Francis of Assisi was a seasoned soldier before he was a warrior of God. His city of Assisi, Italy was always at war with neighboring villages. The boys of these towns were groomed from the time they were little to participate in these battles, which were often blood-feuds held over from past battles. During one great skirmish, Francis was mortally wounded and came near death. His horse brought him back to Assisi where caring nuns took him into their hospital and nursed him back to life. When he had regained his strength, which took several months because of the deep wounds he had received in the fight, he realized, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that war was wrong and that he wanted to give his life to the saving of souls, not to the destroying of them. Francis gave his life over to Jesus, and because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit coupled with his dedication, he was a changed man from that day forward.
One wintry night, a week before Christmas, Francis was on his way back to his monastery situated outside of Assisi when he came across a public house, a pub, where inside there was great laughter and song and revelry typical of a Friday night in any village. The Holy Spirit spoke to Francis: “Go in. There is work to do here tonight.”
Being a man of constant prayer and communion with God, Francis knew that he had heard the voice of the Lord, and so without any thought to do otherwise, he walked up to the door of the inn and entered, praying, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.”
When everyone in the large room saw who had come in, the place grew quiet.
“Francis? Is that you?” the owner of the pub asked, surprised. “Welcome! Welcome, Francis! Welcome to King’s Head Pub! Welcome!”
Francis smiled and closed his eyes in prayer as he was ushered to the very best table in the house, which, it so happened, was filled with drinking ruffians.
“Get up, all of ye, ya loud, rowdy good-for-nothings!” said the pub owner to his large group of friends who were spending much money that night. They all laughed with the owner, who then said, “You’re all my friends, but ye really need to get up. This is, after all, the great warrior, Francis of Assisi!”
“No,” said Francis. “Leave them be. You men stay seated. It is Friday night after all, isn’t it? I like that little table over in the corner better anyway.” And with those words, he took himself to the table and sat down, his back against the wall. He prayed: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.” As he prayed, some of the men arose, bade everyone good-night, and left the pub not near as drunk, nor near as violent, as they would have been a few hours later.
“What can I get for you, my lord?” It was the owner’s young daughter, Annabelle. Francis looked at her with a smile of tenderness that made tears well into her eyes.
“Just a loaf of bread and some fish soup,” Francis answered the girl. “It is Friday after all, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” replied Annabelle, wiping tears from her cheeks. “We have the best fish chowder in all of Italy. My papa made it this morning. I’ll be right back. Oh, yes! What to drink, my lord Francis?”
“Only water, please child,” Francis replied in the sweet tone of the Holy Spirit. Annabelle could hardly do her work for the tears caused from a welling up of the love of God in her heart. When she did finally bring out the water, soup, and bread, Francis thanked her and blessed her in the Name of Jesus.
“Papa says you’ll stay in the finest room we have available tonight, and that you’ll not say no to it,” Annabelle told Francis. “It is the Christmas Season after all, my lord...”
“I’ll not say no then,” Francis replied, smiling. Annabelle’s tears began to flow as she rushed back into the kitchen. As Francis ate his soup and bread, wondering what it was that the Lord wanted him to do in this public house, an older girl walked over to him. Francis saw that she was beautiful to look upon, and thanked God for all visions of loveliness designed to cause us to turn our hearts to the Creator of all beauty. The girl then said, “My lord Francis? Can…I speak with you?”
“Of course, child. Please. Sit with me.”
“Lord Francis? My name is Fahisa. I am pleased to meet you. I have noticed that your feet look very cold. I have a pair of wool stockings here. May I...may I put them...on you? As my gift to you?”
Francis prayed in silence: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.” Then he replied, “I would be honored to receive such a lovely gift. In truth, my feet are cold.”
Fahisa knelt down at the tableside and lifted one foot and then another, putting the warm stockings onto the warrior’s cold feet. When she was done, she stayed kneeling, and said “Francis? I have heard of you both far and wide, and I have heard that you are the most beautiful boy in all of Italy. But not until this moment have I understood what the others have meant. You are certainly the most beautiful boy in all of Italy, and maybe even the whole world. I want to do something for you in return for the vision of beauty you give to me tonight.”
“Your gift of the wool is plenty, Fahisa,” Francis replied, and he felt the Holy Spirit welling up inside of him so that he thought he might break apart.
“Francis. I...I want t-to...to offer myself to you tonight. I usually charge much money for my, well, my profession, but for you, I wish to give myself freely.”
Francis closed his eyes, but was not afraid. The Lord had told him to enter this pub, and he had obeyed. Now the Lord was going to work through him this night, answering his prayer of making him an instrument of the peace of God.
“Go back to your table and eat something,” Francis replied to the prostitute. “I know that you are hungry. When you see the young bar maid lead me upstairs to my room, wait ten minutes and then come up yourself as if you have business to attend to. Then come to my room and I will lie with you tonight.”
Francis heard those words come out of his mouth, and he wondered at them, but being with Jesus always, he had no fear that the Lord would provide the answer to the problem.
Fahisa was overjoyed with the monk’s answer. Her face beamed, but she said nothing as she went back to her table across the room and straightaway ordered something to eat. Francis watched as she was approached by several of the ruffians from the rowdy table, but each one was turned away from her as she awaited the most exciting night of her life. She, of all girls, would get the chance to sleep with the great warrior, Francis of Assisi! He had said yes. He had actually said yes.
Francis finished his meal in prayer, and after the pub owner had come over to thank him for being kind to both his daughter and the prostitute, who did, after all, bring him in much money, Annabelle came again and led Francis upstairs by candlelight to a grand room filled with tapestries and draperies, incense and fresh flowers. There was a large hearth in the room as well, and a great fire roared in it, heating the room against the bitter cold of the night. Francis thanked Annabelle for her kindness. She began to weep once more, and hurried away.
Francis knelt at the large, four-poster bed and prayed.
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon.”
He then fell into a wondrous ecstasy where he saw Jesus and began walking with Him through a field full of healing herbs and wildflowers. The sun was shining down upon them, and then suddenly the skies grew dark. A clap of thunder roared, and then another. Francis was shaken from his vision only to hear the thunder again, this time coming from behind him. It was at his bedroom door! Someone was knocking. Fahisa? Of course. It was Fahisa come to lie with him. He rose and, with the warmth of Jesus infilling his heart, he opened the door, not exactly sure how the Lord would use him this night, but knowing that in some way or another, he had been brought to show deep love to the girl.
“Do...do you still want to lie with me tonight, Lord Francis?” Fahisa asked as she sat on the edge of his bed. She had lost much of her courage, though she had drank a flagon of red wine.
Francis smiled at her, but said nothing as he walked over to the roaring fire in the hearth. Then he replied: “Yes, I will lie with you. But not in that bed that you have already claimed for our pleasure.”
“Then where, my lord? My own room? I have a room like this one, just down the hall. I even have my own bath there, for convenience, you know. I do think...”
But Fahisa was overwhelmed by what she witnessed, and was cut short in her speech. She began to shake with excitement, for Francis pulled the wool stockings from his feet, shed the tattered pauper’s robe that he wore, and stood naked before her. But then what this lost girl witnessed made her shiver with fear. Francis, with the smile of God in his eyes, removed the heavy fire-grate and crept into the blazing hearth, lying down amidst the roaring flames onto the bed of hot coals.
“This bed is where we shall lie tonight, if you are willing” Francis said, beckoning to Fahisa with an outstretched hand. “Are you coming?”
* * * *
Lord, make her an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let her sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that she may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
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