Saint of the Day – 4 October – An Excerpt from The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi and a link to the free PDF

Saint of the Day – 4 October – St Francis of Assisi OFM (c 1181–1226)

An Excerpt from The Little Flowers
of St Francis of Assisi
Translated from the 14th Century Fioretti (1905)

“In this book are contained certain little Flowers, namely, miracles and devout examples of the glorious poor Little One of Christ, St Francis and of some of his holy companions, to the praise of Jesus Christ. Amen.

In the first place, let us consider how the glorious St Francis, in all the acts of his life, was conformed to the life of that blessed Christ; that, as Christ in the beginning of His preaching elected twelve Apostles that they should despise every worldly thing and follow Him in poverty and in all virtues, so St Francis, for the founding of his Order, elected, in the beginning, twelve companions, who were to be possessors of nothing but an entire poverty.

And, as one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, rejected by God for his infidelity, finally strangled himself, so also, one of the twelve companions of St Francis, who was called Brother John della Capella, apostatised and finally, hanged himself in like manner. And this is to the elect, a great warning and a matter of humility and of fear, to cause them to remember that no-one is certain, to persevere to the end, in the grace of God.

As the blessed Apostles were wholly marvellous for sanctity and humility and full of the Holy Ghost, so the blessed companions of St Francis were men of such great sanctity that, since the time of the Apostles, the world had not seen the like; since one of them, like St Paul, was taken up into the third heaven and this was Brother Giles; another of them, namely Brother Filippo Longo, was touched on the lips by an angel, like the Prophet Isaias, with a coal of fire; another of them and this was Brother Silvester, spoke with God, as one friend with another, after the manner of Moses; another, by the purity of his soul, flew up to the light of the Divine Wisdom, like the eagle, St John the Evangelist and this was the most humble Brother Bernard, who explained, most profoundly, Holy Writ and another was sanctified by God and canonised in Heaven whilst still living on earth and this was Brother Ruffino, who was a gentleman of Assisi. And so were they all privileged with remarkable signs of holiness, as will be declared in the sequel . . .” –page 1 – 2

To Download the PDF of The Little Flowers click here:


Saint of the Day – 4 October – St Francis of Assisi OFM (1181–1226)

Saint of the Day – 4 October – St Francis of Assisi OFM Confessor, Religious, Deacon, Stigmatist and ounder, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin and of Charity, Preacher, Missionary, Mystic, Miracle-Worker, Co-patron of Italy, Founder of the Seraphic Order – the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land, as well as being the Founder of the Nativity Crib and Manger as we know it today.

The oldest surviving depiction of Saint Francis is a fresco near the entrance of the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco, painted between March 1228 and March 1229.   He is depicted without the stigmata but the image is a religious image and not a portrait.

Born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone ( informally called Francesco by his Mother) – (1181 at Assisi, Umbria, Italy – 4 October 1226 at Portiuncula, Italy of natural causes).  His relics are enshrined in the Basilica built and named for him in Assisi, Italy.  St Francis was Canonised on 16 July 1228 by Pope Gregory IX.   Patronages – • against dying alone• against fire• animal welfare societies• animals• birds• ecologists, ecology• environment, environmentalism, environmentalists• families• lace makers, lace workers• merchants• needle workers• peace• tapestry workers• zoos• Italy• Colorado• Catholic Action• Franciscan Order• 10 dioceses• 10 cities.   Attributes – • apparition of Jesus• Christ child• birds• deer• fish• lamb• skull• stigmata• wolf.  In 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy making him the first recorded person in Christian history to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142 (141).   Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. 

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Francis was born in Assisi in 1182, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, Pietro Bernardone, and his wife, Pica.   He was baptised Giovanni (John) but soon gained the nickname Francesco because of his father’s close trading links with France.

Francis’ early years were not especially religious.   He was a leader among the young men of Assisi, enjoying a good social life, singing and partying.   His first biographer, Thomas of Celano, describes him as quite short, with black eyes, hair and beard;  he had a long face, with a straight nose and small, upright ears.   His arms were short but his hands and fingers slender and long.   He had a strong, clear, sweet voice.   Francis didn’t want to follow his father into the cloth trade;   he wanted to be a knight.   So at the age of twenty he joined the forces of Assisi in a minor skirmish with the neighbouring city of Perugia.   He was captured and spent a year in a Perugian jail, until his father ransomed him.   This became the first of a series of experiences through which God called Francis to the life which he finally embraced.

One of these experiences, at San Damiano, led to a rift with his father.   Francis, in response to a voice from the crucifix in this tiny ruined Church, began to rebuild churches;   when he ran out of money he took cloth from his father’s shop and sold it.   His father disowned him before the bishop of Assisi and Francis in his turn stripped off his clothes, returning to his father everything he had received from him and promising that in future he would call only God his Father.

And thus, Francis of Assisi, this poor little man began a journey to astound and inspire the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.Flemish School; St Francis of Assisi

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth.   Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road.   It symbolised his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer:  “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will.   And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.”

From the Cross in the neglected Chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.


He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels.   He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts” to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in heaven.”

He was, for a time, considered to be a religious “nut,” begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.beeautiful francis 2.

But genuineness will tell.   A few people began to realise that this man was actually trying to be Christian.   He really believed what Jesus said:  “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff” (see Lk 9:1-3).

Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels.   He had no idea of founding an order but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it.   His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church’s unity.

He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News.   He decerned in favour of the latter but always returned to solitude when he could.   He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases.   He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.beautiful francis

During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill.   Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.”   He sang Psalm 141 and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.Death-of-St-Francis-of-Assisi-Evora-Portugal-Igreja-de-Sao-Francisco

On 13 March 2013, upon his election as Pope, Archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi, becoming Pope Francis I.
At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Pope Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi and had done so because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor.   He explained that, as it was becoming clear during the conclave voting that he would be elected the new bishop of Rome, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor”, which had made Bergoglio think of the saint.   Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time.   He changed history.”   Bergoglio’s selection of his papal name is the first time that a pope has been named Francis.


Saint of the Day – 6 June – St Norbert (c 1080-1134)”Defender of the Eucharist”

Saint of the Day – 6 June – St Norbert (c 1080-1134) – also known as St Norbert of Xanten – Bishop, Confessor, Founder, “Defender of the Eucharist” and “Apostle of the Eucharist”, Exorcist, Reformer, Preacher – (c1080 at Xanten, Germany – 6 June 1134 at Magdeburg, Germany,  relics in Prague) – Patron for peace, invoked during childbirth for safe delivery, of infertile married couples, Bohemia (Czech Republic), Archdiocese of Magdeburg, Germany – Attributes – monstrance, cross with two cross-bars.St.-Norbertweb

St Norbert was a German from illustrious Frankish and Salic German stock.   Offered as a youth to the collegiate church of St Victor in Xanten, he was educated both in literature and the ways of the court and the world.   At Xanten, he became a Subdeacon and at this period of his life, showed no inclination to pursue the dignity of the Priesthood.   Rather, St Norbert, who was wealthy, handsome, thin and somewhat tall, sought approval in the courts of the great and of the emperor. Known to be an eloquent speaker and possessed of an affability that won him admiration and friendships, St Norbert used these natural gifts, not to seek the glory of God but to gain the love and esteem of men.   His biographer describes him at this period before his conversion as one who “had no time for piety and quiet” and that he “lived his life according to his own desires.”

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But soon life became one of interior strife for St Norbert.   He had witnessed Emperor Henry V’s mistreatment of Pope Paschal II in Rome in 1111, when he travelled there in Frederick of Cologne’s retinue.   These events left St Norbert with a sense of uneasiness he could not dispel.   The man who had been so happy to live at court no longer felt comfortable in that atmosphere of intrigue, where the emperor’s arrogance took the place of law.   He left the court and returned to Xanten, where we find him in 1115.   In late spring of this year, St. Norbert, accompanied by a single servant, was travelling on the road to Freden when a storm suddenly came up.   A bolt of lightning struck the ground before his horse’s feet and he was thrown to the ground.   Shaken, he asked, “Lord what do you want me to do?”   In response, he seemed to hear these words from Psalm 34, “Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”   St Norbert underwent a profound conversion.   Under the influence of grace and led by the Gospel, he became sure of one thing:  he wanted to put on the new man (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) and live a life of perfection in the service of the Church, according to the Gospel of Christ and in the footsteps of the Apostles.

From the beginning of his conversion, St Norbert aimed at a life of priestly perfection through imitation of the Apostles.   He sought ordination to the priesthood and gave his considerable wealth to the poor, in order “that he may follow the naked cross naked”  ( Vita Norberti B, IX 22).   Inflamed with the zeal of divine fervour, St Norbert went about with “no purse, no sandals nor two tunics,” (Mk. 6:8) proclaiming by his words and example the necessity of poverty of spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God.   As Christ had sent out his Apostles not only “to proclaim the message,” but also “to have authority to cast out demons,” (Mk. 3:15)   St Norbert was well known as an exorcist and his biographer records many instances when he was called upon to exercise this office. Regarded as a “minister of peace and concord,” he had the gift of reconciling people and establishing peace between feuding parties.

At the centre of St Norbert’s spiritual life and ministry was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.   Contrary to custom of his times, he celebrated Mass every day and it was after offering the Eucharistic sacrifice that he loved to preach, while his heart was overflowing with the love he had drawn from intimate contact with Christ.   The Acts of the Apostles record how the first Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” (2:42) and that “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (4:32).   St Norbert sought to realise the fullness of this Apostolic ideal in the founding of a new religious family.

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In 1121, St Norbert established the first monastery of our Order in Prémontré, France.   He had a great talent to speak to people, to fill people with enthusiasm for the kingdom of God, so much so that in a short period of time he was able to attract many men and women to the Apostolic Life and to start many foundations of religious communities of this “ordo novus”.   Liturgical prayer held a central place in the life of Norbert and his first companions.   The Eucharist, the heart of liturgical prayer occupied such a place at Prémontré and in the life of St Norbert that later tradition made Norbert the Apostle of the Eucharist.   His order, the Premonstratensian or Norbertine Canons and Sisters are today in Europe, the US, Canada, South America, Zaire, South Africa, India and Australia are involved in education, parochial ministry, university chaplaincy and youth work.


In 1126, St Norbert was elected archbishop of Magdeburg, Germany.   He worked for the kingdom of God on all levels and ready to commit himself to peace and justice, did not shy away from arguments and conflicts, neither in his own diocese nor in the conflict between emperor and pope, as he courageously defended the rights of the Church.800px-Maria_Anger_-_St.Norbert_2

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St Norbert died on 6 June 1134, the Wednesday after Pentecost.   By order of the emperor, his body was laid at rest in Abbey Church of St. Mary’s at Magdeburg, where he had installed the confreres of his Order.   St Norbert’s body was transferred to the Norbertine Abbey of Strahov in Prague in 1627 after numerous attempts were made over the centuries by the Abbey of Strahov in Prague to retrieve the saint’s body.   Only after several military defeats at the hand of Emperor Ferdinand II was the abbot of Strahov able to claim the body.   On 2 May 1627 the body was finally brought to Prague where it remains to this day, displayed in a glass-fronted tomb in the Royal Canonry of Strahov, Prague and is venerated by his sons and daughters from all over the world.   As mentioned above, St. Norbert is venerated as the “Apostle and Defender of the Eucharist.”   He is usually depicted with a ciborium or monstrance in his hand on account of his extraordinary devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament.   St Norbert is also a patron of childbirth/expectant mothers, as well as traditionally invoked by married couples who want to conceive a child, with many favours attributed to his intercession.


Shrine of St. Norbert, Royal Canonry of Strahov, Prague

Why is St Norbert Patron of Expectant Mothers & Infertile Married Couples?

A pious woman once approached St Norbert asking whether she and her husband ought to separate and enter monasteries because they lived in an infertile marriage.   St Norbert prophesied that they would be blessed with children, the first of whom would be dedicated to God.   This child, Nicholas, did indeed become a Norbertine at Prémontré.    St Norbert is traditionally invoked for a good childbirth. The Norbertine Canonesses at Doksany (Czech Republic) in modern times promote this devotion to St. Norbert as patron of infertile couples or endangered pregnancies and report hundreds of families now blessed with children, the sisters having well over 3,000 spiritual children as of 2012.


A Prayer to St. Norbert for a Good Childbirth

St. Norbert, great and faithful servant of God!
You venerated the holy and miraculous birth of our Saviour,
Who His Mother, the purest Virgin Mary,
conceived without the loss of her virginity
and gave birth remaining a virgin.
You connected the origin of the Premonstratensian Order
with the day of the birth of Jesus Christ.
I humbly pray to you, St. Norbert,
as a great protector, so that God will give me the grace,
through your intercession,
to give birth to this conceived child.
And so that He will give me also the grace
that this child will join the Church of Christ
through the sacrament of Baptism
and that he/she will serve Him, Our Lord,
the whole of his/her life
so that in the end we both will reach eternal salvation.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

(Translated from The Little Hours, 1749, by one of our Norbertine Sisters at Doksany)