Because Francis, that very real servant of Christ, was in some things another Christ given to the world, God the Father made this fortunate man conformed in many things to Christ, his Son, as was apparent in his venerable band of holy companions, in the wonderful mystery of the stigmata of the Cross, and the holy fast of forty continuous days.
At one time when Francis was near the Lake of Perugia, he was at Mardi Gras a guest of a man devoted to him, He asked his host to take him for the love of God to an island on the lake where no one lived and to do so during the night before Ash Wednesday so that no one would know about it. The host did this very eagerly because of the great devotion he had for Francis. He prepared his little boat at night and transported him on Ash Wednesday to the island. Saint Francis brought nothing for food except two small loaves of bread.
After he reached the island he asked his ferryman to tell no one and to come back for him on Holy Thursday. Since there was no shelter there where he could rest, he crawled into a dense thicket where thorn bushes had formed an enclosure, and he stayed there immobile for the whole forty days, neither eating or drinking.
His host came looking for him, as they had agreed, on Holy Thursday and he found that, except for part of one, the two little loaves of bread had not been touched. It is believed that Saint Francis ate part of one loaf so that with a little bread he would expel the poison of vainglory and thus the glory of a forty day fast be reserved for the blessed Christ. Yet he did fast forty days and forty nights after the example of Christ.
In that place where Saint Francis did such remarkable penance, many miracles were performed through his merits. Therefore, people began to build and live on this island and in a short period of time a large village and a house for the brothers were established there. The people of this village still show great reverence for that place where Saint Francis kept the Lenten fast.