St. Francis' Eye Disease
In the year 1220, St. Francis visited the Holy Land and Egypt before returning to the Italian peninsula. Around that time, he began to suffer from eye problems. According to one modern eye surgeon who researched the accounts we have about his eye condition which plagued him for the rest of his life, St. Francis might have had trachoma. Trachoma is an infectious disease which affects the outer part of the eye.
St. Francis was not one to care too much for his own physical person (a sentiment for which he later expressed some regret), and, thus, did not do much to help his eyes. Thus, he suffered quite a bit, although he did allow his brothers to provide him some aid to comfort his eyes. Nonetheless, when the Bishop of Ostia, Cardinal Ugolino, recommended that he receive some help from doctors in his diocese, St. Francis resisted the offer of help for several years.
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Agreeing to Treatment
It should be noted that at the time, doctors thought that too much crying would lead to blindness. It would seem that they considered the symptom-crying--to be the cause of eye diseases which led to blindness. Accordingly, St. Francis was advised not to weep too much. He ignored the advice and continued to weep in order that he might continue to be purified. This was, of course, in addition to the crying caused by his infection.
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Read more about St. Francis
The classic Little Flowers of St. Francis is a wonderful collection of stories about the poor man from Assisi and his followers. These popular stories were first written about 150 years after the death of St. Francis (1181 - 1226). In the book, you will find the familiar stories such as the Wolf of Gubbio and the Sermon to the Birds, but you will also other charming stories which are lesser known. Considered a classic of Italian literature, you will enjoy getting to know St. Francis and his companions better through this collection of stories.
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