Chapters XLVI and XLVII




There were two brothers of the province of Ancona who entered the Order after the death of St Francis - one was named Brother Umile, and the other Brother Pacifico - both of whom attained a great degree of perfection and sanctity. Brother Umile lived in the Convent of Soffiano, and there he died; Brother Pacifico lived in another convent, at some distance. It pleased God that Brother Pacifico, being one day in prayer in a solitary place, was rapt in ecstasy, and saw the soul of his brother, which had just left his body, go straight to heaven without any hindrance. Many years after this, Brother Pacifico was sent to the Convent of Soffiano, where his brother had died, at the time when the friars, at the demand of the Lords of Bruforte, changed their convent for another, and were removing the remains of the holy brothers who had died there. Then the grave of Brother Umile was opened, his brother took his bones, and having washed them in wine, wrapped them carefully in a white napkin, and weeping over them, kissed them with great devotion.

The other brothers were much surprised that he should set them such bad example, for they could not understand how a man so holy could show such carnal affection towards his brother, honouring his remains so far above those of the other friars, who, not being less holy than Brother Umile, were worthy of like honour. Then Brother Pacifico, knowing how he was misjudged by the brethren, humbly explained to them his conduct, saying: "My most dear brothers, be not surprised if I honour the bones of my brother above those of the other friars; for, thanks be to God, it is not through carnal affection that I do this, but because when my brother left this life I was praying in a solitary place, very far from the convent where he lay dead, and I saw his soul go straight to heaven; wherefore I am sure that his bones are holy, and will be honoured in heaven. If the Lord had revealed to me the same things of the other friars, I would treat their bones also with equal reverence." Then the brethren being convinced that his intentions were holy and just, were greatly edified by what he had told them, and praised God who did such wonderful things for his holy friars.


In the above-mentioned Convent of Soffiano there lived formerly a Friar Minor so holy that he appeared to be almost supernatural, and he was often rapt in God. He possessed the grace of contemplation in a notable degree; and often when he was ravished and raised above the earth in ecstasy, all kinds of birds used to come and perch on his head, his arms, and his hands, singing most wonderfully. He was very fond of solitude, and rarely spoke; but when anyone asked him a question he answered so wisely and so graciously that he seemed to be an angel rather than a mortal. He was a man wholly devoted to prayer and contemplation, and the brothers held him in great reverence. Having finished the course of his virtuous life, it was the will of God that he should fall dangerously ill, so that he could take no nourishment, and he refused all human remedies, placing all his hope in the celestial Physician, Jesus Christ, the blessed one, and his divine Mother, by whom, through the mercy of God, he was visited and healed. For as he was lying on his bed, preparing for death with all his heart and with great devotion, the glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, appeared to him with a great multitude of angels and holy virgins, and surrounded by much splendour. She approached his bed, and on seeing her, he experienced the greatest comfort and joy both in soul and body, and began to pray to her humbly, to ask of her divine Son to deliver his soul from its miserable prison of flesh.

As he persevered in prayer, with many tears, the Virgin Mary called him by his name, saying to him: "My son, have no doubts; for thy prayer is granted, and I am come to comfort thee a little before thou leavest this world." By the side of the Virgin Mary there stood three holy virgins, holding in their hands three vases filled with a sweet ointment; and the Virgin Mary taking one of the vases opened it, when all the house was filled with the odour thereof; then taking a spoonful of the contents she gave it to the sick brother. No sooner had he tasted it than he experienced so sweet a sensation, that it seemed as if his soul could no longer remain in his body, and he cried out: "No more, O blessed Virgin Mary; no more, O blessed Physician, whose pleasure it is to save the human race from perishing; I cannot endure such sweetness." But the compassionate Mother of God continued to give him the ointment, until the vase was emptied. The first vase being emptied, the Blessed Virgin took the second, and was about to give him the contents; but he said: "O blessed Mother of God, if my soul is, as it were, melted by the sweetness and virtue of the ointment thou hast already given me, how shall I ever be able to support the effect of a second vase: I pray thee, O Virgin, blessed above all the saints and all the angels, not to give me any more." The glorious Virgin Mary answered: "Taste, my son, a little of the second vase"; and having given him a little, she said: "Thou has sufficient, my son, for to-day; soon I will come again to conduct thee to the kingdom of my Son, whom thou hast ever sought and desired"; and having said these words, she took leave of him and departed. And the brother was so strengthened and comforted by the medicine she had given him, that he lived for several days in perfect health, without taking any nourishment. Shortly after, as he was talking gaily with the brethren, he passed from this miserable life most joyfully.
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