The Zeal of St. Francis for the Conversion of the Sultan of Babylon from the Little Flowers of St. Francis
St. Francis, urged by zeal for the faith of Christ and by a wish to suffer martyrdom, took with him twelve of his most holy brothers, and went one day beyond the sea with the intention of going straight to the Sultan of Babylon. They arrived in a province belonging to the Saracens, where all the passes were guarded by men so cruel, that none of the Christians who went that way could escape being put to death. Now it pleased God that St. Francis and his companions should not meet with the same fate; but they were taken prisoners, and, having been bound and ill-treated, were led before the Sultan. St. Francis stood before him, and inspired by the Holy Spirit he preached most divinely the faith of Christ; and to prove the truth of what he said, professed himself ready to enter into the fire. Now the Sultan began to feel a great devotion towards him, both because of the constancy of his faith, and because he despised the things of this world (for he had refused to accept any of the presents which he had offered to him), and also of his ardent wish to suffer martyrdom. From that moment he listened to him willingly, and begged him to come back often, giving both him and his companions leave to preach wherever they pleased; he likewise gave them a sign of his protection, which would preserve them from all molestation.