St Francis in Venice

The excerpt is from William Caxton’s beautiful translation of the Legenda Aurea, The Golden Legend, a collection of hagiographies by Jacobus de Varagine that was widely read in late medieval Europe.

“He [St Francis] went on a time by the morass [marshland] of Venice and found there a great multitude of birds singing and he said to his fellows: Our sisters, these birds, give laud to their Maker, let us go in the middle of them, and sing we our hours canonical to our Lord. And they entered in among them and they moved not, but because they might not hear each other for the chittering and noise of birds he said: My sister birds, cease your songs till we have yielded unto our Lord due praisings. And then they held them still, and when they had finished their lauds, he gave to them licence to sing again, and anon they reprised their song after their custom.”

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