St Francis of Assisi

“He was riding listlessly in some wayside place, apparently in the open country, when he saw a figure coming along the road towards him and halted; for he saw it was a leper. And he knew instantly that his courage was challenged, not as the world challenges, but as one would challenge who knew the secrets of the heart of a man. What he saw advancing was not the banner and spears of Perugia, from which it never occurred to him to shrink; nor the armies that fought for the crown of Sicily, of which he had always thought as a courageous man thinks of mere vulgar danger. Francis Bernadone saw his fear coming up the road towards him; the fear that comes from within and not without; though it stood white and horrible in the sunlight. For once in the long rush of his life his soul must have stood still. Then he sprang from his horse, knowing nothing between stillness and swiftness, and rushed on the leper and threw his arms around him.” (GK Chesterton, St Francis of Assisi)


“Get off,” said the leper.


“On 3 January 1889, Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse (…) He witnessed the flogging of a horse at the other end of the Piazza Carlo Alberto in Turin, ran to the horse, threw his arms up around its neck to protect it, and then collapsed to the ground.” (Wikipedia, paraphrased)

He had been overwhelmed by pity, St Francis was mad.


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