How Francis Celebrated the Birth of Christ

From the Versified Life of Saint Francis, by Henri d’Avranches, in the year 1239. Adapted from the writings of Thomas of Celano.

One time, wishing to celebrate the Birth of Christ, St. Francis orders a manger made. The ox an ass are drawing hay for their fodder and things are provided to lovingly represent the mysteries of the virginal birth.
The people that gather for the holy festivities fill the church, bring candles and torches, while incense breathes forth its scent. After matins, the Mass of the Feast is celebrated. Francis reads the Gospel in a sweet-toned melody; and then when the people are seated, he gives them a sermon, and softens their hearts that were hardened and out of hard rock he causes rivers to flow.
There leaps forth a compunction mixed with gladness; as tears moisten the hands that clap, the clapping of hands dries up the tears. All night, till the new day dawns, passes in festive song and in praise of the Child that was born of the Virgin.
Accepting the mysteries celebrated in his honor, Christ, for his part, gives rewards; eating the hay left over, beasts swollen by ailments are eased and cured.
Through contact with the same, women with child and those long in labor are enabled to give birth with ease, as their weary wombs release the children waiting to be born.
The place of the crib is now, to the joy of the people, a little chapel dedicated in honor of the blessed Francis.
“Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to His People on Earth.”

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