St. Francis and the Doves

How St.Francis tamed the turtle-doves that had been given them

One day a youth had caught many turtle-doves and was going to sell them. St.Francis met him, and as he always had a singular pity for all gentle beasts, he looked pitifully at the doves and said to the young man: "O good youth, I beg you give them to me, so that these innocent birds, to whom Holy Scriptures compare the souls that are chaste, humble and faithful, should not fall into the hands of cruel men who would slaughter them."

And immediately the youth, inspired by God, gave all the birds to St.Francis, who took them into his lap and began to talk to them gently, saying "O my sisters, you simple, innocent and chaste turtle-doves, why do you let yourselves be caught? But see, I will deliver you from death and make nests for you, so that you can be fruitful and multiply according to the commandment of your Creator." And St.Francis went and made nests for all of them. And the doves used them, laid eggs and hatched them under the eyes of the friars; and they lived so tamely with St.Francis and all the other brothers that one could have taken them for chickens raised by their hands. And they never flew away, unless St.Francis blessed them and gave them leave to go. And to the youth who had given them to him, St.Francis said: "My son, you will yet be a brother of this Order, graciously serving Jesus Christ." And so it happened; the said youth became a friar and lived in the Order with great saintliness. Praise be to Christ, Amen.

from Little Flowers of St. Francis (22)


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