From "The Little
Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi," 1476
A certain young man having caught one day a great number of doves, as
he was to sell them he met St Francis, who always felt a great
compassion for such gentle animals; and, looking at the doves with eyes
of pity, he said to the young man: "O good man, I entreat thee to give
me those harmless birds, emblems in Scripture of humble, pure, and
faithful souls, so that they may not fall into cruel hands, which would
put them to death."
And the young man, inspired by God, immediately gave them to St
Francis, who, placing them in his bosom, addressed them thus sweetly:
"O my little sisters the doves, so simple, so innocent, and so chaste,
why did you allow yourselves to be caught? I will save you from death,
and make your nests, that you may increase and multiply, according to
the command of God."
Then St Francis made nests for them all, and they began to lay their
eggs and hatch them in presence of the brethren, and were as familiar
and as tame with St Francis and the friars as if they had been hens
brought up amongst them, nor did they ever go away until St Francis had
given them his blessing.
Then said St Francis to the young man who had given them to him: "My
son, thou shalt become a friar in this Order; and shalt serve most
fervently the Lord Jesus Christ"; and so it came to pass, for the young
man became a friar, and lived in the Order in great holiness.