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"The Lord bless thee and keep thee.

May He show His face to thee and have mercy on thee.

May He turn His countenance to thee and give thee peace."

     The Holy Father Francis was once attacked with so painful and dangerous a disorder, that he seemed on the point of death, and all the Brethren despaired of his recovery. Then one of them, fearing lest he should die suddenly through exhaustion, said to him: "Bless us, O Father, and the other Brethren whom thou hast engendered in Christ, and leave us some memorial of thy wishes, which thy children may have always in remembrance for their greater increase in perfection." Then the blessed Father, turning his eyes full of tenderness upon his Brethren, said: "Call to me Brother Benedict, of Piratro (who always attended him in sickness, and said Mass before him), that I may bless you." When the brother came, the Saint said: "Write, O priest of God, the blessing with which I bless all my children, both those who are now in the Order, and those who shall belong to it to the end of the world. But as I cannot speak well, on account of my weakness, I briefly declare my will and intention to all my Brethren present and to come, as a sign of my love and blessing. May all the Brethren love one another, as I have loved them, and do love them! May they always love and honor my lady Poverty! And may they always be faithful and obedient to the Bishops and priests of our holy Mother the Church! May the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost bless and keep them always! Amen."

     When all the brethren were assembled round the deathbed of the Saint, weeping for the loss of such a loving Father, and watchful pastor, he said to them: "Where is my first-born son, Brother Bernard?" And when the Friar came, he said: "Come near my son, that my soul may bless thee before I die." But Bernard in his humility (fearing to assume a privilege which, on account of his dignity and office, seemed rather to belong to Brother Elias, who was then Vicar-General, and the supposed successor of the holy Father), suggested to Elias that he should go to the right hand of the dying Saint, and obtain the offered benediction. The Vicar-General therefore prostrated himself before the man of God, who, although he was almost blind from excessive weeping, was full of a prophetic light. When he placed his hand on the head of Brother Elias, he exclaimed: "This is not the head of my first-born, Brother Bernard." Then crossing his arms, like another Patriarch Jacob, and placing his right hand on the head of Brother Bernard, who was kneeling on his left side, he said: "May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless thee with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ! As thou hast been chosen to be the first in this Order, to give good example, and to imitate Christ in evangelical Poverty; as thou didst offer to Him not only all that thou hadst, but thyself also, as an odor of sweetness, so mayest thou be blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and by me, His poor little servant, with everlasting blessings, coming in and going out, waking and sleeping, living and dying!

     When the hour of his death approached, St. Francis caused all the Brethren, who were then at Our Lady of Angels, to be summoned; and consoling them for his death with sweet words, he, with paternal affection, exhorted them to Divine love, to patience, to poverty, and to constancy in the faith. Then he added: "Farewell, my children, in the fear of the Lord, and abide always in it. And since the time of tribulation and temptation is approaching, blessed shall they be who shall persevere in what they have begun. I, indeed, have done what I had to do; may Christ teach you what you ought to do!"


The Final Words and Blessing of Saint Francis in this world