Once St. Francis had been invited to stay as the guest of Leo, cardinal of Santa Croce, and he spent some days at his house. But one night demons visited him and gave him a fearful beating. Francis called his companion, told him what had happened and explained, “These demons are the agents of our Lord, sent by him to punish our transgressions. Now I cannot recall any offense that I have not washed clean through God’s mercy and by doing penance, but perhaps he has permitted his agents to assault me because I am a guest in the courts of the mighty, and this could arouse nasty suspicions in my poor little brothers who may think I am living in the lap of luxury!” So, as soon as it was light, he got up and left the place.
Once while he was at prayer he heard whole troops of demons running over the roof of the monastery and making a terrible din. He got up and went outside, and crossing himself, he said, “In the name of Almighty God, you demons, do all that is within your power to my body, do your worst. I will willingly endure it all, because I have no greater enemy than my body, and when you vent your fury on it, you will be doing me a service and avenging me on my adversary.” At this the demons disappeared in confusion.
In a vision, the servant of God once saw above him a crucified seraph, who imprinted the marks of his crucifixion on Francis so clearly that he, too, seemed to have been crucified. His hands and feet and side were marked with the prints of the cross, but Francis took great pains to hide these stigmata from everyone else. There were a few who saw these marks while he was still alive, though nothing to compare with the large numbers who saw them after his death.
That these marks were really the stigmata was proved by many miracles: suffice it to mention here just two of them, which happened after Francis’ death. In Apulia a man named Roger was standing before a painting of St. Francis when he began to wonder whether it could really be true that Francis had been blessed by this miracle, or whether it had merely been a pious illusion, or a deliberate fraud on the part of his friars. As he pondered these thoughts, he heard a sudden sound, like a bolt shot from a crossbow, and felt a stinging wound in his left hand, though he could see no hole in his glove. But when he removed the glove he discovered on the palm of his hand a deep wound such as an arrow might make; it seemed to be on fire, and burned him so cruelly that he all but fainted with the pain. Immediately he regretted his doubts and declared that he believed absolutely in St. Francis’ stigmata; and two days later, after imploring the saint’s aid “by his stigmata,” his wound was instantly healed.
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