and thieves, and
nevertheless they bore all with patience and with gladness and love. And yet again, he continued, if
a third time
 they knocked and shouted to him, for pity of their hunger and cold and the misery of the night, to
let them in, and he came, fierce with rage, crying, "Ah, bold and sturdy vagabonds, now I will pay
you," and caught them by the hood, and hurled them into the snow, and belaboured them with a knotty
cudgel; and if still, in despite of all pain and contumely, they endured with gladness, thinking of
the pains of the blessed Lord Christ, which for love of Him they too should be willing to bear—then
might it be truly written down that therein was perfect joy.
This was the perfect joy of the Saint most like to Christ of all the Saints that the world has seen.
And of all joys this was the most perfect, seeing that it was by the patient way of tears and
tribulation, of bodily pain and anguish of spirit, of humiliation and rejection, that a man might
come most nearly to a likeness of Christ.
Through all his gaiety and gladness and benignity he carried in his heart one sorrow, and that was
the memory of the Passion of our Lord. Once he was found weeping in the country, and when he was
asked whether he was in grievous pain that he wept, "Ah!" he replied, "it is for the Passion of my
Lord Jesus that I weep; and for that I should think little shame to go weeping through the whole
Two years before his death there befell him that miraculous transfiguration, which, so far as it may
be with a sinful son of Adam, made perfect the resemblance between him and the Saviour crucified.
And it was after this manner.
In the upper valley of the Arno stream there towers
 above the pines and giant beeches of the hills a great basalt rock, Alvernia, which looks over
Italy, east and west, to the two seas. That rock is accessible by but a single foot-track, and it is
gashed and riven by grim chasms, yet withal great oaks and beech-trees flourish atop among the
boulders, and there are drifts of fragrant wild flowers, and legions of birds and other wild
creatures dwell there; and the lights and colours of heaven play about the rock, and the winds of
heaven visit it with wholesome air.
Now a great and wealthy gentleman of Tuscany, Orlando of Chiusi, gave St. Francis that mountain for
a hermitage where he could be remote from men, and thither, with three of the brethren most dear to
him, the Saint went to spend the forty days of the Fast of St. Michael the Archangel.
Two nights they slept on the way, but on the third day, so worn was St. Francis with fatigue and
illness, that his companions were fain to beg a poor peasant to lend them his ass. As they proceeded
on their journey the peasant, walking behind the ass, said to St. Francis, "Tell me now, art thou
Brother Francis of Assisi?" and when St. Francis said he was, the peasant rejoined, "Look to it,
then, that thou strive to be as good as folk take thee to be, so that those who have faith in thee
be not disappointed in what they expect to find in thee." And instantly St. Francis got down from
the ass, and, kneeling on the ground, kissed the peasant's feet, and thanked him for his brotherly
So onward they journeyed up the mountain till they came to the foot of Alvernia, and there as St.
Francis rested him under an oak, vast flights of birds came fluttering and blithely singing, and
alighted on his shoulders and arms, and
 on his lap, and about his feet. "Not ill-pleased is our Lord, I think," said he, "that we have come
to dwell on this mountain, seeing what glee our little brothers and sisters the Birds show at our
Under a fair beech on the top of the rock the brethren built him a cell of branches, and he lived
alone in prayer, apart from the others, for the foreknowledge of his death had overshadowed him.
Once as he stood by the cell, scanning the shape of the mountain and musing on the clefts and chasms
in the huge rocks, it was borne in upon him that the mountain had been thus torn and cloven in the
Ninth Hour when our Lord cried with a loud voice, and the rocks were rent. And beside this
beech-tree St. Francis was many times uplifted into the air in rapture, and many times Angels came
to him, and walked with him for his consolation.
A while later, the brethren laid a tree across a chasm, and St. Francis hid himself in a more lonely
place, where no one might hear him when he cried out; and a falcon, which had its nest hard by his
cell, woke him for matins, and according as he was more weary or sickly at one time than another,
that feathered brother, having compassion on him, woke him later or sooner, and all the long day was
at hand to give him companionship.
Here in this wild place, in September, on Holy Cross Day, early in the morning, before the dawn
whitened, St. Francis knelt with his face turned to the dark east; and praying long and with great
fervour, he besought the Lord Christ Jesus for two graces before he died. And the first was this,
that, so far as mortal flesh might bear it, he might feel in his body the torture which our Lord
suffered in His
 Passion; and the second, that he might feel in his heart the exceeding great love for which He was
willing to bear such torture.
Now even while he was praying in this wise a mighty six-winged Seraph, burning with light
unspeakable, came flying towards him; and St. Francis saw that the Seraph bore within himself the
figure of a cross, and thereon the image of a man crucified. Two of the six wings of the Seraph were
lifted up over the head of the crucified; and two were spread for flying; and two veiled the whole
of the body on the cross.
Then as the Seraph drew nigh, the eyes of Christ the crucified looked into the eyes of St. Francis,
piercing and sweet and terrible; and St. Francis could scarce endure the rapture and the agony with
which that look consumed him, and transfigured him, and burned into his body the similitude of
Christ's Passion. For straightway his hands and his feet were pierced through and through with
nails; and the heads of the nails were round and black, and the points were bent backward and
riveted on the further side of hand and foot; and his right side was opened with the deep thrust of
the spear; and the gash was red and blood came dropping from it. Terrible to bear was the ache of
those wounds; and for the nails in his feet St. Francis scarce could stand and could not walk at
Such was the transfiguration of the Little Bedesman of Christ into His visible semblance on the holy
For two years he sustained the ecstasy and anguish of that likeness, but of his sayings and of the
wonders he wrought in that time I will not speak.
 In those days he composed the Song of the Sun, and oftentimes sang it, and in many a village and
market-place was it sung by the brethren going two by two in their labour for souls. A mighty hymn
of praise to the Lord God most high and omnipotent was this Song of the Sun; for in this manner it
was that St. Francis sang:
"Praised be Thou, my Lord; by all Thy creatures praised; and chiefly praised by Brother Sun who
gives us light of day.
"Through him Thou shinest; fair is he, brilliant with glittering fire; and he through heaven bears,
Most High, symbol and sense of thee.
"Praised by Sister Moon be Thou; and praised by all the Stars. These hast Thou made, and Thou hast
made them precious and beautiful and bright.
"Praised by Brother Wind be Thou; by Air, and Cloud that lives in air, and all the Weathers of the
world, whereby their keep Thou dost provide for all the creatures Thou hast made.
"Praised by Sister Water, Lord, be Thou; the lowly water, precious, pure, the gracious handmaiden.
"Praised by Brother Fire, by whom Thou makest light for us in the dark; and fair is he and jocund,
sturdy and strong.
"Praised by our Sister Mother-Earth, which keeps us and sustains, and gives forth plenteous fruit,
and grass, and coloured flowers.
"Praised be Thou, Lord my God, by those who for Thy love forgive, and for Thy love endure; blessed
in their patience they; by Thee shall they be crowned."
As he drew nigh to his end at St. Mary of the Angels,
 he cried out, "Welcome, Sister Death!" and when his brethren, as he had bidden them, sang once more
the Song of the Sun, he added another verse:
"Praised by our Sister Death be Thou—that bodily death which no man may escape. Alas for those who
die in mortal sin, but happy they conforming to Thy will; for these the second death shall nowise
In the tenth month, on the fourth day of the month, in the forty-and-fifth year of his age, having
recited the Psalm, "I cried unto Thee, O Lord, and said: Thou art my hope and my portion in the land
of the living," St. Francis died very joyfully. At the fall of the night he died, and while still
the brethren were gazing upon his face there dropped down on the thatch of the cell in which he lay
larks innumerable, and most sweetly they sang, as though they rejoiced at the release of their holy
He was buried at the great church at Assisi; but though it is thought he lies beneath the high
altar, the spot is unknown to any man, and the hill-folk say that St. Francis is not dead at all,
but that he lives hidden in a secret crypt far down below the roots of wall and pillar. Standing
there, pale and upright, with the blood red in the five wounds of his crucifixion, he waits in a
heavenly trance for the sound of the last trumpet, when the nations of the earth shall see in the
clouds Him whom they have pierced.
Long after his death it was the custom of the brethren of a certain house of his Order to go
chanting in procession at midnight once in the year to his resting-place. But the way was long and
dark; the weather often bleak and stormy. Little by little devotion cooled, and the friars
 fell away, till there remained but one old monk willing to go on this pilgrimage. As he went into
the dark and the storm, the road among the woods and rocks grew luminous, and in place of the cross
and torches and canticles of the former days, great flocks of birds escorted him on his way, singing
and keeping him company. The little feathered brothers and sisters had not abated in their love of
the Little Bedesman who had caressed and blessed them.