The Perfect Joy
spirituality of St. Francis
of Assisi is summarized in the celebrated lesson on "perfect joy" which
Francis gave Friar Leo.
"One day near St. Mary of the
Angels, the blessed Francis called Friar Leo and said, ‘Friar
‘Here I am,’ replied the other.
‘Write down what is perfect
joy. If a messenger should arrive from Paris announcing that all the
from Paris had come into the Order, write down: true joy is not therein.
If all the prelates,
archbishops and even the King of France and the King of England should
join the Order, write down: true joy is not therein.
Further if all my
friars should go among the infidels and convert them all to the faith,
or if I should have so much grace from God that I heal the sick and
miracles, write down: true joy is not therein.
But what is perfect joy?
I return from Perugia in the black of night and I come here and it is
muddy and so cold that icicles form on the hem of my tunic and strike
my legs without cease and draw blood from my wounds. Thus covered with
mud, soaked and frozen I come to the door and after I call out and
for a long time, a friar comes and asks: ‘Who are
you?’ I answer, ‘Friar
Francis,’ and he says: ‘Begone! This is not an hour
to be wandering around!’
And since I insist and knock further, he answers: ‘Begone!
You are a worthless
fellow, a simpleton. Don’t come here anymore. We are just so
many and have
no need of you!’
still knock on the door, and
I say: ‘For the love of God give me shelter for this
night.’ And he answers,
‘I will not. Go to the hospital of the Cruciferi and ask
I endure all this patiently and without dismay, I say to you,
that therein lies perfect joy, true virtue and the salvation of the
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