How St. Francis Spent a Lenten Season
How St. Francis passed a Lent in an island of the lake of Perugia, where he fasted forty days and forty nights, and ate no more than one half loaf INASMUCH as the faithful servant of Christ, St. Francis, was in certain things well-nigh another Christ, given to the world for the salvation of mankind, God the Father willed to make him in many actions conformed and like unto His Son Jesus Christ; as is made manifest in the venerable College of the Twelve Companions, and in the admirable mystery of the sacred stigmata, and in the unbroken fast of the holy Lent which he made on this wise. On a time, St Francis being, on the day of Carnival, hard by the lake of Perugia, in the house of one of his disciples, with whom he had lodged during the night, he was inspired by God to go and keep that Lent in an island of the lake; wherefore St. Francis besought this disciple of his that, for the love of Christ, he would carry him in his skiff to an island of the lake, whereon no man dwelt, and that he, would do this on the night of Ash Wednesday to the end that none might know thereof; and he, for the love of the great devotion which he bare St. Francis, diligently fulfilled his request and carried him to the said island; and St. Francis took with him nothing save two small loaves. And, when he had landed upon the island, and his friend was about to depart and to return to his house, St. Francis besought him lovingly that he would not reveal to any man that he was there, and that he would not come for him until Holy Thursday; and so he departed. And St. Francis remained alone, and, in that there was no dwelling there, wherein he might find shelter, he entered into a very dense thicket, which many brambles and bushes had made like unto a cave or little but; and in this place he set himself in prayer to contemplate celestial things. And there he abode all Lent without eating and without drinking anything save only half of one of those little loaves, according to that which his disciples found on Holy Thursday when he returned to him; for he found of the two little loaves one whole and half of the other. It is believed that St. Francis ate for reverence of the fast of Christ the blessed, who fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any earthly food; and on this wise, with that half loaf, he cast forth from himself the poison of vainglory, and after the example of Christ fasted forty days and forty nights. Thereafter, in that place where St. Francis had shown such marvelous abstinence, God did many miracles through his merits; for which cause men began to build houses there and to dwell there; and, in a little while, a walled village, fair and great, was made there, and withal the Place of the friars, which is called the Place of the Island, and the men and women of that village still have kept great reverence and devotion for that place where St. Francis kept the said Lent.
Source: The Little Flowers of St. Francis, Chapter VII. Translated by W. Heywood, 1906.