It happened in the third year before his death that St. Francis decided, in order to arouse devotion, to celebrate at Greccio with the greatest possible solemnity the memory of the birth of the Child Jesus.
So that this would not be considered a type of novelty, he petitioned for and obtained permission from the Supreme Pontiff.
He had a crib prepared, hay carried in and an ox and an ass led to the place.
The friars are summoned, the people come, the forest resounds with their voices and that venerable night is rendered brilliant and solemn by a multitude of bright lights and by resonant and harmonious hymns of praise.
The man of God stands before the crib, filled with affection, bathed in tears and overflowing with joy. A solemn Mass is celebrated over the crib, with Francis as deacon chanting the holy Gospel.
Then he preaches to the people standing about concerning the birth of the poor King, whom, when he wished to name him, he called in his tender love, the Child of Bethlehem.
A certain virtuous and truthful knight, Sir John of Greccio, who had abandoned worldly military activity out of love of Christ and had become an intimate friend of the man of God, claimed that he saw a beautiful little boy asleep in the crib
and that the blessed father Francis embraced it in both of his arms and seemed to wake it from sleep.
Not only does the holiness of the witness make credible this vision of the devout knight, but also the truth it expresses proves its validity and the subsequent miracles confirm it.
For Francis's example when considered by the world is capable of arousing the hearts of those who are sluggish in the faith of Christ.
The hay from the crib was kept by the people and miraculously cured sick animals and drove away different kinds of pestilence. Thus God glorified his servant in every way and demonstrated the efficacy of his holy prayer
by the evident signs of wonderful miracles