Francis of Assisi: The Prophet
The prophecy of Saint Francis of Assisi
Losing Poverty and Simplicity:
As Brother Leo writes, holy Father Francis used to say in front of the lord of Ostia and many brothers and clerics and lay people, and also preached frequently to the people, that his brothers, at the instigation of evil spirits, would depart from the way of holy simplicity and highest poverty. They would accept money and bequests and all sorts of other legacies. They would abandon poor and solitary places and would build grand and sumptuous places in towns and cities.
These would display, not the status of the poor, but the status of lords and princes of the world…These would not only relax but destroy the purity of their promised rule and life revealed to them by Christ. Armed with these they would presume in their pride to dispute and inflict injury not only on worldly people, but upon religious and clergy as well. And they would dig themselves into a pit into which they would finally fall, and sow seeds from which they would reap many scandals. And Christ would send them one worthy, not a pastor but an exterminator, who would reward them according to their tricks and strivings…
They will either return humbled to the state of their vocation, or they will be utterly torn from the life-giving and salutary mode of life which they have sworn with a firm promise before the Lord to observe to the end. Blessed Francis used to say: “Brothers who are led by an eagerness for learning will find their hands empty in the day of tribulation.” -
All Things Fulfilled:
[B]lessed Francis was once at prayer at St. Mary of the Angels saying: “Lord, spare your people.” Christ appeared to him and said, “I gladly grant you that, for it is of great value to me as well. But please do this for me, that your Order stay with me. But a time will come when they will depart from the way in which I put them. Then after that I will give power to the demons, and then as a son goes to his father’s home for bread, then he will give it to him like a stick on the head. And there shall arise from your Order a Supreme Pontiff. In his time all things shall be fulfilled, and he will be blessed if he does well, but if not, he will die miserably…
Later the Lord would pour out the Holy Spirit upon many, and would call many to keep and reform perfection of their life. And he described the sort of tribulation it would be, that only true lovers of God would escape it.
Apostasy and Confusion:
Through the Holy Spirit he understood that the times of future tribulation were approaching. In those times, both temporally and spiritually, confusions and divisions would abound. The charity of many would grow cold, evil would overflow, and the power of demons would be more than usually unleashed, and the purity of his religion and of others would be disfigured. The prophesied departure and apostasy of both empires would be fulfilled, so that very few would obey the Supreme Pontiff and the Roman Church out of love of the truth.
Further, one not canonically elected and corrupted with heretical depravity would be raised to the papacy at the moment of that tribulation. He would cleverly induce many to drink of his deadly errors. Then scandals would multiply and his religion would be divided, and many of the others would be shattered, because they did not oppose but agreed with the error…
For then truth will be covered over in silence by preachers or trampled and denied and held up to derision. But those of fervent spirit who will adhere to piety and truth out of charity will undergo endless persecutions as disobedient and schismatic…
To Provide a Remedy:
And this is way he willed to foretell the danger of scandal in the Church and to provide the remedy, namely that they should proceed cautiously and bind themselves more strongly and perfectly to their promised observance of the life and rule.
The Lord shall be the refuge of the afflicted; he will save them and rescue them from sinners and free them because they hoped in him...The poor and faithful servants of Christ, to be conformed to their head, will act confidently and will buy eternal life through death. They will choose to obey God rather than men and to die rather than assent to falsehood and faithlessness. These, word for word, are the words of the companions of blessed Francis.