There are so many sayings and writings of St. Francis that have been passed down to us, but this gem is not one I’ve ever seen quoted before. It is yet another example of how the saint could not imagine himself apart from the Church:
The Lord gave me, and gives me now, towards priests who live according to the law of the Holy Roman Church, so great a confidence, by reason of their priesthood, that even if they sought to persecute me, I would nonetheless return to them.
I suspect that St. Francis’ statement expresses the feelings of all those faithful Catholics, who in spite of trials, temptations, or doubts of various kinds remain attached to the Church. As Peter said to Jesus, Lord, where else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. In the same spirit, we remain in the Church, in spite of all trials and tribulations, because it is there—and only there—that we receive the foretaste of eternal life, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As St. Francis put it:
And for this reason I do this: because in this world I see nothing with my bodily eyes of Him who is the most high Son of God except his most holy Body and His most holy Blood, which they [the priests] receive and which they alone minister to others.