When I was a young woman, Francis came with the Crusaders to
One evening as Francis and one of his brothers were walking cold and weary along the road, they saw an inn and decided to stop and rest there overnight.
Now while they sat at table eating, I approached Francis and invited him to join me in one of the rooms. And Francis, much to the amazement of his companion, readily agreed, saying “Yes, but if you want me to do what you want, you must also do what I want.”
“I agree,” I replied. “Let us go then, and prepare a bad.”
So he followed me to a room where there was a large bed and a fireplace whose flames lit up the room. I was about to lead him to the bed when he stopped me and, stripping himself naked, said, “Before I join you in your bed, come, join me in mine.” Thereupon he went to the blazing fireplace and lay down in the flames upon the iron grate.
Then Francis called to me, “Quickly now, undress and join me in this wonderful bed of flowers, for you agreed to do whatever I wanted.”
But I was moved with fear. Was this holy man a sorcerer? He was not burned, and in fact continued to beckon me to lie down with him in the fire as though in flowers. This little man filled me with wonder and love as he smiled gently, praising God. And I knew at onc e what manner of fire this was. And I knelt down upon the floor and surrendered my soul to the purifying flames. I asked God to forgive my sins and those of all the men I’d lain with, and immediately I felt through my whole being the healing touch of God’s mercy and love.
Then, like Mary Magdalene, in the Gospel, I gave myself wholly to the Lord Jesus, and He won many souls through me in all the region of
After his conversion St. Francis called his body “Brother Ass.” And though he fasted and deprived his physical self into poor health, he later repented of this harshness and asked Brother Ass to forgive him. Our bodies are as much a part of God’s creation as our souls. They require care, protection, respect. They give us pleasure, and it is through them that we embrace others. The beauty of the “embrace” between Francis and the prostitute is that he showed her a way to see herself as truly beautiful, aflame with a heavenly countenance. He spoke to her in the language she would understand, body to body, flesh to flesh.
Lord, let me be a witness to true love, as St. Francis was to the