There have been ninety editions of this charming little book written over 600 years. The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi is a collection of legends of the most beloved figure of the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, St. Francis and his companions vowed to follow the example of Jesus as closely as possible, especially in His poverty, gentleness, and humility. As it is called in Italy, the 53 short chapters of the Fioretti have been described as “the most exquisite expression of the religious life of the Middle Ages.”
The stories are delightful, mystical, miraculous, colorful, and full of rapt ecstasy and joy. St Francis, known as the Apostle of Joy, preached to the birds, who listened captivated by his sweet praise, sang songs to the sunshine, made a ferocious wolf lie down at his feet, and finally received the imprint in his body of the Holy Stigmata, the five wounds of Christ.
St. Francis is showing us that there is a radical freedom in having nothing to lose, nothing to protect, nothing to hide from, nothing to gain. Spiritual emptiness is the liberating ability to let go of all we find crucial to our fragilely constructed selves. The saint from Assisi is saying that love makes us humble and humility makes us joyful. In this descending way we are more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ, Who, in losing all, embodied the fullness of life.