Povertade muore in pace. JACOPONE DA TODI*
THE last stage of Fra Bernardino's life had now begun. The appointment of Fra Alberto da Sarteano, in the summer of 1424, as his successor as Vicar General of the Observants allowed him to throw off all administrative cares and to return to his own true vocation. It even seemed as if he might allow himself a little rest at La Capriola - "to study and meditate, and to prepare for Heaven" - but only a few months later a great sorrow came to him: the sudden death of his closest friend, Fra Vincenzo da Siena, who had been his companion in all his travels for more than twenty-two years. "Nought but death could have parted him and me."
During the first years of his preaching, Fra Bernardino had had a very irritating companion, a friar who would come up to him just as he was leaving the pulpit, to point out the things that he might have said more effectively. "And though," according to one biographer, "this distressed him when he was tired by preaching, yet he put up with this companion most patiently for twelve years."1
Fra Vincenzo was a very different sort of man. "We always took pleasure," said Fra Bernardino, "in each other's company." became, according to Wadding, the great preacher's "intimate, faithful partner, the sharer of all his secrets" - a man of whom he himself spoke as Dante did of Virgil: "Tu magister meus, tu doctor meus, tu ductor et rector meus"2 - "you were my teacher, doctor, guide and ruler . . . first my friend, and then my brother in religion." It was Fra Vincenzo who took upon himself all the cares of food and lodging on their travels, so that Fra Bernardino might be free for meditation and for a few hours' rest, "for in his humility he believed that my sleep would bear greater fruits than his." In the panegyric