Francis of Assisi
The ascended master Kuthumi was embodied as Francis of Assisi (1182–1226), founder of the Franciscan order, the divine poverello, who renounced family and wealth and embraced “Lady Poverty,” living among the poor and the lepers, finding unspeakable joy in imitating the compassion of Christ.
Saint Francis and the leper
There is a story told in the Fioretti of a leper who was being cared for by the brothers in Saint Francis’ order. The leper was so blasphemous and abusive in his speech that none could bear to come near him. When Francis visited him, the leper complained that the brothers had not looked after him as they should, whereupon Francis offered to care for him himself.
The leper asked him what he could do that the others could not. Francis promised that he would do all he wished. The leper said, “I want you to wash me all over because the odor is such that I cannot stand it.” Francis then prepared water with many sweet-scented herbs, undressed him and began to wash him with his hands. Miraculously, wherever Francis touched, the leprosy disappeared and the flesh was healed.
As the leper’s body was healed, his soul experienced conversion also. Overcome with remorse for his sins, he began to weep bitterly, accusing himself for all the pain he had caused others. After fifteen days of deep penance, he fell ill and passed on. His soul, brighter than the sun, appeared to Saint Francis while he was praying in a forest. Pouring out gratitude and blessings, he announced to Francis that that day he was going to Paradise.
The first nativity scene
In 1223 Brother Francis prepared a special Christmas celebration. His heart’s desire was to commemorate the birth of Christ in a way which would vividly portray the suffering and discomfort the Saviour had borne. He asked his devout friend Messer John Vellita to set up a real manger filled with hay in a grotto on a steep wooded hill in Greccio. An ox and ass were also brought to the spot, just as at Bethlehem.
At midnight on Christmas Eve, the brothers and neighboring people came bearing candles and lighted torches that brilliantly illumined the night. Together they celebrated a solemn Mass over the crèche; and Francis, with a countenance of supreme compassion and unspeakable joy, delivered a moving sermon on the “Bethlehem Babe.” For a moment, his friend John saw a beautiful infant lying in the manger, appearing almost lifeless. Then he saw Francis step forward and lift the Child, who opened his eyes as if waking from a deep sleep and smiled. The vision signified that although Christ had been asleep and forgotten in the hearts of many, he was being brought to life again through the devotion of his servant Francis.
The culmination of his meditation upon the Redeemer came to Francis in the agony and the ecstasy of a dread illness when he sought solitude at the retreat on Mount La Verna. As the pale poverello lay outstretched upon a bare rock in the chill of the September dawn, “the fervor of his devotion increased so much that he totally transformed himself into Him who let himself be crucified through abundance of love.”
Brother Leo reports that “suddenly appeared to him a seraph with six wings, bearing enfolded in them a very beautiful image of a crucified man, his hands and feet outflung as on a cross, with features clearly resembling those of Lord Jesus. Two wings covered the seraph’s head; two, descending to his feet, veiled the rest of his body; the other two were unfolded for flight.”
Before the vision faded, Francis felt the five wounds of the Crucified pierce his body with such force that he fell unconscious.
For two years, Francis bore the intense suffering of Christ though at times, in transcendent joy, he would burst into song—lighting upon his “Canticle of the Creatures,” praising not only brother sun but brother wind, brother fire, sister earth, and sister death.
The call to the brothers and sisters of Assisi
Today Kuthumi calls the brothers and sisters of Assisi together once again, those who hunger for the simple life of the Spirit but with the dynamism, the fervor, and the drama that Francis knew. It is the revolutionary Francis who comes once again in Jesus’ name not to send a placid peace but to thrust the sword of the living Word into the decadence of an age.
Jesus and Kuthumi, Prayer and Meditation.
- Morris Bishop, St. Francis of Assisi (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1974), p. 168.