A JOURNAL OF EXTREMITY

From "The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi"

“OF THE MIRACLE WHICH GOD PERFORMED WHEN SAINT ANTONY, BEING AT RIMINI, PREACHED TO THE FISHES OF THE SEA”

“…Hence, Saint Antony, being at Rimini, where there was a great multitude of heretics, desiring to bring them back to the light of the true faith, for many days did preach to them the faith of Christ and of the Holy Scriptures: but they, not only consenting not to his Holy Words, but refusing to hearken unto him, Saint Antony one day by Divine Inspiration went forth to the banks of the river, close beside the see; and standing thus betwixt sea and stream, he began to speak in the guise of a sermon in the Name of God unto the fishes: ‘Hear the Word of God, ye fishes, since heretics and infidels are loath to listen to it’; and suddenly there came towards him so great a multitude of fishes as had never been seen in that sea, or in that stream; and all held their heads up out of the water, and all turned attentively toward the face of Saint Antony, and the greatest peace and order prevailed: insomuch that next the shore stood the lesser fish, and after them came the middle fish, and still after them, where the water was the deepest, stood the larger fish. The fish being thus ranged in order, Saint Antony began solemnly to preach: ‘My Brothers the fish, you are greatly bounden, so far as in you lies, to that your Creator that He hath given you so noble an element for your habitation; so that at your pleasure you have fresh waters and salt; and He hath given you many shelters against storm. He hath also given you food, by which you may live. To you was it granted, by God’s command, to preserve the prophet Jonah, and after the third day to cast him up upon the land safe and sound. You were the food of the everlasting King Christ Jesus; before the resurrection and after it, by a strange mystery; for which things greatly are you bounden to raise and bless God.’ Upon these words of Saint Antony the fishes began to ope their mouths, and to bow their heads; and by these and other signs of reverence, according as it was possible to them, they praised God.’

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, "The Torment of St. Anthony," 1487-1488

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