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franciscan - September 1998

The death of St Francis . . .

. . . While the brothers were weeping, Francis commanded that bread be brought to him. He blessed and broke it and gave a small piece to each one to eat. Asking also that the book of the Gospels be brought, he asked that the section from St John be read, where it begins, ‘Before the feast of the Passover . . .’
Then he spent the few days that remained before his death in praise, teaching his companions whom he loved so much to praise Christ with him . . .
He also invited all creatures to praise God . . . he exhorted death itself, terrible and hateful to all, to give praise and, going joyfully to meet it, he invited it to make its lodging with him: ‘Welcome, my sister death.’ Then to the brothers, he said: ‘When you see that I am brought to my last moments, place me naked upon the ground and let my lie there for the length of time it takes one to walk a mile unhurriedly.’ When many brothers had gathered about, whose father he was, his holy soul was freed from his body and received into the abyss of light, and his body fell asleep in the Lord.

From Thomas of Celano’s First Life of St Francis


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