Saint Francis and the Covetous Priest Sylvester

While Bernard was giving away his goods to the poor, Francis was present, beholding the effectual working of the Lord, and glorifying and praising the Lord in his heart. But there came a priest named Sylvester, from whom Francis had bought stones for the repair of the church of Saint Damian, and at the sight of so much money being spent by the advice of the man of God he was kindled with the fire of greed, and said to him: 'Francis, you did not pay me well for the stones you bought from me.'

But when the despiser of avarice heard him unjustly murmuring, he went up to Bernard, put his hand into Bernard's cloak, where the money was, and, with great fervour of spirit, drew it out full of coins, which he gave to the murmuring priest. Then, filling his hand with money a second time, he said: 'Are you paid in full now, sir priest?'

'I am paid in full, brother,' said the priest, and went joyfully home with the money he had thus received.

A few days after, the same priest, inspired by the Lord, began to think on what Francis had done, and said to himself: 'Am I not a wretch, seeing that, though I am an old man, I covet temporal things, while this young man despises and abhors them for love of God?' And the following night he saw in a dream an immense cross, whose top touched the heavens, and whose foot was fixed in Francis' mouth, and its arms stretched from one end of the world to the other. So when the priest awoke he knew and firmly believed that Francis was a true friend and servant of Christ, and that the Religion which he had begun would spread forthwith over all the world. And so he began to fear God and do penance in his own house; and after a short time he entered the Order now begun, and in it lived an excellent life and made a glorious end.

- text taken from Franciscan Days: being selections for every day in the year from ancient Franciscan writings, translated and arranged by Alan George Ferrers Howell