St. Francis keeps himself pure by chastising snowmen

Pocket Bard’s notes: I don’t think I’d ever tell this story because I don’t actually find it that compelling as a bardic piece, but I love the idea of St. Francis chastising snowmen. Though, admittedly, if I were the devil, I’d probably have left in confusion too.

St. Francis keeps himself pure by chastising snowmen
The Golden Legend, Volume II, trans. William Granger Ryan, p.223

While Francis was at prayer, the devil called him three times by name. The saint responded, and the devil added: “In the whole world there is not a single sinner to whom the Lord will not grant pardon if he repents; but if someone kills himself with excessive penances, he will not obtain mercy forever.” By a revelation, the saint instantly recognized the lie and the liar, and saw how the demon was trying to cool his ardor to lukewarmness. The ancient enemy, seeing that his effort was of no avail, aroused in Francis a violent temptation of the flesh, but the man of God, feeling this, took off his habit and scourged himself with a coarse rope, saying to his body: “See here, brother ass! Either behave yourself or take a beating!” But the temptation persisted, so the saint went out and threw himself naked in the deep snow. Then he made seven snowballs, which he set in front of him, and spoke again to his body: “Look here,” he said, “the biggest ball is your wife, the next four are two sons and two daughters, and the last two are a manservant and a maidservant. Hurry up and clothe them, they’re dying of cold! Or, if it bothers you to give them so much attention, then serve the Lord with care!” Thereupon the devil went away in confusion, and the man of God returned to his cell glorifying the Lord.


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