Then as he was walking through the forest joyfully singing in French and praising God, he was suddenly set upon by robbers. They threatened him and asked him who he was but he replied intrepidly with the prophetic words, “I am the herald of the great King.” Then they beat him and threw him into a ditch full of snow, telling him, “Lie there, rustic herald of God.” With that they made off and Francis jumped from the ditch, full of joy, and made the woods re-echo with his praise to the Creator of all. God’s love was so deeply rooted in Francis that he was not deeply shaken by an incident such as this one. He wanted them to know what a great inheritance they were ignoring and patiently tried to get that message across to all people. A herald prepares people for the arrival of a more important person. In that sense, John the Baptist was a herald for Jesus. If people want to look down on the herald’s role as demeaning, they have already set themselves on a dead-end path because they will almost certainly claim what does not belong to them.
— from the book Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi