The farmhand walks through the Italian woods, heading for home. His body aches from his labors; his heart aches because he will barely feed his family with what he earned today. In the twilight, he is passing by an abandoned farmhouse, when he hears the sound of chanting, coming from it. He peers in, and sees a group of men, dressed in brown robes, kneeling on the dirt floor. They circle a little thin man, who is leading them in prayer. The farmhand sees a glow of light emanating from him, touching the others, touching him. He experiences great peace.
NB: After Francis of Assisi won provisional papal approval for his rule of life; he and his small group of brothers went down to a small Italian area known as RivoTorto. There they lived; during the day they cared for lepers. Some would work in the fields, and get paid in food and drink. They spent their evenings in prayer, and being taught by Francis. It was the Order’s first novitiate. One day, a farmer pushed his donkey into the hut, and pushed the brothers out, into the wider world.
He slowly gets out of bed; not wanting to face the coming day. Looking out of his window, he sees the outside reflecting his mood. He notices the birds, sitting on the wire, huddled together against the damp. Suddenly, they all take flight; they appear to be heading for his building! The birds wheel about and head downward. It is then, that he notices the little man, dressed in a brown robe. The birds land all around the little man. He blesses them, and they all take off; filling the air with their birdsong. Staring out his window, he smiles.
After the interview, he entered the coffee shop. His mind full of anxieties; his unemployment assistance ended, and savings shrinking. He swore, as he discovered he could not afford a cup of coffee! Suddenly, a little man with gentle eyes, dressed in a brown robe, stood next to him, offering him a cappuccino. They sat at a table, and he felt compelled to reveal his fears to this friar. The friar tells him “Trust Jesus, he will share your burdens! Open your heart!” Suddenly, he feels at peace, he sips the cappuccino, lowers his cup, and discovers he is alone!
(N.B. The cappuccino is supposed to have been named for the Capuchin friars, a branch of the Franciscan Order. The Capuchin friars’ distinctive brown habit was seen as the same color of the coffee beverage.)
She came to LA with dreams. She is returning home on a bus, with broken dreams, and a baby. The baby becomes very fussy; passengers getting annoyed. At one stop, a brown robed friar, straight from central casting, takes the seat next to her. He offers to hold the child, she accepts. He sings Italian lullabies to the baby. Entering Frisco, he hands the child back to her, looks into her eyes, and whispers: “Pace e Bene!” Squeal of brakes makes her look forward; turning back, he has disappeared! The bus quickly passes a church, she glimpses a familiar statue.
Francisco walked through the trees of Mount Alvernia, alone with his thoughts. His companions had withdrawn to their huts for prayer. He grabs a branch and pulls himself up to a small ledge; he winces at the pain from the exertion. He also feels the pain from the burden on his shoulders. How will he govern so many brothers? How will he continue to inspire them; so easy when there was only twelve of them? He looks up and gazes on Sister Moon through the branches. He feels a slight breeze; he raises his arms, “My God and my All!”
The physician looks at his bottles of potions and salves. He knows they have done nothing to cure this frail man’s infected eyes. This situation calls for a drastic cure! He has read in an ancient text that cauterizing the patient temples will stop the flow of pus. He prepares the hot iron; the Poverello’s brother friars fidget. When the holy man sees the red hot iron, he addresses it as “My Brother Fire!” He prays it will be gentle to him. The physician steadies his hand, and applies the iron. The brothers flee the room! “I felt nothing!”
The mother is wracked with fear! Her child has a high fever. The physicians cannot cure him. In desperation, her husband seeks the holy man from Assisi. She hears a knock on the door; she flings it open! There is only a small barefoot man, dressed in a patched brown robe, with a cord around his waist. He begs for alms; she almost slams the door! But she stops, there is something about him. She gives him some bread and fruit. He touches her arm; “Pace e Bene!” he whispers and leaves. She hears her child’s voice!