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Title: Life of St. Francis of Assisi
Author: Sabatier, Paul, 1858-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Quivere monachus est nihil
reputat esse suum nisi citharam_

GIOACCHINO DI FIORE _in Apoc. 182 a 2_





Copyright, 1894, by Charles Scribner's Sons, for the
United States of America.

Printed by the Scribner Press
New York, U.S.A.

       *       *       *       *       *



_At last here is this book which I told you about so long ago. The
result is small indeed in relation to the endeavor, as I, alas! see
better than anyone. The widow of the Gospel put only one mite into the
alms-box of the temple, but this mite, they tell us, won her Paradise.
Accept the mite that I offer you to-day as God accepted that of the poor
woman, looking not at her offering, but at her love_, Feci quod potui,
omnia dedi.

_Do not chide me too severely for this long delay, for you are somewhat
its cause. Many times a day at Florence, at Assisi, at Rome, I have
forgotten the document I had to study. Something in me seemed to have
gone to flutter at your windows, and sometimes they opened.... One
evening at St. Damian I forgot myself and remained long after sunset. An
old monk came to warn me that the sanctuary was closed._ "Per Bacco!"
_he gently murmured as he led me away, all ready to receive my
confidence_, "sognava d'amore o di tristitia?" _Well, yes. I was
dreaming of love and of sadness, for I was dreaming of Strasbourg._

       *       *       *       *       *


INTRODUCTION,                                             xi

                          CHAPTER I.
YOUTH,                                                     1

                          CHAPTER II.
STAGES OF CONVERSION,                                     15

                          CHAPTER III.
THE CHURCH ABOUT 1209,                                    28

                          CHAPTER IV.
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPHS,                                   53

                          CHAPTER V.
FIRST YEAR OF APOSTOLATE,                                 71

                          CHAPTER VI.
ST. FRANCIS AND INNOCENT III.,                            88

                          CHAPTER VII.
RIVO-TORTO,                                              103

                          CHAPTER VIII.
PORTIUNCULA,                                             120

                          CHAPTER IX.
SANTA CLARA,                                             147

                          CHAPTER X.

                          CHAPTER XI.
THE INNER MAN AND WONDER-WORKING,                        183

                          CHAPTER XII.
THE CHAPTER-GENERAL OF 1217,                             198

                          CHAPTER XIII.
ST. DOMINIC AND ST. FRANCIS,                             217

                          CHAPTER XIV.
THE CRISIS OF THE ORDER,                                 239

                          CHAPTER XV.
THE RULE OF 1221,                                        252

                          CHAPTER XVI.
THE BROTHERS MINOR AND LEARNING,                         271

                          CHAPTER XVII.
THE STIGMATA,                                            287

                          CHAPTER XVIII.
THE CANTICLE OF THE SUN,                                 297

                          CHAPTER XIX.
THE LAST YEAR,                                           308

                          CHAPTER XX.
FRANCIS'S WILL AND DEATH,                                333

CRITICAL STUDY OF THE SOURCES,                           347

    OF AUGUST 2,                                         433

       *       *       *       *       *


In the renascence of history which is in a manner the characteristic of
our time, the Middle Ages have been the object of peculiar fondness with
both criticism and erudition. We rummage all the dark corners of the
libraries, we bring old parchments to light, and in the zeal and ardor
we put into our search there is an indefinable touch of piety.

These efforts to make the past live again reveal not merely our
curiosity, or the lack of power to grapple with great philosophic
problems, they are a token of wisdom and modesty; we are beginning to
feel that the present has its roots in the past, and that in the fields
of politics and religion, as in others, slow, modest, persevering toil
is that which has the best results.

There is also a token of love in this. We love our ancestors of five or
six centuries ago, and we mingle not a little emotion and gratitude with
this love. So, if one may hope everything of a son who loves his
parents, we must not despair of an age that loves history.

The Middle Ages form an organic period in the life of humanity. Like all
powerful organisms the period began with a long and mysterious
gestation; it had its youth, its manhood, its decrepitude. The end of
the twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth mark its full
expansion; it is the twentieth year of life, with its poetry, its
dreams, its enthusiasm, its generosity, its daring. Love overflowed with
vigor; men everywhere had but one desire--to devote themselves to some
great and holy cause.

Curiously enough, though Europe was more parcelled out than ever, it
felt a new thrill run through its entire extent. There was what we might
call a state of European consciousness.

In ordinary periods each people has its own interests, its tendencies,
its tears, and its joys; but let a time of crisis come, and the true
unity of the human family will suddenly make itself felt with a strength
never before suspected. Each body of water has its own currents, but
when the hurricane is abroad they mysteriously intermingle, and from the
ocean to the remotest mountain lake the same tremor will upheave them

It was thus in '89, it was thus also in the thirteenth century.

Never was there less of frontier, never, either before or since, such a
mingling of nationalities; and at the present day, with all our highways
and railroads, the people live more apart.[1]

The great movement of thought of the thirteenth century is above all a
religious movement, presenting a double character--it is popular and it
is laic. It comes out from the heart of the people, and it looks athwart
many uncertainties at nothing less than wresting the sacred things from
the hands of the clergy.

The conservatives of our time who turn to the thirteenth century as to
the golden age of authoritative faith make a strange mistake. If it is
especially the century of saints, it is also that of heretics. We shall
soon see that the two words are not so contradictory as might appear; it
is enough for the moment to point out that the Church had never been
more powerful nor more threatened.

There was a genuine attempt at a religious revolution, which, if it had
succeeded, would have ended in a universal priesthood, in the
proclamation of the rights of the individual conscience.

The effort failed, and though later on the Revolution made us all kings,
neither the thirteenth century nor the Reformation was able to make us
all priests. Herein, no doubt, lies the essential contradiction of our
lives and that which periodically puts our national institutions in
peril. Politically emancipated, we are not morally or religiously

The thirteenth century with juvenile ardor undertook this revolution,
which has not yet reached its end. In the north of Europe it became
incarnate in cathedrals, in the south, in saints.

The cathedrals were the lay churches of the thirteenth century. Built by
the people for the people, they were originally the true common house of
our old cities. Museums, granaries, chambers of commerce, halls of
justice, depositories of archives, and even labor exchanges, they were
all these at once.

That art of the Middle Ages which Victor Hugo and Viollet-le-Duc have
taught us to understand and love was the visible expression of the
enthusiasm of a people who were achieving communal liberty. Very far
from being the gift of the Church, it was in its beginning an
unconscious protest against the hieratic, impassive, esoteric art of the
religious orders. We find only laymen in the long list of master-workmen
and painters who have left us the innumerable Gothic monuments which
stud the soil of Europe. Those artists of genius who, like those of
Greece, knew how to speak to the populace without being common, were for
the most part humble workmen; they found their inspiration not in the
formulas of the masters of monastic art, but in constant communion with
the very soul of the nation. Therefore this renascence, in its most
profound features, concerns less the archæology or the architecture than
the history of a country.

While in the northern countries the people were building their own
churches, and finding in their enthusiasm an art which was new,
original, complete, in the south, above the official, clerical
priesthood of divine right they were greeting and consecrating a new
priesthood, that of the saints.

The priest of the thirteenth century is the antithesis of the saint, he
is almost always his enemy. Separated by the holy unction from the rest
of mankind, inspiring awe as the representative of an all-powerful God,
able by a few signs to perform unheard-of mysteries, with a word to
change bread into flesh and wine into blood, he appeared as a sort of
idol which can do all things for or against you and before which you
have only to adore and tremble.

The saint, on the contrary, was one whose mission was proclaimed by
nothing in his apparel, but whose life and words made themselves felt in
all hearts and consciences; he was one who, with no cure of souls in the
Church, felt himself suddenly impelled to lift up his voice. The child
of the people, he knew all their material and moral woes, and their
mysterious echo sounded in his own heart. Like the ancient prophet of
Israel, he heard an imperious voice saying to him: "Go and speak to the
children of my people." "Ah, Lord God, I am but a child, I know not how
to speak." "Say not, I am but a child, for thou shalt go to all those to
whom I shall send thee. Behold I have set thee to-day as a strong city,
a pillar of iron and a wall of brass against the kings of Judah, against
its princes and against its priests."

These thirteenth-century saints were in fact true prophets. Apostles
like St. Paul, not as the result of a canonical consecration, but by the
interior order of the Spirit, they were the witnesses of liberty against

The Calabrian seer, Gioacchino di Fiore, hailed the new-born revolution;
he believed in its success and proclaimed to the wondering world the
advent of a new ministry. He was mistaken.

When the priest sees himself vanquished by the prophet he suddenly
changes his method. He takes him under his protection, he introduces his
harangues into the sacred canon, he throws over his shoulders the
priestly chasuble. The days pass on, the years roll by, and the moment
comes when the heedless crowd no longer distinguishes between them, and
it ends by believing the prophet to be an emanation of the clergy.

This is one of the bitterest ironies of history.

Francis of Assisi is pre-eminently the saint of the Middle Ages. Owing
nothing to church or school he was truly _theodidact_,[3] and if he
perhaps did not perceive the revolutionary bearing of his preaching, he
at least always refused to be ordained priest. He divined the
superiority of the spiritual priesthood.

The charm of his life is that, thanks to reliable documents, we find the
man behind the wonder worker. We find in him not merely noble actions,
we find in him a life in the true meaning of the word; I mean, we feel
in him both development and struggle.

How mistaken are the annals of the Saints in representing him as from
the very cradle surrounded with aureole and nimbus! As if the finest and
most manly of spectacles were not that of the man who conquers his soul
hour after hour, fighting first against himself, against the suggestions
of egoism, idleness, discouragement, then at the moment when he might
believe himself victorious, finding in the champions attracted by his
ideal those who are destined if not to bring about its complete ruin, at
least to give it its most terrible blows. Poor Francis! The last years
of his life were indeed a _via dolorosa_ as painful as that where his
master sank down under the weight of the cross; for it is still a joy to
die for one's ideal, but what bitter pain to look on in advance at the
apotheosis of one's body, while seeing one's soul--I would say his
thought--misunderstood and frustrated.

If we ask for the origins of his idea we find them exclusively among the
common people of his time; he is the incarnation of the Italian soul at
the beginning of the thirteenth century, as Dante was to be its
incarnation a hundred years later.

He was of the people and the people recognized themselves in him. He had
their poetry and their aspirations, he espoused their claims, and the
very name of his institute had at first a political signification: in
Assisi as in most other Italian towns there were _majores_ and
_minores_, the _popolo grasso_ and the _popolo minuto_; he resolutely
placed himself among the latter. This political side of his apostolate
needs to be clearly apprehended if we would understand its amazing
success and the wholly unique character of the Franciscan movement in
its beginning.

As to its attitude toward the Church, it was that of filial obedience.
This may perhaps appear strange at first as regards an unauthorized
preacher who comes speaking to the world in the name of his own
immediate personal inspiration. But did not most of the men of '89
believe themselves good and loyal subjects of Louis XVI.?

The Church was to our ancestors what the fatherland is to us; we may
wish to remodel its government, overturn its administration, change its
constitution, but we do not think ourselves less good patriots for that.

In the same way, in an age of simple faith when religious beliefs seemed
to be in the very fibre and flesh of humanity, Dante, without ceasing to
be a good Catholic, could attack the clergy and the court of Rome with a
violence that has never been surpassed. St. Francis so surely believed
that the Church had become unfaithful to her mission that he could speak
in his symbolic language of the widowhood of his Lady Poverty, who from
Christ's time to his own had found no husband. How could he better have
declared his purposes or revealed his dreams?

What he purposed was far more than the foundation of an order, and it is
to do him great wrong thus to restrict his endeavor. He longed for a
true awakening of the Church in the name of the evangelical ideal which
he had regained. All Europe awoke with a start when it heard of these
penitents from a little Umbrian town. It was reported that they had
craved a strange privilege from the court of Rome: that of possessing
nothing. Men saw them pass by, earning their bread by the labor of their
hands, accepting only the bare necessities of bodily sustenance from
them to whom they had given with lavish hands the bread of life. The
people lifted up their heads, breathing in with deep inspirations the
airs of a springtime upon which was already floating the perfume of new

Here and there in the world there are many souls capable of all heroism,
if only they can see before them a true leader. St. Francis became for
these the guide they had longed for, and whatever was best in humanity
at that time leaped to follow in his footsteps.

This movement, which was destined to result in the constitution of a new
family of monks, was in the beginning anti-monastic. It is not rare for
history to have similar contradictions to record. The meek Galilean who
preached the religion of a personal revelation, without ceremonial or
dogmatic law, triumphed only on condition of being conquered, and of
permitting his words of spirit and life to be confiscated by a church
essentially dogmatic and sacerdotal.

In the same way the Franciscan movement was originally, if not the
protest of the Christian consciousness against monachism, at least the
recognition of an ideal singularly higher than that of the clergy of
that time. Let us picture to ourselves the Italy of the beginning of the
thirteenth century with its divisions, its perpetual warfare, its
depopulated country districts, the impossibility of tilling the fields
except in the narrow circle which the garrisons of the towns might
protect; all these cities from the greatest to the least occupied in
watching for the most favorable moment for falling upon and pillaging
their neighbors; sieges terminated by unspeakable atrocities, and after
all this, famine, speedily followed by pestilence to complete the
devastation. Then let us picture to ourselves the rich Benedictine
abbeys, veritable fortresses set upon the hill-tops, whence they seemed
to command all the surrounding plains. There was nothing surprising in
their prosperity. Shielded by their inviolability, they were in these
disordered times the only refuge of peaceful souls and timid hearts.[4]
The monks were in great majority deserters from life, who for motives
entirely aside from religion had taken refuge behind the only walls
which at this period were secure.

Overlook this as we may, forget as we may the demoralization and
ignorance of the inferior clergy, the simony and the vices of the
prelates, the coarseness and avarice of the monks, judging the Church of
the thirteenth century only by those of her sons who do her the most
honor; none the less are these the anchorites who flee into the desert
to escape from wars and vices, pausing only when they are very sure that
none of the world's noises will interrupt their meditations. Sometimes
they will draw away with them hundreds of imitators, to the solitudes of
Clairvaux, of the Chartreuse, of Vallombrosa, of the Camaldoli; but even
when they are a multitude they are alone; for they are dead to the world
and to their brethren. Each cell is a desert, on whose threshold they

  O beata solitudo.
  O sola beatitudo.

The book of the Imitation is the picture of all that is purest in this
cloistered life.

But is this abstinence from action truly Christian?

No, replied St. Francis. He for his part would do like Jesus, and we may
say that his life is an imitation of Christ singularly more real than
that of Thomas à Kempis.

Jesus went indeed into the desert, but only that he might find in prayer
and communion with the heavenly Father the inspiration and strength
necessary for keeping up the struggle against evil. Far from avoiding
the multitude, he sought them out to enlighten, console, and convert

This is what St. Francis desired to imitate. More than once he felt the
seduction of the purely contemplative life, but each time his own spirit
warned him that this was only a disguised selfishness; that one saves
oneself only in saving others.

When he saw suffering, wretchedness, corruption, instead of fleeing he
stopped to bind up, to heal, feeling in his heart the surging of waves
of compassion. He not only preached love to others; he himself was
ravished with it; he sang it, and what was of greater value, he lived

There had indeed been preachers of love before his day, but most
generally they had appealed to the lowest selfishness. They had thought
to triumph by proving that in fact to give to others is to put one's
money out at a usurious interest. "Give to the poor," said St. Peter
Chrysologus,[5] "that you may give to yourself; give him a crumb in
order to receive a loaf; give him a shelter to receive heaven."

There was nothing like this in Francis; his charity is not selfishness,
it is love. He went, not to the whole, who need no physician, but to the
sick, the forgotten, the disdained. He dispensed the treasures of his
heart according to the need and reserved the best of himself for the
poorest and the most lost, for lepers and thieves.

The gaps in his education were of marvellous service to him. More
learned, the formal logic of the schools would have robbed him of that
flower of simplicity which is the great charm of his life; he would have
seen the whole extent of the sore of the Church, and would no doubt have
despaired of healing it. If he had known the ecclesiastical discipline
he would have felt obliged to observe it; but thanks to his ignorance he
could often violate it without knowing it,[6] and be a heretic quite

We can now determine to what religious family St. Francis belongs.

Looking at the question from a somewhat high standpoint we see that in
the last analysis minds, like religious systems, are to be found in two
great families, standing, so to say, at the two poles of thought. These
two poles are only mathematical points, they do not exist in concrete
reality; but for all that we can set them down on the chart of
philosophic and moral ideas.

There are religions which look toward divinity and religions which look
toward man. Here again the line of demarcation between the two families
is purely ideal and artificial; they often so mingle and blend with one
another that we have much difficulty in distinguishing them, especially
in the intermediate zone in which our civilization finds its place; but
if we go toward the poles we shall find their characteristics growing
gradually distinct.

In the religions which look toward divinity all effort is concentrated
on worship, and especially on sacrifice. The end aimed at is a change in
the disposition of the gods. They are mighty kings whose support or
favor one must purchase by gifts.

Most pagan religions belong to this category and pharisaic Judaism as
well. This is also the tendency of certain Catholics of the old school
for whom the great thing is to appease God or to buy the protection of
the Virgin and the saints by means of prayers, candles, and masses.

The other religions look toward man; their effort is directed to the
heart and conscience with the purpose of transforming them. Sacrifice
disappears, or rather it changes from the exterior to the interior. God
is conceived of as a father, always ready to welcome him who comes to
him. Conversion, perfection, sanctification become the pre-eminent
religious acts. Worship and prayer cease to be incantations and become
reflection, meditation, virile effort; while in religions of the first
class the clergy have an essential part, as intermediaries between
heaven and earth, in those of the second they have none, each conscience
entering into direct relations with God.

It was reserved to the prophets of Israel to formulate, with a precision
before unknown, the starting-point of spiritual worship.

  Bring no more vain offerings;
  I have a horror of incense,
  Your new moons, your Sabbaths, and your assemblies;
  When you multiply prayers I will not hearken.
  Your hands are full of blood,
  Wash you, make you clean,
  Put away from before my eyes the evil of your ways,
  Cease to do evil,
  Learn to do well.[7]

With Isaiah these vehement apostrophes are but flashes of genius, but
with Jesus the interior change becomes at once the principle and the end
of the religious life. His promises were not for those who were right
with the ceremonial law, or who offered the greatest number of
sacrifices, but for the pure in heart, for men of good will.

These considerations are not perhaps without their use in showing the
spiritual ancestry of the Saint of Assisi.

For him, as for St. Paul and St. Augustine, conversion was a radical and
complete change, the act of will by which man wrests himself from the
slavery of sin and places himself under the yoke of divine authority.
Thenceforth prayer, become a necessary act of life, ceases to be a magic
formula; it is an impulse of the heart, it is reflection and meditation
rising above the commonplaces of this mortal life, to enter into the
mystery of the divine will and conform itself to it; it is the act of
the atom which understands its littleness, but which desires, though
only by a single note, to be in harmony with the divine symphony.

_Ecce adsum Domine, ut faciam voluntatem tuam._

When we reach these heights we belong not to a sect, but to humanity; we
are like those wonders of nature which the accident of circumstances has
placed upon the territory of this or that people, but which belong to
all the world, because in fact they belong to no one, or rather they are
the common and inalienable property of the entire human race. Homer,
Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, Michael Angelo, Rembrandt belong to us all
as much as the ruins of Athens or Rome, or, rather, they belong to
those who love them most and understand them best.

But that which is a truism, so far as men of genius in the domain of
imagination or thought are concerned, still appears like a paradox when
we speak of men of religious genius. The Church has laid such absolute
claim to them that she has created in her own favor a sort of right. It
cannot be that this arbitrary confiscation shall endure forever. To
prevent it we have not to perform an act of negation or demolition: let
us leave to the chapels their statues and their relics, and far from
belittling the saints, let us make their true grandeur shine forth.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is time to say a few words concerning the difficulties of the work
here presented to the public. History always embraces but a very feeble
part of the reality: ignorant, she is like the stories children tell of
the events that have occurred before their eyes; learned, she reminds us
of a museum organized with all the modern improvements. Instead of
making you see nature with its external covering, its diffuse life, its
mysterious echoes in your own heart, they offer you a herbarium.

If it is difficult to narrate an ordinary event of our own time, it is
far more so to describe the great crises where restless humanity is
seeking its true path.

The first duty of the historian is to forget his own time and country
and become the sympathetic and interested contemporary of what he
relates; but if it is difficult to give oneself the heart of a Greek or
a Roman, it is infinitely more so to give oneself a heart of the
thirteenth century. I have said that at that period the Middle Age was
twenty years old, and the feelings of the twentieth year are, if not the
most fugitive, at least the most difficult to note down. Everyone knows
that it is impossible to recall the feelings of youth with the same
clearness as those of childhood or mature age. Doubtless we may have
external facts in the memory, but we cannot recall the sensations and
the sentiments; the confused forces which seek to move us are then all
at work at once, and to speak the language of beyond the Rhine, it is
_the essentially phenomenal hour of the phenomena that we are;_
everything in us crosses, intermingles, collides, in desperate conflict:
it is a time of diabolic or divine excitement. Let a few years pass, and
nothing in the world can make us live those hours over again. Where was
once a volcano, we perceive only a heap of blackened ashes, and
scarcely, at long intervals, will a chance meeting, a sound, a word,
awaken memory and unseal the fountain of recollection; and even then it
is only a flash; we have had but a glimpse and all has sunk back into
shadow and silence.

We find the same difficulty when we try to take note of the fiery
enthusiasms of the thirteenth century, its poetic inspirations, its
amorous and chaste visions--all this is thrown up against a background
of coarseness, wretchedness, corruption, and folly.

The men of that time had all the vices except triviality, all the
virtues except moderation; they were either ruffians or saints. Life was
rude enough to kill feeble organisms; and thus characters had an energy
unknown to-day. It was forever necessary to provide beforehand against a
thousand dangers, to take those sudden resolutions in which one risks
his life. Open the chronicle of Fra Salimbeni and you will be shocked to
find that the largest place is taken up with the account of the annual
expeditions of Parma against the neighboring cities, or of the
neighboring cities against Parma. What would it have been if this
chronicle, instead of being written by a monk of uncommonly open mind, a
lover of music, at certain times an ardent Joachimite, an indefatigable
traveller, had been written by a warrior? And this is not all; these
wars between city and city were complicated with civil dissensions,
plots were hatched periodically, conspirators were massacred if they
were discovered, or massacred and exiled others in their turn if they
were triumphant.[8] When we picture to ourselves this state of things
dominated by the grand struggles of the papacy against the empire,
heretics, and infidels, we may understand how difficult it is to
describe such a time.

The imagination being haunted by horrible or entrancing pictures like
those of the frescos in the _Campo Santo_ of Pisa, men were always
thinking of heaven and hell; they informed themselves about them with
the feverish curiosity of emigrants, who pass their days on shipboard in
trying to picture that spot in America where in a few days they will
pitch their tent.

Every monk of any notoriety must have gone through this. Dante's poem is
not an isolated work; it is the noblest result of a condition which had
given birth to hundreds of compositions, and Alighieri had little more
to do than to co-ordinate the works of his predecessors and vivify them
with the breath of his own genius.

The unsettled state of men's minds was unimaginable. That unhealthy
curiosity which lies at the bottom of the human heart, and which at the
present day impels men to seek for refined and even perverse enjoyments,
impelled men of that time to devotions which seem like a defiance to
common sense.

Never had hearts been shaken with such terrors, nor ever thrilled with
such radiant hopes. The noblest hymns of the liturgy, the _Stabat_ and
the _Dies Iræ_, come to us from the thirteenth century, and we may well
say that never has the human plaint been more agonized.

When we look through history, not to find accounts of battles or of the
succession of dynasties, but to try to grasp the evolution of ideas and
feelings, when we seek above all to discover the heart of man and of
epochs, we perceive, on arriving at the thirteenth century, that a fresh
wind has blown over the world, the human lyre has a new string, the
lowest, the most profound; one which sings of woes and hopes to which
the ancient world had not vibrated.

In the breast of the men of that time we think sometimes we feel the
beating of a woman's heart; they have exquisite sentiments, delightful
inspirations, with absurd terrors, fantastic angers, infernal cruelties.
Weakness and fear often make them insincere; they have the idea of the
grand, the beautiful, the ugly, but that of order is wanting; they fast
or feast; the notion of the laws of nature, so deeply graven in our own
minds, is to them entirely a stranger; the words possible and impossible
have for them no meaning. Some give themselves to God, others sell
themselves to the devil, but not one feels himself strong enough to walk
alone, strong enough to have no need to hold on by some one's skirt.

Peopled with spirits and demons nature appeared to them singularly
animated; in her presence they have all the emotions which a child
experiences at night before the trees on the roadside and the vague
forms of the rocks.

Unfortunately, our language is a very imperfect instrument for rendering
all this; it is neither musical nor flexible; since the seventeenth
century it has been deemed seemly to keep one's emotions to oneself, and
the old words which served to note states of the soul have fallen into
neglect; the Imitation and the Fioretti have become untranslatable.

More than this, in a history like the present one, we must give a large
place to the Italian spirit; it is evident that in a country where they
call a chapel _basilica_ and a tiny house _palazzo_, or in speaking to a
seminarist say "Your Reverence," words have not the same value as on
this side of the Alps.

The Italians have an imagination which enlarges and simplifies. They see
the forms and outlines of men and things more than they grasp their
spirit. What they most admire in Michael Angelo is gigantic forms, noble
and proud attitudes, while we better understand his secret thoughts,
hidden sorrows, groans, and sighs.

Place before their eyes a picture by Rembrandt, and more often than not
it will appear to them ugly; its charm cannot be caught at a glance as
in those of their artists; to see it you must examine it, make an
effort, and with them effort is the beginning of pain.

Do not ask them, then, to understand the pathos of things, to be touched
by the mysterious and almost fanciful emotion which northern hearts
discover and enjoy in the works of the Amsterdam master. No, instead of
a forest they want a few trees, standing out clearly against the
horizon; instead of a multitude swarming in the penumbra of reality, a
few personages, larger than nature, forming harmonious groups in an
ideal temple.

The genius of a people[9] is all of a piece: they apply to history the
same processes that they apply to the arts. While the Germanic spirit
considers events rather in their evolution, in their complex becoming,
the Italian spirit takes them at a given moment, overlooks the shadows,
the clouds, the mists, everything that makes the line indistinct, brings
out the contour sharply, and thus constructs a very lucid story, which
is a delight to the eyes, but which is little more than a symbol of the

At other times it takes a man, separates him from the unnamed crowd, and
by a labor often unconscious, makes him the ideal type of a whole

Certainly there is in every people a tendency to give themselves a
circle of divinities and heroes who are, so to say, the incarnation of
its instincts; but generally that requires the long labor of centuries.
The Italian character will not suffer this slow action; as soon as it
recognizes a man it says so, it even shouts it aloud if that is
necessary, and makes him enter upon immortality while still alive. Thus
legend almost confounds itself with history, and it becomes very
difficult to reduce men to their true proportions.

We must not, then, ask too much of history. The more beautiful is the
dawn, the less one can describe it. The most beautiful things in nature,
the flower and the butterfly, should be touched only by delicate hands.

The effort here made to indicate the variegated, wavering tints which
form the atmosphere in which St. Francis lived is therefore of very
uncertain success. It was perhaps presumptuous to undertake it.

Happily we are no longer in the time when historians thought they had
done the right thing when they had reduced everything to its proper
size, contenting themselves with denying or omitting everything in the
life of the heroes of humanity which rises above the level of our
every-day experience.

No doubt Francis did not meet on the road to Sienna three pure and
gentle virgins come from heaven to greet him; the devil did not overturn
rocks for the sake of terrifying him; but when we deny these visions and
apparitions, we are victims of an error graver, perhaps, than that of
those who affirm them.

The first time that I was at Assisi I arrived in the middle of the
night. When the sun rose, flooding everything with warmth and light, the
old basilica[11] seemed suddenly to quiver; one might have said that it
wished to speak and sing. Giotto's frescos, but now invisible, awoke to
a strange life, you might have thought them painted the evening before
so much alive they were; everything was moving without awkwardness or

I returned six months later. A scaffold had been put up in the middle of
the nave; upon it an art critic was examining the paintings, and as the
day was overcast he threw upon the walls the beams of a lamp with a
reflector. Then you saw arms thrown out, faces grimacing, without unity,
without harmony; the most exquisite figures took on something fantastic
and grotesque.

He came down triumphant, with a portfolio stuffed with sketches; here a
foot, there a muscle, farther on a bit of face, and I could not refrain
from musing on the frescos as I had seen them bathed in sunlight.

The sun and the lamp are both deceivers; they transform what they show;
but if the truth must be told I own to my preference for the falsehoods
of the sun.

History is a landscape, and like those of nature it is continually
changing. Two persons who look at it at the same time do not find in it
the same charm, and you yourself, if you had it continually before your
eyes, would never see it twice alike. The general lines are permanent,
but it needs only a cloud to hide the most important ones, as it needs
only a jet of light to bring out such or such a detail and give it a
false value.

When I began this page the sun was disappearing behind the rains of the
Castle of Crussol and the splendors of the sunset gave it a shining
aureola; the light flooded everything, and you no longer saw anywhere
the damage which wars have inflicted upon the old feudal manor. I
looked, almost thinking I could perceive at the window the figure of the
chatelaine ... Twilight has come, and now there is nothing up there but
crumbling walls, a discrowned tower, nothing but ruins and rubbish,
which seem to beg for pity.

It is the same with the landscapes of history. Narrow minds cannot
accommodate themselves to these perpetual transformations: they want an
objective history in which the author will study the people as a chemist
studies a body. It is very possible that there may be laws for historic
evolution and social transformations as exact as those of chemical
combinations, and we must hope that in the end they will be discovered;
but for the present there is no purely objective truth of history.

To write history we must think it, and to think it is to transform it.
Within a few years, it is true, men have believed they had found the
secret of objectivity, in the publication of original documents. This is
a true progress which renders inestimable service, but here again we
must not deceive ourselves as to its significance. All the documents on
an epoch or an event cannot usually be published, a selection must be
made, and in it will necessarily appear the turn of mind of him who
makes it. Let us admit that all that can be found is published; but
alas, the most unusual movements have generally the fewest documents.
Take, for instance, the religious history of the Middle Ages: it is
already a pretty delicate task to collect official documents, such as
bulls, briefs, conciliary canons, monastic constitutions, etc., but do
these documents contain all the life of the Church? Much is still
wanting, and to my mind the movements which secretly agitated the masses
are much more important, although to testify to them we have only a few

Poor heretics, they were not only imprisoned and burned, but their books
were destroyed and everything that spoke of them; and more than one
historian, finding scarcely a trace of them in his heaps of documents,
forgets these prophets with their strange visions, these poet-monks who
from the depths of their cells made the world to thrill and the papacy
to tremble.

Objective history is then a utopia. We create God in our own image, and
we impress the mark of our personality in places where we least expect
to find it again.

But by dint of talking about the tribunal of history we have made most
authors think that they owe to themselves and their readers definitive
and irrevocable judgments.

It is always easier to pronounce a sentence than to wait, to reserve
one's opinion, to re-examine. The crowd which has put itself out to be
present at a trial is almost always furious with the judges when they
reserve the case for further information; its mind is so made that it
requires precision in things which will bear it the least; it puts
questions right and left, as children do; if you appear to hesitate or
to be embarrassed you are lost in its estimation, you are evidently only
an ignoramus.

But perhaps below the Areopagites, obliged by their functions to
pronounce sentence, there is place at the famous tribunal for a simple
spectator who has come in by accident. He has made out a brief and would
like very simply to tell his neighbors his opinion.

This, then, is not a history _ad probandum_, to use the ancient formula.
Is this to say that I have only desired to give the reader a moment of
diversion? That would be to understand my thought very ill. In the grand
spectacles of history as in those of nature there is something divine;
from it our minds and hearts gain a virtue at once pacifying and
encouraging, we experience the salutary sensation of littleness, and
seeing the beauties and the sadnesses of the past we learn better how to
judge the present hour.

In one of the frescos of the Upper Church of Assisi, Giotto has
represented St. Clara and her companions coming out from St. Damian all
in tears, to kiss their spiritual father's corpse as it is being carried
to its last home. With an artist's liberty he has made the chapel a rich
church built of precious marbles.

Happily the real St. Damian is still there, nestled under some
olive-trees like a lark under the heather; it still has its ill-made
walls of irregular stones, like those which bound the neighboring
fields. Which is the more beautiful, the ideal temple of the artist's
fancy, or the poor chapel of reality? No heart will be in doubt.

Francis's official historians have done for his biography what Giotto
did for his little sanctuary. In general they have done him ill-service.
Their embellishments have hidden the real St. Francis, who was, in fact,
infinitely nobler than they have made him to be. Ecclesiastical writers
appear to make a great mistake in thus adorning the lives of their
heroes, and only mentioning their edifying features. They thus give
occasion, even to the most devout, to suspect their testimony. Besides,
by thus surrounding their saints with light they make them superhuman
creatures, having nothing in common with us; they are privileged
characters, marked with the divine seal; they are, as the litanies say,
vials of election, into which God has poured the sweetest perfumes;
their sanctity is revealed almost in spite of themselves; they are born
saints as others are born kings or slaves, their life is set out against
the golden background of a tryptich, and not against the sombre
background of reality.

By such means the saints, perhaps, gain something in the respect of the
superstitious; but their lives lose something of virtue and of
communicable strength. Forgetting that they were men like ourselves, we
no longer hear in our conscience the command, "Go and do likewise."

It is, then, a work of piety to seek behind the legend for the history.
Is it presumptuous to ask our readers to try to understand the
thirteenth century and love St. Francis? They will be amply rewarded for
the effort, and will soon find an unexpected charm in these too meagre
landscapes, these incorporate souls, these sickly imaginations which
will pass before their eyes. Love is the true key of history.

A book has always a great number of authors, and the following pages owe
much to the researches of others; I have tried in the notes to show the
whole value of these debts.

I have also had colaborers to whom it will be more difficult for me to
express my gratitude. I refer to the librarians of the libraries of
Italy and their assistants; it is impossible to name them all, their
faces are better known to me than their names, but I would here say that
during long months passed in the various collections of the Peninsula,
all, even to the most humble employees, have shown a tireless
helpfulness even at those periods of the year when the number of
attendants was the smallest.

Professor Alessandro Leto, who, barely recovered from a grave attack of
influenza, kindly served as my guide among the archives of Assisi,
deserves a very particular mention. To the Syndic and municipality of
that city I desire also to express my gratitude.

I cannot close without a warm remembrance to the spiritual sons of St.
Francis dispersed in the mountains of Umbria and Tuscany.

Dear dwellers in St. Damian, Portiuncula, the Carceri, the Verna, Monte
Colombo, you perhaps remember the strange pilgrim who, though he wore
neither the frock nor the cord, used to talk with you of the Seraphic
Father with as much love as the most pious Franciscan; you used to be
surprised at his eagerness to see everything, to look at everything, to
thread all the unexplored paths. You often tried to restrain him by
telling him that there was not the smallest relic, the most meagre
indulgence in the far-away grottos to which he was dragging you, but you
always ended by going with him, thinking that none but a Frenchman could
be possessed by a devotion so fervent and so imprudent.

Thank you, pious anchorites of Greccio, thank you for the bread that you
went out and begged when I arrived at your hermitage benumbed with cold
and hunger. If you read these lines, read here my gratitude and also a
little admiration. You are not all saints, but nearly all of you have
hours of saintliness, flights of pure love.

If some pages of this book give you pain, turn them over quickly; let me
think that others of them will give you pleasure, and will make the name
you bear, if possible, still more precious to you than it now is.


   [1] The mendicant orders were in their origin a true
       _International_. When in the spring of 1216 St. Dominic
       assembled his friars at Notre Dame de la Prouille, they were
       found to be sixteen in number, and among them Castilians,
       Navarese, Normans, French, Languedocians, and even English and

       Heretics travelled all over Europe, and nowhere do we find them
       checked by the diversity of languages. Arnold of Brescia, for
       example, the famous Tribune of Rome, appeared in France and
       Switzerland and in the heart of Germany.

   [2] The Reformation only substituted the authority of the book
       for that of the priest; it is a change of dynasty and nothing
       more. As to the majority of those who to-day call themselves
       free-thinkers, they confuse religious freedom with irreligion;
       they choose not to see that in religion as in politics, between
       a royalty based on divine right and anarchy there is room for a
       government which may be as strong as the first and a better
       guarantee of freedom than the second. The spirit of the older
       time put God outside of the world; the sovereignty outside of
       the people; authority outside of the conscience. The spirit of
       the new times has the contrary tendency: it denies neither God
       nor sovereignty nor authority, but it sees them where they
       really are.

   [3] _Nemo ostendebat mihi quod deberem facere, sed ipse
       Altissimus revelavit mihi quod deberem vivere secundem formam
       sancti Evangelii._ Testamentum Fr.

   [4] The wealthiest monasteries of France are of the twelfth
       century or were enlarged at that time: Arles, S. Gilles, S.
       Sernin, Cluny, Vézelay, Brioude, Issoire, Paray-le-Monial. The
       same was the case in Italy.

       Down to the year 1000, 1,108 monasteries had been founded in
       France. The eleventh century saw the birth of 326 and the
       twelfth of 702. The convents of Mount Athos in their present
       state give us a very accurate notion of the great monasteries of
       Europe at the close of the twelfth century.

   [5] St. Petrus Chrysologus, sermo viii., de jejunio et
       eleemosyna. _Da pauperi ut des tibi: da micam ut accipias totum
       panem; da tectum, accipe coelum._

   [6] By what right did he begin to preach? By what right did he,
       a mere deacon, admit to profession and cut off the hair of a
       young girl of eighteen? That is an episcopal function, one which
       can only devolve even upon priests by an express commission.

   [7] Isaiah i. 10-17. Cf. Joel 2, Psalm 50.

   [8] The chronicles of Orvieto (_Archivio, storico italiano_, t.
       i., of 1889, pp. 7 and following) are nothing more than a list,
       as melancholy as they are tedious of wars, which, during the
       thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, all the places of that
       region carried on, from the greatest to the smallest.

   [9] Do not forget that in the thirteenth century Italy was not a
       mere geographical expression. It was of all the countries of
       Europe the one which, notwithstanding its partitions, had the
       clearest consciousness of its unity. The expression _profectus
       et honor Italiæ_ often appeared from the pen of Innocent III.
       See, for instance, the bull of April 16, 1198, _Mirari cogimur_,
       addressed particularly to the Assisans.

  [10] Note what the Fioretti say of Brother Bernard: "_Stava solo
       sulle cime dei monti altissimi contemplando le cose celesti._"
       Fior., 28. The learned historian of Assisi, Mr. Cristofani, has
       used similar expressions; speaking of St. Francis, he says:
       "_Nuovo Christo in somma e pero degno d'essere riguardoto come
       la piu gigantesca, la piu splendida, la piu cara tra le grandi
       figure campeggianti nell' aere del medio evo_" (_Storia
       d'Assisi_, t. i., p. 70, ed. of 1885).

  [11] It remains open all night.

       *       *       *       *       *

              LIFE OF ST. FRANCIS

       *       *       *       *       *



Assisi is to-day very much what it was six or seven hundred years ago.
The feudal castle is in ruins, but the aspect of the city is just the
same. Its long-deserted streets, bordered by ancient houses, lie in
terraces half-way up the steep hill-side. Above it Mount Subasio[1]
proudly towers, at its feet lies outspread all the Umbrian plain from
Perugia to Spoleto. The crowded houses clamber up the rocks like
children a-tiptoe to see all that is to be seen; they succeed so well
that every window gives the whole panorama set in its frame of rounded
hills, from whose summits castles and villages stand sharply out against
a sky of incomparable purity.

These simple dwellings contain no more than five or six little
rooms,[2] but the rosy hues of the stone of which they are built give
them a wonderfully cheerful air. The one in which, according to the
story, St. Francis was born has almost entirely disappeared, to make
room for a church; but the street is so modest, and all that remains of
the _palazzo dei genitori di San Francesco_ is so precisely like the
neighboring houses that the tradition must be correct. Francis entered
into glory in his lifetime; it would be surprising if a sort of worship
had not from the first been centred around the house in which he saw the
light and where he passed the first twenty-five years of his life.

He was born about 1182.[3] The biographies have preserved to us few
details about his parents.[4] His father, Pietro Bernardone, was a
wealthy cloth-merchant. We know how different was the life of the
merchants of that period from what it is to-day. A great portion of
their time was spent in extensive journeys for the purchase of goods.
Such tours were little short of expeditions. The roads being insecure, a
strong escort was needed for the journey to those famous fairs where,
for long weeks at a time, merchants from the most remote parts of Europe
were gathered together. In certain cities, Montpellier for example, the
fair was perpetual. Benjamin of Tudela shows us that city frequented by
all nations, Christian and Mohammedan. "One meets there merchants from
Africa, from Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, Gaul, Spain, and England,
so that one sees men of all languages, with the Genoese and the Pisans."

Among all these merchants the richest were those who dealt in textile
stuffs. They were literally the bankers of the time, and their heavy
wagons were often laden with the sums levied by the popes in England or

Their arrival at a castle was one of the great events. They were kept as
long as possible, everyone being eager for the news they brought. It is
easy to understand how close must have been their relations with the
nobility; in certain countries, Provence for example, the merchants were
considered as nobles of a second order.[5]

Bernardone often made these long journeys; he went even as far as
France, and by this we must surely understand Northern France, and
particularly Champagne, which was the seat of commercial exchange
between Northern and Southern Europe.

He was there at the very time of his son's birth. The mother, presenting
the child at the font of San Rufino,[6] had him baptized by the name of
John, but the father on his return chose to call him Francis.[7] Had
he already determined on the education he was to give the child; did he
name him thus because he even then intended to bring him up after the
French fashion, to make a little Frenchman of him? It is by no means
improbable. Perhaps, indeed, the name was only a sort of grateful homage
tendered by the Assisan burgher to his noble clients beyond the Alps.
However this may be, the child was taught to speak French, and always
had a special fondness for both the language and the country.[8]

These facts about Bernardone are of real importance; they reveal the
influences in the midst of which Francis grew up. Merchants, indeed,
play a considerable part in the religious movements of the thirteenth
century. Their calling in some sense forced them to become colporters of
ideas. What else could they do, on arriving in a country, but answer
those who asked for news? And the news most eagerly looked for was
religious news, for men's minds were turned upon very different subjects
then from now. They accommodated themselves to the popular wish,
observing, hearkening everywhere, keeping eyes and ears open, glad to
find anything to tell; and little by little many of them became active
propagandists of ideas concerning which at first they had been simply

The importance of the part thus played by the merchants as they came
and went, everywhere sowing the new ideas which they had gathered up in
their travels, has not been put in a clear enough light; they were
often, unconsciously and quite involuntarily, the carriers of ideas of
all kinds, especially of heresy and rebellion. It was they who made the
success of the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Humiliati, and many other

Thus Bernardone, without dreaming of such a thing, became the artisan of
his son's religious vocation. The tales which he brought home from his
travels seemed at first, perhaps, not to have aroused the child's
attention, but they were like germs a long time buried, which suddenly,
under a warm ray of sunlight, bring forth unlooked-for fruit.

The boy's education was not carried very far;[9] the school was in
those days overshadowed by the church. The priests of San Giorgio were
his teachers,[10] and taught him a little Latin. This language was
spoken in Umbria until toward the middle of the thirteenth century;
every one understood it and spoke it a little; it was still the language
of sermons and of political deliberations.[11]

He learned also to write, but with less success; all through his life we
see him take up the pen only on rare occasions, and for but a few
words.[12] The autograph of Sacro-Convento, which appears to be
entirely authentic, shows extreme awkwardness; in general he dictated,
signing his letters by a simple [Greek: tau], the symbol of the cross of

That part of his education which was destined to have most influence
upon his life was the French language,[14] which he perhaps spoke in his
own family. It has been rightly said that to know two languages is to
have two souls; in learning that of France the boy felt his heart thrill
to the melody of its youthful poetry, and his imagination was
mysteriously stirred with dreams of imitating the exploits of the French

But let us not anticipate. His early life was that of other children of
his age. In the quarter of the town where his house is still shown no
vehicles are ever seen; from morning till night the narrow streets are
given over to the children. They play there in many groups, frolicking
with an exquisite charm, very different from the little Romans, who,
from the time they are six or seven years old, spend hours at a time
squatting behind a pillar, or in a corner of a wall or a ruin, to play
dice or "morra," putting a passionate ferocity even into their play.

In Umbria, as in Tuscany, children love above all things games in which
they can make a parade; to play at soldiers or procession is the supreme
delight of Assisan children. Through the day they keep to the narrow
streets, but toward evening they go, singing and dancing, to one of the
open squares of the city. These squares are one of the charms of Assisi.
Every few paces an interval occurs between the houses looking toward the
plain, and you find a delightful terrace, shaded by a few trees, the
very place for enjoying the sunset without losing one of its splendors.
Hither no doubt came often the son of Bernardone, leading one of those
_farandoles_ which you may see there to this day: from his very babyhood
he was a prince among the children.

Thomas of Celano draws an appalling picture of the education of that
day. He describes parents inciting their children to vice, and driving
them by main force to wrong-doing. Francis responded only too quickly to
these unhappy lessons.[15]

His father's profession and the possibly noble origin of his mother
raised him almost to the level of the titled families of the country;
money, which he spent with both hands, made him welcome among them. Well
pleased to enjoy themselves at his expense, the young nobles paid him a
sort of court. As to Bernardone, he was too happy to see his son
associating with them to be niggardly as to the means. He was miserly,
as the course of this history will show, but his pride and self-conceit
exceeded his avarice.

Pica, his wife, gentle and modest creature,[16] concerning whom the
biographers have been only too laconic, saw all this, and mourned over
it in silence, but though weak as mothers are, she would not despair of
her son, and when the neighbors told her of Francis's escapades, she
would calmly reply, "What are you thinking about? I am very sure that,
if it pleases God, he will become a good Christian."[17] The words were
natural enough from a mother's lips, but later on they were held to have
been truly prophetic.

How far did the young man permit himself to be led on? It would be
difficult to say. The question which, as we are told, tormented Brother
Leo, could only have suggested itself to a diseased imagination.[18]
Thomas of Celano and the Three Companions agree in picturing him as
going to the worst excesses. Later biographers speak with more
circumspection of his worldly career. A too widely credited story
gathered from Celano's narrative was modified by the chapter-general of
1260,[19] and the frankness of the early biographers was, no doubt, one
of the causes which most effectively contributed to their definitive
condemnation three years later.[20]

Their statements are in no sense obscure; according to them the son of
Bernardone not only patterned himself after the young men of his age, he
made it a point of honor to exceed them. What with eccentricities,
buffooneries, pranks, prodigalities, he ended by achieving a sort of
celebrity. He was forever in the streets with his companions, compelling
attention by his extravagant or fantastic attire. Even at night the
joyous company kept up their merrymakings, causing the town to ring
with their noisy songs.[21]

At this very time the troubadours were roaming over the towns of
Northern Italy[22] and bringing brilliant festivities and especially
Courts of Love into vogue. If they worked upon the passions, they also
made appeal to feelings of courtesy and delicacy; it was this that saved
Francis. In the midst of his excesses he was always refined and
considerate, carefully abstaining from every base or indecent
utterance.[23] Already his chief aspiration was to rise above the
commonplace. Tortured with the desire for that which is far off and
high,[24] he had conceived a sort of passion for chivalry, and fancying
that dissipation was one of the distinguishing features of nobility, he
had thrown himself into it with all his soul.

But he who, at twenty, goes from pleasure to pleasure with the heart not
absolutely closed to good, must now and then, at some turning of the
road, become aware that there are hungry folk, who could live a month on
what he spends in a few hours on frivolity. Francis saw them, and with
his impressionable nature for the moment forgot everything else. In
thought he put himself in their place, and it sometimes happened that he
gave them all the money he had about him and even his clothes.

One day he was busy with some customers in his father's shop, when a man
came in, begging for charity in the name of God. Losing his patience
Francis sharply turned him away; but quickly reproaching himself for his
harshness he thought, "What would I not have done if this man had asked
something of me in the name of a count or a baron? What ought I not to
have done when he came in the name of God? I am no better than a clown!"
Leaving his customers he ran after the beggar.[25]

Bernardone had been well pleased with his son's commercial aptitude in
the early days when the young man was first in his father's employ.
Francis was only too proficient in spending money; he at least knew well
how to make it.[26] But this satisfaction did not last long. Francis's
bad companions were exercising over him a most pernicious influence. The
time came when he could no longer endure to be separated from them; if
he heard their call, nothing could keep him, he would leave everything
and go after them.[27]

All this time political events were hurrying on in Umbria and Italy;
after a formidable struggle the allied republics had forced the empire
to recognize them. By the immortal victory of Legnano (May 29, 1176) and
the Peace of Constance (June 25, 1183) the Lombard League had wrested
from Frederick Barbarossa almost all the prerogatives of power; little
was left to the emperor but insignia and outward show.

From one end of the Peninsula to the other visions of liberty were
making hearts beat high. For an instant it seemed as if all Italy was
about to regain consciousness of its unity, was about to rise up as one
man and hurl the foreigner from its borders; but the rivalries of the
cities were too strong for them to see that local liberty without a
common independence is precarious and illusory. Henry VI., the successor
of Barbarossa (1183-1196), laid Italy under a yoke of iron; he might
perhaps in the end have assured the domination of the empire, if his
career had not been suddenly cut short by a premature death.

Yet he had not been able to put fetters upon ideas. The communal
movement which was shaking the north of France reverberated beyond the

Although a city of second rank, Assisi had not been behind in the great
struggles for independence.[28] She had been severely chastised, had
lost her franchise, and was obliged to submit to Conrad of Suabia, Duke
of Spoleto, who from the heights of his fortress kept her in subjection.

But when Innocent III. ascended the pontifical throne (January 8, 1199)
the old duke knew himself to be lost. He made a tender to him of money,
men, his faith even, but the pontiff refused them all. He had no desire
to appear to favor the Tedeschi, who had so odiously oppressed the
country. Conrad of Suabia was forced to yield at mercy, and to go to
Narni to put his submission into the hands of two cardinals.

Like the practical folk that they were, the Assisans did not hesitate an
instant. No sooner was the count on the road to Narni than they rushed
to the assault of the castle. The arrival of envoys charged to take
possession of it as a pontifical domain by no means gave them pause. Not
one stone of it was left upon another.[29] Then, with incredible
rapidity they enclosed their city with walls, parts of which are still
standing, their formidable ruins a witness to the zeal with which the
whole population labored on them.

It is natural to think that Francis, then seventeen years old, was one
of the most gallant laborers of those glorious days, and it was perhaps
there that he gained the habit of carrying stones and wielding the
trowel which was destined to serve him so well a few years later.

Unhappily his fellow-citizens had not the sense to profit by their
hard-won liberty. The lower classes, who in this revolution had become
aware of their strength, determined to follow out the victory by taking
possession of the property of the nobles. The latter took refuge in
their fortified houses in the interior of the city, or in their castles
in the suburbs. The townspeople burned down several of the latter,
whereupon counts and barons made request of aid and succor from the
neighboring cities.

Perugia was at this time at the apogee of its power,[30] and had already
made many efforts to reduce Assisi to submission. It therefore received
the fugitives with alacrity, and making their cause its own, declared
war upon Assisi. This was in 1202. An encounter took place in the plain
about half way between the two cities, not far from _Ponte San
Giovanni_. Assisi was defeated, and Francis, who was in the ranks, was
made prisoner.[31]

The treachery of the nobles had not been universal; a few had fought
with the people. It was with them and not with the _popolani_ that
Francis, in consideration of the nobility of his manners,[32] passed the
time of his captivity, which lasted an entire year. He greatly
astonished his companions by his lightness of heart. Very often they
thought him almost crazy. Instead of passing his time in wailing and
cursing he made plans for the future, about which he was glad to talk to
any one who came along. To his fancy life was what the songs of the
troubadours had painted it; he dreamed of glorious adventures, and
always ended by saying: "You will see that one day I shall be adored by
the whole world."[33]

During these long months Francis must have been pretty rudely undeceived
with respect to those nobles whom from afar he had so heartily admired.
However that may be, he retained with them not only his frankness of
speech, but also his full freedom of action. One of them, a knight, had
always held aloof from the others, out of vanity and bad temper.
Francis, far from leaving him to himself, always showed him affection,
and finally had the joy of reconciling him with his fellow-captives.

A compromise was finally arrived at between the counts and the people of
Assisi. In November, 1203, the arbitrators designated by the two parties
announced their decision. The commons of Assisi were to repair in a
certain measure the damage done to the lords, and the latter agreed, on
their part, to make no further alliances without authorization of the
commons.[34] Rural serfage was maintained, which proves that the
revolution had been directed by the burghers, and for their own profit.
Ten years more were not, however, to elapse before the common people
also would succeed in achieving liberty. In this cause we shall again
see Francis fighting on the side of the oppressed, earning the title of
_Patriarch of religious democracy_ which has been accorded him by one of
his compatriots.[35]

The agreement being made the prisoners detained at Perugia were
released, and Francis returned to Assisi. He was twenty-two years old.


   [1] Eleven hundred and one metres above the level of the sea;
       the plain around Assisi has an average of two hundred, and the
       town of two hundred and fifty, metres above.

   [2] As in the majority of Tuscan cities the dimensions of the
       houses were formerly fixed by law.

   [3] The biographies say that he died (October 3, 1226) in his
       forty-fifth year. But the terms are not precise enough to make
       the date 1181 improbable. For that matter the question is of
       small importance. A Franciscan of Erfurt, about the middle of
       the thirteenth century, fixes the date at 1182. Pertz, vol.
       xxiv., p. 193.

   [4] A number of different genealogies have been fabricated for
       Francis; they prove only one thing, the wreck of the Franciscan
       idea. How little they understood their hero, who thought to
       magnify and glorify him by making him spring from a noble
       family! "_Quæ rero_," says Father Suysken, S. J., "_de ejus
       gentilitio insigni disserit Waddingus, non lubet mihi attingere.
       Factis et virtutibus eluxit S. Franciscus non proavorum
       insignibus aut titulis, quos nec desideravit_." (A. SS. p.
       557a.) It could not be better said.

       In the fourteenth century a whole cycle of legends had gathered
       about his birth. It could not have been otherwise. They all grow
       out of the story that tells of an old man who comes knocking at
       the parents' door, begging them to let him take the infant in
       his arms, when he announces that it will do great things. Under
       this form the episode certainly presents nothing impossible, but
       very soon marvellous incidents begin to gather around this
       nucleus until it becomes unrecognizable. Bartholomew of Pisa has
       preserved it in almost its primitive form. _Conform_., 28a 2.
       Francis certainly had several brothers [3 Soc., 9. _Mater_ ...
       _quæ cum præ ceteris filiis diligebat_], but they have left no
       trace in history except the incident related farther on. Vide p.
       44. Christofani publishes several official pieces concerning
       _Angelo_, St. Francis's brother, and his descendants: _Storie
       d'Assisi_, vol. i., p. 78 ff. In these documents Angelo is called
       _Angelus Pice_, and his son _Johannectus olim Angeli domine
       Pice_, appellations which might be cited in favor of the noble
       origin of Pica.

   [5] Documentary History of Languedoc, iii., p. 607.

   [6] The Cathedral of Assisi. To this day all the children of the
       town are baptized there; the other churches are without fonts.

   [7] 3 Soc., 1; 2 Cel., 1, 1. Vide also 3 Soc., edition of
       Pesaro, 1831.

   [8] The _langue d'oïl_ was at this epoch the international
       language of Europe; in Italy it was the language of games and
       tourneys, and was spoken in the petty princely courts of
       Northern Italy. Vide Dante, _De vulgari eloquio_, lib. I., cap.
       x. Brunetto Latini wrote in French because "the speech of France
       is more delectable and more common to all people." At the other
       end of Europe the Abbot of Stade, in Westphalia, spoke of the
       _nobility of the Gallic dialect_. _Ann._ 1224 _apud_ Pertz,
       Script. xvi. We shall find St. Francis often making allusions to
       the tales of the Round Table and the _Chanson de Roland_.

   [9] We must not be led astray by certain remarks upon his
       ignorance, from which one might at first conclude that he knew
       absolutely nothing; for example, 2 Cel., 3, 45: _Quamvis homo
       iste beatus nullis fuerit scientiæ studiis innutritus_. This
       evidently refers to science such as the Franciscans soon came to
       apprehend it, and to theology in particular.

       The close of the passage in Celano is itself an evident proof of

  [10] Bon., 219; Cf. A. SS., p. 560a. 1 Cel., 23.

  [11] Ozanam, _Documents inédits pour servir à l'histoire
       littéraire d'Italie du VIIIe au XIIIe siècle_. Paris, 1851, 8vo,
       pp. 65, 68, 71, 73. Fauriel, _Dante et les origines de la
       littérature italienne_. Paris, 1854, 2 vols., 8vo, ii., p. 332,
       379, 429.

  [12] V. 3 Soc., 51 and 67; 2 Cel., 3, 110; Bon., 55; 2 Cel., 3,
       99; Eccl., 6. Bernard de Besse, Turin MS., fo. 96a, calls
       Brother Leo the secretary of St. Francis.

  [13] See page 357, n. 8. Bon., 51 and 308.

  [14] 1 Cel., 16; 3 Soc., 10; 23; 24; 33; 2 Cel., 1, 8; 3, 67.
       See also the Testament of St. Clara and the Speculum, 119a.

  [15] _Primum namque cum fari vel balbutire incipiunt, turpia
       quædam et execrabilia valde signis et vocibus edocentur pueri ii
       nondum nati: et cum tempus ablactationis advenerit quædam luxu
       et lascivia plena non solum fari sed et operari coguntur.... Sed
       et cum paulo plusculum ætate profecerint, se ipsis impellentibus,
       semper ad deteriora opera dilabuntur._ 1 Cel., 1.

  [16] 2 Cel., 1. Cf. _Conform._, 14a, 1. There is nothing
       impossible in her having been of Provençal origin, but there is
       nothing to indicate it in any document worthy of credence. She
       was no doubt of noble stock, for official documents always give
       her the title _Domina_. Cristofani I., p. 78 ff. Cf. _Matrem
       honestissimam habuit_. 3 Soc., Edition of Pesaro, 1831, p. 17.

  [17] The reading given by the _Conform_., 14a, 1, _Meritorum
       gratia dei filium ipsum noveritis affuturum_, seems better than
       that of 2 Cel., 1, 1, _Multorum gratia Dei filiorum patrem ipsum
       noveritis affuturum_. Cf. 3 Soc., 2.

  [18] Bernardo of Besse, Turin MS., 102 b.: _An integer carne
       desiderans ... quod non extorsisset a Sancto ... meruit obtinere
       a Deo quod virgo esset_. Cf. _Conform_., 211a, 1, and A. SS., p.

  [19] "_In illa antiphona quæ incipit: Hic vir in vanitatibus
       nutritus insolenter, fiat talis mutatis: Divinis karismatibus
       preventus est clementer." Archiv._, vi., p. 35.

  [20] Vide p. 395, the decision of the chapter of 1263 ordaining
       the destruction of legends earlier than that of Bonaventura.

  [21] 1 Cel., 1 and 2; 89; 3 Soc., 2. Cf. A. SS., 560c. Vincent
       of Beauvais, _Spec. hist. lib._, 29, cap. 97.

  [22] Pierre Vidal was at the court of Boniface, Marquis of
       Montferrat, about 1195, and liked his surroundings so well that
       he desired to establish himself there. K. Bartsch, _Piere
       Vidal's Lieder_, Berlin, 1857, n. 41. Ern. Monaci, _Testi
       antichi provenzali_, Rome, 1889, col. 67. One should read this
       piece to have an idea of the fervor with which this poet shared
       the hopes of Italy and desired its independence. This political
       note is found again in a _tenzon_ of Manfred II. Lancia,
       addressed to Pierre Vidal. (V. Monaci, _loc. cit._, col.
       68.)--Gaucelme Faidit was also at this court as well as Raimbaud
       of Vacqueyras (1180-1207).--Folquet de Romans passed nearly all
       his life in Italy. Bernard of Ventadour (1145-1195), Peirol of
       Auvergne (1180-1220), and many others abode there a longer or
       shorter time. Very soon the Italians began to sing in Provençal,
       among others this Manfred Lancia, and Albert Marquis of
       Malaspina (1162-1210), Pietro della Caravana, who in 1196
       stirred up the Lombard towns against Henry VI., Pietro della
       Mula, who about 1200 was at the court of Cortemiglia. Fragments
       from these poets may be found in Monaci, _op. cit._, col. 69 ff.

  [23] Soc., 3; 2 Cel., 1, 1.

  [24] _Cum esset gloriosus animo et nollet aliquem se
       præcellere_, Giord. 20.

  [25] 1 Cel., 17; 3 Soc., 3; Bon., 7. Cf. A. SS., p. 562.

  [26] 1 Cel., 2; Bon., 6; _Vit. sec. apud_, A. SS., p. 560.

  [27] 3 Soc., 9.

  [28] In 1174 Assisi was taken by the chancellor of the empire,
       Christian, Archbishop of Mayence. A. Cristofani, i., p. 69.

  [29] All these events are related in the _Gesta Innocentii III.
       ab auctore coætaneo_, edited by Baluze: Migne, _Inn. op._, vol.
       i., col. xxiv. See especially the letter of Innocent,
       _Rectoribus Tusciæ: Mirari cogimur_, of April 16, 1198. Migne,
       vol. i., col. 75-77. Potthast, No. 82.

  [30] See Luigi Bonazzi, _Storia di Perugia_, 2 vols., 8vo.
       Perugia, 1875-1879 vol. i., cap. v., pp. 257-322.

  [31] 3 Soc., 4; 2 Cel., 1, 1. Cristofani, _op. cit._, i., p. 88
       ff.; Bonazzi, _op. cit._, p. 257.

  [32] 3 Soc., 4.

  [33] 3 Soc., 4; 2 Cel., 1, 1.

  [34] See this arbitration in Cristofani, _op. cit._, p. 93 ff.

  [35] Cristofani, _loc. cit._, p. 70.

       *       *       *       *       *



Spring 1204-Spring 1206

On his return to Assisi Francis at once resumed his former mode of life;
perhaps he even tried in some degree to make up for lost time. Fêtes,
games, festivals, and dissipations began again. He did his part in them
so well that he soon fell gravely ill.[1] For long weeks he looked
death so closely in the face that the physical crisis brought about a
moral one. Thomas of Celano has preserved for us an incident of
Francis's convalescence. He was regaining strength little by little and
had begun to go about the house, when one day he felt a desire to walk
abroad, to contemplate nature quietly, and so take hold again of life.
Leaning on a stick he bent his steps toward the city gate.

The nearest one, called _Porta Nuova_, is the very one which opens upon
the finest scenery. Immediately on passing through it one finds one's
self in the open country; a fold of the hill hides the city, and cuts
off every sound that might come from it. Before you lies the winding
road to Foligno; at the left the imposing mass of Mount Subasio; at the
right the Umbrian plain with its farms, its villages, its cloud-like
hills, on whose slopes pines, cedars, oaks, the vine, and the olive-tree
shed abroad an incomparable brightness and animation. The whole country
sparkles with beauty, a beauty harmonious and thoroughly human, that is,
made to the measure of man.

Francis had hoped by this sight to recover the delicious sensations of
his youth. With the sharpened sensibility of the convalescent he
breathed in the odors of the spring-time, but spring-time did not come,
as he had expected, to his heart. This smiling nature had for him only a
message of sadness. He had believed that the breezes of this beloved
country-side would carry away the last shudders of the fever, and
instead he felt in his heart a discouragement a thousand-fold more
painful than any physical ill. The miserable emptiness of his life
suddenly appeared before him; he was terrified at his solitude, the
solitude of a great soul in which there is no altar.

Memories of the past assailed him with intolerable bitterness; he was
seized with a disgust of himself, his former ambitions seemed to him
ridiculous or despicable. He went home overwhelmed with the weight of a
new suffering.

In such hours of moral anguish man seeks a refuge either in love or in
faith. Unhappily the family and friends of Francis were incapable of
understanding him. As to religion, it was for him, as for the greater
number of his contemporaries, that crass fetichism with Christian
terminology which is far from having entirely disappeared. With certain
men, in fact, piety consists in making one's self right with a king more
powerful than any other, but also more severe and capricious, who is
called God. One proves one's loyalty to him as to other sovereigns, by
putting his image more or less everywhere, and punctually paying the
imposts levied by his ministers. If you are stingy, if you cheat, you
run the risk of being severely chastised, but there are courtiers around
the king who willingly render services. For a reasonable recompense
they will seize a favorable moment to adroitly make away with the
sentence of your condemnation or to slip before the prince a form of
plenary absolution which in a moment of good humor he will sign without
looking at it.[2]

Such was the religious basis upon which Francis had lived up to this
time. He did not so much as dream of seeking the spiritual balm which he
needed for the healing of his wounds. By a holy violence he was to
arrive at last at a pure and virile faith; but the road to this point is
long, and sown thick with obstacles, and at the moment at which we have
arrived he had not yet entered upon it, he did not even suspect its
existence; all he knew was that pleasure leads to nothingness, to
satiety and self-contempt.

He knew this, and yet he was about to throw himself once more into a
life of pleasure. The body is so weak, so prone to return to the old
paths, that it seeks them of itself, the moment an energetic will does
not stop it. Though no longer under any illusion with respect to it,
Francis returned to his former life. Was he trying to divert his mind,
to forget that day of bitter thought? We might suppose so, seeing the
ardor with which he threw himself into his new projects.[3]

An opportunity offered itself for him to realize his dreams of glory. A
knight of Assisi, perhaps one of those who had been in captivity with
him at Perugia, was preparing to go to Apulia under orders from Count
Gentile.[4] The latter was to join Gaultier de Brienne, who was in the
south of Italy fighting on the side of Innocent III. Gaultier's renown
was immense all through the Peninsula; he was held to be one of the most
gallant knights of the time. Francis's heart bounded with joy; it seemed
to him that at the side of such a hero he should soon cover himself with
glory. His departure was decided upon, and he gave himself up, without
reserve, to his joy.

He made his preparations with ostentatious prodigality. His equipment,
of a princely luxury, soon became the universal subject of conversation.
It was all the more talked about because the chief of the expedition,
ruined perhaps by the revolution of 1202 or by the expenses of a long
captivity, was constrained to order things much more modestly.[5] But
with Francis kindliness was much stronger than love of display. He gave
his sumptuous clothing to a poor knight. The biographies do not say
whether or not it was to the very one whom he was to accompany.[6] To
see him running hither and thither in all the bustle of preparation one
would have thought him the son of a great lord. His companions were
doubtless not slow to feel chafed by his ways and to promise themselves
to make him cruelly expiate them. As for him, he perceived nothing of
the jealousies which he was exciting, and night and day he thought only
of his future glory. In his dreams he seemed to see his parents' house
completely transformed. Instead of bales of cloth he saw there only
gleaming bucklers hanging on the walls, and arms of all kinds as in a
seignorial castle. He saw himself there, beside a noble and beautiful
bride, and he never suspected that in this vision there was any presage
of the future which was reserved for him. Never had any one seen him so
communicative, so radiant; and when he was asked for the hundredth time
whence came all this joy, he would reply with surprising assurance: "I
know that I shall become a great prince."[7]

The day of departure arrived at last. Francis on horseback, the little
buckler of a page on his arm, bade adieu to his natal city with joy, and
with the little troop took the road to Spoleto which winds around the
base of Mount Subasio.

What happened next? The documents do not say. They confine themselves to
reporting that that very evening Francis had a vision which decided him
to return to Assisi.[8] Perhaps it would not be far from the truth to
conjecture that once fairly on the way the young nobles took their
revenge on the son of Bernardone for his airs as of a future prince. At
twenty years one hardly pardons things like these. If, as we are often
assured, there is a pleasure unsuspected by the profane in getting even
with a stranger, it must be an almost divine delight to get even with a
young coxcomb upon whom one has to exercise so righteous a vengeance.

Arriving at Spoleto, Francis took to his bed. A fever was consuming him;
in a few hours he had seen all his dreams crumble away. The very next
day he took the road back to Assisi.[9]

So unexpected a return made a great stir in the little city, and was a
cruel blow to his parents. As for him, he doubled his charities to the
poor, and sought to keep aloof from society, but his old companions came
flocking about him from all quarters, hoping to find in him once more
the tireless purveyor of their idle wants. He let them have their way.

Nevertheless a great change had taken place in him. Neither pleasures
nor work could long hold him; he spent a portion of his days in long
country rambles, often accompanied by a friend most different from those
whom until now we have seen about him. The name of this friend is not
known, but from certain indications one is inclined to believe that he
was Bombarone da Beviglia, the future Brother Elias.[10]

Francis now went back to his reflections at the time of his recovery,
but with less of bitterness. His own heart and his friend agreed in
saying to him that it is possible no longer to trust either in pleasure
or in glory and yet to find worthy causes to which to consecrate one's
life. It is at this moment that religious thought seems to have awaked
in him. From the moment that he saw this new way of life his desire to
run in it had all the fiery impetuosity which he put into all his
actions. He was continually calling upon his friend and leading him
apart into the most sequestered paths.

But intense conflicts are indescribable. We struggle, we suffer alone.
It is the nocturnal wrestling of Bethel, mysterious and solitary. The
soul of Francis was great enough to endure this tragic duel. His friend
had marvellously understood his part in this contest. He gave a few rare
counsels, but much of the time he contented himself with manifesting his
solicitude by following Francis everywhere and never asking to know more
than he could tell him.

Often Francis directed his steps to a grotto in the country near Assisi,
which he entered alone. This rocky cave concealed in the midst of the
olive trees became for faithful Franciscans that which Gethsemane is for
Christians. Here Francis relieved his overcharged heart by heavy groans.
Sometimes, seized with a real horror for the disorders of his youth, he
would implore mercy, but the greater part of the time his face was
turned toward the future; feverishly he sought for that higher truth to
which he longed to dedicate himself, that pearl of great price of which
the gospel speaks: "Whosoever seeks, finds; he who asks, receives; and
to him who knocks, it shall be opened."

When he came out after long hours of seclusion the pallor of his
countenance, the painful tension of his features told plainly enough of
the intensity of his asking and the violence of his knocks.[11]

The inward man, to borrow the language of the mystics, was not yet
formed in him, but it needed only the occasion to bring about the final
break with the past. The occasion soon presented itself.

His friends were making continual efforts to induce him to take up his
old habits again. One day he invited them all to a sumptuous banquet.
They thought they had conquered, and as in old times they proclaimed him
king of the revels. The feast was prolonged far into the night, and at
its close the guests rushed out into the streets, which they filled with
song and uproar. Suddenly they perceived that Francis was no longer with
them. After long searching they at last discovered him far behind them,
still holding in his hand his sceptre of king of misrule, but plunged in
so profound a revery that he seemed to be riveted to the ground and
unconscious of all that was going on.

"What is the matter with you?" they cried, bustling about him as if to
awaken him.

"Don't you see that he is thinking of taking a wife?" said one.

"Yes," answered Francis, arousing himself and looking at them with a
smile which they did not recognize. "I am thinking of taking a wife
more beautiful, more rich, more pure than you could ever imagine."[12]

This reply marks a decisive stage in his inner life. By it he cut the
last links which bound him to trivial pleasures. It remains for us to
see through what struggles he was to give himself to God, after having
torn himself free from the world. His friends probably understood
nothing of all that had taken place, but he had become aware of the
abyss that was opening between them and him. They soon accepted the

As for himself, no longer having any reason for caution, he gave himself
up more than ever to his passion for solitude. If he often wept over his
past dissipations and wondered how he could have lived so long without
tasting the bitterness of the dregs of the enchanted cup, he never
allowed himself to be overwhelmed with vain regrets.

The poor had remained faithful to him. They gave him an admiration of
which he knew himself to be unworthy, yet which had for him an infinite
sweetness. The future grew bright to him in the light of their
gratitude, of the timid, trembling affection which they dared not utter
but which his heart revealed to him; this worship which he does not
deserve to-day he will deserve to-morrow, at least he promises himself
to do all he can to deserve it.

To understand these feelings one must understand the condition of the
poor of a place like Assisi. In an agricultural country poverty does
not, as elsewhere, almost inevitably involve moral destitution, that
degeneration of the entire human being which renders charity so
difficult. Most of the poor persons whom Francis knew were in straits
because of war, of bad harvests, or of illness. In such cases material
succor is but a small part. Sympathy is the thing needed above all.
Francis had treasures of it to lavish upon them.

He was well requited. All sorrows are sisters; a secret intelligence
establishes itself between troubled hearts, however diverse their
griefs. The poor people felt that their friend also suffered; they did
not precisely know with what, but they forgot their own sorrows in
pitying their benefactor. Suffering is the true cement of love. For men
to love each other truly, they must have shed tears together.

As yet no influence strictly ecclesiastic had been felt by Francis.
Doubtless there was in his heart that leaven of Christian faith which
enters one's being without his being aware; but the interior
transformation which was going on in him was as yet the fruit of his own
intuition. This period was drawing to a close. His thought was soon to
find expression, and by that very act to receive the stamp of external
circumstances. Christian instruction will give a precise form to ideas
of which as yet he has but vague glimpses, but he will find in this form
a frame in which his thought will perhaps lose something of its
originality and vigor; the new wine will be put into old wine-skins.

By degrees he was becoming calm, was finding in the contemplation of
nature joys which up to this time he had sipped but hastily, almost
unconsciously, and of which he was now learning to relish the flavor. He
drew from them not simply soothing; in his heart he felt new compassions
springing into life, and with these the desire to act, to give himself,
to cry aloud to these cities perched upon the hill-tops, threatening as
warriors who eye one another before the fray, that they should be
reconciled and love one another.

Certainly, at this time Francis had no glimpse of what he was some time
to become; but these hours are perhaps the most important in the
evolution of his thought; it is to them that his life owes that air of
liberty, that perfume of the fields which make it as different from the
piety of the sacristy as from that of the drawing-room.

About this time he made a pilgrimage to Rome, whether to ask counsel of
his friends, whether as a penance imposed by his confessor, or from a
mere impulse, no one knows. Perhaps he thought that in a visit to the
_Holy Apostles_, as people said then, he should find the answers to all
the questions which he was asking himself.

At any rate he went. It is hardly probable that he received from the
visit any religious influence, for his biographers relate the pained
surprise which he experienced when he saw in Saint Peter's how meagre
were the offerings of pilgrims. He wanted to give everything to the
prince of the apostles, and emptying his purse he threw its entire
contents upon the tomb.

This journey was marked by a more important incident. Many a time when
succoring the poor he had asked himself if he himself was able to endure
poverty; no one knows the weight of a burden until he has carried it, at
least for a moment, upon his own shoulders. He desired to know what it
is like to have nothing, and to depend for bread upon the charity or the
caprice of the passer by.[13]

There were swarms of beggars crowding the Piazza before the great
basilica. He borrowed the rags of one of them, lending him his garment
in exchange, and a whole day he stood there, fasting, with outstretched
hand. The act was a great victory, the triumph of compassion over
natural pride. Returning to Assisi, he doubled his kindnesses to those
of whom he had truly the right to call himself the brother. With such
sentiments he could not long escape the influence of the Church.

On all the roadsides in the environs of the city there were then, as
now, numerous chapels. Very often he must have heard mass in these
rustic sanctuaries, alone with the celebrant. Recognizing the tendency
of simple natures to bring home to themselves everything that they hear,
it is easy to understand his emotion and agitation when the priest,
turning toward him, would read the gospel for the day. The Christian
ideal was revealed to him, bringing an answer to his secret anxieties.
And when, a few moments later, he would plunge into the forest, all his
thoughts would be with the poor carpenter of Nazareth, who placed
himself in his path, saying to him, even to him, "Follow thou me."

Nearly two years had passed since the day when he felt the first shock;
a life of renunciation appeared to him as the goal of his efforts, but
he felt that his spiritual novitiate was not yet ended. He suddenly
experienced a bitter assurance of the fact.

He was riding on horseback one day, his mind more than ever possessed
with the desire to lead a life of absolute devotion, when at a turn of
the road he found himself face to face with a leper. The frightful
malady had always inspired in him an invincible repulsion. He could not
control a movement of horror, and by instinct he turned his horse in
another direction.

If the shock had been severe, the defeat was complete. He reproached
himself bitterly. To cherish such fine projects and show himself so
cowardly! Was the knight of Christ then going to give up his arms? He
retraced his steps and springing from his horse he gave to the astounded
sufferer all the money that he had; then kissed his hand as he would
have done to a priest.[14] This new victory, as he himself saw, marked
an era in his spiritual life.[15]

It is far indeed from hatred of evil to love of good. Those are more
numerous than we think who, after severe experience, have renounced what
the ancient liturgies call the world, with its pomps and lusts; but the
greater number of them have not at the bottom of their hearts the
smallest grain of pure love. In vulgar souls disillusion leaves only a
frightful egoism.

This victory of Francis had been so sudden that he desired to complete
it; a few days later he went to the lazaretto.[16] One can imagine the
stupefaction of these wretches at the entrance of the brilliant
cavalier. If in our days a visit to the sick in our hospitals is a real
event awaited with feverish impatience, what must not have been the
appearance of Francis among these poor recluses? One must have seen
sufferers thus abandoned, to understand what joy may be given by an
affectionate word, sometimes even a simple glance.

Moved and transported, Francis felt his whole being vibrate with
unfamiliar sensations. For the first time he heard the unspeakable
accents of a gratitude which cannot find words burning enough to express
itself, which admires and adores the benefactor almost like an angel
from heaven.


   [1] 1 Cel., 3; cf. Bon., 8, and A. SS., p. 563c.

   [2] It is enough to have lived in the country of Naples to know
       that there is nothing exaggerated in this picture. I am much
       surprised that intelligent and good men fancy that to change the
       religious formula of these people would suffice to transform
       them. What a mistake! To-day, as in the time of Jesus, the
       important matter is not to adore on Mount Moriah or Mount Zion,
       but to adore in spirit and in truth.

   [3] 1 Cel., 3 and 4.

   [4] 3 Soc., 5. In the existing state of the documents it is
       impossible to know whom this name designates, for at that time
       it was borne by a number of counts who are only to be
       distinguished by the names of their castles. The three following
       are possible: 1. _Gentile comes de Campilio_, who in 1215 paid
       homage for his property to the commune of Orvieto: _Le antiche
       cronache di Orvieto, Arch. stor. ital._, 5th series., 1889,
       iii., p. 47. 2. _Gentilis comes filius Alberici_, who with
       others had made donation of a monastery to the Bishop of
       Foligno: Confirmatory Bull _In eminenti_ of April 10, 1210:
       Ughelli, _Italia Sacra_, 1, p. 697; Potthast, 3974. 3. _Gentilis
       comes Manupelli_; whom we find in July, 1200, assuring to
       Palermo the victory over the troops sent by Innocent III.
       against Marckwald; Huillard-Bréholles, _Hist. dipl._, i. p., 46
       ff. Cf. Potthast, 1126. _Gesta Innocenti_, Migne, vol. i.,
       xxxii, ff. Cf. Huillard-Bréholles, _loc. cit._, pages 60, 84,
       89, 101. It is wrong to consider that Gentile could here be a
       mere adjective; the 3 Soc. say _Gentile nomine_.

   [5] 1 Cel., 4; 3 Soc., 5.

   [6] 3 Soc., 6; 2 Cel., 1, 2; Bon., 8.

   [7] 1 Cel., 5; 3 Soc., 5; 2 Cel., 1, 2; Bon., 9.

   [8] 3 Soc., 6; Bon., 9; 2 Cel., 1, 2.

   [9] 3 Soc., 6; 2 Cel., 1, 2.

  [10] These days are recalled by Celano with a very particular
       precision. It is very improbable that Francis, usually so
       reserved as to his personal experience, should have told him
       about them (2 Cel., 3, 68 and 42, cf. Bon., 144). On the other
       hand, nothing forbids his having been informed on this matter by
       Brother Elias. (I strongly suspect the legend which tells of an
       old man appearing on the day Francis was born and begging
       permission to take the child in his arms, saying, "To-day, two
       infants were born--this one, who will be among the best of men,
       and another, who will be among the worst"--of having been
       invented by the _zelanti_ against Brother Elias. It is evident
       that such a story is aimed at some one. Whom, if not him who was
       afterward to appear as the Anti-Francis?) We have sufficient
       details about the eleven first disciples to know that none of
       them is here in question. There is nothing surprising in the
       fact that Elias does not appear in the earliest years of the
       Order (1209-1212), because after having practised at Assisi his
       double calling of schoolmaster and carriage-trimmer (_suebat
       cultras et docebat puerulos psalterium legere_, Salimbene, p.
       402) he was _scriptor_ at Bologna (Eccl., 13). And from the
       psychological point of view this hypothesis would admirably
       explain the ascendency which Elias was destined always to
       exercise over his master. Still it remains difficult to
       understand why Celano did not name Elias here, but the passage,
       1 Cel., 6, differs in the different manuscripts (cf. A. SS. and
       Amoni's edition, p. 14) and may have been retouched after the
       latter's fall.

       Beviglia is a simple farm three-quarters of an hour northwest of
       Assisi, almost half way to Petrignano. Half an hour from Assisi
       in the direction of Beviglia is a grotto, which may very well be
       that of which we are about to speak.

  [11] 1 Cel., 6; 2 Cel., 1, 5; 3 Soc., 8, 12; Bon., 10, 11, 12.

  [12] 3 Soc., 7; 1 Cel., 7; 2 Cel., 1, 3; 3 Soc., 13.

  [13] 3 Soc., 8-10; Bon., 13, 14; 2 Cel., 1, 4.

  [14] To this day in the centre and south of Italy they kiss the
       hand of priests and monks.

  [15] See the Will. Cf. 3 Soc., 11; 1 Cel., 17; Bon., 11; A. SS.,
       p. 566.

  [16] 3 Soc., 11; Bon., 13.

       *       *       *       *       *



St. Francis was inspired as much as any man may be, but it would be a
palpable error to study him apart from his age and from the conditions
in which he lived.

We know that he desired and believed his life to be an imitation of
Jesus, but what we know about the Christ is in fact so little, that St.
Francis's life loses none of its strangeness for that. His conviction
that he was but an imitator preserved him from all temptation to pride,
and enabled him to proclaim his views with incomparable vigor, without
seeming in the least to be preaching himself.

We must therefore neither isolate him from external influences nor show
him too dependent on them. During the period of his life at which we are
now arrived, 1205-1206, the religious situation of Italy must more than
at any other time have influenced his thought and urged him into the
path which he finally entered.

The morals of the clergy were as corrupt as ever, rendering any serious
reform impossible. If some among the heresies of the time were pure and
without reproach, many were trivial and impure. Here and there a few
voices were raised in protest, but the prophesyings of Gioacchino di
Fiore had no more power than those of St. Hildegarde to put a stop to
wickedness. Luke Wadding, the pious Franciscan annalist, begins his
chronicle with this appalling picture. The advance in historic research
permits us to retouch it somewhat more in detail, but the conclusion
remains the same; without Francis of Assisi the Church would perhaps
have foundered and the Cathari would have won the day. The _little poor
man_, driven away, cast out of doors by the creatures of Innocent III.,
saved Christianity.

We cannot here make a thorough study of the state of the Church at the
beginning of the thirteenth century; it will suffice to trace some of
its most prominent features.

The first glance at the secular clergy brings out into startling
prominence the ravages of simony; the traffic in ecclesiastical places
was carried on with boundless audacity; benefices were put up to the
highest bidder, and Innocent III. admitted that fire and sword alone
could heal this plague.[1] Prelates who declined to be bought by
_propinæ_, fees, were held up as astounding exceptions![2]

"They are stones for understanding," it was said of the officers of the
Roman _curia_, "wood for justice, fire for wrath, iron for forgiveness;
deceitful as foxes, proud as bulls, greedy and insatiate as the
minotaur."[3] The praises showered upon Pope Eugenius III. for
rebuffing a priest who, at the beginning of a lawsuit, offered him a
golden mark, speak only too plainly as to the morals of Rome in this

The bishops, on their part, found a thousand methods, often most out of
keeping with their calling, for extorting money from the simple
priests.[5] Violent, quarrelsome, contentious, they were held up to
ridicule in popular ballads from one end of Europe to the other.[6] As
to the priests, they bent all their powers to accumulate benefices, and
secure inheritances from the dying, stooping to the most despicable
measures for providing for their bastards.[7]

The monastic orders were hardly more reputable. A great number of these
had sprung up in the eleventh and twelfth centuries; their reputation
for sanctity soon stimulated the liberality of the faithful, and thus
fatally brought about their own decadence. Few communities had shown the
discretion of the first monks of the Order of Grammont in the diocese of
Limoges. When Stephen de Muret, its founder, began to manifest his
sanctity by giving sight to a blind man, his disciples took alarm at the
thought of the wealth and notoriety which was likely to come to them
from this cause. Pierre of Limoges, who had succeeded Stephen as prior,
went at once to his tomb, praying:

    "O servant of God, thou hast shown us the way of poverty, and
    behold, thou wouldst make us leave the strait and difficult path
    of salvation, and wouldst set us in the broad road of eternal
    death. Thou hast preached to us (the virtues of) solitude, and
    thou art about to change this place into a fair and a
    market-place. We know well that thou art a saint! Thou hast no
    need to prove it to us by performing miracles which will destroy
    our humility. Be not so zealous for thy reputation as to augment
    it to the injury of our salvation. This is what we ask of thee,
    expecting it of thy love. If not, we declare unto thee by the
    obedience which we once owed to thee, we will unearth thy bones
    and throw them into the river."

Stephen obeyed up to the time of his canonization (1189), but from that
time forward ambition, avarice, and luxury made such inroads upon the
solitude of Grammont that its monks became the byword and scoff of the
Christian world.[8]

Pierre of Limoges was not entirely without reason in fearing that his
monastery would be transformed into a fair-ground; members of the
chapters of most of the cathedrals kept wine-shops literally under their
shadows, and certain monasteries did not hesitate to attract custom by
jugglers of all kinds and even by courtesans.[9]

To form an idea of the degradation of the greater number of the monks it
is not enough to read the oratorical and often exaggerated reproofs of
preachers obliged to strike hard in order to produce an effect. We must
run through the collection of bulls, where appeals to the court of Rome
against assassinations, violations, incests, adulteries, recur on
almost every page. It is easy to see that even an Innocent III. might
feel himself helpless and tempted to yield to discouragement, in the
face of so many ills.[10]

The best spirits were turning toward the Orient, asking themselves if
perchance the Greek Church might not suddenly come forward to purify all
these abuses, and receive for herself the inheritance of her sister.[11]

The clergy, though no longer respected, still overawed the people
through their superstitious terror of their power. Here and there might
have been perceived many a forewarning of direful revolts; the roads to
Rome were crowded with monks hastening to claim the protection of the
Holy See against the people among whom they lived. The Pope would
promptly declare an interdict, but it was not to be expected that such a
resource would avail forever.[12]

To maintain the privileges of the Church the papacy was often obliged to
spread the mantle of its protection over those who deserved it least.
Its clients were not always as interesting as the unfortunate
Ingelburge. It would be easier to give unreserved admiration to the
conduct of Innocent III. if in this matter one could feel certain that
his only interest was to maintain the cause of a poor abandoned woman.
But it is only too evident that he desired above all to keep up the
ecclesiastical immunities. This is very evident in his intervention in
favor of Waldemar, Bishop of Schleswig.

Yet we must not assume that all was corrupt in the bosom of the Church;
then, as always, the evil made more noise than the good, and the voices
of those who desired a reformation aroused only passing interest.

Among the populace there was superstition unimaginable; the pulpit,
which ought to have shed abroad some little light, was as yet open only
to the bishops, and the few pastors who did not neglect their duty in
this regard accomplished very little, being too much absorbed in other
duties. It was the birth of the mendicant orders which obliged the
entire body of secular clergy to take up the practice of preaching.

Public worship, reduced to liturgical ceremonies, no longer preserved
anything which appealed to the intelligence; it was more and more
becoming a sort of self-acting magic formula. Once upon this road, the
absurd was not far distant. Those who deemed themselves pious told of
miracles performed by relics with no need of aid from the moral act of

In one case a parrot, being carried away by a kite, uttered the
invocation dear to his mistress, "_Sancte Thoma adjuva me_," and was
miraculously rescued. In another, a merchant of Groningen, having
purloined an arm of St. John the Baptist, grew rich as if by enchantment
so long as he kept it concealed in his house, but was reduced to beggary
so soon as, his secret being discovered, the relic was taken away from
him and placed in a church.[13]

These stories, we must observe, do not come from ignorant enthusiasts,
hidden away in obscure country places; they are given us by one of the
most learned monks of his time, who relates them to a novice by way of
forming his mind!

Relics, then, were held to be neither more nor less than talismans. Not
alone did they perform miracles upon those who were in no special state
of faith or devotion, the more potent among them healed the sick in
spite of themselves. A chronicler relates that the body of Saint Martin
of Tours had in 887 been secretly transported to some remote hiding
place for fear of the Danish invasion. When the time came for bringing
it home again, there were in Touraine two impotent men who, thanks to
their infirmity, gained large sums by begging. They were thrown into
great terror by the tidings that the relics were being brought back:
Saint Martin would certainly heal them and take away their means of
livelihood. Their fears were only too well founded. They had taken to
flight, but being too lame to walk fast they had not yet crossed the
frontier of Touraine when the saint arrived and healed them!

Hundreds of similar stories might be collected, statistics might be made
up to show, at the accession of Innocent III., the greater number of
episcopal thrones occupied by unworthy bishops, the religious houses
peopled with idle and debauched monks; but would this give a truly
accurate picture of the Church at this epoch? I do not think so. In the
first place, we must reckon with the choice spirits, who were without
doubt more numerous than is generally supposed. Five righteous men would
have saved Sodom; the Almighty did not find them there, but he perhaps
might have found them had He Himself made search for them instead of
trusting to Lot. The Church of the thirteenth century had them, and it
was for their sakes that the whirlwind of heresy did not sweep it away.

But this is not all: the Church of that time offered a noble spectacle
of moral grandeur. We must learn to lift our eyes from the wretched
state of things which has just been pointed out and fix them on the
pontifical throne and recognize the beauty of the struggle there going
on: a power wholly spiritual undertaking to command the rulers of the
world, as the soul masters the body, and triumphing in the end. It is
true that both soldiers and generals of this army were often little
better than ruffians, but here again, in order to be just, we must
understand the end they aimed at.

In that iron age, when brute force was the only force, the Church,
notwithstanding its wounds, offered to the world the spectacle of
peasants and laboring men receiving the humble homage of the highest
potentates of earth, simply because, seated on the throne of Saint
Peter, they represented the moral law. This is why Alighieri and many
others before and after him, though they might heap curses on wicked
ministers, yet in the depths of their heart were never without an
immense compassion and an ardent love for the Church which they never
ceased to call their mother.

Still, everybody was not like them, and the vices of the clergy explain
the innumerable heresies of that day. All of them had a certain success,
from those which were simply the outcry of an outraged conscience, like
that of the Waldenses, to the most absurd of them all, like that of Eon
de l'Étoile. Some of these movements were for great and sacred causes;
but we must not let our sympathies be so moved by the persecutions
suffered by heretics as to cloud our judgment. It would have been better
had Rome triumphed by gentleness, by education and holiness, but
unhappily a soldier may not always choose his weapons, and when life is
at stake he seizes the first he finds within his reach. The papacy has
not always been reactionary and obscurantist; when it overthrew the
Cathari, for example, its victory was that of reason and good sense.

The list of the heresies of the thirteenth century is already long, but
it is increasing every day, to the great joy of those erudite ones who
are making strenuous efforts to classify everything in that tohu-bohu of
mysticism and folly. In that day heresy was very much alive; it was
consequently very complex and its powers of transformation infinite. One
may indicate its currents, mark its direction, but to go farther is to
condemn oneself to utter confusion in this medley of impulsive,
passionate, fantastic movements which were born, shot upward, and fell
to earth again, at the caprice of a thousand incomprehensible
circumstances. In certain counties of England there are at the present
day villages having as many as eight and ten places of worship for a few
hundreds of inhabitants. Many of these people change their denomination
every three or four years, returning to that they first quitted, leaving
it again only to enter it anew, and so on as long as they live. Their
leaders set the example, throwing themselves enthusiastically into each
new movement only to leave it before long. They would all alike find it
difficult to give an intelligible reason for these changes. They say
that the Spirit guides them, and it would be unfair to disbelieve them,
but the historian who should investigate conditions like these would
lose his head in the labyrinth unless he made a separate study of each
of these Protean movements. They are surely not worth the trouble.

In a somewhat similar condition was a great part of Christendom under
Innocent III.; but while the sects of which I have just spoken move in a
very narrow circle of dogmas and ideas, in the thirteenth century every
sort of excess followed in rapid succession. Without the slightest
pause of transition men passed through the most contradictory systems of
belief. Still, a few general characteristics may be observed; in the
first place, heresies are no longer metaphysical subtleties as in
earlier days; Arius and Priscillian, Nestorius and Eutychus are dead
indeed. In the second place, they no longer arise in the upper and
governing class, but proceed especially from the inferior clergy and the
common people. The blows which actually threatened the Church of the
Middle Ages were struck by obscure laboring men, by the poor and the
oppressed, who in their wretchedness and degradation felt that she had
failed in her mission.

No sooner was a voice uplifted, preaching austerity and simplicity, than
it drew together not the laity only, but members of the clergy as well.
Toward the close of the twelfth century we find a certain Pons rousing
all Perigord, preaching evangelical poverty before the coming of St.

Two great currents are apparent: on one side the Cathari, on the other,
innumerable sects revolting from the Church by very fidelity to
Christianity and the desire to return to the primitive Church.

Among the sects of the second category the close of the twelfth century
saw in Italy the rise of the _Poor Men_, who without doubt were a part
of the movement of Arnold of Brescia; they denied the efficacy of
sacraments administered by unworthy hands.[15]

A true attempt at reform was made by the Waldenses. Their history,
although better known, still remains obscure on certain sides; their
name, _Poor Men of Lyons_, recalls the former movement, with which they
were in close agreement, as also with the Humiliants. All these names
involuntarily suggest that by which St. Francis afterward called his
Order. The analogy between the inspiration of Peter Waldo and that of
St. Francis was so close that one might be tempted to believe the latter
a sort of imitation of the former. It would be a mistake: the same
causes produced in all quarters the same effects; ideas of reform, of a
return to gospel poverty, were in the air, and this helps us to
understand how it was that before many years the Franciscan preaching
reverberated through the entire world. If at the outset the careers of
these two men were alike, their later lives were very different. Waldo,
driven into heresy almost in spite of himself, was obliged to accept the
consequences of the premises which he himself had laid down;[16] while
Francis, remaining the obedient son of the Church, bent all his efforts
to develop the inner life in himself and his disciples. It is indeed
most likely that through his father Francis had become acquainted with
the movement of the _Poor Men of Lyons_. Hence his oft-repeated counsels
to his friars of the duty of submission to the clergy. When he went to
seek the approbation of Innocent III., it is evident that the prelates
with whom he had relations warned him, by the very example of Waldo, of
the dangers inherent in his own movement.[17]

The latter had gone to Rome in 1179, accompanied by a few followers, to
ask at the same time the approbation of their translation of the
Scriptures into the vulgar tongue and the permission to preach. They
were granted both requests on condition of gaining for their preaching
the authorization of their local clergy. Walter Map ([Cross] 1210), who was
charged with their examination, was constrained, while ridiculing their
simplicity, to admire their poverty and zeal for the apostolic life.[18]
Two or three years later they met a very different reception at Rome,
and in 1184 they were anathematized by the Council of Verona. From that
day nothing could stop them, even to the forming of a new Church. They
multiplied with a rapidity hardly exceeded afterward by the Franciscans.
By the end of the twelfth century we find them spread abroad from
Hungary to Spain; the first attempts to hunt them down were made in the
latter country. Other countries were at first satisfied with treating
them as excommunicated persons.

Obliged to hide themselves, reduced to the impossibility of holding
their chapters, which ought to have come together once or twice a year,
and which, had they done so, might have maintained among them a certain
unity of doctrine, the Waldenses rapidly underwent a change according to
their environment; some obstinately insisting upon calling themselves
good Catholics, others going so far as to preach the overthrow of the
hierarchy and the uselessness of sacraments.[19] Hence that multiplicity
of differing and even hostile branches which seemed to develop almost

A common persecution brought them nearer to the Cathari and favored the
fusion of their ideas. Their activity was inconceivable. Under pretext
of pilgrimages to Rome they were always on the road, simple and
insinuating. The methods of travel of that day were peculiarly favorable
to the diffusion of ideas. While retailing news to those whose
hospitality they received, they would speak of the unhappy state of the
Church and the reforms that were needed. Such conversations were a means
of apostleship much more efficacious than those of the present day, the
book and the newspaper; there is nothing like the _viva vox_[20] for
spreading thought.

Many vile stories have been told of the Waldenses; calumny is far too
facile a weapon not to tempt an adversary at bay. Thus they have been
charged with the same indecent promiscuities of which the early
Christians were accused. In reality their true strength was in their
virtues, which strongly contrasted with the vices of the clergy.

The most powerful and determined enemies of the Church were the Cathari.
Sincere, audacious, often learned and keen in argument, having among
them some choice spirits and men of great intellectual powers, they were
pre-eminently the heretics of the thirteenth century. Their revolt did
not bear upon points of detail and questions of discipline, like that of
the early Waldenses; it had a definite doctrinal basis, taking issue
with the whole body of Catholic dogma. But, although this heresy
flourished in Italy and under the very eyes of St. Francis, there is
need only to indicate it briefly. His work may have received many
infiltrations from the Waldensian movement, but Catharism was wholly
foreign to it.

This is naturally explained by the fact that St. Francis never consented
to occupy himself with questions of doctrine. For him faith was not of
the intellectual but the moral domain; it is the consecration of the
heart. Time spent in dogmatizing appeared to him time lost.

An incident in the life of Brother Egidio well brings out the slight
esteem in which theology was held by the early Brothers Minor. One day,
in the presence of St. Bonaventura, he cried, perhaps not without a
touch of irony, "Alas! what shall we ignorant and simple ones do to
merit the favor of God?" "My brother," replied the famous divine, "you
know very well that it suffices to love the Lord." "Are you very sure of
that?" replied Egidio; "do you believe that a simple woman might please
Him as well as a master in theology?" Upon the affirmative response of
his interlocutor, he ran out into the street and calling to a beggar
woman with all his might, "Poor old creature," he exclaimed, "rejoice,
for if you love God, you may have a higher place in the kingdom of
heaven than Brother Bonaventura!"[21]

The Cathari, then, had no direct influence upon St. Francis,[22] but
nothing could better prove the disturbance of thought at this epoch
than that resurrection of Manicheism. To what a depth of lassitude and
folly must religious Italy have fallen for this mixture of Buddhism,
Mazdeism, and gnosticism to have taken such hold upon it! The Catharist
doctrine rested upon the antagonism of two principles, one bad, the
other good. The first had created matter; the second, the soul, which,
for generation after generation passes from one body to another until it
achieves salvation. Matter is the cause and the seat of evil; all
contact with it constitutes a blemish,[23] consequently the Cathari
renounced marriage and property and advocated suicide. All this was
mixed up with most complicated cosmogonical myths.

Their adherents were divided into two classes--the pure or perfect, and
the believers, who were proselytes in the second degree, and whose
obligations were very simple. The adepts, properly so called, were
initiated by the ceremony of the _consolamentum_ or imposition of hands,
which induced the descent upon them of the Consoling Spirit. Among them
were enthusiasts who after this ceremony placed themselves in
_endura_--that is to say, they starved themselves to death in order not
to descend from this state of grace.

In Languedoc, where this sect went by the name of Albigenses, they had
an organization which embraced all Central Europe, and everywhere
supported flourishing schools attended by the children of the nobles. In
Italy they were hardly less powerful; Concorrezo, near Monza in
Lombardy, and Bagnolo, gave their names to two congregations slightly
different from those in Languedoc.[24]

But it was especially from Milan[25] that they spread abroad over all
the Peninsula, making proselytes even in the most remote districts of
Calabria. The state of anarchy prevailing in the country was very
favorable to them. The papacy was too much occupied in baffling the
spasmodic efforts of the Hohenstaufen, to put the necessary perseverance
and system into its struggles against heresy. Thus the new ideas were
preached under the very shadow of the Lateran; in 1209, Otho IV., coming
to Rome to be crowned, found there a school in which Manicheism was
publicly taught.[26]

With all his energy Innocent III. had not been able to check this evil
in the States of the Church. The case of Viterbo tells much of the
difficulty of repressing it; in March, 1199, the pope wrote to the
clergy and people of this town to recall to their minds, and at the same
time to increase, the penalties pronounced against heresy. For all that,
the Patarini had the majority in 1205, and succeeded in naming one of
themselves consul.[27]

The wrath of the pontiff at this event was unbounded; he fulminated a
bull menacing the city with fire and sword, and commanding the
neighboring towns to throw themselves upon her if within a fortnight she
had not given satisfaction.[28] It was all in vain: the Patarini were
dealt with only as a matter of form; it needed the presence of the pope
himself to assure the execution of his orders and obtain the demolition
of the houses of the heretics and their abettors (autumn of 1207).[29]

But stifled at one point the revolt burst out at a hundred others; at
this moment it was triumphant on all sides; at Ferrara, Verona, Rimini,
Florence, Prato, Faenza, Treviso, Piacenza. The clergy were expelled
from this last town, which remained more than three years without a

Viterbo is twenty leagues from Assisi, Orvieto only ten, and
disturbances in this town were equally grave. A noble Roman, Pietro
Parentio, the deputy of the Holy See in this place, endeavored to
exterminate the Patarini. He was assassinated.[31]

But Francis needed not to go even so far as Orvieto to become acquainted
with heretics. In Assisi the same things were going on as in the
neighboring cities. In 1203 this town had elected for podestà a heretic
named Giraldo di Gilberto, and in spite of warnings from Rome had
persisted in keeping him at the head of affairs until the expiration of
his term of office (1204). Innocent III., who had not yet been obliged
to use vigor with Viterbo, resorted to persuasion and despatched to
Umbria the Cardinal Leo di Santa Croce, who will appear more than once
in this history.[32] The successor of Giraldo and fifty of the principal
citizens made the _amende honorable_ and swore fidelity to the Church.

It is easy to perceive in what a state of ferment Italy was during these
early years of the thirteenth century. The moral discredit of the clergy
must have been deep indeed for souls to have turned toward Manicheism
with such ardor.

Italy may well be grateful to St. Francis; it was as much infected with
Catharism as Languedoc, and it was he who wrought its purification. He
did not pause to demonstrate by syllogisms or theological theses the
vanity of the Catharist doctrines; but soaring as on wings to the
religious life, he suddenly made a new ideal to shine out before the
eyes of his contemporaries, an ideal before which all these fantastic
sects vanished as birds of the night take flight at the first rays of
the sun.

A great part of St. Francis's power came to him thus through his
systematic avoidance of polemics. The latter is always more or less a
form of spiritual pride; it only deepens the chasm which it undertakes
to fill up. Truth needs not to be proved; it is its own witness.

The only weapon which he would use against the wicked was the holiness
of a life so full of love as to enlighten and revive those about him,
and compel them to love.[33] The disappearance of Catharism in Italy,
without an upheaval, and above all without the Inquisition, is thus an
indirect result of the Franciscan movement, and not the least important
among them.[34]

At the voice of the Umbrian reformer Italy roused herself, recovered her
good sense and fine temper; she cast out those doctrines of pessimism
and death, as a robust organism casts out morbid substances.

I have already endeavored to show the strong analogy between the initial
efforts of Francis and those of the Poor Men of Lyons. His thought
ripened in an atmosphere thoroughly saturated with their ideas;
unconsciously to himself they entered into his being.

The prophecies of the Calabrian abbot exerted upon him an influence
quite as difficult to appreciate, but no less profound.

Standing on the confines of Italy and as it were at the threshold of
Greece, Gioacchino di Fiore[35] was the last link in a chain of monastic
prophets, who during nearly four hundred years succeeded one another in
the monasteries and hermitages of Southern Italy. The most famous among
them had been St. Nilo, a sort of untamed John the Baptist, living in
desert places, but suddenly emerging from them when his duties of
maintaining the right called him elsewhere. We see him on one occasion
appearing in Rome itself, to announce to pope and emperor the unloosing
of the divine wrath.[36]

Scattered in the Alpine solitudes of Basilicata these Calabrian hermits
were continually obliged to retreat higher and higher into the mountain
fastnesses to escape the populace, who, pursued by pirates, were taking
refuge in these mountains. They thus passed their lives between heaven
and earth, with two seas for their horizon. Disquieted by fear of the
corsairs, and by the war-cries whose echoes reached even to them, they
turned their thoughts toward the future. The ages of great terror are
also the ages of great hope; it is to the captivity of Babylon that we
owe, with the second part of Isaiah, those pictures of the future which
have not yet ceased to charm the soul of man; Nero's persecutions gave
us the Apocalypse of St. John, and the paroxysms of the twelfth century
the eternal Gospel.

Converted after a life of dissipation, Gioacchino di Fiore travelled
extensively in the Holy Land, Greece, and Constantinople. Returning to
Italy he began, though a layman, to preach in the outskirts of Rende and
Cosenza. Later on he joined the Cistercians of Cortale, near Catanzaro,
and there took vows. Shortly after elected abbot of the monastery in
spite of refusal and even flight, he was seized after a few years with
the nostalgia of solitude, and sought from Pope Lucius III. a discharge
from his functions (1181), that he might consecrate all his time to the
works which he had in mind. The pope granted his request, and even
permitted him to go wherever he might deem best in the interest of his
work. Then began for Gioacchino a life of wandering from convent to
convent, which carried him even as far as Lombardy, to Verona, where we
find him with Pope Urban III.

When he returned to the south, a group of disciples gathered around him
to hear his explanations of the most obscure passages of the Bible.
Whether he would or no he was obliged to receive them, to talk with
them, to give them a rule, and, finally, to instal them in the very
heart of the Sila, the Black Forest of Italy,[37] over against the
highest peak, in gorges where the silence is interrupted only by the
murmurs of the Arvo and the Neto, which have their source not far from
there. The new Athos received the name of Fiore (flower), transparent
symbol of the hopes of its founder.[38] It was there that he put the
finishing touch to writings which, after fifty years of neglect, were to
become the starting-point of all heresies, and the aliment of all souls
burdened with the salvation of Christendom. The men of the first half of
the thirteenth century, too much occupied with other things, did not
perceive that the spiritual streams at which they were drinking
descended from the snowy mountain-tops of Calabria.

It is always thus with mystical influences. There is in them something
vague, tenuous, and penetrating which escapes an exact estimation. Let
two choice souls meet, and they will find it a difficult thing to
analyze and name the impressions which each has received from the other.
It is so with an epoch; it is not always those who speak to her the
oftenest and loudest whom she best understands; nor even those at whose
feet she sits, a faithful pupil, day after day. Sometimes, while on the
way to her accustomed masters, she suddenly meets a stranger; she barely
catches a few words of what he says; she knows not whence he comes nor
whither he goes; she never sees him again, but those few words of his go
on surging in the depths of her soul, agitating and disquieting her.

Thus it was for a long while with Gioacchino di Fiore. His teachings,
scattered here and there by enthusiastic disciples, were germinating
silently in many hearts.[39] Giving back hope to men, they restored to
them strength also. To think is already to act; alone under the shadow
of the hoary pines which surrounded his cell, the cenobite of Fiore was
laboring for the renovation of the Church with as much vigor as the
reformers who came after him.

He was, however, far from attaining the height of the prophets of
Israel; instead of soaring like them to the very heavens, he always
remained riveted to the text, upon which he commented in the allegorical
method, and whence by this method he brought out the most fantastic
improbabilities. A few pages of his books would wear out the most
patient reader, but in these fields, burnt over by theological arguments
more drying than the winds of the desert, fields where one at first
perceives only stones and thistles, one comes at last to the charming
oasis, with repose and dreams in its shade.

The exegesis of Gioacchino di Fiore in fact led up to a sort of
philosophy of history; its grand lines were calculated to make a
striking appeal to the imagination. The life of humanity is divided into
three periods: in the first, under the reign of the Father, men lived
under the rigor of the law; in the second, reigned over by the Son, men
live under the rule of grace; in the third, the Spirit shall reign and
men shall live in the plenitude of love. The first is the period of
servile obedience; the second, that of filial obedience; the third, that
of liberty. In the first, men lived in fear; in the second, they rest in
faith; in the third, they shall burn with love. The first saw the
shining of the stars; the second sees the whitening of the dawn; the
third will behold the glory of the day. The first produced nettles, the
second gives roses, the third will be the age of lilies.

If now we consider that in the thought of Gioacchino the third period,
the Age of the Spirit, was about to open, we shall understand with what
enthusiasm men hailed the words which restored joy to hearts still
disturbed with millenarian fears.

It is evident that St. Francis knew these radiant hopes. Who knows even
that it was not the Calabrian Seer who awoke his heart to its transports
of love? If this be so, Gioacchino was not merely his precursor; he was
his true spiritual father. However this may be, St. Francis found in
Gioacchino's thought many of the elements which, unconsciously to
himself, were to become the foundation of his institute.

The noble disdain which he shows for all men of learning, and which he
sought to inculcate upon his Order, was for Gioacchino one of the
characteristics of the new era. "The truth which remains hidden to the
wise," he says, "is revealed to babes; dialectics closes that which is
open, obscures that which is clear; it is the mother of useless talk, of
rivalries and blasphemy. Learning does not edify, and it may destroy, as
is proved by the scribes of the Church, swollen with pride and
arrogance, who by dint of reasoning fall into heresy."[40]

We have seen that the return to evangelical simplicity had become a
necessity; all the heretical sects were on this point in accord with
pious Catholics, but no one spoke in a manner so Franciscan as
Gioacchino di Fiore. Not only did he make voluntary poverty one of the
characteristics of the age of lilies, but he speaks of it in his pages
with so profound, so living an emotion, that St. Francis could do little
more than repeat his words. The ideal monk whom he describes,[41] whose
only property is a lyre, is a true Franciscan before the letter, him of
whom the _Poverello_ of Assisi always dreamed.

The feeling for nature also bursts forth in him with incomparable vigor.
One day he was preaching in a chapel which was plunged in almost total
darkness, the sky being quite overcast with clouds. Suddenly the clouds
broke away, the sun shone, the church was flooded with light. Gioacchino
paused, saluted the sun, intoned the _Veni Creator_, and led his
congregation out to gaze upon the landscape.

It would be by no means surprising if toward 1205 Francis should have
heard of this prophet, toward whom so many hearts were turning, this
anchorite who, gazing up into heaven, spoke with Jesus as a friend talks
with his friend, yet knew also how to come down to console men and warm
the faces of the dying at his own breast.

At the other end of Europe, in the heart of Germany, the same causes had
produced the same effects. From the excess of the people's sufferings
and the despair of religious souls was being born a movement of
apocalyptic mysticism which seemed to have secret communication with
that which was rousing the Peninsula. They had the same views of the
future, the same anxious expectation of new cataclysms, joined with a
prospect of a reviving of the Church.

"Cry with a loud voice," said her guardian angel to St. Elizabeth of
Schonau ([Cross] 1164), "cry to all nations: Woe! for the whole world has
become darkness. The Lord's vine has withered, there is no one to tend
it. The Lord has sent laborers, but they have all been found idle. The
head of the Church is ill and her members are dead.... Shepherds of my
Church, you are sleeping, but I shall awaken you! Kings of the earth,
the cry of your iniquity has risen even to me."[42]

"Divine justice," said St. Hildegarde ([Cross] 1178), "shall have its hour;
the last of the seven epochs symbolized by the seven days of creation
has arrived, the judgments of God are about to be accomplished; the
empire and the papacy, sunk into impiety, shall crumble away
together.... But upon their ruins shall appear a new nation of God, a
nation of prophets illuminated from on high, living in poverty and
solitude. Then the divine mysteries shall be revealed, and the saying
of Joel shall be fulfilled; the Holy Spirit shall shed abroad upon the
people the dew of his prophecies, of his wisdom and holiness; the
heathen, the Jews, the worldly and the unbelieving shall be converted
together, spring-time and peace shall reign over a regenerated world,
and the angels will return with confidence to dwell among men."

These hopes were not wholly confounded. In the evening of his days the
prophet of Fiore was able, like a new Simeon, to utter his _Nunc
dimittis_, and for a few years Christendom could turn in amazement to
Assisi as to a new Bethlehem.


   [1] Bull of June 8, 1198, _Quamvis_. Migne, i., col. 220;
       Potthast, 265.

   [2] For example, Pierre, Cardinal of St. Chryzogone and former
       Bishop of Meaux, who in a single election refused the dazzling
       offer of five hundred silver marks. Alexander III., Migne's
       edition, _epist._ 395.

   [3] _Fasciculus rerum expetend. et fugiend._, t. ii., 7, pp.
       254, 255 (Brown, 1690).

   [4] John of Salisbury, _Policrat._ Migne, v. 15.

   [5] Among their sources of revenue we find the right of
       _collagium_, by payment of which clerics acquired the right to
       keep a concubine. Pierre le Chantre, _Verb. abbrev._, 24.

   [6] Vide _Carmina Burana_, Breslau, 8vo, 1883; Political Songs
       of England, published by Th. Wright, London, 8vo, 1893; _Poésies
       populaires latines du moyen âge_, du Méril, Paris, 1847. See
       also Raynouard, _Lexique roman_, i., 446, 451, 464, the fine
       poems of the troubadour Pierre Cardinal, contemporary of St.
       Francis, upon the woes of the Church, and Dante, _Inferno_, xix.
       If one would gain an idea of what the bishop of a small city in
       those days cost his flock, he has only to read the bull of
       February 12, 1219, _Justis petentium_, addressed by Honorius
       III. to the Bishop of Terni, and including the contract by which
       the inhabitants of that city settled the revenues of the
       episcopal see. Horoy, t. iii., col. 114, or the _Bullarium
       romanum_, t. iii., p. 348, Turin.

   [7] _Conosco sacerdoti che fanno gli usura per formare un
       patrimonio da lasciare ai loro spurii; altri che tengono osteria
       coll' insegna del collare e vendono vino_ ... Salimbene,
       Cantarelli, Parma, 1882, 2 vols., 8vo, ii., p. 307.

   [8] Vide _Brevis historia Prior._ _Grandimont.--Stephani
       Tornacensis._ Epist. 115, 152, 153, 156, 162; Honorius III.,
       Horoy's edition, lib. i., 280, 284, 286-288; ii., 12, 130, 136,

   [9] Guérard, _Cartulaire de N. D. de Paris_, t. i., p. cxi; t.
       ii., p. 406. Cf. Honorius III., Bull _Inter statuta_ of July 25,
       1223, Horoy, t. iv., col. 401. See also canon 23 of the Council
       of Beziers, 1233; Guibert de Gemblours, _epist._ 5 and 6
       (Migne); Honorius III., lib. ix., 32, 81; ii., 193; iv., 10;
       iii., 253 and 258; iv., 33, 27, 70, 144; v., 56, 291, 420, 430;
       vi., 214, 132, 139, 204; vii., 127; ix., 51.

  [10] Vide Bull _Postquam vocante Domino_ of July 11, 1206.
       Potthast 2840.

  [11] V. _Annales Stadenses_ [_Monumenta Germaniæ historica,
       Scriptorum_, t. 16], _ad ann. 1237_. Among the comprehensive
       pictures of the situation of the Church in the thirteenth
       century, there is none more interesting than that left us by the
       Cardinal Jacques de Vitry in his _Historia occidentalis: Libri
       duo quorum prior Orientalis, alter Occidentalis historiæ nomine
       inscribitur Duaci_, 1597, 16mo. pp. 259-480.

  [12] V. Honorius III., Horoy's edition, lib. i., ep. 109, 125,
       135, 206, 273; ii., 128, 164; iv., 120, etc.

  [13] _Dialogus miraculorum_ of Cesar of Heisterbach [Strange's
       edition, Cologne, 1851, 2 vols., 8vo], t. ii., pp. 255 and 125.
       This book, with the Golden Legend of Giacomo di Varaggio, gives
       the best idea of the state of religious thought in the
       thirteenth century.

  [14] _Recueil des historiens de France._ Bouquet, t. xii., pp.
       550, 551.

  [15] Bonacorsi: _Vitæ hæreticorum_ [d'Achery, _Spicilegium_, t.
       i., p. 215] Cf. Lucius III., epist. 171, Migne.

  [16] Vide Bernard Gui, _Practica inquisitionis_, Douai edition,
       4to, Paris, 1886 p. 244 ff., and especially the Vatican MS.,
       2548, folio 71.

  [17] A chronicle of St. Francis's time makes this same
       comparison: Burchard, Abbot of Urspurg ([Cross] 1226) [_Burchardi et
       Cuonradi chronicon. Monum. Germ. hist. Script._, t. 23], has
       left us an account of the approbation of Francis by the Pope,
       all the more precious for being that of a contemporary. _Loc.
       cit._, p. 376.

  [18] _De nugis Curialium_, Dist. 1, cap. 31, p. 64, Wright's
       edition. Cf. _Chronique de Laon_, Bouquet xiii., p. 680.

  [19] See, for example, the letter of the Italian branch of the
       Poor Men of Lyons [_Pauperos Lombardi_] to their brethren of
       Germany, there called Leonistes. In it they show the points in
       which they are not in harmony with the French Waldenses.
       Published by Preger: _Abhandlungen der K. bayer. Akademie der
       Wiss. Hist. Cl._, t. xiii., 1875, p. 19 ff.

  [20] These continual journeyings sometimes gained for them the
       name of _Passagieni_, as in the south of France the preachers of
       certain sects are to-day called _Courriers_. The term, however,
       specially designates a Judaizing sect who returned to the
       literal observation of the Mosaic law: Döllinger, _Beiträge_, t.
       ii., pp. 327 and 375. They should therefore be identified with
       the _Circonsisi_ of the constitution of Frederic II.
       (Huillard-Bréholles, t. v., p. 280). See especially the fine
       monograph of M. C. Molinier: _Mémoires de l'Académie de
       Toulouse_, 1888.

  [21] A. SS., Aprilis, t. iii., p. 238d.

  [22] I would say that between the inspiration of Francis and the
       Catharian doctrines there is an irreconcilable opposition; but
       it would not be difficult to find acts and words of his which
       recall the contempt for matter of the Cathari; for example, his
       way of treating his body. Some of his counsels to the friars:
       _Unusquisque habet in potestate sua inimicum suum videlicit
       corpus, per quod peccat._ Assisi MS. 338, folio 20b. Conform.
       138, b. 2.--_Cum majorem inimicum corpore non habeam._ 2 Cel.,
       3, 63. These are momentary but inevitable obscurations, moments
       of forgetfulness, of discouragement, when a man is not himself,
       and repeats mechanically what he hears said around him. The real
       St. Francis is, on the contrary, the lover of nature, he who
       sees in the whole creation the work of divine goodness, the
       radiance of the eternal beauty, he who, in the Canticle of the
       Creatures, sees in the body not the Enemy but a brother: _Cæpit
       hilariter loqui ad corpus; Gaude, frater corpus._ 2 Cel., 3,

  [23] _Quodam die, dicta fabrissa dixit ipsi testi prægnanti,
       quod rogaret Deum, ut liberaret eam a Dæmone, quem habebat in
       ventre ... Gulielmus dixit quod ita magnum peccatum erat jacere
       cum uxore sua quam cum concubina._ Döllinger, _loc. cit._, pp.
       24, 35.

  [24] Those of the _Concorrezenses_ and _Bajolenses_. In Italy
       _Cathari_ becomes _Gazzari_; for that matter, each country had
       its special appellatives; one of the most general in the north
       was that of the _Bulgari_, which marks the oriental origin of
       the sect, whence the slang term Boulgres and its derivatives
       (vide Matthew Paris, ann. 1238). Cf. Schmit, _Histoire des
       Cathares_, 8vo, 2 vols, Paris, 1849.

  [25] The most current name in Italy was that of the _Patarini_,
       given them no doubt from their inhabiting the quarter of
       second-hand dealers in Milan: _la contrada dei Patari_, found in
       many cities. _Patari!_ is still the cry of the ragpickers in the
       small towns of Provence. In the thirteenth century Patarino and
       Catharo were synonyms. But before that the term Patarini had an
       entirely different sense. See the very remarkable study of M.
       Felice Tocco on this subject in his _Eresia net medio evo_,
       12mo, Florence, 1884.

  [26] Cesar von Heisterbach, _Dial. mirac._, t. i., p. 309,
       Strange's edition.

  [27] _Innocentii opera_, Migne, t. i., col. 537; t. ii., 654.

  [28] _Computruistis in peccatis sicut jumenta in stercore suo ut
       fumus ac fimus putrefactionis vestræ jam fere circumadjacentes
       regionis infecerit, ac ipsum Dominum ut credimus ad nauseam
       provocaverit._ _Loc. cit._, col. 654. Cf. 673; Potthast, 2532,

  [29] _Gesta Innocentii_, Migne, t. i., col. clxii. Cf. _epist._
       viii., 85 and 105.

  [30] Campi, _Historia Ecclesiastica di Piacenza_, parte ii., p.
       92 ff. Cf. _Innoc., epist._ ix., 131, 166-169; x., 54, 64, 222.

  [31] A. SS., Maii, t. v., p. 87.

  [32] Bull of June 6, 1205, Potthast, 2237; Migne, vii., 83. This
       Cardinal Leo (of the presbyterial title of Holy Cross of
       Jerusalem) was one most valued by Innocent III. To him and
       Ugolini, the future Gregory IX., he at this epoch confided the
       most delicate missions (for example, in 1209, they were named
       legates to Otho IV.). This embassy shows in what importance the
       pope held the affairs of Assisi, though it was a very small

  [33] Not once do we find him fighting heretics. The early
       Dominicans, on the contrary, are incessantly occupied with
       arguing. See 2 Cel., 3, 46.

  [34] It need not be said that I do not assert that no trace of
       it is to be found after the ministry of St. Francis, but it was
       no longer a force, and no longer endangered the very existence
       of the Church.

  [35] This strange personality will charm historians and
       philosophers for a long while to come. I know nothing more
       learned or more luminous than M. Felice Tocco's fine study in
       his _Eresia nel medio evo_, Florence, 1884, 1 vol., 12mo, pp.

  [36] A. SS., Sept., t. vii., p. 283 ff.

  [37] A. SS., Maii, vii.; Vincent de Beauvais, _Speculum
       historiale_, _lib._ 29, _cap._ 40. La Sila is a wooded mountain,
       situated eastward from Cosenza, which the peasants call _Monte
       Nero_. The summits are nearly 2,000 metres above the sea.

  [38] Toward 1195. Gioacchino died there, March 30, 1202.

  [39] A whole apochryphal literature has blossomed out around
       Gioacchino; certain hypercritics have tried to prove that he
       never wrote anything. These are exaggerations. Three large works
       are certainly authentic: _The Agreement of the Old and New
       Testaments_, _The Commentary on the Apocalypse_, and _The
       Psaltery of Ten Strings_, published in Venice, the first in
       1517, the two others in 1527. His prophecies were so well known,
       even in his lifetime, that an English Cistercian, Rudolph, Abbot
       of Coggeshall ([Cross] 1228), coming to Rome in 1195, sought a
       conference with him and has left us an interesting account of
       it. Martène, _Amplissima Collectio_, t. v., p. 839.

  [40] _Comm. in apoc._, folio 78, b. 2.

  [41] _Qui vere monachus est nihil reputat esse suum nisi
       citharam:_ Apoc., ib., folio 183. a. 2.

  [42] E. Roth, _Die Visionen der heiligen Elisabeth von Schönau_:
       Brünn, 1884, pp. 115-117.

       *       *       *       *       *



Spring of 1206-February 24, 1209

The biographies of St. Francis have preserved to us an incident which
shows how great was the religious ferment even in the little city of
Assisi. A stranger was seen to go up and down the streets saying to
every one he met, "Peace and welfare!" (_Pax et bonum._)[1] He thus
expressed in his own way the disquietude of those hearts which could
neither resign themselves to perpetual warfare nor to the disappearance
of faith and love; artless echo, vibrating in response to the hopes and
fears that were shaking all Europe!

_"Vox clamantis in deserto!"_ it will be said. No, for every heart-cry
leaves its trace even when it seems to be uttered in empty air, and that
of the Unknown of Assisi may have contributed in some measure to
Francis's definitive call.

Since his abrupt return from Spoleto, life in his father's house had
become daily more difficult. Bernardone's self-love had received from
his son's discomfiture such a wound as with commonplace men is never
healed. He might provide, without counting it, money to be swallowed up
in dissipation, that so his son might stand on an equal footing with the
young nobles; he could never resign himself to see him giving with
lavish hands to every beggar in the streets.

Francis, continually plunged in reverie and spending his days in lonely
wanderings in the fields, was no longer of the least use to his father.
Months passed, and the distance between the two men grew ever wider; and
the gentle and loving Pica could do nothing to prevent a rupture which
from this time appeared to be inevitable. Francis soon came to feel only
one desire, to flee from the abode where, in the place of love, he found
only reproaches, upbraidings, anguish.

The faithful confidant of his earlier struggles had been obliged to
leave him, and this absolute solitude weighed heavily upon his warm and
loving heart. He did what he could to escape from it, but no one
understood him. The ideas which he was beginning timidly to express
evoked from those to whom he spoke only mocking smiles or the
head-shakings which men sure that they are right bestow upon him who is
marching straight to madness. He even went to open his mind to the
bishop, but the latter understood no more than others his vague,
incoherent plans, filled with ideas impossible to realize and possibly
subversive.[2] It was thus that in spite of himself Francis was led to
ask nothing of men, but to raise himself by prayer to intuitive
knowledge of the divine will. The doors of houses and of hearts were
alike closing upon him, but the interior voice was about to speak out
with irresistible force and make itself forever obeyed.

Among the numerous chapels in the suburbs of Assisi there was one which
he particularly loved, that of St. Damian. It was reached by a few
minutes' walk over a stony path, almost trackless, under olive trees,
amid odors of lavender and rosemary. Standing on the top of a hillock,
the entire plain is visible from it, through a curtain of cypresses and
pines which seem to be trying to hide the humble hermitage and set up
an ideal barrier between it and the world.

Served by a poor priest who had scarcely the wherewithal for necessary
food, the sanctuary was falling into ruin. There was nothing in the
interior but a simple altar of masonry, and by way of reredos one of
those byzantine crucifixes still so numerous in Italy, where through the
work of the artists of the time has come down to us something of the
terrors which agitated the twelfth century. In general the Crucified
One, frightfully lacerated, with bleeding wounds, appears to seek to
inspire only grief and compunction; that of St. Damian, on the contrary,
has an expression of inexpressible calm and gentleness; instead of
closing the eyelids in eternal surrender to the weight of suffering, it
looks down in self-forgetfulness, and its pure, clear gaze says, not "_I
suffer_," but, "_Come unto me_."[3]

One day Francis was praying before the poor altar: "Great and glorious
God, and thou, Lord Jesus, I pray ye, shed abroad your light in the
darkness of my mind.... Be found of me, Lord, so that in all things I
may act only in accordance with thy holy will."[4]

Thus he prayed in his heart, and behold, little by little it seemed to
him that his gaze could not detach itself from that of Jesus; he felt
something marvellous taking place in and around him. The sacred victim
took on life, and in the outward silence he was aware of a voice which
softly stole into the very depths of his heart, speaking to him an
ineffable language. Jesus accepted his oblation. Jesus desired his
labor, his life, all his being, and the heart of the poor solitary was
already bathed in light and strength.[5]

This vision marks the final triumph of Francis. His union with Christ is
consummated; from this time he can exclaim with the mystics of every
age, "My beloved is mine, and I am his."

But instead of giving himself up to transports of contemplation he at
once asks himself how he may repay to Jesus love for love, in what
action he shall employ this life which he has just offered to him. He
had not long to seek. We have seen that the chapel where his spiritual
espousals had just been celebrated was threatened with ruin. He believed
that to repair it was the work assigned to him.

From that day the remembrance of the Crucified One, the thought of the
love which had triumphed in immolating itself, became the very centre of
his religious life and as it were the soul of his soul. For the first
time, no doubt, Francis had been brought into direct, personal, intimate
contact with Jesus Christ; from belief he had passed to faith, to that
living faith which a distinguished thinker has so well defined: "To
believe is to look; it is a serious, attentive, and prolonged look; a
look more simple than that of observation, a look which looks, and
nothing more; artless, infantine, it has all the soul in it, it is a
look of the soul and not the mind, a look which does not seek to analyze
its object, but which receives it as a whole into the soul through the
eyes." In these words Vinet unconsciously has marvellously characterized
the religious temperament of St. Francis.

This look of love cast upon the crucifix, this mysterious colloquy with
the compassionate victim, was never more to cease. At St. Damian, St.
Francis's piety took on its outward appearance and its originality. From
this time his soul bears the stigmata, and as his biographers have said
in words untranslatable, _Ab illa hora vulneratum et liquefactum est
cor ejus ed memoriam Dominicæ passionis._[6]

From that time his way was plain before him. Coming out from the
sanctuary, he gave the priest all the money he had about him to keep a
lamp always burning, and with ravished heart he returned to Assisi. He
had decided to quit his father's house and undertake the restoration of
the chapel, after having broken the last ties that bound him to the
past. A horse and a few pieces of gayly colored stuffs were all that he
possessed. Arrived at home he made a packet of the stuffs, and mounting
his horse he set out for Foligno. This city was then as now the most
important commercial town of all the region. Its fairs attracted the
whole population of Umbria and the Sabines. Bernardone had often taken
his son there,[7] and Francis speedily succeeded in selling all he had
brought. He even parted with his horse, and full of joy set out upon the
road to Assisi.[8]

This act was to him most important; it marked his final rupture with the
past; from this day on his life was to be in all points the opposite of
what it had been; the Crucified had given himself to him; he on his side
had given himself to the Crucified without reserve or return. To
uncertainty, disquietude of soul, anguish, longing for an unknown good,
bitter regrets, had succeeded a delicious calm, the ecstasy of the lost
child who finds his mother, and forgets in a moment the torture of his

From Foligno he returned direct to St. Damian; it was not necessary to
pass through the city, and he was in haste to put his projects into

The poor priest was surprised enough when Francis handed over to him the
whole product of his sale. He doubtless thought that a passing quarrel
had occurred between Bernardone and his son, and for greater prudence
refused the gift; but Francis so insisted upon remaining with him that
he finally gave him leave to do so. As to the money, now become useless,
Francis cast it as a worthless object upon a window-seat in the

Meanwhile Bernardone, disturbed by his son's failure to return, sought
for him in all quarters, and was not long in learning of his presence at
St. Damian. In a moment he perceived that Francis was lost to him.
Resolved to try every means, he collected a few neighbors, and furious
with rage hastened to the hermitage to snatch him away, if need were, by
main force.

But Francis knew his father's violence. When he heard the shouts of
those who were in pursuit of him he felt his courage fail and hurried to
a hiding-place which he had prepared for himself for precisely such an
emergency. Bernardone, no doubt ill seconded in the search, ransacked
every corner, but was obliged at last to return to Assisi without his
son. Francis remained hidden for long days, weeping and groaning,
imploring God to show him the path he ought to follow. Notwithstanding
his fears he had an infinite joy at heart, and at no price would he have
turned back.[10]

This seclusion could not last long. Francis perceived this, and told
himself that for a newly made knight of the Christ he was cutting a very
pitiful figure. Arming himself, therefore, with courage, he went one day
to the city to present himself before his father and make known to him
his resolution.

It is easy to imagine the changes wrought in his appearance by these
few weeks of seclusion, passed much of them in mental anguish. When he
appeared, pale, cadaverous, his clothes in tatters, upon what is now the
_Piazza Nuova_, where hundreds of children play all day long, he was
greeted with a great shout, "_Pazzo, Pazzo_!" (A madman! a madman!) "_Un
pazzo ne fa cento_" (One madman makes a hundred more), says the proverb,
but one must have seen the delirious excitement of the street children
of Italy at the sight of a madman to gain an idea how true it is. The
moment the magic cry resounds they rush into the street with frightful
din, and while their parents look on from the windows, they surround the
unhappy sufferer with wild dances mingled with songs, shouts, and savage
howls. They throw stones at him, fling mud upon him, blindfold him; if
he flies into a rage, they double their insults; if he weeps or begs for
pity, they repeat his cries and mimic his sobs and supplications without
respite and without mercy.[11]

Bernardone soon heard the clamor which filled the narrow streets, and
went out to enjoy the show; suddenly he thought he heard his own name
and that of his son, and bursting with shame and rage he perceived
Francis. Throwing himself upon him, as if to throttle him, he dragged
him into the house and cast him, half dead, into a dark closet. Threats,
bad usage, everything was brought to bear to change the prisoner's
resolves, but all in vain. At last, wearied out and desperate, he left
him in peace, though not without having firmly bound him.[12]

A few days after he was obliged to be absent for a short time. Pica, his
wife, understood only too well his grievances against Francis, but
feeling that violence would be of no avail she resolved to try
gentleness. It was all in vain. Then, not being able longer to see him
thus tortured, she set him at liberty.

He returned straight to St. Damian.[13]

Bernardone, on his return, went so far as to strike Pica in punishment
for her weakness. Then, unable to tolerate the thought of seeing his son
the jest of the whole city, he tried to procure his expulsion from the
territory of Assisi. Going to St. Damian he summoned him to leave the
country. This time Francis did not try to hide. Boldly presenting
himself before his father, he declared to him that not only would
nothing induce him to abandon his resolutions, but that, moreover,
having become the servant of Christ, he had no longer to receive orders
from him.[14] As Bernardone launched out into invective, reproaching
him with the enormous sums which he had cost him, Francis showed him by
a gesture the money which he had brought back from the sale at Foligno
lying on the window-ledge. The father greedily seized it and went away,
resolving to appeal to the magistrates.

The consuls summoned Francis to appear before them, but he replied
simply that as servant of the Church he did not come under their
jurisdiction. Glad of this response, which relieved them of a delicate
dilemma, they referred the complainant to the diocesan authorities.[15]

The matter took on another aspect before the ecclesiastical tribunal; it
was idle to dream of asking the bishop to pronounce a sentence of
banishment, since it was his part to preserve the liberty of the
clerics. Bernardone could do no more than disinherit his son, or at
least induce him of his own accord to renounce all claim upon his
inheritance. This was not difficult.

When called upon to appear before the episcopal tribunal[16] Francis
experienced a lively joy; his mystical espousals to the Crucified One
were now to receive a sort of official consecration. To this Jesus, whom
he had so often blasphemed and betrayed by word and conduct, he would
now be able with equal publicity to promise obedience and fidelity.

It is easy to imagine the sensation which all this caused in a small
town like Assisi, and the crowd that on the appointed day pressed toward
the Piazza of Santa Maria Maggiore, where the bishop pronounced
sentence.[17] Every one held Francis to be assuredly mad, but they
anticipated with relish the shame and rage of Bernardone, whom every one
detested, and whose pride was so well punished by all this.

The bishop first set forth the case, and advised Francis to simply give
up all his property. To the great surprise of the crowd the latter,
instead of replying, retired to a room in the bishop's palace, and
immediately reappeared absolutely naked, holding in his hand the packet
into which he had rolled his clothes; these he laid down before the
bishop with the little money that he still had kept, saying: "Listen,
all of you, and understand it well; until this time I have called Pietro
Bernardone my father, but now I desire to serve God. This is why I
return to him this money, for which he has given himself so much
trouble, as well as my clothing, and all that I have had from him, for
from henceforth I desire to say nothing else than '_Our Father, who art
in heaven_.'"

A long murmur arose from the crowd when Bernardone was seen to gather up
and carry off the clothing without the least evidence of compassion,
while the bishop was fain to take under his mantle the poor Francis,
who was trembling with emotion and cold.[18]

The scene of the judgment hall made an immense impression; the ardor,
simplicity, and indignation of Francis had been so profound and sincere
that scoffers were disconcerted. On that day he won for himself a secret
sympathy in many souls. The populace loves such abrupt conversions, or
those which it considers such. Francis once again forced himself upon
the attention of his fellow-citizens with a power all the greater for
the contrast between his former and his new life.

There are pious folk whose modesty is shocked by the nudity of Francis;
but Italy is not Germany nor England, and the thirteenth century would
have been astonished indeed at the prudery of the Bollandists. The
incident is simply a new manifestation of Francis's character, with its
ingenuousness, its exaggerations, its longing to establish a complete
harmony, a literal correspondence, between words and actions.

After emotions such as he had just experienced he felt the need of being
alone, of realizing his joy, of singing the liberty he had finally
achieved along all the lines where once he had so deeply suffered, so
ardently struggled. He would not, therefore, return immediately to St.
Damian. Leaving the city by the nearest gate, he plunged into the
deserted paths which climb the sides of Mount Subasio.

It was the early spring. Here and there were still great drifts of snow,
but under the ardor of the March sun winter seemed to own itself
vanquished. In the midst of this mysterious and bewildering harmony the
heart of Francis felt a delicious thrill, all his being was calmed and
uplifted, the soul of things caressed him gently and shed upon him
peace. An unwonted happiness swept over him; he made the forest to
resound with his hymns of praise.

Men utter in song emotions too sweet or too deep to be expressed in
ordinary language, but unworded music is in this respect superior to
song, it is above all things the language of the ineffable. Song gains
almost the same value when the words are only there as a support for the
voice. The great beauty of the psalms and hymns of the Church lies in
the fact that being sung in an unknown tongue they make no appeal to the
intelligence; they say nothing, but they express everything with
marvellous modulations like a celestial accompaniment, which follows the
believer's emotions from the most agonizing struggles to the most
unspeakable ecstasies.

So Francis went on his way, deeply inhaling the odors of spring, singing
at the top of his voice one of those songs of French chivalry which he
had learned in days gone by.

The forest in which he was walking was the usual retreat of such people
of Assisi and its environs as had any reason for hiding. Some ruffians,
aroused by his voice, suddenly fell upon him. "Who are you?" they asked.
"I am the herald of the great King," he answered "but what is that to

His only garment was an old mantle which the bishop's gardener had lent
him at his master's request. They stripped it from him, and throwing him
into a ditch full of snow, "There is your place, poor herald of God,"
they said.

The robbers gone, he shook off the snow which covered him, and after may
efforts succeeded in extricating himself from the ditch. Stiff with
cold, with no other covering than a worn-out shirt, he none the less
resumed his singing, happy to suffer and thus to accustom himself the
better to understand the words of the Crucified One.[19]

Not far away was a monastery. He entered and offered his services. In
those solitudes, peopled often by such undesirable neighbors, people
were suspicious. The monks permitted him to make himself useful in the
kitchen, but they gave him nothing to cover himself with and hardly
anything to eat. There was nothing for it but to go away; he directed
his steps toward Gubbio, where he knew that he should find a friend.
Perhaps this was he who had been his confidant on his return from
Spoleto. However this may be, he received from him a tunic, and a few
days after set out to return to his dear St. Damian.[20]

He did not, however, go directly thither; before beginning to restore
the little sanctuary, he desired to see again his friends, the lepers,
to promise them that he would love them even better than in the past.

Since his first visit to the leper-house the brilliant cavalier had
become a poor beggar; he came with empty hands but with heart
overflowing with tenderness and compassion. Taking up his abode in the
midst of these afflicted ones he lavished upon them the most touching
care, washing and wiping their sores, all the more gentle and radiant as
their sores were more repulsive.[21] The neglected sufferer is as much
blinded by love of him who comes to visit him as the child by its love
for its mother. He believes him to be all powerful; at his approach the
most painful sufferings are eased or disappear.

This love inspired by the sympathy of an affectionate heart may become
so deep as to appear at times supernatural; the dying have been known to
recover consciousness in order to look for the last time into the face,
not of some member of the family, but of the friend who has tried to be
the sunshine of their last days. The ties of pure love are stronger than
the bonds of flesh and blood. Francis had many a time sweet experience
of this; from the time of his arrival at the leper-house he felt that if
he had lost his life he was about to find it again.

Encouraged by his sojourn among the lepers, he returned to St. Damian
and went to work, filled with joy and ardor, his heart as much in the
sunshine as the Umbrian plain in this beautiful month of May. After
having fashioned for himself a hermit's dress, he began to go into the
squares and open places of the city. There having sung a few hymns, he
would announce to those who gathered around him his project of restoring
the chapel. "Those who will give me one stone," he would add with a
smile, "shall have a reward; those who give me two shall have two
rewards, and those who give me three shall have three."

Many deemed him mad, but others were deeply moved by the remembrance of
the past. As for Francis, deaf to mockery, he spared himself no labor,
carrying upon his shoulders, so ill-fitted for severe toil, the stones
which were given him.[22]

During this time the poor priest of St. Damian felt his heart swelling
with love for this companion who had at first caused him such
embarrassment, and he strove to prepare for him his favorite dishes.
Francis soon perceived it. His delicacy took alarm at the expense which
he caused his friend, and, thanking him, he resolved to beg his food
from door to door.

It was not an easy task. The first time, when at the end of his round he
glanced at the broken food in his wallet, he felt his courage fail him.
But the thought of being so soon unfaithful to the spouse to whom he had
plighted his faith made his blood run cold with shame and gave him
strength to eat ravenously.[23]

Each hour, so to speak, brought to him a new struggle. One day he was
going through the town begging for oil for the lamps of St. Damian, when
he arrived at a house where a banquet was going on; the greater number
of his former companions were there, singing and dancing. At the sound
of those well-known voices he felt as if he could not enter; he even
turned away, but very soon, filled with confusion by his own cowardice,
he returned quickly upon his steps, made his way into the banquet-hall,
and after confessing his shame, put so much earnestness and fire into
his request that every one desired to co-operate in this pious

His bitterest trial however was his father's anger, which remained as
violent as ever. Although he had renounced Francis, Bernardone's pride
suffered none the less at seeing his mode of life, and whenever he met
his son he overwhelmed him with reproaches and maledictions. The tender
heart of Francis was so wrung with sorrow that he resorted to a sort of
stratagem for charming away the spell of the paternal imprecations.
"Come with me," he said to a beggar; "be to me as a father, and I will
give you a part of the alms which I receive. When you see Bernardone
curse me, if I say, 'Bless me, my father,' you must sign me with the
cross and bless me in his stead."[25] His brother was prominent in the
front rank of those who harassed him with their mockeries. One winter
morning they met in a church; Angelo leaned over to a friend who was
with him, saying: "Go, ask Francis to sell you a farthing's worth of his
sweat." "No," replied the latter, who overheard. "I shall sell it much
dearer to my God."

In the spring of 1208 he finished the restoration of St. Damian; he had
been aided by all people of good will, setting the example of work and
above all of joy, cheering everybody by his songs and his projects for
the future. He spoke with such enthusiasm and contagious warmth of the
transformation of his dear chapel, of the grace which God would accord
to those who should come there to pray, that later on it was believed
that he had spoken of Clara and her holy maidens who were to retire to
this place four years later.[26]

This success soon inspired him with the idea of repairing the other
sanctuaries in the suburbs of Assisi. Those which had struck him by
their state of decay were St. Peter and Santa Maria, of the
_Portiuncula_, called also Santa Maria degli Angeli. The former is not
otherwise mentioned in his biographies.[27] As to the second, it was to
become the true cradle of the Franciscan movement.

This chapel, still standing at the present day after escaping
revolutions and earthquakes, is a true Bethel, one of those rare spots
in the world on which rests the mystic ladder which joins heaven to
earth; there were dreamed some of the noblest dreams which have soothed
the pains of humanity. It is not to Assisi in its marvellous basilica
that one must go to divine and comprehend St. Francis; he must turn his
steps to Santa Maria degli Angeli at the hours when the stated prayers
cease, at the moment when the evening shadows lengthen, when all the
fripperies of worship disappear in the obscurity, when all the nation
seems to collect itself to listen to the chime of the distant church
bells. Doubtless it was Francis's plan to settle there as a hermit. He
dreamed of passing his life there in meditation and silence, keeping up
the little church and from time to time inviting a priest there to say
mass. Nothing as yet suggested to him that he was in the end to become a
religious founder. One of the most interesting aspects of his life is in
fact the continual development revealing itself in him; he is of the
small number to whom to live is to be active, and to be active to make
progress. There is hardly anyone, except St. Paul, in whom is found to
the same degree the devouring need of being always something more,
always something better, and it is so beautiful in both of them only
because it is absolutely instinctive.

When he began to restore the Portiuncula his projects hardly went beyond
a very narrow horizon; he was preparing himself for a life of penitence
rather than a life of activity. But these works once finished it was
impossible that this somewhat selfish and passive manner of achieving
his own salvation should satisfy him long. At the memory of the
appearance of the Crucified One his heart would swell with overpowering
emotions, and he would melt into tears without knowing whether they were
of admiration, pity, or desire.[28]

When the repairs were finished meditation occupied the greater part of
his days. A Benedictine of the Abbey of Mont Subasio[29] came from time
to time to say mass at Santa Maria; these were the bright hours of St.
Francis's life. One can imagine with what pious care he prepared himself
and with what faith he listened to the divine teachings.

One day, it was probably February 24, 1209, the festival of St.
Matthias, mass was being celebrated at the Portiuncula.[30] When the
priest turned toward him to read the words of Jesus, Francis felt
himself overpowered with a profound agitation. He no longer saw the
priest; it was Jesus, the Crucified One of St. Damian, who was speaking:
"Wherever ye go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal
the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. Freely ye have received,
freely give. Provide neither silver nor gold nor brass in your purses,
neither scrip nor two coats, nor shoes nor staff, for the laborer is
worthy of his meat.'"

These words burst upon him like a revelation, like the answer of Heaven
to his sighs and anxieties.

"This is what I want," he cried, "this is what I was seeking; from this
day forth I shall set myself with all my strength to put it in
practice." Immediately throwing aside his stick, his scrip, his purse,
his shoes, he determined immediately to obey, observing to the letter
the precepts of the apostolic life.

It is quite possible that some allegorizing tendencies have had some
influence upon this narrative.[31] The long struggle through which
Francis passed before becoming the apostle of the new times assuredly
came to a crisis in the scene at Portiuncula; but we have already seen
how slow was the interior travail which prepared for it.

The revelation of Francis was in his heart; the sacred fire which he was
to communicate to the souls of others came from within his own, but the
best causes need a standard. Before the shabby altar of the Portiuncula
he had perceived the banner of poverty, sacrifice, and love, he would
carry it to the assault of every fortress of sin; under its shadow, a
true knight of Christ, he would marshal all the valiant warriors of a
spiritual strife.


   [1] 3 Soc., 26.

   [2] 3 Soc., 10.

   [3] This crucifix is preserved in the sacristy of Santa Chiara,
       whither the sisters carried it when they left St. Damian.

   [4] _Opuscula B. Francisci, Oratio I._

   [5] 3 Soc., 13; 2 Cel., 1, 6; Bon., 12; 15; 16.

   [6] 3 Soc., 14.

   [7] This incident is found in the narrative of 1 Cel., 8: _Ibi
       ex more venditis_.

   [8] 1 Cel., 8; 3 Soc., 16; Bon. 16. Foligno is a three hours'
       walk from Assisi.

   [9] 1 Cel., 9; 3 Soc., 16; Bon., 6. Cf. A. SS., p. 567.

  [10] 1 Cel., 10; 3 Soc., 16; Bon., 17, A. SS.; p. 568.

  [11] 1 Cel., 11.

  [12] 1 Cel., 12; 3 Soc., 17; Bon., 18.

  [13] 1 Cel., 13; 3 Soc., 18.

  [14] 1 Cel., 13. It is possible that at this epoch he had
       received the lesser order, and that thus he might be subject to
       the jurisdiction of the Church.

  [15] 3 Soc., 18 and 19; 1 Cel., 14; Bon., 19.

  [16] From 1204 until after the death of St. Francis the
       episcopal throne of Assisi was occupied by Guido II. Vide
       Cristofano, 1, 169 ff.

  [17] _Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore o del vescovado._
       Everything has remained pretty nearly in the same state as in
       the thirteenth century.

  [18] 1 Cel., 15; 3 Soc., 20; Bon., 20.

  [19] 3 Soc., 16; Bon., 21.

  [20] 1 Cel., 16; Bon., 21. The curious will read with interest
       an article by M. Mezzatinti upon the journey to Gubbio entitled
       _S. Francesco e Frederico Spadalunga da Gubbio_. [Miscellanea,
       t. v., pp. 76-78.] This Spadalunga da Gubbio was well able to
       give a garment to Francis, but it is very possible that the gift
       was made much later and that this solemn date in the saint's
       life has been fixed by an optical illusion, almost inevitable
       because of the identity of the fact with the name of the

  [21] 1 Cel., 17; Bon., 11; 13; 21; 22; 3 Soc., 11; A. SS., p.

  [22] 1 Cel., 18; 3 Soc., 21; Bon., 23.

  [23] 3 Soc., 22; 2 Cel., 1, 9.

  [24] 3 Soc., 24; 2 Cel., 8; _Spec._, 24.

  [25] 3 Soc., 23; 2 Cel., 7.

  [26] 3 Soc., 24; _Testament de Claire_, Wadding, _ann. 1253_ v.

  [27] Cel., 21; Bon., 24.

  [28] 3 Soc., 14; 2 Cel., i., 6.

  [29] Portiuncula was a dependence of this abbey.

  [30] This is the date adopted by the Bollandists, because the
       ancient missals mark the pericope, Matt. x., for the gospel of
       this day. This entails no difficulty and in any case it cannot
       be very far distant from the truth. A. SS., p. 574.

  [31] See in particular Bon., 25 and 26. Cf. A. SS., p. 577d.

       *       *       *       *       *



Spring of 1209-Summer of 1210

The very next morning Francis went up to Assisi and began to preach. His
words were simple, but they came so straight from the heart that all who
heard him were touched.

It is not easy to hear and apply to one's self the exhortations of
preachers who, aloft in the pulpit, seem to be carrying out a mere
formality; it is just as difficult to escape from the appeals of a
layman who walks at our side. The amazing multitude of Protestant sects
is due in a great degree to this superiority of lay preaching over
clerical. The most brilliant orators of the Christian pulpit are bad
converters; their eloquent appeals may captivate the imagination and
lead a few men of the world to the foot of the altar, but these results
are not more brilliant than ephemeral. But let a peasant or a workingman
speak to those whom he meets a few simple words going directly to the
conscience, and the man is always impressed, often won.

Thus the words of Francis seemed to his hearers like a flaming sword
penetrating to the very depths of their conscience. His first attempts
were the simplest possible; in general they were merely a few words
addressed to men whom he knew well enough to recognize their weak points
and strike at them with the holy boldness of love. His person, his
example, were themselves a sermon, and he spoke only of that which he
had himself experienced, proclaiming repentance, the shortness of life,
a future retribution, the necessity of arriving at gospel
perfection.[1] It is not easy to realize how many waiting souls there
are in this world. The greater number of men pass through life with
souls asleep. They are like virgins of the sanctuary who sometimes feel
a vague agitation; their hearts throb with an infinitely sweet and
subtile thrill, but their eyelids droop; again they feel the damp cold
of the cloister creeping over them; the delicious but baneful dream
vanishes; and this is all they ever know of that love which is stronger
than death.

It is thus with many men for all that belongs to the higher life.
Sometimes, alone in the wide plain at the hour of twilight, they fix
their eyes on the fading lights of the horizon, and on the evening
breeze comes to them another breath, more distant, fainter, and almost
heavenly, awaking in them a nostalgia for the world beyond and for
holiness. But the darkness falls, they must go back to their homes; they
shake off their reverie; and it often happens that to the very end of
life this is their only glimpse of the Divine; a few sighs, a few
thrills, a few inarticulate murmurs--this sums up all our efforts to
attain to the sovereign good.

Yet the instinct for love and for the divine is only slumbering. At the
sight of beauty love always awakes; at the appeal of holiness the divine
witness within us at once responds; and so we see, streaming from all
points of the horizon to gather around those who preach in the name of
the inward voice, long processions of souls athirst for the ideal. The
human heart so naturally yearns to offer itself up, that we have only to
meet along our pathway some one who, doubting neither himself nor us,
demands it without reserve, and we yield it to him at once. Reason may
understand a partial gift, a transient devotion; the heart knows only
the entire sacrifice, and like the lover to his beloved, it says to its
vanquisher, "Thine alone and forever."

That which has caused the miserable failure of all the efforts of
natural religion is that its founders have not had the courage to lay
hold upon the hearts of men, consenting to no partition. They have not
understood the imperious desire for immolation which lies in the depths
of every soul, and souls have taken their revenge in not heeding these
too lukewarm lovers.

Francis had given himself up too completely not to claim from others an
absolute self-renunciation. In the two years and more since he had
quitted the world, the reality and depth of his conversion had shone out
in the sight of all; to the scoffings of the early days had gradually
succeeded in the minds of many a feeling closely akin to admiration.

This feeling inevitably provokes imitation. A man of Assisi, hardly
mentioned by the biographers, had attached himself to Francis. He was
one of those simple-hearted men who find life beautiful enough so long
as they can be with him who has kindled the divine spark[2] in their
hearts. His arrival at Portiuncula gave Francis a suggestion; from that
time he dreamed of the possibility of bringing together a few companions
with whom he could carry on his apostolic mission in the neighborhood.

At Assisi he had often enjoyed the hospitality of a rich and prominent
man named Bernardo di Quintavalle,[3] who took him to sleep in his own
chamber; it is easy to see how such an intimacy would favor confidential
outpourings. When in the silence of the early night an ardent and
enthusiastic soul pours out to you its disappointments, wounds, dreams,
hopes, faith, it is difficult indeed not to be carried along, especially
when the apostle has a secret ally in your soul, and unconsciously meets
your most secret aspirations.

One day Bernardo begged Francis to pass the following night with him, at
the same time giving him to understand that he was about to make a grave
resolution upon which he desired to consult him. The joy of Francis was
great indeed as he divined his intentions. They passed the night without
thinking of sleep; it was a long communion of souls. Bernardo had
decided to distribute his goods to the poor and cast in his lot with
Francis. The latter desired his friend to pass through a sort of
initiation, pointing out to him that what he himself practised, what he
preached, was not his own invention, but that Jesus himself had
expressly ordained it in his word.

At early dawn they bent their steps to the St. Nicholas Church,
accompanied by another neophyte named Pietro, and there, after praying
and hearing mass, Francis opened the Gospels that lay on the altar and
read to his companions the portion which had decided his own vocation:
the words of Jesus sending forth his disciples on their mission.

"Brethren," he added, "this is our life and our Rule, and that of all
who may join us. Go then and do as you have heard."[4]

The persistence with which the Three Companions relate that Francis
consulted the book three times in honor of the Trinity, and that it
opened of its own accord at the verses describing the apostolic life,
leads to the belief that these passages became the Rule of the new
association, if not that very day at least very soon afterward.

    If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to
    the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and
    follow me.

    Jesus having called to him the Twelve, gave them power and
    authority over all devils and to cure diseases. And he sent them
    to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And he said
    unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor
    scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats
    apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and
    thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go
    out of that city shake off the very dust from your feet for a
    testimony against them. And they departed and went through the
    towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

    Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after
    me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
    For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever
    will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man
    profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own

At first these verses were hardly more than the official Rule of the
Order; the true Rule was Francis himself; but they had the great merit
of being short, absolute, of promising perfection, and of being taken
from the Gospel.

Bernardo immediately set to work to distribute his fortune among the
poor. Full of joy, his friend was looking on at this act, which had
drawn together a crowd, when a priest named Sylvester, who had formerly
sold him some stones for the repairs of St. Damian, seeing so much money
given away to everyone who applied for it, drew near and said:

"Brother, you did not pay me very well for the stones which you bought
of me."

Francis had too thoroughly killed every germ of avarice in himself not
to be moved to indignation by hearing a priest speak thus. "Here," he
said, holding out to him a double handful of coins which he took from
Bernardo's robe, "here; are you sufficiently paid now?"

"Quite so," replied Sylvester, somewhat abashed by the murmurs of the

This picture, in which the characters stand out so strongly, must have
taken strong hold upon the memory of the bystanders: the Italians only
thoroughly understand things which they make a picture of. It taught
them, better than all Francis's preachings, what manner of men these new
friars would be.

The distribution finished, they went at once to Portiuncula, where
Bernardo and Pietro built for themselves cabins of boughs, and made
themselves tunics like that of Francis. They did not differ much from
the garment worn by the peasants, and were of that brown, with its
infinite variety of shades, which the Italians call beast color. One
finds similar garments to-day among the shepherds of the most remote
parts of the Apennines.

A week later, Thursday, April 23, 1209,[7] a new disciple of the name
of Egidio presented himself before Francis. Of a gentle and submissive
nature, he was of those who need to lean on someone, but who, the needed
support having been found and tested, lift themselves sometimes even
above it. The pure soul of brother Egidio, supported by that of Francis,
came to enjoy the intoxicating delights of contemplation with an
unheard-of ardor.[8]

Here we must be on our guard against forcing the authorities, and asking
of them more than they can give. Later, when the Order was definitely
constituted and its convents organized, men fancied that the past had
been like the present, and this error still weighs upon the picture of
the origins of the Franciscan movement. The first brothers lived as did
the poor people among whom they so willingly moved; Portiuncula was
their favorite church, but it would be a mistake to suppose that they
sojourned there for any long periods. It was their place of meeting,
nothing more. When they set forth they simply knew that they should meet
again in the neighborhood of the modest chapel. Their life was that of
the Umbrian beggars of the present day, going here and there as fancy
dictated, sleeping in hay-lofts, in leper hospitals, or under the porch
of some church. So little had they any fixed domicile that Egidio,
having decided to join them, was at considerable trouble to learn where
to find Francis, and accidentally meeting him in the neighborhood of
Rivo-Torto[9] he saw in the fact a providential leading.

They went up and down the country, joyfully sowing their seed. It was
the beginning of summer, the time when everybody in Umbria is out of
doors mowing or turning the grass. The customs of the country have
changed but little. Walking in the end of May in the fields about
Florence, Perugia, or Rieti, one still sees, at nightfall, the bagpipers
entering the fields as the mowers seat themselves upon the hay-cocks for
their evening meal; they play a few pieces, and when the train of
haymakers returns to the village, followed by the harvest-laden carts,
it is they who lead the procession, rending the air with their sharpest

The joyous Penitents who loved to call themselves _Joculatores Domini_,
God's _jongleurs_, no doubt often did the same.[10] They did even
better, for not willing to be a charge to anyone, they passed a part of
the day in aiding the peasants in their field work.[11] The inhabitants
of these districts are for the most part kindly and sedate; the friars
soon gained their confidence by relating to them first their history and
then their hopes. They worked and ate together; field-hands and friars
often slept in the same barn, and when with the morrow's dawn the friars
went on their way, the hearts of those they left behind had been
touched. They were not yet converted, but they knew that not far away,
over toward Assisi, were living men who had renounced all worldly goods,
and who, consumed with zeal, were going up and down preaching penitence
and peace.

Their reception was very different in the cities. If the peasant of
Central Italy is mild and kindly the townsfolk are on a first
acquaintance scoffing and ill disposed. We shall shortly see the friars
who went to Florence the butt of all sorts of persecutions.

Only a few weeks had passed since Francis began to preach, and already
his words and acts were sounding an irresistible appeal in the depths of
many a heart. We have arrived at the most unique and interesting period
in the history of the Franciscans. These first months are for their
institution what the first days of spring are for nature, days when the
almond-tree blossoms, bearing witness to the mysterious labor going on
in the womb of the earth, and heralding the flowers that will suddenly
enamel the fields. At the sight of these men--bare footed, scantily
clothed, without money, and yet so happy--men's minds were much divided.
Some held them to be mad, others admired them, finding them widely
different from the vagrant monks,[12] that plague of Christendom.

Sometimes, however, the friars found success not responding to their
efforts, the conversion of souls not taking form with enough rapidity
and vigor. To encourage them, Francis would then confide to them his
visions and his hopes. "I saw a multitude of men coming toward us,
asking that they might receive the habit of our holy religion, and lo,
the sound of their footsteps still echoes in my ears. I saw them coming
from every direction, filling all the roads."

Whatever the biographies may say, Francis was far from foreseeing the
sorrows that were to follow this rapid increase of his Order. The maiden
leaning with trembling rapture on her lover's arm no more dreams of the
pangs of motherhood than he thought of the dregs he must drain after
quaffing joyfully the generous wine of the chalice.[13]

Every prosperous movement provokes opposition by the very fact of its
prosperity. The herbs of the field have their own language for cursing
the longer-lived plants that smother them out; one can hardly live
without arousing jealousy; in vain the new fraternity showed itself
humble, it could not escape this law.

When the brethren went up to Assisi to beg from door to door, many
refused to give to them, reproaching them with desiring to live on the
goods of others after having squandered their own. Many a time they had
barely enough not to starve to death. It would even seem that the clergy
were not entirely without part in this opposition. The Bishop of Assisi
said to Francis one day: "Your way of living without owning anything
seems to me very harsh and difficult." "My lord," replied he, "if we
possessed property we should have need of arms for its defence, for it
is the source of quarrels and lawsuits, and the love of God and of one's
neighbor usually finds many obstacles therein; this is why we do not
desire temporal goods."[14]

The argument was unanswerable, but Guido began to rue the encouragement
which he had formerly offered the son of Bernardone. He was very nearly
in the situation and consequently in the state of mind of the Anglican
bishops when they saw the organizing of the Salvation Army. It was not
exactly hostility, but a distrust which was all the deeper for hardly
daring to show itself. The only counsel which the bishop could give
Francis was to come into the ranks of the clergy, or, if asceticism
attracted him, to join some already existing monastic order.[15]

If the bishop's perplexities were great, those of Francis were hardly
less so. He was too acute not to foresee the conflict that threatened to
break out between the friars and the clergy. He saw that the enemies of
the priests praised him and his companions beyond measure simply to set
off their poverty against the avarice and wealth of the ecclesiastics,
yet he felt himself urged on from within to continue his work, and could
well have exclaimed with the apostle, _"Woe is me if I preach not the
gospel!"_ On the other hand, the families of the Penitents could not
forgive them for having distributed their goods among the poor, and
attacks came from this direction with all the bitter language and the
deep hatred natural to disappointed heirs. From this point of view the
brotherhood appeared as a menace to families, and many parents trembled
lest their sons should join it. Whether the friars would or no, they
were an unending subject of interest to the whole city. Evil rumors,
plentifully spread abroad against them, simply defeated themselves;
flying from mouth to mouth they speedily found contradictors who had no
difficulty in showing their absurdity. All this indirectly served their
cause and gained to their side those hearts, more numerous than is
generally believed, who find the defence of the persecuted a necessity.

As to the clergy, they could not but feel a profound distrust of these
lay converters, who, though they aroused the hatred of some interested
persons, awakened in more pious souls first astonishment and then
admiration. Suddenly to see men without title or diploma succeed
brilliantly in the mission which has been officially confided to
ourselves, and in which we have made pitiful shipwreck, is cruel
torture. Have we not seen generals who preferred to lose a battle rather
than gain it with the aid of guerrillas?

This covert opposition has left no characteristic traces in the
biographies of St. Francis. It is not to be wondered at; Thomas of
Celano, even if he had had information of this matter, would have been
wanting in tact to make use of it. The clergy, for that matter, possess
a thousand means of working upon public opinion without ceasing to show
a religious interest in those whom they detest.

But the more St. Francis shall find himself in contradiction with the
clergy of his time, the more he will believe himself the obedient son of
the Church. Confounding the gospel with the teaching of the Church, he
will for a good while border upon heresy, but without ever falling into
it. Happy simplicity, thanks to which he had never to take the attitude
of revolt!

It was five years since, a convalescent leaning upon his staff, he had
felt himself taken possession of by a loathing of material pleasures.
From that time every one of his days had been marked by a step in

It was again the spring-time. Perfectly happy, he felt himself more and
more impelled to bring others to share his happiness and to proclaim in
the four corners of the world how he had attained it. He resolved,
therefore, to undertake a new mission. A few days were spent in
preparing for it. The Three Companions have preserved for us the
directions which he gave to his disciples:

    "Let us consider that God in his goodness has not called us
    merely for our own salvation, but also for that of many men,
    that we may go through all the world exhorting men, more by our
    example than by our words, to repent of their sins and bear the
    commandments in mind. Be not fearful on the ground that we
    appear little and ignorant, but simply and without disquietude
    preach repentance. Have faith in God, who has overcome the
    world, that his Spirit will speak in you and by you, exhorting
    men to be converted and keep his commandments.

    "You will find men full of faith, gentleness, and goodness, who
    will receive you and your words with joy; but you will find
    others, and in greater numbers, faithless, proud, blasphemers,
    who will speak evil of you, resisting you and your words. Be
    resolute, then, to endure everything with patience and

    Hearing this, the brethren began to be agitated. St. Francis
    said to them: "Have no fear, for very soon many nobles and
    learned men will come to you; they will be with you preaching to
    kings and princes and to a multitude of peoples. Many will be
    converted to the Lord, all over the world, who will multiply and
    increase his family."

After he had thus spoken he blessed them, saying to each one the word
which was in the future to be his supreme consolation:

    "My brother, commit yourself to God with all your cares, and he
    will care for you."

    Then the men of God departed, faithfully observing his
    instructions, and when they found a church or a cross they bowed
    in adoration, saying with devotion, "We adore thee, O Christ,
    and we bless thee here and in all churches in the whole world,
    for by thy holy cross thou hast ransomed the world." In fact
    they believed that they had found a holy place wherever they
    found a church or a cross.

    Some listened willingly, others scoffed, the greater number
    overwhelmed them with questions. "Whence come you?" "Of what
    order are you?" And they, though sometimes it was wearisome to
    answer, said simply, "We are penitents, natives of the city of

This freshness and poetry will not be found in the later missions. Here
the river is still itself, and if it knows toward what sea it is
hastening, it knows nothing of the streams, more or less turbid, which
shall disturb its limpidity, nor the dykes and the straightenings to
which it will have to submit.

A long account by the Three Companions gives us a picture from life of
these first essays at preaching:

    Many men took the friars for knaves or madmen and refused to
    receive them into their houses for fear of being robbed. So in
    many places, after having undergone all sorts of bad usage, they
    could find no other refuge for the night than the porticos of
    churches or houses. There were at that time two brethren who
    went to Florence. They begged all through the city but could
    find no shelter. Coming to a house which had a portico and under
    the portico a bench, they said to one another, "We shall be very
    comfortable here for the night." As the mistress of the house
    refused to let them enter, they humbly asked her permission to
    sleep upon the bench.

    She was about to grant them permission when her husband
    appeared. "Why have you permitted these lewd fellows to stay
    under our portico?" he asked. The woman replied that she had
    refused to receive them into the house, but had given them
    permission to sleep under the portico where there was nothing
    for them to steal but the bench.

    The cold was very sharp; but taking them for thieves no one gave
    them any covering.

    As for them, after having enjoyed on their bench no more sleep
    than was necessary, warmed only by divine warmth, and having for
    covering only their Lady Poverty, in the early dawn they went to
    the church to hear mass.

    The lady went also on her part, and seeing the friars devoutly
    praying she said to herself: "If these men were rascals and
    thieves as my husband said, they would not remain thus in
    prayer." And while she was making these reflections behold a man
    of the name of Guido was giving alms to the poor in the church.
    Coming to the friars he would have given a piece of money to
    them as to the others, but they refused his money and would not
    receive it. "Why," he asked, "since you are poor, will you not
    accept like the others?" "It is true that we are poor," replied
    Brother Bernardo, "but poverty does not weigh upon us as upon
    other poor people; for by the grace of God, whose will we are
    accomplishing, we have voluntarily become poor."

    Much amazed, he asked them if they had ever had anything, and
    learned that they had possessed much, but that for the love of
    God they had given everything away.... The lady, seeing that the
    friars had refused the alms, drew near to them and said that
    she would gladly receive them into her house if they would be
    pleased to lodge there. "May the Lord recompense to you your
    good will," replied the friars, humbly.

    But Guido, learning that they had not been able to find a
    shelter, took them to his own house, saying, "Here is a refuge
    prepared for you by the Lord; remain in it as long as you

    As for them, they gave thanks to God and spent several days with
    him, preaching the fear of the Lord by word and example, so that
    in the end he made large distributions to the poor.

    Well treated by him, they were despised by others. Many men,
    great and small, attacked and insulted them, sometimes going so
    far as to tear off their clothing; but though despoiled of their
    only tunic, they would not ask for its restitution. If, moved to
    pity, men gave back to them what they had taken away, they
    accepted it cheerfully.

    There were those who threw mud upon them, others who put dice
    into their hands and invited them to play, and others clutching
    them by the cowl made them drag them along thus. But seeing that
    the friars were always full of joy in the midst of their
    tribulations, that they neither received nor carried money, and
    that by their love for one another they made themselves known as
    true disciples of the Lord, many of them felt themselves
    reproved in their hearts and came asking pardon for the offences
    which they had committed. They, pardoning them with all their
    heart, said, "The Lord forgive you," and gave them pious
    counsels for the salvation of their souls.

A translation can but imperfectly give all the repressed emotion, the
candid simplicity, the modest joy, the fervent love which breathe in the
faulty Latin of the Three Companions. Yet these scattered friars sighed
after the home-coming and the long conversations with their spiritual
father in the tranquil forests of the suburbs of Assisi. Friendship
among men, when it overpasses a certain limit, has something deep, high,
ideal, infinitely sweet, to which no other friendship attains. There was
no woman in the Upper Chamber when, on the last evening of his life,
Jesus communed with his disciples and invited the world to the eternal
marriage supper.

Francis, above all, was impatient to see his young family once more.
They all arrived at Portiuncula almost at the same time, having already,
before reaching it, forgotten the torments they had endured, thinking
only of the joy of the meeting.[17]


   [1] 1 Cel., 23; 3 Soc., 25 and 26; Bon., 27. Cf. _Auct. Vit.
       Sec. ap._, A. SS., p. 579.

   [2] 1 Cel., 24. We must correct the Bollandist text: _Inter quos
       quidam de Assisio puer ac simplicem animum gerens_, by: _quidam
       de Assisio pium ac simplicem_, etc. The period at which we have
       arrived is very clear as a whole: the picture which the Three
       Companions give us is true with a truth which forces conviction
       at first sight; but neither they nor Celano are giving an
       official report. Later on men desired to know precisely in what
       order the early disciples came, and they tortured the texts to
       find an answer. The same course was followed with regard to the
       first missionary journeys. But on both sides they came up
       against impossibilities and contradictions. What does it matter
       whether there were two, three, or four missions before the papal
       approbation? Of what consequence are the names of those early
       disciples who are entirely secondary in the history of the
       Franciscan movement? All these things took place with much more
       simplicity and spontaneity than is generally supposed. There is
       a wide difference between the plan of a house drawn up by an
       architect and a view of the same house painted by an artist. The
       second, though abounding in inexactitudes, gives a more just
       notion of the reality than the plan. The same is true of the
       Franciscan biographies.

   [3] 1 Cel., 24. Bernard de Besse is the first to call him B. di
       Quintavalle: _De laudibus_, fo. 95 h.; cf. upon him Mark of
       Lisbon, t. i., second part, pp. 68-70; _Conform._, 47; _Fior._,
       1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 28; 3 Soc., 27, 30, 39; 2 Cel., 1, 10; 2, 19;
       Bon., 28; 1 Cel., 30; Salimbeni, ann. 1229, and _Tribul. Arch._,
       ii., p. 278, etc.

   [4] 1 Cel., 24; 3 Soc., 27, 28, 29; 2 Cel., 1, 10; 3, 52; Bon.,
       28; A. SS., p. 580. It is evident that the tradition has been
       worked over here: it soon came to be desired to find a miracle
       in the manner in which Francis found the passage for reading.
       The St. Nicholas Church is no longer in existence; it stood upon
       the piece of ground now occupied by the barracks of the
       _gendarmerie_ (_carabinieri reali_).

   [5] Matt., xix., 21; Luke, ix., 1-6; Matt., xvi., 24-26. The
       agreement of tradition upon these passages is complete. 3 Soc.,
       29; 2 Cel., 1, 10; Bon., 28; _Spec._, 5b.; _Conform._, 37b. 2,
       47a. 2; _Fior._, 2; Glassberger and the Chronicle of the xxiv.
       generals reversing the order (Analecta, fr., t. ii., p. 5) as
       well as the Conformities in another place, 87b, 2.

   [6] 3 Soc., 30. Cf. _Anon. Perus._, A. SS., p. 581a. This scene
       is reported neither by Celano nor by St. Bonaventura.

   [7] This date is given in the life of Brother Egidio; A. SS.,
       _Oct._, t. ii., p. 572; _Aprilis_, t. iii., p. 220. It fits well
       with the accounts. Through it we obtain the approximate date of
       the definitive conversion of Francis two full years earlier.

   [8] 1 Cel., 25; 3 Soc., 23; Bon. 29. Cf. _Anon. Perus._, A. SS.,
       p. 582, and A. SS., _Aprilis_, t. iii., p. 220 ff.

   [9] _Spec._, 25a: _Qualiter dixit fratri Egidio priusquam esset
       receptus ut daret mantellum ciudam pauperi. In primordio
       religionis cum maneret apud Regum Tortum cum duobus fratribus
       quos tunc tantum habehat._ If we compare this passage with 3
       Soc., 44, we shall doubtless arrive at the conclusion that the
       account in the Speculum is more satisfactory. It is in fact very
       easy to understand the optical illusion by which later on the
       Portiuncula was made the scene of the greater number of the
       events of St. Francis's life, while it would be difficult to see
       why there should have been any attempt to surround Rivo-Torto
       with an aureola. The Fioretti say: _Ando inverso lo spedale dei
       lebbrosi_, which confirms the indication of Rivo-Torto. _Vita d'
       Egidio_, § 1.

  [10] _An. Perus_, A. SS., p. 582. Cf. _Fior._, _Vita di Egidio_,
       1; _Spec._, 124, 136; 2 Cel., 3, 68; A. SS., _Aprilis_, t. iii.,
       p. 227.

  [11] _Spec._, 34a; _Conform._, 219b, 1; _Ant. fr._, p. 96.

  [12] The Gyrovagi. Tr.

  [13] 3 Soc. 32-34; 1 Cel., 27 and 28; Bon., 31.

  [14] 3 Soc., 35. Cf. _Anon. Perus._; A. SS., p. 584.

  [15] Later on, naturally, it was desired that Francis should
       have had no better supporter than Guido; some have even made him
       out to be his spiritual director (St. François, Plon, p. 24)! We
       have an indirect but unexceptionable proof of the reserve with
       which these pious traditions must be accepted; Francis did not
       even tell his bishop (_pater et dominus animarum_, 3 Soc., 29)
       of his design of having his Rule approved by the pope. This is
       the more striking because the bishop would have been his natural
       advocate at the court of Rome, and because in the absence of any
       other reason the most elementary politeness required that he
       should have been informed. Add to this that bishops in Italy are
       not, as elsewhere, _functionaries_ approached with difficulty by
       the common run of mortals. Almost every village in Umbria has
       its bishop, so that their importance is hardly greater than that
       of the curé of a French canton. Furthermore, several pontifical
       documents throw a sombre light on Guido's character. In a
       chapter of the decretals of Honorius III. (_Quinta compil._,
       lib. ii., tit. iii., cap. i.) is given a complaint against this
       bishop, brought before the curia by the Crucigeri of the
       hospital _San Salvatore delle Pareti_ (suburbs of Assisi), of
       having maltreated two of their number, and having stolen a part
       of the wine belonging to the convent: _pro eo quod Aegidium
       presbyterum, et fratrem eorem conversum violentas manus
       injecerat ... adjiciens quod idem hospitale quadam vini
       quantitate fuerat per eumdem episcopum spoliatum._ _Honorii
       opera_, Horoy's edition, t. i., col. 200 ff. Cf. Potthast, 7746.
       The mention of the hospital _de Pariete_ proves beyond question
       that the Bishop of Assisi is here concerned and not the Bishop
       of Osimo, as some critics have suggested.

       Another document shows him at strife with the Benedictines of
       Mount Subasio (the very ones who afterward gave Portiuncula to
       Francis), and Honorius III. found the bishop in the wrong: Bull
       _Conquerente oeconomo monasterii ap_. Richter, _Corpus juris
       canonici_. Leipzig, 1839, 4to, Horoy, _loc. cit._, t. i., col.
       163; Potthast, 7728.

  [16] 3 Soc., 36 and 37. Cf. _Anon. Perus. ap._, A. SS., p. 585;
       _Test. B. Francisci_.

  [17] 3 Soc., 38-41.

       *       *       *       *       *



Summer 1210[1]

Seeing the number of his friars daily increasing, Francis decided to
write the Rule of the Order and go to Rome to procure its approval by
the Pope.

This resolution was not lightly taken. It would be a mistake in fact to
take Francis for one of those inspired ones who rush into action upon
the strength of unexpected revelations, and, thanks to their faith in
their own infallibility, overawe the multitude. On the contrary, he was
filled with a real humility, and if he believed that God reveals himself
in prayer, he never for that absolved himself from the duty of
reflection nor even from reconsidering his decisions. St. Bonaventura
does him great wrong in picturing the greater number of his important
resolutions as taken in consequence of dreams; this is to rob his life
of its profound originality, his sanctity of its choicest blossom. He
was of those who struggle, and, to use one of the noblest expressions of
the Bible, of those who _by their perseverance conquer their souls_.
Thus we shall see him continually retouching the Rule of his institute,
unceasingly revising it down to the last moment, according as the growth
of the Order and experience of the human heart suggested to him
modifications of it.[2]

The first Rule which he submitted to Rome has not come down to us; we
only know that it was extremely simple, and composed especially of
passages from the Gospels. It was doubtless only the repetition of those
verses which Francis had read to his first companions, with a few
precepts about manual labor and the occupations of the new

It will be well to pause here and consider the brethren who are about to
set out for Rome. The biographies are in agreement as to their number;
they were twelve, including Francis; but the moment they undertake to
give a name to each one of them difficulties begin to arise, and it is
only by some exegetical sleight of hand that they can claim to have
reconciled the various documents. The table given below[4] briefly
shows these difficulties. The question took on some importance when in
the fourteenth century men undertook to show an exact conformity between
the life of St. Francis and that of Jesus. It is without interest to us.
The profiles of two or three of these brethren stand out very clearly in
the picture of the origins of the Order; others remind one of the
pictures of primitive Umbrian masters, where the figures of the
background have a modest and tender grace, but no shadow of personality.
The first Franciscans had all the virtues, including the one which is
nearly always wanting, willingness to remain unknown.

In the Lower Church of Assisi there is an ancient fresco representing
five of the companions of St. Francis. Above them is a Madonna by
Cimabue, upon which they are gazing with all their soul. It would be
more true if St. Francis were there in the place of the Madonna; one is
always changed into the image of what one admires, and they resemble
their master and one another.[5] To attempt to give them a name is to
make a sort of psychological error and become guilty of infidelity to
their memory; the only name they would have desired is that of their
father. His love changed their hearts and shed over their whole persons
a radiance of light and joy. These are the true personages of the
_Fioretti_, the men who brought peace to cities, awakened consciences,
changed hearts, conversed with birds, tamed wolves. Of them one may
truly say: "Having nothing, yet possessing all things" (_Nihil habentes,
omnia possidentes_).

They quitted Portiuncula full of joy and confidence. Francis was too
much absorbed in thought not to desire to place in other hands the
direction of the little company.

    "Let us choose," he said, "one from among ourselves to guide us,
    and let him be to us as the vicar of Jesus Christ. Wherever it
    may please him to go we will go, and when he may wish to stop
    anywhere to sleep there we will stop." They chose Brother
    Bernardo and did as Francis had said. They went on full of joy,
    and all their conversations had for their object only the glory
    of God and the salvation of their souls.

    Their journey was happily accomplished. Everywhere they found
    kindly souls who sheltered them, and they felt beyond a doubt
    that God was taking care of them.[6]

Francis's thoughts were all fixed upon the purpose of their journey; he
thought of it day and night, and naturally interpreted his dreams with
reference to it. One time, in his dream, he saw himself walking along a
road beside which was a gigantic and wonderfully beautiful tree. And,
behold, while he looked upon it, filled with wonder, he felt himself
become so tall that he could touch the boughs, and at the same time the
tree bent down its branches to him.[7] He awoke full of joy, sure of a
gracious reception by the sovereign pontiff.

His hopes were to be somewhat blighted. Innocent III. had now for twelve
years occupied the throne of St. Peter. Still young, energetic,
resolute, he enjoyed that superfluity of authority given by success.
Coming after the feeble Celestine III., he had been able in a few years
to reconquer the temporal domain of the Church, and so to improve the
papal influence as almost to realize the theocratic dreams of Gregory
VII. He had seen King Pedro of Aragon declaring himself his vassal and
laying his crown upon the tomb of the apostles, that he might take it
back at his hands. At the other end of Europe, John Lackland had been
obliged to receive his crown from a legate after having sworn homage,
fealty, and an annual tribute to the Holy See. Preaching union to the
cities and republics of Italy, causing the cry ITALIA! ITALIA! to
resound like the shout of a trumpet, he was the natural representative
of the national awakening, and appeared to be in some sort the suzerain
of the emperor, as he was already that of other kings. Finally, by his
efforts to purify the Church, by his indomitable firmness in defending
morality and law in the affair of Ingelburge and in many others, he was
gaining a moral strength which in times so disquieted was all the more
powerful for being so rare.

But this incomparable power had its hidden dangers. Occupied with
defending the prerogatives of the Holy See, Innocent came to forget that
the Church does not exist for herself, that her supremacy is only a
transitory means; and one part of his pontificate may be likened to
wars, legitimate in the beginning, in which the conqueror keeps on with
depredations and massacres for no reason, except that he is intoxicated
with blood and success.

And so Rome, which canonized the petty Celestine V., refused this
supreme consecration to the glorious Innocent III. With exquisite tact
she perceived that he was rather king than priest, rather pope than

When he suppressed ecclesiastical disorders it was less for love of good
than for hatred of evil; it was the judge who condemns or threatens,
himself always supported by the law, not the father who weeps his son's
offence. This priest did not comprehend the great movement of his
age--the awakening of love, of poetry, of liberty. I have already said
that at the opening of the thirteenth century the Middle Age was twenty
years old. Innocent III. undertook to treat it as if it were only
fifteen. Possessed by his civil and religious dogmas as others are by
their educational doctrines, he never suspected the unsatisfied
longings, the dreams, unreasoning perhaps, but beneficent and divine,
that were dumbly stirring in the depths of men's hearts. He was a
believer, although certain sayings of the historians[8] open the door
to some doubts on this point, but he drew his religion rather from the
Old Testament than from the New, and if he often thought of Moses, the
leader of his people, nothing reminded him of Jesus, the shepherd of
souls. One cannot be everything; a choice intelligence, an iron
will[9] are a sufficient portion even for a _priest-god_; he lacked
love. The death of this pontiff, great among the great ones, was
destined to be saluted with songs of joy.[10]

His reception of Francis furnished to Giotto, the friend of Dante, one
of his most striking frescos; the pope, seated on his throne, turns
abruptly toward Francis. He frowns, for he does not understand, and yet
he feels a strange power in this mean and despised man, _vilis et
despectus_; he makes a real but futile effort to comprehend, and now I
see in this pope, who lived upon lemons,[11] something that recalls
another choice mind, theocratic like his own, sacrificed like him to his
work: Calvin. One might think that the painter had touched his lips to
the Calabrian Seer's cup, and that in the attitude of these two men he
sought to symbolize a meeting of representatives of the two ages of
humanity, that of Law and that of Love.[12]

A surprise awaited the pilgrims on their arrival in Rome: they met the
Bishop of Assisi,[13] quite as much to his astonishment as to their
own. This detail is precious because it proves that Francis had not
confided his plans to Guido. Notwithstanding this the bishop, it is
said, offered to make interest for them with the princes of the Church.
We may suspect that his commendations were not very warm. At all events
they did not avail to save Francis and his company either from a
searching inquiry or from the extended fatherly counsels of Cardinal
Giovanni di San Paolo[14] upon the difficulties of the Rule, counsels
which strongly resemble those of Guido himself.[15]

What Francis asked for was simple enough; he claimed no privilege of any
sort, but only that the pope would approve of his undertaking to lead a
life of absolute conformity to the precepts of the gospel. There is a
delicate point here which it is quite worth while to see clearly. The
pope was not called upon to approve the Rule, since that came from Jesus
himself; at the very worst all that he could do would be to lay an
ecclesiastical censure upon Francis and his companions for having acted
without authority, and to enjoin them to leave to the secular and
regular clergy the task of reforming the Church.

Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo, to whom the Bishop of Assisi presented
them, had informed himself of the whole history of the Penitents. He
lavished upon them the most affectionate tokens of interest, even going
so far as to beg for a mention in their prayers. But such assurances,
which appear to have been always the small change of the court of Rome,
did not prevent his examining them for several successive days,[16] and
putting to them an infinite number of questions, of which the conclusion
was always the advice to enter some Order already existing.

To this the unlucky Francis would reply as best he could, often not
without embarrassment, for he had no wish to appear to think lightly of
the cardinal's counsels, and yet he felt in his heart the imperious
desire to obey his vocation. The prelate would then return to the
charge, insinuating that they would find it very hard to persevere, that
the enthusiasm of the early days would pass away, and again pointing out
a more easy course. He was obliged in the end to own himself vanquished.
The persistence of Francis, who had never weakened for an instant nor
doubted his mission, begat in him a sort of awe, while the perfect
humility of the Penitents and their simple and striking fidelity to the
Roman Church reassured him in the matter of heresy.

He announced to them, therefore, that he would speak of them to the
pope, and would act as their advocate with him. According to the Three
Companions he said to the pope: "I have found a man of the highest
perfection, who desires to live in conformity with the Holy Gospel and
observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that by him the
Lord intends to reform the faith of the Holy Church throughout the whole

On the morrow he presented Francis and his companions to Innocent III.
Naturally, the pope was not sparing of expressions of sympathy, but he
also repeated to them the remarks and counsels which they had already
heard so often. "My dear children," he said, "your life appears to me
too severe; I see indeed that your fervor is too great for any doubt of
you to be possible, but I ought to consider those who shall come after
you, lest your mode of life should be beyond their strength."[18]

Adding a few kind words, he dismissed them without coming to any
definite conclusion, promising to consult the cardinals, and advising
Francis in particular to address himself to God, to the end that he
might manifest his will.

Francis's anxiety must have been great; he could not understand these
dilatory measures, these expressions of affection which never led to a
categorical approbation. It seemed to him that he had said all that he
had to say. For new arguments he had only one resource--prayer.

He felt his prayer answered when in his conversation with Jesus the
parable of poverty came to him; he returned to lay it before the pope.

    There was in the desert a woman who was very poor, but
    beautiful. A great king, seeing her beauty, desired to take her
    for his wife, for he thought that by her he should have
    beautiful children. The marriage contracted and consummated,
    many sons were born to him. When they were grown up, their
    mother spoke to them thus: "My sons, you have no cause to blush,
    for you are the sons of the king; go, therefore, to his court,
    and he will give you everything you need."

    When they arrived at the court the king admired their beauty,
    and finding in them his own likeness he asked, "Whose sons are
    you?" And when they replied that they were the sons of a poor
    woman who lived in the desert, the king clasped them to his
    heart with joy saying, "Have no fear, for you are my sons; if
    strangers eat at my table, much more shall you who are my lawful
    sons." Then the king sent word to the woman to send to his court
    all the sons which she had borne, that they might be nourished

    "Very holy father," added Francis, "I am this poor woman whom
    God in his love has deigned to make beautiful, and of whom he
    has been pleased to have lawful sons. The King of Kings has told
    me that he will provide for all the sons which he may have of
    me, for if he sustains bastards, how much more his legitimate

So much simplicity, joined with such pious obstinacy, at last conquered
Innocent. In the humble mendicant he perceived an apostle and prophet
whose mouth no power could close. Successor of St. Peter and vicar of
Jesus Christ that he felt himself, he saw in the mean and despised man
before him one who with the authority of absolute faith proclaimed
himself the root of a new lineage of most legitimate Christians.

The biographers have held that by this parable Francis sought above all
things to tranquillize the pope as to the future of the brethren; they
find in it a reply to the anxieties of the pontiff, who feared to see
them starve to death. There can be no doubt that its original meaning
was totally different. It shows that with all his humility Francis knew
how to speak out boldly, and that all his respect for the Church could
not hinder his seeing, and, when necessary, saying, that he and his
brethren were the lawful sons of the gospel, of which the members of the
clergy were only _extranei_. We shall find in the course of his life
more than one example of this indomitable boldness, which disarmed
Innocent III. as well as the future Gregory IX.

In a consistory which doubtless was held between the two audiences some
of the cardinals expressed the opinion that the initiative of the
Penitents of Assisi was an innovation, and that their mode of life was
entirely beyond human power. "But," replied Giovanni di San Paolo, "if
we hold that to observe gospel perfection and make profession of it is
an irrational and impossible innovation, are we not convicted of
blasphemy against Christ, the author of the gospel?"[20]

These words struck Innocent III. with great force; he knew better than
any one that the possessions of the ecclesiastics were the great
obstacles to the reform of the Church, and that the threatened success
of the Albigensian heresy was especially due to the fact that it
preached the doctrine of poverty.

Two years before he had accorded his approbation to a group of
Waldensians, who under the name _Poor Catholics_ had desired to remain
faithful to the Church;[21] he therefore gave his approval to the
Penitents of Assisi, but, as a contemporary chronicler has well
observed, it was in the hope that they would wrest the banner from

Yet his doubts and hesitations were not entirely dissipated. He reserved
his definitive approbation, therefore, while lavishing upon the brothers
the most affectionate tokens of interest. He authorized them to continue
their missions everywhere, after having gained the consent of their
ordinaries. He required, however, that they should give themselves a
responsible superior to whom the ecclesiastical authorities could always
address themselves. Naturally, Francis was chosen.[23] This fact, so
humble in appearance, definitively constituted the Franciscan family.

The mystics whom we saw going from village to village transported with
love and liberty accepted the yoke almost without thinking about it.
This yoke will preserve them from the disintegration of the heretics,
but it will make itself sharply felt by those pure souls; they will one
day look back to the early days of the Order as the only time when their
life was truly conformed to the gospel.

When Francis heard the words of the supreme pontiff he prostrated
himself at his feet, promising the most perfect obedience with all his
heart. The pope blessed them, saying: "Go, my brethren, and may God be
with you. Preach penitence to everyone according as the Lord may deign
to inspire you. Then when the All-powerful shall have made you multiply
and go forward, you will refer to us; we will concede what you ask, and
we may then with greater security accord to you even more than you

Francis and his companions were too little familiar with Roman
phraseology to perceive that after all the Holy See had simply consented
to suspend judgment in view of the uprightness of their intentions and
the purity of their faith.[25]

The flowers of clerical rhetoric hid from them the shackles which had
been laid upon them. The curia, in fact, was not satisfied with
Francis's vow of fidelity, it desired in addition to stamp the Penitents
with the seal of the Church: the Cardinal of San Paolo was deputed to
confer upon them the tonsure. From this time they were all under the
spiritual authority of the Roman Church.

The thoroughly lay creation of St. Francis had become, in spite of
himself, an ecclesiastical institution: it must soon degenerate into a
clerical institution. All unawares, the Franciscan movement had been
unfaithful to its origin. The prophet had abdicated in favor of the
priest, not indeed without possibility of return, for when a man has
once reigned, I would say, thought, in liberty--what other kingdom is
there on this earth?--he makes but an indifferent slave; in vain he
tries to submit; in spite of himself it happens at times that he lifts
his head proudly, he rattles his chains, he remembers the struggles,
sadness, anguish of the days of liberty, and weeps their loss. Among the
sons of St. Francis many were destined to weep their lost liberty, many
to die to conquer it again.


   [1] The date usually fixed for the approval of the Rule by
       Innocent III. is the month of August, 1209. The Bollandists had
       thought themselves able to infer it from the account where
       Thomas of Celano (1 Cel., 43) refers to the passage through
       Umbria of the Emperor Otho IV., on his way to be crowned at Rome
       (October 4, 1209). Upon this journey see Böhmer-Ficker, _Regesta
       Imperii. Dei Regesten des Kaiserreichs unter Philipp, Otto IV._,
       etc., Insbruck, 1879, 4to, pp. 96 and 97. As this account
       follows that of the approval, they conclude that the latter was
       earlier. But Thomas of Celano puts this account there because
       the context led up to it, and not in order to fix its date.
       Everything leads to the belief that the Brothers retired
       (_recolligebat_, 1 Cel., 42) to Rivo-Torto before and after
       their journey to Rome. Besides, the time between April 23d and
       the middle of August, 1209, is much too short for all that the
       biographers tell us about the life of the Brothers before their
       visit to Innocent III. The mission to Florence took place in
       winter, or at least in a very cold month. But the decisive
       argument is that Innocent III. quitted Rome toward the end of
       May, 1209, and went to Viterbo, returning only to crown Otho,
       October 4th (Potthast, 3727-3803). It is therefore absolutely
       necessary to postpone to the summer of 1210 the visit of the
       Penitents to the pope. This is also the date which Wadding
       arrives at.

   [2] 3 Soc., 35.

   [3] 1 Cel., 32; 3 Soc., 51; Bon., 34. Cf. _Test. B. Fr._ M. K.
       Müller of Halle, in his _Anfänge_, has made a very remarkable
       study of the Rule of 1221, whence he deduces an earlier Rule,
       which he believes to be that of 1209 (1210). For once I find
       myself entirely in accord with him, except that the Rule thus
       reconstructed (Vide _Anfänge_, pp. 14-25, 184-188) appears to me
       to be not that of 1210, which was very short, but another, drawn
       up between 1210 and 1221. The _plures regulas fecit_ of the 3
       Soc., 35, authorizes us to believe that he made perhaps as many
       as four--1st, 1210, very short, containing little more than the
       three passages of the vocation; 2d, 1217 (?), substantially that
       proposed by M. Müller; 3d, 1221, that of which we shall speak at
       length farther on; 4th, 1226, the Will, which if not a Rule is
       at least an appendix to the Rule. If from 1221-1226 he had time
       to make two Rules and the Will, as is universally admitted,
       there is nothing surprising in his having made two from
       1210-1221. Perhaps we have a fragment of that of 1217 in the
       regulation of hermitages. Vide below, p. 109.

   [4] Thomas of Celano's list. 1, _Quidam pium gerens animum_; 2,
       _Bernardus_; 3, _Vir alter_; 4, _Ægidius_; 5, _Unus alius
       appositus_; 6, _Philippus_; 7, _Alius bonus vir_; 8, 9, 10, 11,
       _Quatuor boni et idonei viri_. 1 Cel., 24, 25, 29, 31. The
       Rinaldi-Amoni text says nothing of the last four. Three
       Companions: 1, _Bernardus_; 2, _Petrus_; 3, _Ægidius_; 4,
       _Sabbatinus_; 5, _Moritus_; _Johannes Capella_; 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,
       Disciples received by the brethren in their missions. 3 Soc.,
       33, 35, 41, 46, 52. Bonaventura: 1, _Bernardus_; 2, ... 3,
       _Ægidius_; 4, 5, ... 6, _Silvestro_; 7, _Alius bonus viri_; 8,
       9, 10, 11, _Quatuor viri honesti_. Bon., 28, 29, 30, 31, 33. The
       Fioretti, while insisting on the importance of the twelve
       Franciscan apostles, cite only six in their list: Giovanni di
       Capella, Egidio, Philip, Silvestro, Bernardo, and Rufino.
       _Fior._, 1. We must go to the Conformities to find the
       traditional list, f^o 46b 1: 1, _Bernardus de Quintavalle_; 2,
       _Petrus Chatanii_; 3, _Egidius_; 4, _Sabatinus_; 5, _Moricus_;
       6, _Johannes de Capella_; 7, _Philippus Longus_; 8, _Johannes de
       Sancto Constantio_; 9, _Barbarus_; 10, _Bernardus de
       Cleviridante_ (sic); 11, _Angelus Tancredi_; 12, _Sylvester_. As
       will be seen, in the last two documents twelve disciples are in
       question, while in the preceding ones there are only eleven.
       This is enough to show a dogmatic purpose. This list reappears
       exactly in the _Speculum_, with the sole difference that Francis
       being there included Angelo di Tancrede is the twelfth brother
       and Silvestro disappears. _Spec._, 87a.

   [5] According to tradition, the five _compagni del Santo_ buried
       there beside their master are Bernardo, Silvestro, William (an
       Englishman), Eletto, and Valentino(?)

   [6] 3 Soc., 46; 1 Cel., 32; Bon., 34.

   [7] 1 Cel., 33; 3 Soc., 53; Bon., 35.

   [8] St. Ludgarde (1182-1246) sees him condemned to Purgatory
       till the Last Judgment. Life of this saint by Thomas of Catimpré
       in Surius: _Vitæ SS._ (1618), vi., 215-226.

   [9] _Vir clari ingenii, magnæ probitatis et sapientiæ, cui
       nullus secundus tempore suo:_ Rigordus, _de gestis Philippi
       Augusti_ in Duchesne. _Historiæ Francorum scriptores coætanei_,
       t. v., p. 60.--_Nec similem sui scientia, facundia, decretorum
       et legum perititia, strenuitate, judiciorum nec adhuc visus est
       habere sequentem._ Cf. Mencken, _Script. rer. Sax._, Leipzig,
       1728, t. iii., p. 252. _Innocentius, qui vere stupor mundi erat
       et immutator sæculi._ Cotton, _Hist. Anglicana_, Luard, 1859, p.

  [10] _Cujus finis lætitiem potius quam tristitiam generavit
       subjectis._ Alberic delle Tre Fontane. Leibnitz, _Accessiones
       historicæ_, t. ii., p. 492.

  [11] _Decidit in acutam (febrem) quam cum multis diebus fovisset
       nec a citris quibus in magna quantitatæ et ex consuetudine
       vescebatur ... minime abstineret ... ad ultimum in lethargia
       prolapsus vitam finivit._ Alberic delle Tre Fontane, _loc. cit._

  [12] Fresco in the great nave of the Upper Church of Assisi.

  [13] 1 Cel., 32; 3 Soc., 47.

  [14] Of the Colonna family; he died in 1216. Cf. 3 Soc., 61.
       Vide Cardella, _Memorie storiche de' Cardinali_, 9 vols., 8vo,
       Rome, 1792 ff., t. i., p. 177. He was at Rome in the summer of
       1210, for on the 11th of August he countersigned the bull
       _Religiosem vitam_. Potthast, 4061. Angelo Clareno relates the
       approbation with more precision in certain respects: _Cum vero
       Summo Pontifici ea quæ postulabat [Franciscus] ardua valde et
       quasi impossibilia viderentur infirmitate hominum sui temporis,
       exhortabatur eum, quod aliquem ordinem vel regulam de approbatis
       assumeret, at ipse se a Christo missum ad talem vitam et non
       aliam postulandam constanter affirmans, fixus in sua petitione
       permansit. Tunc dominus Johannes de Sancto Paulo episcopus
       Sabinensis et dominus Hugo episcopus Hostiensis Dei spiritu moti
       assisterunt Sancto Francisco et pro his quæ petebat coram summo
       Pontifice et Cardinalibus plura proposuerunt rationabilia et
       efficacia valde. Tribul._ Laurentinian MS., f^o 6a. This
       intervention of Ugolini is mentioned in no other document. It
       is, however, by no means impossible. He also was in Rome in the
       summer of 1210. (Vide Potthast, p. 462.)

  [15] 1 Cel., 32 and 33; 3 Soc., 47 and 48. Cf. _An. Per._, A.
       SS., p. 590.

  [16] 1 Cel., 33.

  [17] 3 Soc., 48.

  [18] 3 Soc., 49; 1 Cel., 33; Bon., 35 and 36. All this has been
       much worked over by tradition and gives us only an echo of the
       reality. It would certainly have needed very little for the
       Penitents to meet the same fate before Innocent III. as the
       Waldenses before Lucius III. Traces of this interview are found
       in two texts which appear to me to be too suspicious to warrant
       their insertion in the body of the narrative. The first is a
       fragment of Matthew Paris: _Papa itaque in fratre memorato
       habitum deformem, vultum despicabilem, barbam prolixam, capillos
       incultos, supercilia pendentia et nigra diligenter considerans;
       cum petitionem ejus tam arduam et executione impossibilem
       recitare fecisset, despexit cum et dixit: Vade frater, et quære
       porcus, quibus potius debes quam hominibus comparari, et involve
       te cum eis in volutabro, et regulam illis a te commentatam
       tradens, officium tuæ prædicationis impende. Quod audiens
       Franciscus inclinato capite exixit et porcis tandem inventis, in
       luto se cum eis tamdiu involvit quousque a planta pedis usque ad
       verticem, corpus suum totum cum ipso habitu polluisset. Sicque
       ad consistorium revertens Papæ se conspectibus præsentavit
       dicens: Domine feci sicut præcepisti exaudi nunc obsecro
       petitionem meam_. Ed. Wats, p. 340. The incident has a real
       Franciscan color, and should have some historic basis.
       Curiously, it in some sort meets a passage in the legend of
       Bonaventura which is an interpolation of the end of the
       thirteenth century. See A. SS., p. 591.

  [19] 3 Soc., 50 and 51; Bon., 37; 2 Cel., 1, 11; Bernard de
       Besse, Turin MS., f^o 101b. Ubertini di Casali (_Arbor vitæ
       crucifixæ_, Venice, 1485, lib. v., cap. iii.) tells a curious
       story in which he depicts the indignation of the prelates
       against Francis. _Quænam hæc est doctrina nova quam infers
       auribus nostris? Quis potest vivere sine temporalium
       possessione? Numquid tu melior es quam patres nostri qui
       dederunt nobis temporalia et in temporalibus abundantes
       ecclesias possiderunt?_ Then follows the fine prayer inserted by
       Wadding in Francis's works. The central idea is the same as in
       the parable of poverty. This story, though not referable to any
       source, has nevertheless its importance, since it shows how in
       the year 1300 a man who had all the documents before his eyes,
       represented to himself Francis's early steps.

  [20] Bon., 36.

  [21] The attempt of Durand of Huesca to create a mendicant order
       has not yet been studied with sufficient minuteness. Chief of
       the Waldenses of Aragon, he was present in 1207 at the
       conference of Pamiers, and decided to return to the Church.
       Received with kindness by the pope he at first had a great
       success, and by 1209 had established communities in Aragon, at
       Carcassonne, Narbonne, Béziers, Nimes, Uzès, Milan. We find in
       this movement all the lineaments of the institute of St.
       Dominic; it was an order of priests to whom theological studies
       were recommended. They disappeared almost completely in the
       storm of the Albigensian crusade. Innocent III., _epistolæ_,
       xi., 196, 197, 198; xii., 17, 66; xiii., 63, 77, 78, 94; xv.,
       82, 83, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 137, 146. The first of these
       bulls contains the very curious Rule of this ephemeral order.
       Upon its disappearance vide Ripoli, _Bullarium Prædicatorum_, 8
       vols., folio, Rome, 1729-1740, t. i., p. 96. Cf. Elie Berger,
       _Registres d'Innocent IV._, 2752.

  [22] Burchard, of the order of the Premostrari, who died in
       1226. See below, p. 234.

  [23] 3 Soc., 52; Bon., 38.

  [24] 3 Soc., 52 and 49.

  [25] St. Antonino, Archbishop of Florence, saw very clearly that
       it was _quædam concessio simplex habitus et modi illius vivendi
       et quasi permissio_. A. SS., p. 839. The expression "approbation
       of the Rule" by which the act of Innocent III. is usually
       designated is therefore erroneous.

       *       *       *       *       *




The Penitents of Assisi were overflowing with joy. After so many
mortally long days spent in that Rome, so different from the other
cities that they knew, exposed to the ill-disguised suspicions of the
prelates and the jeers of pontifical lackeys, the day of departure
seemed to them like a deliverance. At the thought of once more seeing
their beloved mountains they were seized by that homesickness of the
child for its native village which simple and kindly souls preserve till
their latest breath.

Immediately after the ceremony they prayed at the tomb of St. Peter, and
then crossing the whole city they quitted Rome by the Porta Salara.

Thomas of Celano, very brief as to all that concerns Francis's sojourn
in the Eternal City, recounts at full length the light-heartedness of
the little band on quitting it. Already it began to be transfigured in
their memory; pains, fatigues, fears, disquietude, hesitations were all
forgotten; they thought only of the fatherly assurances of the supreme
pontiff--the vicar of Christ, the lord and father of the Christian
universe--and promised themselves to make ever new efforts to follow the
Rule with fidelity.

Full of these thoughts they had set out, without provisions, to cross
the Campagna of Rome, whose few inhabitants never venture out in the
heat of the day. The road stretches away northward, keeping at some
distance from the Tiber; on the left the jagged crest of Soracte, bathed
in mists formed by the exhalations of the earth, looms up
disproportionately as it fades in the distance; on the right, the
everlasting undulations of the hillocks with their wide pastures
separated by thickets so parched and ragged that they seemed to cry for
mercy and pardon. Between them the dusty road which goes straight
forward, implacable, showing, as far as the eye can reach, nothing but
the quivering of the fiery air. Not a house, not a tree, not a passing
breeze, nothing to sustain the traveller under the disquietude which
creeps over him. Here and there are a few abandoned huts, their ruins
looking like the corpses of departed civilizations, and on the edge of
the horizon the hills rising up like gigantic and unsurmountable walls.

There are no words to describe the physical and moral sufferings to
which he is exposed who undertakes without proper preparation to cross
this inhospitable district. To the weakness caused by lack of air soon
succeeds an insurmountable lassitude. The feet sink in a soft, tenuous
dust which every step sends up in clouds; it covers you, penetrates your
skin, and parches your mouth even more than thirst. Little by little all
energy ebbs away, a dumb dejection seizes you, sight and thought become
alike confused, fever ensues, and you cast yourself down by the
roadside, unable to take another step.

In their haste to leave Rome Francis and his companions had forgotten
all this, and had imprudently set forth. They would have succumbed if a
chance traveller had not brought them succor. He was obliged to leave
them before they had shaken off the last hallucinations of fever,
leaving them amazed with the unexpected succor which Providence had sent

They were so severely shattered that on arriving at Orte they were
obliged to stop awhile. In a desert spot not far from this city they
found a shelter admirably adapted to serve them for refuge;[2] it was
one of those Etruscan tombs so common in that country, whose chambers
serve to this day as a shelter for beggars and gypsies. While some of
the brethren hastened to the city to beg for food, the others remained
in this solitude enjoying the happiness of being together, forming a
thousand plans, and more than ever delighting in the charm of freedom
from care and renunciation of material goods.

This place had so strong an attraction for them that it required an
effort of will to quit it at the end of a fortnight. The seduction of a
life purely contemplative assailed Francis, and he asked himself if
instead of preaching to the multitudes he would not do better to live in
retreat, solely mindful of the inward dialogue between the soul and

This aspiration for the selfish repose of the cloister came back to him
several times in his life; but love always won the victory. He was too
much the child of his time not to be at times tempted by that happiness
which the Middle Ages regarded as the supreme bliss of the elect in
paradise--peace. _Beati mortui quia quiescunt!_ His distinguishing
peculiarity is that he never gave way to it.

The reflections of Francis and his companions during their stay at Orte
only made their apostolic mission more clear and imperative to them. He,
above all, seemed to be filled with a new ardor, and like a valiant
knight he burned to throw himself into the thick of the fray.

Their way now led through the valley of the Nera. The contrast between
these cool glens, awake with a thousand voices, and the desolation of
the Roman Campagna, must have struck them vividly; the stream is only a
swollen torrent, but it runs so noisily over pebbles and rocks that it
seems to be conversing with them and with the trees of the neighboring
forest. In proportion as they had felt themselves alone on the road from
Rome to Otricoli, they now felt themselves compassed about with the
life, the fecundity, the gayety of the country.

The account of Thomas of Celano becomes so animated as it describes the
life of Francis at this epoch that one cannot help thinking that at this
time he must have seen him, and that this first meeting remained always
in his memory as the radiant dawn of his spiritual life.[4]

The Brothers had taken to preaching in such places as they came upon
along their route. Their words were always pretty much the same, they
showed the blessedness of peace and exhorted to penitence. Emboldened by
the welcome they had received at Rome, which in all innocence they might
have taken to be more favorable than it really was, they told the story
to everyone they met, and thus set all scruples at rest.

These exhortations, in which Francis spared not his hearers, but in
which the sternest reproaches were mingled with so much of love,
produced an enormous effect. Man desires above all things to be loved,
and when he meets one who loves him sincerely he very seldom refuses him
either his love or his admiration.

It is only a low understanding that confounds love with weakness and
compliance. We sometimes see sick men feverishly kissing the hand of
the surgeon who performs an operation upon them; we sometimes do the
same for our spiritual surgeons, for we realize all that there is of
vigor, pity, compassion in the tortures which they inflict, and the
cries which they force from us are quite as much of gratitude as of

Men hastened from all parts to hear these preachers who were more severe
upon themselves than on anyone else. Members of the secular clergy,
monks, learned men, rich men even, often mingled in the impromptu
audiences gathered in the streets and public places. All were not
converted, but it would have been very difficult for any of them to
forget this stranger whom they met one day upon their way, and who in a
few words had moved them to the very bottom of their hearts with anxiety
and fear.

Francis was in truth, as Celano says, the bright morning star. His
simple preaching took hold on consciences, snatched his hearers from the
mire and blood in which they were painfully trudging, and in spite of
themselves carried them to the very heavens, to those serene regions
where all is silent save the voice of the heavenly Father. "The whole
country trembled, the barren land was already covered with a rich
harvest, the withered vine began again to blossom."[5]

Only a profoundly religious and poetic soul (is not the one the other?)
can understand the transports of joy which overflowed the souls of St.
Francis's spiritual sons.

The greatest crime of our industrial and commercial civilization is that
it leaves us a taste only for that which may be bought with money, and
makes us overlook the purest and truest joys which are all the time
within our reach. The evil has roots far in the past. "Wherefore," said
the God of old Isaiah, "do you weigh money for that which is not meat?
why labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken unto me, and ye shall
eat that which is good, and your soul shall delight itself in

Joys bought with money--noisy, feverish pleasures--are nothing compared
with those sweet, quiet, modest but profound, lasting, and peaceful
joys, enlarging, not wearying the heart, which we too often pass by on
one side, like those peasants whom we see going into ecstasies over the
fireworks of a fair, while they have not so much as a glance for the
glorious splendors of a summer night.

In the plain of Assisi, at an hour's walk from the city and near the
highway between Perugia and Rome, was a ruinous cottage called
Rivo-Torto. A torrent, almost always dry, but capable of becoming
terrible in a storm, descends from Mount Subasio and passes beside it.
The ruin had no owner; it had served as a leper hospital before the
construction by the Crucigeri[7] of their hospital San Salvatore
delle Pareti; but since that time it had been abandoned. Now came
Francis and his companions to seek shelter there.[8] It is one of the
quietest spots in the suburbs of Assisi, and from thence they could
easily go out into the neighborhood in all directions; it being about an
equal distance from Portiuncula and St. Damian. But the principal motive
for the choice of the place seems to have been the proximity of the
_Carceri_, as those shallow natural grottos are called which are found
in the forests, half way up the side of Mount Subasio. Following up the
bed of the torrent of Rivo-Torto one reaches them in an hour by way of
rugged and slippery paths where the very goats do not willingly venture.
Once arrived, one might fancy oneself a thousand leagues from any human
being, so numerous are the birds of prey which live here quite

Francis loved this solitude and often retired thither with a few
companions. The brethren in that case shared between them all care of
their material wants, after which, each one retiring into one of these
caves, they were able for a few days to listen only to the inner voice.

These little hermitages, sufficiently isolated to secure them from
disturbance, but near enough to the cities to permit their going thither
to preach, may be found wherever Francis went. They form, as it were, a
series of documents about his life quite as important as the written
witnesses. Something of his soul may still be found in these caverns in
the Apennine forests. He never separated the contemplative from the
active life. A precious witness to this fact is found in the
regulations for the brethren during their sojourn in hermitage.[10]

The return of the Brothers to Rivo-Torto was marked by a vast increase
of popularity. The prejudiced attacks to which they had formerly been
subjected were lost in a chorus of praises. Perhaps men suspected the
ill-will of the bishop and were happy to see him checked. However this
may be, a lively feeling of sympathy and admiration was awakened; the
people recalled to mind the indifference manifested by the son of
Bernardone a few months before with regard to Otho IV. going to be
crowned at Rome. The emperor had made a progress through Italy with a
numerous suite and a pomp designed to produce an effect on the minds of
the populace; but not only had Francis not interrupted his work to go
and see him, he had enjoined upon his friars also to abstain from going,
and had merely selected one of them to carry to the monarch a reminder
of the ephemeral nature of worldly glory. Later on it was held that he
had predicted to the emperor his approaching excommunication.

This spirited attitude made a vivid impression on the popular
imagination.[11] Perhaps it was of more service in forming general
opinion than anything he had done thus far. The masses, who are not
often alive to delicate sentiments, respond quickly to those who,
whether rightly or wrongly, do not bow down before power. This time they
perceived that where other men would see the poor, the rich, the noble,
the common, the learned, Francis saw only souls, which were to him the
more precious as they were more neglected or despised.

No biographer informs us how long the Penitents remained at Rivo-Torto.
It seems probable, however, that they spent there the latter part of
1210 and the early months of 1211, evangelizing the towns and villages
of the neighborhood.

They suffered much; this part of the plain of Assisi is inundated by
torrents nearly every autumn, and many times the poor friars, blockaded
in the lazaretto, were forced to satisfy their hunger with a few roots
from the neighboring fields.

The barrack in which they lived was so narrow that, when they were all
there at once, they had much difficulty not to crowd one another. To
secure to each one his due quota of space, Francis wrote the name of
each brother upon the column which supports the building. But these
minor discomforts in no sense disturbed their happiness. No apprehension
had as yet come to cloud Francis's hopes; he was overflowing with joy
and kindliness; all the memories which Rivo-Torto has left with the
Order are fresh and sweet pictures of him.[12]

One night all the brethren seemed to be sleeping, when he heard a
moaning. It was one of his sheep, to speak after the manner of the
Franciscan biographer, who had denied himself too rigorously and was
dying of hunger. Francis immediately rose, called the brother to him,
brought forth the meagre reserve of food, and himself began to eat to
inspire the other with courage, explaining to him that if penitence is
good it is still necessary to temper it with discretion.[13]

Francis had that tact of the heart which divines the secrets of others
and anticipates their desires. At another time, still at Rivo-Torto, he
took a sick brother by the hand, led him to a grape-vine, and,
presenting him with a fine cluster, began himself to eat of it. It was
nothing, but the simple act so bound to him the sick man's heart that
many years after the brother could not speak of it without emotion.[14]

But Francis was far from neglecting his mission. Ever growing more sure,
not of himself but of his duty toward men, he took part in the political
and social affairs of his province with the confidence of an upright and
pure heart, never able to understand how stupidity, perverseness, pride,
and indolence, by leaguing themselves together, may check the finest and
most righteous impulses. He had the faith which removes mountains, and
was wholly free from that touch of scepticism, so common in our day,
which points out that it is of no more use to move mountains than to
change the place of difficulties.

When the people of Assisi learned that his Rule had been approved by the
pope there was strong excitement; every one desired to hear him preach.
The clergy were obliged to give way; they offered him the Church of St.
George, but this church was manifestly insufficient for the crowds of
hearers; it was necessary to open the cathedral to him.

St. Francis never said anything especially new; to win hearts he had
that which is worth more than any arts of oratory--an ardent conviction;
he spoke as compelled by the imperious need of kindling others with the
flame that burned within himself. When they heard him recall the horrors
of war, the crimes of the populace, the laxity of the great, the
rapacity which dishonored the Church, the age-long widowhood of
Poverty, each one felt himself taken to task in his own conscience.

An attentive or excited crowd is always very impressionable, but this
peculiar sensitiveness was perhaps stronger in the Middle Ages than at
any other time. Nervous disturbances were in the air, and upon men thus
prepared the will of the preacher impressed itself in a manner almost

To understand what Francis's preaching must have been like we must
forget the manners of to-day, and transport ourselves for a moment to
the Cathedral of Assisi in the thirteenth century; it is still standing,
but the centuries have given to its stones a fine rust of polished
bronze, which recalls Venice and Titian's tones of ruddy gold. It was
new then, and all sparkling with whiteness, with the fine rosy tinge of
the stones of Mount Subasio. It had been built by the people of Assisi a
few years before in one of those outbursts of faith and union which were
almost everywhere the prelude of the communal movement. So, when the
people thronged into it on their high days, they not merely had none of
that vague respect for a holy place which, though it has passed into the
customs of other countries, still continues to be unknown in Italy, but
they felt themselves at home in a palace which they had built for
themselves. More than in any other church they there felt themselves at
liberty to criticise the preacher, and they had no hesitation in proving
to him, either by murmurs of dissatisfaction or by applause, just what
they thought of his words. We must remember also that the churches of
Italy have neither pews nor chairs, that one must listen standing or
kneeling, while the preacher walks about gesticulating on a platform;
add to this the general curiosity, the clamorous sympathies of many, the
disguised opposition of some, and we shall have a vague notion of the
conditions under which Francis first entered the pulpit of San Rufino.

His success was startling. The poor felt that they had found a friend, a
brother, a champion, almost an avenger. The thoughts which they hardly
dared murmur beneath their breath Francis proclaimed at the top of his
voice, daring to bid all, without distinction, to repent and love one
another. His words were a cry of the heart, an appeal to the consciences
of all his fellow-citizens, almost recalling the passionate utterances
of the prophets of Israel. Like those witnesses for Jehovah the "little
poor man" of Assisi had put on sackcloth and ashes to denounce the
iniquities of his people, like theirs was his courage and heroism, like
theirs the divine tenderness in his heart.

It seemed as if Assisi were about to recover again the feeling of Israel
for sin. The effect of these appeals was prodigious; the entire
population was thrilled, conquered, desiring in future to live only
according to Francis's counsels; his very companions, who had remained
behind at Rivo-Torto, hearing of these marvels, felt in themselves an
answering thrill, and their vocation took on a new strength; during the
night they seemed to see their master in a chariot of fire, soaring to
heaven like a new Elijah.[15]

This almost delirious enthusiasm of a whole people was not perhaps so
difficult to arouse as might be supposed: the emotional power of the
masses was at that time as great all over Europe as it was in Paris
during certain days of the Revolution. We all know the tragic and
touching story of those companies of children from the north of Europe
who appeared in 1212 in troops of several thousands, boys and girls
mingled together pell-mell. Nothing could stop them, a mania had
overtaken them, in all good faith they believed that they were to
deliver the Holy Land, that the sea would be dried up to let them pass.
They perished, we hardly know how, perhaps being sold into slavery.[16]
They were accounted martyrs, and rightly; popular devotion likened them
to the Holy Innocents, dying for a God whom they knew not. Those
children of the crusade also perished for an unknown ideal, false no
doubt; but is it not better to die for an unknown and even a false ideal
than to live for the vain realities of an utterly unpoetic existence? In
the end of time we shall be judged neither by philosophers nor by
theologians, and if we were, it is to be hoped that even in this case
love would cover a multitude of sins and pass by many follies.

Certainly if ever there was a time when religious affections of the
nerves were to be dreaded, it was that which produced such movements as
these. All Europe seemed to be beside itself; women appeared stark naked
in the streets of towns and villages, slowly walking up and down, silent
as phantoms.[17] We can understand now the accounts which have come
down to us, so fantastic at the first glance, of certain popular orators
of this time; of Berthold of Ratisbon, for example, who drew together
crowds of sixteen thousand persons, or of that Fra Giovanni Schio di
Vicenza, who for a time quieted all Northern Italy and brought Guelphs
and Ghibellines into one another's arms.[18]

That popular eloquence which was to accomplish so many marvels in 1233
comes down in a straight line from the Franciscan movement. It was St.
Francis who set the example of those open-air sermons given in the
vulgar tongue, at street corners, in public squares, in the fields.

To feel the change which he brought about we must read the sermons of
his contemporaries; declamatory, scholastic, subtile, they delighted in
the minutiæ of exegesis or dogma, serving up refined dissertations on
the most obscure texts of the Old Testament, to hearers starving for a
simple and wholesome diet.

With Francis, on the contrary, all is incisive, clear, practical. He
pays no attention to the precepts of the rhetoricians, he forgets
himself completely, thinking only of the end desired, the conversion of
souls. And conversion was not in his view something vague and
indistinct, which must take place only between God and the hearer. No,
he will have immediate and practical proofs of conversion. Men must give
up ill-gotten gains, renounce their enmities, be reconciled with their

At Assisi he threw himself valiantly into the thick of civil
dissensions. The agreement of 1202 between the parties who divided the
city had been wholly ephemeral. The common people were continually
demanding new liberties, which the nobles and burghers would yield to
them only under the pressure of fear. Francis took up the cause of the
weak, the _minores_, and succeeded in reconciling them with the rich,
the _majores_.

His spiritual family had not as yet, properly speaking, a name, for,
unlike those too hasty spirits who baptize their productions before they
have come to light, he was waiting for the occasion that should reveal
the true name which he ought to give it.[19] One day someone was
reading the Rule in his presence. When he came to the passage, "Let the
brethren, wherever they may find themselves called to labor or to serve,
never take an office which shall put them over others, but on the
contrary, let them be always under (_sint minores_) all those who may be
in that house,"[20] these words _sint minores_ of the Rule, in the
circumstances then existing in the city, suddenly appeared to him as a
providential indication. His institution should be called the Order of
the Brothers Minor.

We may imagine the effect of this determination. The _Saint_, for
already this magic word had burst forth where he appeared,[21] the
Saint had spoken. It was he who was about to bring peace to the city,
acting as arbiter between the two factions which rent it.

We still possess the document of this _pace civile_, exhumed, so to
speak, from the communal archives of Assisi by the learned and pious
Antonio Cristofani.[22] The opening lines are as follows:

    "In the name of God!

    "May the supreme grace of the Holy Spirit assist us! To the
    honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Virgin Mary, the
    Emperor Otho, and Duke Leopold.

    "This is the statute and perpetual agreement between the
    _Majori_ and _Minori_ of Assisi.

    "Without common consent there shall never be any sort of
    alliance either with the pope and his nuncios or legates, or
    with the emperor, or with the king, or with their nuncios or
    legates, or with any city or town, or with any important person,
    except with a common accord they shall do all which there may be
    to do for the honor, safety, and advantage of the commune of

What follows is worthy of the beginning. The lords, in consideration of
a small periodical payment, should renounce all the feudal rights; the
inhabitants of the villages subject to Assisi were put on a par with
those of the city, foreigners were protected, the assessment of taxes
was fixed. On Wednesday, November 9, 1210, this agreement was signed and
sworn to in the public place of Assisi; it was made in such good faith
that exiles were able to return in peace, and from this day we find in
the city registers the names of those _émigrés_ who, in 1202, had
betrayed their city and provoked the disastrous war with Perugia.
Francis might well be happy. Love had triumphed, and for several years
there were at Assisi neither victors nor vanquished.

In the mystic marriages which here and there in history unite a man to a
people, something takes place of which the transports of sense, the
delirium of love, seem to be the only symbol; a moment comes in which
saints, or men of genius, feel unknown powers striving mightily within
them; they strive, they seek, they struggle until, triumphing over all
obstacles, they have forced trembling, swooning humanity to conceive by

This moment had come to St. Francis.


   [1] 1 Cel., 34; 3 Soc., 53; Bon., 39.

   [2] Probably at Otricoli, which lies on the high-road between
       Rome and Spoleto. Orte is an hour and a half further on. It is
       the ancient _Otriculum_, where many antiquities have been found.

   [3] 1 Cel., 35; Bon., 40 and 41.

   [4] The only road connecting Celano with Rome, as well as with
       all Central and Northern Italy, passes by Aquila, Rieti, and
       Terni, where it joins the high-roads leading from the north
       toward Rome.

   [5] 1 Cel., 36 and 37; 3 Soc., 54; Bon., 45-48.

   [6] Isaiah, lv., 2.

   [7] This Order deserves to be better known; it was founded under
       Alexander III. and rapidly spread all over Central Italy and the
       East. In Francis's lifetime it had in Italy and the Holy Land
       about forty houses dedicated to the care of lepers. It is very
       probable that it was at _San Salvatore delle Pareti_ that
       Francis visited these unhappy sufferers. He there made the
       particular acquaintance of a Cruciger named _Morico_. The latter
       afterward falling ill, Francis sent him a remedy which would
       cure him, informing him at the same time that he was to become
       his disciple, which shortly afterward took place. The hospital
       _San Salvatore_ has disappeared; it stood in the place now
       called _Ospedaletto_, where a small chapel now stands half way
       between Assisi and Santa Maria degli Angeli. It was from there
       that the dying Francis blessed Assisi. For Morico vide 3 Soc.,
       35; Bon., 49; 2 Cel., 3, 128; _Conform._, 63b.--For the hospital
       vide Bon., 49; _Conform._, 135a, 1; _Honorii III. opera_, Horoy,
       t. i., col. 206. Cf. Potthast, 7746; L. Auvray, _Registres de
       Grégoire IX._, Paris, 1890, 4to, no. 209. For the Crucigeri in
       the time of St. Francis vide the interesting bull _Cum tu fili
       prior_, of July 8, 1203; Migne, _Inn. op._, t. ii., col. 125 ff.
       Cf. Potthast, 1959, and _Cum pastoris_, April 5, 1204; Migne,
       _loc. cit._, 319. Cf. Potthast, 2169 and 4474.

   [8] 3 Soc., 55.

   [9] All this yet remains in its primitive state. The road which
       went from Assisi to the now ruined Abbey of Mount Subasio
       (almost on the summit of the mountain) passed the Carceri, where
       there was a little chapel built by the Benedictines.

  [10] _Illi qui religiose volunt stare in eremis sint tres aut
       quatuor ad plus. Duo ex ipsis sint matres, et habeant duos
       filios, vel unum ad minus. Illi duo teneant vitam Marthæ et alii
       duo vitam Mariæ Magdalenæ._ Assisi MS., 338, 43a-b; text given
       also in _Conf._, 143a, 1, from which Wadding borrows it for his
       edition of the _Opuscules_ of St. Francis. Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 113.
       It is possible that we have here a fragment of the Rule, which
       must have been composed toward 1217.

  [11] 1 Cel., 42 and 43; 3 Soc., 55; Bon., 41.

  [12] 1 Cel., 42-44.

  [13] 2 Cel., 1, 15; Bon., 65. These two authors do not say where
       the event took place; but there appears to be no reason for
       suspecting the indication of Rivo-Torto given by the _Speculum_,
       fo. 21a.

  [14] 2 Cel., 3, 110. Cf. _Spec._, 22a.

  [15] 1 Cel., 47; Bon., 43.

  [16] There are few events of the thirteenth century that offer
       more documents or are more obscure than this one. The
       chroniclers of the most different countries speak of it at
       length. Here is one of the shortest but most exact of the
       notices, given by an eye-witness (Annals of Genoa of the years
       1197-1219, _apud Mon. Germ. hist. Script_., t. 18): 1212 _in
       mense Augusti, die Sabbati, octava Kalendarum Septembris,
       intravit civitatem Janue quidam puer Teutonicus nomine Nicholaus
       peregrinationis causa, et cum eo multitudo maxima pelegrinorum
       defferentes cruces et bordonos atque scarsellas ultra septem
       millia arbitratu boni viri inter homines et feminas et puellos
       et puellas. Et die dominica sequenti de civitate exierunt_.--Cf.
       Giacomo di Viraggio: Muratori, t. ix., col. 46: _Dicebant quod
       mare debebat apud Januam siccari et sic ipsi debebant in
       Hierusalem proficisci. Multi autem inter eos erant filii
       Nobilium, quos ipsi etiam cum meretricibus destinarunt (!_) The
       most tragic account is that of Alberic, who relates the fate of
       the company that embarked at Marseilles. _Mon. Ger. hist.
       Script_., t. 23, p. 894.

  [17] The Benedictine chronicler, Albert von Stade (_Mon. Ger.
       hist. Script_., t. 16, pp. 271-379), thus closes his notice of
       the children's crusade: _Adhuc quo devenerint ignorantur sed
       plurimi redierunt, a quibus cum quæreretur causa cursus dixerunt
       se nescire. Nudæ etiam mulieres circa idem tempus nihil
       loquentes per villas et civitates cucurrerunt._ _Loc. cit._,
       p. 355.

  [18] _Chron. Veronese, ann. 1238_ (Muratori, _Scriptores Rer.
       Ital._, t. viii., p. 626). Cf. Barbarano de' Mironi: _Hist.
       Eccles. di Vicenza_, t. ii., pp. 79-84.

  [19] The Brothers were at first called _Viri pænitentiales de
       civitate Assisii_ (3 Soc., 37); it appears that they had a
       momentary thought of calling themselves _Pauperes de Assisio_,
       but they were doubtless dissuaded from this at Rome, as too
       closely resembling that of the _Pauperes de Lugduno_. Vide
       _Burchardi chronicon._, p. 376; vide Introd., cap. 5.

  [20] Vide Rule of 1221, _cap._ 7. Cf. 1 Cel., 38, and Bon., 78.

  [21] 1 Cel., 36.

  [22] _Storia d'Assisi_, t. i., pp. 123-129.

       *       *       *       *       *




It was doubtless toward the spring of 1211 that the Brothers quitted
Rivo-Torto. They were engaged in prayer one day, when a peasant appeared
with an ass, which he noisily drove before him into the poor shelter.

"Go in, go in!" he cried to his beast; "we shall be most comfortable
here." It appeared that he was afraid that if the Brothers remained
there much longer they would begin to think this deserted place was
their own.[1] Such rudeness was very displeasing to Francis, who
immediately arose and departed, followed by his companions.

Now that they were so numerous the Brothers could no longer continue
their wandering life in all respects as in the past; they had need of a
permanent shelter and above all of a little chapel. They addressed
themselves in vain first to the bishop and then to the canons of San
Rufino for the loan of what they needed, but were more fortunate with
the abbot of the Benedictines of Mount Subasio, who ceded to them in
perpetuity the use of a chapel already very dear to their hearts, Santa
Maria degli Angeli or the Portiuncula.[2]

Francis was enchanted; he saw a mysterious harmony, ordained by God
himself, between the name of the humble sanctuary and that of his Order.
The brethren quickly built for themselves a few huts; a quickset hedge
served as enclosing wall, and thus in three or four days was organized
the first Franciscan convent.

For ten years they were satisfied with this. These ten years are the
heroic period of the Order. St. Francis, in full possession of his
ideal, will seek to inculcate it upon his disciples and will succeed
sometimes; but already the too rapid multiplication of the brotherhood
will provoke some symptoms of relaxation.

The remembrance of the beginning of this period has drawn from the lips
of Thomas of Celano a sort of canticle in honor of the monastic life. It
is the burning and untranslatable commentary of the Psalmist's cry:
"_Behold how sweet and pleasant it is to be brethren and to dwell

Their cloister was the forest which then extended on all sides of
Portiuncula, occupying a large part of the plain. There they gathered
around their master to receive his spiritual counsels, and thither they
retired to meditate and pray.[3] It would be a gross mistake, however,
to suppose that contemplation absorbed them completely during the days
which were not consecrated to missionary tours: a part of their time was
spent in manual labor.

The intentions of St. Francis have been more misapprehended on this
point than on any other, but it may be said that nowhere is he more
clear than when he ordains that his friars shall gain their livelihood
by the work of their hands. He never dreamed of creating a _mendicant_
order, he created a _laboring_ order. It is true we shall often see him
begging and urging his disciples to do as much, but these incidents
ought not to mislead us; they are meant to teach that when a friar
arrived in any locality and there spent his strength for long days in
dispensing spiritual bread to famished souls, he ought not to blush to
receive material bread in exchange. To work was the rule, to beg the
exception; but this exception was in nowise dishonorable. Did not Jesus,
the Virgin, the disciples live on bread bestowed? Was it not rendering a
great service to those to whom they resorted to teach them charity?

Francis in his poetic language gave the name of _mensa Domini_, the
table of the Lord, to this table of love around which gathered the
_little poor ones_. The bread of charity is the bread of angels; and it
is also that of the birds, which reap not nor gather into barns.

We are far enough, in this case, from that mendicity which is understood
as a means of existence and the essential condition of a life of
idleness. It is the opposite extreme, and we are true and just to St.
Francis and to the origin of the mendicant orders only when we do not
separate the obligation of labor from the praise of mendicity.[4]

No doubt this zeal did not last long, and Thomas of Celano already
entitles his chapters, "_Lament before God over the idleness and
gluttony of the friars_;" but we must not permit this speedy and
inevitable decadence to veil from our sight the holy and manly beauty of
the origin.

With all his gentleness Francis knew how to show an inflexible severity
toward the idle; he even went so far as to dismiss a friar who refused
to work.[5] Nothing in this matter better shows the intentions of the
Poverello than the life of Brother Egidio, one of his dearest
companions, him of whom he said with a smile: "He is one of the paladins
of my Round Table."

Brother Egidio had a taste for great adventures, and is a living example
of a Franciscan of the earliest days; he survived his master twenty-five
years, and never ceased to obey the letter and spirit of the Rule with
freedom and simplicity.

We find him one day setting out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Arrived at Brindisi, he borrowed a water-jug that he might carry water
while he was awaiting the departure of the ship, and passed a part of
every day in crying through the streets of the city: "_Alla fresca! Alla
fresca!_" like other water-carriers. But he would change his trade
according to the country and the circumstances; on his way back, at
Ancona, he procured willow for making baskets, which he afterward sold,
not for money but for his food. It even happened to him to be employed
in burying the dead.

Sent to Rome, every morning after finishing his religious duties, he
would take a walk of several leagues, to a certain forest, whence he
brought a load of wood. Coming back one day he met a lady who wanted to
buy it; they agreed on a price, and Egidio carried it to her house. But
when he arrived at the house she perceived him to be a friar, and would
have given him more than the price agreed upon. "My good lady," he
replied, "I will not permit myself to be overcome by avarice," and he
departed without accepting anything at all.

In the olive season he helped in the gathering; in grape season he
offered himself as vintager. One day on the Piazza di Roma, where men
are hired for day's work, he saw a _padrone_ who could not find a man to
thrash his walnut tree; it was so high that no one dared risk himself
in it. "If you will give me part of the nuts," said Egidio, "I will do
it willingly." The bargain struck and the tree thrashed, there proved to
be so many nuts that he did not know where to put his share. Gathering
up his tunic he made a bag of it and full of joy returned to Rome, where
he distributed them among all the poor whom he met.

Is not this a charming incident? Does it not by itself alone reveal the
freshness, the youth, the kindness of heart of the first Franciscans?
There is no end to the stories of the ingenuousness of Brother Egidio.
All kinds of work seemed good to him provided he had time enough in the
morning for his religious duties. Now he is in the service of the
Cellarer of the Four Crowns at Rome, sifting flour and carrying water to
the convent from the well of San Sisto. Now he is at Rieti, where he
consents to remain with Cardinal Nicholas, bringing to every meal the
bread which he had earned, notwithstanding the entreaties of the master
of the house, who would gladly have provided for his wants. One day it
rained so hard that Brother Egidio could not think of going out; the
cardinal was already making merry over the thought that he would be
forced to accept bread that he had not earned. But Egidio went to the
kitchen, and finding that it needed cleaning he persuaded the cook to
let him sweep it, and returned triumphant with the bread he had earned,
which he ate at the cardinal's table.[6]

From the very beginning Egidio's life commanded respect; it was at once
so original, so gay, so spiritual,[7] and so mystical, that even in
the least exact and most expanded accounts his legend has remained
almost free from all addition. He is, after St. Francis, the finest
incarnation of the Franciscan spirit.

The incidents which are here cited are all, so to speak, illustrations
of the Rule; in fact there is nothing more explicit than its commands
with respect to work.

The Brothers, after entering upon the Order, were to continue to
exercise the calling which they had when in the world, and if they had
none they were to learn one. For payment they were to accept only the
food that was necessary for them, but in case that was insufficient they
might beg. In addition they were naturally permitted to own the
instruments of their calling.[8] Brother Ginepro, whose acquaintance
we shall make further on, had an awl, and gained his bread wherever he
went by mending shoes, and we see St. Clara working even on her

This obligation to work with the hands merits all the more to be brought
into the light, because it was destined hardly to survive St. Francis,
and because to it is due in part the original character of the first
generation of the Order. Yet this was not the real reason for the being
of the Brothers Minor. Their mission consisted above all in being the
spouses of Poverty.

Terrified by the ecclesiastical disorders of the time, haunted by
painful memories of his past life, Francis saw in money the special
instrument of the devil; in moments of excitement he went so far as to
execrate it, as if there had been in the metal itself a sort of magical
power and secret curse. Money was truly for him the sacrament of evil.

This is not the place for asking if he was wrong; grave authors have
demonstrated at length the economic troubles which would have been let
loose upon the world if men had followed him. Alas! his madness, if
madness it were, is a kind of which one need not fear the contagion.

He felt that in this respect the Rule could not be too absolute, and
that if unfortunately the door was opened to various interpretations of
it, there would be no stopping-point. The course of events and the
periodical convulsions which shook his Order show clearly enough how
rightly he judged.

I do not know nor desire to know if theologians have yet come to a
scientific conclusion with regard to the poverty of Jesus, but it seems
evident to me that poverty with the labor of the hands is the ideal held
up by the Galilean to the efforts of his disciples.

Still it is easy to see that Franciscan poverty is neither to be
confounded with the unfeeling pride of the stoic, nor with the stupid
horror of all joy felt by certain devotees; St. Francis renounced
everything only that he might the better possess everything. The lives
of the immense majority of our contemporaries are ruled by the fatal
error that the more one possesses the more one enjoys. Our exterior,
civil liberties continually increase, but at the same time our inward
freedom is taking flight; how many are there among us who are literally
possessed by what they possess?[9]

Poverty not only permitted the Brothers to mingle with the poor and
speak to them with authority, but, removing from them all material
anxiety, it left them free to enjoy without hindrance those hidden
treasures which nature reserves for pure idealists.

The ever-thickening barriers which modern life, with its sickly search
for useless comfort, has set up between us and nature did not exist for
these men, so full of youth and life, eager for wide spaces and the
outer air. This is what gave St. Francis and his companions that quick
susceptibility to Nature which made them thrill in mysterious harmony
with her. Their communion with Nature was so intimate, so ardent, that
Umbria, with the harmonious poetry of its skies, the joyful outburst of
its spring-time, is still the best document from which to study them.
The tie between the two is so indissoluble, that after having lived a
certain time in company with St. Francis, one can hardly, on reading
certain passages of his biographers, help _seeing_ the spot where the
incident took place, hearing the vague sounds of creatures and things,
precisely as, when reading certain pages of a beloved author, one hears
the sound of his voice.

The worship of Poverty of the early Franciscans had in it, then, nothing
ascetic or barbarous, nothing which recalls the Stylites or the Nazirs.
She was their bride, and like true lovers they felt no fatigues which
they might endure to find and remain near her.

  La lor concordia e lor lieti sembianti,
  Amor e maraviglia e dolce sguardo
  Facean esser cagion de' pensier santi.[10]

To draw the portrait of an ideal knight at the beginning of the
thirteenth century is to draw Francis's very portrait, with this
difference, that what the knight did for his lady, he did for Poverty.
This comparison is not a mere caprice; he himself profoundly felt it and
expressed it with perfect clearness, and it is only by keeping it
clearly present in the mind that we can see into the very depth of his

To find any other souls of the same nature one must come down to
Giovanni di Parma and Jacoponi di Todi. The life of St. Francis as
troubadour has been written; it would have been better to write it as
knight, for this is the explanation of his whole life, and as it were
the heart of his heart. From the day when, forgetting the songs of his
friends and suddenly stopped in the public place of Assisi, he met
Poverty, his bride, and swore to her faith and love, down to that
evening when, naked upon the naked earth of Portiuncula, he breathed out
his life, it may be said that all his thoughts went out to this lady of
his chaste loves. For twenty years he served her without faltering,
sometimes with an artlessness which would appear infantine, if something
infinitely sincere and sublime did not arrest the smile upon the most
sceptical lips.

Poverty agreed marvellously with that need which men had at that time,
and which perhaps they have lost less than they suppose, the need of an
ideal very high, very pure, mysterious, inaccessible, which yet they may
picture to themselves in concrete form. Sometimes a few privileged
disciples saw the lovely and pure Lady descend from heaven to salute her
spouse, but, whether visible or not, she always kept close beside her
Umbrian lover, as she kept close beside the Galilean; in the stable of
the nativity, upon the cross at Golgotha, and even in the borrowed tomb
where his body lay.

During several years this ideal was not alone that of St. Francis, but
also of all the Brothers. In poverty the _gente poverelle_ had found
safety, love, liberty; and all the efforts of the new apostles are
directed to the keeping of this precious treasure.

Their worship sometimes might seem excessive. They showed their spouse
those delicate attentions, those refinements of courtesy so frequent in
the morning light of a betrothal, but which one gradually forgets till
they become incomprehensible.[12]

The number of disciples continually increased; almost every week brought
new recruits; the year 1211 was without doubt devoted by Francis to a
tour in Umbria and the neighboring provinces. His sermons were short
appeals to conscience; his heart went out to his hearers in ineffable
tones, so that when men tried to repeat what they had heard they found
themselves incapable.[13] The Rule of 1221 has preserved for us a
summary of these appeals:

    "Here is an exhortation which all the Brothers may make when
    they think best: Fear and honor God, praise and bless him. Give
    thanks unto him. Adore the Lord, Almighty God, in Trinity and
    unity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Repent and make
    fruits meet for repentance, for you know that we shall soon die.
    Give, and it shall be given unto you. Forgive, and you shall be
    forgiven; for if you forgive not, God will not forgive you.
    Blessed are they who die repenting, for they shall be in the
    kingdom of heaven.... Abstain carefully from all evil, and
    persevere in the good until the end."[14]

We see how simple and purely ethical was the early Franciscan preaching.
The complications of dogma and scholasticism are entirely absent from
it. To understand how new this was and how refreshing to the soul we
must study the disciples that came after him.

With St. Anthony of Padua ([Cross] June 13, 1231; canonized in 1233[15]),
the most illustrious of them all, the descent is immense. The distance
between these two men is as great as that which separates Jesus from
St. Paul.

I do not judge the disciple; he was of his time in not knowing how to
say simply what he thought, in always desiring to subtilize it, to
extract it from passages in the Bible turned from their natural meaning
by efforts at once laborious and puerile; what the alchemists did in
their continual making of strange mixtures from which they fancied that
they should bring out gold, the preachers did to the texts, in order to
bring out the truth.

The originality of St. Francis is only the more brilliant and
meritorious; with him gospel simplicity reappeared upon the earth.[16]
Like the lark with which he so much loved to compare himself,[17] he
was at his ease only in the open sky. He remained thus until his death.
The epistle to all Christians which he dictated in the last weeks of his
life repeats the same ideas in the same terms, perhaps with a little
more feeling and a shade of sadness. The evening breeze which breathed
upon his face and bore away his words was their symbolical

"I, Brother Francis, the least of your servants, pray and conjure you by
that Love which is God himself, willing to throw myself at your feet and
kiss them, to receive with humility and love these words and all others
of our Lord Jesus Christ, to put them to profit and carry them out."

This was not a more or less oratorical formula. Hence conversions
multiplied with an incredible rapidity. Often, as formerly with Jesus, a
look, a word sufficed Francis to attach to himself men who would follow
him until their death. It is impossible, alas! to analyze the best of
this eloquence, all made of love, intimate apprehension, and fire. The
written word can no more give an idea of it than it can give us an idea
of a sonata of Beethoven or a painting by Rembrandt. We are often
amazed, on reading the memoirs of those who have been great conquerors
of souls, to find ourselves remaining cold, finding in them all no trace
of animation or originality. It is because we have only a lifeless relic
in the hand; the soul is gone. It is the white wafer of the sacrament,
but how shall that rouse in us the emotions of the beloved disciple
lying on the Lord's breast on the night of the Last Supper?

The class from which Francis recruited his disciples was still about the
same; they were nearly all young men of Assisi and its environs, some
the sons of agriculturists, and others nobles; the School and the Church
was very little represented among them.[18]

Everything still went on with an unheard-of simplicity. In theory,
obedience to the superior was absolute; in practice, we can see Francis
continually giving his companions complete liberty of action.[19] Men
entered the Order without a novitiate of any sort; it sufficed to say to
Francis that they wanted to lead with him a life of evangelical
perfection, and to prove it by giving all that they possessed to the
poor. The more unpretending were the neophytes, the more tenderness he
had for them. Like his Master, he had a partiality for those who were
lost, for men whom regular society casts out of its limits, but who with
all their crimes and scandals are nearer to sainthood than mediocrities
and hypocrites.

    One day St. Francis, passing by the desert of Borgo San Sepolcro
    came to a place called Monte-Casale,[20] and behold a noble and
    refined young man came to him. "Father," he said, "I would
    gladly be one of your disciples."

    "My son," said St. Francis, "you are young, refined, and noble;
    you will not be able to follow poverty and live wretched like

    "But, my father, are not you men like me? What you do I can do
    with the grace of Jesus." This reply was well-pleasing to St.
    Francis, who, giving him his blessing, incontinently received
    him into the Order under the name of Brother Angelo.

    He conducted himself so well that a little while after he was
    made guardian[21] of Monte-Casale. Now, in those times there
    were three famous robbers who did much evil in the country. They
    came to the hermitage one day to beg Brother Angelo to give them
    something to eat; but he replied to them with severe reproaches:
    "What! robbers, evil-doers, assassins, have you not only no
    shame for stealing the goods of others, but you would farther
    devour the alms of the servants of God, you who are not worthy
    to live, and who have respect neither for men nor for God your
    Creator. Depart, and let me never see you here again!"

    They went away full of rage. But behold, the Saint returned,
    bringing a wallet of bread and a bottle of wine which had been
    given him, and the guardian told him how he had sent away the
    robbers; then St. Francis reproved him severely for showing
    himself so cruel.... "I command thee by thine obedience," said
    he, "to take at once this loaf and this wine and go seek the
    robbers by hill and dell until you have found them, to offer
    them this as from me, and to kneel there before them and humbly
    ask their pardon, and pray them in my name no longer to do wrong
    but to fear God; and if they do it, I promise to provide for all
    their wants, to see that they always have enough to eat and
    drink. After that you may humbly return hither."

    Brother Angelo did all that had been commanded him, while St.
    Francis on his part prayed God to convert the robbers. They
    returned with the brother, and when St. Francis gave them the
    assurance of the pardon of God, they changed their lives and
    entered the Order, in which they lived and died most

What has sometimes been said of the voice of the blood is still more
true of the voice of the soul. When a man truly wakens another to moral
life, he gains for himself an unspeakable gratitude. The word _master_
is often profaned, but it can express the noblest and purest of earthly

Who are those among us, who in the hours of manly innocence when they
examine their own consciences, do not see rising up before them from out
of the past the ever beloved and loving face of one who, perhaps without
knowing it, initiated them into spiritual things? At such a time we
would throw ourselves at the feet of this father, would tell him in
burning words of our admiration and gratitude. We cannot do it, for the
soul has its own bashfulness; but who knows that our disquietude and
embarrassment do not betray us, and unveil, better than words could do,
the depths of our heart? The air they breathed at Portiuncula was all
impregnated with joy and gratitude like this.

To many of the Brothers, St. Francis was truly a saviour; he had
delivered them from chains heavier than those of prisons. And therefore
their greatest desire was in their turn to call others to this same

We have already seen Brother Bernardo on a mission to Florence a few
months after his entrance into the Order. Arrived at maturity when he
put on the habit, he appears in some degree the senior of this apostolic
college. He knew how to obey St. Francis and remain faithful to the very
end to the ideal of the early days; but he had no longer that privilege
of the young--of Brother Leo, for example--of being able to transform
himself almost entirely into the image of him whom he admired. His
physiognomy has not that touch of juvenile originality, of poetic fancy,
which is so great a charm of the others.

Toward this epoch two Brothers entered the Order, men such as the
successors of St. Francis never received, whose history throws a bright
light on the simplicity of the early days. It will be remembered with
what zeal Francis had repaired several churches; his solicitude went
further; he saw a sort of profanation in the negligence with which most
of them were kept; the want of cleanliness of the sacred objects,
ill-concealed by tinsel, gave him a sort of pain, and it often happened
that when he was going to preach somewhere he secretly called together
the priests of the locality and implored them to look after the decency
of the service. But even in these cases he was not content to preach
only in words; binding together some stalks of heather he would make
them into brooms for sweeping out the churches.

One day in the suburbs of Assisi he was performing this task when a
peasant appeared, who had left his oxen and cart out in the fields while
he came to gaze at him.

    "Brother," said he on entering, "give me the broom. I will help
    you," and he swept out the rest of the church.

    When he had finished, "Brother," he said to Francis, "for a long
    time I have decided to serve God, especially when I heard men
    speak of you. But I never knew how to find you. Now it has
    pleased God that we should meet, and henceforth I shall do
    whatever you may please to command me."

    Francis seeing his fervor felt a great joy; it seemed to him
    that with his simplicity and honesty he would become a good

It appears indeed that he had only too much simplicity, for after his
reception he felt himself bound to imitate every motion of the master,
and when the latter coughed, spat, or sighed, he did the same. At last
Francis noticed it and gently reproved him. Later he became so perfect
that the other friars admired him greatly, and after his death, which
took place not long after, St. Francis loved to relate his conversion,
calling him not Brother John, but Brother St. John.[23]

Ginepro is still more celebrated for his holy follies.

One day he went to see a sick Brother and offered him his services. The
patient confessed that he had a great longing to eat a pig's foot; the
visitor immediately rushed out, and armed with a knife ran to the
neighboring forest, where, espying a troop of pigs, he cut off a foot of
one of them, returning to the monastery full of pride over his trophy.

The owner of the pigs shortly followed, howling like mad, but Ginepro
went straight to him and pointed out with so much volubility that he had
done him a great service, that the man, after overwhelming him with
reproaches, suddenly begged pardon, killed the pig and invited all the
Brothers to feast upon it. Ginepro was probably less mad than the story
would lead us to suppose; Franciscan humility never had a more sincere
disciple; he could not endure the tokens of admiration which the
populace very early lavished on the growing Order, and which by their
extravagance contributed so much to its decadence.

One day, as he was entering Rome, the report of his arrival spread
abroad, and a great crowd came out to meet him. To escape was
impossible, but he suddenly had an inspiration; near the gate of the
city some children were playing at see-saw; to the great amazement of
the Romans Ginepro joined them, and, without heeding the salutations
addressed to him, remained so absorbed in his play that at last his
indignant admirers departed.[24]

It is clear that the life at Portiuncula must have been very different
from that of an ordinary convent. So much youth,[25] simplicity, love,
quickly drew the eyes of men toward it. From all sides they were turned
to those thatched huts, where dwelt a spiritual family whose members
loved one another more than men love on earth, leading a life of labor,
mirth, and devotion. The humble chapel seemed a new Zion destined to
enlighten the world, and many in their dreams beheld blind humanity
coming to kneel there and recover sight.[26]

Among the first disciples who joined themselves to St. Francis we must
mention Brother Silvestro, the first priest who entered the Order, the
very same whom we have already seen the day that Bernardo di Quintevalle
distributed his goods among the poor. Since then he had not had a
moment's peace, bitterly reproaching himself for his avarice; night and
day he thought only of that, and in his dreams he saw Francis exorcising
a horrid monster which infested all the region.[27]

By his age and the nature of the memory he has left behind him Silvestro
resembles Brother Bernardo. He was what is usually understood by a holy
priest, but nothing denotes that he had the truly Franciscan love of
great enterprises, distant journeys, perilous missions. Withdrawn into
one of the grottos of the Carceri, absorbed in the contemplative life,
he gave spiritual counsels to his brethren as occasion served.[28]

The typical Franciscan priest is Brother Leo. The date of his entrance
into the Order is not exactly known, but we are probably not far from
the truth in placing it about 1214. Of a charming simplicity, tender,
affectionate, refined, he is, with Brother Elias, the one who plays the
noblest part during the obscure years in which the new reform was being
elaborated. Becoming Francis's confessor and secretary, treated by him
as his favorite son, he excited much opposition, and was to the end of
his long life the head of the strict observance.[29]

    One winter's day, St. Francis was going with Brother Leo from
    Perugia to Santa Maria degli Angeli, and the cold, being
    intense, made them shiver; he called Brother Leo, who was
    walking a little in advance, and said: "O Brother Leo, may it
    please God that the Brothers Minor all over the world may give a
    great example of holiness and edification; write, however, and
    note with care, that not in this is the perfect joy."

    St. Francis, going on a little farther, called him a second
    time: "O Brother Leo, if the Brothers Minor gave sight to the
    blind, healed the infirm, cast out demons, gave hearing to the
    deaf, or even what is much more, if they raised the four days
    dead, write that not in this is the perfect joy."

    Going on a little farther he cried: "O Brother Leo, if the
    Brother Minor knew all languages, all science, and all
    scriptures, if he could prophesy and reveal not only future
    things but even the secrets of consciences and of souls, write
    that not in this consists the perfect joy."

    Going a little farther St. Francis called to him again: "O
    Brother Leo, little sheep of God, if the Brother Minor could
    speak the language of angels, if he knew the courses of the
    stars and the virtues of plants, if all the treasures of earth
    were revealed to him, and he knew the qualities of birds,
    fishes, and all animals, of men, trees, rocks, roots, and
    waters, write that not in these is the perfect joy."

    And advancing still a little farther St. Francis called loudly
    to him: "O Brother Leo, if the Brother Minor could preach so
    well as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write
    that not in this is the perfect joy."

    While speaking thus they had already gone more than two miles,
    and Brother Leo, full of surprise, said to him: "Father, I pray
    you in God's name tell me in what consists the perfect joy."

    And St. Francis replied: "When we arrive at Santa Maria degli
    Angeli, soaked with rain, frozen with cold, covered with mud,
    dying of hunger, and we knock and the porter comes in a rage,
    saying, 'Who are you?' and we answer, 'We are two of your
    brethren,' and he says, 'You lie, you are two lewd fellows who
    go up and down corrupting the world and stealing the alms of the
    poor. Go away from here!' and he does not open to us, but leaves
    us outside shivering in the snow and rain, frozen, starved, till
    night; then, if thus maltreated and turned away, we patiently
    endure all without murmuring against him, if we think with
    humility and charity that this porter really knows us truly and
    that God makes him speak thus to us, then, O Brother Leo, write
    that in this is the perfect joy.... Above all the graces and all
    the gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to his friends is the
    grace to conquer oneself, and willingly to suffer pain,
    outrages, disgrace, and evil treatment, for the love of

Although by its slight and somewhat playful character this story recalls
the insipid statues of the fourteenth century, it has justly become
celebrated, its spirit is thoroughly Franciscan; that transcendent
idealism, which sees in perfection and joy two equivalent terms, and
places perfect joy in the pure and serene region of the perfecting of
oneself; that sublime simplicity which so easily puts in their true
place the miracle-worker and the scholar, these are perhaps not entirely
new;[31] but St. Francis must have had singular moral strength to
impose upon his contemporaries ideas in such absolute contradiction to
their habits and their hopes; for the intellectual aristocracy of the
thirteenth century with one accord found the perfect joy in knowledge,
while the people found it in miracles.

Doubtless we must not forget those great mystical families, which, all
through the Middle Ages, were the refuge of the noblest souls; but they
never had this fine simplicity. The School is always more or less the
gateway to mysticism; it is possible only to an elect of subtile minds;
a pious peasant seldom understands the Imitation.

It may be said that all St. Francis's philosophy is contained in this
chapter of the Fioretti.[32] From it we foresee what will be his
attitude toward learning, and are helped to understand how it happens
that this famous saint was so poor a miracle-worker.

Twelve centuries before, Jesus had said, "Blessed are the poor in
spirit. Blessed are they who suffer." The words of St. Francis are only
a commentary, but this commentary is worthy of the text.

It remains to say a word concerning two disciples who were always
closely united with Brother Leo in the Franciscan memorials--Rufino and

Born of a noble family connected with that of St. Clara, the former was
soon distinguished in the Order for his visions and ecstasies, but his
great timidity checked him as soon as he tried to preach: for this
reason he is always to be found in the most isolated hermitages--Carceri,
Verna, Greccio.[33]

Masseo, of Marignano, a small village in the environs of Assisi, was his
very opposite; handsome, well made, witty, he attracted attention by his
fine presence and his great facility of speech; he occupies a special
place in popular Franciscan tradition. He deserves it. St. Francis, to
test his humility, made him the porter and cook of the hermitage,[34]
but in these functions Masseo showed himself to be so perfectly a
_Minor_ that from that time the master particularly loved to have him
for companion in his missionary journeys.

One day they were travelling together, when they arrived at the
intersection of the roads to Sienna, Arezzo, and Florence.

"Which one shall we take?" asked Masseo.

"Whichever one God wills."

"But how shall we know which one God wills?"

"You shall see. Go and stand at the crossing of the roads, turn round
and round as the children do, and do not stop until I bid you."

Brother Masseo began to turn; seized with a vertigo, he was nearly
falling, but caught himself up at once. Finally Francis called out,
"Stop! which way are you facing?"

"Toward Sienna."

"Very well; God wills that we go to Sienna."[35]

Such a method of making up one's mind is doubtless not for the daily
needs of life, but Francis employed still others, like it, if not in
form at least in fact.

Up to this time we have seen the brethren living together in their
hermitages or roving the highways, preaching repentance. It would,
however, be a mistake to think that their whole lives were passed thus.
To understand the first Franciscans we must absolutely forget what they
may have been since that time, and what monks are in general; if
Portiuncula was a monastery it was also a workshop, where each brother
practised the trade which had been his before entering the Order; but
what is stranger still to our ideas, the Brothers often went out as

Brother Egidio's case was not an exception, it was the rule. This did
not last long, for very soon the friars who entered a house as domestics
came to be treated as distinguished guests; but in the beginning they
were literally servants, and took upon themselves the most menial
labors. Among the works which they might undertake Francis recommended
above all the care of lepers. We have already seen the important part
which these unfortunates played in his conversion; he always retained
for them a peculiar pity, which he sought to make his disciples share.

For several years the Brothers Minor may be said to have gone from
lazaretto to lazaretto, preaching by day in the towns and villages, and
retiring at night to these refuges, where they rendered to these
_patients of God_ the most repugnant services.

The Crucigeri, who took charge of the greater number of leper-houses,
always welcomed these kindly disposed aides, who, far from asking any
sort of recompense, were willing to eat whatever the patients might have
left.[37] In fact, although created solely for the care of lepers, the
Brothers of this Order sometimes lost patience when the sufferers were
too exacting, and instead of being grateful had only murmurs or even
reproaches for their benefactors. In these desperate cases the
intervention of Francis and his disciples was especially precious. It
often happened that a Brother was put in special charge of a single
leper, whose companion and servant he continued to be, sometimes for a
long period.[38]

The following narrative shows Francis's love for these unfortunates, and
his method with them.[39]

    It happened one time that the Brothers were serving the lepers
    and the sick in a hospital, near to the place where St. Francis
    was. Among them was a leper who was so impatient, so
    cross-grained, so unendurable, that everyone believed him to be
    possessed by the devil, and rightly enough, for he heaped
    insults and blows upon those who waited upon him, and what was
    worse, he continually insulted and blasphemed the blessed Christ
    and his most holy Mother the Virgin Mary, so that there was no
    longer anyone who could or would wait upon him. The Brothers
    would willingly have endured the insults and abuse which he
    lavished upon them, in order to augment the merit of their
    patience, but their souls could not consent to hear those which
    he uttered against Christ and his Mother. They therefore
    resolved to abandon this leper, but not without having told the
    whole story exactly to St. Francis, who at that time was
    dwelling not far away.

    When they told him St. Francis betook himself to the wicked
    leper; "May God give thee peace, my most dear brother," he said
    to him as he drew near.

    "And what peace," asked the leper, "can I receive from God, who
    has taken away my peace and every good thing, and has made my
    body a mass of stinking and corruption?"

    St. Francis said to him: "My brother, be patient, for God gives
    us diseases in this world for the salvation of our souls, and
    when we endure them patiently they are the fountain of great
    merit to us."

    "How can I endure patiently continual pains which torture me day
    and night? And it is not only my disease that I suffer from, but
    the friars that you gave me to wait upon me are unendurable, and
    do not take care of me as they ought."

    Then St. Francis perceived that this leper was possessed by the
    spirit of evil, and he betook himself to his knees in order to
    pray for him. Then returning he said to him: "My son, since you
    are not satisfied with the others, I will wait upon you."

    "That is all very well, but what can you do for me more than

    "I will do whatever you wish."

    "Very well; I wish you to wash me from head to foot, for I smell
    so badly that I disgust myself."

    Then St. Francis made haste to heat some water with many
    sweet-smelling herbs; next he took off the leper's clothes and
    began to bathe him, while a Brother poured out the water. And
    behold, by a divine miracle, wherever St. Francis touched him
    with his holy hands the leprosy disappeared and the flesh became
    perfectly sound. And in proportion as the flesh was healed the
    soul of the wretched man was also healed, and he began to feel a
    lively sorrow for his sins, and to weep bitterly.... And being
    completely healed both in body and soul, he cried with all his
    might: "Woe unto me, for I have deserved hell for the abuses and
    outrages which I have said and done to the Brothers, for my
    impatience and my blasphemies."

One day, Brother John, whose simplicity we have already seen, and who
had been especially put in charge of a certain leper, took him for a
walk to Portiuncula, as if he had not been the victim of a contagious
malady. Reproaches were not spared him; the leper heard them and could
not hide his sadness and distress; it seemed to him like being a second
time banished from the world. Francis was quick to remark all this and
to feel sharp remorse for it; the thought of having saddened one of
_God's patients_ was unendurable; he not only begged his pardon, but he
caused food to be served, and sitting down beside him he shared his
repast, eating from the same porringer.[40] We see with what
perseverance he pursued by every means the realization of his ideal.

The details just given show the Umbrian movement, as it appears to me,
to be one of the most humble and at the same time the most sincere and
practical attempts to realize the kingdom of God on earth. How far
removed we are here from the superstitious vulgarity of the mechanical
devotion, the deceitful miracle-working of certain Catholics; how far
also from the commonplace, complacent, quibbling, theorizing
Christianity of certain Protestants!

Francis is of the race of mystics, for no intermediary comes between God
and his soul; but his mysticism is that of Jesus leading his disciples
to the Tabor of contemplation; but when, overflooded with joy, they long
to build tabernacles that they may remain on the heights and satiate
themselves with the raptures of ecstasy, "Fools," he says to them, "ye
know not what ye ask," and directing their gaze to the crowds wandering
like sheep having no shepherd, he leads them back to the plain, to the
midst of those who moan, who suffer, who blaspheme.

The higher the moral stature of Francis the more he was exposed to the
danger of being understood only by the very few, and disappointed by
those who were nearest to him. Reading the Franciscan authors, one feels
every moment how the radiant beauty of the model is marred by the
awkwardness of the disciple. It could not have been otherwise, and this
difference between this master and the companions is evident from the
very beginnings of the Order. The greater number of the biographers have
drawn the veil of oblivion over the difficulties created by certain
Brothers as well as those which came from the ecclesiastical hierarchy,
but we must not allow ourselves to be deceived by this almost universal

Here and there we find indications all the more precious for being, so
to say, involuntary. Brother Rufino, for example, the same who was
destined to become one of the intimates of Francis's later days, assumed
an attitude of revolt shortly after his entrance into the Order. He
thought it foolish in Francis when, instead of leaving the friars to
give themselves unceasingly to prayer, he sent them out in all
directions to wait upon lepers.[41] His own ideal was the life of the
hermits of the Thebaïde, as it is related in the then popular legends of
St. Anthony, St. Paul, St. Paconius, and twenty others. He once passed
Lent in one of the grottos of the Carceri. Holy Thursday having arrived,
Francis, who was also there, summoned all the brethren who were
dispersed about the neighborhood, whether in grottos or huts, to observe
with him the memories to which this day was consecrated. Rufino refused
to come; "For that matter," he added, "I have decided to follow him no
longer; I mean to remain here and live solitary, for in this way I
shall be more surely saved than by submitting myself to this man and his

Young and enthusiastic for the most part, it was not always without
difficulty that the Brothers formed the habit of keeping their work in
the background. Agreeing with their master as to fundamentals, they
would have liked to make more of a stir, attract public attention by
more obvious devotion; there were some among them whom it did not
satisfy to be saints, but who also wished to appear such.


   [1] 1 Cel., 44; 3 Soc., 55.

   [2] 3 Soc., 56; _Spec._, 32b; _Conform._, 217b, 1; _Fior. Bibl.
       Angel._, Amoni, p. 378.

   [3] This forest has disappeared. Some of Francis's counsels have
       been collected in the Admonitions. See 1 Cel., 37-41.

   [4] Vide Angelo Clareno, _Tribul._ cod. Laur., 3b.

   [5] 2 Cel., 3, 97 and 98. The Conformities, 142a, 1, cite
       textually 97 as coming from the _Legenda Antiqua_. Cf. _Spec._,
       64b.--2 Cel., 3, 21. Cf. _Conform._, 171a, 1; _Spec._, 19b. See
       especially Rule of 1221, _cap._ 7; Rule of 1223, _cap._ 5; the
       Will and 3 Soc. 41. The passage, _liceat eis habere ferramenta
       et instrumenta suis artibus necessaria_, sufficiently proves
       that certain friars had real trades.

   [6] A. SS., Aprilis, t. iii., pp. 220-248; _Fior. Vita
       d'Egidio_; _Spec._, 158 ff; _Conform._, 53-60.

   [7] Other examples will be found below; it may suffice to recall
       here his sally: "The glorious Virgin Mother of God had sinners
       for parents, she never entered any religious order, and yet she
       is what she is!" A. SS., _loc. cit._, p. 234.

   [8] The passage of the Will, _firmiter volo quod omnes
       laborent_, ... has a capital importance because it shows Francis
       renewing in the most solemn manner injunctions already made from
       the origin of the Order. Cf. 1 Cel., 38 and 39; _Conform._,
       219b. 1: _Juvabant Fratres pauperes homines in agris eorum et
       ipsi dabant postea eis de pane amore Dei._ _Spec._, 34; 69. Vide
       also _Archiv._, t. ii., pp. 272 and 299; Eccleston, 1 and 15; 2
       Cel., 1, 12.

   [9] _Nihil volebat proprietatis habere ut omnia plenius posset
       in Domino possidere._ B. de Besse, 102a.

  [10] Their concord and their joyous semblances
       The love, the wonder and the sweet regard
       They made to be the cause of holy thought.

       DANTE: Paradiso, canto xi., verses 76-78. Longfellow's translation.

  [11] _Amor factus ... castis eam, stringit amplexibus nec ad
       horam patitur non esse muritus._ 2 Cel., 3, 1; cf. 1 Cel., 35;
       51; 75; 2 Cel., 3, 128; 3 Soc., 15; 22; 33; 35; 50; Bon., 87;
       _Fior._ 13.

  [12] Bon., 93.--_Prohibuit fratrem qui faciebat coquinam ne
       poneret legumina de sero in aqua calida quæ debebat dare
       fratribus ad manducandum die sequenti ut observaverint illud
       verbum Evangelii: Nolite solliciti esse de crastino._ _Spec._,

  [13] 2 Cel., 3, 50.

  [14] _Cap._, 21. Cf. _Fior., I. consid._, 18; 30; _Conform._,
       103a, 2; 2 Cel., 3, 99; 100; 121. Vide Müller, _Anfänge_, p.

  [15] Vide his _Opera omnia postillis illustrata_, by Father de
       la Haye, 1739, f^o. For his life, Surius and Wadding arranged
       and mutilated the sources to which they had access; the
       Bollandists had only a legend of the fifteenth century. The
       Latin manuscript 14,363 of the Bibliothèque Nationale gives one
       which dates from the thirteenth. Very Rev. Father Hilary, of
       Paris: _Saint Antoine de Padone, sa légende primitive_,
       Montreuil-sur-Mer, Imprimerie Notre-Dame-des-Prés, 1890, 1 vol.,
       8vo. Cf. _Legenda seu vita et miracula S. Antonii sæculo xiii
       concinnata ex cod. memb. antoniæ bibliothecæ_ a P.M. Antonio
       Maria Josa min. comv. Bologna, 1883, 1 vol., 8vo.

  [16] This evangelical character of his mission is brought out in
       relief by all his biographers. 1 Cel., 56; 84; 89; 3 Soc. 25;
       34; 40; 43; 45; 48; 51; 57; 2 Cel., 3, 8; 50; 93.

  [17] _Spec._, 134; 2 Cel., 3, 128.

  [18] The Order was at first essentially lay (at the present time
       it is, so far as I know, the only one in which there is no
       difference of costume between laymen and priests). Vide Ehrle,
       _Archiv._, iii., p. 563. It is the influence of the friars from
       northern countries which has especially changed it in this
       matter. General Aymon, of Faversham (1240-1243), decided that
       laymen should be excluded from all charges; _laicos ad officia
       inhabilitavit, quæ usque tunc ut clerici exercebant_. (_Chron._
       xxiv. _gen._ cod. Gadd. relig., 53, f^o 110a). Among the early
       Brothers who refused ordination there were surely some who did
       so from humility, but this sentiment is not enough to explain
       all the cases. There were also with certain of them
       revolutionary desires and as it were a vague memory of the
       prophecies of Gioacchino di Fiore upon the age succeeding that
       of the priests: _Fior._, 27. _Frate Pellegrino non volle mai
       andare come chierico, ma come laico, benche fassi molto
       litterato e grande decretalista._ Cf. _Conform._, 71a., 2. _Fr.
       Thomas Hibernicus sibi pollecem amputavit ne ad sacerdotium
       cogeretur._ _Conform._, 124b, 2.

  [19] See, for example, the letter to Brother Leo. Cf.
       _Conform._, 53b, 2. _Fratri Egidio dedit licentiam liberam ut
       iret quocumque vellet et staret ubicumque sibi placeret._

  [20] The hermitage of Monte-Casale, at two hours walk northeast
       from Borgo San Sepolero, still exists in its original state. It
       is one of the most significant and curious of the Franciscan

  [21] The office of guardian (superior of a monastery) naturally
       dates from the time when the Brothers stationed themselves in
       small groups in the villages of Umbria--that is to say, most
       probably from the year 1211. A few years later the monasteries
       were united to form a custodia. Finally, about 1215, Central
       Italy was divided unto a certain number of provinces with
       provincial ministers at their head. All this was done little by
       little, for Francis never permitted himself to regulate what did
       not yet exist.

  [22] _Fior._, 26; Conform., 119b, 1. Cf. Rule of 1221, cap. vii.
       _Quicumque ad eos (fratres) venerint, amicus vel adversarius,
       fur vel latro benigne recipiatur._

  [23] 2 Cel., 3, 120; _Spec._, 37; _Conform._, 53a, 1. See below,
       p. 385, n. 1.

  [24] _Fior._, Vita di fra Ginepro; _Spec._, 174-182; _Conform._,

  [25] A. SS., p. 600.

  [26] 3 Soc., 56; 2 Cel., 1, 13; Bon., 24.

  [27] Bon., 30; 3 Soc., 30, 31; 2 Cel., 3, 52. Cf. _Fior._, 2.
       The dragon of this dream perhaps symbolizes heresy.

  [28] Bon., 83; 172; _Fior._, 1, 16; _Conform._, 49a, 1, and
       110b, 1; 2 Cel., 3, 51.

  [29] Bernard de Besse, _De laudibus_, Turin MS., f^o. 102b and
       96a. He died November 15, 1271. A. SS., Augusti, t. ii., p. 221.

  [30] _Fior._, 8; _Spec._, 89b ff.; _Conform._, 30b, 2, and 140a,

  [31] I need not here point out the analogy in form between this
       chapter and St. Paul's celebrated song of love, 1 Cor. xiii.

  [32] We find the same thoughts in nearly the same terms in
       _cap._ v. of the _Verba sacræ admonitionis_.

  [33] He is the second of the Three Companions. 3 Soc., 1; cf. 1
       Cel., 95; _Fior._, 1; 29, 30, 31; Eccleston, 12; _Spec._,
       110a-114b; _Conform._, 51b ff.; cf. 2 Cel., 2, 4.

  [34] Very probably that of the Carceri, though the name is not
       indicated Vide 3 Soc., 1; _Fior._, 4; 10; 11; 12; 13; 16; 27;
       32; _Conform._, 51b, 1 ff; _Tribul. Archiv._, t. ii., p. 263.

  [35] _Fior._, 11; _Conform._, 50b, 2; _Spec._, 104a.

  [36] Rule of 1221, chap. 7. _Omnes fratres, in quibuscumque
       locis fuerint apud aliquos ad serviendum, vel ad laborandum, non
       sint camerarii, nec cellarii, nec præsint in domibus corum
       quibus serviunt._ Cf. 1 Cel., 38 and 40; A. SS., p. 606.

  [37] 1 Cel., 103; 39; _Spec._, 28; Reg. 1221, ix.; _Giord._, 33
       and 39.

  [38] Vide _Spec._, 34b.; _Fior._, 4.

  [39] All the details of this story lead me to think that it
       refers to Portiuncula and the hospital _San Salvatore delle
       Pareti_. The story is given by the _Conform._, 174b, 2, as taken
       from the _Legenda Antiqua_. Cf. _Spec._, 56b; _Fior._, 25.

  [40] In the _Speculum_, f^o 41a, this story ends with the
       phrase: _Qui vidit hæc scripsit et testimonium perhibet de
       hiis_. The brother is here called _Frater Jacobus simplex_. Cf.
       _Conform._, 174b.

  [41] _Conform._, 51b, 1. Cf. 2 Cel., 2, 4; _Spec._, 110b;
       _Fior._, 29.

       *       *       *       *       *



Popular piety in Umbria never separates the memory of St. Francis from
that of Santa Clara. It is right.

Clara[1] was born at Assisi in 1194, and was consequently about twelve
years younger than Francis. She belonged to the noble family of the
Sciffi. At the age when a little girl's imagination awakes and stirs,
she heard the follies of the son of Bernardone recounted at length. She
was sixteen when the Saint preached for the first time in the cathedral,
suddenly appearing like an angel of peace in a city torn by intestine
dissensions. To her his appeals were like a revelation. It seemed as if
Francis was speaking for her, that he divined her secret sorrows, her
most personal anxieties, and all that was ardent and enthusiastic in the
heart of this young girl rushed like a torrent that suddenly finds an
outlet into the channel indicated by him. For saints as for heroes the
supreme stimulus is woman's admiration.

But here, more than ever, we must put away the vulgar judgment which can
understand no union between man and woman where the sexual instinct has
no part. That which makes the union of the sexes something almost divine
is that it is the prefiguration, the symbol, of the union of souls.
Physical love is an ephemeral spark, designed to kindle in human hearts
the flame of a more lasting love; it is the outer court of the temple,
but not the most holy place; its inestimable value is precisely that it
leaves us abruptly at the door of the holiest of all as if to invite us
to step over the threshold.

The mysterious sigh of nature goes out for the union of souls. This is
the unknown God to whom debauchees, those pagans of love, offer their
sacrifices, and this sacred imprint, even though effaced, though soiled
by all pollutions, often saves the man of the world from inspiring as
much disgust as the drunkard and the criminal.

But sometimes--more often than we think--there are souls so pure, so
little earthly, that on their first meeting they enter the most holy
place, and once there the thought of any other union would be not merely
a descent, but an impossibility. Such was the love of St. Francis and
St. Clara.

But these are exceptions. There is something mysterious in this supreme
purity; it is so high that in holding it up to men one risks speaking to
them in an unknown tongue, or even worse.

The biographers of St. Francis have clearly felt the danger of offering
to the multitude the sight of certain beauties which are far beyond
them, and this is for us the great fault of their works. They try to
give us not so much the true portrait of Francis as that of the perfect
minister-general of the Order such as they conceive it, such as it must
needs be to serve as a model for his disciples; thus they have made this
model somewhat according to the measure of those whom it is to serve, by
omitting here and there features which, stupidly interpreted, might have
furnished material for the malevolence of unscrupulous adversaries, or
from which disciples little versed in spiritual things could not have
failed to draw support for permitting themselves dangerous intimacies.
Thus the relations of St. Francis with women in general and St. Clara in
particular, have been completely travestied by Thomas of Celano. It
could not have been otherwise, and we must not bear him a grudge for it.
The life of the founder of an Order, when written by a monk, in the very
nature of things becomes always a sort of appendix to or illustration of
the Rule. And the Rule, especially if the Order has its thousands of
members, is necessarily made not for the elect, but for the average, for
the majority of the flock.[2]

Hence this portrait, in which St. Francis is represented as a stern
ascetic, to whom woman appears to be a sort of incarnate devil! The
biographers even go so far as to assure us that he knew only two women
by sight. These are manifest exaggerations, or rather the opposite of
the truth.[3]

We are not reduced to conjecture to discover the true attitude of the
Umbrian prophet in this matter. Without suspecting it, Celano himself
gives details enough for the correction of his own errors, and there are
besides a number of other documents whose scattered hints correspond and
agree with one another in a manner all the more marvellous that it is
entirely unintentional, giving, when they are brought together, almost
all one could desire to know of the intercourse of these two beautiful

After the sermons of Francis at St. Rufino, Clara's decision was
speedily taken; she would break away from the trivialities of an idle
and luxurious life and make herself the servant of the poor; all her
efforts should be bent to make each day a new advance in the royal way
of love and poverty; and for this she would have only to obey him who
had suddenly revealed it to her.

She sought him out and opened to him her heart. With that exaltation, a
union of candor and delicacy, which is woman's fine endowment, and to
which she would more readily give free course if she did not too often
divine the pitfalls of base passion and incredulity, Clara offered
herself to Francis.

It is one of the privileges of saints to suffer more than other men, for
they feel in their more loving hearts the echo of all the sorrows of the
world; but they also know joys and delights of which common men never
taste. What an inexpressible song of joy must have burst forth in
Francis's heart when he saw Clara on her knees before him, awaiting,
with his blessing, the word which would consecrate her life to the
gospel ideal.

Who knows if this interview did not inspire another saint, Fra Angelico,
to introduce into his masterpiece those two elect souls who, already
radiant with the light of the heavenly Jerusalem, stop to exchange a
kiss before crossing its threshold?

Souls, like flowers, have a perfume of their own which never deceives.
One look had sufficed for Francis to go down into the depths of this
heart; he was too kind to submit Clara to useless tests, too much an
idealist to prudently confine himself to custom or arbitrary decorum; as
when he founded the Order of Friars, he took counsel only of himself and
God. In this was his strength; if he had hesitated, or even if he had
simply submitted himself to ecclesiastical rules, he would have been
stopped twenty times before he had done anything. Success is so powerful
an argument that the biographers appear not to have perceived how
determined Francis was to ignore the canonical laws. He, a simple
deacon, arrogated to himself the right to receive Clara's vows and admit
her to the Order without the briefest novitiate. Such an act ought to
have drawn down upon its author all the censures of the Church, but
Francis was already one of those powers to whom much is forgiven, even
by those who speak in the name of the holy Roman Church.

Francis had decided that on the night between Palm Sunday and Holy
Monday (March 18-19, 1212) Clara should secretly quit the paternal
castle and come with two companions to Portiuncula, where he would await
her, and would give her the veil. She arrived just as the friars were
singing matins. They went out, the story goes, carrying candles in their
hands, to meet the bride, while from the woods around Portiuncula
resounded songs of joy over this new bridal. Then Mass was begun at that
same altar where, three years before, Francis had heard the decisive
call of Jesus; he was kneeling in the same place, but surrounded now
with a whole spiritual family.

It is easy to imagine Clara's emotion. The step which she had just taken
was simply heroic, for she knew to what persecutions from her family she
was exposing herself, and what she had seen of the life of the Brothers
Minor was a sufficient warning of the distresses to which she was
exposing herself in espousing poverty. No doubt she interpreted the
words of the service in harmony with her own thoughts:

  "Surely they are my people," said Jehovah.
  "Children who will not be faithless!"
   And he was for them a saviour.
   In none of their afflictions were they without succor.
   And the angel that is before his face saved them.[4]

Then Francis read again the words of Jesus to his disciples; she vowed
to conform her life to them; her hair was cut off; all was finished. A
few moments after, Francis conducted her to a house of Benedictine
nuns[5] at an hour's distance, where she was to remain provisionally
and await the progress of events.

The very next morning Favorino, her father, arrived with a few friends,
inveighing, supplicating, abusing everybody. She was unmovable, showing
so much courage that at last they gave up the thought of carrying her
off by main force.

She was not, however, at the end of her tribulations. Had this scene
frightened the Benedictines? We cannot tell, but less than a fortnight
after we find her in another convent, that of Sant-Angelo in Panso, at
Assisi.[6] A week after Easter, Agnes, her younger sister, joined her
there, decided in her turn to serve poverty. Francis received her into
the Order. This time the father's fury was horrible. With a band of
relatives he invaded the convent, but neither abuse nor blows could
subdue this child of fourteen. In spite of her cries they dragged her
away. She fainted, and the little inanimate body suddenly seemed to them
so heavy that they abandoned it in the midst of the fields, some
laborers looking with pity on the painful scene, until Clara, whose cry
God had heard, hastened to succor her sister.

Their sojourn in this convent was of very short duration. It appears
that they did not carry away a very pleasant impression of it.[7]
Francis knew that several others were burning to join his two women
friends; he therefore set himself to seek out a retreat where they
could live under his direction and in all liberty practise the gospel

He had not long to seek; the Benedictine monks of Mount Subasio always
seized every possible opportunity to make themselves popular. They
belonged to that congregation of Camaldoli, whom the common people
appear to have particularly detested, and several of whose convents had
lately been pillaged.[8] The abbey no longer counted more than eight
monks, who were trying to save the wreck of their riches and privileges
by partial sacrifices; on the 22d of April, 1212, they had given to the
commune of Assisi for a communal house a monument which is standing this
day, the temple of Minerva.[9]

Francis, who already was their debtor for Portiuncula, once more
addressed himself to them. Happy in this new opportunity to render
service to one who was the incarnation of popular claims, they gave him
the chapel of St. Damian; perhaps they were well pleased, by favoring
the new Order, to annoy Bishop Guido, of whom they had reason to
complain.[10] However this may be, in this hermitage, so well adapted
for prayer and meditation, Francis installed his spiritual
daughters.[11] In this sanctuary, repaired by his own hands, at the
feet of this crucifix which had spoken to him, Clara was henceforward to
pray. It was the house of God; it was also in good measure that of
Francis. Crossing its threshold, Clara doubtless experienced that
feeling, at once so sweet and so poignant, of the wife who for the first
time enters her husband's house, trembling with emotion at the radiant
and confused vision of the future.

If we are not entirely to misapprehend these beginnings, we must
remember with what rapidity external influences transformed the first
conception of St. Francis. At this moment he no more expected to found a
second order than he had desired to found the first one. In snatching
Clara from her family he had simply acted like a true knight who rescues
an oppressed woman, and takes her under his protection. In installing
her at St. Damian he was preparing a refuge for those who desired to
imitate her and apart from the world practise the gospel Rule. But he
never thought that the perfection of which he and his disciples were the
apostles and missionaries, and which Clara and her companions were to
realize in celibacy, was not practicable in social positions also;
thence comes what is wrongly called the _Tertiari_, or Third Order, and
which in its primitive thought was not separated from the first. This
Third Order had no need to be instituted in 1221, for it existed from
the moment when a single conscience resolved to practise his teachings,
without being able to follow him to Portiuncula.[12] The enemy of the
soul for him as for Jesus was avarice, understood in its largest
sense--that is to say, that blindness which constrains men to consecrate
their hearts to material preoccupations, makes them the slave of a few
pieces of gold or a few acres of land, renders them insensible to the
beauties of nature, and deprives them of infinite joys which they alone
can know who are the disciples of poverty and love.

Whoever was free at heart from all material servitude, whoever was
decided to live without hoarding, every rich man who was willing to
labor with his hands and loyally distribute all that he did not consume
in order to constitute the common fund which St. Francis called _the
Lord's table_, every poor man who was willing to work, free to resort,
in the strict measure of his wants, to this table of the Lord, these
were at that time true Franciscans.

It was a social revolution.

There was then at that time neither one Order nor several.[13] The
gospel of the Beatitudes had been found again, and, as twelve centuries
before, it could accommodate itself to all situations.

Alas! the Church, personified by Cardinal Ugolini, was about, if not to
cause the Franciscan movement to miscarry, at least so well to hedge
about it that a few years later it would have lost nearly its whole
original character.

As has been seen, the word poverty expresses only very imperfectly St.
Francis's point of view, since it contains an idea of renunciation, of
_abstinence_, while in thought the vow of poverty is a vow of liberty.
Property is the cage with gilded wires, to which the poor larks are
sometimes so thoroughly accustomed that they no longer even think of
getting away in order to soar up into the blue.[14]

From the beginning St. Damian was the extreme opposite to what a convent
of Clarisses of the strict observance is now; it is still to-day very
much as Francis saw it. We owe thanks to the Brothers Minor for having
preserved intact this venerable and charming hermitage, and not spoiling
it with stupid embellishments. This little corner of Umbrian earth will
be for our descendants like Jacob's well whereon Christ sat himself down
for an instant, one of the favorite courts of the worship in spirit and
in truth.

In installing Clara there Francis put into her hands the Rule which he
had prepared for her,[15] which no doubt resembled that of the Brothers
save for the precepts with regard to the missionary life. He accompanied
it with the engagement[16] taken by himself and his brothers to supply
by labor or alms all the needs of Clara and her future companions. In
return they also were to work and render to the Brothers all the
services of which they might be capable. We have seen the zeal which
Francis had brought to the task of making the churches worthy of the
worship celebrated in them; he could not endure that the linen put to
sacred uses should be less than clean. Clara set herself to spinning
thread for the altar-cloths and corporals which the Brothers undertook
to distribute among the poor churches of the district.[17] In addition,
during the earlier years, she also nursed the sick whom Francis sent to
her, and St. Damian was for some time a sort of hospital.[18]

One or two friars, who were called _Zealots of the Poor Ladies_, were
especially charged with the care of the Sisters, making themselves huts
beside the chapel, after the model of those of Portiuncula. Francis was
also near at hand; a sort of terrace four paces long overlooks the
hermitage; Clara made there a tiny garden, and when, at twilight, she
went thither to water her flowers, she could see, hardly half a league
distant, Portiuncula standing out against the aureola of the western

For several years the relations between the two houses were continual,
full of charm and freedom. The companions of Francis who received
Brothers received Sisters also, at times returning from their preaching
tours with a neophyte for St. Damian.[19]

But such a situation could not last long. The intimacy of Francis and
Clara, the familiarity of the earlier friars and Sisters would not do as
a model for the relations of the two Orders when each had some hundreds
of members. Francis himself very soon perceived this, though not so
clearly as his sister-friend. Clara survived him nearly twenty-seven
years, and thus had time to see the shipwreck of the Franciscan ideal
among the Brothers, as well as in almost every one of the houses which
had at first followed the Rule of St. Damian. She herself was led by the
pressure of events to lay down rules for her own convent, but to her
very death-bed she contended for the defence of the true Franciscan
ideas, with a heroism, a boldness, at once intense and holy, by which
she took a place in the first rank of witnesses for conscience.

Is it not one of the loveliest pictures in religious history, that of
this woman who for more than half a century sustains moment by moment a
struggle with all the popes who succeed one another in the pontifical
throne, remaining always equally respectful and immovable, not
consenting to die until she has gained her victory?[20]

To relate her life is to relate this struggle; the greater number of its
vicissitudes may be found in the documents of the Roman _curia_.
Francis had warded off many a danger from his institution, but he had
given himself guardians who were little disposed to yield any of their
rights; Cardinal Ugolini in particular, the future Gregory IX., took a
part in these matters which is very difficult to understand. We see him
continually lavishing upon Francis and Clara expressions of affection
and admiration which appear to be absolutely sincere; and yet the
Franciscan ideal--regarded as the life of love at which one arrives by
freeing himself from all servitude to material things--has hardly had a
worse adversary than he.

In the month of May, 1228, Gregory IX. went to Assisi for the
preliminaries of the canonization of St. Francis. Before entering the
city he turned out of his way to visit St. Damian and to see Clara, whom
he had known for a long time, and to whom he had addressed letters
burning with admiration and paternal affection.[21]

How can we understand that at this time, the eve of the canonization
(July 16, 1228), the pontiff could have had the idea of urging her to be
faithless to her vows?

He represented to her that the state of the times made life impossible
to women who possess nothing, and offered her certain properties. As
Clara gazed at him in astonishment at this strange proposition, he said,
"If it is your vows which prevent you, we will release you from them."

"Holy Father," replied the Franciscan sister, "absolve me from my sins,
but I have no desire for a dispensation from following Christ."[22]

Noble and pious utterance, artless cry of independence, in which the
conscience proudly proclaims its autonomy! In these words is mirrored
at full length the spiritual daughter of the Poverello.

By one of those intuitions which often come to very enthusiastic and
very pure women, she had penetrated to the inmost depths of Francis's
heart, and felt herself inflamed with the same passion which burned in
him. She remained faithful to him to the end, but we perceive that it
was not without difficulty.

This is not the place in which to ask whether Gregory IX. was right in
desiring that religious communities should hold estates; he had a right
to his own views on the subject; but there is something shocking, to say
no more, in seeing him placing Francis among the saints at the very
moment when he was betraying his dearest ideals, and seeking to induce
those who had remained faithful to betray them.

Had Clara and Francis foreseen the difficulties which they would meet?
We may suppose so, for already under the pontificate of Innocent III.
she had obtained a grant of the privilege of poverty. The pope was so
much surprised at such a request that he desired to write with his own
hands the opening lines of this patent, the like of which had never been
asked for at the court of Rome.[23]

Under his successor, Honorius III., the most important personage of the
curia was this very Cardinal Ugolini. Almost a septuagenarian in 1216 he
inspired awe at first sight by the aspect of his person. He had that
singular beauty which distinguishes the old who have escaped the usury
of life; pious, enlightened, energetic, he felt himself made for great
undertakings. There is something in him which recalls Cardinal Lavigerie
and all the prelates whose red robes cover a soldier or a despot rather
than a priest.[24]

The Franciscan movement was attacked with violence[25] in various
quarters; he undertook to defend it, and a very long time before the
charge of protector of the Order was officially confided to him, he
exercised it with devouring zeal.[26] He felt an unbounded admiration
for Francis and Clara, and often manifested it in a touching manner. If
he had been a simple man he might have loved them and followed them.
Perhaps he even had thought of doing so.[27] Alas! he was a prince of
the Church; he could not help thinking of what he would do in case he
should be called to guide the ship of St. Peter.

He acted accordingly; was it calculation on his part or simply one of
those states of conscience in which a man absorbed in the end to be
attained hardly discusses the ways and means? I do not know, but we see
him immediately on the death of Innocent III., under pretext of
protecting the Clarisses, take their direction in hand, give them a
Rule, and substitute his own ideas for those of St. Francis.[28]

In the privilege which as legate he gave in favor of Monticelli, July
27, 1219, neither Clara nor Francis is named, and the Damianites become
as a congregation of Benedictines.[29]

We shall see farther on the wrath of Francis against Brother Philip, a
Zealot of the Poor Ladies, who had accepted this privilege in his
absence. His attitude was so firm that other documents of the same
nature granted by Ugolini at the same epoch were not indorsed by the
pope until three years later.

The cardinal's ardor to profit by the enthusiasm which the Franciscan
ideas everywhere excited was so great that we find, in the register of
his legation of 1221, a sort of formula all prepared for those who would
found convents like those of the Sisters of St. Damian; but even there
we search in vain for the name of Francis or Clara.[30]

This old man had, however, a truly mystical passion for the young
abbess; he wrote to her, lamenting the necessity of being far from her,
in words which are the language of love, respect, and admiration.[31]
There were at least two men in Ugolini: the Christian, who felt himself
subdued before Clara and Francis; the prelate, that is, a man whom the
glory of the Church sometimes caused to forget the glory of God.

Francis, though almost always resisting him, appears to have kept a
feeling of ingenuous gratitude toward him to the very end. Clara, on the
contrary, had too long a struggle to be able to keep any illusions as to
the attitude of her protector. After 1230 there is no trace of any
relations between them.

All the efforts of the pope to mitigate the rigor of Clara's vow of
poverty had remained vain. Many other nuns desired to practise strictly
the Rule of St. Francis. Among them was the daughter of the King of
Bohemia, Ottokar I., who was in continual relations with Clara. But
Gregory IX., to whom she addressed herself, was inflexible. While
pouring eulogies upon her he enjoined upon her to follow the Rule which
he sent to her--that is, the one which he had composed while he was yet
cardinal. The Rule of the Poverello was put among the utopias, not to
say heresies.[32] He never, however, could induce St. Clara to
completely submit herself. One day, indeed, she rebelled against his
orders, and it was the pope who was obliged to yield: he had desired to
bring about a wider separation between the friars and the Sisters than
had formerly prevailed; for a long time after the death of Francis a
certain familiarity had continued between St. Damian and Portiuncula;
Clara especially loved these neighborly relations, and often begged one
or another Brother to come and preach. The pope thought ill of this, and
forbade, under the severest penalty, that any friar of Portiuncula
should go to St. Damian without express permission of the Holy See.

This time Clara became indignant. She went to the few friars attached to
her monastery, and thanking them for their services, "Go," she said;
"since they deprive us of those who dispense to us spiritual bread, we
will not have those who procure for us our material bread." He who wrote
that "_the necks of kings and princes are bowed at the feet of the
priests_" was obliged to bow before this woman and raise his

St. Damian had too often echoed with St. Francis's hymns of love and
liberty to forget him so soon and become an ordinary convent. Clara
remained surrounded with the master's early companions; Egidio, Leo,
Angelo, Ginepro never ceased to be assiduous visitors. These true lovers
of poverty felt themselves at home there, and took liberties which would
elsewhere have given surprise. One day an English friar, a celebrated
theologian, came according to the minister's orders to preach at St.
Damian. Suddenly Egidio, though a simple layman, interrupted him: "Stop,
brother, let me speak," he said to him. And the master in theology,
bowing his head, covered himself with his cowl as a sign of obedience,
and sat down to listen to Egidio.

Clara felt a great joy in this; it seemed to her that she was once again
living in St. Francis's days.[34] The little coterie was kept up until
her death; she expired in the arms of Brothers Leo, Angelo, and Ginepro.
In her last sufferings and her dying visions she had the supreme
happiness of being surrounded by those who had devoted their lives to
the same ideal as she.[35]

In her will her life shows itself that which we have seen it--a daily
struggle for the defence of the Franciscan idea. We see how courageous
and brave was this woman who has always been represented as frail,
emaciated, blanched like a flower of the cloister.[36]

She defended Francis not only against others, but also against himself.
In those hours of dark discouragement which so often and so profoundly
disturb the noblest souls and sterilize the grandest efforts, she was
beside him to show him his way. When he doubted his mission and thought
of fleeing to the heights of repose and solitary prayer, it was she who
showed him the ripening harvest with no reapers to gather it in, men
going astray with no shepherd to lead them, and drew him once again into
the train of the Galilean, into the number of those who _give their
lives a ransom for many_.[37]

Yet this love with which at St. Damian Francis felt himself surrounded
frightened him at times. He feared that his death, making too great a
void, would imperil the institution itself, and he took pains to remind
the sisters that he would not be always with them. One day when he was
to preach to them, instead of entering the pulpit he caused some ashes
to be brought, and after having spread them around him and scattered
some on his head, he intoned the _Miserere_, thus reminding them that he
was but dust and would soon return to dust.[38]

But in general it is at St. Damian that St. Francis is the most
himself; it is under the shade of its olive-trees, with Clara caring for
him, that he composes his finest work, that which Ernest Renan called
the most perfect utterance of modern religious sentiment, the "Canticle
of the Sun."


   [1] Easy as it is to seize the large outlines of her life, it is
       with difficulty that one makes a detailed and documentary study
       of it. There is nothing surprising in this, for the Clarisses
       felt the rebound of the struggles which divided and rapidly
       transformed the Order of the Brothers Minor. The greater number
       of the documents have disappeared; we give summary indication of
       those which will most often be cited: 1. Life of St. Clara by an
       anonymous author. A. SS., _Aug._, t. ii., pp. 739-768. 2. Her
       Will, given by Wadding (_Annales_, 1253, No. 5), but which does
       not appear to be free from alteration. (Compare, for example,
       the opening of this will with Chapter VI. of the Rule of the
       Damianites approved by Innocent IV., August 8, 1253.) 3. The
       bull of canonization, given September 26, 1255--that is to say,
       two years after Clara's death; it is much longer than these
       documents ordinarily are, and relates the principal incidents of
       her life. A. SS., _loc. cit._, p. 749; Potthast, 16,025. 4. Her
       correspondence. Unhappily we have only fragments of it; the
       Bollandists, without saying whence they drew them, have inserted
       four of her letters in the _Acta_ of St. Agnes of Bohemia, to
       whom they were addressed. (A. SS., _Martii_, t. i., pp.

   [2] Reading the Chronicle of Fra Salimbeni, which represents the
       average Franciscan character about 1250, one sees with what
       reason the Rule had multiplied minute precautions for keeping
       the Brothers from all relations with women.

       The desire of Celano to present the facts in the life of Francis
       as the norm of the acts of the friars appears still more in the
       chapters concerning St. Clara than in all the others. Vide 2
       Cel., 3, 132: _Non credatis, charissimi (dixit Franciscus),
       quodeas perfecte non diligam.... Sed exemplum do vobis, ut
       quemadmodum ego facio, ita et vos faciatis._ Cf. ibid., 134.

   [3] 2 Cel., 3, 55. _Fateor veritatem ... nullam me si aspicerem
       recogniturum in facie nisi duas_. This chapter and the two
       following give us a sort of caricature, in which Francis is
       represented as so little sure of himself that he casts down his
       eyes for fear of yielding to desire. The stories of Francis and
       Jacqueline of Settesoli give a very different picture of the
       relations between the Brothers and the women in the origin of
       the Order from that which was given later. Bernard de Besse
       (Turin MS., f^o. 113) relates at length the coming of Jacqueline
       to Portiuncula to be present at St. Francis's death. Cf.
       _Spec._, 107; 133; Bon., 112. Also Clara's repast at
       Portiuncula. _Fior._, 15; _Spec._, 139b.; A. SS. _Aug. Vita
       Clar._, No. 39 ff.

   [4] Isaiah, lxiii., 8 and 9 (Ségond's [French] translation). At
       the Mass on Holy Monday Isaiah lxiii. is read for the Epistle
       and Mark xiv. for the Gospel.

   [5] San Paolo on the Chiasco, near Bastia.

   [6] At the present day diocesan seminary of Assisi, "_Seminarium
       seraphicum_." In the thirteenth century the north gate of the
       city was there. The houses which lie between there and the
       Basilica form the new town, which is rapidly growing and will
       unite the city with Sacro Convento.

   [7] _Nam steteramus in alio loco, licet parum. Test. Clar._ It
       is truly strange that there is not a word here for the house
       where the first days of her religious life were passed. Cf.
       _Vit._, no. 10: _S. Angelus de Panse ... ubi cum non plene mens
       ejus quiesceret._

   [8] Mittarelli, _Annales Camaldulenses_ (Venice, 1755-1773, 9
       vols., f^o.), t. iv., app. 431 and 435. Cf. 156.

   [9] The act of donation is still in the archives of Assisi. An
       analysis of it will be found in Cristofani, t. i., p. 133. Their
       munificence remained without result; the bull _Ab Ecclesia_ of
       July 27, 1232, shows that they were suppressed less than twenty
       years after. _Sbaralea_, t. 1, p. 81. Potthast, 8984. Cf., ib.,
       p. 195, note c, and 340, note a, and the bulls which are there

  [10] See p. 81, note ii.

  [11] 1 Cel., 18; 21; 3 Soc., 24; 2 Cel., 1, 8.

  [12] _An. Perus._, A. SS., p. 600. Cf. 3 Soc., 60. The three
       Orders are contemporary, one might even say, the four, including
       among them the one that miscarried among the secular priests
       (see below).

       In a letter St. Clara speaks of her Order as making only a part
       with that of the Brothers: _Sequaris consilia Reverendi Patris
       nostri fratris Eliæ Ministri generalis totius ordinis_. A. SS.,
       Martii, t. i., p. 507.

  [13] This point of view is brought into relief by an anecdote in
       the _De laudibus_ of Bernard of Besse (Turin MS., 113a). This is
       how he ends chap. vii. on the three Orders: _Nec Santus his
       contentus ordinibus satagebat omnium generi salutis et
       penitentiæ viam dare. Unde parochiali cuidam sacerdoti dicenti
       sibi quod vellet suus, retenta tamen ecclesia. Frater esse, dato
       vivendi et induendi modo, dicitur indixisse ut annuatim,
       collectis Eclesiæ fructibus daret pro Deo, quod de præteritis

  [14] See the lovely story in the _Fior._, 13. Cf. _Spec._, 65a;
       _Conform._, 168b. 1.

  [15] The text of it was doubtless formerly inserted in chapter
       vi. of the Rule granted to the Clarisses of St. Damian, August
       9, 1253, by the bull _Solet annuere_. Potthast, 15,086. But this
       chapter has been completely changed in many editions. The text
       of the _Speculum_, Morin, Rouen 1509, should be read. _Tract_
       iii., 226b. The critical study to be made upon this text by
       comparing the indications given by the bull _Angelis guadium_ of
       May 11, 1238, Sbaralea, i., p. 242, is too long to find a place

  [16] 2 Cel., 3, 132. Cf. _Test. B. Clar._

  [17] _In illa gravi infirmitate ... faciebat se erigi ... et
       sedens filabat._ A. SS., 760e. _Sic vult eas [sorores] operare
       manibus suis._ Ib. 762a.

  [18] _Fior._ 33.

  [19] Rule of 1221, chap xii. _Et nulla penitus mulier ab aliquo
       frater recipiatur ad obedientiam, sed dato sibi consilio
       spirituali, ubi voluerit agat penitentiam._ Cf. below, p. 252,
       note 1, the remainder of this chapter and the indication of the
       sources. This proves, 1, that the friars had received women into
       the Order; 2, that at the beginning they said The Order in the
       singular, and under this appellation included Sisters as well as
       Brothers. We see how far the situation was, even at the end of
       1221, from being what it became a few years later. It is to be
       noted that in all the reforming sects of the commencement of the
       thirteenth century the two sexes were closely united. (Vide
       _Burchardi chronicon_, Pertz, 1, 23, p. 376. Cf. Potthast, 2611,
       bull _Cum otim_ of Nov. 25, 1205.)

       On the 7th of June, 1201 (bull _Incunubit nobis_), Innocent III.
       had approved the Rule of the Humiliants. This was a religious
       association whose members continued to live in their own homes,
       and who offer surprising points of contact with the Franciscan
       Order, though they took no vow of poverty. From them issued a
       more restricted association which founded convents where they
       worked in wool; these convents received both men and women. Vide
       Jacques de Vitry, _Hist. Occidentalis_, cap. 28. _De religione
       et regula Humiliatorum_ (Douai, 1597, pp. 334-337). The time
       came when from these two Orders issued a third, composed solely
       of priests. These _Humiliati_ are too little known, though they
       have had a historian whose book is one of the noble works of the
       eighteenth century: Tiraboschi, _Vetera Humiliatorum monumenta_
       (Milan, 3 vols., 4to, 1766-1768). Toward 1200 they had
       monopolized _l'arte della lana_ in all upper Italy as far as to
       Florence; it is evident, therefore, that Francis's father must
       have had relations with them.

  [20] The bull approving the Rule of St. Damian is of August 9,
       1253. Clara died two days later.

  [21] 1 Cel., 122. Cf. Potthast, 8194 ff.; cf. ib., 709.

  [22] A. SS., _Vita Cl._, p. 758. Cf. bull of canonization.

  [23] _Vit. S. Clar._, A. SS., p. 758. This petition was surely
       made by the medium of Francis; and there are several indications
       of his presence in Perugia in the latter part of the life of
       Innocent III. _In obitu suo [Alexandri papæ] omnes familiares
       sui deseruerunt eum præter fratres Minores. Et similiter Papam
       Gregorium et Honorium et Innocentium in cujus obitu fuit
       præsentialiter S. Franciscus._ Eccl. xv. _Mon. Germ. hist.
       Script._, t. 28 p. 568. Sbaralea puts forth doubts as to the
       authenticity of this privilege, the text of which he gives;
       wrongly, I think, for Clara alludes to it in her will, A. SS.,
       p. 747.

  [24] He was born about 1147, created cardinal in 1198. Vide
       Raynald, _ann._, 1217, § 88, the eulogy made upon him by
       Honorius III. _Forma decorus et venustus aspectu ... zelator
       fidei, disciplina virtutis, ... castitatis amator et totius
       sanctitatis exemplar_: Muratori, _Scriptores rer. Ital._, iii.,
       1, 575.

  [25] 1 Cel., 74.

  [26] The bull _Litteræ tuæ_ of August 27, 1218, shows him
       already favoring the Clarisses. Sbaralea, i., p. 1. Vide 3 Soc.,
       61. _Offero me ipsum, dixit Hugolinus, vobis, auxilium et
       consilium, atque protectionem paratus impendere._

  [27] In the Conformities, 107a, 2, there is a curious story
       which shows Ugolini going to the Carceri to find Francis, and
       asking him if he ought to enter his Order. Cf. _Spec._, 217.

  [28] He succeeded so well that Thomas of Celano himself seems to
       forget that, at least at St. Damian, the Clarisses followed the
       Rule given by St. Francis himself: _Ipsorum vita mirifica et
       institutio gloriosa a domino Papa Gregorio, tunc Hostiensi
       episcopo._ 1 Cel. 20. Cf. _Honorii Opera_ Horoy, t. iii., col.
       363; t. iv., col. 218; Potthast, 6179 and 6879 ff.

  [29] This privilege is inserted in the bull _Sacrosancta_ of
       December 9, 1219. _Honorii opera_, Horoy, t. iii., col. 363 ff.

  [30] G. Levi, _Registri dei Cardinali_, no. 125. Vide below, p.
       400. Cf. Campi, _Hist. eccl. di Piacenza_, ii., 390.

  [31] See, for example, the letter given by Wadding: Annals, ii.,
       p. 16 (Rome, 1732). _Tanta me amaritudo cordis, abundantia
       lacrymarum et immanitas doloris invasit, quod nisi ad pedes
       Jesu, consolationem solitæ pietatis invenirem, spiritus meus
       forte deficeret et penitus anima liquefieret._ Wadding's text
       should be corrected by that of the Riccardi MS., 279. f^o 80a
       and b. Cf. Mark of Lisbon, t. i., p. 185; Sbaralea, i., p. 37.

  [32] Bull _Angelis gaudium_ of May 11, 1238; it may be found in
       Sbaralea, i., p. 242. Cf. Palacky, _Literarische Reise nach
       Italien_, Prague, 1838, 4to, no. 147. Potthast, 10,596; cf.

  [33] A. SS., _Vit. Clar._, p. 762. Cf. _Conform._, 84b, 2.

  [34] A. SS., _Aprilis_, t. iii., p. 239a; _Conform._, 54a, 1;
       177a, 2.

  [35] A. SS., _Vit. Clar._, p. 764d.

  [36] The bull of canonization says nothing of the Saracens whom
       she put to flight. Her life in the A. SS. relates the fact, but
       shows her simply in prayer before the Holy Sacrament. Cf.
       _Conform._, 84b, 1. Mark of Lisbon t. i., part 2, pp. 179-181.
       None of these accounts represents Clara as going to meet them
       with a monstrance.

  [37] Bon., 173; _Fior._ 16; _Spec._, 62b; _Conform._, 84b, 2;
       110b 1; 49a, 1. With these should be compared _Spec._, 220b:
       _Frater Leo narravit quod Sanctus Franciscus surgens orare_
       (sic) _venit ad fratres suos dicens: "Ite ad sæculum et
       dimittatis habitum, licentio vos._"

  [38] 2 Cel., 3, 134.

       *       *       *       *       *



Autumn, 1212-Summer, 1215

The early Brothers Minor had too much need of the encouragement and
example of Francis not to have very early agreed with him upon certain
fixed periods when they would be sure to find him at Portiuncula. Still
it appears probable that these meetings did not become true
Chapters-General until toward 1216. There were at first two a year, one
at Whitsunday, the other at Michaelmas (September 29th). Those of
Whitsunday were the most important; all the Brothers came together to
gain new strength in the society of Francis, to draw generous ardor and
grand hopes from him with his counsels and directions.

The members of the young association had everything in common, their
joys as well as their sorrows; their uncertainties as well as the
results of their experiences. At these meetings they were particularly
occupied with the Rule, the changes that needed to be made in it, and
above all, how they might better and better observe it;[1] then, in
perfect harmony, they settled the allotment of the friars to the various

One of Francis's most frequent counsels bore upon the respect due to the
clergy; he begged his disciples to show a very particular deference to
the priests, and never to meet them without kissing their hands. He saw
only too well that the Brothers, having renounced everything, were in
danger of being unjust or severe toward the rich and powerful of the
earth; he, therefore, sought to arm them against this tendency, often
concluding his counsels with these noble words: "There are men who
to-day appear to us to be members of the devil who one day shall be
members of Christ."

"Our life in the midst of the world," said he again, "ought to be such
that, on hearing or seeing us, every one shall feel constrained to
praise our heavenly Father. You proclaim peace; have it in your hearts.
Be not an occasion of wrath or scandal to anyone, but by your gentleness
may all be led to peace, concord, and good works."

It was especially when he undertook to cheer his disciples, to fortify
them against temptations and deliver them from their power, that Francis
was most successful. However anxious a soul might be, his words brought
it back to serenity. The earnestness which he showed in calming sadness
became fiery and terrible in reproving those who fell away, but in these
days of early fervor he seldom had occasion to show severity; more often
he needed gently to reprove the Brothers whose piety led them to
exaggerate penances and macerations.

When all was finished and each one had had his part in this banquet of
love, Francis would bless them, and they would disperse in all
directions like strangers and travellers. They had nothing, but already
they thought they saw the signs of the grand and final regeneration.
Like the exile on Patmos they saw "the holy city, the new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of heaven, like a bride adorned for her husband
... and the throne upon which is seated the Desired of all nations, the
Messiah of the new times, he who is to make all things new."[2]

Yet all eyes were turned toward Syria, where a French knight, Jean de
Brienne, had just been declared King of Jerusalem (1210), and toward
which were hastening the bands of the children's crusade.

The conversion of Francis, radical as it was, giving a new direction to
his thoughts and will, had not had power to change the foundation of his
character. "In a great heart everything is great." In vain is one
changed at conversion--he remains the same. That which changes is not he
who is converted, but his surroundings; he is suddenly introduced into a
new path, but he runs in it with the same ardor. Francis still remained
a knight, and it is perhaps this which won for him in so high a degree
the worship of the finest souls of the Middle Ages. There was in him
that longing for the unknown, that thirst for adventures and sacrifices,
which makes the history of his century so grand and so attractive, in
spite of many dark features.

Those who have a genius for religion have generally the privilege of
illusion. They never quite see how large the world is. When their faith
has moved a mountain they thrill with rapture, like the old Hebrew
prophets, and it seems to them that they see the dawning of the day
"when the glory of the Lord will appear, when the wolf and the lamb will
feed together." Blessed illusion, that fires the blood like a generous
wine, so that the soldiers of righteousness hurl themselves against the
most terrific fortresses, believing that these once taken the war will
be ended.

Francis had found such joys in his union with poverty that he held it
for proven that one needed only to be a man to aspire after the same
happiness, and that the Saracens would be converted in crowds to the
gospel of Jesus, if only it were announced to them in all its
simplicity. He therefore quitted Portiuncula for this new kind of
crusade. It is not known from what port he embarked. It was probably in
the autumn of 1212. A tempest having cast the ship upon the coast of
Slavonia, he was obliged to resign himself either to remain several
months in those parts or to return to Italy; he decided to return, but
found much difficulty in securing a passage on a ship which was about to
sail for Ancona. He had no ill-will against the sailors, however, and
the stock of food falling short he shared with them the provisions with
which his friends had overloaded him.

No sooner had he landed than he set out on a preaching tour, in which
souls responded to his appeals[3] with even more eagerness than in
times past. We may suppose that he returned from Slavonia in the winter
of 1212-1213, and that he employed the following spring in evangelizing
Central Italy. It was perhaps during this Lent that he retired to an
island in Lake Trasimeno, making a sojourn there which afterward became
famous in his legend.[4] However that may be, a perfectly reliable
document shows him to have been in the Romagna in the month of May,
1213.[5] One day Francis and his companion, perhaps Brother Leo,
arrived at the chateau of Montefeltro,[6] between Macerata and San
Marino. A grand fête was being given for the reception of a new knight,
but the noise and singing did not affright them, and without hesitation
they entered the court, where all the nobility of the country was
assembled. Francis then taking for his text the two lines,

  Tanto è il bene ch' aspetto
  Ch'ogni pena m'è diletto,[7]

preached so touching a sermon that several of those present forgot for a
moment the tourney for which they had come. One of them, Orlando dei
Cattani, Count of Chiusi in Casentino, was so much moved that, drawing
Francis aside, "Father," he said to him, "I desire much to converse with
you about the salvation of my soul." "Very willingly," replied Francis;
"but go for this morning, do honor to those friends who have invited
you, eat with them, and after that we will converse as much as you

So it was done. The count came back and concluded the interview by
saying, "I have in Tuscany a mountain especially favorable to
contemplation; it is entirely isolated and would well suit anyone who
desired to do penance far from the noises of the world; if it pleased
you I would willingly give it to you and your brethren for the salvation
of my soul."

Francis accepted it joyfully, but as he was obliged to be at Portiuncula
for the Whitsunday chapter he postponed the visit to the Verna[8] to a
more favorable time.

It was perhaps in this circuit that he went to Imola; at least nothing
forbids the supposition. Always courteous, he had gone immediately on
his arrival to present himself to the bishop, and ask of him authority
to preach. "I am not in need of anyone to aid me in my task," replied
the bishop dryly. Francis bowed and retired, more polite and even more
gentle than usual. But in less than hour he had returned. "What is it,
brother, what do you want of me again?" "Monsignor," replied Francis,
"when a father drives his son out at the door he returns by the window."

The bishop, disarmed by such pious persistence, gave the desired

The aim of Francis at that time, however, was not to evangelize Italy;
his friars were already scattered over it in great numbers; and he
desired rather to gain them access to new countries.

Not having been able to reach the infidels in Syria, he resolved to seek
them in Morocco. Some little time before (July, 1212), the troops of the
Almohades had met an irreparable defeat in the plains of Tolosa; beaten
by the coalition of the Kings of Aragon, Navarre, and Castile,
Mohammed-el-Naser had returned to Morocco to die. Francis felt that this
victory of arms would be nothing if it were not followed by a peaceful
victory of the gospel spirit.

He was so full of his project, so much in haste to arrive at the end of
his journey, that very often he would forget his companion, and
hastening forward would leave him far behind. The biographers are
unfortunately most laconic with regard to this expedition; they merely
say that on arriving in Spain he was so seriously ill that a return home
was imperative. Beyond a few local legends, not very well attested, we
possess no other information upon the labors of the Saint in this
country, nor upon the route which he followed either in going or

This silence is not at all surprising, and ought not to make us
undervalue the importance of this mission. The one to Egypt, which took
place six years later, with a whole train of friars, and at a time when
the Order was much more developed, is mentioned only in a few lines by
Thomas of Celano; but for the recent discovery of the Chronicle of
Brother Giordano di Giano and the copious details given by Jacques de
Vitry, we should be reduced to conjectures upon that journey also. The
Spanish legends, to which allusion has just been made, cannot be
altogether without foundation, any more than those which concern the
journey of St. Francis through Languedoc and Piedmont; but in the actual
condition of the sources it is impossible to make a choice, with any
sort of authority, between the historic basis and additions to it wholly
without value.

The mission in Spain doubtless took place between the Whitsunday of 1214
and that of 1215.[11] Francis, I think, had passed the previous
year[12] in Italy. Perhaps he was then going to see the Verna. The
March of Ancona and the Valley of Rieti would naturally have attracted
him equally about this epoch, and finally the growth of the two branches
of the Order must have made necessary his presence at Portiuncula and
St. Damian. The rapidity and importance of these missions ought in no
sense to give surprise, nor awaken exaggerated critical doubts. It took
only a few hours to become a member of the fraternity, and we may not
doubt the sincerity of these vocations, since their condition was the
immediate giving up of all property of whatever kind, for the benefit
of the poor. The new friars were barely received when they in their turn
began to receive others, often becoming the heads of the movement in
whatever place they happened to be. The way in which we see things going
on in Germany in 1221, and in England in 1224, gives a very living
picture of this spiritual germination.

To found a monastery it was enough that two or three Brothers should
have at their disposition some sort of a shelter, whence they radiated
out into the city and the neighboring country. It would, therefore, be
as much an exaggeration to describe St. Francis as a man who passed his
life in founding convents, as to deny altogether the local traditions
which attribute to him the erection of a hundred monasteries. In many
cases a glance is enough to show whether these claims of antiquity are
justified; before 1220 the Order had only hermitages after the pattern
of the Verna or the Carceri, solely intended for the Brothers who
desired to pass some time in retreat.

Returned to Assisi, Francis admitted to the Order a certain number of
learned men, among whom was perhaps Thomas of Celano. The latter, in
fact, says that God at that time mercifully remembered him, and he adds
further on: "The blessed Francis was of an exquisite nobility of heart
and full of discernment; with the greatest care he rendered to each one
what was due him, with wisdom considering in each case the degree of
their dignities."

This does not harmonize very well with the character of Francis as we
have sketched it; one can hardly imagine him preserving in his Order
such profound distinctions as were at that time made between the
different social ranks, but he had that true and eternal politeness
which has its roots in the heart, and which is only an expression of
tact and love. It could not be otherwise with a man who saw in courtesy
one of the qualities of God.

We are approaching one of the most obscure periods of his life. After
the chapter of 1215 he seems to have passed through one of those crises
of discouragement so frequent with those who long to realize the ideal
in this world. Had he discovered the warning signs of the misfortunes
which were to come upon his family? Had he come to see that the
necessities of life were to sully and blight his dream? Had he seen in
the check of his missions in Syria and Morocco a providential indication
that he had to change his method? We do not know. But about this time he
felt the need of turning to St. Clara and Brother Silvestro for counsel
on the subject of the doubts and hesitations which assailed him; their
reply restored to him peace and joy. God by their mouth commanded him to
continue his apostolate.[13]

Immediately he rose and set forth in the direction of Bevagna,[14] with
an ardor which he had never yet shown. In encouraging him to persevere
Clara had in some sort inoculated him with a new enthusiasm. One word
from her had sufficed to give him back all his courage, and from this
point in his life we find in him more poetry, more love, than ever

Full of joy, he was going on his way when, perceiving some flocks of
birds, he turned aside a little from the road to go to them. Far from
taking flight, they flocked around him as if to bid him welcome.
"Brother birds," he said to them then, "you ought to praise and love
your Creator very much. He has given you feathers for clothing, wings
for flying, and all that is needful for you. He has made you the noblest
of his creatures; he permits you to live in the pure air; you have
neither to sow nor to reap, and yet he takes care of you, watches over
you and guides you." Then the birds began to arch their necks, to spread
out their wings, to open their beaks, to look at him, as if to thank
him, while he went up and down in their midst stroking them with the
border of his tunic, sending them away at last with his blessing.[15]

In this same evangelizing tour, passing through Alviano,[16] he spoke a
few exhortations to the people, but the swallows so filled the air with
their chirping that he could not make himself heard. "It is my turn to
speak," he said to them; "little sister swallows, hearken to the word of
God; keep silent and be very quiet until I have finished."[17]

We see how Francis's love extended to all creation, how the diffused
life shed abroad upon all things inspired and moved him. From the sun to
the earthworm which we trample under foot, everything breathed in his
ear the ineffable sigh of beings that live and suffer and die, and in
their life as in their death have a part in the divine work.

"Praised be thou, Lord, with all thy creatures, especially for my
brother Sun which gives us the day and by him thou showest thy light. He
is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; of thee, Most High, he is
the symbol."

Here again, Francis revives the Hebrew inspiration, the simple and
grandiose view of the prophets of Israel. "Praise the Lord!" the royal
Psalmist had sung, "praise the Lord, fire and frost, snow and mists,
stormy winds that do his will, mountains and all hills, fruit-trees and
all cedars, beasts and all cattle, creeping things and fowls with wings,
kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all judges of the earth,
young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the Lord, praise ye
the Lord!"

The day of the birds of Bevagna remained in his memory as one of the
most beautiful of his whole life, and though usually so reserved he
always loved to tell of it;[18] it was because he owed to Clara these
pure ardors which brought him into a secret and delicious communion with
all beings; it was she who had revived him from sadness and hesitation;
in his heart he bore an immense gratitude to her who, just when he
needed it, had known how to return to him love for love, inspiration for

Francis's sympathy for animals, as we see it shining forth here, has
none of that sentimentalism, so often artificial and exclusive of all
other love, which certain associations of his time noisily displayed; in
him it is only a manifestation of his feeling for nature, a deeply
mystical, one might say pantheistic, sentiment, if the word had not a
too definitely philosophical sense, quite opposite to the Franciscan

This sentiment, which in the poets of the thirteenth century is so often
false and affected, was in him not only true, but had in it something
alive, healthy, robust.[19] It is this vein of poetry which awoke
Italy to self-consciousness, made her in a few years forget the
nightmare of Catharist ideas, and rescued her from pessimism. By it
Francis became the forerunner of the artistic movement which preceded
the Renaissance, the inspirer of that group of Pre-Raphaelites, awkward,
grotesque in drawing though at times they were, to whom we turn to-day
with a sort of piety, finding in their ungraceful saints an inner life,
a moral feeling which we seek for elsewhere in vain.

If the voice of the Poverello of Assisi was so well understood it was
because in this matter, as in all others, it was entirely
unconventional. How far we are, with him, from the fierce or Pharisaic
piety of those monks which forbids even the females of animals to enter
their convent! His notion of chastity in no sense resembles this
excessive prudery. One day at Sienna he asked for some turtle-doves, and
holding them in the skirt of his tunic, he said: "Little sisters
turtle-doves, you are simple, innocent, and chaste; why did you let
yourselves be caught? I shall save you from death, and have nests made
for you, so that you may bring forth young and multiply according to the
commandment of our Creator."

And he went and made nests for them all, and the turtle-doves began to
lay eggs and bring up their broods under the eyes of the Brothers.[20]

At Rieti a family of red-breasts were the guests of the monastery, and
the young birds made marauding expeditions on the very table where the
Brothers were eating.[21] Not far from there, at Greccio,[22] they
brought to Francis a leveret that had been taken alive in a trap. "Come
to me, brother leveret," he said to it. And as the poor creature, being
set free, ran to him for refuge, he took it up, caressed it, and finally
put it on the ground that it might run away; but it returned to him
again and again, so that he was obliged to send it to the neighboring
forest before it would consent to return to freedom.[23]

One day he was crossing the Lake of Rieti. The boatman in whose bark he
was making the passage offered him a tench of uncommon size. Francis
accepted it with joy, but to the great amazement of the fisherman put it
back into the water, bidding it bless God.[24]

We should never have done if we were to relate all the incidents of this
kind,[25] for the sentiment of nature was innate with him; it was a
perpetual communion which made him love the whole creation.[26] He is
ravished with the witchery of great forests; he has the terrors of a
child when he is alone at prayer in a deserted chapel, but he tastes
ineffable joy merely in inhaling the perfume of a flower, or gazing into
the limpid water of a brook.[27]

This perfect lover of poverty permitted one luxury--he even commanded it
at Portiuncula--that of flowers; the Brother was bidden not to sow
vegetables and useful plants only; he must reserve one corner of good
ground for our sisters, the flowers of the fields. Francis talked with
them also, or rather he replied to them, for their mysterious and gentle
language crept into the very depth of his heart.[28]

The thirteenth century was prepared to understand the voice of the
Umbrian poet; the sermon to the birds[29] closed the reign of Byzantine
art and of the thought of which it was the image. It is the end of
dogmatism and authority; it is the coming in of individualism and
inspiration; very uncertain, no doubt, and to be followed by obstinate
reactions, but none the less marking a date in the history of the human
conscience.[30] Many among the companions of Francis were too much the
children of their century, too thoroughly imbued with its theological
and metaphysical methods, to quite understand a sentiment so simple and
profound.[31] But each in his degree felt its charm. Here Thomas of
Celano's language rises to an elevation which we find in no other part
of his works, closing with a picture of Francis which makes one think of
the Song of Songs.[32]

Of more than middle height, Francis had a delicate and kindly face,
black eyes, a soft and sonorous voice. There was in his whole person a
delicacy and grace which made him infinitely lovely. All these
characteristics are found in the most ancient portraits.[33]


   [1] 3 Soc., 57; cf. _An. Perus._, A. SS., p. 599.

   [2] Rev. xxi.; 1 Cel., 46; 3 Soc., 57-59; _An. Perus._, A. SS.,
       p. 600.

   [3] 1 Cel., 55 and 56; Bon., 129-132.

   [4] _Fior._, 7; _Spec._, 96; _Conform._, 223a, 2. The fact of
       Francis's sojourn on an island in this lake is made certain by 1
       Cel., 60.

   [5] Vide below, p. 400. Cf. A. SS., pp. 823 f.

   [6] At present Sasso-Feltrio, between Conca and Marecchio, south
       of and about two hours' walk from San Marino.

   [7] The happiness that I expect is so great that all pain is
       joyful to me. All the documents give Francis's text in Italian,
       which is enough to prove that it was the language not only of
       his poems but also of his sermons. _Spec._ 92a ff. _Conform._
       113a, 2; 231a, 1; _Fior., Prima consid._

   [8] See p. 400.

   [9] 2 Cel., 3, 85; Bon., 82.

  [10] 1 Cel., 56; Bon., 132.

  [11] Vide Wadding, _ann. 1213-1215_. Cf. A. SS., pp. 602, 603,
       825-831. Mark of Lisbon, _lib._ i., _cap._ 45, pp. 78-80;
       Papini, _Storia di S. Francesco_, i., p. 79 ff. (Foligno, 1825,
       2 vols., 4to). It is surprising to see Father Suysken giving so
       much weight to the _argumentum a silentio_.

  [12] From Pentecost, 1213, to that of 1214.--_Post non multum
       vero temporis versus Marochium iter arripuit_, says Thomas of
       Celano (1 Cel., 56), after having mentioned the return from
       Slavonia. Taking into account the author's _usus loquendi_ the
       phrase appears to establish a certain interval between the two

  [13] _Conform._, 110b, 1; _Spec._, 62b; _Fior._, 16; Bon.,

  [14] Village about two leagues S. W. from Assisi. The time is
       indirectly fixed by Bon., 173, and 1 Cel., 58.

  [15] 1 Cel. 58; Bon., 109 and 174; _Fior._, 16; _Spec._, 62b;
       _Conform._, 114b, 2.

  [16] About halfway between Orvieto and Narni.

  [17] 1 Cel., 59; Bon., 175.

  [18] _Ad hæc, ut ipse dicebat_ ... 1 Cel., 58.

  [19] Francis has been compared in this regard to certain of his
       contemporaries, but the similarity of the words only makes more
       evident the diversity of inspiration. Honorius III. may say:
       _Forma rosæ est inferius angusta, superius ampla et significat
       quod Christus pauper fuit in mundo, sed est Dominus super omnia
       et implet universa. Nam sicut forma rosæ_, etc. (Horoy, t. i.,
       col. xxiv. and 804), and make a whole sermon on the symbolism of
       the rose; these overstrained dissertations have nothing to do
       with the feeling for nature. It is the arsenal of mediæval
       rhetoric used to dissect a word. It is an intellectual effort,
       not a song of love. The Imitation would say: _If thy heart were
       right all creatures would be for thee a mirror of life and a
       volume of holy doctrine_, lib. ii., cap. 2. The simple sentiment
       of the beauty of creation is absent here also; the passage is a
       pedagogue in disguise.

  [20] _Spec._, 157. _Fior._; 22.

  [21] 2 Cel., 2, 16; _Conform._, 148a, 1, 183b, 2. Cf. the story
       of the sheep of Portiuncula: Bon., 111.

  [22] Village in the valley of Rieti, two hours' walk from that
       town, on the road to Terni.

  [23] 1 Cel., 60; Bon., 113.

  [24] 1 Cel., 61; Bon., 114.

  [25] 2 Cel., 3, 54; Bon., 109; 2 Cel., 3; 103 ff.; Bon., 116
       ff.; Bon., 110; 1 Cel., 61; Bon., 114, 113, 115; 1 Cel., 79;
       _Fior._, 13, etc.

  [26] 2 Cel., 3, 101 ff.; Bon., 123.

  [27] 2 Cel., 3, 59; 1 Cel., 80 and 81.

  [28] 2 Cel., 3, 101; _Spec._, 136a; 1 Cel., 81.

  [29] This is the scene in his life most often reproduced by the
       predecessors of Giotto. The unknown artist who (before 1236)
       decorated the nave of the Lower Church of Assisi gives five
       frescos to the history of Jesus and five to the life of St.
       Francis. Upon the latter he represents: 1, the renunciation of
       the paternal inheritance; 2, Francis upholding the Lateran
       church; 3, the sermon to the birds; 4, the stigmata; 5, the
       funeral. This work, unhappily very badly lighted, and about half
       of it destroyed at the time of the construction of the chapels
       of the nave, ought to be engraved before it completely
       disappears. The history of art in the time of Giunta Pisano is
       still too much enveloped in obscurity for us to neglect such a
       source of information. M. Thode (_Franz von Assisi und die
       Anfänge der Kunst_, Berlin, 1885, 8vo. illust.) and the Rev.
       Father Fratini (_Storia della Basilica d'Assisi_, Prato, 1882,
       8vo) are much too brief so far as these frescos are concerned.

  [30] It is needless to say that I do not claim that Francis was
       the only initiator of this movement, still less that he was its
       creator; he was its most inspired singer, and that may suffice
       for his glory. If Italy was awakened it was because her sleep
       was not so sound as in the tenth century; the mosaics of the
       façade of the Cathedral of Spoleto (the Christ between the
       Virgin and St. John) already belong to the new art. Still, the
       victory was so little final that the mural paintings of St.
       Lawrence without the walls and of the Quattro Coronate, which
       are subsequent to it by half a score of years, relapse into a
       coarse Byzantinism. See also those of the Baptistery of

  [31] Hence the more or less subtile explanations with which they
       adorn these incidents.--As to the part of animals in thirteenth
       century legends consult Cæsar von Heisterbach, Strange's
       edition, t. ii., pp. 257 ff.

  [32] 1 Cel., 80-83.

  [33] 1 Cel., 83; _Conform._, 111a. M. Thode (_Anfänge_, pp.
       76-94) makes a study of some thirty portraits. The most
       important are reproduced in _Saint François_ (1 vol., 4to,
       Paris, 1885); 1, contemporary portrait, by Brother Eudes, now at
       Subiaco (_loc. cit._, p. 30); 2, portrait dating about 1230, by
       Giunta Pisano (?); preserved at Portiuncula (_loc. cit._, p.
       384); 3, finally, portrait dated 1235, by Bon. Berlinghieri, and
       preserved at Pescia, in Tuscany (_loc. cit._, p. 277). In 1886
       Prof. Carattoli studied with great care a portrait which dates
       from about those years and of which he gives a picture (also
       preserved of late years at Portiuncula). _Miscellanea
       francescana_ t. i., pp. 44-48; cf. pp. 160, 190, and 1887, p.
       32. M. Bonghi has written some interesting papers on the
       iconography of St. Francis (_Francesco di Assisi_, 1 vol., 12mo,
       Citta di Castello, Lapi, 1884. Vide pp. 103-113).

       *       *       *       *       *



The missionary journey, undertaken under the encouragement of St. Clara
and so poetically inaugurated by the sermon to the birds of Bevagna,
appears to have been a continual triumph for Francis.[1] Legend
definitively takes possession of him; whether he will or no, miracles
burst forth under his footsteps; quite unawares to himself the objects
of which he has made use produce marvellous effects; folk come out from
the villages in procession to meet him, and the biographer gives us to
hear the echo of those religious festivals of Italy--merry, popular,
noisy, bathed in sunshine--which so little resemble the fastidiously
arranged festivals of northern peoples.

From Alviano Francis doubtless went to Narni, one of the most charming
little towns in Umbria, busy with building a cathedral after the
conquest of their communal liberties. He seems to have had a sort of
predilection for this city as well as for its surrounding villages.[2]
From thence he seems to have plunged into the valley of Rieti, where
Greccio, Fonte-Colombo, San Fabiano, Sant-Eleuthero, Poggio-Buscone
retain even stronger traces of him than the environs of Assisi.

Thomas of Celano gives us no particulars of the route followed, but, on
the other hand, he goes at length into the success of the apostle in the
March of Ancona, and especially at Ascoli. Did the people of these
districts still remember the appeals which Francis and Egidio had made
to them six years before (1209), or must we believe that they were
peculiarly prepared to understand the new gospel? However this may be,
nowhere else was a like enthusiasm shown; the effect of the sermons was
so great that some thirty neophytes at once received the habit of the

The March of Ancona ought to be held to be the Franciscan province _par
excellence_. There are Offida, San-Severino, Macerata, Fornaro, Cingoli,
Fermo, Massa, and twenty other hermitages where, during more than a
century, poverty was to find its heralds and its martyrs; from thence
came Giovanni della Verna, Jacopo di Massa, Conrad di Offida, Angelo
Clareno, and those legions of nameless revolutionists, dreamers, and
prophets, who since the _extirpés_ in 1244 by the general of the Order,
Crescentius of Jesi, never ceased to make new recruits, and by their
proud resistance to all powers filled one of the finest pages of
religious history in the Middle Ages.

This success, which bathed the soul of Francis with joy, did not arouse
in him the smallest movement of pride. Never has man had a greater power
over hearts, because never preacher preached himself less. One day
Brother Masseo desired to put his modesty to the test.

    "Why thee? Why thee? Why thee?" he repeated again and again, as
    if to make a mock of Francis. "What are you saying?" cried
    Francis at last. "I am saying that everybody follows thee,
    everyone desires to see thee, hear thee, and obey thee, and yet
    for all that thou art neither beautiful, nor learned, nor of
    noble family. Whence comes it, then, that it should be thee whom
    the world desires to follow?"

    On hearing these words the blessed Francis, full of joy, raised
    his eyes to heaven, and after remaining a long time absorbed in
    contemplation he knelt, praising and blessing God with
    extraordinary fervor. Then turning toward Masseo, "Thou wishest
    to know why it is I whom men follow? Thou wishest to know? It is
    because the eyes of the Most High have willed it thus; he
    continually watches the good and the wicked, and as his most
    holy eyes have not found among sinners any smaller man, nor any
    more insufficient and more sinful, therefore he has chosen me to
    accomplish the marvellous work which God has undertaken; he
    chose me because he could find no one more worthless, and he
    wished here to confound the nobility and grandeur, the strength,
    the beauty, and the learning of this world."

This reply throws a ray of light upon St. Francis's heart; the message
which he brought to the world is once again the glad tidings announced
to the poor; its purpose is the taking up again of that Messianic work
which the Virgin of Nazareth caught a glimpse of in her _Magnificat_,
that song of love and liberty, the sighs of which breathe the vision of
a new social state. He comes to remind the world that the welfare of
man, the peace of his heart, the joy of his life, are neither in money,
nor in learning, nor in strength, but in an upright and sincere will.
Peace to men of good will.

The part which he had taken at Assisi in the controversies of his
fellow-citizens he would willingly have taken in all the rest of Italy,
for no man has ever dreamed of a more complete renovation; but if the
end he sought was the same as that of many revolutionaries who came
after him, their methods were completely different; his only weapon was

The event has decided against him. Apart from the _illuminati_ of the
March of Ancona and the _Fraticelli_ of our own Provence his disciples
have vied with one another to misunderstand his thought.[3]

Who knows if some one will not arise to take up his work? Has not the
passion for worm-eaten speculations yet made victims enough? Are there
not many among us who perceive that luxury is a delusion, that if life
is a battle, it is not a slaughter-house where ferocious beasts wrangle
over their prey, but a wrestling with the divine, under whatever form it
may present itself--truth, beauty, or love? Who knows whether this
expiring nineteenth century will not arise from its winding-sheet to
make _amende honorable_ and bequeath to its successor one manly word of

Yes, the Messiah will come. He who was announced by Gioacchino di Fiore
and who is to inaugurate a new epoch in the history of humanity will
appear. _Hope maketh not ashamed._ In our modern Babylons and in the
huts on our mountains are too many souls who mysteriously sigh the hymn
of the great vigil, _Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant
Justum_,[4] for us not to be on the eve of a divine birth.

All origins are mysterious. This is true of matter, but yet more true of
that life, superior to all others, which we call holiness; it was in
prayer that Francis found the spiritual strength which he needed; he
therefore sought for silence and solitude. If he knew how to do battle
in the midst of men in order to win them to the faith, he loved, as
Celano says, to fly away like a bird going to make its nest upon the

With men truly pious the prayer of the lips, the formulated prayer, is
hardly other than an inferior form of true prayer. Even when it is
sincere and attentive, and not a mechanical repetition, it is only a
prelude for souls not dead of religious materialism.

Nothing resembles piety so much as love. Formularies of prayer are as
incapable of speaking the emotions of the soul as model love-letters of
speaking the transports of an impassioned heart. To true piety as well
as to profound love, the formula is a sort of profanation.

To pray is to talk with God, to lift ourselves up to him, to converse
with him that he may come down to us. It is an act of meditation, of
reflection, which presupposes the effort of all that is most personal in

Looked at in this sense, prayer is the mother of all liberty and all

Whether or no it be a soliloquy of the soul with itself, the soliloquy
would be none the less the very foundation of a strong individuality.

With St. Francis as with Jesus, prayer has this character of effort
which makes of it the greatest moral act. In order to truly know such
men one must have been able to go with them, to follow Jesus up to the
mountain where he passed his nights. Three favored ones, Peter, James,
John, followed him thither one day; but to describe what they saw, all
that a manly _sursum corda_ added to the radiance and the mysterious
grandeur of him whom they adored, they were obliged to resort to the
language of symbols.

It was so with St. Francis. For him as for his Master the end of prayer
is communion with the heavenly Father, the accord of the divine with the
human; or rather it is man who puts forth his strength to do the work of
God, not saying to him a mere passive, resigned, powerless _Fiat_, but
courageously raising his head: "Behold me, Lord, I delight to do thy

"There are unfathomable depths in the human soul, because at the bottom
is God himself." Whether this God be transcendent or immanent, whether
he be One, the Creator, the eternal and immutable Principle, or whether
he be, as say the doctors beyond the Rhine, the ideal objectivation of
our Me, is not the question for the heroes of humanity. The soldier in
the thick of battle does not philosophize as to how much truth or
falsehood there is in the patriotic sentiment; he takes his arms and
fights at the peril of his life. So the soldiers of spiritual conflicts
seek for strength in prayer, in reflection, contemplation, inspiration;
all, poets, artists, teachers, saints, legislators, prophets, leaders of
the people, learned men, philosophers, all draw from this same source.

But it is not without difficulty that the soul unites itself to God, or
if one prefers, that it finds itself. A prayer ends at last in divine
communion only when it began by a struggle. The patriarch of Israel,
asleep near Bethel, had already divined this: the God who passes by
tells his name only to those who stop him and do him violence to learn
it. He blesses only after long hours of conflict.

The gospel has found an untranslatable word to characterize the prayers
of Jesus, it compares the conflict which preceded the voluntary
immolation of Christ to the death-struggle: _Factus in agonia_.[6] We
might say of his life that it had been a long temptation, a struggle, a
prayer, since these words only express different moments of spiritual

Like their Master, the disciples and successors of Christ can conquer
their own souls only through perseverance. But these words, empty of
meaning for devout conventicles, have had a tragic sense for men of
religious genius.

Nothing is more false, historically, than the saints that adorn our
churches, with their mincing attitude, their piteous expression, that
indescribably anæmic and emaciated--one may almost say emasculated--air
which shows in their whole nature; they are pious seminarists brought up
under the direction of St. Alphonso di Liguori or of St. Louis di
Gonzagua; they are not saints, not the violent who take the kingdom of
heaven by force.

We have come to one of the most delicate features of the life of
Francis--his relations with diabolical powers. Customs and ideas have so
profoundly changed in all that concerns the existence of the devil and
his relations with men, that it is almost impossible to picture to
oneself the enormous place which the thought of demons occupied at that
time in the minds of men.

The best minds of the Middle Ages believed without a doubt in the
existence of the perverse spirit, in his perpetual transformations in
the endeavor to tempt men and cause them to fall into his snares. Even
in the sixteenth century, Luther, who undermined so many beliefs, had no
more doubt of the personal existence of Satan than of sorcery,
conjurations, or possessions.[7]

Finding in their souls a wide background of grandeur and wretchedness,
whence they sometimes heard a burst of distant harmonies calling them to
a higher life, soon to be overpowered by the clamors of the brute, our
ancestors could not refrain from seeking the explanation of this duel.
They found it in the conflict of the demons with God.

The devil is the prince of the demons, as God is the prince of the
angels; capable of all transformations, they carry on to the end of time
terrible battles which will end in the victory of God, but meantime each
man his whole life long is contended for by these two adversaries, and
the noblest souls are naturally the most disputed.

This is how St. Francis, with all men of his time, explained the
disquietudes, terrors, anguish, with which his heart was at times
assailed, as well as the hopes, consolations, joys in which in general
his soul was bathed. Wherever we follow his steps local tradition has
preserved the memory of rude assaults of the tempter which he had to

It is no doubt useless to recall here the elementary fact that if
manners change with the times, man himself is quite as strangely
modified. If, according to education, and the manner of life, such or
such a sense may develop an acuteness which confounds common
experience--hearing in the musician, touch with the blind, etc.--we may
estimate by this how much sharper certain senses may have been then than
now. Several centuries ago visual delusion was with adults what it is
now with children in remotest country parts. A quivering leaf, a
nothing, a breath, an unexplained sound creates an image which they see
and in the reality of which they believe absolutely. Man is all of a
piece; the hyperæsthesia of the will presupposes that of the
sensibility, one is conditioned on the other, and it is this which makes
men of revolutionary epochs so much greater than nature. It would be
absurd under pretext of truth to try to bring them back to the common
measures of our contemporary society, for they were veritably demigods
for good as for evil.

Legends are not always absurd. The men of '93 are still near to us, but
it is nevertheless with good right that legend has taken possession of
them, and it is pitiable to see these men who, ten times a day, had to
take resolutions where everything was at stake--their destiny, that of
their ideas, and sometimes that of their country--judged as if they had
been mere worthy citizens, with leisure to discuss at length every
morning the garments they were to wear or the _menu_ of a dinner. Most
of the time historians have perceived only a part of the truth about
them; for not only were there two men in them, almost all of them are at
the same time poets, demagogues, prophets, heroes, martyrs. To write
history, then, is to translate and transpose almost continually. The men
of the thirteenth century could not bring themselves to not refer to an
exterior cause the inner motions of their souls. In what appears to us
as the result of our own reflections they saw inspiration; where we say
desires, instincts, passions, they said temptation, but we must not
permit these differences of language to make us overlook or tax with
trickery a part of their spiritual life, bringing us thus to the
conclusions of a narrow and ignorant rationalism.

St. Francis believed himself to have many a time fought with the devil;
the horrible demons of the Etruscan Inferno still haunted the forests of
Umbria and Tuscany; but while for his contemporaries and some of his
disciples apparitions, prodigies, possessions, are daily phenomena, for
him they are exceptional, and remain entirely in the background. In the
iconography of St. Benedict, as in that of most of the popular saints,
the devil occupies a preponderant place; in that of St. Francis he
disappears so completely that in the long series of Giotto's frescos at
Assisi he is not seen a single time.[8]

In the same way all that is magic and miracle-working occupies in his
life an entirely secondary rank. Jesus in the Gospels gave his apostles
power to cast out evil spirits, and to heal all sickness and all
infirmity.[9] Francis surely took literally these words, which made a
part of his Rule. He believed that he could work miracles, and he willed
to do so; but his religious thought was too pure to permit him to
consider miracles otherwise than as an entirely exceptional means of
relieving the sufferings of men. Not once do we see him resorting to
miracle to prove his apostolate or to bolster up his ideas. His tact
taught him that souls are worthy of being won by better means. This
almost complete absence of the marvellous[10] is by so much the more
remarkable that it is in absolute contradiction with the tendencies of
his time.[11]

Open the life of his disciple, St. Anthony of Padua ([Cross] 1231); it is a
tiresome catalogue of prodigies, healings, resurrections. One would say
it was rather the prospectus of some druggist who had invented a new
drug than a call to men to conversion and a higher life. It may interest
invalids or devotees, but neither the heart nor the conscience is
touched by it. It must be said in justice to Anthony of Padua that his
relations with Francis appear to have been very slight. Among the
earliest disciples who had time to fathom their master's thought to the
very depths we find traces of this noble disdain of the marvellous; they
knew too well that the perfect joy is not to astound the world with
prodigies, to give sight to the blind, nor even to revive those who have
been four days dead, but that it lives in the love that goes even to
self-immolation. _Mihi absit gloriari nisi in cruce Domini._[12]

Thus Brother Egidio asked of God grace not to perform miracles; he saw
in them, as in the passion for learning, a snare in which the proud
would be taken, and which would distract the Order from its true

St. Francis's miracles are all acts of love; the greater number of them
are found in the healing of nervous maladies, those apparently
inexplicable disquietudes which are the cruel afflictions of critical
times. His gentle glance, at once so compassionate and so strong, which
seemed like a messenger from his heart, often sufficed to make those who
met it forget all their suffering.

The evil eye is perhaps a less stupid superstition than is generally
fancied. Jesus was right in saying that a look sufficed to make one an
adulterer; but there is also a look--that of the contemplative Mary, for
example--which is worth all sacrifices, because it includes them all,
because it gives, consecrates, immolates him who looks.

Civilization dulls this power of the glance. A part of the education the
world gives us consists in teaching our eyes to deceive, in making them
expressionless, in extinguishing their flames; but simple and
straightforward natures never give up using this language of the heart,
"which brings life and health in its beams."

"A Brother was suffering unspeakable tortures; sometimes he would roll
upon the ground, striking against whatever lay in his way, frothing at
the mouth, horrible to see; at times he would become rigid, and again,
after remaining stark outstretched for a moment, would roll about in
horrible contortions; sometimes lying in a heap on the ground, his feet
touching his head, he would bound upward as high as a man's head."
Francis came to see him and healed him.[14]

But these are exceptions, and the greater part of the time the Saint
withdrew himself from the entreaties of his companions when they asked
miracles at his hands.

To sum up, if we take a survey of the whole field of Francis's piety, we
see that it proceeds from the secret union of his soul with the divine
by prayer; this intuitive power of seeing the ideal classes him with the
mystics. He knew, indeed, both the ecstasy and the liberty of mysticism,
but we must not forget those features of character which separate him
from it, particularly his apostolic fervor. Besides this his piety had
certain peculiar qualities which it is necessary to point out.

And first, liberty with respect of observances: Francis felt all the
emptiness and pride of most religious observance. He saw the snare that
lies hidden there, for the man who carefully observes all the minutiæ of
a religious code risks forgetting the supreme law of love. More than
this, the friar who lays upon himself a certain number of supererogatory
facts gains the admiration of the ignorant, but the pleasure which he
finds in this admiration actually transforms his pious act into sin.
Thus, strangely enough, contrary to other founders of orders, he was
continually easing the strictness of the various rules which he laid
down.[15] We may not take this to be a mere accident, for it was only
after a struggle with his disciples that he made his will prevail; and
it was precisely those who were most disposed to relax their vow of
poverty who were the most anxious to display certain bigoted observances
before the public eye.

"The sinner can fast," Francis would say at such times; "he can pray,
weep, macerate himself, but one thing he cannot do, he cannot be
faithful to God." Noble words, not unworthy to fall from the lips of him
who came to preach a worship in spirit and in truth, without temple or
priest; or rather that every fireside shall be a temple and every
believer a priest.

Religious formalism, in whatever form of worship, always takes on a
forced and morose manner. Pharisees of every age disfigure their faces
that no one may be unaware of their godliness. Francis not merely could
not endure these grimaces of false piety, he actually counted mirth and
joy in the number of religious duties.

How shall one be melancholy who has in the heart an inexhaustible
treasure of life and truth which only increases as one draws upon it?
How be sad when in spite of falls one never ceases to make progress?
The pious soul which grows and develops has a joy like that of the
child, happy in feeling its weak little limbs growing strong and
permitting it every day a further exertion.

The word joy is perhaps that which comes most often to the pen of the
Franciscan authors;[16] the master went so far as to make it one of the
precepts of the Rule.[17] He was too good a general not to know that a
joyous army is always a victorious army. In the history of the early
Franciscan missions there are bursts of laughter which ring out high and

For that matter, we are apt to imagine the Middle Ages as much more
melancholy than they really were. Men suffered much in those days, but
the idea of grief being never separated from that of penalty, suffering
was either an expiation or a test, and sorrow thus regarded loses its
sting; light and hope shine through it.

Francis drew a part of his joy from the communion. He gave to the
sacrament of the eucharist that worship imbued with unutterable emotion,
with joyful tears, which has aided some of the noblest of human souls to
endure the burden and heat of the day.[19] The letter of the dogma was
not fixed in the thirteenth century as it is to-day, but all that is
beautiful, true, potent, eternal in the mystical feast instituted by
Jesus was then alive in every heart.

The eucharist was truly the viaticum of the soul. Like the pilgrims of
Emmaus long ago, in the hour when the shades of evening fall and a vague
sadness invades the soul, when the phantoms of the night awake and seem
to loom up behind all our thoughts, our fathers saw the divine and
mysterious Companion coming toward them; they drank in his words, they
felt his strength descending upon their hearts, all their inward being
warmed again, and again they whispered, "Abide with us, Lord, for the
day is far spent and the night approacheth."

And often their prayer was heard.


   [1] 1 Cel., 62.

   [2] 1 Cel., 66; cf. Bon., 180; 1 Cel., 67; cf. Bon., 182; 1
       Cel., 69; Bon., 183. After St. Francis's death the Narniates
       were the first to come to pray at his tomb. 1 Cel., 128, 135,
       136, 138, 141; Bon., 275.

   [3] As concerning: 1, fidelity to Poverty; 2, prohibition of
       modifying the Rule; 3, the equal authority of the Will and the
       Rule; 4, the request for privileges at the court of Rome; 5, the
       elevation of the friars to high ecclesiastical charges; 6, the
       absolute prohibition of putting themselves in opposition to the
       secular clergy; 7, the interdiction of great churches and rich
       convents. On all these points and many others infidelity to
       Francis's will was complete in the Order less than twenty-five
       years after his death. We might expatiate on all this; the Holy
       See in interpreting the Rule had canonical right on its side,
       but Ubertino di Casali in saying that it was perfectly clear and
       had no need of interpretation had good sense on his side; let
       that suffice! _Et est stupor quare queritur expositio super
       litteram sic apertam quia nulla est difficultas in regulæ
       intelligentia. Arbor vitæ crucifixæ_, Venice, 1485. lib. v.,
       cap. 3. _Sanctus vir Egidius tanto ejulatu clamabat super regulæ
       destructionem quam videbat quod ignorantibus viam spiritus quasi
       videbatur insanus. Id. ibid._

   [4] _Heavens drop down your dew, and let the clouds rain down
       the Just One._ Anthem for Advent.

   [5] _In foramibus petræ nidificabat._ 1 Cel., 71. Upon the
       prayers of Francis vide ibid., 71 and 72; 2 Cel., 3, 38-43;
       Ben., 139-148. Cf. 1 Cel., 6; 91; 103; 3 Soc., 8; 12; etc.

   [6] Luke, xxii. 44.

   [7] Felix Kuhn: _Luther, sa vie et son oeuvre_, Paris, 1883, 3
       vols., 8vo. t. i., p. 128; t. ii., p. 9; t. iii., p. 257.
       Benvenuto Cellini does not hesitate to describe a visit which he
       made one day to the Coliseum in company with a magician whose
       words evoked clouds of devils who filled the whole place. B.
       Cellini, _La vita scritta da lui medesimo_, Bianchi's edition,
       Florence, 1890, 12mo, p. 33.

   [8] On the devil and Francis vide 1 Cel., 68, 72; 3 Soc., 12; 2
       Cel., 1, 6; 3, 10; 53; 58-65; Bon., 59-62. Cf. Eccl., 3; 5; 13;
       _Fior._, 29; _Spec._, 110b. To form an idea of the part taken by
       the devil in the life of a monk at the beginning of the
       thirteenth century, one must read the _Dialogus miraculorium_ of
       Cæsar von Heisterbach.

   [9] Matthew, x. 1.

  [10] Miracles occupy only ten paragraphs (61-70) in 1 Cel., and
       of this number there are several which can hardly be counted as
       Francis's miracles, since they were performed by objects which
       had belonged to him.

  [11] Heretics often took advantage of this thirst for the
       marvellous to dupe the catholics. The Cathari of Moncoul made a
       portrait of the Virgin representing her as one eyed and
       toothless, saying that in his humility Christ had chosen a very
       ugly woman for mother. They had no difficulty in healing several
       cases of disease by its means; the image became famous, was
       venerated almost everywhere, and accomplished many miracles
       until the day when the heretics divulged the deception, to the
       great scandal of the faithful. Egbert von Schönau, _Contra
       Catharos_. Serm. I. cap. 2. (Patrol. lat. Migne t. 195.) Cf.
       Heisterbach, _loc. cit._, v. 18. Luc de Tuy, _De altera Vita_,
       lib. ii. 9; iii. 9, 18 (Patrol. Migne., 208).

  [12] "But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of
       our Lord Jesus Christ." Gal. vi. 14. This is to this day the
       motto of the Brothers Minor.

  [13] _Spec._, 182a; 200a; 232a. Cf. 199a.

  [14] 1 Cel., 67.

  [15] _Secundum primam regulam fratres feria quarta et sexta et
       per licentiam beati Francisci feria secunda et sabbato
       jejunabant. Giord. 11. cf. Reg. 1221, cap. 3_ and _Reg. 1223,
       cap. 3_, where Friday is the only fast day retained.

  [16] 1 Cel., 10; 22; 27; 31; 42; 80; 2 Cel., 1, 1; 3, 65-68;
       Eccl., 5; 6; _Giord._, 21; _Spec._, 119a; _Conform._, 143a, 2.

  [17] _Caveant fratres quod non ostendant se tristes extrinsecus
       nubilosos et hypocritas; sed ostendant se gaudentis in Domine,
       hilares et convenientes gratiosos._

  [18] Eccl., _loc. cit._; Giord., _loc. cit._

  [19] Vide _Test._; 1 Cel., 46; 62; 75; 2 Cel., 3, 129; _Spec._,

       *       *       *       *       *



After Whitsunday of 1217 chronological notes of Francis's life are
numerous enough to make error almost impossible. Unhappily, this is not
the case for the eighteen months which precede it (autumn of
1215-Whitsunday, 1217). For this period we are reduced to conjecture, or
little better.

As Francis at that time undertook no foreign mission, he doubtless
employed his time in evangelizing Central Italy and in consolidating the
foundations of his institution. His presence at Rome during the Lateran
Council (November 11-30, 1215) is possible, but it has left no trace in
the earliest biographies. The Council certainly took the new Order into
consideration,[2] but it was to renew the invitation made to it five
years before by the supreme pontiff, to choose one of the Rules already
approved by the Church.[3] St. Dominic, who was then at Rome to beg
for the confirmation of his institute, received the same counsel and
immediately conformed to it. The Holy See would willingly have conceded
special constitutions to the Brothers Minor, if they had adopted for a
base the Rule of St. Benedict; thus the Clarisses, except those of St.
Damian, while preserving their name and a certain number of their
customs, were obliged to profess the Benedictine rule.

In spite of all solicitations, Francis insisted upon retaining his own
Rule. One is led to believe that it was to confer upon these questions
that we find him at Perugia in July, 1216, when Innocent III. died.[4]

However this may be, about this epoch the chapters took on a great
importance. The Church, which had looked on at the foundation of the
Order with somewhat mixed feelings, could no longer rest content with
being the mere spectator of so profound a movement; it saw the need of
utilizing it.

Ugolini was marvellously well prepared for such a task. Giovanni di San
Paolo, Bishop of the Sabine, charged by Innocent III. to look after the
Brothers, died in 1216, and Ugolini was not slow to offer his
protection to Francis, who accepted it with gratitude. This
extraordinary offer is recounted at length by the Three Companions.[5]
It must certainly be fixed in the summer of 1216[6] immediately after
the death of Giovanni di San Paolo.

It is very possible that the first chapter held in the presence of this
cardinal took place on May 29, 1216. By an error very common in history,
most of the Franciscan writers have referred to a single date all the
scattered incidents concerning the first solemn assizes of the Order,
and have called this typical assembly the _Chapter of the Mats_. In
reality for long years all the gatherings of the Brothers Minor deserved
this name.[7]

Coming together at the season of the greatest heat, they slept in the
open air or sheltered themselves under booths of reeds. We need not pity
them. There is nothing like the glorious transparency of the summer
night in Umbria; sometimes in Provence one may enjoy a foretaste of it,
but if at Baux, upon the rock of Doms, or at St. Baume, the sight is
equally solemn and grandiose, it still wants the caressing sweetness,
the effluence of life which in Umbria give the night a bewitching charm.

The inhabitants of the neighboring towns and villages flocked to these
meetings in crowds, at once to see the ceremonies, to be present when
their relatives or friends assumed the habit, to listen to the appeals
of the Saint and to furnish to the friars the provisions of which they
might have need. All this is not without some analogy with the
camp-meeting so dear to Americans. As to the figures of several
thousands of attendants given in the legends, and furnishing even to a
Franciscan, Father Papini, the occasion for pleasantries of doubtful
taste, it is perhaps not so surprising as might be supposed.[8]

These first meetings, to which all the Brothers eagerly hastened, held
in the open air in the presence of crowds come together from distant
places, have then nothing in common with the subsequent
chapters-general, which were veritable conclaves attended by a small
number of delegates, and the majority of the work of which, done in
secret, was concerned only with the affairs of the Order.

During Francis's lifetime the purpose of these assemblies was
essentially religious. Men attended them not to talk business, or
proceed to the nomination of the minister-general, but in mutual
communion to gain new strength from the joys, the example, and the
sufferings of the other brethren.[9]

The four years which followed the Whitsunday of 1216 form a stage in the
evolution of the Umbrian movement; that during which Francis was
battling for autonomy. We find here pretty delicate shades of
distinction, which have been misunderstood by Church writers as much as
by their adversaries, for if Francis was particular not to put himself
in the attitude of revolt, he would not compromise his independence, and
he felt with an exquisite divination that all the privileges which the
court of Rome could heap upon him were worth nothing in comparison with
liberty. Alas, he was soon forced to resign himself to these gilded
bonds, against which he never ceased to protest, even to his last
sigh;[10] but to shut one's eyes to the moral violence which the papacy
did him in this matter is to condemn oneself to an entire
misapprehension of his work.

A glance over the collection of bulls addressed to the Franciscans
suffices to show with what ardor he struggled against favors so eagerly
sought by the monastic orders.[11]

A great number of legendary anecdotes put Francis's disdain of
privileges in the clearest light. Even his dearest friends did not
always understand his scruples.

    "Do you not see," they said to him one day, "that often the
    bishops do not permit us to preach, and make us remain several
    days without doing anything before we are permitted to proclaim
    the word of God? It would be better worth while to obtain for
    this end a privilege from the pope, and it would be for the good
    of souls."

    "I would first convert the prelates by humility and respect," he
    replied quickly; "for when they have seen us humble and
    respectful toward them, they themselves will beg us to preach
    and convert the people. As for me, I ask of God no privilege
    unless it be that I may have none, to be full of respect for all
    men, and to convert them, as our Rule ordains, more by our
    example than by our speech."[12]

The question whether Francis was right or wrong in his antipathy to the
privileges of the curia does not come within the domain of history; it
is evident that this attitude could not long continue; the Church knows
only the faithful and rebels. But the noblest hearts often make a stand
at compromises of this kind; they desire that the future should grow out
of the past without convulsion and without a crisis.

The chapter of 1217 was notable for the definitive organization of the
Franciscan missions. Italy and the other countries were divided off into
a certain number of _provinces_, having each its provincial minister.
Immediately upon his accession Honorius III. had sought to revive the
popular zeal for the crusades. He had not stopped at preaching it, but
appealed to prophecies which had proclaimed that under his pontificate
the Holy Land would be reconquered.[13] The renewal of fervor which
ensued, and of which the rebound was felt as far as Germany, had a
profound influence on the Brothers Minor. This time Francis, perhaps
from humility, did not put himself at the head of the friars charged
with a mission to Syria; for leader he gave them the famous Elias,
formerly at Florence, where he had had opportunity to show his high

This Brother, who from this time appears in the foreground of this
history, came from the most humble ranks of society; the date and the
circumstances of his entrance into the Order are unknown, and hence
conjecture has come to see in him that friend of the grotto who had been
Francis's confidant shortly before his decisive conversion. However this
may be, in his youth he had earned his living in Assisi, making
mattresses and teaching a few children to read; then he had spent some
time in Bologna as _scriptor_; then suddenly we find him among the
Brothers Minor, charged with the most difficult missions.

His adversaries vie with one another in asserting that he was the finest
mind of his century, but unhappily it is very difficult, in the existing
state of the documents, to pronounce as to his actions; learned and
energetic, eager to play the leading part in the work of the
reformation of religion, and having made his plan beforehand as to the
proper mode of realizing it, he made straight for his goal, half
political, half religious. Full of admiration for Francis and gratitude
toward him, he desired to regulate and consolidate the movement for
renovation. In the inner Franciscan circle, where Leo, Ginepro, Egidio,
and many others represent the spirit of liberty, the religion of the
humble and the simple, Elias represents the scientific and
ecclesiastical spirit, prudence and reason.

He had great success in Syria and received into the Order one of the
disciples most dear to Francis, Cæsar of Speyer, who later on was to
make the conquest of all Southern Germany in less than two years
(1221-1223), and who in the end sealed with his blood his fidelity to
the strict observance, which he defended against the attacks of Brother
Elias himself.[15]

Cæsar of Speyer offers a brilliant example of those suffering souls
athirst for the ideal, so numerous in the thirteenth century, who
everywhere went up and down, seeking first in learning, then in the
religious life, that which should assuage the mysterious thirst which
tortured them. Disciple of the scholastic Conrad, he had felt himself
overpowered with the desire to reform the Church; while still a layman
he had preached his ideas, not without some success, since a certain
number of ladies of Speyer had begun to lead a new life; but their
husbands disapproving, he was obliged to escape their vengeance by
taking refuge at Paris, and thence he went to the East, where in the
preaching of the Brothers Minor he found again his hopes and his dreams.
This instance shows how general was the waiting condition of souls when
the Franciscan gospel blazed forth, and how its way had been everywhere

But it is time to return to the chapter of 1217: the friars who went to
Germany under conduct of Giovanni di Penna were far from having the
success of Elias and his companions; they were completely ignorant of
the language of the country which they had undertaken to evangelize.
Perhaps Francis had not taken into account the fact that though Italian
might, in case of need, suffice in all the countries bathed by the
Mediterranean, this could not be the case in Central Europe.[16]

The lot of the party going to Hungary was not more happy. Very often it
came to pass that the missionaries were fain to give up their very
garments in the effort to appease the peasants and shepherds who
maltreated them. But no less incapable of understanding what was said to
them than of making themselves understood, they were soon obliged to
think of returning to Italy. We may thank the Franciscan authors for
preserving for us the memory of these checks, and not attempting to
picture the friars as suddenly knowing all languages by a divine
inspiration, as later on was so often related.[17]

Those who had been sent to Spain had also to undergo persecutions. This
country, like the south of France, was ravaged by heresy; but already at
that time it was vigorously repressed. The Franciscans, suspected of
being false Catholics and therefore eagerly hunted out, found a refuge
with Queen Urraca of Portugal, who permitted them to establish
themselves at Coimbra, Guimarraens, Alenquero, and Lisbon.[18]

Francis himself made preparations for going to France.[19] This country
had a peculiar charm for him because of his fervent love of the Holy
Sacrament. Perhaps also he was unwittingly drawn toward this country to
which he owed his name, the chivalrous dreams of his youth, all of
poetry, song, music, delicious dream that had come into his life.

Something of the emotion that thrilled through him on undertaking this
new mission has passed into the story of his biographers; one feels
there the thrill at once sweet and agonizing, the heart-throb of the
brave knight who goes forth all harnessed in the early dawn to scan the
horizon, dreading the unknown and yet overflowing with joy, for he knows
that the day will be consecrated to love and to the right.

The Italian poet has given the one name of "pilgrimages of love" to the
farings forth of chivalry and the journeys undertaken by dreamers,
artists, or saints to those parts of the earth which forever mirror
themselves before their imagination and remain their chosen
fatherland.[20] Such a pilgrimage as this was Francis undertaking.

    "Set forth," said he to the Brothers who accompanied him, "and
    walk two and two, humble and gentle, keeping silence until after
    tierce, praying to God in your hearts, carefully avoiding every
    vain or useless word. Meditate as much while on this journey as
    if you were shut up in a hermitage or in your cell, for wherever
    we are, wherever we go, we carry our cell with us; Brother body
    is our cell, and the soul is the hermit who dwells in it, there
    to pray to the Lord and to meditate."

Arrived at Florence he found there Cardinal Ugolini, sent by the pope as
legate to Tuscany to preach the crusade and take all needful measures
for assuring its success.[21] Francis was surely far from expecting
the reception which the prelate gave him. Instead of encouraging him,
the cardinal urged him to give up his project.

    "I am not willing, my brother, that you should cross the
    mountains; there are many prelates who ask nothing better than
    to stir up difficulties for you with the court of Rome. But I
    and the other cardinals who love your Order desire to protect
    and aid you, on the condition, however, that you do not quit
    this province."

    "But, monsignor, it would be a great disgrace for me to send my
    brethren far away while I remained idly here, sharing none of
    the tribulations which they must undergo."

    "Wherefore, then, have you sent your brethren so far away,
    exposing them thus to starvation and all sorts of perils?"

    "Do you think," replied Francis warmly, and as if moved by
    prophetic inspiration, "that God raised up the Brothers for the
    sake of this country alone? Verily, I say unto you, God has
    raised them up for the awakening and the salvation of all men,
    and they shall win souls not only in the countries of those who
    believe, but also in the very midst of the infidels."[22]

The surprise and admiration which these words awoke in Ugolini were not
enough to make him change his mind. He insisted so strongly that Francis
turned back to Portiuncula, the inspiration of his work not even shaken.
Who knows whether the joy which he would have felt in seeing France did
not confirm him in the idea that he ought to renounce this plan? Souls
athirst with the longing for sacrifice often have scruples such as
these; they refuse the most lawful joys that they may offer them to
God. We cannot tell whether it was immediately after this interview or
not till the following year that Francis put Brother Pacifico at the
head of the missionaries sent into France.[23]

Pacifico, who was a poet of talent, had before his conversion been
surnamed Prince of Poesy and crowned at the capital by the emperor. One
day while visiting a relative who was a nun at San Severino in the March
of Ancona, Francis also arrived at the monastery, and preached with such
a holy impetuosity that the poet felt himself pierced with the sword of
which the Bible speaks, which penetrates between the very joints and
marrow, and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.[24] On the
morrow he assumed the habit and received his symbolical surname.[25]

He was accompanied to France by Brother Agnello di Pisa, who was
destined to be put at the head of the first mission to England in

Francis, on sending them forth, was far from dreaming that from this
country, which exerted such a fascination over him, was to come forth
the influence which was to compromise his dream--that Paris would be the
destruction of Assisi; and yet the time was not very far distant; a few
years more and the Poverello would see a part of his spiritual family
forgetting the humility of their name, their origin, and their
aspirations, to run after the ephemeral laurels of learning.

We have already seen that the habit of the Franciscans of this time was
to make their abode within easy reach of great cities; Pacifico and his
companions established themselves at St. Denis.[27] We have no
particulars of their work; it was singularly fruitful, since it
permitted them a few years later to attack England with full success.

Francis passed the following year (1218) in evangelizing tours in Italy.
It is naturally impossible to follow him in these travels, the itinerary
of which was fixed by his daily inspirations, or by indications as
fanciful as the one which had formerly determined his going to Sienna.
Bologna,[28] the Verna, the valley of Rieti, the Sacro-Speco of St.
Benedict at Subiaco,[29] Gaeta;[30] San Michele on Mount Gargano[31]
perhaps received him at this time, but the notes of his presence in
these places are too sparse and vague to permit their being included in
any scheme of history.

It is very possible that he also paid a visit to Rome during this time;
his communications with Ugolini were much more frequent than is
generally supposed. We must not permit the stories of biographers to
deceive us in this matter; it is a natural tendency to refer all that we
know of a man to three or four especially striking dates. We forget
entire years of the life of those whom we have known the best and loved
the most and group our memories of them around a few salient events
which shine all the more brilliantly the deeper we make the surrounding
obscurity. The words of Jesus spoken on a hundred different occasions
came at last to be formed into a single discourse, the Sermon on the
Mount. It is in such cases that criticism needs to be delicate, to
mingle a little divination with the heavy artillery of scientific

The texts are sacred, but we must not make fetiches of them;
notwithstanding St. Matthew, no one to-day dreams of representing Jesus
as uttering the Sermon on the Mount all at one time. In the same way, in
the narratives concerning the relations between St. Francis and Ugolini,
we find ourselves every moment shut up in no-thoroughfares, coming up
against contradictory indications, just so long as we try to refer
everything to two or three meetings, as we are at first led to do.

With a simple act of analysis these difficulties disappear and we find
each of the different narratives bringing us fragments which, being
pieced together, furnish an organic story, living, psychologically true.

From the moment at which we have now arrived, we must make a much larger
place for Ugolini than in the past; the struggle has definitively opened
between the Franciscan ideal--chimerical, perhaps, but sublime--and the
ecclesiastical policy, to go on until the day when, half in humility,
half in discouragement, Francis, heartsick, abdicates the direction of
his spiritual family.

Ugolini returned to Rome at the end of 1217. During the following winter
his countersign is found at the bottom of the most important bulls;[32]
he devoted this time to the special study of the question of the new
orders, and summoned Francis before him. We have seen with what
frankness he had declared to him at Florence that many of the prelates
would do anything to discredit him with the pope.[33] It is evident the
success of the Order, its methods, which in spite of all protestations
to the contrary seemed to savor of heresy, the independence of Francis,
who had scattered his friars in all the four corners of the globe
without trying to gain a confirmation of the verbal and entirely
provisional authorization accorded him by Innocent III.--all these
things were calculated to startle the clergy.

Ugolini, who better than any one else knew Umbria, Tuscany, Emilia, the
March of Ancona, all those regions where the Franciscan preaching had
been most successful, was able by himself to judge of the power of the
new movement and the imperious necessity of directing it; he felt that
the best way to allay the prejudices which the pope and the sacred
college might have against Francis was to present him before the curia.

Francis was at first much abashed at the thought of preaching before the
Vicar of Jesus Christ, but upon the entreaties of his protector he
consented, and for greater security he learned by heart what he had to

Ugolini himself was not entirely at ease as to the result of this step;
Thomas of Celano pictures him as devoured with anxiety; he was troubled
about Francis, whose artless eloquence ran many a risk in the halls of
the Lateran Palace; he was also not without some more personal
anxieties, for the failure of his _protégé_ might be most damaging to
himself. He was in all the greater anxiety when, on arriving at the feet
of the pontiff, Francis forgot all he had intended to say; but he
frankly avowed it, and seeking a new discourse from the inspiration of
the moment, spoke with so much warmth and simplicity that the assembly
was won.[34]

The biographers are mute as to the practical result of this audience. We
are not to be surprised at this, for they write with the sole purpose of
edification. They wrote after the apotheosis of their master, and would
with very bad grace have dwelt upon the difficulties which he met during
the early years.[35]

The Holy See must have been greatly perplexed by this strange man,
whose faith and humility were evident, but whom it was impossible to
teach ecclesiastical obedience.

St. Dominic happened to be in Rome at the same time,[36] and was
overwhelmed with favors by the pope. It is a matter of history that
Innocent III. having asked him to choose one of the Rules already
approved by the Church, he had returned to his friars at Notre Dame de
Prouille, and after conferring with them had adopted that of St.
Augustine; Honorius therefore was not sparing of privileges for him. It
is hardly possible that Ugolini did not try to use the influence of his
example with St. Francis.

The curia saw clearly that Dominic, whose Order barely comprised a few
dozen members, was not one of the moral powers of the time, but its
sentiments toward him were by no means so mixed as those it experienced
with regard to Francis.

To unite the two Orders, to throw over the shoulders of the Dominicans
the brown cassock of the Poor Men of Assisi, and thus make a little of
the popularity of the Brothers Minor to be reflected upon them, to leave
to the latter their name, their habit, and even a semblance of their
Rule, only completing it with that of St. Augustine, such a project
would have been singularly pleasing to Ugolini, and with Francis's
humility would seem to have some chance of success.

One day Dominic by dint of pious insistance induced Francis to give him
his cord, and immediately girded himself with it. "Brother," said he, "I
earnestly long that your Order and mine might unite to form one sole and
same institute[37] in the Church." But the Brother Minor wished to
remain as he was, and declined the proposition. So truly was he inspired
with the needs of his time and of the Church that less than three years
after this Dominic was drawn by an irresistible influence to transform
his Order of Canons of St. Augustine into an order of mendicant monks,
whose constitutions were outlined upon those of the Franciscans.[38]

A few years later the Dominicans took, so to speak, their revenge, and
obliged the Brothers Minor to give learning a large place in their work.
Thus, while hardly come to youth's estate, the two religious families
rivalled one another, impressed, influenced one another, yet never so
much so as to lose all traces of their origin--summed up for the one in
poverty and lay preaching, for the other in learning and the preaching
of the clergy.


   [1] The commencement of the great missions and the institution
       of provincial ministers is usually fixed either at 1217 or 1219,
       but both these dates present great difficulties. I confess that
       I do not understand the vehemence with which partisans of either
       side defend their opinions. The most important text is a passage
       in the 3 Soc., 62: _Expletis itaque undecim annis ab inceptione
       religionis, et multiplicatis numero et merito fratribus, electi
       fuerant ministri, et missi cum aliquot fratribus quasi per
       universas mundi provincias in quibus fides catholica colitur et
       servatur._ What does this expression, _inceptio religionis_,
       mean? At a first reading one unhesitatingly takes it to refer to
       the foundation of the Order, which occurred in April, 1209, by
       the reception of the first Brothers; but on adding eleven full
       years to this date we reach the summer of 1220. This is
       manifestly too late, for the 3 Soc. say that the brethren who
       went out were persecuted in most of the countries beyond the
       mountains, as being accredited by no pontifical letter; but the
       bull _Cum dilecti_, bears the date of June 11, 1219. We are thus
       led to think that the eleven years are not to be counted from
       the reception of the first Brothers, but from Francis's
       conversion, which the authors might well speak of as _inceptio
       religionis_, and 1206 + 11 = 1217. The use of this expression to
       designate conversion is not entirely without example.
       Glassberger says (_An. fr._, p. 9): _Ordinem minorum incepit
       anno 1206._ Those who admit 1219 are obliged (like the
       Bollandists, for example), to attribute an inaccuracy to the
       text of the 3 Soc., that of having counted eleven years as
       having passed when there had been only ten. We should notice
       that in the two other chronological indications given by the 3
       Soc. (27 and 62) they count from the conversion, that is from
       1206, as also Thomas of Celano, 88, 105, 119, 97, 88, 57, 55,
       21. Curiously, the Conformities reproduce the passage of the 3
       Soc. (118b, 1), but with the alteration: _Nono anno ab
       inceptione religionis_. Giordano di Giano opens the door to many
       scruples: _Anno vero Domini_ 1219 _et anno conversionis ejus
       decimo frater Franciscus ... misit fratres in Franciam, in
       Theutoniam, in Hungariam, in Hespaniam_, Giord., 3. As a little
       later the same author properly harmonizes 1219 with the
       thirteenth year from Francis's conversion, everyone is in
       agreement in admitting that the passage cited needs correction;
       we have unfortunately only one manuscript of this chronicle.
       Glassberger, who doubtless had another before him, substitutes
       1217, but he may have drawn this date from another document. It
       is noteworthy that Brother Giordano gives as simultaneous the
       departure of the friars for Germany, Hungary, and France; but,
       as to the latter country, it certainly took place in 1217. So
       the Speculum, 44a.

       The chronicle of the xxiv. generals and Mark of Lisbon (Diola's
       ed., t. i., p. 82) holds also to 1217, so that, though not
       definitely established, it would appear that this date should be
       accepted until further information. Starting from slightly
       different premises, the learned editors of the _Analecta_ arrive
       at the same conclusion (t. ii., pp. 25-36). Cf. Evers, _Analecta
       ad Fr. Minorum historiam_, Leipsic, 1882, 4to, pp. 7 and 11.
       That which appears to me decidedly to tip the balance in favor
       of 1217, is the fact that the missionary friars were persecuted
       because they had no document of legitimation; and in 1219 they
       would have had the bull _Cum dilecti_, from June 11th of that
       year. The Bollandists, who hold for 1219, have so clearly seen
       this argument that they have been obliged to deny the
       authenticity of the bull (or at least to suppose it wrongly
       dated). A. SS., p. 839.

   [2] Vide A. SS., p. 604. Cf. Angelo Clareno, _Tribul. Archiv._,
       i., p. 559. _A papa Innocentis fuit omnibus annuntiatum in
       concilio generali ... sicut sanctus vir fr. Leo scribit et fr.
       Johannes de Celano._ These lines have not perhaps the
       significance which one would be led to give them at the first
       glance, their author having perhaps confounded _consilium_ and
       _consistorium_. The Speculum, 20b says: _Eam (Regulam
       Innocentius) approvabit et concessit et postea in consistorio
       omnibus annuntiavit._

   [3] _Ne nimia Religionem diversitas gravem in Ecclesia Dei
       confusionem inducat, firmiter prohibemus, ne quis de
       coetero novam Religionem inveniat; sed quicumque voluerit
       ad Religionem converti, unam de approbatis assumat._ Labbé and
       Cossart: _Sacrosancta concilia_, Paris, 1672, t. xi., col. 165.

   [4] Eccl., 15 (_An. franc._, t. 1, p. 253): _Innocentium in
       cujus obitu fuit presentialiter S. Franciscus_.

   [5] 3 Soc., 61; cf. _An. Perus._, A. SS., p. 606f.

   [6] Thomas of Celano must be in error when he declares that
       Francis was not acquainted with Cardinal Ugolini before the
       visit which he made him at Florence (summer of 1217): _Nondum
       alter alteri erat præcipua familiaritate conjunctus_ (1 Cel., 74
       and 75). The Franciscan biographer's purpose was not historic;
       chronological indications are given in profusion; what he seeks
       is the _apta junctura_. Tradition has preserved the memory of a
       chapter held at Portiuncula in presence of Ugolini during a stay
       of the curia at Perugia (_Spec._, 137b.; _Fior_., 18;
       _Conform._, 207a; 3 Soc., 61). But the curia did not come back
       to Perugia between 1216 and Francis's death. It is also to be
       noted that according to Angelo Clareno, Ugolini was with Francis
       in 1210, supporting him in the presence of Innocent III. Vide
       below, p. 413. Finally the bull _Sacrosancta_ of December 9,
       1219, witnesses that already during his legation in Florence
       (1217) Ugolini was actually interesting himself for the

   [7] See, for example, the description of the chapter of 1221 by
       Brother Giordano. Giord., 16.

   [8] With regard to the figure of five thousand attendants given
       by Bonaventura (Bon., 59) Father Papini writes: _Io non credo
       stato capace alcuno di dare ad intendere al S. Dottore simil
       fanfaluca, ne capace lui di crederla_.

       _... In somma il numero quinque millia et ultra non è del Santo,
       incapace di scrivere una cosa tanto improbabile e relativamente
       impossibile. Storia di S. Fr._, i., pp. 181 and 183. This
       figure, five thousand, is also indicated by Eccl., 6. All this
       may be explained and become possible by admitting the presence
       of the Brothers of Penitence, and it seems very difficult to
       contest it, since in the Order of the Humiliants, which much
       resembles that of the Brothers Minor (equally composed of three
       branches approved by three bulls given June, 1201), the
       chapters-general annually held were frequented by the brothers
       of the three Orders. Tiraboschi t. ii., p. 144. Cf. above, p.

   [9] Vide 2 Cel., 3, 121; _Spec._, 42b; 127b.

  [10] _Præcipio firmiter per obedientiam fratribus universis quod
       ubicunque sunt, non audeant petere aliquam litteram in Curia
       Romana._ _Test. B. Fr._

  [11] A comparison with the Bullary of the Preaching Friars is
       especially instructive: from their first chapter at Notre Dame
       de Prouille, in 1216, they are about fifteen; we find there at
       this time absolutely nothing that can be compared to the
       Franciscan movement, which was already stirring up all Italy.
       But while the first bull in favor of the Franciscans bears the
       date of June 11, 1219, and the approbation properly so called
       that of November 29, 1223, we find Honorius already in the end
       of 1216 lavishing marks of affection upon the Dominicans;
       December 22, 1216, _Religiosam vitam_. Cf. Pressuti, _I regesti,
       del Pontefice Onorio III._, Roma, 1884, t. i., no. 175; same
       date; _Nos attendentes_, ibid., no. 176; January 21, 1217,
       _gratiarum omnium_, ib., no. 243. Vide 284, 1039, 1156, 1208. It
       is needless to continue this enumeration. Very much the same
       could be done for the other Orders; whence the conclusion that
       if the Brothers Minor alone are forgotten in this shower of
       favors, it is because they decidedly wished to be. It must be
       admitted that immediately upon Francis's death they made up for
       lost time.

  [12] The authenticity of this passage is put beyond doubt by
       Ubertino di Casal's citation. _Archiv._, iii., p. 53. Cf.
       _Spec._, 30a; _Conform._, 111b, 1; 118b, 1; Ubertino, _Arbor
       vitæ cruc._, iii., 3.

  [13] _Burchardi chronicon ann. 1217_, _loc. cit._, p. 377. See
       also the bulls indicated by Potthast, 5575, 5585-92.

  [14] Before 1217 the office of minister virtually existed,
       though its definitive institution dates only from 1217. Brother
       Bernardo in his mission to Bologna, for example (1212?),
       certainly held in some sort the office of minister.

  [15] Imprisoned by order of Elias, he died in consequence of
       blows given him one day when he was taking the air outside of
       his prison. _Tribul._, 24a.

  [16] Giord., 5 and 6; 3 Soc., 62.

  [17] Of Giovanni di Parma, Clareno, Anthony of Padua, etc.

  [18] Mark of Lisbon, t. i., p. 82. Cf. p. 79, t. ii., p. 86,
       Glassberger _ann._, 1217. _An. fr._, ii., pp. 9 ff.; _Chron
       xxiv. gen._, MS. of Assisi, no. 328, f^o 2b.

  [19] _Spec._, 44a.; _Conform._, 119a, 2; 135a; 181b, 1; 1 Cel.,
       74 and 75.

  [20] Cel., 3, 129. _Diligebat Franciam ... volebat in ea mori_.

  [21] V. bull of January 23, 1217, _Tempus acceptabile_,
       Potthast, no. 5430, given in Horoy, t. ii., col. 205 ff.; cf.
       Pressuti, i., p. 71. This bull and those following fix without
       question the time of the journey to Florence. Potthast, 5488,
       5487, and page 495.

  [22] It is superfluous to point out the error of the Bollandist
       text in the phrase _Monuit (Cardinalis Franciscum) coeptum non
       perficere iter_, where the _non_ is omitted, A. SS., p. 704.
       Cf., p. 607 and 835, which has led Suysken into several other

  [23] Bon., 51. Cf. Glassberger, _ann_. 1217; _Spec._, 45b.

  [24] Heb., iv., 12; 2 Cel., 3, 49; Bon., 50 and 51.

  [25] Brother Pacifico interests us [the French people]
       particularly as the first minister of the Order in France;
       information about him is abundant: Bon., 79; 2 Cel., 3, 63;
       _Spec._, 41b.: _Conform._, 38a, 1; 43a, 1; 71b; 173b, 1, and
       176; 2 Cel., 8, 27; _Spec._, 38b; _Conform._, 181b; 2 Cel., 3,
       76; _Fior._, 46; _Conform._, 70a. I do not indicate the general
       references found in Chevalier's Bibliography. The Miscellanea,
       t. ii. (1887), p. 158, contains a most precise and interesting
       column about him. Gregory IX. speaks of him in the bull _Magna
       sicut dicitur_ of August 12, 1227. Sbaralea, Bull, fr., i., p.
       33 (Potthast, 8007). Thomas of Tuscany, _socius_ of St.
       Bonaventura, knew him and speaks of him in his _Gesta
       Imperatorum (Mon. germ. hist. script._, t. 22, p. 492).

  [26] Eccl., 1; _Conform._, 113b, 1.

  [27] Toward 1224 the Brothers Minor desired to draw nearer and
       build a vast convent near the walls of Paris in the grounds
       called Vauvert, or Valvert (now the Luxembourg Garden), (Eccl.,
       10; cf. _Top. hist. du vieux Paris_, by Berty and Tisserand, t.
       iv., p. 70). In 1230 they received at Paris from the
       Benedictines of Saint-Germain-des-Prés a certain number of
       houses _in parocchia SS. Cosmæ et Damiani infra muros domini
       regis prope portam de Gibardo (Chartularium Universitatis
       Parisiensis_, no. 76. Cf. _Topographie historique du vieux
       Paris; Région occid. de l'univ._, p. 95; Félibien, _Histoire de
       la ville de Paris_, i., p. 115). Finally, St. Louis installed
       them in the celebrated Convent of the Cordeliers, the refectory
       of which still exists, transformed into the Dupuytren Museum.
       The Dominicans, who arrived in Paris September 12, 1217, went
       straight to the centre of the city, near the bishop's palace on
       the _Ile de la Cité_, and on August 6, 1218, were installed in
       the Convent of St. Jacques.

  [28] _Fior._, 27; _Spec._, 148b; _Conform._, 71a and 113a, 2;
       Bon., 182.

  [29] The traces of Francis's visit here are numerous. A Brother
       Eudes painted his portrait here.

  [30] Bon., 177.

  [31] Vide A. SS., pp. 855 and 856. Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 136.

  [32] Among others those of December 5, 1217, Potthast, 5629;
       February 8, March 30, April 7, 1218, Potthast, 5695, 5739, 5747.

  [33] 1 Cel., 74. _O quanti maxime in principio cum hæc agerentur
       novellæ plantationi ordinis insidiabantur ut perderent._ Cf. 2
       Cel., 1, 16. _Videbat Franciscus luporum more sevire

  [34] 1 Cel., 73 (cf. 2 Cel., 1, 17; _Spec._, 102a); 3 Soc., 64;
       Bon., 78. The fixing of this scene in the winter of 1217-1218
       seems hardly to be debatable; Giordano's account (14) in fact
       determines the date at which Ugolini became _officially_
       protector of the Order; it supposes earlier relations between
       Honorius, Francis, and Ugolini. We are therefore led to seek a
       date at which these three personages may have met in Rome, and
       we arrive thus at the period between December, 1217, and April,

  [35] A word of Brother Giordano's opens the door to certain
       conjectures. "My lord," said Francis to Honorius III., in 1220,
       "you have given me many fathers (popes) give me a single one to
       whom I may turn with the affairs of my Order." (Giord., 14,
       _Multos mihi papas dedisti da unum_, ... etc.)

       Does not this suggest the idea that the pontiff had perhaps
       named a commission of cardinals to oversee the Brothers Minor?
       Its deliberations and the events to be related in the following
       chapter might have impelled him to issue the bull _Cum dilecti_
       of June 11, 1219, which was not an approbation properly so
       called, but a safe-conduct in favor of the Franciscans.

  [36] He took possession of St. Sabine on February 28, 1218.

  [37] 2 Cel., 3, 87. The literal meaning of the phrase is
       somewhat ambiguous. The text is: _Vellem, frater Francisce, unam
       fieri religionem tuam et meam et in Ecclesia pari forma nos
       vivere_. _Spec._ 27b. The echo of this attempt is found in
       Thierry d'Apolda, _Vie de S. Dominique_ (A. SS., Augusti, t. i.,
       p. 572 d): _S. Dominicus in oscula sancta ruens et sinceros
       amplexus, dixit: Tu es socius meus, tu curres pariter mecum,
       stemus simul, nullus adversarius prævalebit_. Bernard of Besse
       says: _B. Dominicus tanta B. Francisco devotione cohesit ut
       optatam ab eo cordam sub inferiori tunica devotissimi cingeret,
       cujus et suam Religionem unam velle fieri diceret, ipsumque pro
       sanctitate cæteris sequendem religiosis assereret._ Turin MS.,

  [38] At the chapter held at Bologna at Whitsunday, 1220. The
       bull _Religiosam vitam_ (Privilege of Notre Dame de Prouille) of
       March 30, 1218, enumerates the possessions of the Dominicans.
       Ripolli, _Bull. Præd._, t. i., p. 6. Horoy, _Honorii opera_, t.
       ii., col. 684.

       *       *       *       *       *



The Egyptian Mission. Summer 1218-Autumn 1220

Art and poetry have done well in inseparably associating St. Dominic and
St. Francis; the glory of the first is only a reflection of that of the
second, and it is in placing them side by side that we succeed best in
understanding the genius of the Poverello. If Francis is the man of
inspiration, Dominic is that of obedience to orders; one may say that
his life was passed on the road to Rome, whither he continually went to
ask for instructions. His legend was therefore very slow to be formed,
although nothing forbade it to blossom freely; but neither the zeal of
Gregory IX. for his memory nor the learning of his disciples were able
to do for the _Hammer of heretics_ that which the love of the people did
for the _Father of the poor_. His legend has the two defects which so
soon weary the readers of hagiographical writings, when the question is
of the saints whose worship the Church has commanded.[1] It is
encumbered with a spurious supernaturalism, and with incidents borrowed
right and left from earlier legends. The Italian people, who hailed in
Francis the angel of all their hopes, and who showed themselves so
greedy for his relics, did not so much as dream of taking up the corpse
of the founder of the Order of Preaching Friars, and allowed him to wait
twelve years for the glories of canonization.[2]

We have already seen the efforts of Cardinal Ugolini to unite the two
Orders, and the reasons he had for this course. He went to the
Whitsunday chapter-general which met at Portiuncula (June 3, 1218), to
which came also St. Dominic with several of his disciples. The
ceremonial of these solemnities appears to have been always about the
same since 1216; the Brothers Minor went in procession to meet the
cardinal, who immediately dismounted from his horse and lavished
expressions of affection upon them. An altar was set up in the open air,
at which he said mass, Francis performing the functions of deacon.[3]

It is easy to imagine the emotion which overcame those present when in
its beautiful setting of the Umbrian landscape burst forth that part of
the Pentecostal service, that most exciting, the most apocalyptic of the
whole Catholic liturgy, the anthem _Alleluia, Alleluia, Emitte Spiritum
tuum et creabuntur, et renovabis faciem terræ_. _Alleluia_,[4] does
not this include the whole Franciscan dream?

But what especially amazed Dominic was the absence of material cares.
Francis had advised his brethren not to disquiet themselves in any
respect about food and drink; he knew by experience that they might
fearlessly trust all that to the love of the neighboring population.
This want of carefulness had greatly surprised Dominic, who thought it
exaggerated; he was able to reassure himself, when meal-time arrived, by
seeing the inhabitants of the district hastening in crowds to bring far
larger supplies of provisions than were needed for the several thousands
of friars, and holding it an honor to wait upon them.

The joy of the Franciscans, the sympathy of the populace with them, the
poverty of the huts of Portiuncula, all this impressed him deeply; so
much was he moved by it that in a burst of enthusiasm he announced his
resolution to embrace gospel poverty.[5]

Ugolini, though also moved, even to tears,[6] did not forget his
former anxieties; the Order was too numerous not to include a group of
malcontents; a few friars who before their conversion had studied in the
universities began to condemn the extreme simplicity laid upon them as a
duty. To men no longer sustained by enthusiasm the short precepts of the
Rule appeared a charter all too insufficient for a vast association;
they turned with envy toward the monumental abbeys of the Benedictines,
the regular Canons, the Cistercians, and toward the ancient monastic
legislations. They had no difficulty in perceiving in Ugolini a powerful
ally, nor in confiding their observations to him.

The latter deemed the propitious moment arrived, and in a private
conversation with Francis made a few suggestions: Ought he not give to
his disciples, especially to the educated among them, a greater share of
the burdens? consult them, gain inspiration from their views? was there
not room to profit by the experience of the older orders? Though all
this was said casually and with the greatest possible tact, Francis felt
himself wounded to the quick, and without answering he drew the cardinal
to the very midst of the chapter.

"My brothers," said he with fire, "the Lord has called me into the ways
of simplicity and humility. In them he has shown me the truth for myself
and for those who desire to believe and follow me; do not, then, come
speaking to me of the Rule of St. Benedict, of St. Augustine, of St.
Bernard, or of any other, but solely of that which God in his mercy has
seen fit to show to me, and of which he has told me that he would, by
its means, make a new covenant with the world, and he does not will that
we should have any other. But by your learning and your wisdom God will
bring you to confusion. For I am persuaded that God will chastise you;
whether you will or no you will be forced to come to repentance, and
nothing will remain for you but confusion."[7]

This warmth in defending and affirming his ideas profoundly astonished
Ugolini, who added not a word. As to Dominic, what he had just seen at
Portiuncula was to him a revelation. He felt, indeed, that his zeal for
the Church could not be greater, but he also perceived that he could
serve her with more success by certain changes in his weapons.

Ugolini no doubt only encouraged him in this view, and Dominic, beset
with new anxieties, set out a few months later for Spain. The intensity
of the crisis through which he passed has not been sufficiently
noticed; the religious writers recount at length his sojourn in the
grotto of Segovia, but they see only the ascetic practices, the prayers,
the genuflexions, and do not think of looking for the cause of all this.
From this epoch it might be said that he was unceasingly occupied in
copying Francis, if the word had not a somewhat displeasing sense.
Arrived at Segovia he follows the example of the Brothers Minor, founds
a hermitage in the outskirts of the city, hidden among the rocks which
overlook the town, and thence he descends from time to time to preach to
the people. The transformation in his mode of life was so evident that
several of his companions rebelled and refused to follow him in the new

Popular sentiment has at times its intuitions; a legend grew up around
this grotto of Segovia, and it was said that St. Dominic there received
the stigmata. Is there not here an unconscious effort to translate into
an image within the comprehension of all, that which actually took place
in this cave of the Sierra da Guaderrama?[8]

Thus St. Dominic also arrived at the poverty of the gospel, but the road
by which he reached it was different indeed from that which St. Francis
had followed; while the latter had soared to it as on wings, had seen in
it the final emancipation from all the anxieties which debase this life,
St. Dominic considered it only as a means; it was for him one more
weapon in the arsenal of the host charged with the defence of the
Church. We must not see in this a mere vulgar calculation; his
admiration for him whom he thus imitated and followed afar off was
sincere and profound, but genius is not to be copied. This sacred malady
was not his; he has transmitted to his sons a sound and robust blood,
thanks to which they have known nothing of those paroxysms of hot
fever, those lofty flights, those sudden returns which make the story
of the Franciscans the story of the most tempest-tossed society which
the world has ever known, in which glorious chapters are mingled with
pages trivial and grotesque, sometimes even coarse.

At the chapter of 1218 Francis had other causes for sadness than the
murmurs of a group of malcontents; the missionaries sent out the year
before to Germany and Hungary had returned completely discouraged. The
account of the sufferings they had endured produced so great an effect
that from that time many of the friars added to their prayers the
formula: "Lord preserve us from the heresy of the Lombards and the
ferocity of the Germans."[9]

This explains how Ugolini at last succeeded in convincing Francis of his
duty to take the necessary measures no longer to expose the friars to be
hunted down as heretics. It was decided that at the end of the next
chapter the missionaries should be armed with a papal brief, which
should serve them as ecclesiastical passport. Here is the translation of
this document:

    Honorius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the
    archbishops, bishops, abbots, deacons, archdeacons, and other
    ecclesiastical superiors, salutation and the apostolic blessing.

    Our dear son, brother Francis, and his companions of the life
    and the Order of the Brothers Minor, having renounced the
    vanities of this world to choose a mode of life which has
    merited the approval of the Roman Church, and to go out after
    the example of the Apostles to cast in various regions the seed
    of the word of God, we pray and exhort you by these apostolic
    letters to receive as good catholics the friars of the above
    mentioned society, bearers of these presents, warning you to be
    favorable to them and treat them with kindness for the honor of
    God and out of consideration for us.

    Given (at Rieti) this third day of the ides of June (June 11,
    1219), in the third year of our pontificate.[10]

It is evident that this bull was calculated to avoid awakening Francis's
susceptibilities. To understand precisely in what it differs from the
first letters usually accredited to new Orders it is necessary to
compare it with them; that which had instituted the Dominicans had been,
like the others, a veritable privilege;[11] here there is nothing of
the kind.

The assembly which was opened at Whitsunday of 1219 (May 26) was of
extreme importance.[12] It closed the series of those primitive
chapters in which the inspiration and fancy of Francis were given free
course. Those which followed, presided over by the vicars, have neither
the same cheerfulness nor the same charm; the crude glare of full day
has driven away the hues of dawn and the indescribable ardors of nature
at its awakening.

The summer of 1219 was the epoch fixed by Honorius III. for making a new
effort in the East, and directing upon Egypt all the forces of the
Crusaders.[13] Francis thought the moment arrived for realizing the
project which he had not been able to execute in 1212. Strangely enough,
Ugolini who, two years before had hindered his going to France, now left
him in entire liberty to carry out this new expedition.[14] Several
authors have deemed that Francis, having found in him a true protector,
felt himself reassured as to the future of the Order; he might indeed
have thought thus, but the history of the troubles which burst out
immediately after his departure, the astounding story of the kind
reception given by the court of Rome to some meddlers who took the
opportunity of his absence to imperil his Order, would suffice to show
how much the Church was embarrassed by him, and with what ardor she
longed for the transformation of his work. We shall find later on the
detailed account of these facts.

It appears that a Romagnol brother Christopher was at this same chapter
nominated provincial of Gascony; he lived there after the customs of the
early Franciscans, working with his hands, living in a narrow cell made
of the boughs of trees and potter's earth.[15]

Egidio set out for Tunis with a few friars, but a great disappointment
awaited them there; the Christians of this country, in the fear of being
compromised by their missionary zeal, hurried them into a boat and
constrained them to recross the sea.[16]

If the date of 1219 for these two missions has little other basis than
conjecture, the same is not the case as to the departure of the friars
who went to Spain and Morocco. The discovery has recently been made of
the account of their last preachings and of their tragic death, made by
an eye-witness.[17] This document is all the more precious because it
confirms the general lines of the much longer account given by Mark of
Lisbon. It would be out of place to give a summary of it here, because
it but very indirectly concerns the life of St. Francis, but we must
note that these _acta_ have beyond their historic value a truly
remarkable psychological--one must almost say pathological--significance;
never was the mania for martyrdom better characterized than in these
long pages, where we see the friars forcing the Mahometans to pursue
them and make them win the heavenly palm. The forbearance which
Miramolin as well as his fellow religionists at first show gives an
idea of the civilization and the good qualities of these infidels, all
the higher that very different sentiments would be natural in the
vanquished ones of the plains of Tolosa.

It is impossible to call by the name of sermons the collections of rude
apostrophes which the missionaries addressed to those whom they wished
to convert; at this paroxysm the thirst for martyrdom becomes the
madness of suicide. Is this to say that friars Bernard, Pietro, Adjutus,
Accurso, and Otho have no right to the admiration and worship with which
they have been surrounded? Who would dare say so? Is not devotion always
blind? That a furrow should be fecund it must have blood, it must have
tears, such tears as St. Augustine has called the blood of the soul. Ah,
it is a great mistake to immolate oneself, for the blood of a single man
will not save the world nor even a nation; but it is a still greater
mistake not to immolate oneself, for then one lets others be lost, and
is oneself lost first of all.

I greet you, therefore, Martyrs of Morocco; you do not regret your
madness, I am sure, and if ever some righteous pedant gone astray in the
groves of paradise undertakes to demonstrate to you that it would have
been better worth while to remain in your own country, and found a
worthy family of virtuous laborers, I fancy that Miramolin, there become
your best friend, will take the trouble to refute him.

You were mad, but I envy such madness, for you felt that the essential
thing in this world is not to serve this ideal or that one, but with all
one's soul to serve the ideal which one has chosen.

When, a few months after, the story of their glorious end arrived at
Assisi, Francis discerned a feeling of pride among his companions and
reproached them in lively terms; he who would so have envied the lot of
the martyrs felt himself humbled because God had not judged him worthy
to share it. As the story was mingled with some words of eulogy of the
founder of the Order, he forbade the further reading of it.[18]

Immediately after the chapter he had himself undertaken a mission of the
same kind as he had confided to the Brothers of Morocco, but he had
proceeded in it in an entirely different manner: his was not the blind
zeal which courts death in a sort of frenzy and forgets all the rest;
perhaps he already felt that the persistent effort after the better, the
continual immolation of self for truth, is the martyrdom of the strong.

This expedition, which lasted more than a year, is mentioned by the
biographers in a few lines.[19] Happily we have a number of other
papers regarding it; but their silence suffices to prove the sincerity
of the primitive Franciscan authors; if they had wanted to amplify the
deeds of their subject, where could they have found an easier
opportunity or a more marvellous theme? Francis quitted Portiuncula in
the middle of June and went to Ancona, whence the Crusaders were to set
sail for Egypt on St. John's Day (June 24th).

Many friars joined him--a fact which was not without its inconveniences
for a journey by sea, where they were obliged to depend upon the charity
of the owners of the boats, or of their fellow-travellers.

We can understand Francis's embarrassment on arriving at Ancona and
finding himself obliged to leave behind a number of those who so
earnestly longed to go with him. The Conformities relate here an
incident for which we might desire an earlier authority, but which is
certainly very like Francis; he led all his friends to the port and
explained to them his perplexities. "The people of the boat," he told
them, "refuse to take us all, and I have not the courage to make choice
among you; you might think that I do not love you all alike; let us then
try to learn the will of God." And he called a child who was playing
close by, and the little one, charmed to take the part of Providence put
upon him, pointed out with his finger the eleven friars who were to set

We do not know what itinerary they followed. A single incident of the
journey has come down to us: that of the chastisement inflicted in the
isle of Cyprus on Brother Barbaro, who had been guilty of the fault
which the master detested above all others--evil-speaking. He was
implacable with regard to the looseness of language so customary among
pious folk, and which often made a hell of religious houses apparently
the most peaceful. The offence this time appeared to him the more grave
for having been uttered in the presence of a stranger, a knight of that
district. The latter was stupefied on hearing Francis command the guilty
one to eat a lump of ass's dung which lay there, adding: "The mouth
which has distilled the venom of hatred against my brother must eat this
excrement." Such indignation, no less than the obedience of the unhappy
offender, filled him with admiration.[21]

It is very probable, as Wadding has supposed, that the missionaries
debarked at St. Jean d'Acre. They arrived there about the middle of
July.[22] In the environs of this city, doubtless, Brother Elias had
been established for one or two years. Francis there told off a few of
his companions, whom he sent to preach in divers directions, and a few
days afterward he himself set out for Egypt, where all the efforts of
the Crusaders were concentrated upon Damietta.

From the first he was heart-broken with the moral condition of the
Christian army. Notwithstanding the presence of numerous prelates and of
the apostolic legate, it was disorganized for want of discipline. He was
so affected by this that when there was talk of battle he felt it his
duty to advise against it, predicting that the Christians would
infallibly be beaten. No one heeded him, and on August 29th the
Crusaders, having attacked the Saracens, were terribly routed.[23]

His predictions won him a marvellous success. It must be owned that the
ground was better prepared than any other to receive the new seed; not
surely that piety was alive there, but in this mass of men come together
from every corner of Europe, the troubled, the seers, the enlightened
ones, those who thirsted for righteousness and truth, were elbowed by
rascals, adventurers, those who were greedy for gold and plunder,
capable of much good or much evil, the sport of fleeting impulses,
loosed from the bonds of the family, of property, of the habits which
usually twine themselves about man's will, and only by exception permit
a complete change in his manner of life; those among them who were
sincere and had come there with generous purposes were, so to speak,
predestined to enter the peaceful army of the Brothers Minor. Francis
was to win in this mission fellow-laborers who would assure the success
of his work in the countries of northern Europe.

Jacques de Vitry, in a letter to friends written a few days later, thus
describes the impression produced on him by Francis:

    "I announce to you that Master Reynier, Prior of St. Michael,
    has entered the Order of the Brothers Minor, an Order which is
    multiplying rapidly on all sides, because it imitates the
    primitive Church and follows the life of the Apostles in
    everything. The master of these Brothers is named Brother
    Francis; he is so lovable that he is venerated by everyone.
    Having come into our army, he has not been afraid, in his zeal
    for the faith, to go to that of our enemies. For days together
    he announced the word of God to the Saracens, but with little
    success; then the sultan, King of Egypt, asked him in secret to
    entreat God to reveal to him, by some miracle, which is the best
    religion. Colin, the Englishman, our clerk, has entered the same
    Order, as also two others of our companions, Michael and Dom
    Matthew, to whom I had given the rectorship of the Sainte
    Chapelle. Cantor and Henry have done the same, and still others
    whose names I have forgotten."[24]

The long and enthusiastic chapter which the same author gives to the
Brothers Minor in his great work on the Occident is too diffuse to find
a place here. It is a living and accurate picture of the early times of
the Order; in it Francis's sermon before the sultan is again related. It
was written at a period when the friars had still neither monasteries
nor churches, and when the chapters were held once or twice a year; this
gives us a date anterior to 1223, and probably even before 1221. We have
here, therefore, a verification of the narratives of Thomas of Celano
and the Three Companions, and they find in it their perfect

As to the interviews between Francis and the sultan, it is prudent to
keep to the narratives of Jacques de Vitry and William of Tyre.[25]
Although the latter wrote at a comparatively late date (between 1275 and
1295), he followed a truly historic method, and founded his work on
authentic documents; we see that he knows no more than Jacques de Vitry
of the proposal said to have been made by Francis to pass through a fire
if the priests of Mahomet would do as much, intending so to establish
the superiority of Christianity.

We know how little such an appeal to signs is characteristic of St.
Francis. Perhaps the story, which comes from Bonaventura, is born of a
misconception. The sultan, like a new Pharaoh, may have laid it upon the
strange preacher to prove his mission by miracles. However this may be,
Francis and his companions were treated with great consideration, a fact
the more meritorious that hostilities were then at their height.

Returned to the Crusading camp, they remained there until after the
taking of Damietta (November 5, 1219). This time the Christians were
victorious, but perhaps the heart of the _gospel man_ bled more for this
victory than for the defeat of August 29th. The shocking condition of
the city, which the victors found piled with heaps of dead bodies, the
quarrels over the sharing of booty, the sale of the wretched creatures
who had not succumbed to the pestilence,[26] all these scenes of
terror, cruelty, greed, caused him profound horror. The "human beast"
was let loose, the apostle's voice could no more make itself heard in
the midst of the savage clamor than that of a life-saver over a raging

He set out for Syria[27] and the Holy Places. How gladly would we
follow him in this pilgrimage, accompany him in thought through Judea
and Galilee, to Bethlehem, to Nazareth, to Gethsemane! What was said to
him by the stable where the Son of Mary was born, the workshop where he
toiled, the olive-tree where he accepted the bitter cup? Alas! the
documents here suddenly fail us. Setting out from Damietta very shortly
after the siege (November 5, 1219) he may easily have been at Bethlehem
by Christmas. But we know nothing, absolutely nothing, except that his
sojourn was more prolonged than had been expected.

Some of the Brothers who were present at Portiuncula at the
chapter-general of 1220 (Whitsunday, May 17th) had time enough to go to
Syria and still find Francis there;[28] they could hardly have arrived
much earlier than the end of June. What had he been doing those eight
months? Why had he not gone home to preside at the chapter? Had he been
ill?[29] Had he been belated by some mission? Our information is too
slight to permit us even to venture upon conjecture.

Angelo Clareno relates that the Sultan of Egypt, touched by his
preaching, gave command that he and all his friars should have free
access to the Holy Sepulchre without the payment of any tribute.[30]

Bartholomew of Pisa on his part says incidentally that Francis, having
gone to preach in Antioch and its environs, the Benedictines of the
Abbey of the Black Mountain,[31] eight miles from that city, joined the
Order in a body, and gave up all their property to the Patriarch.

These indications are meagre and isolated indeed, and the second is to
be accepted only with reserve. On the other hand, we have detailed
information of what went on in Italy during Francis's absence. Brother
Giordano's chronicle, recently discovered and published, throws all the
light that could be desired upon a plot laid against Francis by the very
persons whom he had commissioned to take his place at Portiuncula, and
this, if not with the connivance of Rome and the cardinal protector, at
least without their opposition. These events had indeed been narrated by
Angelo Clareno, but the undisguised feeling which breathes through all
his writings and their lack of accuracy had sufficed with careful
critics to leave them in doubt. How could it be supposed that in the
very lifetime of St. Francis the vicars whom he had instituted could
take advantage of his absence to overthrow his work? How could it be
that the pope, who during this period was sojourning at Rieti, how that
Ugolini, who was still nearer, did not impose silence on these

Now that all the facts come anew to light, not in an oratorical and
impassioned account, but brief, precise, cutting, dated, with every
appearance of notes taken day by day, we must perforce yield to

Does this give us reason clamorously to condemn Ugolino and the pope? I
do not think so. They played a part which is not to their honor, but
their intentions were evidently excellent. If the famous aphorism that
the end justifies the means is criminal where one examines his own
conduct, it becomes the first duty in judging that of others. Here are
the facts:

On July 25th, about one month after Francis's departure for Syria,
Ugolini, who was at Perugia, laid upon the Clarisses of Monticelli
(Florence), Sienna, Perugia, and Lucca that which his friend had so
obstinately refused for the friars, the Benedictine Rule.[33]

At the same time, St. Dominic, returning from Spain full of new ardor
after his retreat in the grotto of Segovia, and fully decided to adopt
for his Order the rule of poverty, was strongly encouraged in this
purpose and overwhelmed with favors.[34] Honorius III. saw in him the
providential man of the time, the reformer of the monastic Orders; he
showed him unusual attentions, going so far, for example, as to transfer
to him a group of monks belonging to other Orders, whom he appointed to
act as Dominic's lieutenants on the preaching tours which he believed it
to be his duty to undertake, and to serve, under his direction, an
apprenticeship in popular preaching.[35]

That Ugolini was the inspiration of all this, the bulls are here to
witness. His ruling purpose at that time was so clearly to direct the
two new Orders that he chose a domicile with this end in view, and we
find him continually either at Perugia--that is to say, within three
leagues of Portiuncula--or at Bologna, the stronghold of the Dominicans.

It now becomes manifest that just as the fraternity instituted by
Francis was truly the fruit of his body, flesh of his flesh, so does
the Order of the Preaching Friars emanate from the papacy, and St.
Dominic is only its putative father. This character is expressed in
one word by one of the most authoritative of contemporary annalists,
Burchard of Ursperg ([Cross] 1226). "The pope," he says, "_instituted_
and confirmed the Order of the Preachers."[36]

Francis on his journey in the Orient had taken for special companion a
friar whom we have not yet met, Pietro di Catana or _dei Cattani_. Was
he a native of the town of Catana? There is no precise indication of it.
It appears more probable that he belonged to the noble family _dei
Cattani_, already known to Francis, and of which Orlando, Count of
Chiusi in Casentino, who gave him the Verna, was a member. However that
may be, we must not confound him with the Brother Pietro who assumed the
habit in 1209, at the same time with Bernardo of Quintavallo, and died
shortly afterward. Tradition, in reducing these two men to a single
personage, was influenced not merely by the similarity of the names, but
also by the very natural desire to increase the prestige of one who in
1220-1221 was to play an important part in the direction of the

At the time of his departure for the East Francis had left two vicars in
his place, the Brothers Matteo of Narni and Gregorio of Naples. The
former was especially charged to remain at Portiuncula to admit
postulants;[38] Gregorio of Naples, on the other hand, was to pass
through Italy to console the Brothers.[39]

The two vicars began at once to overturn everything. It is inexplicable
how men still under the influence of their first fervor for a Rule which
in the plenitude of their liberty they had promised to obey could have
dreamed of such innovations if they had not been urged on and upheld by
those in high places. To alleviate the vow of poverty and to multiply
observances were the two points toward which their efforts were bent.

In appearance it was a trifling matter, in reality it was much, for it
was the first movement of the old spirit against the new. It was the
effort of men who unconsciously, I am willing to think, made religion an
affair of rite and observance, instead of seeing in it, like St.
Francis, the conquest of the liberty which makes us free in all things,
and leads each soul to obey that divine and mysterious power which the
flowers of the fields adore, which the birds of the air bless, which the
symphony of the stars praises, and which Jesus of Nazareth called
_Abba_, that is to say, Father.

The first Rule was excessively simple in the matter of fasts. The friars
were to abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays; they might add
Mondays and Saturdays, but only on Francis's special authorization. The
vicars and their adherents complicated this rule in a surprising manner.
At the chapter-general held in Francis's absence (May 17, 1220), they
decided, first, that in times of feasting the friars were not to provide
meat, but if it were offered to them spontaneously they were to eat it;
second, that all should fast on Mondays as well as Wednesdays and
Fridays; third, that on Mondays and Saturdays they should abstain from
milk products unless by chance the adherents of the Order brought some
to them.[40]

These beginnings bear witness also to an effort to imitate the ancient
Orders, not without the vague hope that they would be substituted for
them. Brother Giordano has preserved to us only this decision of the
chapter of 1220, but the expressions of which he makes use sufficiently
prove that it was far from being the only one, and that the malcontents
had desired, as in the chapters of Citeaux and Monte Cassino, to put
forth veritable constitutions.

These modifications of the Rule did not pass, however, without arousing
the indignation of a part of the chapter; a lay brother made himself
their eager messenger, and set out for the East to entreat Francis to
return without delay, to take the measures called for by the

There were also other causes of disquiet. Brother Philip, a Zealot of
the Clarisses, had made haste to secure for them from Ugolini the
privileges which had already been under consideration.[41]

A certain Brother Giovanni di Conpello[42] had gathered together a
great number of lepers of both sexes, and written a Rule, intending to
form with them a new Order. He had afterward presented himself before
the supreme pontiff with a train of these unfortunates to obtain his

Many other distressing symptoms, upon which Brother Giordano does not
dwell, had manifested themselves. The report of Francis's death had even
been spread abroad, so that the whole Order was disturbed, divided, and
in the greatest peril. The dark presentiments which Francis seems to
have had were exceeded by the reality.[43] The messenger who brought
him the sad news found him in Syria, probably at St. Jean d'Acre. He at
once embarked with Elias, Pietro di Catana, Cæsar of Speyer, and a few
others, and returned to Italy in a vessel bound for Venice, where he
might easily arrive toward the end of July.


   [1] One proof of the obscurity in which Dominic remained so long
       as Rome did not apotheosize him, is that Jacques de Vitry, who
       consecrates a whole chapter of his _Historia Occidentalis_ to
       the Preaching Friars (27, p. 333) does not even name the
       founder. This is the more significant since a few pages farther
       on, the chapter given to the Brothers Minor is almost entirely
       filled with the person of St. Francis. This silence about St.
       Dominic has been remarked and taken up by Moschus, who finds no
       way to explain it. Vide _Vitam J. de Vitriaco_, at the head of
       the Douai edition of 1597.

   [2] Francis, who died in 1226, is canonized in 1228; Anthony of
       Padua, 1231 and 1233; Elisabeth of Thuringia, 1231 and 1235;
       Dominic, 1221 and 1234.

   [3] 3 Soc., 61.

   [4] Shed abroad, Lord, thy Spirit, and all shall be created, and
       thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

   [5] 2 Cel., 3. 87; _Spec._, 132b; _Conform._, 207a, 112a;
       _Fior._, 18. The historians of St. Dominic have not received
       these details kindly, but an incontestable point gained from
       diplomatic documents is that in 1218 Dominic, at Rome, procured
       privileges in which the properties of his Order were indicated,
       and that in 1220 he led his friars to profess poverty.

   [6] 2 Cel., 3, 9; _Spec._, 17a.

   [7] _Spec._, 49a; _Tribul._, Laur. MS., 11a-12b; _Spec._, 183a;
       _Conform._, 135b 1.

   [8] The principal sources are indicated in A. SS., Augusti, t.
       i., pp. 470 ff.

   [9] Giord., 18; 3 Soc., 62.

  [10] Sbaralea, _Bull. fr._, t. i, p. 2; Potthast, 6081: Wadding,
       _ann. 1219_, No. 28, indicates the works where the text may be
       found. Cf. A. SS., p. 839.

  [11] The title sufficiently indicated the contents: _Domenico
       priori S. Romani tolosani ejusque fratribus, eos in protectionem
       recipit eorumque Ordinem cum bonis et privilegiis confirmat_.
       _Religiosam vitam_: December 22, 1216; Pressuti, t. i., 175,
       text in Horoy t. ii., col. 141-144.

  [12] Vide A. SS., pp. 608 ff. and 838 ff.

  [13] Vide Bull _Multi divinæ_ of August 13, 1218. Horoy, t.
       iii., col. 12; Potthast, 5891.

  [14] The contradiction is so striking that the Bollandists have
       made of it the principal argument for defending the error in
       their manuscript (1 Cel., 75), and insisting in the face of, and
       against everything that Francis had taken that journey. A. SS.,

  [15] He died at Cahors, October 31, 1272. His legend is found in
       MS. Riccardi, 279, f^o. 69a. _Incipit vita f. Christophori quam
       compilavit fr. Bernardus de Bessa custodiæ Caturcensis: Quasi
       vas auri solidum._ Cf. Mark of Lisbon, t. ii., pp. 106-113, t.
       iii., p. 212, and Glassberger, _An. fr._, t. ii., p. 14.

  [16] A. SS., Aprilis, t. iii., p. 224; _Conform._, 118b, 1; 54a;
       Mark of Lisbon, t. ii., p. 1--Brother Luke had been sent to
       Constantinople, in 1219, at latest. Vide _Constitutus_ of
       December 9, 1220. Sbaralea, _Bull. fr._, t. i., p. 6; Potthast,

  [17] We owe to M. Müller (_Anfänge_, p. 207) the honor of this
       publication, copied from a manuscript of the Cottoniana.

  [18] Giord., 8.

  [19] 1 Cel., 57; Bon., 133-138; 154 and 155; 2 Cel., 2, 2;
       _Conform._, 113b, 2; 114a, 2; _Spec._, 55b; _Fior._, 24.

  [20] _Conform._, 113b, 2; cf. A. SS., p. 611.

  [21] 2 Cel., 3, 92; _Spec._, 30b. Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 115.
       _Conform._, 142b, 1. This incident may possibly have taken place
       on the return.

  [22] With the facilities of that period the voyage required from
       twenty to thirty days. The _diarium_ of a similar passage may be
       found in Huillard-Bréholles, _Hist. Dipl._, t. i., 898-901. Cf.
       _Ibid._, Introd., p. cccxxxi.

  [23] 2 Cel., 22; Bon 154, 155; cf. A. SS., p. 612.

  [24] Jacques de Vitry speaks only incidentally of Francis here
       in the midst of salutations; from the critical point of view
       this only enhances the value of his words. See the Study of the
       Sources, p. 428.

  [25] Vide below, the Study of the Sources, p. 430.

  [26] All this is related at length by Jacques de Vitry.

  [27] "Cil hom qui comença l'ordre des Frères Mineurs, si ot nom
       frère François ... vint en l'ost de Damiate, e i fist moult de
       bien, et demora tant que la ville fut prise. Il vit le mal et le
       péché qui comença à croistre entre les gens de l'ost, si li
       desplot, par quoi il s'en parti, e fu une pièce en Surie, et
       puis s'en rala en son pais." Historiens des Croisades, ii.
       _L'Est de Eracles Empereur_, liv. xxxii., chap. xv. Cf. Sanuto;
       _Secreta fid. cruc._, lib. iii., p. xi., cap. 8, in Bongars.

  [28] Giord., Chron., 11-14.

  [29] The episode of Brother Leonard's complaints, related below,
       gives some probability to this hypothesis.

  [30] _Tribul._, Laur. MS., 9b. Cf. 10b: _Sepulcro Domini
       visitato festinat ad Christianorum terram_.

  [31] Upon this monastery see a letter _ad familiares_ of Jacques
       de Vitry, written in 1216 and published in 1847 by Baron Jules
       de St. Genois in t. xiii. of the _Mémoires de l'Académie royale
       des sciences et des beaux arts de Bruxelles_ (1849). _Conform._,
       106b, 2; 114a, 2; _Spec._, 184.

  [32] A. SS., pp. 619-620, 848, 851, 638.

  [33] Vide Bull _Sacrosancta_ of December 9, 1219. Cf. those of
       September 19, 1222; Sbaralea, i., p. 3, 11 ff.; Potthast, 6179,
       6879a, b, c.

  [34] Vide Potthast, 6155, 6177, 6184, 6199, 6214, 6217, 6218,
       6220, 6246. See also _Chartularium Universitatis Par._, t. i.,

  [35] Bull _Quia qui seminant_ of May 12, 1220. Ripalli, _Bul.
       Præd._, t. i., p. 10 (Potthast, 6249).

  [36] _Mon. Germ. hist. Script._, t. 23, p. 376. This passage is
       of extreme importance because it sums up in a few lines the
       ecclesiastical policy of Honorius III. After speaking of the
       perils with which the _Humiliati_ threatened the Church,
       Burchard adds: _Quæ volens corrigere dominus papa ordinem
       Predicatorum instituit et confirmavit._ Now these _Humiliati_
       were an approved Order. But Burchard, while classing them with
       heretics beside the Poor Men of Lyons, expresses in a word the
       sentiments of the papacy toward them; it had for them an
       invincible repugnance, and not wishing to strike them directly
       it sought a side issue. Similar tactics were followed with
       regard to the Brothers Minor, with that overplus of caution
       which the prodigious success of the Order inspired. It all
       became useless when in 1221 Brother Elias became Francis's
       vicar, and especially when, after the latter's death, he had all
       the liberty necessary for directing the Order according to the
       views of Ugolini, now become Gregory IX.

  [37] 1 Cel., 25; cf. A. SS., p. 581. Pietro di Catana had the
       title of doctor of laws, Giord., 11, which entirely disagrees
       with what is related of Brother Pietro, 3 Soc., 28 and 29. Cf.
       Bon., 28 and 29; _Spec._, 5b; _Fior._, 2; _Conform._, 47; 52b,
       2; _Petrus vir litteratus erat et nobilis_, Giord., 12.

  [38] We know nothing more of him except that after his death he
       had the gift of miracles. Giord., 11; _Conform._, 62a, 1.

  [39] He was not an ordinary man; a remarkable administrator and
       orator (Eccl., 6), he was minister in France before 1224 and
       again in 1240, thanks to the zeal with which he had adopted the
       ideas of Brother Elias. He was nephew of Gregory IX., which
       throws some light upon the practices which have just been
       described. After having been swept away in Elias's disgrace and
       condemned to prison for life, he became in the end Bishop of
       Bayeux. I note for those who take an interest in those things
       that manuscripts of two of his sermons may be found in the
       National Library of Paris. The author of them being indicated
       simply as _fr. Gr. min._, it has only lately become known whose
       they were. These sermons were preached in Paris on Holy Thursday
       and Saturday. MS. new. acq., Lat., 338 f^o 148, 159.

  [40] Giord., 11. Cf. _Spec._, 34b. _Fior._, 4; _Conform._, 184a, 1.

  [41] Giord., 12. Cf. Bull _Sacrosancta_ of December 9, 1219.

  [42] Giord., 12. Ought we, perhaps, to read di Campello? Half
       way between Foligno and Spoleto there is a place of this name.
       On the other hand, the 3 Soc., 35, indicate the entrance into
       the Order of a Giovanni di Capella who in the legend became the
       Franciscan Judas. _Invenit abusum capelle et ab ipsa denominatus
       est: ab ordine recedens factus leprosus laqueo ut Judas se
       suspendit._ _Conform._, 104a, 1. Cf. _Bernard de Besse_, 96a;
       _Spec._, 2; _Fior._, 1. All this is much mixed up. Perhaps we
       should believe that Giovanni di Campello died shortly afterward,
       and that later on, when the stories of this troubled time were
       forgotten, some ingenious Brother explained the note of infamy
       attached to his memory by a hypothesis built upon his name

  [43] Giord., 12, 13, and 14.

       *       *       *       *       *



Autumn, 1220

On his arrival in Venice Francis informed himself yet more exactly
concerning all that had happened, and convoked the chapter-general at
Portiuncula for Michaelmas (September 29, 1220).[2] His first care was
doubtless to reassure his sister-friend at St. Damian; a short fragment
of a letter which has been preserved to us gives indication of the sad
anxieties which filled his mind:

    "I, little Brother Francis, desire to follow the life and the
    poverty of Jesus Christ, our most high Lord, and of his most
    holy Mother, persevering therein until the end; and I beg you
    all and exhort you to persevere always in this most holy life
    and poverty, and take good care never to depart from it upon the
    advice or teachings of any one whomsoever."[3]

A long shout of joy sounded up and down all Italy when the news of his
return was heard. Many zealous brethren were already despairing, for
persecutions had begun in many provinces; so when they learned that
their spiritual father was alive and coming again to visit them their
joy was unbounded. From Venice Francis went to Bologna. The journey was
marked by an incident which once more shows his acute and wise goodness.
Worn out as much by emotion as by fatigue, he one day found himself
obliged to give up finishing the journey on foot. Mounted upon an ass,
he was going on his way, followed by Brother Leonard of Assisi, when a
passing glance showed him what was passing in his companion's mind. "My
relatives," the friar was thinking, "would have been far enough from
associating with Bernardone, and yet here am I, obliged to follow his
son on foot."

We may judge of his astonishment when he heard Francis saying, as he
hastily dismounted from his beast: "Here, take my place; it is most
unseemly that thou shouldst follow me on foot, who art of a noble and
powerful lineage." The unhappy Leonard, much confused, threw himself at
Francis's feet, begging for pardon.[4]

Scarcely arrived at Bologna, Francis was obliged to proceed against
those who had become backsliders. It will be remembered that the Order
was intended to possess nothing, either directly or indirectly. The
monasteries given to the friars did not become their property; so soon
as the proprietor should desire to take them back or anyone else should
wish to take possession of them, they were to be given up without the
least resistance; but on drawing near to Bologna he learned that a house
was being built, which was already called _The house of the Brothers_.
He commanded its immediate evacuation, not even excepting the sick who
happened to be there. The Brothers then resorted to Ugolini, who was
then in that very city for the consecration of Santa Maria di
Rheno.[5] He explained to Francis at length that this house did not
belong to the Order; he had declared himself its proprietor by public
acts; and he succeeded in convincing him.[6]

Bolognese piety prepared for Francis an enthusiastic reception, the echo
of which has come down even to our times:

    "I was studying at Bologna, I, Thomas of Spalato, archdeacon in
    the cathedral church of that city, when in the year 1220, the
    day of the Assumption, I saw St. Francis preaching on the piazza
    of the Lesser Palace, before almost every man in the city. The
    theme of his discourse was the following: Angels, men, the
    demons. He spoke on all these subjects with so much wisdom and
    eloquence that many learned men who were there were filled with
    admiration at the words of so plain a man. Yet he had not the
    manner of a preacher, his ways were rather those of
    conversation; the substance of his discourse bore especially
    upon the abolition of enmities and the necessity of making
    peaceful alliances. His apparel was poor, his person in no
    respect imposing, his face not at all handsome; but God gave
    such great efficacy to his words that he brought back to peace
    and harmony many nobles whose savage fury had not even stopped
    short before the shedding of blood. So great a devotion was felt
    for him that men and women flocked after him, and he esteemed
    himself happy who succeeded in touching the hem of his garment."

Was it at this time that the celebrated Accurso the Glossarist,[7]
chief of that famous dynasty of jurisconsults who during the whole
thirteenth century shed lustre upon the University of Bologna, welcomed
the Brothers Minor to his villa at Ricardina, near the city?[8] We do
not know.

It appears that another professor, Nicolas dei Pepoli, also entered the
Order.[9] Naturally the pupils did not lag behind, and a certain
number asked to receive the habit. Yet all this constituted a danger;
this city, which in Italy was as an altar consecrated to the science of
law, was destined to exercise upon the evolution of the Order the same
influence as Paris; the Brothers Minor could no more hold aloof from it
than they could keep aloof from the ambient air.

This time Francis remained here but a very short time. An ancient
tradition, of which his biographers have not preserved any trace, but
which nevertheless appears to be entirely probable, says that Ugolini
took him to pass a month in the Camaldoli, in the retreat formerly
inhabited by St. Romuald in the midst of the Casentino forest, one of
the noblest in Europe, within a few hours' walk of the Verna, whose
summit rises up gigantic, overlooking the whole country.

We know how much Francis needed repose. There is no doubt that he also
longed for a period of meditation in order to decide carefully in
advance upon his line of conduct, in the midst of the dark conjectures
which had called him home. The desire to give him the much-needed rest
was only a subordinate purpose with Ugolini. The moment for vigorous
action appeared to him to have come. We can easily picture his responses
to Francis's complaints. Had he not been seriously advised to profit by
the counsels of the past, by the experience of those founders of Orders
who have been not only saints but skilful leaders of men? Was not
Ugolini himself his best friend, his born defender, and yet had not
Francis forced him to lay aside the influence to which his love for the
friars, his position in the Church, and his great age gave him such just
title? Yes, he had been forced to leave Francis to needlessly expose his
disciples to all sorts of danger, to send them on missions as perilous
as they had proved to be ineffectual, and all for what? For the most
trivial point of honor, because the Brothers Minor were determined not
to enjoy the smallest privileges. They were not heretics, but they
disturbed the Church as much as the heretics did. How many times had he
not been reminded that a great association, in order to exist, must have
precise and detailed regulations? It had all been labor lost! Of course
Francis's humility was doubted by no one, but why not manifest it, not
only in costume and manner of living, but in all his acts? He thought
himself obeying God in defending his own inspiration, but does not the
Church speak in the name of God? Are not the words of her
representatives the words of Jesus forever perpetuated on earth? He
desired to be a man of the Gospel, an apostolic man, but was not the
best way of becoming such to obey the Roman pontiff, the successor of
Peter? With an excess of condescension they had let him go on in his own
way, and the result was the saddest of lessons. But the situation was
not desperate, there was still time to find a remedy; to do that he had
only to throw himself at the feet of the pope, imploring his blessing,
his light, and his counsel.

Reproaches such as these, mingled with professions of love and
admiration on the part of the prelate, could not but profoundly disturb
a sensitive heart like that of Francis. His conscience bore him good
witness, but with the modesty of noble minds he was ready enough to
think that he might have made many mistakes.

Perhaps this is the place to ask what was the secret of the friendship
of these two men, so little known to one another on certain sides. How
could it last without a shadow down to the very death of Francis, when
we always find Ugolini the very soul of the group who are compromising
the Franciscan ideal? No answer to this question is possible. The same
problem presents itself with regard to Brother Elias, and we are no
better able to find a satisfactory answer. Men of loving hearts seldom
have a perfectly clear intelligence. They often become fascinated by
men the most different from themselves, in whose breasts they feel none
of those feminine weaknesses, those strange dreams, that almost sickly
pity for creatures and things, that mysterious thirst for pain which is
at once their own happiness and their torment.

The sojourn at Camaldoli was prolonged until the middle of September,
and it ended to the cardinal's satisfaction. Francis had decided to go
directly to the pope, then at Orvieto, with the request that Ugolini
should be given him as official protector intrusted with the direction
of the Order.

A dream which he had once had recurred to his memory; he had seen a
little black hen which, in spite of her efforts, was not able to spread
her wings over her whole brood. The poor hen was himself, the chickens
were the friars. This dream was a providential indication commanding him
to seek for them a mother under whose wings they could all find a place,
and who could defend them against the birds of prey. At least so he

He repaired to Orvieto without taking Assisi in his way, since if he
went there he would be obliged to take some measures against the
fomentors of disturbance; he now proposed to refer everything directly
to the pope.

Does his profound humility, with the feeling of culpability which
Ugolini had awakened in him, suffice to explain his attitude with regard
to the pope, or must we suppose that he had a vague thought of
abdicating? Who knows whether conscience was not already murmuring a
reproach, and showing him how trivial were all the sophisms which had
been woven around him?

    "Not daring to present himself in the apartments of so great a
    prince, he remained outside before the door, patiently waiting
    till the pope should come out. When he appeared St. Francis made
    a reverence and said:

    "'Father Pope, may God give you peace.' 'May God bless you, my
    son,' replied he. 'My lord,' then said St. Francis to him, 'you
    are great and often absorbed by great affairs; poor friars
    cannot come and talk with you as often as they need to do; you
    have given me many popes; give me a single one to whom I may
    address myself when need occurs, and who will listen in your
    stead, and discuss my affairs and those of the Order.' 'Whom do
    you wish I should give you, my son?' 'The Bishop of Ostia.' And
    he gave him to him."[11]

Conferences with Ugolini now began again; he immediately accorded
Francis some amends; the privilege granted the Clarisses was revoked;
Giovanni di Conpello was informed that he had nothing to hope from the
_curia_, and last of all leave was given to Francis himself to compose
the Rule of his Order. Naturally he was not spared counsel on the
subject, but there was one point upon which the curia could not brook
delay, and of which it exacted the immediate application--the obligation
of a year's novitiate for the postulants.

At the same time a bull was issued not merely for the sake of publishing
this ordinance, but especially to mark in a solemn manner the
commencement of a new era in the relations of the Church and the
Franciscans. The fraternity of the Umbrian Penitents became an Order in
the strictest sense of the word.

    Honorius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Brother
    Francis and the other priors or custodes of the Brothers Minor,
    greeting and the apostolic benediction.

    In nearly all religious Orders it has been wisely ordained that
    those who present themselves with the purpose of observing the
    regular life shall make trial of it for a certain time, during
    which they also shall be tested, in order to leave neither place
    nor pretext for inconsiderate steps. For these reasons we
    command you by these presents to admit no one to make profession
    until after one year of novitiate; we forbid that after
    profession any brother shall leave the Order, and that any one
    shall take back again him who has gone out from it. We also
    forbid that those wearing your habit shall circulate here and
    there without obedience, lest the purity of your poverty be
    corrupted. If any friars have had this audacity, you will
    inflict upon them ecclesiastical censures until repentance.[12]

It is surely only by a very decided euphemism that such a bull can be
considered in the light of a privilege. It was in reality the laying of
the strong hand of the papacy upon the Brothers Minor.

From this time, in the very nature of things it became impossible for
Francis to remain minister-general. He felt it himself. Heart-broken,
soul-sick, he would fain, in spite of all, have found in the energy of
his love those words, those glances which up to this time had taken the
place of rule or constitution, giving to his earliest companions the
intuition of what they ought to do and the strength to accomplish it;
but an administrator was needed at the head of this family which he
suddenly found to be so different from what it had been a few years
before, and he sadly acknowledged that he himself was not in the
slightest degree such a person.[13]

Ah, in his own conscience he well knew that the old ideal was the true,
the right one; but he drove away such thoughts as the temptations of
pride. The recent events had not taken place without in some degree
weakening his moral personality; from being continually talked to about
obedience, submission, humility, a certain obscurity had come over this
luminous soul; inspiration no longer came to it with the certainty of
other days; the prophet had begun to waver, almost to doubt of himself
and of his mission. Anxiously he searched himself to see if in the
beginning of his work there had not been some vain self-complacency. He
pictured to himself beforehand the chapter which he was about to open,
the attack, the criticisms of which it would be the object, and labored
to convince himself that if he did not endure them with joy he was not a
true Brother Minor.[14] The noblest virtues are subject to scruples,
that of perfect humility more than any other, and thus it is that
excellent men religiously betray their own convictions to avoid
asserting themselves. He resolved then to put the direction of the Order
into the hands of Pietro di Catana. It is evident that there was nothing
spontaneous in this decision, and the fact that this brother was a
doctor of laws and belonged to the nobility squarely argues the
transformation of the Franciscan institute.

It is not known whether or not Ugolini was present at the chapter of
September 29, 1220, but if he was not there in person he was assuredly
represented by some prelate, charged to watch over the debates.[15] The
bull which had been issued a week before was communicated to the friars,
to whom Francis also announced that he was about to elaborate a new
Rule. With reference to this matter there were conferences in which the
ministers alone appear to have had a deliberative voice. At these
conferences the essential points of the new Rule were settled as to
principle, leaving to Francis the care of giving them proper form at his
leisure. Nothing better reveals the demoralized state into which he had
fallen than the decision which was taken to drop out one of the
essential passages of the old Rule, one of his three fundamental
precepts, that which began with these words, "_Carry nothing with

How did they go to work to obtain from Francis this concession which, a
little while before, he would have looked upon as a denial of his call,
a refusal to accept in its integrity the message which Jesus had
addressed to him? It is the secret of history, but we may suppose there
was in his life at this time one of those moral tempests which overbear
the faculties of the strongest, leaving in their wounded hearts only an
unutterable pain.

Something of this pain has passed into the touching narrative of his
abdication which the biographers have given us.

    "From henceforth," he said to the friars, "I am dead for you,
    but here is Brother Pietro di Catana, whom you and I will all
    obey." And prostrating himself before him he promised him
    obedience and submission. The friars could not restrain their
    tears and lamentations when they saw themselves thus becoming in
    some sort orphans, but Francis arose, and, clasping his hands,
    with eyes upraised to heaven: "Lord," he said, "I return to thee
    this family which thou hast confided to me. Now, as thou
    knowest, most sweet Jesus, I have no longer strength nor ability
    to keep on caring for them; I confide them, therefore, to the
    ministers. May they be responsible before thee at the day of
    judgment if any brother, by their negligence or bad example, or
    by a too severe discipline, should ever wander away."[17]

The functions of Pietro di Catana were destined to continue but a very
short time; he died on March 10, 1221.[18]

Information abounds as to this period of a few months; nothing is more
natural, since Francis remained at Portiuncula to complete the task
confided to him, living there surrounded with brethren who later on
would recall to mind all the incidents of which they were witnesses.
Some of them reveal the conflict of which his soul was the arena.
Desirous of showing himself submissive, he nevertheless found himself
tormented by the desire to shake off his chains and fly away as in
former days, to live and breathe in God alone. The following artless
record deserves, it seems to me, to be better known.[19]

   One day a novice who could read the psalter, though not without
   difficulty, obtained from the minister general--that is to say,
   from the vicar of St. Francis--permission to have one. But as he
   had learned that St. Francis desired the brethren to be covetous
   neither for learning nor for books, he would not take his psalter
   without his consent. So, St. Francis having come to the monastery
   where the novice was, "Father," said he, "it would be a great
   consolation to have a psalter; but though the minister-general
   has authorized me to get it, I would not have it unknown to you."
   "Look at the Emperor Charles," replied St. Francis with fire,
   "Roland, and Oliver and all the paladins, valorous heroes and
   gallant knights, who gained their famous victories in fighting
   infidels, in toiling and laboring even unto death! The holy
   martyrs, they also have chosen to die in the midst of battle for
   the faith of Christ! But now there are many of those who aspire
   to merit honor and glory simply by relating their feats. Yes,
   among us also there are many who expect to receive glory and
   honor by reciting and preaching the works of the saints, as if
   they had done them themselves!"

   ... A few days after, St. Francis was sitting before the fire,
   and the novice drew near to speak to him anew about his psalter.

   "When you have your psalter," said Francis to him, "you will want
   a breviary, and when you have a breviary you will seat yourself
   in a pulpit like a great prelate and will beckon to your
   companion, 'Bring me my breviary!'"

   St. Francis said this with great vivacity, then taking up some
   ashes he scattered them over the head of the novice, repeating,
   "There is the breviary, there is the breviary!"

   Several days after, St. Francis being at Portiuncula and walking
   up and down on the roadside not far from his cell, the same
   Brother came again to speak to him about his psalter. "Very well,
   go on," said Francis to him, "you have only to do what your
   minister tells you." At these words the novice went away, but
   Francis began to reflect on what he had said, and suddenly
   calling to the friar, he cried, "Wait for me! wait for me!" When
   he had caught up to him, "Retrace your steps a little way. I beg
   you," he said. "Where was I when I told you to do whatever your
   minister told you as to the psalter?" Then falling upon his knees
   on the spot pointed out by the friar, he prostrated himself at
   his feet: "Pardon, my brother, pardon!" he cried, "for he who
   would be Brother Minor ought to have nothing but his clothing."

This long story is not merely precious because it shows us, even to the
smallest particular, the conflict between the Francis of the early
years, looking only to God and his conscience, and the Francis of 1220,
become a submissive monk in an Order approved by the Roman Church, but
also because it is one of those infrequent narratives where his method
shows itself with its artless realism. These allusions to the tales of
chivalry, and this freedom of manner which made a part of his success
with the masses, were eliminated from the legend with an incredible
rapidity. His spiritual sons were perhaps not ashamed of their father in
this matter, but they were so bent upon bringing out his other qualities
that they forgot a little too much the poet, the troubadour, the
_joculator Domini_.

Certain fragments, later than Thomas of Celano by more than a century,
which relate some incidents of this kind, bear for that very reason the
stamp of authenticity.

It is difficult enough to ascertain precisely what part Francis still
took in the direction of the Order. Pietro di Catana and later Brother
Elias are sometimes called ministers-general, sometimes vicars; the two
terms often occur successively, as in the preceding narrative. It is
very probable that this confusion of terms corresponds to a like
confusion of facts. Perhaps it was even intentional. After the chapter
of September, 1220, the affairs of the Order pass into the hands of him
whom Francis had called minister-general, though the friars as well as
the papacy gave him only the title of vicar. It was essential for the
popularity of the Brothers Minor that Francis should preserve an
appearance of authority, but the reality of government had slipped from
his hands.

The ideal which he had borne in his body until 1209 and had then given
birth to in anguish, was now taking its flight, like those sons of our
loins whom we see suddenly leaving us without our being able to help it,
since that is life, yet not without a rending of our vitals. _Mater
dolorosa!_ Ah, no doubt they will come back again, and seat themselves
piously beside us at the paternal hearth; perhaps even, in some hour of
moral distress, they will feel the need of taking refuge in their
mother's arms as in the old days; but these fleeting returns, with their
feverish haste, only reopen the wounds of the poor parents, when they
see how the children hasten to depart again--they who bear their name
but belong to them no longer.


   [1] Giord., 14; _Tribul._, f^o 10.

   [2] Any other date is impossible, since Francis in open chapter
       relinquished the direction of the Order in favor of Pietro di
       Catana, who died March 10, 1221.

   [3] This too short fragment is found in § vi. of the Rule of the
       Damianites (August 9, 1253): Speculum, Morin, Tract. iii., 226b.

   [4] 2 Cel., 2, 3; Bon., 162; cf. _Conform._, 184b, 2, and 62b, 1.

   [5] Sigonius, _Opera_, t. iii. col. 220; cf. Potthast, 5516, and

   [6] 2 Cel., 3, 4; _Spec._, 11a; _Tribul._, 13a; _Conform._,
       169b, 2.

   [7] Died in 1229. Cf. Mazzetti, _Repertorio di tutti i
       professori di Bologna_, Bologna, 1847, p. 11.

   [8] See _Mon. Germ. hist. Script._, t. 28, p. 635, and the

   [9] Wadding, _ann. 1220_, no. 9. Cf. A. SS., p. 823.

  [10] 2 Cel., 1, 16; _Spec._, 100a-101b.

  [11] Giord., 14; cf. 2 Cel., 1, 17; _Spec._, 102; 3 Soc., 56 and 63.

  [12] _Cum secundum._ The original is at Assisi with _Datum apud
       Urbem Veterem X. Kal. Oct. pont. nostri anno quinto_ (September
       22, 1220). It is therefore by an error that Sbaralea and Wadding
       make it date from Viterbo, which is the less explicable that all
       the bulls of this epoch are dated from Orvieto. Wadding, _ann.
       1220_, 57; Sbaralea, vol. i., p. 6; Potthast, 6561.

  [13] 2 Cel., 3, 118; Ubertin, _Arbor. V._, 2; _Spec._, 26; 50;
       130b; _Conform._, 136a, 2; 143a, 2.

  [14] 2 Cel., 3, 83; Bon. 77. One should read this account in the
       _Conform._ according to the _Antigua Legenda_, 142a, 2; 31a, 1;
       _Spec._ 43b.

  [15] _Tribul._ Laur. MS., 12b; Magl. MS., 71b.

  [16] Luke, ix., 1-6. _Tribul._, 12b: _Et fecerunt de regula
       prima ministri removere_.... This must have taken place at the
       chapter of September 29, 1220, since the suppression is made in
       the Rule of 1221.

  [17] 2 Cel., 3, 81; _Spec._, 26; _Conform._, 175b, 1; 53a; Bon.,
       76; A. SS., p. 620.

  [18] The epitaph on his tomb, which still exists at S. M. dei
       Angeli bears this date: see _Portiuncula, von P. Barnabas aus
       dem Elsass_, Rixheim, 1884, p. 11. Cf. A. SS., p. 630.

  [19] _Spec._, 9b; _Arbor. V._, 3; _Conform._, 170a, 1; 2 Cel.,
       3, 124. Cf. Ubertini, _Archiv._, iii., pp. 75 and 177.

       *       *       *       *       *


THE RULE OF 1221[1]

The winter of 1220-1221 was spent by Francis chiefly in fixing his
thought by writing. Until now he had been too much the man of action to
have been able to give much thought to anything but the _living word_,
but from this time his exhausted forces compelled him to satisfy his
longing for souls by some other means than evangelizing tours. We have
seen that the chapter of September 29, 1220, on one side, and the bull
_Cum secundum_ on the other, had fixed in advance a certain number of
points. For the rest, complete liberty had been given him, not indeed to
make a final and unchangeable statement of his ideas, but to set them
forth. The substance of legislative power had passed into the hands of
the ministers.[2]

That which we call the Rule of 1221 is, then, nothing more than a
proposed law, submitted to a representative government at its
parliament. The head of authority will one day give it to the world, so
thoroughly modified and altered that Francis's name at the head of such
a document will give but small promise, and quite indirectly, that it
will contain his personal opinion.

Never was man less capable of making a Rule than Francis. In reality,
that of 1210 and the one which the pope solemnly approved in November
29, 1223, had little in common except the name. In the former all is
alive, free, spontaneous; it is a point of departure, an inspiration; it
may be summed up in two phrases: the appeal of Jesus to man, "Come,
follow me," the act of man, "He left all and followed him." To the call
of divine love man replies by the joyful gift of himself, and that quite
naturally, by a sort of instinct. At this height of mysticism any
regulation is not only useless, it is almost a profanation; at the very
least it is the symptom of a doubt. Even in earthly loves, when people
truly love each other nothing is asked, nothing promised.

The Rule of 1223, on the other hand, is a reciprocal contract. On the
divine side the call has become a command; on the human, the free
impulse of love has become an act of submission, by which life eternal
will be earned.

At the bottom of it all is the antinome of law and love. Under the reign
of law we are the mercenaries of God, bound down to an irksome task,
but paid a hundred-fold, and with an indisputable right to our wages.

Under the rule of love we are the sons of God, and coworkers with him;
we give ourselves to him without bargaining and without expectation; we
follow Jesus, not because this is well, but because we can do no
otherwise, because we feel that he has loved us and we love him in our
turn. An inward flame draws us irresistibly toward him: _Et Spiritus et
Sponsa dicunt: Veni_.

It is necessary to dwell a little on the antithesis between these two
Rules. That of 1210 alone is truly Franciscan; that of 1223 is
indirectly the work of the Church, endeavoring to assimilate with
herself the new movement, which with one touch she transforms and turns
wholly from its original purpose.

That of 1221 marks an intermediate stage. It is the clash of two
principles, or rather of two spirits; they approach, they touch, but
they are not merged in one another; here and there is a mixture, but
nowhere combination; we can separate the divers elements without
difficulty. Their condition is the exact reflection of what was going on
in Francis's soul, and of the rapid evolution of the Order.

To aid him in his work Francis joined to himself Brother Cæsar of
Speyer, who would be especially useful to him by his profound
acquaintance with the sacred texts.

What strikes us first, on glancing over this Rule of 1221, is its
extraordinary length; it covers not less than ten folio pages, while
that of 1223 has no more than three. Take away from it the passages
which emanate from the papacy and those which were fixed at the previous
chapter, you will hardly have shortened it by a column; what remains is
not a Rule, but a series of impassioned appeals, in which the father's
heart speaks, not to command but to convince, to touch, to awaken in
his children the instinct of love.

It is all chaotic and even contradictory,[3] without order, a medley
of outbursts of joy and bitter sobs, of hopes and regrets. There are
passages in which the passion of the soul speaks in every possible tone,
runs over the whole gamut from the softest note to the most masculine,
from those which are as joyous and inspiring as the blast of a clarion,
to those which are agitated, stifled, like a voice from beyond the tomb.

    "By the holy love which is in God, I pray all the friars,
    ministers as well as others, to put aside every obstacle, every
    care, every anxiety, that they may be able to consecrate
    themselves entirely to serve, love, and honor the Lord God, with
    a pure heart and a sincere purpose, which is what he asks above
    all things. Let us have always in ourselves a tabernacle and a
    home for him who is the Lord God most mighty, Father, Son, and
    Holy Spirit, who says, 'Watch and pray always, that you may be
    found worthy to escape all the things which will come to pass,
    and to appear upright before the Son of man.'

    "Let us then keep in the true way, the life, the truth, and the
    holy Gospel of Him who has deigned for our sake to leave his
    Father that he may manifest his name to us, saying, 'Father, I
    have manifested thy name to those whom thou hast given me, and
    the words which thou hast given me I have given also unto them.
    They have received them, and they have known that I am come from
    thee, and they believe that thou hast sent me. I pray for them;
    I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me,
    that they may be one as we are one. I have said these things,
    being still in the world, that they may have joy in themselves.
    I have given them thy words, and the world hath hated them,
    because they are not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst
    take them out of the world, but that thou wilt keep them from
    the evil. Sanctify them through the truth; thy word is truth. As
    thou hast sent me into the world I have also sent them into the
    world, and for their sake I sanctify myself that they may
    themselves be sanctified in the truth; and neither pray I for
    these alone, but for all those who shall believe on me through
    their words, that we all may be one, and that the world may know
    that thou hast sent me, and that thou lovest them as thou hast
    loved me. I have made known unto them thy name, that the love
    wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them.'


    "Almighty, most high and sovereign God, holy Father, righteous
    Lord, King of heaven and earth, we give thee thanks for thine
    own sake, in that by thy holy will, and by thine only Son and
    thy Holy Spirit thou hast created all things spiritual and
    corporeal, and that after having made us in thine image and
    after thy likeness, thou didst place us in that paradise which
    we lost by our sin. And we give thee thanks because after having
    created us by thy Son, by that love which is thine, and which
    thou hast had for us, thou hast made him to be born very God and
    very man of the glorious and blessed Mary, ever Virgin, and
    because by his cross, his blood, and his death thou hast willed
    to ransom us poor captives. And we give thee thanks that thy Son
    is to return in his glorious majesty to send to eternal fire the
    accursed ones, those who have not repented and have not known
    thee; and to say to those who have known and adored thee and
    served thee by repentance, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father,
    inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation
    of the world.' And since we, wretched and sinful, are not worthy
    to name thee, we humbly ask our Lord Jesus Christ, thy
    well-beloved Son, in whom thou art well pleased, that he may
    give thee thanks for everything; and also the Holy Spirit, the
    Paraclete, as it may please thee and them; for this we
    supplicate him who has all power with thee, and by whom thou
    hast done such great things for us. Alleluia.

    "And we pray the glorious Mother, the blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
    St. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and all the choir of blessed
    Spirits, Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities
    and Powers, Virtues and Angels, Archangels, John the Baptist,
    John the Evangelist, Peter, Paul, and the holy Patriarchs, the
    Prophets, the Holy Innocents, Apostles, Evangelists, Disciples,
    Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, the blessed ones, Elijah and
    Enoch, and all the saints who have been, shall be, and are, we
    humbly pray them by thy love to give thee thanks for these
    things, as it pleases thee, sovereign, true, eternal and living
    God, and also to thy Son, our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, and
    to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, forever and ever. Amen.

    "And we supplicate all those who desire to serve the Lord God,
    in the bosom of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, all priests,
    deacons, sub-deacons, acolytes and exorcists, readers, porters,
    all clerks, all monks and nuns, all children and little ones,
    paupers and exiles, kings, and princes, workmen and laborers,
    servants and masters, the virgins, the continent and the
    married, laics, men and women, all children, youths, young men
    and old men, the sick and the well, the small and the great, the
    peoples of every tribe and tongue and nation, all men in every
    part of the world whatsoever, who are or who shall be, we pray
    and beseech them, all we Brothers Minor, unprofitable servants,
    that all together, with one accord we persevere in the true
    faith and in penitence, for outside of these no person can be

    "Let us all, with all our heart and all our thought, and all our
    strength, and all our mind, with all our vigor, with all our
    effort, with all our affection, with all our inward powers, our
    desires, and our wills, love the Lord God, who has given to us
    all his body, all his soul, all his life, and still gives them
    every day to each one of us. He created us, he saved us by his
    grace alone; he has been, he still is, full of goodness to us,
    us wicked and worthless, corrupt and offensive, ungrateful,
    ignorant, bad. We desire nothing else, we wish for nothing else;
    may nothing else please us, or have any attraction for us,
    except the Creator, the Redeemer, the Saviour, sole and true
    God, who is full of goodness, who is all goodness, who is the
    true and supreme good, who alone is kind, pious, and merciful,
    gracious, sweet, and gentle, who alone is holy, righteous, true,
    upright, who alone has benignity, innocence, and purity; of
    whom, by whom, and in whom is all the pardon, all the grace, all
    the glory of all penitents, of all the righteous and all the
    saints who are rejoicing in heaven.

    "Then let nothing again hinder, let nothing again separate,
    nothing again retard us, and may we all, so long as we live, in
    every place, at every hour, at every time, every day and
    unceasingly, truly and humbly believe. Let us have in our
    hearts, let us love, adore, serve, praise, bless, glorify,
    exalt, magnify, thank the most high, sovereign, eternal God,
    Trinity and Unity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator of all
    men, both of those who believe and hope in him and of those who
    love him. He is without beginning and without end, immutable and
    invisible, ineffable, incomprehensible, indiscernible, blessed,
    lauded, glorious, exalted, sublime, most high, sweet, lovely,
    delectable, and always worthy of being desired above all things,
    in all the ages of ages. Amen."

Have not these artless repetitions a mysterious charm which steals
deliciously into the very depths of the heart? Is there not in them a
sort of sacrament of which the words are only the rude vehicle? Francis
is taking refuge in God, as the child throws itself upon its mother's
bosom, and in the incoherence of its weakness and its joy stammers out
all the words it knows, repeating by them all only the eternal "I am
thine" of love and faith.

There is in them also something which recalls, not only by citations,
but still more by the very inspiration of the thought, that which we
call the sacerdotal prayer of Christ. The apostle of poverty appears
here as if suspended between earth and heaven by the very strength of
his love, consecrated the priest of a new worship by the inward and
irresistible unction of the Spirit. He does not offer sacrifice like the
priest of the past time; he sacrifices himself, and carries in his body
all the woes of humanity.

The more beautiful are these words from the mystical point of view, the
less do they correspond with what is expected in a Rule; they have
neither the precision nor the brief and imperative forms of one. The
transformations which they were to undergo in order to become the code
of 1223 were therefore fatal when we consider the definitive
intervention of the Church of Rome to direct the Franciscan movement.

It is probable that this rough draft of a Rule, such as we have it now,
is that which was distributed in the chapter of Whitsunday, 1221. The
variants, sometimes capital, which are found in the different texts, can
be nothing other than outlines of the corrections proposed by the
provincial ministers. Once admit the idea of considering this document
as a rough draft, we are very soon brought to think that it had already
undergone a rapid preliminary revision, a sort of pruning, in which
ecclesiastical authority has caused to disappear all that was in
flagrant contradiction with its own projects for the Order.

If it is asked, who could have made these curtailments, one name springs
at once to our lips--Ugolini. He criticised its exaggerated proportions,
its want of unity and precision. Later on it is related that Francis had
seen in a dream a multitude of starving friars, and himself unable to
satisfy their wants, because though all around him lay innumerable
crumbs of bread, they disappeared between his fingers when he would give
them to those about him. Then a voice from heaven said to him: "Francis,
make of these crumbs a wafer; with that thou shalt feed these starving

There is little hazard in assuming that this is the picturesque echo of
the conferences which took place at this time between Francis and the
cardinal; the latter might have suggested to him by such a comparison
the essential defects of his project. All this, no doubt, took place
during Francis's stay in Rome, in the beginning of 1221.[4]

Before going there, we must cast a glance over the similarity in
inspiration and even in style which allies the Rule of 1221 with another
of St. Francis's works, that which is known under the title of The
Admonitions.[5] This is a series of _spiritual counsels_ with regard
to the religious life; it is closely united both in matter and form with
the work which we have just examined. The tone of voice is so perfectly
the same that one is tempted to see in it parts of the original draft of
the Rule, separated from it as too prolix to find place in a Rule.

However it may be with this hypothesis, we find in The Admonitions all
the anxieties with which the soul of Francis was assailed in this
uncertain and troubled hour. Some of these counsels sound like bits from
a private journal. We see him seeking, with the simplicity of perfect
humility, for reasons for submitting himself, renouncing his ideas, and
not quite succeeding in finding them. He repeats to himself the
exhortations that others had given him; we feel the effort to understand
and admire the ideal monk whom Ugolini and the Church have proposed to
him for an example:

    The Lord says in the Gospels: "He who does not give up all that
    he has cannot be my disciple. And he who would save his life
    shall lose it." One gives up all he possesses and loses his life
    when life gives himself entirely into the hands of his superior,
    to obey him.... And when the inferior sees things which would be
    better or more useful to his soul than those which the superior
    commands him, let him offer to God the sacrifice of his will.

Reading this one might think that Francis was about to join the ranks of
those to whom submission to ecclesiastical authority is the very essence
of religion. But no; even here his true feeling is not wholly effaced,
he mingles his words with parentheses and illustrations, timid, indeed,
but revealing his deepest thought; always ending by enthroning the
individual conscience as judge of last resort.[6]

All this shows clearly enough that we must picture to ourselves moments
when his wounded soul sighs after passive obedience, the formula of
which, _perinde ac cadaver_, goes apparently much farther back than the
Company of Jesus. These were moments of exhaustion, when inspiration was

   One day he was sitting with his companions, when he began to
   groan and say: "There is hardly a monk upon earth who perfectly
   obeys his superior." His companions, much astonished, said:
   "Explain to us, father, what is perfect and supreme obedience."
   Then, comparing him who obeys to a corpse, he replied: "Take a
   dead body, and put it where you will, it will make no resistance;
   when it is in one place it will not murmur, when you take it away
   from there it will not object; put it in a pulpit, it will not
   look up but down; wrap it in purple, it will only be doubly

This longing for corpse-like obedience witnesses to the ravages with
which his soul had been laid waste; it corresponds in the moral domain
to the cry for annihilation of great physical anguish.

The worst was that he was absolutely alone. Everywhere else the
Franciscan obedience is living, active, joyful.[8]

He drank this cup to the very dregs, holding sacred the revolts dictated
by conscience. One day in the later years of his life a German friar
came to see him, and after having long discussed with him pure

    "I ask you one favor," he said to him, "it is that if the
    Brothers ever come to live no longer according to the Rule you
    will permit me to separate myself from them, alone or with a few
    others, to observe it in its completeness." At these words
    Francis felt a great joy. "Know," said he, "that Christ as well
    as I authorize what you have just been asking;" and laying hands
    upon him, "Thou art a priest forever," he added, "after the
    order of Melchisedec."[9]

We have a yet more touching proof of his solicitude to safeguard the
spiritual independence of his disciples: it is a note to Brother
Leo.[10] The latter, much alarmed by the new spirit which was gaining
power in the Order, opened his mind thereupon to his master, and
doubtless asked of him pretty much the same permission as the friar from
Germany. After an interview in which he replied _viva voce_, Francis,
not to leave any sort of doubt or hesitation in the mind of him whom he
surnamed his little sheep of God, _pecorella di Dio_, wrote to him

    Brother Leo, thy brother Francis wishes thee peace and health.

    I reply _yes_, my son, as a mother to her child. This word sums
    up all we said while walking, as well as all my counsels. If
    thou hast need to come to me for counsel, it is my wish that
    thou shouldst do it. Whatever may be the manner in which thou
    thinkest thou canst please the Lord God, follow it, and live in
    poverty. Do this (faites le[11]), God will bless thee and I
    authorize it. And if it were necessary for thy soul, or for thy
    consolation that thou shouldst come to see me, or if thou
    desirest it, my Leo, come.

    Thine in Christ.

Surely we are far enough here from the corpse of a few pages back.

It would be superfluous to pause over the other admonitions. For the
most part they are reflections inspired by circumstances. Counsels as to
humility recur with a frequency which explains both the personal
anxieties of the author, and the necessity of reminding the brothers of
the very essence of their profession.

The sojourn of St. Francis at Rome, whither he went in the early months
of 1221, to lay his plan before Ugolini, was marked by a new effort of
the latter to bring him and St. Dominic together.[12]

The cardinal was at this time at the apogee of his success. Everything
had gone well with him. His voice was all powerful not only in affairs
of the Church, but also in those of the Empire. Frederic II., who seemed
to be groping his way, and in whose mind were germinating dreams of
religious reformation, and the desire of placing his power at the
service of the truth, treated him as a friend, and spoke of him with
unbounded admiration.[13]

In his reflections upon the remedies to be applied to the woes of
Christianity, the cardinal came at last to think that one of the most
efficacious would be the substitution of bishops taken from the two new
Orders, for the feudal episcopate almost always recruited from local
families in which ecclesiastical dignities were, so to speak,
hereditary. In the eyes of Ugolini such bishops were usually wanting in
two essential qualities of a good prelate: religious zeal and zeal for
the Church.

He believed that the Preaching and the Minor Friars would not only
possess those virtues which were lacking in the others, but that in the
hands of the papacy they might become a highly centralized hierarchy,
truly catholic, wholly devoted to the interests of the Church at large.
The difficulties which might occur on the part of the chapters which
should elect the bishops, as well as on the side of the high secular
clergy, would be put to flight by the enthusiasm which the people would
feel for pastors whose poverty would recall the days of the primitive

At the close of his interviews with Francis and Dominic, he
communicated to them some of these thoughts, asking their advice as to
the elevation of their friars to prelatures. There was a pious contest
between the two saints as to which should answer first. Finally, Dominic
said simply that he should prefer to see his companions remain as they
were. In his turn, Francis showed that the very name of his institute
made the thing impossible. "If my friars have been called _Minores_," he
said, "it is not that they may become _Majores_. If you desire that they
become fruitful in the Church of God, leave them alone, and keep them in
the estate into which God has called them. I pray you, father, do not so
act that their poverty shall become a motive for pride, nor elevate them
to prelatures which would move them to insolence toward others."[14]

The ecclesiastical policy followed by the popes was destined to render
this counsel of the two founders wholly useless.[15]

Francis and Dominic parted, never again to meet. The _Master_ of the
Preaching Friars shortly after set out for Bologna, where he died on
August 6th following, and Francis returned to Portiuncula, where Pietro
di Catana had just died (March 10, 1221). He was replaced at the head of
the Order by Brother Elias. Ugolini was doubtless not without influence
in this choice.

Detained by his functions of legate, he could not be present at the
Whitsunday chapter (May 30, 1221).[16] He was represented there by
Cardinal Reynerio,[17] who came accompanied by several bishops and by
monks of various orders.[18] About three thousand friars were there
assembled, but so great was the eagerness of the people of the
neighborhood to bring provisions, that after a session of seven days
they were obliged to remain two days longer to eat up all that had been
brought. The sessions were presided over by Brother Elias, Francis
sitting at his feet and pulling at his robe when there was anything that
he wished to have put before the Brothers.

Brother Giordani di Giano, who was present, has preserved for us all
these details and that of the setting out of a group of friars for
Germany. They were placed under the direction of Cæsar of Speyer, whose
mission succeeded beyond all expectation. Eighteen months after, when he
returned to Italy, consumed with the desire to see St. Francis again,
the cities of Wurzburg, Mayence, Worms, Speyer, Strasburg, Cologne,
Salzburg, and Ratisbon had become Franciscan centres, from whence the
new ideas were radiating into all Southern Germany.

The foundation of the Tertiaries, or Third Order, generally in the
oldest documents called Brotherhood of Penitence, is usually fixed as
occurring in the year 1221; but we have already seen that this date is
much too recent, or rather that it is impossible to fix any date, for
what was later called, quite arbitrarily, the Third Order is evidently
contemporary with the First.[19]

Francis and his companions desired to be the apostles of their time; but
they, no more than the apostles of Jesus, desired to have all men enter
their association, which was necessarily somewhat restricted, and which,
according to the gospel saying, was meant to be the leaven of the rest
of humanity. In consequence, their life was literally the _apostolic
life_, but the ideal which they preached was the _evangelical life_,
such as Jesus had preached it.

St. Francis no more condemned the family or property than Jesus did; he
simply saw in them ties from which the _apostle_, and the apostle alone,
needs to be free.

If before long sickly minds fancied that they interpreted his thought in
making the union of the sexes an evil, and all that concerns the
physical activity of man a fall; if unbalanced spirits borrowed the
authority of his name to escape from all duty; if married persons
condemned themselves to the senseless martyrdom of virginity, he should
certainly not be made responsible. These traces of an unnatural
asceticism come from the dualist ideas of the Catharists, and not from
the inspired poet who sang nature and her fecundity, who made nests for
doves, inviting them to multiply under the watch of God, and who imposed
manual labor on his friars as a sacred duty.

The bases of the corporation of the _Brothers and Sisters of Penitence_
were very simple. Francis gave no new doctrine to the world; what was
new in his message was wholly in his love, in his direct call to the
evangelical life, to an ideal of moral vigor, of labor, and of love.

Naturally, there were soon found men who did not understand this true
and simple beauty; they fell into observances and devotions, imitated,
while living in the world, the life of the cloister to which for one
reason or another they were not able to retire; but it would be unjust
to picture to ourselves the _Brothers of Penitence_ as modelled after

Did they receive a Rule from St. Francis? It is impossible to say. The
one which was given[20] them in 1289 by Pope Nicholas IV. is simply the
recasting and amalgamation of all the rules of lay fraternities which
existed at the end of the thirteenth century. To attribute this document
to Francis is nothing less than the placing in a new building of certain
venerated stones from an ancient edifice. It is a matter of façade and
ornamentation, nothing more.

Notwithstanding this absence of any Rule emanating from Francis himself,
it is clear enough what, in his estimation, this association ought to
be. The Gospel, with its counsels and examples, was to be its true Rule.
The great innovation designed by the Third Order was concord; this
fraternity was a union of peace, and it brought to astonished Europe a
new truce of God. Whether the absolute refusal to carry arms[21] was an
idea wholly chimerical and ephemeral, the documents are there to prove,
but it is a fine thing to have had the power to bring it about for a few

The second essential obligation of the Brothers of Penitence appears to
have been that of reducing their wants so far as possible, and while
preserving their fortunes to distribute to the poor at proper intervals
the free portion of the revenue after contenting themselves with the
strictly necessary.[22]

To do with joy the duties of their calling; to give a holy inspiration
to the slightest actions; to find in the infinitely littles of
existence, things apparently the most commonplace, parts of a divine
work; to keep pure from all debasing interest; to use things as not
possessing them, like the servants in the parable who would soon have to
give account of the talents confided to them; to close their hearts to
hatred, to open them wide to the poor, the sick, to all abandoned ones,
such were the other essential duties of the Brothers and Sisters of

To lead them into this royal road of liberty, love, and responsibility,
Francis sometimes appealed to the terrors of hell and the joys of
paradise, but interested love was so little a part of his nature that
these considerations and others of the same kind occupy an entirely
secondary place in those of his writings which remain, as also in his

For him the gospel life is natural to the soul. Whoever comes to know it
will prefer it; it has no more need to be proved than the outer air and
the light. It needs only to lead prisoners to it, for them to lose all
desire to return to the dungeons of avarice, hatred, or frivolity.

Francis and his true disciples make the painful ascent of the mountain
heights, impelled solely, but irresistibly, by the inner voice. The only
foreign aid which they accept is the memory of Jesus, going before them
upon these heights and mysteriously living again before their eyes in
the sacrament of the eucharist.

The letter to all Christians in which these thoughts break forth is a
living souvenir of St. Francis's teachings to the Tertiaries.

To represent these latter to ourselves in a perfectly concrete form we
may resort to the legend of St. Lucchesio, whom tradition makes the
first Brother of Penitence.[23]

A native of a little city of Tuscany he quitted it to avoid its
political enmities, and established himself at Poggibonsi, not far from
Sienna, where he continued to trade in grain. Already rich, it was not
difficult for him to buy up all the wheat, and, selling it in a time of
scarcity, realize enormous profits. But soon overcome by Francis's
preaching, he took himself to task, distributed all his superfluity to
the poor, and kept nothing but his house with a small garden and one

From that time he was to be seen devoting himself to the cultivation of
this bit of ground, and making of his house a sort of hostelry whither
the poor and the sick came in swarms. He not only welcomed them, but he
sought them out, even to the malaria-infected Maremma, often returning
with a sick man astride on his back and preceded by his ass bearing a
similar burden. The resources of the garden were necessarily very
limited; when there was no other way, Lucchesio took a wallet and went
from door to door asking alms, but most of the time this was needless,
for his poor guests, seeing him so diligent and so good, were better
satisfied with a few poor vegetables from the garden shared with him
than with the most copious repast. In the presence of their benefactor,
so joyful in his destitution, they forgot their own poverty, and the
habitual murmurs of these wretches were transformed into outbursts of
admiration and gratitude.

Conversion had not killed in him all family ties; Bona Donna, his wife,
became his best co-laborer, and when in 1260 he saw her gradually fading
away his grief was too deep to be endured. "You know, dear companion,"
he said to her when she had received the last sacraments, "how much we
have loved one another while we could serve God together; why should we
not remain united until we depart to the ineffable joy? Wait for me. I
also will receive the sacraments, and go to heaven with you."

So he spoke, and called back the priest to administer them to him. Then
after holding the hands of his dying companion, comforting her with
gentle words, when he saw that her soul was gone he made over her the
sign of the cross, stretched himself beside her, and calling with love
upon Jesus, Mary, and St. Francis, he fell asleep for eternity.


   [1] Text in _Firmamentum_, 10; _Spec._, 189; _Spec._, Morin.
       Tract., iii., 2b. M. Müller (_Anfänge_) has made a study of the
       Rule of 1221 which is a masterpiece of _exegetical scent_.
       Nevertheless if he had more carefully collated the different
       texts he would have arrived at still more striking results,
       thanks to the variants which he would have been able to
       establish. I cite a single example.

           Text _Firm_.--Wadding, adopted by Mr. M.

           _Omnes fratres ubicunque sunt vel vadunt, caveant sibi a
           malo visu et frequentia mulierum et nullus cum eis
           consilietur solus. Sacerdos honeste loquatur cum eis
           dando penitentiam vel aliud spirituale consilium._

           Text of the _Speculum_, 189 ff.

           _Omnes fratres ubicunque sunt et vadunt caveant se a malo
           visu et frequentia mulierum et nullus cum eis concilietur
           aut per viam vadat solus aut ad mensam in una paropside
           comedat. (!!) Sacerdos honeste loquatur cum eis dando ...

       This passage is sufficient to show the superiority of the text
       of the Speculum, which is to be preferred also in other
       respects, but this is not the place for entering into these
       details. It is evident that the phrase in which we see the
       earliest friars sometimes sharing the repast of the sisters and
       eating from their porringer is not a later interpolation.

   [2] _Tribul._, 12b; _Spec._, 54b; _Arbor._ V., 3; _Spec._, 8b.

   [3] Cf. _cap._ 17 and 21.

   [4] 2 Cel., 3, 136.

   [5] See below, p. 354, text in the _Firmamentum_, 19 ff.;
       _Speculum_, Morin, tract. iii., 214a ff.; cf. _Conform._,
       137 ff.

   [6] _Cum facit (subditus) voluntatem (prælati) dummodo benefacit
       vera obedientia est. Admon._, iii.; _Conform._, 139_a_, 2.--_Si
       vero prælatus subdito aliquid contra animam præcipiat licet ei
       non obediat tamen ipsum non dimittat._, Ibid.--_Nullus tenetur
       ad obedientiam in eo ubi committitus delictum vel peccatum.
       Epist._, ii.

   [7] 2 Cel., 3, 89; _Spec._, 29b; _Conform._, 176b, 1; Bon., 77.

   [8] _Per caritatem spiritus voluntarii serviant et obediant
       invicem. Et hæc est vera et sancta obedientia. Reg._, 1221, v.

   [9] _Tribul._, Laur. MS., 14b; _Spec._, 125a; _Conform._, 107b, 1;
       184b, 1.

  [10] Wadding gives it (_Epist._ xvi.), after the autograph
       preserved in the treasury of the Conventuals of Spoleto. The
       authenticity of this piece is evident.

  [11] This plural, which perplexed Wadding, shows plainly that
       Brother Leo had spoken in the name of a group.

  [12] This date for the new communications between them seems
       incontestable, though it has never been proposed; in fact, we
       are only concerned to find a time when all three could have met
       at Rome (2 Cel., 3, 86; _Spec._, 27a), between December 22, 1216
       (the approbation of the Dominicans), and August 6, 1221 (death
       of Dominic). Only two periods are possible: the early months of
       1218 (Potthast, 5739 and 5747) and the winter of 1220-1221. At
       any other time one of the three was absent from Rome.

       On the other hand we know that Ugolini was in Rome in the winter
       of 1220-1221 (Huillard-Bréholles, _Hist. dipl._, ii., pp. 48,
       123, 142. Cf. Potthast, 6589).--For Dominic see A. SS., Aug.,
       vol. i., p. 503. The later date is imperative because Ugolini
       could not offer prelatures to the Brothers Minor before their
       explicit approbation (June 11, 1219), and this offer had no
       meaning with regard to the Dominicans until after the definitive
       establishment of their Order.

  [13] See the imperial letters of February 10, 1221;
       Huillard-Bréholles, vol. ii., pp. 122-127.

  [14] 2 Cel., 3, 86; Bon., 78; _Spec._, 27b.

  [15] Vide K. Eubel: _Die Bischöfe, Cardinäle und Päpste aus dem
       Minoritenorden bis_ 1305, 8vo, 1889.

  [16] He was in Northern Italy. Vide _Registri: Doc._, 17-28.

  [17] Reynerius, cardinal-deacon with the title of S. M. in
       Cosmedin, Bishop of Viterbo (cf. Innocent III., _Opera_, Migne,
       1, col. ccxiii), 1 Cel., 125. He had been named rector of the
       Duchy of Spoleto, August 3, 1220. Potthast, 6319.

  [18] Giord, 16. The presence of Dominic at an earlier chapter
       had therefore been quite natural.

  [19] This view harmonizes in every particular with the witness
       of 1 Cel., 36 and 37, which shows the Third Order as having been
       quite naturally born of the enthusiasm excited by the preaching
       of Francis immediately after his return from Rome in 1210 (cf.
       _Auctor vit. sec._; A. SS., p. 593b). Nothing in any other
       document contradicts it; quite the contrary. Vide 3 Soc., 60.
       Cf. _Anon. Perus._; A. SS., p. 600; Bon., 25, 46. Cf. A. SS.,
       pp. 631-634. The first bull which concerns the Brothers of
       Penitence (without naming them) is of December 16, 1221,
       _Significatum est_. If it really refers to them, as Sbaralea
       thinks, with all those who have interested themselves in the
       question to M. Müller inclusively--but which, it appears, might
       be contested--it is because in 1221 they had made appeal to the
       pope against the podestàs of Faenza and the neighboring cities.
       This evidently supposes an association not recently born.
       Sbaralea, _Bull. fr._, 1, p. 8; Horoy, vol. iv., col. 49;
       Potthast, 6736.

  [20] Bull _Supra montem_ of August 17, 1289, Potthast. 23044. M.
       Müller has made a luminous study of the origin of this bull; it
       may be considered final in all essential points (_Anfänge_, pp.
       117-171). By this bull Nicholas IV.--minister-general of the
       Brothers Minor before becoming pope--sought to draw into the
       hands of his Order the direction of all associations of pious
       laics (Third Order of St. Dominic, the Gaudentes, the Humiliati.
       etc.). He desired by that to give a greater impulse to those
       fraternities which depended directly on the court of Rome, and
       augment their power by unifying them.

  [21] Vide Bull _Significatum est_ of December 16, 1221. Cf.
       _Supra montem_, chap. vii.

  [22] The Rule of the Third Order of the Humiliati, which dates
       from 1201, contains a similar clause. Tiraboschi, vol. ii., p.

  [23] In the A. SS., Aprilis, vol. ii. p. 600-616. Orlando di
       Chiusi also received the habit from the hands of Francis. Vide
       _Instrumentum_, etc., below, p. 400. The Franciscan fraternity,
       under the influence of the other third orders, rapidly lost its
       specific character. As to this title, Third Order, it surely had
       originally a hierarchical sense, upon which little by little a
       chronological sense has been superposed. All these questions
       become singularly clearer when they are compared with what is
       known of the Humiliati.

       *       *       *       *       *



Autumn, 1221-December, 1223

After the chapter of 1221 the evolution of the Order hurried on with a
rapidity which nothing was strong enough to check.

The creation of the ministers was an enormous step in this direction; by
the very pressure of things the latter came to establish a residence;
those who command must have their subordinates within reach, must know
at all times where they are; the Brothers, therefore, could no longer
continue to do without convents properly so-called. This change
naturally brought about many others; up to this time they had had no
churches. Without churches the friars were only itinerant preachers, and
their purpose could not but be perfectly disinterested; they were, as
Francis had wished, the friendly auxiliaries of the clergy. With
churches it was inevitable that they should first fatally aspire to
preach in them and attract the crowd to them, then in some sort erect
them into counter parishes.[1]

The bull of March 22, 1222,[2] shows us the papacy hastening these
transformations with all its power. The pontiff accords to Brother
Francis and the other friars the privilege of celebrating the sacred
mysteries in their churches in times of interdict, on the natural
condition of not ringing the bells, of closing the door, and previously
expelling those who were excommunicated.

By an astonishing inadvertence the bull itself bears witness to its
uselessness, at least for the time in which it was given: "We accord to
you," it runs, "the permission to celebrate the sacraments in times of
interdict in your churches, _if you come to have any_." This is a new
proof that in 1222 the Order as yet had none; but it is not difficult to
see in this very document a pressing invitation to change their way of
working, and not leave this privilege to be of no avail.

Another document of the same time shows a like purpose, though
manifested in another direction. By the bull _Ex parte_ of March 29,
1222, Honorius III. laid upon the Preachers and Minors of Lisbon
conjointly a singularly delicate mission; he gave them full powers to
proceed against the bishop and clergy of that city, who exacted from the
faithful that they should leave to them by will one-third of their
property, and refused the Church's burial service to those who

The fact that the pope committed to the Brothers the care of choosing
what measures they should take proves how anxious they were at Rome to
forget the object for which they had been created, and to transform them
into deputies of the Holy See. It is, therefore, needless to point out
that the mention of Francis's name at the head of the former of these
bulls has no significance. We do not picture the Poverello seeking a
privilege for circumstances not yet existing! We perceive here the
influence of Ugolini,[4] who had found the Brother Minor after his own
heart in the person of Elias.

What was Francis doing all this time? We have no knowledge, but the very
absence of information, so abundant for the period that precedes as well
as for that which follows, shows plainly enough that he has quitted
Portiuncula, and gone to live in one of those Umbrian hermitages that
had always had so strong an attachment for him.[5] There is hardly a
hill in Central Italy that has not preserved some memento of him. It
would be hard to walk half a day between Florence and Rome without
coming upon some hut on a hillside bearing his name or that of one of
his disciples.

There was a time when these huts were inhabited, when in these leafy
booths Egidio, Masseo, Bernardo, Silvestro, Ginepro, and many others
whose names history has forgotten, received visits from their spiritual
father, coming to them for their consolation.[6]

They gave him love for love and consolation for consolation. His poor
heart had great need of both, for in his long, sleepless nights it had
come to him at times to hear strange voices; weariness and regret were
laying hold on him, and looking over the past he was almost driven to
doubt of himself, his Lady Poverty, and everything.

Between Chiusi and Radicofani--an hour's walk from the village of
Sartiano--a few Brothers had made a shelter which served them by way of
hermitage, with a little cabin for Francis in a retired spot. There he
passed one of the most agonizing nights of his life. The thought that he
had exaggerated the virtue of asceticism and not counted enough upon the
mercy of God assailed him, and suddenly he came to regret the use he had
made of his life. A picture of what he might have been, of the tranquil
and happy home that might have been his, rose up before him in such
living colors that he felt himself giving way. In vain he disciplined
himself with his hempen girdle until the blood came; the vision would
not depart.

It was midwinter; a heavy fall of snow covered the ground; he rushed out
without his garment, and gathering up great heaps of snow began to make
a row of images. "See," he said, "here is thy wife, and behind her are
two sons and two daughters, with the servant and the maid carrying all
the baggage."

With this child-like representation of the tyranny of material cares
which he had escaped, he finally put away the temptation.[7]

There is nothing to show whether or not we should fix at the same epoch
another incident which legend gives as taking place at Sartiano. One day
a brother of whom he asked, "Whence do you come?" replied, "From your
cell." This simple answer was enough to make the vehement lover of
Poverty refuse to occupy it again. "Foxes have holes," he loved to
repeat, "and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man had not
where to lay his head. When the Lord spent forty days and forty nights
praying and fasting in the desert, he built himself neither cell nor
house, but made the side of a rock his shelter."[8]

It would be a mistake to think, as some have done, that as time went on
Francis changed his point of view. Certain ecclesiastical writers have
assumed that since he desired the multiplication of his Order, he for
that very reason consented to its transformation. The suggestion is
specious, but in this matter we are not left to conjecture; almost
everything which was done in the Order after 1221 was done either
without Francis's knowledge or against his will. If one were inclined to
doubt this, it would need only to glance over that most solemn and also
most adequate manifesto of his thought--his Will. There he is shown
freed from all the temptations which had at times made him hesitate in
the expression of his ideas, bravely gathering himself up to summon back
the primitive ideal, and set it up in opposition to all the concessions
which had been wrung from his weakness.

The Will is not an appendix to the Rule of 1223, it is almost its
revocation. But it would be a mistake to see in it the first attempt
made to return to the early ideal. The last five years of his life were
only one incessant effort at protest, both by his example and his words.

In 1222 he addressed to the brethren of Bologna a letter filled with sad
forebodings. In that city, where the Dominicans, overwhelmed with
attentions, were occupied with making themselves a stronghold in the
system of instruction, the Brothers Minor were more than anywhere else
tempted to forsake the way of simplicity and poverty. Francis's warnings
had put on such dark and threatening colors that after the famous
earthquake of December 23, 1222, which spread terror over all northern
Italy, there was no hesitation in believing that he had predicted the
catastrophe.[9] He had indeed predicted a catastrophe which was none
the less horrible for being wholly moral, and the vision of which forced
from him the most bitter imprecations:

    "Lord Jesus, thou didst choose thine apostles to the number of
    twelve, and if one of them did betray thee, the others,
    remaining united to thee, preached thy holy gospel, filled with
    one and the same inspiration; and behold now, remembering the
    former days, thou hast raised up the Religion of the Brothers in
    order to uphold faith, and that by them the mystery of thy
    gospel may be accomplished. Who will take their place if,
    instead of fulfilling their mission and being shining examples
    for all, they are seen to give themselves up to works of
    darkness? Oh! may they be accursed by thee, Lord, and by all the
    court of heaven, and by me, thine unworthy servant, they who by
    their bad example overturn and destroy all that thou didst do in
    the beginning and ceasest not to do by the holy Brothers of this

This passage from Thomas of Celano, the most moderate of the
biographers, shows to what a pitch of vehemence and indignation the
gentle Francis could be worked up.

In spite of very natural efforts to throw a veil of reserve over the
anguish of the founder with regard to the future of his spiritual
family, we find traces of it at every step. "The time will come," he
said one day, "when our Order will so have lost all good renown that its
members will be ashamed to show themselves by daylight."[11]

He saw in a dream a statue with the head of pure gold, the breast and
arms of silver, the body of crystal, and the legs of iron. He thought it
was an omen of the future in store for his institute.[12]

He believed his sons to be attacked with two maladies, unfaithful at
once to poverty and humility; but perhaps he dreaded for them the demon
of learning more than the temptation of riches.

What were his views on the subject of learning? It is probable that he
never examined the question as a whole, but he had no difficulty in
seeing that there will always be students enough in the universities,
and that if scientific effort is an homage offered to God, there is no
risk of worshippers of this class being wanting; but in vain he looked
about him on all sides, he saw no one to fulfil the mission of love and
humility reserved for his Order, if the friars came to be unfaithful to

Therefore there was something more in his anguish than the grief of
seeing his hopes confounded. The rout of an army is nothing in
comparison with the overthrow of an idea; and in him an idea had been
incarnated, the idea of peace and happiness restored to mankind, by the
victory of love over the trammels of material things.

By an ineffable mystery he felt himself the Man of his age, him in whose
body are borne all the efforts, the desires, the aspirations of men;
with him, in him, by him humanity yearns to be renewed, and to use the
language of the gospel, born again.

In this lies his true beauty. By this, far more than by a vain
conformity, an exterior imitation, he is a Christ.

He also bears the affliction of the world, and if we will look into the
very depths of his soul we must give this word affliction the largest
possible meaning for him as for Jesus. By their pity they bore the
physical sufferings of humanity, but their overwhelming anguish was
something far different from this, it was the birth-throes of the
divine. They suffer, because in them the Word is made flesh, and at
Gethsemane, as under the olive-trees of Greccio, they are in agony
"because their own received them not."

Yes, St. Francis forever felt the travail of the transformation taking
place in the womb of humanity, going forward to its divine destiny, and
he offered himself, a living oblation, that in him might take place the
mysterious palingenesis.

Do we now understand his pain? He was trembling for the mystery of the
gospel. There is in him something which reminds us of the tremor of life
when it stands face to face with death, something by so much the more
painful as we have here to do with moral life.

This explains how the man who would run after ruffians that he might
make disciples of them could be pitiless toward his fellow-laborers who
by an indiscreet, however well-intentioned, zeal forgot their vocation
and would transform their Order into a scientific institute.

Under pretext of putting learning at the service of God and of religion,
the Church had fostered the worst of vices, pride. According to some it
is her title to glory, but it will be her greatest shame.

Must we renounce the use of this weapon against the enemies of the
faith? she asks. But can you imagine Jesus joining the school of the
rabbins under the pretext of learning how to reply to them, enfeebling
his thought by their dialectic subtleties and fantastic exegesis? He
might perhaps have been a great doctor, but would he have become the
Saviour of the world? You feel that he would not.

When we hear preachers going into raptures over the marvellous spread of
the gospel preached by twelve poor fishermen of Galilee, might we not
point out to them that the miracle is at once more and less astounding
than they say? More--for among the twelve several returned to the shores
of their charming lake, and forgetful of the mystic net, thought of the
Crucified One, if they thought of him at all, only to lament him, and
not to raise him from the dead by continuing his work in the four
quarters of the world; less--for if even now, in these dying days of the
nineteenth century, preachers would go forth beside themselves with
love, sacrificing themselves for each and all as in the old days their
Master did, the miracle would be repeated again.

But no; theology has killed religion. The clergy repeat to satiety that
we must not confound the two; but what good does this do if in practice
we do not distinguish them?

Never was learning more eagerly coveted than in the thirteenth century.
The Empire and the Church were anxiously asking of it the arguments with
which they might defend their opposing claims. Innocent III. sends the
collection of his Decretals to the University of Bologna and heaps
favors upon it. Frederick II. founds that of Naples, and the Patarini
themselves send their sons from Tuscany and Lombardy to study at Paris.

We remember the success of Francis's preaching at Bologna,[13] in
August, 1220; at the same period he had strongly reprimanded Pietro
Staccia, the provincial minister and a doctor of laws, not only for
having installed the Brothers in a house which appeared to belong to
them, but especially for having organized a sort of college there.

It appears that the minister paid no attention to these reproaches. When
Francis became aware of his obstinacy he cursed him with frightful
vehemence; his indignation was so great that when, later on, Pietro
Staccia was about to die and his numerous friends came to entreat
Francis to revoke his malediction, all their efforts were in vain.[14]

In the face of this attitude of the founder it is very difficult to
believe in the authenticity of the note purporting to be addressed to
Anthony of Padua:

    "To my very dear Anthony, brother Francis, greetings in Christ.

    "It pleases me that you interpret to the Brothers the sacred
    writings and theology, in such a way, however (conformably to
    our Rule), that the spirit of holy prayer be not extinguished
    either in you or in the others, which I desire earnestly.

Must we see in this a pious fraud to weaken the numberless clear
declarations of Francis against learning?

It is difficult to picture to ourselves the rivalry which existed at
this time between the Dominicans and Franciscans in the attempt to draw
the most illustrious masters into their respective Orders. Petty
intrigues were organized, in which the devotees had each his part, to
lead such or such a famous doctor to assume the habit.[15] If the
object of St. Francis had been scientific, the friars of Bologna, Paris,
and Oxford could not have done more.[16]

The current was so strong that the elder Orders were swept away in it
whether they would or no; twenty years later the Cistercians also
desired to become legists, theologians, decretalists, and the rest.

Perhaps Francis did not in the outset perceive the gravity of the
danger, but illusion was no longer possible, and from this time he
showed, as we have seen, an implacable firmness. If later on his thought
was travestied, the guilty ones--the popes and most of the
ministers-general--were obliged to resort to feats of prestidigitation
that are not to their credit. "Suppose," he would say, "that you had
subtility and learning enough to know all things, that you were
acquainted with all languages, the courses of the stars, and all the
rest, what is there in that to be proud of? A single demon knows more on
these subjects than all the men in this world put together.[17] But
there is one thing that the demon is incapable of, and which is the
glory of man: to be faithful to God."[18]

Definite information with regard to the chapters of 1222 and 1223 is
wanting. The proposed modifications of the project of 1221 were
discussed by the ministers[19] and afterward definitively settled by
Cardinal Ugolini. The latter had long conferences on the subject with
Francis, who has himself given us the account of them.[20]

The result of them all was the Rule of 1223. Very soon a swarm of
marvellous stories, which it would be tedious to examine in detail, came
to be clustered around the origin of this document; all that we need to
retain of them is the memory that they keep of the struggles of Francis
against the ministers for the preservation of his ideal.

Before going to Rome to ask for the final approbation he had meditated
long in the solitude of Monte Colombo, near Rieti. This hill was soon
represented as a new Sinai, and the disciples pictured their master on
its heights receiving another Decalogue from the hands of Jesus

Angelo Clareno, one of the most complacent narrators of these
traditions, takes upon himself to point out their slight value; he shows
us Honorious III. modifying an essential passage in the plan at the last
moment.[22] I have already so far described this Rule that there is no
need to return to the subject here.

It was approved November 25, 1223.[23] Many memories appear to have
clustered about the journey of Francis to Rome. One day Cardinal
Ugolini, whose hospitality he had accepted, was much surprised, and his
guests as well, to find him absent as they were about to sit down at
table, but they soon saw him coming, carrying a quantity of pieces of
dry bread, which he joyfully distributed to all the noble company. His
host, somewhat abashed by the proceeding, having undertaken after the
meal to reproach him a little, Francis explained that he had no right to
forget, for a sumptuous feast, the bread of charity on which he was fed
every day, and that he desired thus to show his brethren that the
richest table is not worth so much to the poor in spirit as this table
of the Lord.[24]

We have seen that during the earlier years the Brothers Minor had been
in the habit of earning their bread by going out as servants. Some of
them, a very small number, had continued to do so. Little by little, in
this matter also all had been changed. Under color of serving, the
friars entered the families of the highest personages of the pontifical
court, and became their confidential attendants; instead of submitting
themselves to all, as the Rule of 1221 ordained, they were above

Entirely losing sight of the apostolic life, they became courtiers of a
special type; their character, half ecclesiastic and half lay, rendered
them capable of carrying out a number of delicate missions and of
playing a part in the varied intrigues for which the greater number of
Roman prelates have always seemed to live.[25] By way of protest
Francis had only one weapon, his example.

    One day, the Speculum relates, the Blessed Francis came to Rome
    to see the Bishop of Ostia (Ugolini), and after having remained
    some time at his house, he went also to visit Cardinal Leo, who
    had a great devotion for him.

    It was winter; the cold, the wind, the rain made any journey
    impossible, so the cardinal begged him to pass a few days in his
    house and to take his food there, like the other poor folk who
    came there to eat. ... "I will give you," he added, "a good
    lodging, quite retired, where if you like you may pray and eat."
    Then Brother Angelo, one of the twelve first disciples, who
    lived with the cardinal, said to Francis: "There is, close by
    here, a great tower standing by itself and very quiet; you will
    be there as in a hermitage." Francis went to see it and it
    pleased him. Then, returning to the cardinal, "Monsignor," he
    said, "it is possible that I may pass a few days with you." The
    latter was very joyful, and Brother Angelo went to prepare the
    tower for the Blessed Francis and his companion.

    But the very first night, when he would have slept, the demons
    came and smote him. Calling then to his companion, "Brother," he
    said, "the demons have come and smitten me with violence; remain
    near me, I beg, for I am afraid here alone."

    He was trembling in all his members, like one who has a fever.
    They passed the night both without sleeping. "The demons are
    commissioned with the chastisements of God," said Francis; "as a
    podestà sends his executioner to punish the criminal, so God
    sends demons, who in this are his ministers.... Why has he sent
    them to me? Perhaps this is the reason: The cardinal desired to
    be kind to me, and I have truly great need of repose, but the
    Brothers who are out in the world, suffering hunger and a
    thousand tribulations, and also those others who are in
    hermitages or in miserable houses, when they hear of my sojourn
    with a cardinal will be moved to repine. 'We endure all
    privations,' they will say, 'while he has all that he can
    desire; 'but I ought to give them a good example--that is my
    true mission." ...

    Early next morning, therefore he quitted the tower, and having
    told the cardinal all, took leave of him and returned to the
    hermitage of Monte Colombo, near Rieti. "They think me a holy
    man," he said, "and see, it needed demons to cast me out of

This story, notwithstanding its strange coloring, shows plainly how
strong was his instinct for independence. To compare the hospitality of
a cardinal to an imprisonment! He spoke better than he knew,
characterizing in one word the relation of the Church to his Order.

The lark was not dead; in spite of cold and the north wind it gayly took
its flight to the vale of Rieti.

It was mid-December. An ardent desire to observe to the life the
memories of Christmas had taken possession of Francis. He opened his
heart to one of his friends, the knight Giovanni di Greccio, who
undertook the necessary preparations.

The imitation of Jesus has in all times been the very centre of
Christianity; but one must be singularly spiritual to be satisfied with
the imitation of the heart. With most men there is need that this should
be preceded and sustained by an external imitation. It is indeed the
spirit that gives life, but it is only in the country of the angels that
one can say that the flesh profiteth nothing.

In the Middle Ages a religious festival was before all things else a
representation, more or less faithful, of the event which it recalled;
hence the _santons_ of Provence, the processions of the _Palmesel_, the
Holy Supper of Maundy Thursday, the Road to the Cross of Good Friday,
the drama of the Resurrection of Easter, and the flaming tow of
Whitsunday. Francis was too thoroughly Italian not to love these
festivals where every visible thing speaks of God and of his love.

The population of Greccio and its environs was, therefore, convoked, as
well as the Brothers from the neighboring monasteries. On the evening of
the vigil of Christmas one might have seen the faithful hastening to the
hermitage by every path with torches in their hands, making the forests
ring with their joyful hymns.

Everyone was rejoicing--Francis most of all. The knight had prepared a
stable with straw, and brought an ox and an ass, whose breath seemed to
give warmth to the poor _bambino_, benumbed with the cold. At the sight
the saint felt tears of pity bedew his face; he was no longer in
Greccio, his heart was in Bethlehem.

Finally they began to chant matins; then the mass was begun, and
Francis, as deacon, read the Gospel. Already hearts were touched by the
simple recital of the sacred legend in a voice so gentle and so fervent,
but when he preached, his emotion soon overcame the audience; his voice
had so unutterable a tenderness that they also forgot everything, and
were living over again the feeling of the shepherds of Judea who in
those old days went to adore the God made man, born in a stable.[27]

Toward the close of the thirteenth century, the author of the _Stabat
Mater dolorosa_, Giacopone dei Todi, that Franciscan of genius who spent
a part of his life in dungeons, inspired by the memory of Greccio,
composed another Stabat, that of joy, _Stabat Mater speciosa_. This hymn
of Mary beside the manger is not less noble than that of Mary at the
foot of the cross. The sentiment is even more tender, and it is hard to
explain its neglect except by an unjust caprice of fate.

  Stabat Mater speciosa
  Juxtum foenum gaudiosa
  Dum jacebat parvulus.

  Quæ gaudebat et ridebat
  Exsultabat cum videbat
  Nati partum inclyti.

  Fac me vere congaudere
  Jesulino cohærere
  Donec ego vixero.[28]


   [1] All this took place with prodigious rapidity. The dimensions
       of the Basilica of Assisi, the plans of which were made in 1228,
       no more permits it to be considered as a conventual chapel than
       Santa-Croce in Florence, San Francesco in Sienna, or the
       Basilica San Antonio at Padua, monuments commenced between 1230
       and 1240. Already before 1245 one party of the episcopate utters
       a cry of alarm, in which he speaks of nothing less than of
       closing the door of the secular churches, which have become
       useless. He complains with incredible bitterness that the Minor
       and Preaching Friars have absolutely supplanted the parochial
       clergy. This letter may be found in Pierre de la Vigne,
       addressed at once to Frederick II. and the Council of Lyons:
       _Epistolæ_, Basle, 1740, 2 vols., vol. i., pp. 220-222. It is
       much to be desired that a critical text should be given. See
       also the satire against the two new Orders, done in rhyme about
       1242 by Pierre de la Vigne, and of which, allowing for possible
       exaggerations, the greater number of the incidents cannot have
       been invented: E. du Méril, _Poésies pop. lat._, pp. 153-177,
       Paris, 8vo, 1847.

   [2] And not of the 29th, as Sbaralea will have it. _Bull. fr._,
       vol. i., n. 10. Horoy, vol. iv., col. 129; the original, still
       in the archives of Assisi, bears the title: _Datum Anagnie 11
       Kalendas Aprilis pontificatus nostri anno sexto_.

   [3] Potthast, 6809; Horoy, iv., col. 129. See also the bull
       _Ecce Venit Deus_ of July 14, 1227; L. Auvray: _Registres de
       Grégoire IX._, no. 129; cf. 153; Potthast, 8027 and 8028, 8189.

   [4] He had finished his mission as legate in Lombardy toward the
       close of September, 1221 (see his register; cf. Böhmer, _Acta
       imp. sel. doc._, 951). In the spring of 1222 we find him
       continually near the pope at Anagni, Veroli, Alatri (Potthast,
       6807, 6812, 6849). The Holy See had still at that time a marked
       predilection for the Preachers; the very trite privilege of
       power to celebrate the offices in times of interdict had been
       accorded them March 7, 1222, but instead of the formula usual in
       such cases, a revised form had been made expressly for them,
       with a handsome eulogy. Ripolli, _Bull. Præd._, t. i., p. 15.

   [5] 2 Cel., 3, 93: _Subtrahebat se a consortio fratrum._

   [6] It is needless to say that local traditions, in this case,
       though as to detail they must be accepted only with great
       reserve, yet on the whole are surely true. The geography of St.
       Francis's life is yet to be made.

   [7] 2 Cel., 3, 59; Bon., 60; _Conform._, 122b, 2.

   [8] 2 Cel., 3, 5; _Spec._, 12a; _Conform._, 169b, 2.

   [9] Eccl., 6. Vide Liebermann's text, _Mon. Germ. hist.
       Script._, t. 28, p. 663.

  [10] 2 Cel., 3, 93; Bon., 104 and 105; _Conform._, 101a, 2.

  [11] 2 Cel., 3, 93; _Spec._, 49b; 182a; _Conform._, 182a, 1;
       _Tribul._, f^o 5a; 2 Cel., 3, 98; 113; 115; 1 Cel., 28, 50; 96;
       103; 104; 108; 111; 118.

  [12] 2 Cel., 3, 27; _Spec._, 38b; _Conform._, 181b, 1;
       _Tribul._, 7b. Cf. _Spec._, 220b; _Conform._, 103b.

  [13] Francis's successors were nearly all without exception
       students of Bologna. Pietro di Catana was doctor of laws, as
       also Giovanni Parenti (Giord., 51).--Elias had been _scriptor_
       at Bologna.--Alberto of Pisa had been minister there (Eccl.,
       6).--Aymon had been reader there (Eccl., 6).--Crescentius wrote
       works on jurisprudence (_Conform._, 121b, 1, etc., etc.).

  [14] This name cannot be warranted; he is called Giovanni di
       Laschaccia in a passage of the _Conformities_ (104a, 1); Pietro
       Schiaccia in the Italian MS. of the _Tribulations_ (f^o 75a);
       Petrus Stacia in the Laurentinian MS. (13b; cf. _Archiv._, ii.,
       p. 258). _Tribul._, 13b; _Spec._, 184b. This story has been much
       amplified in other places. _Spec._, 126a; _Conform._, 104b, 1.

  [15] Vide Eccl., 3: History of the entrance of Adam of Oxford
       into the Order. Cf., _Chartularium Univ. Par._, t. i., nos. 47
       and 49.

  [16] Eccleston's entire chronicle is a living witness to this.

  [17] _Admonitio_, v.; cf. _Conform._, 141a.

       Compare the _Constitutiones antiquæ_ (_Speculum_, Morin, iii.,
       f^o 195b-206) with the Rule. From the opening chapters the
       contradiction is apparent: _Ordinamus quod nullus recipiatur in
       ordine nostro nisi sit talis clericus qui sit competenter
       instructus in grammatica vel logica; aut nisi sit talis laicus
       de cujus ingressu esset valde celebris et edificatio in populo
       et in clero_. This is surely far from the spirit of him who
       said: _Et quicumque venerit amicus vel adversarius fur vel latro
       benigne recipiatur_. Rule of 1221, cap. vii. See also the
       Exposition of the Rule of Bonaventura. _Speculum_, Morin, iii.,
       f^o 21-40.

  [18] Upon Francis's attitude toward learning see _Tribul._,
       Laur., 14b; _Spec._, 184a; 2 Cel., 3, 8; 48; 100; 116; 119;
       120-124. Bon., chap. 152, naturally expresses only Bonaventura's
       views. See especially Rule of 1221, cap. xvii.; of 1223, cap. x.

  [19] _Spec._, 7b: _Fecit Franciscus regulam quam papa Honorius
       confirmavit cum bulla, de qua regula multa fuerunt extracta per
       ministros contra voluntatem b. Francisci_. Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 136.

  [20] Bull _Quo elongati_ of September 28, 1230; Sbaralea, i., p.

  [21] Bon., 55 and 56 [3 Soc., 62]; _Spec._, 76; 124a; _Tribul._,
       Laur., 17b-19b; Ubertini, _Arbor. V._, 5; _Conform._, 88a, 2.

  [22] _Tribul._, Laur., 19a; _Archiv._, t. iii., p. 601. Cf. A.
       SS., p. 638e.

  [23] Potthast, 7108.--The work of this bull was completed by
       that of December 18, 1223. (The original of the _Sacro Convento_
       bears _Datum Laterani XV. Kal. jan._) _Fratrem Minorum_:
       Potthast, 7123.

  [24] 2 Cel., 3, 19; Bon., 95; _Spec._, 18b; _Conform._, 171a, 1.

  [25] 2 Cel., 3, 61 and 62. Cf. Eccl., 6, the account of Rod. de

  [26] _Spec._, 47b ff.; 2 Cel., 3, 61; Bon., 84 and 85.

  [27] 1 Cel., 84-87; Bon., 149.

  [28] This little poem was published entire by M. Ozanam in vol.
       v. of his works, p. 184.

       *       *       *       *       *




The upper valley of the Arno forms in the very centre of Italy a country
apart, the Casentino, which through centuries had its own life, somewhat
like an island in the midst of the ocean.

The river flows out from it by a narrow defile at the south, and on all
other sides the Apennines encircle it with a girdle of inaccessible

This plain, some ten leagues in diameter, is enlivened with picturesque
villages, finely posted on hillocks at the base of which flows the
stream; here are Bibbiena, Poppi, the antique Romena sung by Dante, the
Camaldoli, and up there on the crest Chiusi, long ago the capital of the
country, with the ruins of Count Orlando's castle.

The people are charming and refined; the mountains have sheltered them
from wars, and on every side we see the signs of labor, prosperity, a
gentle gayety. At any moment we might fancy ourselves transported into
some valley of the Vivarais or Provence. The vegetation on the borders
of the Arno is thoroughly tropical; the olive and the mulberry marry
with the vine. On the lower hill-slopes are wheat fields divided by
meadows; then come the chestnuts and the oaks, higher still the pine,
the fir, the larch, and above all the bare rock.

Among all the peaks there is one which especially attracts the
attention; instead of a rounded and so to say flattened top, it uplifts
itself slender, proud, isolated; it is the Verna.[2]

One might think it an immense rock fallen from the sky. It is in fact an
erratic block set there, a little like a petrified Noah's ark on the
summit of Mount Ararat. The basaltic mass, perpendicular on all sides,
is crowned with a plateau planted with pines and gigantic beeches, and
accessible only by a footpath.[3]

Such was the solitude which Orlando had given to Francis, and to which
Francis had already many a time come for quiet and contemplation.

Seated upon the few stones of the Penna,[4] he heard only the
whispering of the wind among the trees, but in the splendor of the
sunrise or the sunset he could see nearly all the districts in which he
had sown the seed of the gospel: the Romagna and the March of Ancona,
losing themselves on the horizon in the waves of the Adriatic; Umbria,
and farther away, Tuscany, vanishing in the waters of the Mediterranean.

The impression on this height is not crushing like that which one has in
the Alps: a feeling infinitely calm and sweet flows over you; you are
high enough to judge of men from above, not high enough to forget their

Besides the wide horizons, Francis found there other objects of delight;
in this forest, one of the noblest in Europe, live legions of birds,
which never having been hunted are surprisingly tame.[5] Subtile
perfumes arise from the ground, and in the midst of borage and lichens
frail and exquisite cyclamens blossom in fantastic variety.

He desired to return thither after the chapter of 1224. This meeting,
held in the beginning of June, was the last at which he was present. The
new Rule was there put into the hands of the ministers, and the mission
to England decided upon.

It was in the early days of August that Francis took his way toward
Verna. With him were only a few Brothers, Masseo, Angelo, and Leo. The
first had been charged to direct the little band, and spare him all
duties except that of prayer.[6]

They had been two days on the road when it became necessary to seek for
an ass for Francis, who was too much enfeebled to go farther on foot.

The Brothers, in asking for this service, had not concealed the name of
their master, and the peasant, to whom they had addressed themselves
respectfully, asked leave to guide the beast himself. After going on a
certain time, "Is it true," he said, "that you are Brother Francis of
Assisi?" "Very well," he went on, after the answer in the affirmative,
"apply yourself to be as good as folk say you are, that they may not be
deceived in their expectation; that is my advice." Francis immediately
got down from his beast and, prostrating himself before the peasant,
thanked him warmly.[7]

Meanwhile the warmest hour of the day had come on. The peasant,
exhausted with fatigue, little by little forgot his surprise and joy;
one does not feel the burning of thirst the less for walking beside a
saint. He had begun to regret his kindness, when Francis pointed with
his finger to a spring, unknown till then, and which has never since
been seen.[8]

At last they arrived at the foot of the last precipice. Before scaling
it they paused to rest a little under a great oak, and immediately
flocks of birds gathered around them, testifying their joy by songs and
flutterings of their wings. Hovering around Francis, they alighted on
his head, his shoulders, or his arms. "I see," he said joyfully to his
companions, "that it is pleasing to our Lord Jesus that we live in this
solitary mount, since our brothers and sisters the birds have shown such
great delight at our coming."[9]

This mountain was at once his Tabor and his Calvary. We must not wonder,
then, that legends have flourished here even more numerously than at any
other period of his life; the greater number of them have the exquisite
charm of the little flowers, rosy and perfumed, which hide themselves
modestly at the feet of the fir-trees of Verna.

The summer nights up there are of unparalleled beauty: nature, stifled
by the heat of the sun, seems then to breathe anew. In the trees, behind
the rocks, on the turf, a thousand voices rise up, sweetly harmonizing
with the murmur of the great woods; but among all these voices there is
not one which forces itself upon the attention, it is a melody which you
enjoy without listening. You let your eyes wander over the landscape,
still for long hours illumined with hieratic tints by the departed star
of day, and the peaks of the Apennines, flooded with rainbow hues, drop
down into your soul what the Franciscan poet called the nostalgia of the
everlasting hills.[10]

More than anyone Francis felt it. The very evening of their arrival,
seated upon a mound in the midst of his Brothers, he gave them his
directions for their dwelling-place.

The quiet of nature would have sufficed to sow in their hearts some
germs of sadness, and the voice of the master harmonized with the
emotion of the last gleams of light; he spoke with them of his
approaching death, with the regret of the laborer overtaken by the
shades of evening before the completion of his task, with the sighs of
the father who trembles for the future of his children.[11]

For himself he desired from this time to prepare himself for death by
prayer and contemplation; and he begged them to protect him from all
intrusion. Orlando,[12] who had already come to bid them welcome and
offer his services, had at his request hastily caused a hut of boughs to
be made, at the foot of a great beech. It was there that he desired to
dwell, at a stone's throw from the cells inhabited by his companions.
Brother Leo was charged to bring him each day that which he would need.

He retired to it immediately after this memorable conversation, but
several days later, embarrassed no doubt by the pious curiosity of the
friars, who watched all his movements, he went farther into the woods,
and on Assumption Day he there began the Lent which he desired to
observe in honor of the Archangel Michael and the celestial host.

Genius has its modesty as well as love. The poet, the artist, the saint,
need to be alone when the Spirit comes to move them. Every effort of
thought, of imagination, or of will is a prayer, and one does not pray
in public.

Alas for the man who has not in his inmost heart some secret which may
not be told, because it cannot be spoken, and because if it were spoken
it could not be understood. SECRETUM MEUM MIHI! Jesus felt it deeply:
the raptures of Tabor are brief; they may not be told.

Before these soul mysteries materialists and devotees often meet and are
of one mind in demanding precision in those things which can the least
endure it.

The believer asks in what spot on the Verna Francis received the
stigmata; whether the seraph which appeared to him was Jesus or a
celestial spirit; what words were spoken as he imprinted them upon
him;[13] and he no more understands that hour when Francis swooned with
woe and love than the materialist, who asks to see with his eyes and
touch with his hands the gaping wound.

Let us try to avoid these extremes. Let us hear what the documents give
us, and not seek to do them violence, to wrest from them what they do
not tell, what they cannot tell.

They show us Francis distressed for the future of the Order, and with an
infinite desire for new spiritual progress.

He was consumed with the fever of saints, that need of immolation which
wrung from St. Theresa the passionate cry, "Either to suffer or to die!"
He was bitterly reproaching himself with not having been found worthy of
martyrdom, not having been able to give himself for Him who gave himself
for us.

We touch here upon one of the most powerful and mysterious elements of
the Christian life. We may very easily not understand it, but we may not
for all that deny it. It is the root of true mysticism.[14] The really
new thing that Jesus brought into the world was that, feeling himself in
perfect union with the heavenly Father, he called all men to unite
themselves to him and through him to God: "I am the vine, and ye are the
branches; he who abides in me and I in him brings forth much fruit, for
apart from me ye can do nothing."

The Christ not only preached this union, he made it felt. On the evening
of his last day he instituted its sacrament, and there is probably no
sect which denies that communion is at once the symbol, the principle,
and the end of the religious life. For eighteen centuries Christians who
differ on everything else cannot but look with one accord to him who in
the upper chamber instituted the rite of the new times.

The night before he died he took the bread and brake it and distributed
it to them, saying, "TAKE AND EAT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY."

Jesus, while presenting union with himself as the very foundation of the
new life,[15] took care to point out to his brethren that this union
was before all things a sharing in his work, in his struggles, and his
sufferings: "Let him that would be my disciple take up his cross and
follow me."

St. Paul entered so perfectly into the Master's thought in this respect
that he uttered a few years later this cry of a mysticism that has never
been equalled: "I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live ... or
rather, it is not I who live, but Christ who liveth in me." This
utterance is not an isolated exclamation with him, it is the very centre
of his religious consciousness, and he goes so far as to say, at the
risk of scandalizing many a Christian: "I fill up in my body that which
is lacking of the sufferings of Christ, for his body's sake, which is
the Church."

Perhaps it has not been useless to enter into these thoughts, to show to
what point Francis during the last years of his life, where he renews in
his body the passion of Christ, is allied to the apostolic tradition.

In the solitudes of the Verna, as formerly at St. Damian, Jesus
presented himself to him under his form of the Crucified One, the man of

That this intercourse has been described to us in a poetic and inexact
form is nothing surprising. It is the contrary that would be surprising.
In the paroxysms of divine love there are _ineffabilia_ which, far from
being able to relate them or make them understood, we can hardly recall
to our own minds.

Francis on the Verna was even more absorbed than usual in his ardent
desire to suffer for Jesus and with him. His days went by divided
between exercises of piety in the humble sanctuary on the mountain-top
and meditation in the depths of the forest. It even happened to him to
forget the services, and to remain several days alone in some cave of
the rock, going over in his heart the memories of Golgotha. At other
times he would remain for long hours at the foot of the altar, reading
and re-reading the Gospel, and entreating God to show him the way in
which he ought to walk.[17]

The book almost always opened of itself to the story of the Passion, and
this simple coincidence, though easy enough to explain, was enough of
itself to excite him.

The vision of the Crucified One took the fuller possession of his
faculties as the day of the Elevation of the Holy Cross drew near
(September 14th), a festival now relegated to the background, but in the
thirteenth century celebrated with a fervor and zeal very natural for a
solemnity which might be considered the patronal festival of the

Francis doubled his fastings and prayers, "quite transformed into Jesus
by love and compassion," says one of the legends. He passed the night
before the festival alone in prayer, not far from the hermitage. In the
morning he had a vision. In the rays of the rising sun, which after the
chill of night came to revive his body, he suddenly perceived a strange

A seraph, with outspread wings, flew toward him from the edge of the
horizon, and bathed his soul in raptures unutterable. In the centre of
the vision appeared a cross, and the seraph was nailed upon it. When
the vision disappeared, he felt sharp sufferings mingling with the
ecstasy of the first moments. Stirred to the very depths of his being,
he was anxiously seeking the meaning of it all, when he perceived upon
his body the stigmata of the Crucified.[18]


   [1] The passes that give access to the Casentino have all about
       one thousand metres of altitude. Until the most recent years
       there was no road properly so called.

   [2] In France Mount Aiguille, one of the seven wonders of
       Dauphiny, presents the same aspect and the same geological
       formation. St. Odile also recalls the Verna, but is very much

   [3] The summit has an altitude of 1269 metres. In Italian they
       call it the _Verna_, in Latin _Alvernus_. The etymology, which
       has tested the acuteness of the learned, appears to be very
       simple; the verb _vernare_, used by Dante, signifies make cold,

   [4] Name of the highest point on the plateau. Hardly
       three-quarters of an hour from the monastery, and not two hours
       and a half, as these worthy anchorites believed. This is said
       for the benefit of tourists ... and pilgrims.

   [5] The forest has been preserved as a relic. Alexander IV.
       fulminated excommunication against whomever should cut down the
       firs of Verna. As to the birds, it is enough to pass a day at
       the monastery to be amazed at their number and variety. M. C.
       Beni has begun at Stia (in Casentino) an ornithological
       collection which already includes more than five hundred and
       fifty varieties.

   [6] 1 Cel., 91; Bon., 188; _Fior. i., consid._

   [7] _Fior. i., consid.;_ _Conform._, 176b, 1.

   [8] Cel., 2, 15; Bon., 100. _Fior. i., consid._

   [9] Bon., 118. _Fior. i., consid._

  [10] 2 Cel., 100.

  [11] _Fior. ii., consid._

  [12] The ruins of the castle of Chiusi are three quarters of an
       hour from Verna.

  [13] _Fior. iv. and v. consid._ These two considerations appear
       to be the result of a reworking of the primitive document. The
       latter no doubt included the three former, which the continuer
       has interpolated and lengthened. Cf. _Conform._, 231a, 1;
       _Spec._, 91b, 92a, 97; A. SS., pp. 860 ff.

  [14] In current language we often include under the word
       mysticism all the tendencies--often far from Christian--which
       give predominance in the religious life to vague poetic
       elements, impulses of the heart. The name of mystic ought to be
       applied only to those Christians to whom _immediate_ relations
       with Jesus form the basis of the religious life. In this sense
       St. Paul (whose theologico-philosophical system is one of the
       most powerful efforts of the human mind to explain sin and
       redemption) is at the same time the prince of mystics.

  [15] He did not desire to institute a religion, for he felt the
       vanity of observances and dogmas. (The apostles continued to
       frequent the Jewish temple. Acts, ii., 46; iii., 1; v., 25;
       xxi., 26.) He desired to inoculate the world with a new life.

  [16] 2 Cel., 3, 29; cf. 1 Cel., 115; 3 Soc., 13 and 14; 2 Cel.,
       1, 6; 2 Cel., 3, 123 and 131; Bon., 57; 124; 203; 204; 224; 225;
       309; 310; 311; _Conform._, 229b ff.

  [17] 1 Cel., 91-94; Bon., 189, 190.

  [18] See the annotations of Brother Leo upon the autograph of
       St. Francis (Crit. Study, p. 357) and 1 Cel., 94, 95; Bon., 191,
       192, 193 (3 Soc., 69, 70); _Fior. iii. consid._ Cf. _Auct. vit.
       sec._; A. SS. p. 649. It is to be noted that Thomas of Celano (1
       Cel., 95), as well as all the primitive documents, describe the
       stigmata as being fleshy excrescences, recalling in form and
       color the nails with which the limbs of Jesus were pierced. No
       one speaks of those gaping, sanguineous wounds which were
       imagined later. Only the mark at the side was a wound, whence at
       times exuded a little blood. Finally, Thomas of Celano says that
       after the seraphic vision _began to appear, coeperunt apparere
       signa clavorum_. Vide Appendix: Study of the Stigmata.

       *       *       *       *       *



Autumn, 1224-Autumn, 1225

The morning after St. Michael's Day (September 30, 1224) Francis quitted
Verna and went to Portiuncula. He was too much exhausted to think of
making the journey on foot, and Count Orlando put a horse at his

We can imagine the emotion with which he bade adieu to the mountain on
which had been unfolded the drama of love and pain which had consummated
the union of his entire being with the Crucified One.

  Amor, amor, Gesu desideroso,
  Amor voglio morire,
  Te abrazando
  Amor, dolce Gesu, meo sposo,
  Amor, amor, la morte te domando,
  Amor, amor, Gesu si pietoso
  Tu me te dai in te transformato
  Pensa ch'io vo spasmando
  Non so o io me sia
  Gesu speranza mia
  Ormai va, dormi in amore.

So sang Giacopone dei Todi in the raptures of a like love.[1]

If we are to believe a recently published document,[2] Brother Masseo,
one of those who remained on the Verna, made a written account of the
events of this day.

They set out early in the morning. Francis, after having given his
directions to the Brothers, had had a look and a word for everything
around; for the rocks, the flowers, the trees, for brother hawk, a
privileged character which was authorized to enter his cell at all
times, and which came every morning, with the first glimmer of dawn, to
remind him of the hour of service.[3]

Then the little band set forth upon the path leading to
Monte-Acuto.[4] Arrived at the gap from whence one gets the last sight
of the Verna, Francis alighted from his horse, and kneeling upon the
earth, his face turned toward the mountain, "Adieu," he said, "mountain
of God, sacred mountain, _mons coagulatus, mons pinguis, mons in quo
bene placitum est Deo habitare_; adieu Monte-Verna, may God bless thee,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; abide in peace; we shall never
see one another more."

Has not this artless scene a delicious and poignant sweetness? He must
surely have uttered these words, in which suddenly the Italian does not
suffice and Francis is obliged to resort to the mystical language of
the breviary to express his feelings.

A few minutes later the rock of the ecstacy had disappeared. The descent
into the valley is rapid. The Brothers had decided to spend the night at
Monte-Casale, the little hermitage above Borgo San-Sepolcro. All of
them, even those who were to remain on the Verna, were still following
their master. As for him, absorbed in thought he had become entirely
oblivious to what was going on, and did not even perceive the noisy
enthusiasm which his passage aroused in the numerous villages along the

At Borgo San-Sepolcro he received a real ovation without even then
coming to himself; but when they had some time quitted the town, he
seemed suddenly to awake, and asked his companion if they ought not soon
to arrive there.[5]

The first evening at Monte Casale was marked by a miracle. Francis
healed a friar who was possessed.[6] The next morning, having decided
to pass several days in this hermitage, he sent the brothers back to the
Verna, and with them Count Orlando's horse.

In one of the villages through which they had passed the day before a
woman had been lying several days between death and life unable to give
birth to her child. Those about her had only learned of the passage of
the saint through their village when he was too far distant to be
overtaken. We may judge of the joy of these poor people when the rumor
was spread that he was about to return. They went to meet him, and were
terribly disappointed on finding only the friars. Suddenly an idea
occurred to them: taking the bridle of the horse consecrated by the
touch of Francis's hands, they carried it to the sufferer, who, having
laid it upon her body, gave birth to her child without the slightest

This miracle, established by narratives entirely authentic, shows the
degree of enthusiasm felt by the people for the person of Francis. As
for him, after a few days at Monte-Casale, he set out with Brother Leo
for Città di Castello. He there healed a woman suffering from frightful
nervous disorders, and remained an entire month preaching in this city
and its environs. When he once more set forth winter had almost closed
in. A peasant lent him his ass, but the roads were so bad that they were
unable to reach any sort of shelter before nightfall. The unhappy
travellers were obliged to pass the night under a rock; the shelter was
more than rudimentary, the wind drifted the snow in upon them, and
nearly froze the unlucky peasant, who with abominable oaths heaped
curses on Francis; but the latter replied with such cheerfulness that he
made him at last forget both the cold and his bad humor.

On the morrow the saint reached Portiuncula. He seems to have made only
a brief halt there, and to have set forth again almost immediately to
evangelize Southern Umbria.

It is impossible to follow him in this mission. Brother Elias
accompanied him, but so feeble was he that Elias could not conceal his
uneasiness as to his life.[8]

Ever since his return from Syria (August, 1220), he had been growing
continually weaker, but his fervor had increased from day to day.
Nothing could check him, neither suffering nor the entreaties of the
Brothers; seated on an ass he would sometimes go over three or four
villages in one day. Such excessive toil brought on an infirmity even
more painful than any he had hitherto suffered from: he was threatened
with loss of sight.[9]

Meanwhile a sedition had forced Honorius III. to leave Rome (end of
April, 1225). After passing a few weeks at Tivoli, he established
himself at Rieti, where he remained until the end of 1226.[10]

The pope's arrival had drawn to this city, with the entire pontifical
court, several physicians of renown; Cardinal Ugolini, who had come in
the pope's train, hearing of Francis's malady, summoned him to Rieti for
treatment. But notwithstanding Brother Elias's entreaties Francis
hesitated a long time as to accepting the invitation.[11] It seemed to
him that a sick man has but one thing to do; place himself purely and
simply in the hands of the heavenly Father. What is pain to a soul that
is fixed in God![12]

Elias, however, at last overcame his objections, and the journey was
determined upon, but first Francis desired to go and take leave of
Clara, and enjoy a little rest near her.

He remained at St. Damian much longer than he had proposed to do[13]
(end of July to beginning of September, 1225). His arrival at this
beloved monastery was marked by a terrible aggravation of his malady.
For fifteen days he was so completely blind that he could not even
distinguish light. The care lavished upon him produced no result, since
every day he passed long hours in weeping--tears of penitence, he said,
but also of regret.[14] Ah, how different they were from those tears
of his moments of inspiration and emotion, which had flowed over a
countenance all illumined with joy! They had seen him, in such moments,
take up two bits of wood, and, accompanying himself with this rustic
violin, improvise French songs in which he would pour out the abundance
of his heart.[15]

But the radiance of genius and hope had become dimmed. Rachel weeps for
her children, and will not be comforted because they are not. There are
in the tears of Francis this same _quia non sunt_ for his spiritual

But if there are irremediable pains there are none which may not be at
once elevated and softened, when we endure them at the side of those who
love us.

In this respect his companions could not be of much help to him. Moral
consolations are possible only from our peers, or when two hearts are
united by a mystical passion so great that they mingle and understand
one another.

"Ah, if the Brothers knew what I suffer," St. Francis said a few days
before the impression of the stigmata, "with what pity and compassion
they would be moved!"

But they, seeing him who had laid cheerfulness upon them as a duty
becoming more and more sad and keeping aloof from them, imagined that he
was tortured with temptations of the devil.[16]

Clara divined that which could not be uttered. At St. Damian her friend
was looking back over all the past: what memories lived again in a
single glance! Here, the olive-tree to which, a brilliant cavalier, he
had fastened his horse; there, the stone bench where his friend, the
priest of the poor chapel, used to sit; yonder, the hiding-place in
which he had taken refuge from the paternal wrath, and, above all, the
sanctuary with the mysterious crucifix of the decisive hour.

In living over these pictures of the radiant past, Francis aggravated
his pain; yet they spoke to him of other things than death and regret.
Clara was there, as steadfast, as ardent as ever. Long ago transformed
by admiration, she was now transfigured by compassion. Seated at the
feet of him whom she loved with more than earthly love she felt the
soreness of his soul, and the failing of his heart. After that, what did
it matter that Francis's tears became more abundant to the point of
making him blind for a fortnight? Soothing would come; the sister of
consolation would give him peace once more.

And first she kept him near her, and, herself taking part in the labor,
she made him a large cell of reeds in the monastery garden, that he
might be entirely at liberty as to his movements.

How could he refuse a hospitality so thoroughly Franciscan? It was
indeed only too much so: legions of rats and mice infested this retired
spot; at night they ran over Francis's bed with an infernal uproar, so
that he could find no repose from his sufferings. But he soon forgot all
that when near his sister-friend. Once again she gave back to him faith
and courage. "A single sunbeam," he used to say, "is enough to drive
away many shadows!"

Little by little the man of the former days began to show himself, and
at times the Sisters would hear, mingling with the murmur of the olive
trees and pines, the echo of unfamiliar songs, which seemed to come from
the cell of reeds.

One day he had seated himself at the monastery table after a long
conversation with Clara. The meal had hardly begun when suddenly he
seemed to be rapt away in ecstasy.

"_Laudato sia lo Signore!_" he cried on coming to himself. He had just
composed the Canticle of the Sun.[17]



      ALTISSIMU, onnipotente, bon signore,
    tue so le laude la gloria e l'onore et onne benedictione.
    Ad te sole, altissimo, se konfano
    et nullu homo ene dignu te mentovare.
      Laudato sie, mi signore, cum tucte le tue creature
    spetialmente messor lo frate sole,
    lo quale jorna, et illumini per lui;
    Et ellu è bellu e radiante cum grande splendore;
    de te, altissimo, porta significatione.
      Laudato si, mi signore, per sora luna e le stelle,
    in celu l' ài formate clarite et pretiose et belle.
      Laudato si, mi signore, per frate vento
    et per aere et nubilo et sereno et onne tempo,
    per le quale a le tue creature dai sustentamento.
      Laudato si, mi signore, per sor acqua,
    la quale è multo utile et humele et pretiosa et casta.
      Laudato si, mi signore, per frate focu,
    per lo quale ennallumini la nocte,
    ed ello è bello et jucundo et robustoso et forte.
      Laudato si, mi signore, per sora nostra matre terra,
    la quale ne sustenta et governa
    et produce diversi fructi con colorite flori et herba.
      Laudato si, mi signore, per quilli ke perdonano per lo tuo amore
    et sosteugo infirmitate et tribulatione,
    beati quilli ke sosterrano in pace,
    ka da te, altissimo, sirano incoronati.
      Laudato si, mi signore, per sora nostra morte corporale,
    de la quale nullu homo vivente po skappare:
    guai a quilli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali;
    beati quilli ke se trovarà ne le tue sanctissime voluntati,
    ka la morte secunda nol farrà male.
      Laudate et benedicete mi signore et rengratiate
    et serviteli cum grande humilitate.


    O most high, almighty, good Lord God, to thee belong praise,
    glory, honor, and all blessing! {To thee alone, Most High, do
    they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce thy

    Praised be my Lord God with all his creatures, and specially our
    brother the sun, who brings us the day and who brings us the
    light; fair is he and shines with a very great splendor: O Lord,
    he signifies to us thee!

    Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and for the stars,
    the which he has set clear and lovely in heaven.

    Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind, and for air and
    cloud, calms and all weather by the which thou upholdest life in
    all creatures.

    Praised be my Lord for our sister water, who is very serviceable
    unto us and humble and precious and clean.

    Praised be my Lord for our brother fire, through whom thou
    givest us light in the darkness; and he is bright and pleasant
    and very mighty and strong.

    Praised be my Lord for our mother the earth, the which doth
    sustain us and keep us, and bringeth forth divers fruits and
    flowers of many colors, and grass.

    Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for his
    love's sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation; blessed
    are they who peaceably shall endure, for thou, O most Highest,
    shalt give them a crown.

    Praised be my Lord for our sister, the death of the body, from
    which no man escapeth. Woe to him who dieth in mortal sin!
    Blessed are they who are found walking by thy most holy will,
    for the second death shall have no power to do them harm.

    Praise ye and bless the Lord, and give thanks unto him and serve
    him with great humility.

Joy had returned to Francis, joy as deep as ever. For a whole week he
forsook his breviary and passed his days in repeating the Canticle of
the Sun.

During a night of sleeplessness he had heard a voice saying to him, "If
thou hadst faith as a grain of mustard seed, thou wouldst say to this
mountain, 'Be thou removed from there,' and it would move away." Was not
the mountain that of his sufferings, the temptation to murmur and
despair? "Be it, Lord, according to thy word," he had replied with all
his heart, and immediately he had felt that he was delivered.[20]

He might have perceived that the mountain had not greatly changed its
place, but for several days he had turned his eyes away from it, he had
been able to forget its existence.

For a moment he thought of summoning to his side Brother Pacifico, the
King of Verse, to retouch his canticle; his idea was to attach to him a
certain number of friars, who would go with him from village to village,
preaching. After the sermon they would sing the Hymn of the Sun; and
they were to close by saying to the crowd gathered around them in the
public places, "We are God's jugglers. We desire to be paid for our
sermon and our song. Our payment shall be that you persevere in

"Is it not in fact true," he would add, "that the servants of God are
really like jugglers, intended to revive the hearts of men and lead them
into spiritual joy?"

The Francis of the old raptures had come back, the layman, the poet, the

The Canticle of the Creatures is very noble: it lacks, however, one
strophe; if it was not upon Francis's lips, it was surely in his heart:

    Be praised, Lord, for Sister Clara; thou hast made her silent,
    active, and sagacious, and by her thy light shines in our


   [1] Thirty-sixth and last strophe of the song

        _Amor de caritade
         Perche m' hai si ferito?_

       found in the collection of St. Francis's works.

   [2] By the Abbé Amoni, at the close of his edition of the Fioretti,
       Rome, 1 vol., 12mo, 1889, pp. 390-392. We can but once more
       regret the silence of the editor as to the manuscript whence
       he has drawn these charming pages. Certain indications seem
       unfavorable to the author having written it before the second
       half of the thirteenth century; on the other hand, the object
       of a forgery is not evident. An apochryphal piece always
       betrays itself by some interested purpose, but here the story
       is of an infantine simplicity.

   [3] 2 Cel., 3, 104; Bon., 119; _Fior. ii. consid._

   [4] _Parti san Francesco per Monte-Acuto prendendo la via di
       Monte-Arcoppe e del foresto._ This road from the Verna to Borgo
       San-Sepolero is far from being the shortest or the easiest, for
       instead of leading directly to the plain it lingers for long
       hours among the hills. Is not all Francis in this choice?

   [5] 2 Cel., 3, 41; Bon., 141; _Fior. iv. consid._

   [6] 1 Cel., 63 and 64; _Fior. iv. consid._

   [7] 1 Cel., 70; _Fior. iv. consid._

   [8] 1 Cel., 109; 69; Bon. 208. Perhaps we must refer to this
       circuit the visit to Celano. 2 Cel., 3, 30; _Spec._, 22; Bon.,
       156 and 157.

   [9] 1 Cel., 97 and 98; 2 Cel., 3, 137; Bon., 205 and 206.

  [10] Richard of St. Germano, _ann. 1225_. Cf. Potthast, 7400 ff.

  [11] 1 Cel., 98 and 99; 2 Cel., 3, 137; _Fior._, 19.

  [12] 2 Cel., 3, 110; Rule of 1221, _cap._ 10.

  [13] See the reference to the sources after the Canticle of the

  [14] 2 Cel., 3, 138.

  [15] This incident appeared to the authors so peculiar that they
       emphasized it with an _ut oculis videmus_. 2 Cel., 3, 67;
       _Spec._, 119a.

  [16] _Spec._, 123a; 2 Cel., 3, 58.

  [17] I have combined Celano's narrative with that of the
       Conformities. The details given in the latter document appear to
       me entirely worthy of faith. It is easy to see, however, why
       Celano omitted them, and it would be difficult to explain how
       they could have been later invented. 2 Cel., 3, 138; _Conform._,
       42b, 2; 119b, 1; 184b, 2; 239a, 2; _Spec._, 123a ff.; _Fior._,

  [18] After the Assisan MS., 338, f^o 33a. Vide p. 354. Father
       Panfilo da Magliano has already published it after this
       manuscript: _Storia compendiosa di San Francesco_, Rome, 2
       vols., 18mo, 1874-1876. The Conformities, 202b, 2-203a 1, give a
       version of it which differs from this only by insignificant
       variations. The learned philologue Monaci has established a very
       remarkable critical text in his _Crestomazia italiana dei primi
       secoli_. Citta di Castello, fas. i., 1889, 8vo, pp. 29-31. This
       thoroughly scrupulous work dispenses me from indicating
       manuscripts and editions more at length.

  [19] Matthew Arnold, Essays in Criticism, First Series.
       Macmillan & Company, 1883.

  [20] 2 Cel., 3, 58; _Spec._, 123a.

  [21] _Spec._, 124a. Cf. _Miscellanea_ (1889), iv., p. 88.

       *       *       *       *       *



September, 1225-End of September, 1226

What did Ugolini think when they told him that Francis was planning to
send his friars, transformed into _Joculatores Domini_, to sing up and
down the country the Canticle of Brother Sun? Perhaps he never heard of
it. His _protégé_ finally decided to accept his invitation and left St.
Damian in the course of the month of September.

The landscape which lies before the eyes of the traveller from Assisi,
when he suddenly emerges upon the plain of Rieti, is one of the most
beautiful in Europe. From Terni the road follows the sinuous course of
the Velino, passes not far from the famous cascades, whose clouds of
mist are visible, and then plunges into the defiles in whose depths the
torrent rushes noisily, choked by a vegetation as luxuriant as that of a
virgin forest. On all sides uprise walls of perpendicular rocks, and on
their crests, several hundred yards above your head, are feudal
fortresses, among others the Castle of Miranda, more giddy, more
fantastic than any which Gustave Doré's fancy ever dreamed.

After four hours of walking, the defile opens out and you find yourself
without transition in a broad valley, sparkling with light.

Rieti, the only city in this plain of several leagues, appears far away
at the other extremity, commanded by hills of a thoroughly tropical
aspect, behind which rise the mighty Apennines, almost always covered
with snow.

The highway goes directly toward this town, passing between tiny lakes;
here and there roads lead off to little villages which you see, on the
hillside, between the cultivated fields and the edge of the forests;
there are Stroncone, Greccio, Cantalice, Poggio-Buscone, and ten other
small towns, which have given more saints to the Church than a whole
province of France.

Between the inhabitants of the district and their neighbors of Umbria,
properly so called, the difference is extreme. They are all of the
striking type of the Sabine peasants, and they remain to this day entire
strangers to new customs. One is born a Capuchin there as elsewhere one
is born a soldier, and the traveller needs to have his wits about him
not to address every man he meets as Reverend Father.

Francis had often gone over this district in every direction. Like its
neighbor, the hilly March of Ancona, it was peculiarly prepared to
receive the new gospel. In these hermitages, with their almost
impossible simplicity, perched near the villages on every side, without
the least care for material comfort, but always where there is the
widest possible view, was perpetuated a race of Brothers Minor,
impassioned, proud, stubborn, almost wild, who did not wholly understand
their master, who did not catch his exquisite simplicity, his
impossibility of hating, his dreams of social and political renovation,
his poetry and delicacy, but who did understand the lover of nature and
of poverty.[1] They did more than understand him; they lived his
life, and from that Christmas festival observed in the woods of Greccio
down to to-day they have remained the simple and popular representatives
of the Strict Observance. From them comes to us the Legend of the Three
Companions, the most life-like and true of all the portraits of the
Poverello, and it was there, in a cell three paces long, that Giovanni
di Parma had his apocalyptic visions.

The news of Francis's arrival quickly spread, and long before he reached
Rieti the population had come out to meet him.

To avoid this noisy welcome he craved the hospitality of the priest of
St. Fabian. This little church, now known under the name of Our Lady of
the Forest, is somewhat aside from the road upon a grassy mound about a
league from the city. He was heartily welcomed, and desiring to remain
there for a little, prelates and devotees began to flock thither in the
next few days.

It was the time of the early grapes. It is easy to imagine the
disquietude of the priest on perceiving the ravages made by these
visitors among his vines, his best source of revenue, but he probably
exaggerated the damage. Francis one day heard him giving vent to his bad
humor. "Father," he said, "it is useless for you to disturb yourself for
what you cannot hinder; but, tell me, how much wine do you get on an

"Fourteen measures," replied the priest.

"Very well, if you have less than twenty, I undertake to make up the

This promise reassured the worthy man, and when at the vintage he
received twenty measures, he had no hesitation in believing in a

Upon Ugolini's entreaties Francis had accepted the hospitality of the
bishop's palace in Rieti. Thomas of Celano enlarges with delight upon
the marks of devotion lavished on Francis by this prince of the Church.
Unhappily all this is written in that pompous and confused style of
which diplomats and ecclesiastics appear to have by nature the secret.

Francis entered into the condition of a relic in his lifetime. The mania
for amulets displayed itself around him in all its excesses. People
quarrelled not only over his clothing, but even over his hair and the
parings of his nails.[3]

Did these merely exterior demonstrations disgust him? Did he sometimes
think of the contrast between these honors offered to his body, which he
picturesquely called Brother Ass, and the subversion of his ideal? We
cannot tell. If he had feelings of this kind those who surrounded him
were not the men to understand them, and it would be idle to expect any
expression of them from his pen.

Soon after he had a relapse, and asked to be removed to
Monte-Colombo,[4] a hermitage an hour distant from the city, hidden
amidst trees and scattered rocks. He had already retired thither several
times, notably when he was preparing the Rule of 1223.

The doctors, having exhausted the therapeutic arsenal of the time,
decided to resort to cauterization; it was decided to draw a rod of
white-hot iron across his forehead.

When the poor patient saw them bringing in the brazier and the
instruments he had a moment of terror; but immediately making the sign
of the cross over the glowing iron, "Brother fire," he said, "you are
beautiful above all creatures; be favorable to me in this hour; you know
how much I have always loved you; be then courteous to-day."

Afterward, when his companions, who had not had the courage to remain,
came back he said to them, smiling, "Oh, cowardly folk, why did you go
away? I felt no pain. Brother doctor, if it is necessary you may do it

This experiment was no more successful than the other remedies. In vain
they quickened the wound on the forehead, by applying plasters, salves,
and even by making incisions in it; the only result was to increase the
pains of the sufferer.[5]

One day, at Rieti, whither he had again been carried, he thought that a
little music would relieve his pain. Calling a friar who had formerly
been clever at playing the guitar, he begged him to borrow one; but the
friar was afraid of the scandal which this might cause, and Francis gave
it up.

God took pity upon him; the following night he sent an invisible angel
to give him such a concert as is never heard on earth.[6] Francis,
hearing it, lost all bodily feeling, say the Fioretti, and at one moment
the melody was so sweet and penetrating that if the angel had given one
more stroke of the bow, the sick man's soul would have left his

It seems that there was some amelioration of his state when the doctors
left him; we find him during the months of this winter, 1225-1226, in
the most remote hermitages of the district, for as soon as he had a
little strength he was determined to begin preaching again.

He went to Poggio-Buscone[8] for the Christmas festival. People
flocked thither in crowds from all the country round to see and hear
him. "You come here," he said, "expecting to find a great saint; what
will you think when I tell you that I ate meat all through Advent?"[9]
At St. Eleutheria,[10] at a time of extreme cold which tried him much,
he had sewn some pieces of stuff into his own tunic and that of his
companion, so as to make their garments a little warmer. One day his
companion came home with a fox-skin, with which in his turn he proposed
to line his master's tunic. Francis rejoiced much over it, but would
permit this excess of consideration for his body only on condition that
the piece of fur should be placed on the outside over his chest.

All these incidents, almost insignificant at a first view, show how he
detested hypocrisy even in the smallest things.

We will not follow him to his dear Greccio,[11] nor even to the
hermitage of St. Urbano, perched on one of the highest peaks of the
Sabine.[12] The accounts which we have of the brief visits he made
there at this time tell us nothing new of his character or of the
history of his life. They simply show that the imaginations of those who
surrounded him were extraordinarily overheated; the least incidents
immediately took on a miraculous coloring.[13]

The documents do not say how it came about that he decided to go to
Sienna. It appears that there was in that city a physician of great fame
as an oculist. The treatment he prescribed was no more successful than
that of the others; but with the return of spring Francis made a new
effort to return to active life. We find him describing the ideal
Franciscan monastery,[14] and another day explaining a passage in the
Bible to a Dominican.

Did the latter, a doctor in theology, desire to bring the rival Order
into ridicule by showing its founder incapable of explaining a somewhat
difficult verse? It appears extremely likely. "My good father," he said,
"how do you understand this saying of the prophet Ezekiel, 'If thou dost
not warn the wicked of his wickedness, I will require his soul of thee?'
I am acquainted with many men whom I know to be in a state of mortal
sin, and yet I am not always reproaching them for their vices. Am I,
then, responsible for their souls?"

At first Francis excused himself, alleging his ignorance, but urged by
his interlocutor he said at last: "Yes, the true servant unceasingly
rebukes the wicked, but he does it most of all by his conduct, by the
truth which shines forth in his words, by the light of his example, by
all the radiance of his life."[15]

He soon suffered so grave a relapse that the Brothers thought his last
hour had come. They were especially affrighted by the hemorrhages, which
reduced him to a state of extreme prostration. Brother Elias hastened to
him. At his arrival the invalid felt in himself such an improvement that
they could acquiesce in his desire to be taken back to Umbria. Toward
the middle of April they set out, going in the direction of Cortona. It
is the easiest route, and the delightful hermitage of that city was one
of the best ordered to permit of his taking some repose. He doubtless
remained there a very short time: he was in haste to see once more the
skies of his native country, Portiuncula, St. Damian, the Carceri, all
those paths and hamlets which one sees from the terraces of Assisi and
which recalled to him so many sweet memories.

Instead of going by the nearest road, they made a long circuit by Gubbio
and Nocera, to avoid Perugia, fearing some attempt of the inhabitants to
get possession of the Saint. Such a relic as the body of Francis lacked
little of the value of the sacred nail or the sacred lance.[16] Battles
were fought for less than that.

They made a short halt near Nocera, at the hermitage of Bagnara, on the
slopes of Monte-Pennino.[17] His companions were again very much
disturbed. The swelling which had shown itself in the lower limbs was
rapidly gaining the upper part of the body. The Assisans learned this,
and wishing to be prepared for whatever might happen sent their
men-at-arms to protect the Saint and hasten his return.

Bringing Francis back with them they stopped for food at the hamlet of
Balciano,[18] but in vain they begged the inhabitants to sell them
provisions. As the escort were confiding their discomfiture to the
friars, Francis, who knew these good peasants, said: "If you had asked
for food without offering to pay, you would have found all you wanted."

He was right, for, following his advice, they received for nothing all
that they desired.[19]

The arrival of the party at Assisi was hailed with frantic joy. This
time Francis's fellow-citizens were sure that the Saint was not going to
die somewhere else.[20]

Customs in this matter have changed too much for us to be able
thoroughly to comprehend the good fortune of possessing the body of a
saint. If you are ever so unlucky as to mention St. Andrew before an
inhabitant of Amalfi, you will immediately find him beginning to shout
"_Evviva San Andrea! Evviva San Andrea!_" Then with extraordinary
volubility he will relate to you the legend of the _Grande Protettore_,
his miracles past and present, those which he might have done if he had
chosen, but which he refrained from doing out of charity because St.
Januarius of Naples could not do as much. He gesticulates, throws
himself about, hustles you, more enthusiastic over his relic and more
exasperated by your coldness than a soldier of the Old Guard before an
enemy of the Emperor.

In the thirteenth century all Europe was like that.

We shall find here several incidents which we may be tempted to consider
shocking or even ignoble, if we do not make an effort to put them all
into their proper surroundings.

Francis was installed in the bishop's palace; he would have preferred to
be at Portiuncula, but the Brothers were obliged to obey the injunctions
of the populace, and to make assurance doubly sure, guards were placed
at all the approaches of the palace.

The abode of the Saint in this place was much longer than had been
anticipated. It perhaps lasted several months (July to September). This
dying man did not consent to die. He rebelled against death; in this
centre of the work his anxieties for the future of the Order, which a
little while before had been in the background, now returned, more
agonizing and terrible than ever.

"We must begin again," he thought, "create a new family who will not
forget humility, who will go and serve lepers and, as in the old times,
put themselves always, not merely in words, but in reality, below all

To feel that implacable work of destruction going on against which the
most submissive cannot keep from protesting: "My God, my God, why? why
hast thou forsaken me?" To be obliged to look on at the still more
dreaded decomposition of his Order; he, the lark, to be spied upon by
soldiers watching for his corpse--there was quite enough here to make
him mortally sad.

During these last weeks all his sighs were noted. The disappearance of
the greater part of the legend of the Three Companions certainly
deprives us of some touching stories, but most of the incidents have
been preserved for us, notwithstanding, in documents from a second hand.

Four Brothers had been especially charged to lavish care upon him: Leo,
Angelo, Rufino, and Masseo. We already know them; they are of those
intimate friends of the first days, who had heard in the Franciscan
gospel a call to love and liberty. And they too began to complain of

One day one of them said to the sick man: "Father, you are going away to
leave us here; point out to us, then, if you know him, the one to whom
we might in all security confide the burden of the generalship."

Alas, Francis did not know the ideal Brother, capable of assuming such a
duty; but he took advantage of the question to sketch the portrait of
the perfect minister-general.[23]

We have two impressions of this portrait, the one which has been
retouched by Celano, and the original proof, much shorter and more
vague, but showing us Francis desiring that his successor shall have but
a single weapon, an unalterable love.

It was probably this question which suggested to him the thought of
leaving for his successors, the generals of the Order, a letter which
they should pass on from one to another, and where they should find, not
directions for particular cases, but the very inspiration of their

    To the Reverend Father in Christ, N ..., Minister-General of the
    entire Order of the Brothers Minor. May God bless thee and keep
    thee in his holy love.

    Patience in all things and everywhere, this, my Brother, is what
    I specially recommend. Even if they oppose thee, if they strike
    thee, thou shouldst be grateful to them and desire that it
    should be thus and not otherwise.

    In this will be manifest thy love for God and for me, his
    servant and thine; that there shall not be a single friar in the
    world who, having sinned as much as one can sin, and coming
    before thee, shall go away without having received thy pardon.
    And if he does not ask it, do thou ask it for him, whether he
    wills or not.

    And if he should return again a thousand times before thee, love
    him more than myself, in order to lead him to well-doing. Have
    pity always on these Brothers.

These words show plainly enough how in former days Francis had directed
the Order; in his dream the ministers-general were to stand in a
relation of pure affection, of tender devotion toward those under them;
but was this possible for one at the head of a family whose branches
extended over the entire world? It would be hazardous to say, for among
his successors have not been wanting distinguished minds and noble
hearts; but save for Giovanni di Parma and two or three others, this
ideal is in sharp contrast with the reality. St. Bonaventura himself
will drag his master and friend, this very Giovanni of Parma, before an
ecclesiastical tribunal, will cause him to be condemned to perpetual
imprisonment, and it will need the intervention of a cardinal outside of
the Order to secure the commutation of this sentence.[25]

The agonies of grief endured by the dying Francis over the decadence of
the Order would have been less poignant if they had not been mingled
with self-reproaches for his own cowardice. Why had he deserted his
post, given up the direction of his family, if not from idleness and
selfishness? And now it was too late to take back this step; and in
hours of frightful anguish he asked himself if God would not hold him
responsible for this subversion of his ideal.

"Ah, if I could go once again to the chapter-general," he would sigh, "I
would show them what my will is."

Shattered as he was by fever, he would suddenly rise up in his bed,
crying with a despairing intensity: "Where are they who have ravished
my brethren from me? Where are they who have stolen away my family?"

Alas, the real criminals were nearer to him than he thought. The
provincial ministers, of whom he appears to have been thinking when he
thus spoke, were only instruments in the hands of the clever Brother
Elias; and he--what else was he doing but putting his intelligence and
address at Cardinal Ugolini's service?

Far from finding any consolation in those around him, Francis was
constantly tortured by the confidences of his companions, who, impelled
by mistaken zeal, aggravated his pain instead of calming it.[26]

    "Forgive me, Father," said one of them to him one day, "but many
    people have already thought what I am going to say to you. You
    know how, in the early days, by God's grace the Order walked in
    the path of perfection; for all that concerns poverty and love,
    as well as for all the rest, the Brothers were but one heart and
    one soul. But for some time past all that is entirely changed:
    it is true that people often excuse the Brothers by saying that
    the Order has grown too large to keep up the old observances;
    they even go so far as to claim that infidelities to the Rule,
    such as the building of great monasteries, are a means of
    edification of the people, and so the primitive simplicity and
    poverty are held for nothing. Evidently all these abuses are
    displeasing to you; but then, people ask, why do you tolerate

    "God forgive you, brother." replied Francis. "Why do you lay at
    my door things with which I have nothing to do? So long as I had
    the direction of the Order, and the Brothers persevered in their
    vocation I was able, in spite of weakness, to do what was
    needful. But when I saw that, without caring for my example or
    my teaching, they walked in the way you have described, I
    confided them to the Lord and to the ministers. It is true that
    when I relinquished the direction, alleging my incapacity as the
    motive, if they had walked in the way of my wishes I should not
    have desired that before my death they should have had any other
    minister than myself; though ill, though bedridden, even, I
    should have found strength to perform the duties of my charge.
    But this charge is wholly spiritual; I will not become an
    executioner to strike and punish as political governors

Francis's complaints became so sharp and bitter that, to avoid scandal,
the greatest prudence was exercised with regard to those who were
permitted to see him.[28]

Disorder was everywhere, and every day brought its contingent of
subjects for sorrow. The confusion of ideas as to the practice of the
Rule was extreme; occult influences, which had been working for several
years, had succeeded in veiling the Franciscan ideal, not only from
distant Brothers, or those who had newly joined the Order, but even from
those who had lived under the influence of the founder.[29]

Under circumstances such as these, Francis dictated the letter to all
the members of the Order, which, as he thought would be read at the
opening of chapters and perpetuate his spiritual presence in them.[30]

In this letter he is perfectly true to himself; as in the past, he
desires to influence the Brothers, not by reproaches but by fixing their
eyes on the perfect holiness.

    To all the revered and well-beloved Brothers Minor, to Brother A
    ...,[31] minister-general, its Lord, and to the
    ministers-general who shall be after him, and to all the
    ministers, custodians, and priests of this fraternity, humble in
    Christ, and to all the simple and obedient Brothers, the oldest
    and the most recent, Brother Francis, a mean and perishing man,
    your little servant, gives greeting!

    Hear, my Lords, you who are my sons and my brothers, give ear to
    my words. Open your hearts and obey the voice of the Son of God.
    Keep his commandments with all your hearts, and perfectly
    observe his counsels. Praise him, for he is good, and glorify
    him by your works.

    God has sent you through all the world, that by your words and
    example you may bear witness of him, and that you may teach all
    men that he alone is all powerful. Persevere in discipline and
    obedience, and with an honest and firm will keep that which you
    have promised.

After this opening Francis immediately passes to the essential matter of
the letter, that of the love and respect due to the Sacrament of the
altar; faith in this mystery of love appeared to him indeed as the
salvation of the Order.

Was he wrong? How can a man who truly believes in the real presence of
the God-Man between the fingers of him who lifts up the host, not
consecrate his life to this God and to holiness? One has some difficulty
in imagining.

It is true that legions of devotees profess the most absolute faith in
this dogma, and we do not see that they are less bad; but faith with
them belongs in the intellectual sphere; it is the abdication of
reason, and in sacrificing their intelligence to God they are most happy
to offer to him an instrument which they very much prefer not to use.

To Francis the question presented itself quite differently; the thought
that there could be any merit in believing could never enter his mind;
the fact of the real presence was for him of almost concrete evidence.
Therefore his faith in this mystery was an energy of the heart, that the
life of God, mysteriously present upon the altar, might become the soul
of all his actions.

To the eucharistic transubstantiation, effected by the words of the
priest, he added another, that of his own heart.

    God offers himself to us as to his children. This is why I beg
    you, all of you, my brothers, kissing your feet, and with all
    the love of which I am capable, to have all possible respect for
    the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then addressing himself particularly to the priests:

    Hearken, my brothers, if the blessed Virgin Mary is justly
    honored for having carried Jesus in her womb, if John the
    Baptist trembled because he dared not touch the Lord's head, if
    the sepulchre in which for a little time he lay is regarded with
    such great adoration, oh, how holy, pure, and worthy should be
    the priest who touches with his hands, who receives into his
    mouth and into his heart, and who distributes to others the
    living, glorified Jesus, the sight of whom makes angels rejoice!
    Understand your dignity, brother priests, and be holy, for he is
    holy. Oh! what great wretchedness and what a frightful infirmity
    to have him there present before you and to think of other
    things. Let each man be struck with amazement, let the whole
    earth tremble, let the heavens thrill with joy when the Christ,
    the Son of the living God, descends upon the altar into the
    hands of the priest. Oh, wonderful profundity! Oh, amazing
    grace! Oh, triumph of humility! See, the Master of all things,
    God, and the Son of God, humbles himself for our salvation, even
    to disguising himself under the appearance of a bit of bread.

    Contemplate, my brothers, this humility of God, and enlarge your
    hearts before him; humble yourselves as well, that you, even
    you, may be lifted up by him. Keep nothing for yourselves, that
    he may receive you without reserve, who has given himself to you
    without reserve.

We see with what vigor of love Francis's heart had laid hold upon the
idea of the communion.

He closes with long counsels to the Brothers, and after having conjured
them faithfully to keep their promises, all his mysticism breathes out
and is summed up in a prayer of admirable simplicity.

    God Almighty, eternal, righteous, and merciful, give to us poor
    wretches to do for thy sake all that we know of thy will, and to
    will always what pleases thee; so that inwardly purified,
    enlightened, and kindled by the fire of the Holy Spirit, we may
    follow in the footprints of thy well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus

What separates this prayer from the effort to discern duty made by
choice spirits apart from all revealed religion? Very little in truth;
the words are different, the action is the same.

But Francis's solicitudes reached far beyond the limits of the Order.
His longest epistle is addressed to all Christians; its words are so
living that you fancy you hear a voice speaking behind you; and this
voice, usually as serene as that which from the mountain in Galilee
proclaimed the law of the new times, becomes here and there unutterably
sweet, like that which sounded in the upper chamber on the night of the
first eucharist.

As Jesus forgot the cross that was standing in the shadows, so Francis
forgets his sufferings, and, overcome with a divine sadness, thinks of
humanity, for each member of which he would give his life; he thinks of
his spiritual sons, the Brothers of Penitence, whom he is about to leave
without having been able to make them feel, as he would have had them
feel, the love for them with which he burns: "Father, I have given them
the words which thou hast given me.... For them I pray!"

The whole Franciscan gospel is in these words, but to understand the
fascination which it exerted we must have gone through the School of the
Middle Ages, and there listened to the interminable tournaments of
dialectics by which minds were dried up; we must have seen the Church of
the thirteenth century, honeycombed by simony and luxury, and only able,
under the pressure of heresy or revolt, to make a few futile efforts to
scotch the evil.

    To all Christians, monks, clerics, or laymen, whether men or
    women, to all who dwell in the whole world, Brother Francis,
    their most submissive servitor, presents his duty and wishes the
    true peace of heaven, and sincere love in the Lord.

    Being the servitor of all men, I am bound to serve them and to
    dispense to them the wholesome words of my Master. This is why,
    seeing I am too weak and ill to visit each one of you in
    particular, I have resolved to send you my message by this
    letter, and to offer you the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
    Word of God, and of the Holy Spirit, which are spirit and life.

It would be puerile to expect here new ideas either in fact or form.
Francis's appeals are of value only by the spirit which animates them.

After having briefly recalled the chief features of the gospel, and
urgently recommended the communion, Francis addresses himself in
particular to certain categories of hearers, with special counsels.

    Let the podestàs, governors, and those who are placed in
    authority, exercise their functions with mercy, as they would be
    judged with mercy by God....

    Monks in particular, who have renounced the world, are bound to
    do more and better than simple Christians, to renounce all that
    is not necessary to them, and to have in hatred the vices and
    sins of the body.... They should love their enemies, do good to
    them who hate them, observe the precepts and counsels of our
    Redeemer, renounce themselves, and subdue their bodies. And no
    monk is bound to obedience, if in obeying he would be obliged to
    commit a fault or a sin....

    Let us not be wise and learned according to the flesh, but
    simple, humble, and pure.... We should never desire to be above
    others, but rather to be below, and to obey all men.

He closes by showing the foolishness of those who set their hearts on
the possession of earthly goods, and concludes by the very realistic
picture of the death of the wicked.

    His money, his title, his learning, all that he believed himself
    to possess, all are taken from him; his relatives and his
    friends to whom he has given his fortune will come to divide it
    among themselves, and will end by saying: "Curses on him, for he
    might have given us more and he has not done it; he might have
    amassed a larger fortune, and he has done nothing of the kind."
    The worms will eat his body and the demons will consume his
    soul, and thus he will lose both soul and body.

    I, Brother Francis, your little servitor, I beg and conjure you
    by the love that is in God, ready to kiss your feet, to receive
    with humility and love these and all other words of our Lord
    Jesus Christ and to conform your conduct to them. And let those
    who devoutly receive them and understand them pass them on to
    others. And if they thus persevere unto the end, may they be
    blessed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.[32]

If Francis ever made a Rule for the Third Order it must have very nearly
resembled this epistle, and until this problematical document is found,
the letter shows what were originally these associations of Brothers of
Penitence. Everything in these long pages looks toward the development
of the mystic religious life in the heart of each Christian. But even
when Francis dictated them, this high view had become a Utopia, and the
Third Order was only one battalion more in the armies of the papacy.

We see that the epistles which we have just examined proceed definitely
from a single inspiration. Whether he is leaving instructions for his
successors, the ministers-general, whether he is writing to all the
present and future members of his Order, to all Christians or even to
the clergy,[33] Francis has only one aim, to keep on preaching after
his death, and perhaps, too, by putting into writing his message of
peace and love, to provide that he shall not be entirely travestied or

Considered in connection with those sorrowful hours which saw their
birth, they form a whole whose import and meaning become singularly
energetic. If we would find the Franciscan spirit, it is here, in the
Rule of 1221, and in the Will that we must seek for it.

Neglect, and especially the storms which later overwhelmed the Order,
explain the disappearance of several other documents which would cast a
glimmer of poetry and joy over these sad days;[34] Francis had not
forgotten his sister-friend at St. Damian. Hearing that she had been
greatly disquieted by knowing him to be so ill, he desired to reassure
her: he still deceived himself as to his condition, and wrote to her
promising soon to go to see her.

To this assurance he added some affectionate counsels, advising her and
her companions not to go to extremes with their macerations. To set her
an example of cheerfulness he added to this letter a Laude in the
vulgar tongue which he had himself set to music.[35]

In that chamber of the episcopal palace in which he was as it were
imprisoned he had achieved a new victory, and it was doubtless that
which inspired his joy. The Bishop of Assisi, the irritable Guido,
always at war with somebody, was at this time quarrelling with the
podestà of the city; nothing more was needed to excite in the little
town a profound disquiet. Guido had excommunicated the podestà, and the
latter had issued a prohibition against selling and buying or making any
contract with ecclesiastics.

The difference grew more bitter, and no one appeared to dream of
attempting a reconciliation. We can the better understand Francis's
grief over all this by remembering that his very first effort had been
to bring peace into his native city, and that he considered the return
of Italy to union and concord to be the essential aim of his apostolate.

War in Assisi would be the final dissolution of his dream; the voice of
events crying brutally to him, "Thou hast wasted thy life!"

The dregs of this cup were spared him, thanks to an inspiration in which
breaks forth anew his natural play of imagination. To the Canticle of
the Sun he added a new strophe:

  Be praised, Lord, for those who forgive for love of thee,
  and bear trials and tribulations;
  happy they who persevere in peace,
  by thee, Most high, shall they be crowned.

Then, calling a friar, he charged him to beg the governor to betake
himself, with all the notables whom he could assemble, to the paved
square before the bishop's palace. The magistrate, to whom legend gives
the nobler part in the whole affair, at once yielded to the saint's

    When he arrived and the bishop had come forth from the palace,
    two friars came forward and said: "Brother Francis has made to
    the praise of God a hymn to which he prays you to listen
    piously," and immediately they began to sing the Hymn of Brother
    Sun, with its new strophe.

    The governor listened, standing in an attitude of profound
    attention, copiously weeping, for he dearly loved the blessed

    When the singing was ended, "Know in truth," said he, "that I
    desire to forgive the lord bishop, that I wish and ought to look
    upon him as my lord, for if one had even assassinated my brother
    I should be ready to pardon the murderer." With these words he
    threw himself at the bishop's feet, and said: "I am ready to do
    whatsoever you would, for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and
    his servant Francis."

    Then the bishop, taking him by the hand, lifted him up and said,
    "With my position it would become me to be humble, but since I
    am naturally too quick to wrath, thou must pardon me."[36]

This unexpected reconciliation was immediately looked upon as
miraculous, and increased still more the reverence of the Assisans for
their fellow-citizen.

The summer was drawing to a close. After a few days of relative
improvement Francis's sufferings became greater than ever: incapable of
movement, he even thought that he ought to give up his ardent desire to
see St. Damian and Portiuncula once more, and gave the brothers all his
directions about the latter sanctuary: "Never abandon it," he would
repeat to them, "for that place is truly sacred: it is the house of

It seemed to him that if the Brothers remained attached to that bit of
earth, that chapel ten feet long, those thatched huts, they would there
find the living reminder of the poverty of the early days, and could
never wander far from it.

One evening he grew worse with frightful rapidity; all the following
night he had hemorrhages which left not the slightest hope; the Brothers
hastening to him, he dictated a few lines in form of a Will and gave
them his blessing: "Adieu, my children; remain all of you in the fear of
God, abide always united to Christ; great trials are in store for you,
and tribulation draws nigh. Happy are they who persevere as they have
begun; for there will be scandals and divisions among you. As for me, I
am going to the Lord and my God. Yes, I have the assurance that I am
going to him whom I have served."[38]

During the following days, to the great surprise of those who were about
him, he again grew somewhat better; no one could understand the
resistance to death offered by this body so long worn out by suffering.

He himself began to hope again. A physician of Arezzo whom he knew well,
having come to visit him, "Good friend," Francis asked him, "how much
longer do you think I have to live?"

"Father," replied the other reassuringly, "this will all pass away, if
it pleases God."

"I am not a cuckoo,"[39] replied Francis smiling, using a popular
saying, "to be afraid of death. By the grace of the Holy Spirit I am so
intimately united to God that I am equally content to live or to die."

"In that case, father, from the medical point of view, your disease is
incurable, and I do not think that you can last longer than the
beginning of autumn."

At these words the poor invalid stretched out his hands as if to call on
God, crying with an indescribable expression of joy, "Welcome, Sister
Death!" Then he began to sing, and sent for Brothers Angelo and Leo.

On their arrival they were made, in spite of their emotion, to sing the
Canticle of the Sun. They were at the last doxology when Francis,
checking them, improvised the greeting to death:

  Be praised, Lord, for our Sister the Death of the body,
  whom no man may escape;
  alas for them who die in a state of mortal sin;
  happy they who are found conformed to thy most holy will,
  for the second death will do to them no harm.

From this day the palace rang unceasingly with his songs. Continually,
even through the night, he would sing the Canticle of the Sun or some
other of his favorite compositions. Then, when wearied out, he would beg
Angelo and Leo to go on.

One day Brother Elias thought it his duty to make a few remarks on the
subject. He feared that the nurses and the people of the neighborhood
would be scandalized; ought not a saint to be absorbed in meditation in
the face of death, to await it with fear and trembling instead of
indulging in a gayety that might be misinterpreted?[40] Perhaps Bishop
Guido was not entirely a stranger to these reproaches; it seems not
improbable that to have his palace crowded with Brothers Minor all these
long weeks had finally put him a little out of humor. But Francis would
not yield; his union with God was too sweet for him to consent not to
sing it.

They decided at last to remove him to Portiuncula. His desire was to be
fulfilled; he was to die beside the humble chapel where he had heard
God's voice consecrating him apostle.

His companions, bearing their precious burden, took the way through the
olive-yards across the plain. From time to time the invalid, unable to
distinguish anything, asked where they were. When they were half way
there, at the hospital of the Crucigeri, where long ago he had tended
the leper, and from whence there was a full view of all the houses of
the city, he begged them to set him upon the ground with his face toward
Assisi, and raising his hand he bade adieu to his native place and
blessed it.


   [1] The following is the list of monasteries which, according to
       Rodolfo di Tossignano, accepted the ideas of Angelo Clareno
       before the end of the thirteenth century: Fermo, Spoleto,
       Camerino, Ascoli, Rieti, Foligno, Nursia, Aquila, Amelia:
       _Historiarum seraphicæ religionis, libri tres_, Venice, 1586, 1
       vol., f^o, 155a.

   [2] _Spec._, 129b; _Fior._, 19. In some of the stories of this
       period the evidence is clear how certain facts have been, little
       by little, transformed into miracles. Compare, for example, the
       miracle of St. Urbano in Bon., 68, and 1 Cel., 61. See also 2
       Cel., 2, 10; Bon., 158 and 159.

   [3] 1 Cel., 87; 2 Cel., 2, 11; _Conform._, 148a, 2; Bon., 99.
       Upon this visit see 2 Cel., 2, 10; Bon., 158 and 159; 2 Cel., 2,
       11; 2 Cel., 3, 36.

   [4] The present Italian name of the monastery which has also
       been called _Monte-Rainerio_ and _Fonte-Palumbo_.

   [5] 1 Cel., 101; 2 Cel., 3, 102; Bon., 67; _Spec._, 134a.

   [6] 2 Cel., 3, 66; Bon., 69.

   [7] _Fior. ii. consid._ Cf. Roger Bacon, Opus tertium (_ap. Mon.
       Germ. hist._, _Script._ t. 28, p. 577). _B. Franciscus jussit
       fratri cythariste ut dulcius personaret, quatenus mens
       excitaretur ad harmonias coelestes quas pluries andivit. Mira
       enim musicæ super omnes scientias et spectanda potestas._

   [8] Village three hours' walk northward from Rieti. Francis's
       cell still remains on the mountain, three-quarters of an hour
       from the place.

   [9] 2 Cel., 3, 71; cf. _Spec._, 43a.

  [10] Chapel still standing, a few minutes' walk from Rieti. 2
       Cel., 3, 70; _Spec._, 15a, 43a.

  [11] 2 Cel., 2, 14; Bon., 167; 2 Cel., 3, 10; Bon., 58; _Spec._,

  [12] Wadding, _ann. 1213_, n. 14, rightly places St. Urbano in
       the county of Narni. _L'Eremo di S. Urbano_ is about half an
       hour from the village of the same name, on Mount San Pancrazio
       (1026 m.), three leagues south of Narni. The panorama is one of
       the finest in Central Italy. The Bollandists allowed themselves
       to be led into error by an interested assertion when they placed
       San Urbano near to Jesi (pp. 623f and 624a). 1 Cel., 61; Bon.,
       68. (Vide Bull _Cum aliqua_ of May 15, 1218, where mention is
       made of San Urbano.)

  [13] As much may be said of the apparition of the three virgins
       between Campilia and San Quirico. 2 Cel., 3, 37; Bon., 93.

  [14] _Spec._, 12b; _Conform._, 169a, 1.

  [15] 2 Cel., 3, 46; Bon., 153; _Spec._, 31b; Ezek., xxxiii., 9.

  [16] Two years after, the King of France and all his court
       kissed and revered the pillow which Francis had used during his
       illness. 1 Cel., 120.

  [17] Bagnara is near the sources of the Topino, about an hour
       east of Nocera. These two localities were then dependents of

  [18] And not Sartiano. Balciano still exists, about half way
       between Nocera and Assisi.

  [19] 2 Cel., 3, 23; Bon., 98; _Spec._, 17b; _Conform._, 239a,

  [20] 2 Cel., 3, 33; 1 Cel., 105, is still more explicit: "The
       multitude hoped that he would die very soon, and that was the
       subject of their joy."

  [21] 1 Cel., 103 and 104.

  [22] 1 Cel., 102; _Spec._, 83b.

  [23] 2 Cel., 3, 116; _Spec._, 67a; _Conform._, 143b, 1, and
       225b, 2; 2 Cel., 3, 117; _Spec._, 130a.

  [24] For the text vide _Conform._, 136b, 2; 138b, 2; 142 b, 1.

  [25] _Tribul., Archiv._, ii., pp. 285 ff.

  [26] 2 Cel., 3, 118.

  [27] These words are borrowed from a long fragment cited by
       Ubertini di Casali, as coming from Brother Leo: _Arbor vit.
       cruc., lib._ v., _cap._ 3. It is surely a bit of the Legend of
       the Three Companions; it may be found textually in the
       Tribulations, Laur., f^o 16b, with a few more sentences at the
       end. Cf. _Conform._, 136a, 2; 143a, 2; _Spec._, 8b; 26b; 50a;
       130b; 2 Cel., 3, 118.

  [28] _Tribul._, Laur., 17b.

  [29] See, for example, Brother Richer's question as to the
       books: Ubertini, _Loc. cit._ Cf. _Archiv._, iii., pp. 75 and
       177; _Spec._, 8a; _Conform._, 71b, 2. See also: Ubertini,
       _Archiv._, iii., pp. 75 and 177; _Tribul._, 13a; _Spec._, 9a;
       _Conform._, 170a, 1. It is curious to compare the account as it
       found in the documents with the version of it given in 2 Cel.,
       3, 8.

  [30] Assisi MS., 338, f^o 28a-31a, with the rubric: _De lictera
       et ammonitione beatissimi patris nostri Francisci quam misit
       fratribus ad capitulum quando erat infirmus._ This letter was
       wrongly divided into three by Rodolfo di Tossignano (f^o 237),
       who was followed by Wadding (Epistolæ x., xi., xii.). The text
       is found without this senseless division in the manuscript cited
       and in _Firmamentum_, f^o 21; _Spec._, Morin, iii., 217a;
       Ubertini, _Arbor vit. cruc._, v., 7.

  [31] This initial (given only by the Assisi MS.) has not failed
       to excite surprise. It appears that there ought to have been
       simply an N ... This letter then would have been replaced by the
       copyist, who would have used the initial of the minister general
       in charge at the time of his writing. If this hypothesis has any
       weight it will aid to fix the exact date of the manuscript.
       (Alberto of Pisa minister from 1239-1240; Aimon of Faversham,

  [32] This epistle also was unskilfully divided into two distinct
       letters by Rodolfo di Tossignano, f^o 174a, who was followed by
       Wadding. See Assisi MS., 338, 23a-28a; _Conform._, 137a, 1 ff.

  [33] The letter to the clergy only repeats the thoughts already
       expressed upon the worship of the holy sacrament. We remember
       Francis sweeping out the churches and imploring the priests to
       keep them clean; this epistle has the same object: it is found
       in the Assisi MS., 338, f^o 31b-32b, with the rubric: _De
       reverentia Corporis Domini et de munditia altaris ad omnes
       clericos_. Incipit: _Attendamus omnes_. Explicit: _fecerint
       exemplari_. This, therefore, is the letter given by Wadding
       xiii., but without address or salutation.

  [34] We need not despair of finding them. The archives of the
       monasteries of Clarisses are usually rudimentary enough, but
       they are preserved with pious care.

  [35] _Spec._, 117b; _Conform._, 185a 1; 135b, 1. Cf. _Test. B.
       Claræ_, A. SS., Aug., ii., p. 747.

  [36] This story is given in the _Spec._, 128b, as from
       eye-witnesses. Cf. _Conform._, 184b, 1; 203a, 1.

  [37] 1 Cel., 106. These recommendations as to Portiuncula were
       amplified by the Zelanti, when, under the generalship of
       Crescentius (Bull _Is qui ecclesiam_, March 6, 1245), the
       Basilica of Assisi was substituted for Santa Maria degli Angeli
       as _mater et caput_ of the Order. Vide _Spec._, 32b, 69b-71a;
       _Conform._, 144a, 2; 218a, 1; 3 Soc., 56; 2 Cel., 1, 12 and 13;
       Bon., 24, 25; see the Appendix, the Study of the Indulgence of
       August 2.

  [38] 2 Cel., 108. As will be seen (below, p. 367) the remainder
       of Celano's narrative seems to require to be taken with some
       reserve. Cf. _Spec._, 115b; _Conform._, 225a, 2; Bon., 211.

  [39] _Non sum cuculus_, in Italian _cuculo_.

  [40] _Spec._, 136b; _Fior. iv. consid._ It is to be noted that
       Guido, instead of waiting at Assisi for the certainly impending
       death of Francis, went away to Mont Gargano. 2 Cel., 3, 142.

       *       *       *       *       *



End of September-October 3, 1226

The last days of Francis's life are of radiant beauty. He went to meet
death, singing,[1] says Thomas of Celano, summing up the impression of
those who saw him then.

To be once more at Portiuncula after so long a detention at the bishop's
palace was not only a real joy to his heart, but the pure air of the
forest must have been much to his physical well-being; does not the
Canticle of the Creatures seem to have been made expressly to be sung in
the evening of one of those autumn days of Umbria, so soft and luminous,
when all nature seems to retire into herself to sing her own hymn of
love to Brother Sun?

We see that Francis has come to that almost entire cessation of pain,
that renewing of life, which so often precedes the approach of the last

He took advantage of it to dictate his Will.[2]

It is to these pages that we must go to find the true note for a sketch
of the life of its author, and an idea of the Order as it was in his

In this record, which is of an incontestable authenticity, the most
solemn manifestation of his thought, the Poverello reveals himself
absolutely, with a virginal candor.

His humility is here of a sincerity which strikes one with awe; it is
absolute, though no one could dream that it was exaggerated. And yet,
wherever his mission is concerned, he speaks with tranquil and serene
assurance. Is he not an ambassador of God? Does he not hold his message
from Christ himself? The genesis of his thought here shows itself to be
at once wholly divine and entirely personal. The individual conscience
here proclaims its sovereign authority. "No one showed me what I ought
to do, but the Most High himself revealed to me that I ought to live
conformably to his holy gospel."

When a man has once spoken thus, submission to the Church has been
singularly encroached upon. We may love her, hearken to her, venerate
her, but we feel ourselves, perhaps without daring to avow it, superior
to her. Let a critical hour come, and one finds himself heretic without
knowing it or wishing it.

"Ah, yes," cries Angelo Clareno, "St. Francis promised to obey the pope
and his successors, but they cannot and must not command anything
contrary to the conscience or to the Rule."[3]

For him, as for all the spiritual Franciscans, when there is conflict
between what the inward voice of God ordains and what the Church wills,
he has only to obey the former.[4]

If you tell him that the Church and the Order are there to define the
true signification of the Rule, he appeals to common sense, and to that
interior certitude which is given by a clear view of truth.

The Rule, as also the gospel, of which it is a summary, is above all
ecclesiastical power, and no one has the right to say the last word in
their interpretation.[5]

The Will was not slow to gain a moral authority superior even to that of
the Rule. Giovanni of Parma, to explain the predilection of the
Joachimites for this document, points out that after the impression of
the stigmata the Holy Spirit was in Francis with still greater plenitude
than before.[6]

Did the innumerable sects which disturbed the Church in the thirteenth
century perceive that these two writings--the Rule and the
Testament--the one apparently made to follow and support the other,
substantially identical as it was said, proceeded from two opposite
inspirations? Very confusedly, no doubt, but guided by a very sure
instinct, they saw in these pages the banner of liberty.

They were not mistaken. Even to-day, thinkers, moralists, mystics may
arrive at solutions very different from those of the Umbrian prophet,
but the method which they employ is his, and they may not refuse to
acknowledge in him the precursor of religious subjectivism.

The Church, too, was not mistaken. She immediately understood the spirit
that animated these pages.

Four years later, perhaps to the very day, September 28, 1230, Ugolini,
then Gregory IX., solemnly interpreted the Rule, in spite of the
precautions of Francis, who had forbidden all gloss or commentary on the
Rule or the Will, and declared that the Brothers were not bound to the
observation of the Will.[7]

What shall we say of the bull in which the pope alleges his familiar
relations with the Saint to justify his commentary, and in which the
clearest passages are so distorted as to change their sense completely.
"One is stupefied," cries Ubertini of Casali, "that a text so clear
should have need of a commentary, for it suffices to have common sense
and to know grammar in order to understand it." And this strange monk
dares to add: "There is one miracle which God himself cannot do; it is
to make two contradictory things true."[8]

Certainly the Church should be mistress in her own house; it would have
been nothing wrong had Gregory IX. created an Order conformed to his
views and ideas, but when we go through Sbaralea's folios and the
thousands of bulls accorded to the spiritual sons of him who in the
clearest and most solemn manner had forbidden them to ask any privilege
of the court of Rome, we cannot but feel a bitter sadness.

Thus upheld by the papacy, the Brothers of the Common Observance made
the Zelanti sharply expiate their attachment to Francis's last requests.
Cæsar of Speyer died of violence from the Brother placed in charge of
him;[9] the first disciple, Bernardo di Quintavalle, hunted like a
wild beast, passed two years in the forests of Monte-Sefro, hidden by a
wood-cutter;[10] the other first companions who did not succeed in
flight had to undergo the severest usage. In the March of Ancona, the
home of the Spirituals, the victorious party used a terrible violence.
The Will was confiscated and destroyed; they went so far as to burn it
over the head of a friar who persisted in desiring to observe it.[11]


    See in what manner God gave it to me, to me, Brother Francis, to
    begin to do penitence; when I lived in sin, it was very painful
    to me to see lepers, but God himself led me into their midst,
    and I remained here a little while.[12] When I left them, that
    which had seemed to me bitter had become sweet and easy.

    A little while after I quitted the world, and God gave me such a
    faith in his churches that I would kneel down with simplicity
    and I would say: "We adore thee, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in
    all thy churches which are in the world, and we bless thee that
    by thy holy cross thou hast ransomed the world."

    Besides, the Lord gave me and still gives me so great a faith in
    priests who live according to the form of the holy Roman Church,
    because of their sacerdotal character, that even if they
    persecuted me I would have recourse to them. And even though I
    had all the wisdom of Solomon, if I should find poor secular
    priests, I would not preach in their parishes without their
    consent. I desire to respect them like all the others, to love
    them and honor them as my lords. I will not consider their
    sins, for in them I see the Son of God and they are my lords. I
    do this because here below I see nothing, I perceive nothing
    corporally of the most high Son of God, if not his most holy
    Body and Blood, which they receive and they alone distribute to
    others. I desire above all things to honor and venerate all
    these most holy mysteries and to keep them precious. Whenever I
    find the sacred names of Jesus or his words in indecent places,
    I desire to take them away, and I pray that others take them
    away and put them in some decent place. We ought to honor and
    revere all the theologians and those who preach the most holy
    word of God, as dispensing to us spirit and life.

    When the Lord gave me some brothers no one showed me what I
    ought to do, but the Most High himself revealed to me that I
    ought to live according to the model of the holy gospel. I
    caused a short and simple formula to be written, and the lord
    pope confirmed it for me.

    Those who presented themselves to observe this kind of life
    distributed all that they might have to the poor. They contented
    themselves with a tunic, patched within and without, with the
    cord and breeches, and we desired to have nothing more.

    The clerks said the office like other clerks, and the laymen
    _Pater noster_.

    We loved to live in poor and abandoned churches, and we were
    ignorant and submissive to all. I worked with my hands and would
    continue to do, and I will also that all other friars work at
    some honorable trade. Let those who have none learn one, not for
    the purpose of receiving the price of their toil, but for their
    good example and to flee idleness. And when they do not give us
    the price of the work, let us resort to the table of the Lord,
    begging our bread from door to door. The Lord revealed to me the
    salutation which we ought to give: "God give you peace!"

    Let the Brothers take great care not to receive churches,
    habitations, and all that men build for them, except as all is
    in accordance with the holy poverty which we have vowed in the
    Rule, and let them not receive hospitality in them except as
    strangers and pilgrims.

    I absolutely interdict all the brothers, in whatever place they
    may be found, from asking any bull from the court of Rome,
    whether directly or indirectly, under pretext of church or
    convent or under pretext of preachings, nor even for their
    personal protection. If they are not received anywhere let them
    go elsewhere, thus doing penance with the benediction of God.

    I desire to obey the minister-general of this fraternity, and
    the guardian whom he may please to give me. I desire to put
    myself entirely into his hands, to go nowhere and do nothing
    against his will, for he is my lord.

    Though I be simple and ill, I would, however, have always a
    clerk who will perform the office, as it is said in the Rule;
    let all the other brothers also be careful to obey their
    guardians and to do the office according to the Rule. If it come
    to pass that there are any who do not the office according to
    the Rule, and who desire to make any other change, or if they
    are not Catholics, let all the Brothers, wherever they may be,
    be bound by obedience to present them to the nearest custode.
    Let the custodes be bound by obedience to keep him well guarded
    like a man who is in bonds night and day, so that he may not
    escape from their hands until they personally place him in the
    minister's hands. And let the minister be bound by obedience to
    send him by brothers who will guard him as a prisoner day and
    night until they shall have placed him in the hands of the Lord
    Bishop of Ostia, who is the lord, the protector, and the
    correcter of all the Fraternity.[13]

    And let the Brothers not say: "This is a new Rule;" for this is
    a reminder, a warning, an exhortation; it is my Will, that I,
    little Brother Francis, make for you, my blessed Brothers, in
    order that we may observe in a more catholic way the Rule which
    we promised the Lord to keep.

    Let the ministers-general, all the other ministers and the
    custodes be held by obedience to add nothing to and take nothing
    from these words. Let them always keep this writing near them,
    beside the Rule; and in all the chapters which shall be held,
    when the Rule is read let these words be read also.

    I interdict absolutely, by obedience, all the Brothers, clerics
    and layman, to introduce glosses in the Rule, or in this Will,
    under pretext of explaining it. But since the Lord has given me
    to speak and to write the Rule and these words in a clear and
    simple manner, without commentary, understand them in the same
    way, and put them in practice until the end.

    And may whoever shall have observed these things be crowned in
    heaven with the blessings of the heavenly Father, and on earth
    with those of his well-beloved Son and of the Holy Spirit the
    consoler, with the assistance of all the heavenly virtues and
    all the saints.

    And I, little Brother Francis, your servitor, confirm to you so
    far as I am able this most holy benediction. Amen.

After thinking of his Brothers Francis thought of his dear Sisters at
St. Damian and made a will for them.

It has not come down to us, and we need not wonder; the Spiritual
Brothers might flee away, and protest from the depths of their retreats,
but the Sisters were completely unarmed against the machinations of the
Common Observance.[14]

In the last words that he addressed to the Clarisses, after calling upon
them to persevere in poverty and union, he gave them his
benediction.[15] Then he recommended them to the Brothers, supplicating
the latter never to forget that they were members of one and the same
religious family.[16] After having done all that he could for those
whom he was about to leave, he thought for a moment of himself.

He had become acquainted in Rome with a pious lady named Giacomina di
Settisoli. Though rich, she was simple and good, entirely devoted to the
new ideas; even the somewhat singular characteristics of Francis pleased
her. He had given her a lamb which had become her inseparable

Unfortunately all that concerns her has suffered much from later
retouchings of the legend. The perfectly natural conduct of the Saint
with women has much embarrassed his biographers; hence heavy and
distorted commentaries tacked on to episodes of a delicious simplicity.

Before dying Francis desired to see again this friend, whom he
smilingly called Brother Giacomina. He caused a letter to be written her
to come to Portiuncula; we can imagine the dismay of the narrators at
this far from monastic invitation.

But the good lady had anticipated his appeal: at the moment when the
messenger with the letter was about to leave for Rome, she arrived at
Portiuncula and remained there until the last sigh of the Saint.[18]
For one moment she thought of sending away her suite; the invalid was so
calm and joyful that she could not believe him dying, but he himself
advised her to keep her people with her. This time he felt with no
possible doubt that his captivity was about to be ended.

He was ready, he had finished his work.

Did he think then of the day when, cursed by his father, he had
renounced all earthly goods and cried to God with an ineffable
confidence, "Our Father who art in heaven!" We cannot say; but he
desired to finish his life by a symbolic act which very closely recalls
the scene in the bishop's palace.

He caused himself to be stripped of his clothing and laid upon the
ground, for he wished to die in the arms of his Lady Poverty. With one
glance he embraced the twenty years that had glided by since their
union: "I have done my duty," he said to the Brothers, "may the Christ
now teach you yours!"[19]

This was Thursday, October 1.[20]

They laid him back upon his bed, and, conforming to his wishes, they
again sang to him the Canticle of the Sun.

At times he added his voice to those of his Brothers,[21] and came back
with preference to Psalm 142, _Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi_.[22]

  With my voice I cry unto the Lord,
  With my voice I implore the Lord,
  I pour out my complaint before him,
  I tell him all my distress.
  When my spirit is cast down within me,
  Thou knowest my path.
  Upon the way where I walk
  They have laid a snare for me,
  Cast thine eyes to the right and look!
  No one recognizes me;
  All refuge is lost for me,
  No one takes thought for my soul.
  Lord, unto thee I cry;
  I say: Thou art my refuge,
  My portion in the land of the living.
  Be attentive to my cries!
  For I am very unhappy.
  Deliver me from those who pursue me!
  For they are stronger than I.
  Bring my soul out of its prison
  That I may praise thy name.
  The righteous shall compass me about
  When thou hast done good unto me!

The visits of death are always solemn, but the end of the just is the
most moving _sursum corda_ that we can hear on earth. The hours flowed
by and the Brothers would not leave him. "Alas, good Father," said one
of them to him, unable longer to contain himself, "your children are
going to lose you, and be deprived of the true light which lightened
them: think of the orphans you are leaving and forgive all their faults,
give to them all, present and absent, the joy of your holy benediction."

"See," replied the dying man, "God is calling me. I forgive all my
Brothers, present and absent, their offences and faults, and absolve
them according to my power. Tell them so, and bless them all in my

Then crossing his arms he laid his hands upon those who surrounded him.
He did this with peculiar emotion to Bernard of Quintavalle: "I desire,"
he said, "and with all my power I urge whomsoever shall be
minister-general of the Order, to love and honor him as myself; let the
provincials and all the Brothers act toward him as toward me."[24]

He thought not only of the absent Brothers but of the future ones; love
so abounded in him that it wrung from him a groan of regret for not
seeing all those who should enter the Order down to the end of time,
that he might lay his hand upon their brows, and make them feel those
things that may only be spoken by the eyes of him who loves in God.[25]

He had lost the notion of time; believing that it was still Thursday he
desired to take a last meal with his disciples. Some bread was brought,
he broke it and gave it to them, and there in the poor cabin of
Portiuncula, without altar and without a priest, was celebrated the
Lord's Supper.[26]

A Brother read the Gospel for Holy Thursday, _Ante diem festum Paschæ_:
"Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come
to go from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in
the world he loved them unto the end."

The sun was gilding the crests of the mountains with his last rays,
there was silence around the dying one. All was ready. The angel of
death might come.

Saturday, October 3, 1226, at nightfall, without pain, without struggle,
he breathed the last sigh.

The Brothers were still gazing on his face, hoping yet to catch some
sign of life, when innumerable larks alighted, singing, on the thatch of
his cell,[27] as if to salute the soul which had just taken flight and
give the Little Poor Man the canonization of which he was most worthy,
the only one, doubtless, which he would ever have coveted.

On the morrow, at dawn, the Assisans came down to take possession of his
body and give it a triumphant funeral.

By a pious inspiration, instead of going straight to the city they went
around by St. Damian, and thus was realized the promise made by Francis
to the Sisters a few weeks before, to come once more to see them.

Their grief was heart-rending.

These women's hearts revolted against the absurdity of death;[28] but
there were tears on that day at St. Damian only. The Brothers forgot
their sadness on seeing the stigmata, and the inhabitants of Assisi
manifested an indescribable joy on having their relic at last. They
deposited it in the Church St. George.[29]

Less than two years after, Sunday, July 26, 1228, Gregory IX. came to
Assisi to preside in person over the ceremonies of canonization, and to
lay, on the morrow, the first stone of the new church dedicated to the

Built under the inspiration of Gregory IX. and the direction of Brother
Elias, this marvellous basilica is also one of the documents of this
history, and perhaps I have been wrong in neglecting it.

Go and look upon it, proud, rich, powerful, then go down to Portiuncula,
pass over to St. Damian, hasten to the Carceri, and you will understand
the abyss that separates the ideal of Francis from that of the pontiff
who canonized him.


   [1] _Mortem cantando suscepit._ 2 Cel., 3, 139.

   [2] The text here taken as a basis is that of the Assisi MS.,
       338 (f^o 16a-18a). It is also to be found in _Firmamentum_, f^o
       19, col. 4; _Speculum_, Morin, _tract._ iii., 8a; Wadding, _ann.
       1226_, 35; A. SS., p. 663; Amoni, _Legenda Trium Sociorum_;
       Appendix, p. 110. Everything in this document proclaims its
       authenticity, but we are not reduced to internal proof. It is
       expressly cited in 1 Cel., 17 (before 1230); by the Three
       Companions (1246), 3 Soc., 11; 26; 29; by 2 Cel., 3, 99 (1247).
       These proofs would be more than sufficient, but there is another
       of even greater value: the bull _Quo elongati_ of September 28,
       1230, where Gregory IX. cites it textually and declares that the
       friars are not bound to observe it.

   [3] _Promittet Franciscus obedientiam ... papæ ... et
       successoribus ... qui non possunt nec debent eis præcipere
       aliquid quod sit contra animam et regulam._ _Archiv._, _i_, p.

   [4] _Quod si quando a quocumque ... pontifice aliquid ...
       mandaretur quod esset contra fidem ... et caritatem et fructus
       ejus tunc obediet Deo magis quam hominibus._ Ib., p. 561.

   [5] _Est [Regula] et stat et intelligitur super eos ... Cum spei
       fiducia pace fruemur cum conscientiæ et Christi spiritus
       testimonio certo._ Ib., pp. 563 and 565.

   [6] _Archiv._, ii., p. 274.

   [7] _Ad mandatum illud vos dicimus non teneri: quod sine
       consensu Fratrum maxime ministrorum, quos universos tangebat
       obligare nequivit nec successorem suum quomodolibet obligavit;
       cum non habeat imperium par in parem._ The sophism is barely
       specious; Francis was not on a par with his successors; he did
       not act as minister-general, but as founder.

   [8] _Arbor vit. cruc._, _lib._ v., _cap._ 3 and 5. See above, p.

   [9] _Tribul._, Laur., 25b; _Archiv._, i., p. 532.

  [10] At the summit of the Apennines, about half way between
       Camerino and Nocera (Umbria). _Tribul._, Laur., 26b; Magl.,

  [11] _Declaratio Ubertini_, _Archiv._, iii., p. 168. This fact
       is not to be questioned, since it is alleged in a piece
       addressed to the pope, in response to the liberal friars, to
       whom it was to be communicated.

  [12] _Feci moram cum illis._, MS., 338. Most of the printed
       texts give _miseracordiam_, which gives a less satisfactory
       meaning. Cf. Miscellanea iii. (1888), p. 70; 1 Cel., 17; 3 Soc.,

  [13] It is evident that heresy is not here in question. The
       Brothers who were infected with it were to be delivered to the

  [14] Urban IV. published, October 18, 1263, Potthast (18680), a
       Rule for the Clarisses which completely changed the character of
       this Order. Its author was the cardinal protector Giovanni degli
       Ursini (the future Nicholas III.), who by way of precaution
       forbade the Brothers Minor under the severest penalties to
       dissuade the Sisters from accepting it. "It differs as much from
       the first Rule," said Ubertini di Casali "as black and white,
       the savory and the insipid." _Arbor. vit. cruc. lib._ v., _cap._

  [15] V. _Test. B. Claræ_; _Conform._, 185a 1; Spec., 117b.

  [16] 2 Cel., 3, 132.

  [17] Bon., 112.

  [18] The Bollandists deny this whole story, which they find in
       opposition to the prescriptions of Francis himself. A. SS., p.
       664 ff. But it is difficult to see for what object authors who
       take great pains to explain it could have had for inventing it.
       _Spec._, 133a; _Fior._ iv.; _consid._; _Conform._, 240a. I have
       borrowed the whole account from Bernard of Besse: _De Laudibus_,
       f^o 113b. It appears that Giacomina settled for the rest of her
       life at Assisi, that she might gain edification from the first
       companions of Francis. _Spec._, 107b. (What a lovely scene, and
       with what a Franciscan fragrance!) The exact date of her death
       is not known. She was buried in the lower church of the basilica
       of Assisi, and on her tomb was engraved: _Hic jacit Jacoba
       sancta nobilisque romana_. Vide Fratini: _Storia della
       basilica_, p. 48. Cf. Jacobilli: _Vite dei Santi e Beati dell'
       Umbria_, Foligno, 3 vols., 4to, 1647; i., p. 214.

  [19] 2 Cel., 3, 139; Bon., 209, 210; _Conform._, 171b, 2.

  [20] 2 Cel., 3, 139: _Cum me videritis ... sicut me nudius
       tertius nudum vidistis._

  [21] 1 Cel., 109; 2 Cel., 3, 139.

  [22] 1 Cel., 109; Bon., 212.

  [23] 1 Cel., 109. Cf. _Epist. Eliæ._

  [24] _Tribul._ Laur., 22b. Nothing better shows the historic
       value of the chronicle of the Tribulations than to compare its
       story of these moments with that of the following documents:
       _Conform._, 48b, 1; 185a, 2; _Fior._, 6.; _Spec._, 86a.

  [25] 2 Cel., 3, 139; _Spec._, 116b; _Conform._, 224b, 1.

  [26] 2 Cel., 3, 139. A simple comparison between this story in
       the _Speculum_ (116b) and that in the _Conformities_ (224b, 1)
       is enough to show how in certain of its parts the _Speculum_
       represents a state of the legend anterior to 1385.

  [27] Bon., 214. This cell has been transformed into a chapel and
       may be found a few yards from the little church of Portiuncula.
       Church and chapel are now sheltered under the great Basilica of
       Santa Maria degli Angeli. See the picture and plan, A. SS., p.
       814, or better still in _P. Barnabas aus dem Elsass, Portiuncula
       oder Geschichte U. L. F. v. den Engeln_. Rixheim, 1884, 1 vol.,
       8vo, pp. 311 and 312.

  [28] 1 Cel., 116 and 117; Bon., 219; _Conform._ 185a, 1.

  [29] To-day in the _clôture_ of the convent St. Clara. Vide
       Miscellanea 1, pp. 44-48, a very interesting study by Prof.
       Carattoli upon the coffin of St. Francis.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *




    1. Preliminary Note.

    2. First Life by Thomas of Celano.

    3. Review of the History of the Order 1230-1244.

    4. Legend of the Three Companions.

    5. Fragments of the Suppressed Portion of the Legend.

    6. Second Life by Thomas of Celano. First Part.

    7. Second Life by Thomas of Celano. Second Part.

    8. Documents of Secondary Importance:

         Biography for Use of the Choir.
         Life in Verse.
         Biography by Giovanni di Ceperano.
         Life by Brother Julian.

    9. Legend of St. Bonaventura.

   10. De Laudibus of Bernard of Besse.


    1. Donation of the Verna.

    2. Registers of Cardinal Ugolini.

    3. Bulls.


    1. Chronicle of Brother Giordano di Giano.

    2. Eccleston: Arrival of the Friars in England.

    3. Chronicle of Fra Salimbeni.

    4. Chronicle of the Tribulations.

    5. The Fioretti and their Appendices.

    6. Chronicle of the XXIV. Generals.

    7. The Conformities of Bartolommeo di Pisa.

    8. Glassberger's Chronicle.

    9. Chronicle of Mark of Lisbon.


    1. Jacques de Vitry.

    2. Thomas of Spalato.

    3. Divers Chroniclers.

       *       *       *       *       *


There are few lives in history so abundantly provided with documents as
that of St. Francis. This will perhaps surprise the reader, but to
convince himself he has only to run over the preceding list, which,
however, has been made as succinct as possible.

It is admitted in learned circles that the essential elements of this
biography have disappeared or have been entirely altered. The
exaggeration of certain religious writers, who accept everything, and
among several accounts of the same fact always choose the longest and
most marvellous, has led to a like exaggeration in the contrary sense.

If it were necessary to point out the results of these two excesses as
they affect each event, this volume would need to be twice and even four
times as large as it is. Those who are interested in these questions
will find in the notes brief indications of the original documents on
which each narrative is based.[1]

To close the subject of the errors which are current in the Franciscan
documents, and to show in a few lines their extreme importance, I shall
take two examples. Among our own contemporaries no one has so well
spoken on the subject of St. Francis as M. Renan; he comes back to him
with affecting piety, and he was in a better condition than any one to
know the sources of this history. And yet he does not hesitate to say in
his study of the Canticle of the Sun, Francis's best known work: "The
authenticity of this piece appears certain, but we must observe that we
have not the Italian original. The Italian text which we possess is a
translation of a Portuguese version, which was itself translated from
the Spanish."[2]

And yet the primitive Italian exists[3] not only in numerous
manuscripts in Italy and France, particularly in the Mazarine
Library,[4] but also in the well-known book of the _Conformities_.[5]

An error, grave from quite another point of view, is made by the same
author when he denies the authenticity of St. Francis's Will; this piece
is not only the noblest expression of its author's religious feeling, it
constitutes also a sort of autobiography, and contains the solemn and
scarcely disguised revocation of all the concessions which had been
wrung from him. We have already seen that its authenticity is not to be
challenged.[6] This double example will, I hope, suffice to show the
necessity of beginning this study by a conscientious examination of the

If the eminent historian to whom I have alluded were still living, he
would have for this page his large and benevolent smile, that simple,
_Oui, oui_, which once made his pupils in the little hall of the Collège
de France to tremble with emotion.

I do not know what he would think of this book, but I well know that he
would love the spirit in which it was undertaken, and would easily
pardon me for having chosen him for scape-goat of my wrath against the
learned men and biographers.

The documents to be examined have been divided into five categories.

The first includes _St. Francis's works_.

The second, _biographies properly so called_.

The third, _diplomatic documents_.

The fourth, _chronicles of the Order_.

The fifth, _chronicles of authors not of the Order_.


  [1] If any student finds himself embarrassed by the extreme
      rarity of certain works cited, I shall make it my duty and
      pleasure to send them to him, as well as a copy of the Italian

  [2] E. Renan: _Nouvelles études d'histoire religieuse_, Paris,
      1884, 8vo, p. 331.

  [3] See above, pp. 304 ff.

  [4] Mazarine Library, MS. 8531: _Speculum perfectionis S.
      Francisci_; the Canticle is found at fo. 51. Cf. MS., 1350 (date
      of 1459). That text was published by Boehmer in the _Romanische
      Studien_, Halle, 1871. pp. 118-122. _Der Sonnengesang v. Fr.

  [5] _Conform._ (Milan, 1510), 202b, 2s. For that matter it is
      correct that Diola, in the _Croniche degli ordini instituti da
      S. Francisco_ (Venice, 1606, 3 vols. 4to), translated after the
      Castilian version of the work composed in Portuguese by Mark of
      Lisbon, was foolish enough to render into Italian this
      translation of a translation.

  [6] See pages 333 ff.

       *       *       *       *       *



The writings of St. Francis[1] are assuredly the best source of
acquaintance with him; we can only be surprised to find them so
neglected by most of his biographers. It is true that they give little
information as to his life, and furnish neither dates nor facts,[2]
but they do better, they mark the stages of his thought and of his
spiritual development. The legends give us Francis as he appeared, and
by that very fact suffer in some degree the compulsion of circumstances;
they are obliged to bend to the exigencies of his position as general of
an Order approved by the Church, as miracle-worker, and as saint. His
works, on the contrary, show us his very soul; each phrase has not only
been thought, but lived; they bring us the Poverello's emotions, still
alive and palpitating.

So, when in the writings of the Franciscans we find any utterance of
their master, it unconsciously betrays itself, sounding out suddenly in
a sweet, pure tone which penetrates to your very heart, awakening with a
thrill a sprite that was sleeping there.

This bloom of love enduing St. Francis's words would be an admirable
criterion of the authenticity of those opuscules which tradition
attributes to him; but the work of testing is neither long nor
difficult. If after his time injudicious attempts were here and there
made to honor him with miracles which he did not perform, which he would
not even have wished to perform, no attempt was ever made to burden his
literary efforts with false or supposititious pieces.[3] The best
proof of this is that it is not until Wadding--that is to say, until the
seventeenth century--that we find the first and only serious attempt to
collect these precious memorials. Several of them have been lost,[4]
but those which remain are enough to give us in some sort the refutation
of the legends.

In these pages Francis gives himself to his readers, as long ago he gave
himself to his companions; in each one of them a feeling, a cry of the
heart, or an aspiration toward the Invisible is prolonged down to our
own time.

Wadding thought it his duty to give a place in his collection to several
suspicious pieces; more than this, instead of following the oldest
manuscripts that he had before him, he often permitted himself to be led
astray by sixteenth-century writers whose smallest concern was to be
critical and accurate. To avoid the tedious and entirely negative task
to which it would be necessary to proceed if I took him for my
starting-point I shall confine myself to a positive study of this

All the pieces which will be enumerated are found in his collection.
They are sometimes cut up in a singular way; but in proportion as each
document is studied we shall find sufficient indications to enable us
to make the necessary rectifications.

The archives of Sacro Convento of Assisi[5] possess a manuscript whose
importance is not to be overestimated. It has already been many times
studied,[6] and bears the number 338.

It appears, however, that a very important detail of form has been
overlooked. It is this: that No. 338 is not _one_ manuscript, but _a
collection_ of manuscripts of very different periods, which were put
together because they were of very nearly the same size, and have been
foliated in a peculiar manner.

This artificial character of the collection shows that each of the
pieces which compose it needs to be examined by itself, and that it is
impossible to say of it as a whole that it is of the thirteenth or the
fourteenth century.

The part that interests us is perfectly homogeneous, is formed of three
parchment books (fol. 12a-44b) and contains a part of Francis's works.

1. The Rule, definitively approved by Honorius III., November 20,
1223[7] (fol. 12a-16a).

2. St. Francis's Will[8] (fol. 16a-18a).

3. The Admonitions[9] (fol. 18a-23b).

4. The Letter to all Christians[10] (fol. 23b-28a).

5. The letter to all the members of the Order assembled in
Chapter-general[11] (fol. 28a-31a).

6. Counsel to all clerics on the respect to be paid to the
Eucharist[12] (fol., 31b-32b).

7. A very short piece preceded by the rubric: "Of the virtues which
adorn the Virgin Mary and which ought to adorn the holy soul"[13] (fol.

8. The _Laudes Creaturarum_, or Canticle of the Sun[14] (fol. 33a).

9. A paraphrase of the _Pater_ introduced by the rubric: _Incipiunt
laudes quas ordinavit. B. pater noster Franciscus et dicebat ipsas ad
omnes horas diei et noctis et ante officium B. V. Mariæ sic incipiens:
Sanctissime Pater_[15] (fol. 34a).

10. The office of the Passion (34b-43a). This office, where the psalms
are replaced by several series of biblical verses, are designed to make
him who repeats them follow, hour by hour, the emotions of the Crucified
One from the evening of Holy Thursday.[16]

11. A rule for friars in retreat in hermitages[17] (fol. 43a-43b).

A glance over this list is enough to show that the works of Francis here
collected are addressed to all the Brothers, or are a sort of
encyclicals, which they are charged to pass on to those for whom they
are destined.

The very order of these pieces shows us that we have in this manuscript
the primitive library of the Brothers Minor, the collection of which
each minister was to carry with him a copy. It was truly their viaticum.

Matthew Paris tells us of his amazement at the sight of these foreign
monks, clothed in patched tunics, and carrying their books in a sort of
case suspended from their necks.[18]

The Assisi manuscript was without doubt destined to this service; if it
is silent on the subject of the journeys it has made, and of the
Brothers to whom it has been a guide and an inspiration, it at least
brings us, more than all the legends, into intimacy with Francis, makes
us thrill in unison with that heart which never admitted a separation
between joy, love, and poetry. As to the date of this manuscript, one
must needs be a paleographer to determine. We have already found a
hypothesis which, if well grounded, would carry it back to the
neighborhood of 1240.[19]

Its contents seem to countenance this early date. In fact, it contains
several pieces of which the _Manual of the Brother Minor_ very early rid

Very soon they were content to have only the Rule to keep company with
the breviary; sometimes they added the Will. But the other writings, if
they did not fall entirely into neglect, ceased at least to be of daily

Those of St. Francis's writings which are not of general interest or do
not concern the Brothers naturally find no place in this collection. In
this new category we must range the following documents:

1. The Rule of 1221.[20]

2. The Rule of the Clarisses, which we no longer possess in its original

3. A sort of special instruction for ministers-general.[22]

4. A letter to St. Clara.[23]

5. Another letter to the same.[24]

6. A letter to Brother Leo.[25]

7. A few prayers.[26]

8. The benediction of Brother Leo. The original autograph, which is
preserved in the treasury of Sacro Convento, has been very well
reproduced by heliograph.[27]

As to the two famous hymns _Amor de caritade_[28] and _In foco l'amor
mi mise_,[29] they cannot be attributed to St. Francis, at least in
their present form.

It belongs to M. Monaci and his numerous and learned emulators to throw
light upon these delicate questions by publishing in a scientific manner
the earliest monuments of Italian poetry.

I have already spoken of several tracts of which assured traces have
been found, though they themselves are lost. They are much more numerous
than would at first be supposed. In the missionary zeal of the early
years the Brothers would not concern themselves with collecting
documents. We do not write our memoirs in the fulness of our youth.

We must also remember that Portiuncula had neither archives nor library.
It was a chapel ten paces long, with a few huts gathered around it. The
Order was ten years old before it had seen any other than a single book:
a New Testament. The Brothers did not even keep this one. Francis,
having nothing else, gave it to a poor woman who asked for alms, and
when Pietro di Catania, his vicar, expressed his surprise at this
prodigality: "Has she not given her two sons to the Order?" replied the
master[30] quickly.


   [1] Collected first by Wadding (Antwerp, 1623, 4to), they have
       been published many times since then, particularly by De la Haye
       (Paris, 1641, f^o). These two editions having become scarce,
       were republished--in a very unsatisfactory manner--by the Abbé
       Horoy: _S. Francisci Assisiatis opera omnia_ (Paris, 1880, 4to).
       For want of a more exact edition, that of Father Bernardo da
       Fivizzano is the most useful: _Opuscoli di S. Francesco
       d'Assisi_, 1 vol., 12mo, pp. 564, Florence, 1880. The Latin text
       is accompanied by an Italian translation.

   [2] "_Die Briefe, die unter seinem Namen gehen, mögen theilweise
       ächt sein. Aber sie tragen kaum etwas zur näheren Kenntniss bei
       und können daher fast ganz ausser Acht bleiben_." Müller, _Die
       Anfänge des Minoritenordens_, Freiburg, 1 vol., 8vo, 1885, p. 3.

   [3] Pieces have been often attributed to St. Francis which do
       not belong to him; but those are unintentional errors and made
       without purpose. The desire for literary exactness is relatively
       of recent date, and it was easier for those who were ignorant of
       the author of certain Franciscan writings to attribute them to
       St. Francis than to admit their ignorance or to make deep

   [4] For example, the first Rule; probably also a few canticles;
       a letter to the Brothers in France, Eccl., 6; another to the
       Brothers in Bologna: "_Prædixerat per litteram in qua fuit
       plurimum latinum_," Eccl., ib.; a letter to Antony of Padua,
       other than the one we have, since on the witness of Celano it
       was addressed: _Fratri Antonio episcopo meo_ (2 Cel., 3, 99);
       certain letters to St. Clara: "_Scripsit Claræ et sororibus ad
       consolationem litteram in quâ dabat benedictionem suam et
       absolvebat_," etc. _Conform._, f^o. 185a, 1; cf. _Test. B.
       Claræ_. A. SS., Augusti, t. ii., p. 767: "_Plura scripta
       tradidit nobis, ne post mortem suam declinaremus a paupertate_;"
       certain letters to Cardinal Ugolini, 3 Soc., 67.

       It is not to negligence alone that we must attribute the loss of
       many of the epistles: "_Quod nephas est cogitare, in provincia
       Marchie et in pluribus aliis locis testamentum beati Francisci
       mandaverunt (prelati ordinis) districte per obedientiam ab
       omnibus auferi et comburi. Et uni fratri devoto et sancto, cujus
       nomen est N. de Rocanato combuxerunt dicum testamentum super
       caput suum. Et toto conatu fuerunt solliciti, annulare scripta
       beati patris nostri Francisci, in quibus sua intentio de
       observantia regule declaratur._" Ubertino di Casali, _apud
       Archiv._, iii., pp. 168-169.

   [5] Italy is too obliging to artists, archæologists, and
       scholars not to do them the favor of disposing in a more
       practical manner this trust, the most precious of all Umbria.
       Even with the indefatigable kindness of the curator, M.
       Alessandro, and of the municipality of Assisi, it is very
       difficult to profit by these treasures heaped up in a dark room
       without a table to write upon.

   [6] In particular by Ehrle: _Die historischen Handschriften von
       S. Francesco in Assisi._ _Archiv._, t. i., p. 484.

   [7] See pages 252 ff ... and 283.

   [8] See pages 333 ff.

   [9] See pages 259 ff.

  [10] See page 325 ff.

  [11] See pages 322 ff.

  [12] See page 327.

  [13] I give it entire: "_Regina sapientia, Dominus te salvet,
       cum tua sorore sancta pura simplicitate.--Domina sancta
       paupertas, Domimus te salvet, cum tua sorore sancta
       humilitate.--Domina sancta caritas, Dominus te salvet, cum tua
       sorrore sancta obedientia. Sanctissimæ virtutes omnes, vos
       salvet Dominus, a quo venitis et proceditis._" Its authenticity
       is guaranteed by a citation by Celano: 2 Cel., 3, 119. Cf. 126b
       and 127a.

  [14] See pages 304 f.

  [15] I shall not recur to this: the text is in the Conformities
       138a 2.

  [16] The authenticity of this service, to which there is not a
       single allusion in the biographies of St. Francis, is rendered
       certain by the life of St. Clara: "_Officium crucis, prout
       crucis amator Franciscus instituerat (Clara) didicit et affectu
       simili frequentavit._" A. SS., Augusti, t. ii., p. 761a.

  [17] It begins: _Illi qui volunt stare in heremis_. This text is
       also found in the Conformities, 143a, 1. Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 43; see
       p. 97.

  [18] _Nudis pedibus incedentes, funiculis cincti, tunicis
       griseis et talaribus peciatis, insuto capucio utentes ... nihil
       sibi ultra noctem reservantes ... libros continue suos ... in
       forulis a collo dependentes bajulantes._ Historia Anglorum,
       Pertz: _Script._, t. 28, p. 397. Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 135; _Fior._, 5;
       _Spec._, 45b.

  [19] See page 322 n.

  [20] See page 252.

  [21] See page 157.

  [22] See pages 318 ff.

  [23] See page 239.

  [24] See page 327.

  [25] See page 262.

  [26] _a._ _Sanctus Dominus Deus noster._ Cf. _Spec._, 126a;
       _Firmamentum_, 18b, 2; _Conform._, 202b, 1.

       _b._ _Ave Domina sancta._ Cf. _Spec._, 127a; _Conform._, 138a, 2.

       _c._ _Sancta Maria virgo._ Cf. _Spec._, 126b; _Conform._, 202b,  2.

  [27] Vide S. François, in 4to, Paris. 1885 (Plon), p. 233. The
       authenticity of this benediction appears to be well established,
       since it was already jealously guarded during the life of Thomas
       of Celano. No one has ever dreamed of requiring historical proof
       of this writing. Is this perhaps a mistake? The middle of the
       sheet is taken up with the benediction which was dictated to
       Brother Leo: _Benedicat tibi Dominus et custodiat te, ostendat
       faciem suam tibi et misereatur tui convertat vultum suum ad te
       et det tibi pacem._ At the bottom, Francis added the letter
       _tau_. ~[Greek: Tau]~, which was, so to speak, his signature
       (Bon., 51; 308), and the words: _Frater Leo Dominus benedicat te_.

       Then when this memorial became a part of the relics of the
       Saint, Brother Leo, to authenticate it in a measure, added the
       following notes: toward the middle: _Beatus Franciscus
       scripsit manu sua istam benedictionem mihi fratri Leoni_;
       toward the close: _Simili modo fecit istud signum thau cum
       capite manu sua_. But the most valuable annotation is found at
       the top of the sheet: _Beatus Franciscus duobus annis ante
       mortem suam fecit quadragesimam in loco Alvernæ ad honorem
       Beatæ Virginia Mariæ matris Dei et beati Michael archangeli a
       festo assumptionis sanctæ Mariæ Virginis usque ad festum
       sancti Michael septembris et facta est super eum manus Domini
       per visionem et allucotionem seraphym et impressionem
       stigmatum in corpore suo. Fecit has laudes ex alio latere
       catule scriptas et manu, sua scripsit gratias agens Domino de
       beneficio sibi collato._ Vide 2 Cel., 2, 18.

  [28] Wadding gives the text according to St. Bernardino da
       Siena. _Opera_, t. iv., _sermo_ 16, _extraord. et sermo feriæ
       sextæ Parasceves_. Amoni: _Legenda trium sociorum_, p. 166.

  [29] Wadding has drawn the text from St. Bernardino, _loc.
       cit._, _sermo_ iv., _extraord._ It was also reproduced by Amoni,
       _loc. cit._, p. 165. Two very curious versions may be found in
       the Miscellanea, 1888, pp. 96 and 190.

  [30] 2 Cel., 3, 35. This took place under the vicariat of Pietro
       di Catania; consequently between September 29, 1220, and March
       10, 1221.

       *       *       *       *       *




To form a somewhat exact notion of the documents which are to occupy us,
we must put them back into the midst of the circumstances in which they
appeared, study them in detail, and determine the special value of each

Here, more than anywhere else, we must beware of facile theories and
hasty generalizations. The same life described by two equally truthful
contemporaries may take on a very different coloring. This is especially
the case if the man concerned has aroused enthusiasm and wrath, if his
inmost thought, his works, have been the subject of discussion, if the
very men who were commissioned to realize his ideals and carry on his
work are divided, and at odds with one another.

This was the case with St. Francis. In his lifetime and before his own
eyes divergences manifested themselves, at first secretly, then in the
light of day.

In a rapture of love he went from cottage to cottage, from castle to
castle, preaching absolute poverty; but that buoyant enthusiasm, that
unbounded idealism, could not last long. The Order of the Brothers Minor
in process of growth was open not only to a few choice spirits aflame
with mystic fervor, but to all men who aspired after a religious
reformation; pious laymen, monks undeceived as to the virtues of the
ancient Orders, priests shocked at the vices of the secular clergy, all
brought with them--unintentionally no doubt and even unconsciously--too
much of their old man not by degrees to transform the institution.

Francis perceived the peril several years before his death, and made
every effort to avert it. Even in his dying hour we see him summoning
all his powers to declare his Will once again, and as clearly as
possible, and to conjure his Brothers never to touch the Rule, even
under pretext of commenting upon or explaining it. Alas! four years had
not rolled away when Gregory IX., at the prayer of the Brothers
themselves, became the first one of a long series of pontiffs who have
explained the Rule.[1]

Poverty, as Francis understood it, soon became only a memory. The
unexampled success of the Order brought to it not merely new recruits,
but money. How refuse it when there were so many works to found? Many of
the friars discovered that their master had exaggerated many things,
that shades of meaning were to be observed in the Rule, for example,
between counsels and precepts. The door once opened to interpretations,
it became impossible to close it. The Franciscan family began to be
divided into opposing parties often difficult to distinguish.

At first there were a few restless, undisciplined men who grouped
themselves around the older friars. The latter, in their character of
first companions of the Saint, found a moral authority often greater
than the official authority of the ministers and guardians. The people
turned to them by instinct as to the true continuers of St. Francis's
work. They were not far from right.

They had the vigor, the vehemence of absolute convictions; they could
not have temporized had they desired to do so. When they emerged from
their hermitages in the Apennines, their eyes shining with the fever of
their ideas, absorbed in contemplation, their whole being spoke of the
radiant visions they enjoyed; and the amazed and subdued multitude
would kneel to kiss the prints of their feet with hearts mysteriously

A larger group was that of those Brothers who condemned these methods
without being any the less saints. Born far away from Umbria, in
countries where nature seems to be a step-mother, where adoration, far
from being the instinctive act of a happy soul soaring upward to bless
the heavenly Father, is, on the contrary, the despairing cry of an atom
lost in immensity, they desired above all things a religious
reformation, rational and profound. They dreamed of bringing the Church
back to the purity of the ancient days, and saw in the vow of poverty,
understood in its largest sense, the best means of struggling against
the vices of the clergy; but they forgot the freshness, the Italian
gayety, the sunny poetry that there had been in Francis's mission.

Full of admiration for him, they yet desired to enlarge the foundations
of his work, and for that they would neglect no means of influence,
certainly not learning.

This tendency was the dominant one in France, Germany, and England. In
Italy it was represented by a very powerful party, powerful if not in
the number, at least in the authority, of its representatives. This was
the party favored by the papacy. It was the party of Brother Elias and
all the ministers-general of the Order in the thirteenth century, if we
except Giovanni di Parma (1247-1257) and Raimondo Gaufridi (1289-1295).

In Italy a third group, the liberals, was much more numerous; men of
mediocrity to whom monastic life appeared the most facile existence,
vagrant monks happy to secure an aftermath of success by displaying the
new Rule, formed in this country the greater part of the Franciscan

We can understand without difficulty that documents emanating from such
different quarters must bear the impress of their origin. The men who
are to bring us their testimony are combatants in the struggle over the
question of poverty, a struggle which for two centuries agitated the
Church, aroused all consciences, and which had its monsters and its

To determine the value of these witnesses we must first of all discover
their origin. It is evident that the narratives of the no-compromise
party of the right or the left can have but slender value where
controverted points are concerned; whence the conclusion that the
authority of a narrator may vary from page to page, or even from line to

These considerations, so simple that one almost needs to beg pardon for
uttering them, have not, however, guided those who have studied St.
Francis's life. The most learned, like Wadding and Papini, have brought
together the narratives of different biographers, here and there pruning
those that are too contradictory; but they have done this at random,
with neither rule nor method, guided by the impression of the moment.

The long work of the Bollandist Suysken is vitiated by an analogous
fault; fixed in his principle that the oldest documents are always the
best,[2] he takes his stand upon the first Life of Thomas of Celano as
upon an impregnable rock, and judges all other legends by that one.[3]

When we connect the documents with the disturbed circumstances which
brought them into being, some of them lose a little of their authority,
others which have been neglected, as being in contradiction with
witnesses who have become so to say official, suddenly recover credit,
and in fact all gain a new life which doubles their interest.

This altered point of view in the valuation of the sources, this
criticism which I am inclined to call reciprocal and organic, brings
about profound alterations in the biography of St. Francis. By a
phenomenon which may appear strange we end by sketching a portrait of
him much more like that which exists in the popular imagination of Italy
than that made by the learned historians above mentioned.

When Francis died (1226) the parties which divided the Order had already
entered into conflict. That event precipitated the crisis: Brother Elias
had been for five years exercising the functions of minister-general
with the title of vicar. He displayed an amazing activity. Intrenched in
the confidence of Gregory IX. he removed the _Zelanti_ from their
charges, strengthened the discipline even in the most remote provinces,
obtained numerous privileges from the curia, and with incredible
rapidity prepared for the building of the double basilica, destined for
the repose of the ashes of the Stigmatized Saint; but notwithstanding
all his efforts, the chapter of 1227 set him aside and chose Giovanni
Parenti as minister-general.

Furious at this check, he immediately set all influences to work to be
chosen at the following chapter. It even seems as if he paid no
attention to the nomination of Giovanni Parenti, and continued to go on
as if he had been minister.[4]

Very popular among the Assisans, who were dazzled by the magnificence of
the monument which was springing up on the _Hill of Hell_, now become
the _Hill of Paradise_, sure of being supported by a considerable party
in the Order and by the pope, he pushed forward the work on the basilica
with a decision and success perhaps unique in the annals of

All this could not be done without arousing the indignation of the
Zealots of poverty. When they saw a monumental poor-box, designed to
receive the alms of the faithful, upon the tomb of him who had forbidden
his disciples the mere contact of money, it seemed to them that
Francis's prophecy of the apostasy of a part of the Order was about to
be fulfilled. A tempest of revolt swept over the hermitages of Umbria.
Must they not, by any means, prevent this abomination in the holy place?

They knew that Elias was terrible in his severities, but his opponents
felt in themselves courage to go to the last extremity, and suffer
everything to defend their convictions. One day the poor-box was found
shattered by Brother Leo and his friends.[6]

To this degree of intensity the struggle had arrived. At this crisis the
first legend appeared.

II. First Life by Thomas of Celano[7]

Thomas of Celano, in writing this legend, to which he was later to
return for its completion, obeyed an express order of Pope Gregory

Why did he not apply to one of the Brothers of the Saint's immediate
circle? The talent of this author might explain this choice, but
besides the fact that literary considerations would in this case hold a
secondary place, Brother Leo and several others proved later that they
also knew how to handle the pen.

If Celano was put in trust with the official biography, it is because,
being equally in sympathy with Gregory IX. and Brother Elias, his
absence had kept him out of the conflicts which had marked the last
years of Francis's life. Of an irenic temper, he belonged to the
category of those souls who easily persuade themselves that obedience is
the first of virtues, that every superior is a saint; and if unluckily
he is not, that we should none the less act as though he were.

We have some knowledge of his life. A native of Celano in the Abruzzi,
he discreetly observes that his family was noble, even adding, with a
touch of artless simplicity, that the master had a peculiar regard for
noble and educated Brothers. He entered the Order about 1215,[9] on
the return of Francis from Spain.

At the chapter of 1221 Cæsar of Speyer, charged with the mission to
Germany, took him among those who were to accompany him.[10] In 1223 he
was named custode of Mayence, Worms, Cologne, and Speyer. In April of
the same year, when Cæsar returned to Italy, devoured with the longing
to see St. Francis again, he commissioned Celano to execute his
functions until the arrival of the new provincial.[11]

We have no information as to where he was after the chapter-general held
at Speyer September 8, 1223. He must have been in Assisi in 1228, for
his account of the canonization is that of an eye-witness. He was there
again in 1230, and doubtless clothed with an important office, since he
could commit to Brother Giordano the relics of St. Francis.[12]

Written in a pleasing style, very often poetic, his work breathes an
affecting admiration for his hero; his testimony at once makes itself
felt as sincere and true: when he is partial it is without intention and
even without his knowledge. The weak point in this biography is the
picture which it outlines of the relations between Brother Elias and the
founder of the Order: from the chapters devoted to the last two years we
receive a very clear impression that Elias was named by Francis to
succeed him.[13]

Now if we reflect that at the time when Celano wrote, Giovanni Parenti
was minister-general, we at once perceive the bearing of these
indications.[14] Every opportunity is seized to give a preponderating
importance to Elias.[15] It is a true manifesto in his favor.

Have we reason to blame Celano? I think not. We must simply remember
that his work might with justice be called the legend of Gregory IX.
Elias was the pope's man, and the biography is worked up from the
information he gave. He could not avoid dwelling with peculiar
satisfaction upon his intimacy with Francis.

On the other hand, we cannot expect to find here such details as might
have sustained the pretension of the adversaries of Elias, those unruly
Zealots who were already proudly adorning themselves with the title of
_Companions of the Saint_ and endeavoring to constitute a sort of
spiritual aristocracy in the Order. Among them were four who during the
last two years had not, so to say, quitted Francis. We can imagine how
difficult it was not to speak of them. Celano carefully omits to mention
their names under pretext of sparing their modesty;[16] but by the
praises lavished upon Gregory IX., Brother Elias,[17] St. Clara,[18]
and even upon very secondary persons, he shows that his discretion is
far from being always so alert.

All this is very serious, but we must not exaggerate it. There is an
evident partiality, but it would be unjust to go farther and believe, as
men did later, that the last part of Francis's life was an active
struggle against the very person of Elias. A struggle there surely was,
but it was against tendencies whose spring Francis did not perceive. He
carried with him to his tomb his delusion as to his co-laborer.

For that matter this defect is after all secondary so far as the
physiognomy of Francis himself is concerned. In Celano's Life, as in the
Three Companions or the Fioretti, he appears with a smile for all joys,
and floods of tears for all woes; we feel everywhere the restrained
emotion of the writer; his heart is subjected by the moral beauty of his


When Thomas of Celano closed his legend he perceived more than anyone
the deficiencies of his work, for which he had been able to collect but
insufficient material.

Elias and the other Assisan brothers had told him of Francis's youth and
his activity in Umbria; but besides that he would have preferred,
whether from prudence or from love of peace, to keep silence upon
certain events,[19] there were long periods upon which he had not
received a single item of information.[20]

He therefore seems to indicate his intention of resuming and completing
his work.[21]

This is not the place to write the history of the Order, but a few facts
are necessary to put the documents into their proper surroundings.

Elected minister-general in 1232, Brother Elias took advantage of the
fact to labor with indomitable energy toward the realization of his own
ideas. In all the provinces new collections were organized for the
Basilica of Assisi, the work upon which was pushed with an activity
which however injured neither the strength of the edifice nor the
beauty of its details, which are as finished and perfect as those of any
monument in Europe.

We may conceive of the enormous sums which it had been necessary to
raise in order to complete such an enterprise in so short a time. More
than that, Brother Elias exacted absolute obedience from all his
subordinates; naming and removing the provincial ministers according to
his personal views, he neglected to convoke the chapter-general, and
sent his emissaries under the name of visitors into all the provinces to
secure the execution of his orders.

The moderate party in Germany, France, and England very soon found his
yoke insupportable. It was hard for them to be directed by an Italian
minister resident at Assisi, a small town quite aside from the highways
of civilization, entirely a stranger to the scientific movement
concentred in the universities of Oxford, Paris, and Bologna.

In the indignation of the _Zelanti_ against Elias and his contempt for
the Rule, they found a decisive support. Very soon the minister had for
his defence nothing but his own energy, and the favor of the pope and of
the few Italian moderates. By a great increase of vigilance and severity
he repressed several attempts at revolt.

His adversaries, however, succeeded in establishing secret intelligence
at the court of Rome; even the pope's confessor was gained; yet in spite
of all these circumstances, the success of the conspiracy was still
uncertain when the chapter of 1239 opened.

Gregory IX., still favorable to Elias,[22] presided. Fear gave sudden
courage to the conspirators; they threw their accusations in their
enemy's face.

Thomas of Eccleston gives a highly colored narrative of what took place.
Elias was proud, violent, even threatening. There were cries and
vociferations from both sides; they were about to come to blows when a
few words from the pope restored silence. He had made up his mind to
abandon his _protégé_. He asked for his resignation. Elias indignantly

Gregory IX. then explained that in keeping him in charge he had thought
himself acting in accordance with the wishes of the majority: that he
had no intention to dominate the Order, and, since the Brothers no
longer desired Elias, he declared him deposed from the generalate.

The joy of the victors, says Eccleston, was immense and ineffable. They
chose Alberto di Pisa, provincial of England, to succeed him, and from
that time bent all their efforts to represent Elias as a creature of
Frederick II.[23] The former minister wrote indeed to the pope to
explain his conduct, but the letter did not reach its destination. It
must have reached the hands of his successor, and not been sent forward;
when Alberto of Pisa died it was found in his tunic.[24]

All the fury of the aged pontiff was unchained against Elias. One must
read the documents to see to what a height his anger could rise. The
friar retorted with a virulence which though less wordy was far more

These events gained an indescribable notoriety[26] all over Europe and
threw the Order into profound disturbance. Many of the partisans of
Elias became convinced that they had been deceived by an impostor, and
they drew toward the group of Zealots, who never ceased to demand the
observance pure and simple of the Rule and the Will.

Thomas of Celano was of this number.[27] With profound sadness he saw
the innumerable influences that were secretly undermining the Franciscan
institute and menacing it with ruin. Already a refrain was going the
rounds of the convents, singing the victory of Paris over Assisi, that
is, of learning over poverty.

The Zealots gained new courage. Unaccustomed to the subtleties of
ecclesiastical politics, they did not perceive that the pope, while
condemning Brother Elias, had in nowise modified the general course
which he had marked out for the Order. The ministers-general, Alberto di
Pisa, 1239-1240, Aymon of Faversham, 1240-1244, Crescentius de Jesi,
1244-1247, were all, with different shades of meaning, representatives
of the moderate party.

Thomas of Celano's first legend had become impossible. The prominence
there given to Elias was almost a scandal. The necessity of working it
over and completing it became clearly evident at the chapter of Genoa

All the Brothers who had anything to tell about Francis's life were
invited to commit it to writing and send it to the minister Crescentius
de Jesi.[28] The latter immediately caused a tract to be drawn up in
the form of a dialogue, commencing with the words: "_Venerabilium gesta
Patrum_." So soon after as the time of Bernard de Besse, only fragments
of this were left.[29]

But happily several of the works which saw the light in consequence of
the decision of this chapter have been preserved to us. It is to this
that we owe the Legend of the Three Companions and the Second Life by
Thomas of Celano.


The life of St. Francis which has come down to us under the name of the
Legend of the Three Companions was finished on August 11, 1246, in a
little convent in the vale of Rieti, which appears often in the course
of this history, that of Greccio. This hermitage had been Francis's
favorite abode, especially in the latter part of his life. He had thus
made it doubly dear to the hearts of his disciples.[31] It naturally
became, from the earliest days of the Order, the headquarters of the
Observants,[32] and it remains through all the centuries one of the
purest centres of Franciscan piety.

The authors of this legend were men worthy to tell St. Francis's story,
and perhaps the most capable of doing it: the friars Leo, Angelo, and
Rufino. All three had lived in intimacy with him, and had been his
companions through the most important years. More than this, they took
the trouble to go to others for further information, particularly to
Filippo, the visitor of the Clarisses, to Illuminato di Rieti, Masseo di
Marignano, John, the confidant of Egidio, and Bernardo di Quintavalle.

Such names as these promise much, and happily we are not disappointed in
our expectation. As it has come down to us, this document is the only
one worthy from the point of view of history to be placed beside the
First Life by Celano.

The names of the authors and the date of the composition indicate before
examination the tendency with which it is likely to be in harmony. It is
the first manifesto of the Brothers who remained faithful to the spirit
and letter of the Rule. This is confirmed by an attentive reading; it is
at least as much a panegyric of Poverty as a history of St. Francis.

We naturally expect to see the Three Companions relating to us with a
very particular delight the innumerable features of the legends of which
Greccio was the theatre; we turn to the end of the volume, expecting to
find the story of the last years of which they were witnesses, and are
lost in surprise to find nothing of the kind.

While the first half of the work describes Francis's youth, filling out
here and there Celano's First Life, the second[33] is devoted to a
picture of the early days of the Order, a picture of incomparable
freshness and intensity of life; but strangely enough, after having told
us so much at length of Francis's youth and then of the first days of
the Order, the story abruptly leaps over from the year 1220 to the death
and the canonization, to which after all only a few pages are

This is too extraordinary to be the result of chance. What has happened?
It is evident that the Legend of the Three Companions as we have it
to-day is only a fragment of the original, which was no doubt revised,
corrected, and considerably cut down by the authorities of the Order
before they would permit it to be circulated.[35] If the authors had
been interrupted in their work, and obliged to cut short the end, as
might have been the case, they would have said so in their letter of
envoy, but there are still other arguments in favor of our hypothesis.

Brother Leo having had the first and principal part in the production of
the work of the Three Companions, it is often called Brother Leo's
Legend; now Brother Leo's Legend is several times cited by Ubertini di
Casali, arraigned before the court of Avignon by the party of the Common
Observance. Evidently Ubertini would have taken good care not to appeal
to an apocryphal document; a false citation would have been enough to
bring him to confusion, and his enemies would not have failed to make
the most of his imprudence. We have at hand all the documents of the
trial,[36] attacks, replies, counter replies, and nowhere do we see the
Liberals accuse their adversary of falsehood. For that matter, the
latter makes his citations with a precision that admits of no
cavil.[37] He appeals to writings to be found in a press in the
convent of Assisi, of which he gives sometimes a copy, sometimes an
original.[38] We are then authorized to conclude that we have here
fragments which have survived the suppression of the last and most
important part of the Legend of the Three Companions.

It is not surprising that the work of Francis's dearest friends should
have been so seriously mutilated. It was the manifesto of a party that
Crescentius was hunting down with all his power.

After the fleeting reaction of the generalate of Giovanni di Parma we
shall see a man of worth like St. Bonaventura moving for the suppression
of all the primitive legends that his own compilation may be substituted
for them.

It is truly singular that no one has perceived the fragmentary state of
the work of the Three Companions. The prologue alone might have
suggested this idea. Why should it take three to write a few pages? Why
this solemn enumeration of Brothers whose testimony and collaboration
are asked for? There would be a surprising disproportion between the
effort and the result.

More than all, the authors say that they shall not stop at relating the
miracles, but they desire above all to exhibit the ideas of Francis and
his life with the Brothers, but we search in vain for any account of
miracles in what we now have.[39]

An Italian translation of this legend, published by Father Stanislaus
Melchiorri,[40] has suddenly given me an indirect confirmation of this
point of view. This monk is only its publisher, and has simply been able
to discover that in 1577 it was taken from a very ancient manuscript by
a certain Muzio Achillei di San Severino.[41]

This Italian translation contained only the last chapters of the legend,
those which tell of the death, the stigmata, and the translation of the
remains.[42] It was, then, made at a time when the suppressed portion
had not been replaced by a short summary of the other legends.

From all this two conclusions emerge for the critics: 1. This final
summary has not the same authority as the rest of the work, since the
time when it was added is unknown. 2. Fragments of a legend by Brother
Leo or by the Three Companions scattered through later compilations may
be perfectly authentic.

In its present condition this legend of the Three Companions is the
finest piece of Franciscan literature, and one of the most delightful
productions of the Middle Ages. There is something indescribably sweet,
confiding, chaste, in these pages, an energy of virile youth which the
Fioretti suggest but never attain to. At more than six hundred years of
distance the purest dream that ever thrilled the Christian Church seems
to live again.

These friars of Greccio, who, scattered over the mountain, under the
shade of the olive-trees, passed their days in singing the Hymn of the
Sun, are the true models of the primitive Umbrian Masters. They are all
alike; they are awkwardly posed; everything in and around them sins
against the most elementary rules of art, and yet their memory pursues
you, and when you have long forgotten the works of impeccable modern
artists you recall without effort these creations of those unknown
painters; for love calls for love, and these vapid personages have very
true and pure hearts, a more than human love shines forth from their
whole being, they speak to you and make you better.

Such is this book, the first utterance of the Spiritual Franciscans, in
which we already see the coming to life of some of those bold doctrines
that not only divided the Franciscan family into two hostile branches,
but which were to bring some of their defenders to the heretic's


We may now take a step forward and try to group the fragments of the
Legend of the Three Companions, or of Brother Leo, which are to be found
in later writings.

We must here be more than ever on our guard against absolute theories;
one of the most fruitful principles of historic criticism is to prefer
contemporary documents, or at least those which are nearest them; but
even with these it is necessary to use a little discretion.

It seems impossible to attack the reasoning of the Bollandists, who
refuse to know anything of legends written after that of St. Bonaventura
(1260), under pretext that, coming after several other authorized
biographies, he was better situated than anyone for getting information
and completing the work of his predecessors.[44] In reality this is
absurd, for it assumes that Bonaventura undertook to write as a
historian. This is to forget that he wrote not only for the purpose of
edification, but also as minister-general of the Minor Brothers. From
this fact his first duty was to keep silent on many facts, and those not
the least interesting. What shall we say of a biography where Francis's
Will is not even mentioned?

It is easy to turn away from a writing of the fourteenth century, on the
ground that the author did not see what was going on a hundred years
before; still we must not forget that many books of the end of the
Middle Ages resemble those old mansions at which four or five generators
have toiled. An inscription on their front often only shows the touch of
the last restorer or the last destroyer, and the names which are set
forth with the greatest complacency are not always those of the real

Such have been many Franciscan books; to attribute them to any one
author would be impracticable; very different hands have worked upon
them, and such an amalgam has its own charm and interest.

Turning them over--I had almost said associating with them--we come to
see clearly into this tangled web, for every work of man bears the trace
of the hand that made it: this trace may perhaps be of an almost
imperceptible delicacy; it exists none the less, ready to reveal itself
to practised eyes. What is more impersonal than the photograph of a
landscape or of a painting, and yet among several hundreds of proofs the
amateur will go straight to the work of the operator he prefers.

These reflections were suggested by the careful study of a curious book
printed many times since the sixteenth century, the _Speculum Vitæ S.
Francisci et sociorum ejus_.[45] A complete study of this work, its
sources, its printed editions, the numerous differences in the
manuscripts, would by itself require a volume and an epitome of the
history of the Order. I can give here only a few notes, taking for base
the oldest edition, that of 1504.

The confusion which reigns here is frightful. Incidents in the life of
Francis and his companions are brought together with no plan; several of
them are repeated after the interval of a few pages in a quite different
manner;[46] certain chapters are so awkwardly introduced that the
compiler has forgotten to remove the number that they bore in the work
from which he borrowed them;[47] finally, to our great surprise, we
find several _Incipit_.[48]

However, with a little perseverance we soon perceive a few openings in
the labyrinth. In the first place, here are several chapters of the
legend of Bonaventura which seem to have been put in the van as if to
protect the rest of the book. If we abstract them and the whole series
of chapters from the Fioretti, we shall have diminished the work by
nearly three-quarters.

If we take away two more chapters taken from St. Bernard of Clairvaux
and those containing Franciscan prayers, or various attestations
concerning the indulgence of Portiuncula, we finally arrive at a sort of
residue, if the expression may be forgiven, of a remarkable homogeneity.

Here the style is very different from that in the surrounding pages,
closely recalling that of the Three Companions; a single thought
inspires these pages, that the corner-stone of the Order is the love of

Why should we not have here some fragments of the original legend of the
Three Companions? We find here nothing which does not fit in with what
we know, nothing which suggests the embellishments of a late tradition.

To confirm this hypothesis come different passages which we find cited
by Ubertini di Casali and by Angelo Clareno as being by Brother Leo, and
an attentive comparison of the text shows that these authors can neither
have drawn them from the Speculum nor the Speculum from them.

There is, besides, one phrase which, apart from the inspiration and
style, will suffice at the first glance to mark the common origin of
most of these pieces.[49] _Nos qui cum ipso fuimus_. "We who have been
with him." These words, which recur in almost every incident,[49] are
in many cases only a grateful tribute to their spiritual father, but
sometimes, too, they have a touch of bitterness. These hermits of
Greccio suddenly recall to mind their rights. Are we not the only, the
true interpreters of the Saint's instructions--we who lived continually
with him; we who, hour after hour, have meditated upon his words, his
sighs, and his hymns?

We can understand that such pretensions were not to the taste of the
Common Observance, and that Crescentius, with an incontestable
authority, has suppressed nearly all this legend.[51]

As for the fragments that have been preserved to us, though they furnish
many details about the last years of St. Francis's life, they still are
not those whose loss is so much to be regretted. The authors who
reproduce them were defending a cause. We owe them little more than the
incidents which in one way or another concern the question of poverty.
They had nothing to do with the other accounts, as they were not writing
a biography. But even within these narrow limits these fragments are in
the first order of importance; and I have not hesitated to use them
largely. It is needless to say that while ascribing their origin to the
Three Companions, and in particular to Brother Leo, we must not suppose
that we have the very letter in the texts which have come down to us.
The pieces given by Ubertini di Casali and Angelo Clareno are actual
citations, and deserve full confidence as such. As for those which are
preserved to us in the Speculum, they may often have been abridged,
explanatory notes may have slipped into the text, but nowhere do we find
interpolations in the bad sense of the word.[52]

Finally, if we compare the fragments with the corresponding accounts in
the Second Life of Celano, we see that the latter has often borrowed
verbatim from Brother Leo, but generally he has considerably abridged
the passages, adding reflections here and there, especially retouching
the style to make it more elegant.

Such a comparison soon proves that Brother Leo's narratives are the
original and that it is impossible to see in them a later amplification
of those of Thomas of Celano, as we might at first be tempted to think


_First Part_

In consequence of the decision of the chapter of 1244 search was begun
in all quarters for memorials of the early times of the Order. In view
of the ardor of this inquiry, in which zeal for the glory of the
Franciscan institute certainly cast the interests of history into the
background, the minister-general, Crescentius, was obliged to take
certain precautions.

Many of the pieces that he received were doing double duty; others might
contradict one another; many of them, under color of telling the life of
the Saint, had no other object than to oppose the present to the past.

It soon became imperative to constitute a sort of commission charged to
study and coördinate all this matter.[55] What more natural than to put
Thomas of Celano at its head? Ever since the approbation of the first
legend by Gregory IX. he had appeared to be in a sense the official
historiographer of the Order.[56]

This view accords perfectly with the contents of the seventeen chapters
which contain the first part of the second legend. It offers itself at
the outset as a compilation. Celano is surrounded with companions who
help him.[57] A more attentive examination shows that its principal
source is the Legend of the Three Companions, which the compilers
worked over, sometimes filling out certain details, more often making
large excisions.

Everything that does not concern St. Francis is ruthlessly proscribed;
we feel the well-defined purpose to leave in the background the
disciples who so complacently placed themselves in the foreground.[58]

The work of the Three Companions had been finished August 11, 1246. On
July 13, 1247, the chapter of Lyons put an end to the powers of
Crescentius. It is, therefore, between these two dates that we must
place the composition of the first part of Thomas of Celano's Second


_Second Part_

The election of Giovanni di Parma (1247-1257) as successor of
Crescentius was a victory for the Zealots. This man, in whose work-table
the birds came to make their nests,[61] was to astonish the world by
his virtues. No one saw more deeply into St. Francis's heart, no one was
more worthy to take up and continue his work.

He soon asked Celano to resume his work.[62] The latter was perhaps
alone at first, but little by little a group of collaborators formed
itself anew about him.[63] Thenceforth nothing prevented his doing with
that portion of the work of the Three Companions which Crescentius had
suppressed what he had already done with the part he had approved.

The Legend of Brother Leo has thus come down to us, entirely worked over
by Thomas of Celano, abridged and with all its freshness gone, but still
of capital importance in the absence of the major part of the original.

The events of which we possess two accounts permit us to measure the
extent of our loss. We find, in fact, in Celano's compilation all that
we expected to find in the Three Companions: the incidents belong
especially to the last two years of Francis's life, and the scene of
many of them is either Greccio or one of the hermitages of the vale of
Rieti;[64] according to tradition, Brother Leo was the hero of a great
number of the incidents here related[65] and all the citations that
Ubertini di Casali makes from Brother Leo's book find their
correspondents here.[66]

This second part of the Second Life perfectly reflects the new
circumstances to which it owes its existence. The question of Poverty
dominates everything;[67] the struggle between the two parties in the
Order reveals itself on every page; the collaborators are determined
that each event narrated shall be an indirect lesson to the Liberals, to
whom they oppose the Spirituals; the popes had commented on the Rule in
the large sense; they, on their side, undertook to comment on it in a
sense at once literal and spiritual, by the actions and words of its
author himself.

History has hardly any part here except as the vehicle of a thesis, a
fact which diminishes nothing of the historic value of the information
given in the course of these pages. But while in Celano's First Life and
in the Legend of the Three Companions the facts succeed one another
organically, here they are placed side by side. Therefore when we come
to read this work we are sensible of a fall; even from the literary
point of view the inferiority makes itself cruelly felt. Instead of a
poem we have before us a catalogue, very cleverly made, it is true, but
with no power to move us.


a. _Celano's Life of St. Francis for Use in the Choir._

Thomas of Celano made also a short legend for use in the choir. It is
divided into nine lessons and served for the Franciscan breviaries up to
the time when St. Bonaventura made his _Legenda Minor_.

That of Celano may be found in part (the first three lessons) in the
Assisi MS. 338, fol. 52a-53b; it is preceded by a letter of envoy:
"_Rogasti me frater Benedicte, ut de legenda B. P. N. F. quædam
exciperem et in novem lectionum seriem ordinarem_ ... etc. _B.
Franciscus de civitate Assisii ortus a puerilibus annis nutritus extitit

This work has no historic importance.

b. _Life of St. Francis in Verse._

In the list of biographers has sometimes been counted a poem in
hexameter verse[68] the text of which was edited in 1882 by the
lamented Cristofani.[69]

This work does not furnish a single new historic note. It is the Life by
Celano in verse and nothing more; the author's desire was to figure as a
poet. It is superfluous, therefore, to concern ourselves with it.[69]

c. _Biography of St. Francis by Giovanni di Ceperano._

One of the biographies which disappeared, no doubt in consequence of the
decision of the chapter of 1266,[71] is that of Giovanni di Ceperano.
The resemblance of his name to that of Thomas of Celano has occasioned
much confusion.[72] The most precious information which we have
respecting him is given by Bernard of Besse in the opening of his _De
laudibus St. Francisci_: "_Plenam virtutibus B. Francisci vitam scripsit
in Italia exquisitæ vir eloquentiæ fr. Thomas jubente Domino Gregorio
papa IX. et eam quæ incipit: Quasi stella matutina vir venerabilis
Dominus et fertur Joannes, Apostolicæ sedis notarius._"[73]

In the face of so precise a text all doubt as to the existence of the
work of Giovanni di Ceperano is impossible. The Reverend Father Denifle
has been able to throw new light upon this question. In a manuscript
containing the liturgy of the Brothers Minor and finished in 1256 he
found the nine lessons for the festival of St. Francis preceded by the
title: _Ex gestis ejus abbreviatis quæ sic incipiunt: Quasi stella_
(_Zeitschrift für kath. Theol._, vii., p. 710. Cf. _Archiv._, i., p.
148). This summary of Ceperano's work gives, as we should expect, no new
information; but perhaps we need not despair of finding the very work of
this author.

d. _Life of St. Francis by Brother Julian._

It was doubtless about 1230 that Brother Julian, the Teuton, who had
been chapel-master at the court of the King of France, was commissioned
to put the finishing touches to the Office of St. Francis.[74]
Evidently such a work would contain nothing original, and its loss is
little felt.


Under the generalate of Giovanni di Parma (1247-1257) the Franciscan
parties underwent modifications, in consequence of which their
opposition became still more striking than before.

The Zelanti, with the minister-general at their head, enthusiastically
adopted the views of Gioacchino di Fiore. The predictions of the
Calabrian abbot corresponded too well with their inmost convictions for
any other course to be possible: they seemed to see Francis, as a new
Christ, inaugurating the third era of the world.

For a few years these dreams moved all Europe; the faith of the
Joachimites was so ardent that it made its way by its own force;
sceptics like Salimbeni told themselves that on the whole it was surely
wiser not to be taken unawares by the great catastrophe of 1260, and
hastened in crowds to the cell of Hyères to be initiated by Hugues de
Digne in the mysteries of the new times: as to the people, they waited,
trembling, divided between hope and terror. Nevertheless their
adversaries did not consider themselves beaten, and the Liberal party
still remained the most numerous. Of an angelic purity, Giovanni di
Parma believed in the omnipotence of example: events showed how mistaken
he was; at the close of his term of office scandals were not less
flagrant than ten years earlier.[75]

Between these two extreme parties, against which he was to proceed with
equal rigor, stood that of the Moderates, to which belonged St.

A mystic, but of a formal and orthodox mysticism, he saw the revolution
toward which the Church was hastening if the party of the eternal Gospel
was to triumph; its victory would not be that of this or that heresy in
detail, it would be, with brief delay, the ruin of the entire
ecclesiastical edifice; he was too perspicacious not to see that in the
last analysis the struggle then going on was that of the individual
conscience against authority. This explains, and up to a certain point
gains him pardon for, his severities against his opponents; he was
supported by the court of Rome and by all those who desired to make the
Order a school at once of piety and of learning.

No sooner was he elected general than, with a purpose that never knew
hesitation, and a will whose firmness made itself everywhere felt, he
took his steps to forward this double aim. On the very morrow of his
nomination he sketched the programme of reforms against the Liberal
party, and at the same time secured the summons of the Joachimite
Brothers before an ecclesiastical tribunal at Città-della-Pieve. This
tribunal condemned them to perpetual imprisonment, and it needed the
personal intervention of Cardinal Ottobonus, the future Adrian V., for
Giovanni di Parma to be left free to retire to the Convent of Greccio.

The first chapter held under the presidence of Bonaventura, in the
extended decisions of which we find everywhere tokens of his influence,
assembled at Narbonne in 1260. He was then commissioned to compose a new
life of St. Francis.[77]

We easily understand the anxieties to which this decision of the
Brothers was an answer. The number of legends had greatly increased, for
besides those which we have first studied or noted there were others in
existence which have completely disappeared, and it had become equally
difficult for the Brothers who went forth on missions either to make a
choice between them or to carry them all.

The course of the new historian was therefore clearly marked out: he
must do the work of compiler and peacemaker. He failed in neither. His
book is a true sheaf, or rather it is a millstone under which the
indefatigable author has pressed, somewhat at hazard, the sheaves of his
predecessors. Most of the time he inserts them just as they are,
confining himself to the work of harvesting them and weeding out the

Therefore, when we reach the end of this voluminous work we have a very
vague impression of St. Francis. We see that he was a saint, a very
great saint, since he performed an innumerable quantity of miracles,
great and small; but we feel very much as if we had been going through a
shop of objects of piety. All these statues, whether they are called St.
Anthony the Abbot, St. Dominic, St. Theresa, or St. Vincent de Paul,
have the same expression of mincing humility, of a somewhat shallow
ecstasy. These are saints, if you please, miracle-workers; they are not
men; he who made them made them by rule, by process; he has put nothing
of his heart in these ever-bowed foreheads, these lips with their wan

God forbid that I should say or think that St. Bonaventura was not
worthy to write a life of St. Francis, but the circumstances controlled
his work, and it is no injustice to him to say that it is fortunate for
Francis, and especially for us, that we have another biography of the
Poverello than that of the Seraphic Doctor.

Three years after, in 1263, he brought his completed work to the
chapter-general convoked under his presidence at Pisa. It was there
solemnly approved.[78]

It is impossible to say whether they thought that the presence of the
new legend would suffice to put the old ones out of mind, but it seems
that at this time nothing was said about the latter.

It was not so at the following chapter. This one, held at Paris, came to
a decision destined to have disastrous results for the primitive
Franciscan documents. This decree, emanating from an assembly presided
over by Bonaventura in person, is too important not to be quoted
textually: "Item, the Chapter-general ordains on obedience that all the
legends of the Blessed Francis formerly made shall be destroyed. The
Brothers who shall find any without the Order must try to make away with
them since the legend made by the General is compiled from accounts of
three who almost always accompanied the Blessed Francis; all that they
could certainly know and all that is proven has been carefully inserted
therein."[79] It would have been difficult to be more precise. We see
the perseverance with which Bonaventura carried on his struggle against
the extreme parties. This decree explains the almost complete
disappearance of the manuscripts of Celano and the Three Companions,
since in certain collections even those of Bonaventura's legend are
hardly to be found.

As we have seen, Bonaventura aimed to write a sort of official or
canonical biography; he succeeded only too well. Most of the accounts
that we already know have gone into his collection, but not without at
times suffering profound mutilations. We are not surprised to find him
passing over Francis's youth with more discretion than Celano in the
First Life, but we regret to find him ornamenting and materializing some
of the loveliest incidents of the earlier legends.

It is not enough for him that Francis hears the crucifix of St. Daraian
speak; he pauses to lay stress on the assertion that he heard it
_corporeis auribus_ and that no one was in the chapel at that moment!
Brother Monaldo at the chapter of Arles sees St. Francis appear
_corporeis oculis_. He often abridges his predecessors, but this is not
his invariable rule. When he reaches the account of the stigmata he
devotes long pages to it,[79] relates a sort of consultation held by
St. Francis as to whether he could conceal them, and adds several
miracles due to these sacred wounds; further on he returns to the
subject to show a certain Girolamo, Knight of Assisi, desiring to touch
with his hands the miraculous nails.[81] On the other hand, he uses a
significant discretion wherever the companions of the Saint are in
question. He names only three of the first eleven disciples,[82] and
no more mentions Brothers Leo, Angelo, Rufino, Masseo, than their
adversary, Brother Elias.

As to the incidents which we find for the first time in this collection,
they hardly make us regret the unknown sources which must have been at
the service of the famous Doctor; it would appear that the healing of
Morico, restored to health by a few pellets of bread soaked in the oil
of the lamp which burned before the altar of the Virgin,[83] has little
more importance for the life of St. Francis than the story of the sheep
given to Giacomina di Settesoli which awakened its mistress to summon
her to go to mass.[84] What shall we think of that other sheep, of
Portiuncula, which hastened to the choir whenever it heard the psalmody
of the friars, and kneeled devoutly for the elevation of the Holy

All these incidents, the list of which might be enlarged,[86] betrays
the working-over of the legend. St. Francis becomes a great
thaumaturgist, but his physiognomy loses its originality.

The greatest fault of this work is, in fact, the vagueness of the figure
of the Saint. While in Celano there are the large lines of a
soul-history, a sketch of the affecting drama of a man who attains to
the conquest of himself, with Bonaventura all this interior action
disappears before divine interventions; his heart is, so to speak, the
geometrical locality of a certain number of visitants; he is a passive
instrument in the hands of God, and we really cannot see why he should
have been chosen rather than another.

And yet Bonaventura was an Italian; he had seen Umbria; he must have
knelt and celebrated the sacred mysteries in Portiuncula, that cradle of
the noblest of religious reformations; he had conversed with Brother
Egidio, and must have heard from his lips an echo of the first
Franciscan fervor; but, alas! nothing of that rapture passed into his
book, and if the truth must be told, I find it quite inferior to much
later documents, to the Fioretti, for example; for they understood, at
least in part, the soul of Francis; they felt the throbbing of that
heart, with all its sensitiveness, admiration, indulgence, love,
independence, and absence of carefulness.


Bonaventura's work did not discourage the biographers. The historic
value of their labor is almost nothing, and we shall not even attempt to
catalogue them.

Bernard of Besse, a native probably of the south of France[88] and
secretary of Bonaventura,[89] made a summary of the earlier legends.
This work, which brings us no authentic historic indication, is
interesting only for the care with which the author has noted the places
where repose the Brothers who died in odor of sanctity, and relates a
mass of visions all tending to prove the excellence of the Order.[89]

Still the publication of this document will perform the valuable office
of throwing a little light upon the difficult question of the sources.
Several passages of the _De laudibus_ appear again textually in the
Speculum,[91] and as a single glance is enough to show that the
Speculum did not copy the _De laudibus_, it must be that Bernard of
Besse had before him a copy, if not of the Speculum at least of a
document of the same kind.


   [1] Bull _Quo elongati_ of September 28, 1230. See p. 336.

   [2] It is needless to say that I have no desire to put myself in
       opposition to that principle, one of the most fruitful of
       criticism, but still it should not be employed alone.

   [3] The learned works that have appeared in Germany in late
       years err in the same way. They will be found cited in the body
       of the work.

   [4] Eccl., 13. _Voluerunt ipsi, quos ad capitulam concesserat
       venire frater Helias; nam omnes concessit, etc._ _An. fr., t.
       i._, p. 241. Cf. _Mon. Germ. hist. Script._, t., 28, p. 564.

   [5] The death of Francis occurred on October 3, 1226. On March
       29, 1228, Elias acquired the site for the basilica. The
       _Instrumentum donationis_ is still preserved at Assisi: Piece
       No. 1 of the twelfth package of _Instrumenta diversa pertinentia
       ad Sacrum Conventum_. It has been published by Thode: _Franz von
       Assisi_, p. 359.

       On July 17th of the same year, the day after the canonization,
       Gregory IX. solemnly laid the first stone. Less than two years
       afterward the Lower church was finished, and on May 25, 1230,
       the body of the Saint was carried there. In 1236 the Upper
       church was finished. It was already decorated with a first
       series of frescos, and Giunta Pisano painted Elias, life size,
       kneeling at the foot of the crucifix over the entrance to the
       choir. In 1239 everything was finished, and the campanile
       received the famous bells whose chimes still delight all the
       valley of Umbria. Thus, then, three months and a half before the
       canonization, Elias received the site of the basilica. The act
       of canonization commenced at the end of May, 1228 (1 Cel., 123
       and 124. Cf. Potthast, 8194ff).

   [6] _Spec._, 167a. Cf. _An. fr._, ii., p. 45 and note.

   [7] The Bollandists followed the text (A. SS., Octobris, t. ii.,
       pp. 683-723) of a manuscript of the Cistercian abbey of Longpont
       in the diocese of Soissons. It has since been published in Rome
       in 1806, without the name of the editor (in reality by the
       Convent Father Rinaldi), under the title: _Seraphici viri S.
       Francisci Assisiatis vitæ dual auctore B. Thoma de Celano_,
       according to a manuscript (of Fallerone, in the March of Ancona)
       which was stolen in the vicinity of Terni by brigands from the
       Brother charged with bringing it back. The second text was
       reproduced at Rome in 1880 by Canon Amoni: _Vita prima S.
       Francisci, auctore B. Thoma de Celano. Roma, tipografia della
       pace_, 1880, in 8vo, 42 pp. The citations will follow the
       divisions made by the Bollandists, but in many important
       passages the Rinaldi-Amoni text gives better readings than that
       of the Bollandists. The latter has been here and there retouched
       and filled out. See, for example, 1 Cel., 24 and 31. As for the
       manuscripts, Father Denifle thinks that the oldest of those
       which are known is that at Barcelona: _Archivo de la corona de
       Aragon_, Ripoll, n. 41 (_Archiv._, t. i., p. 148). There is one
       in the National Library of Paris, Latin alcove, No. 3817, which
       includes a curious note: "_Apud Perusium felix domnus papa
       Gregorius nonus gloriosi secundo pontificus sui anno, quinto
       kal. martii (February 25, 1229) legendam hanc recepit,
       confirmavit et censuit fore tenendam._" Another manuscript,
       which merits attention, both because of its age, thirteenth
       century, and because of the correction in the text, and which
       appears to have escaped the researches of the students of the
       Franciscans, is the one owned by the École de Médicine at
       Montpellier, No. 30, in vellum folio: _Passionale vetus ecclesiæ
       S. Benigni divionensis_. The story of Celano occupies in it the
       fos. 257a-271b. The text ends abruptly in the middle of
       paragraph 112 with _supiriis ostendebant_. Except for this final
       break it is complete. Cf. Archives Pertz, t. vii., pp. 195 and
       196. Vide General catalogue of the manuscripts of the public
       libraries of the departments, t. i., p. 295.

   [8] Vide 1 Cel., Prol. _Jubente domino et glorioso Papa
       Gregorio_. Celano wrote it after the canonization (July 16,
       1228) and before February 25, 1229, for the date indicated above
       raises no difficulty.

   [9] 1 Cel., 56. Perhaps he was the son of that Thomas, Count of
       Celano, to whom Ryccardi di S. Germano so often made allusion in
       his chronicle: 1219-1223. See also two letters of Frederick II.
       to Honorius III., on April 24 and 25, 1223, published in
       Winckelmann: _Acta imperii inedita_, t. i., p. 232.

  [10] Giord., 19.

  [11] Giord., 30 and 31.

  [12] Giord., 59. Cf. Glassberger, ann. 1230. The question
       whether he is the author of the _Dies iræ_ would be out of place

  [13] This is so true that the majority of historians have been
       brought to believe in two generalates of Elias, one in
       1227-1230, the other in 1236-1239. The letter _Non ex odio_ of
       Frederick II. (1239) gives the same idea: _Revera papa iste
       quemdam religiosum et timoratum fratrem Helyam, ministrum
       ordinis fratrum minorum ab ipso beato Francisco patre ordinis
       migrationis suæ tempore constitutum ... in odium nostrum ...
       deposuit_. Huillard-Breholles: _Hist. dipl. Fred. II._, t. v.,
       p. 346.

  [14] He is named only once, 1 Cel., 48.

  [15] 1 Cel., 95, 98, 105, 109. The account of the Benediction is
       especially significant. _Super quem inquit (Franciscus) tenes
       dexteram meam? Super fratrem Heliam, inquiunt. Et ego sic volo,
       sit...._ 1 Cel., 108. Those last words obviously disclose the
       intention. Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 139.

  [16] 1 Cel., 102; cf. 91 and 109. Brother Leo is not even named
       in the whole work. Nor Angelo, Illuminato, Masseo either!

  [17] 1 Cel., Prol., 73-75; 99-101; 121-126. Next to St. Francis,
       Gregory IX. and Brother Elias (1 Cel., 69; 95; 98; 105; 108;
       109) are in the foreground.

  [18] 1 Cel., 18 and 19; 116 and 117.

  [19] Those which occurred during the absence of Francis
       (1220-1221). He overlooks the difficulties met at Rome in
       seeking the approbation of the first Rule; he mentions those
       connected neither with the second nor the third, and makes no
       allusion to the circumstances which provoked them. He recognized
       them, however, having lived in intimacy with Cæsar of Speyer,
       the collaborator of the second (1221).

  [20] For example, Francis's journey to Spain.

  [21] 1 Cel., 1, 88. _Et sola quæ necessaria magis occurrunt_ ad
       præsens _intendimus adnotare_. It is to be observed that in the
       prologue he speaks in the singular.

  [22] In 1238 he had sent Elias to Cremona, charged with a
       mission for Frederick II. Salembeni, ann. 1229. See also the
       reception given by Gregory IX. to the appellants against the
       General. Giord., 63.

  [23] See the letter of Frederick II. to Elias upon the
       translation of St. Elizabeth, May, 1236. Winkelmann, _Acta_ i.,
       p. 299. Cf. Huillard-Bréholles, _Hist. dipl._ Intr. p. cc.

  [24] The authorities for this story are: _Catalogus ministrorum_
       of Bernard of Besse, _ap_ Ehrle, _Zeitschrift_, vol. 7 (1883),
       p. 339; _Speculum_, 207b, and especially 167a-170a; Eccl., 13;
       Giord., 61-63; _Speculum_, Morin., tract i., fo. 60b.

  [25] _Asserabat etiam ipse prædictus frater Helyas ... papam ...
       fraudem facere de pecunia collecta ad succursum Terræ Sanctæ,
       scripta etiam ad beneplacitum suum in camera sua bullare clam et
       sine fratrum assensu et etiam cedulas vacuas, sed bullatas,
       multas nunciis suis traderet ... et alia multa enormia imposuit
       domino papæ ponens os suum in celo_. Matth. Paris, _Chron.
       Maj._, _ann. 1239_, _ap Mon. Ger. hist. Script._, t. 28, p. 182.
       Cf. Ficker, n. 2685.

  [26] Vide Ryccardi di S. Germano, _Chron._, _ap Mon. Ger. hist.
       Script._, t. 19, p. 380, ann. 1239. The letter of Frederick
       complaining of the deposition of Elias (1239):
       Huillard-Bréholles, _Hist. Dipl._, v., pp. 346-349. Cf. the
       Bull, _Attendite ad petram_, at the end of February, 1240,
       ibid., pp. 777-779; Potthast, 10849.

  [27] He was without doubt one of the bitterest adversaries of
       the emperor. His village had been burnt in 1224, by order of
       Frederick II., and the inhabitants transported to Sicily,
       afterward to Malta. Ryccardi di S. Germano, _loc. cit._, _ann._
       1223 and 1224.

  [28] Vide the prologue to 2 Cel. and to the 3 Soc. Cf.
       Glassberger, ann. 1244, _An. fr._, ii., p. 68. _Speculum_,
       Morin, tract. i., 61b.

  [29] _Catalogus ministrorum_, edited by Ehrle: _Zeitschrift_, t.
       7 (1883). no. 5. Cf. _Spec._, 208a. Mark of Lisbon speaks of it
       a little more at length, but he gives the honor of it to
       Giovanni of Parma, ed. Diola, t. ii., p. 38. On the other hand,
       in manuscript 691 of the archives of the Sacro-Convento at
       Assisi (a catalogue of the library of the convent made in 1381)
       is found, fo. 45a, a note of that work: "_Dyalogus sanctorum
       fratrum cum postibus cujus principium est: Venerabilia gesta
       patrum dignosque memoria, finis vero; non indigne feram me
       quoque reperisse consortem. In quo libro omnes quaterni sunt

  [30] The text was published for the first time by the
       Bollandists (A. SS., Octobris, t. ii., pp. 723-742), after a
       manuscript of the convent of the Brothers Minor of Louvain. It
       is from this edition that we make our citations. The editions
       published in Italy in the course of this century, cannot be
       found, except the last, due to Abbé Amoni. This one,
       unfortunately, is too faulty to serve as the basis of a
       scientific study. It appeared in Rome in 1880 (8vo, pp. 184)
       under the title: _Legenda S. Francisci Assisiensis quæ dicitur
       Legenda trium sociorum ex cod. membr._ _Biblioth. Vatic. num.

  [31] 2 Cel., 2, 5; 3, 7; 1 Cel., 60; Bon., 113; 1 Cel., 84;
       Bon., 149; 2 Cel., 2, 14; 3, 10.

  [32] Giovanni di Parma retired thither in 1276 and lived there
       almost entirely until his death (1288). _Tribul._, _Archiv._,
       vol. ii. (1886), p. 286.

  [33] 3 Soc., 25-67.

  [34] 3 Soc., 68-73.

  [35] The minister-general Crescentius of Jesi was an avowed
       adversary of the Zealots of the Rule. The contrary idea has been
       held by M. Müller (_Anfänge_, p. 180); but that learned scholar
       is not, it appears, acquainted with the recitals of the
       Chronicle of the Tribulations, which leave not a single doubt as
       to the persecutions which he directed against the Zealots
       (_Archiv._, t. ii., pp. 257-260). Anyone who attempts to dispute
       the historical worth of this proof will find a confirmation in
       the bulls of August 5, 1244, and of February 7, 1246 (Potthast,
       11450 and 12007). It was Crescentius, also, who obtained a bull
       stating that the Basilica of Assisi was _Caput et Mater
       ordinis_, while for the Zealots this rank pertained to the
       Portiuncula (1 Cel., 106; 3 Soc., 56; Bon., 23; 2 Cel., 1, 12;
       _Conform._, 217 ff). (See also on Crescentius, Glassberger, ann.
       1244, _An. fr._, p. 69; Sbaralea, _Bull. fr._, i., p. 502 ff;
       _Conform._, 121b. 1.) M. Müller has been led into error through
       a blunder of Eccleston, 9 (_An. fr._, i., p. 235). It is evident
       that the chapter of Genoa (1244) could not have pronounced
       against the _Declaratio Regulæ_ published November 14, 1245. On
       the contrary, it is Crescentius who called forth this
       _Declaratio_, against which, not without regret, the Zealots
       found a majority of the chapter of Metz (1249) presided over by
       Giovanni of Parma, a decided enemy of any _Declaratio_
       (_Archiv._, ii., p. 276). This view is found to be confirmed by
       a passage of the Speculum Morin (Rouen, 1509), f^o 62a: _In hoc
       capitulo (Narbonnæ) fuit ordinatum quod declaratio D.
       Innocentii, p. iv., maneat suspensa sicut in Capitulo_ METENSI.
       _Et præceptum est omnibus ne quis utatur ea in iis in quibus
       expositioni D. Gregorii IX. contradicit._

  [36] Published with all necessary scientific apparatus by F.
       Ehrle, S. J., in his studies _Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von
       Vienne_. _Archiv._, ii., pp. 353-416; iii., pp. 1-195.

  [37] See, for example, _Archiv._, iii., p. 53 ff. Cf. 76.
       _Adduxi verba et facta b. Francisci sicut est aliquando in
       legenda et sicut a sociis sancti patris audivi et in cedulis
       sanctæ memoriæ fratris Leonis legi manu sua conscriptis, sicut
       ab ore beati Francisci audivit._ Ib., p. 85.

  [38] _Hæc omnia patent per sua [B. Francisci] verba expressa per
       sanctum fratrem virum Leonem ejus socium tam de mandato sancti
       patris quam etiam de devotione prædicti fratris fuerunt
       solemniter conscripta, in libro qui habetur in armario fratrum
       de Assisio et in rotulis ejus, quos apud me habeo, manu ejusdem
       fratris Leonis conscriptis. Archiv._, iii., p. 168. Cf. p. 178.

  [39] 3 Soc., Prol. _Non contenti narrare solum miracula ...
       conversationis insignia et pii beneplaciti voluntatem_.

  [40] _Leggenda di S. Francesco, tipografia Morici et Badaloni_,
       Recanati, 1856, 1 vol., 8vo.

  [41] See Father Stanislaus's preface.

  [42] 3 Soc., 68-73.

  [43] The book lacks little of representing St. Francis as taking
       up the work of Jesus, interrupted (by the fault of the secular
       clergy) since the time of the apostles. The _viri evangelici_
       consider the members of the clergy _filios extraneos._ 3 Soc.,
       48 and 51. Cf. 3 Soc., 48. _Inveni virum ... per quem, credo
       Dominus velit in toto mundo fedem sanctæ Ecclesiæ reformare_.
       Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 141. _Videbatur revera fratri et omnium
       comitatium turbæ quod Christi et b. Francisci una persona

  [44] A. SS. p. 552.

  [45] _Venetiis, expensis domini Jordani de Dinslaken per Simonem
       de Luere_, 30 januarii, 1504. _Impressum Metis per Jasparem
       Hochffeder_, Anno Domini 1509. These two editions are identical,
       small 12mos, of 240 folios badly numbered. Edited under the same
       title by Spoelberch, Antwerp, 1620, 2 tomes in one volume, 8vo,
       208 and 192 pages, with a mass of alterations. The most
       important manuscript resembles that of the Vatican 4354. There
       are two at the Mazarin Library, 904 and 1350, dated 1459 and
       1460, one at Berlin (MS. theol. lat., 4to, no. 196 sæc. 14).
       Vide Ehrle, _Zeitschrift_. t. vii. (1883), p. 392f; _Analecta
       fr._, t. i., p. xi.; _Miscellanea_, 1888, pp. 119. 164. Cf. A.
       SS., pp. 550-552.

       The chapters are numbered in the first 72 folios only, but these
       numbers teem with errors; fo. 38b. caput lix., 40b, lix., 41b,
       lxi. ibid., lxii., 42a, lx., 43a, lxi. Besides at fos. 46b and
       47b there are two chapters lxvi. There are two lxxi., two
       lxxii., two lxxiii., etc.

  [46] For example, the history of the brigands of Monte-Casale,
       fos. 46b, and 58b. The remarks of Brother Elias to Francis, who
       is continually singing, 136b and 137a. The visit of Giacomina di
       Settesoli, 133a and 138a. The autograph benediction given to
       Brother Leo, 87a; 188a.

  [47] At fo. 20b we read: _Tertium capitulam de charitate et
       compassione et condescensione ad proximum. Capitulum_ xxvi. Cf.
       26a, 83a, 117b, 119a, 122a, 128b, 133b, 136b, where there are
       similar indications.

  [48] Fo. 5b: _Incipit Speculum vitæ b. Francesci et sociorum
       ejus_. Fo. 7b; _Incipit Speculum perfectionis_.

  [49] We should search for it in vain in the other pieces of the
       Speculum, and it reappears in the fragments of Brother Leo cited
       by Ubertini di Casali and Angelo Clareno.

  [50] Fo. 8b, 11a, 12a, 15a, 18b, 21b, 23b, 26a, 29a, 33b, 43b,
       41a, 48b, 118a, 129a, 130a, 134a, 135a, 136a.

  [51] Does not Thomas de Celano say in the prologue of the Second
       Life: "_Oramus ergo, benignissime pater, ut laboris hujus non
       contemnenda munuscula ... vestra benedictione consecrare
       velitis, corrigendo errata et superflua resecantes_."

  [52] The legend of 3 Soc. was preserved in the Convent of
       Assisi: "_Omnia ... fuerunt conscripta ... per Leonem, ... in
       libro qui habetur in armario fratrum de Assisio_." Ubertini,
       _Archiv._, iii., p. 168. Later, Brother Leo seems to have gone
       more into detail as to certain facts; he confided these new
       manuscripts to the Clarisses: "_In rotulis ejus quos apud me
       habeo, manu ejusdem fratres Leonis conscriptis_," ibid. Cf. p.
       178. "_Quod sequitur a sancto fratre Conrado predicto et viva
       voce audivit a sancto fratre Leone qui presens erat et regulam
       scripsit. Et hoc ipsum in quibusdam rotulis manu sua conscriptis
       quos commendavit in monasterio S. Claræ custodiendos.... In
       illis multa scripsit ... quæ industria fr. Bonaventura omisit et
       noluit in legenda publice scribere, maxime quia aliqua erant ibi
       in quibus ex tunc deviatio regulæ publice monstrabatur et
       nolebat fratres ante tempus in famare._" _Arbor._, lib. v., cap
       5. Cf. _Antiquitates_, p. 146. Cf. _Speculum_, 50b. "_Infra
       scripta verba, frater Leo socius et Confessor B. Francisci,
       Conrado de Offida, dicebat se habuisse ex ore Beati Patris
       nostri Francisci, quæ idem Frater Conradus retulit, apud Sanctum
       Damianum prope Assisium._" Conrad di Offidia copied, then, both
       the book of Brother Leo and his _rotuli_; he added to it certain
       oral information (_Arbor, vit. cruc._, lib. v., cap. 3), and so
       perhaps composed the collection so often cited by the
       Conformists under the title of _Legenda Antiqua_ and reproduced
       in part in the Speculum. The numbering of the chapters, which
       the Speculum has awkwardly inserted without noting that they
       were not in accord with his own division, were vestiges of the
       division adopted by Conrad di Offida.

       It may well be that, after the interdiction of his book and its
       confiscation at the Sacro Convento, Brother Leo repeated in his
       _rotuli_ a large part of the facts already made, so that the
       same incident, while coming solely from Brother Leo, could be
       presented under two different forms, according as it would be
       copied from the book or the _rotuli_.

  [53] Compare, for example, 2 Cel., 120: Vocation of John the
       Simple, and Speculum, f^o 37a. From the account of Thomas de
       Celano, one does not understand what drew John to St. Francis;
       in the Speculum everything is explained, but Celano has not
       dared to depict Francis going about preaching with a broom upon
       his shoulder to sweep the dirty churches.

  [54] It was published for the first time at Rome, in 1806, by
       Father Rinaldi, following upon the First Life (vide above, p.
       365, note 2), and restored in 1880 by Abbé Amoni: _Vita secunda
       S. Francisci Assisiensis auctore B. Thomade Celano ejus
       discipulo. Romæ, tipografia della pace_, 1880, 8vo, 152 pp. The
       citations are from this last edition, which I collated at Assisi
       with the most important of the rare manuscripts at present
       known: Archives of Sacro Convento, MS. 686, on parchment of the
       end of the thirteenth century, if I do not mistake, 130 millim.
       by 142; 102 numbered pages. Except for the fact that the book is
       divided into two parts instead of three, the last two forming
       only one, I have not found that it noticeably differs from the
       text published by Amoni; the chapters are divided only by a
       paragraph and a red letter, but they have in the table which
       occupies the first seven pages of the volume the same titles as
       in the edition Amoni.

       This Second Life escaped the researches of the Bollandists.
       It is impossible to explain how these students ignored the
       worth of the manuscript which Father Theobaldi, keeper of the
       records of Assisi, mentioned to them, and of which he offered
       them a copy (A. SS., _Oct._, t. ii., p. 546f). Father Suysken
       was thus thrown into inextricable difficulties, and exposed
       to a failure to understand the lists of biographies of St.
       Francis arranged by the annalists of the Order; he was at the
       same time deprived of one of the most fruitful sources of
       information upon the acts and works of the Saint. Professor
       Müller (_Die Anfänge_, pp. 175-184) was the first to make a
       critical study of this legend. His conclusions appear to me
       narrow and extreme. Cf. _Analecta_ fr., t. ii., pp. xvii.-xx.
       Father Ehrle mentions two manuscripts, one in the British
       Museum, Harl., 47; the other at Oxford, Christ College, cod.
       202. _Zeitschrift_, 1883, p. 390.

  [55] The Three Companions foresee the possibility of their
       legend being incorporated with other documents: _quibus
       (legendis) hæc pauca quæ scribimus poleritis facere inseri, si
       vestra discretio viderit esse justum._ 3 Soc., Prol.

  [56] One phrase of the Prologue (2 Cel.) shows that the author
       received an entirely special commission: _Placuit ... robis ...
       parvitati nostræ injungere_, while on the contrary the 3 Soc.
       shows that the decision of the chapter only remotely considered
       them: _Cum de mandato proeteriti capituli fratres teneantur
       ... visum est nobis ... pauca de multis ... sanctitati vestræ
       intimare._ 3 Soc., Prol.

  [57] Compare the Prologue of 2 Cel. with that of 1 Cel.

  [58] _Longum esset de singulis persequi, qualiter bravium
       supernæ vocationis attigerit_. 2 Cel., 1, 10.

  [59] This first part corresponds exactly to that portion of the
       legend of the 3 Soc., which Crescentius had authorized.

  [60] Observe that the Assisi MS. 686 divides the Second Life
       into two parts only by joining the last two.

  [61] Salimbeni, ann. 1248.

  [62] Glassberger, ann. 1253. _An. fr._ t. ii., p. 73. _Frater
       Johannes de Parma minister generalis, multiplicatis litteris
       præcipit fr. Thomæ de Celano (cod. Ceperano), ut vitam beati
       Francisci quæ antiqua Legenda dicitur perficeret, quia solum de
       ejus conversatione et verbis in primo tractatu, de mandato, Fr.
       Crescentii olim generalis compilato, ommissis miraculis fecerat
       mentionem, et sic secundum tractatum de miraculis sancti Patris
       compilavit, quem cum epistola quæ incipit: Religiosa vestra
       sollicitudo eidem generali misit_.

       This treatise on the miracles is lost, for one cannot identify
       it, as M. Müller suggests (_Anfänge_, p. 177), with the second
       part (counting three with the Amoni edition) of the Second Life:
       1^o, epistle _Religiosa vestra sollicitudo_ does not have it;
       2^o, this second part is not a collection of miracles, using
       this word in the sense of miraculous cures which it had in the
       thirteenth century. The twenty-two chapters of this second part
       have a marked unity; they might be entitled _Francis a prophet_,
       but not _Francis a thaumaturgus_.

  [63] In the Prologue (2 Cel., 2, Prol.) _Insignia patrum_ the
       author speaks in the singular, while the Epilogue is written in
       the name of a group of disciples.

  [64] Greccio, 2 Cel., 2, 5; 14; 3, 7; 10; 103.--Rieti, 2 Cel.,
       2, 10; 11; 12; 13; 3, 36; 37; 66; 103.

  [65] St. Francis gives him an autograph, 2 Cel., 2, 18. Cf.
       _Fior._ ii. _consid._; his tunic, 2 Cel., 2, 19; he predicts to
       him a famine, 2 Cel., 2, 21; cf. _Conform._, 49b. Fr. Leo ill at
       Bologna, 2 Cel., 3, 5.

  [66] The text of Ubertini di Casali may be found in the
       _Archiv._, t. iii., pp. 53, 75, 76, 85, 168, 178, where Father
       Ehrle points out the corresponding passages of 2 Cel.

  [67] It is the subject of thirty-seven narratives (1, 2 Cel., 3,
       1-37), then come examples on the spirit of prayer (2 Cel., 3,
       38-44), the temptations (2 Cel., 3, 58-64), true happiness (2
       Cel., 3, 64-79), humility (2 Cel., 3, 79-87), submission (2
       Cel., 3, 88, 91), etc.

  [68] Le Monnier, t. i., p. xi.; F. Barnabé, _Portiuncula_, p.
       15. Cf. _Analecta fr._, t. ii., p. xxi. _Zeitschrift für kath.
       Theol._, vii. (1883), p. 397.

  [69] _Il piu antico poema della vita di S. Francisco d'Assisi
       scritto inanzi all' anno 1230 ora per la prima volta pubblicato
       et tradotto da Antonio Cristofani_, Prato, 1882, 1 vol., 8vo.
       288 pp.

  [70] Note, however, two articles of the Miscellanea, one on the
       manuscript of this biography which is found in the library at
       Versailles, t. iv. (1889), p. 34 ff.; the other on the author of
       the poem, t. v. (1890), pp. 2-4 and 74 ff.

  [71] See below, p. 410.

  [72] Vide Glassberger, ann. 1244; _Analecta_, t. ii., p. 68. Cf.
       A. SS., p. 545 ff.

  [73] Manuscript in the Library of Turin, J. vi., 33, f^o 95a.

  [74] _Plenam virtutibus S. Francisci vitam scripsit in Italia
       ... frater Thomas ... in Francia vero frater Julianus scientia
       et sanctitate conspicuus qui etiam nocturnali sancti officium in
       littera et cantu possuit præter hymnos et aliquas antiphonas
       quae summus ipse Pontifex et aliqui de Cardinalibus in sancti
       præconium ediderunt._ Opening of the _De laudibus_ of Bernard of
       Besse. See below, p. 413. Laur. MS., f^o 95a. Cf. Giord., 53;
       _Conform._, 75b.

  [75] In proof of this is the circular letter, _Licet
       insufficentiam nostram_, addressed by Bonaventura, April 23,
       1257, immediately after his election, to the provincials and
       custodes upon the reformation of the Order. Text: _Speculum_,
       Morin, tract. iii., f^o 213a.

  [76] Salimbeni, ann. 1248, p. 131. The _Chronica tribulationum_
       gives a long and dramatic account of these events: _Archiv._, t.
       ii., pp. 283 ff. "_Tunc enim sapientia et sanctitas fratris
       Bonaventuræ eclipsata paluit et obscurata est et ejus manswetudo
       (sic) ab agitante spiritu in furorum et iram defecit._" Ib., p.

  [77] Bon., 3. 1. At the same chapter were collected the
       constitutions of the Order according to edicts of the preceding
       chapters; new ones were added to them and all were arranged. In
       the first of the twelve rubrics the chapter prescribed that,
       upon the publication of the account, all the old constitutions
       should be destroyed. The text was published in the _Firmamentum
       trium ordinum_, f^o 7b, and restored lately by Father Ehrle:
       _Archiv._, t. vi. (1891), in his beautiful work _Die ältesten
       Redactionen der General-constitutionen des Franziskanerordens_.
       Cf. _Speculum_ Morin, fo. 195b of tract. iii.

  [78] The _Legenda Minor_ of Bonaventura was also approved at
       this time; it is simply an abridgment of the _Legenda Major_
       arranged for use of the choir on the festival of St. Francis and
       its octave.

  [79] "_Item præcipit Generale capitulum per obedientiam quod
       omnes legenæ de B. Francisco olim factæ deleantur et ubi
       inveniri poterant extra ordinem ipsas fratres studeant amovere,
       cum illa legenda quæ facta est per Generalem sit compilata prout
       ipse habuit ab ore illorum qui cum B. Francisco quasi semper
       fuerunt et cuncta certitudinaliter sciverint et probata ibi sint
       posita diligenter._" This precious text has been found and
       published by Father Rinaldi in his preface to the text of
       Celano: _Seraphici viri Francisci vitæ duæ_, p. xi. Wadding
       seems to have known of it, at least indirectly, for he says:
       "_Utramque Historiam, longiorem et breviorem, obtulit
       (Bonaventura) triennio post in comitiis Pisanis patribus
       Ordinis, quas reverentur cum gratiarum actione_, SUPRESSIS ALIIS
       QUIBUSQUE LEGENDIS, ADMISERUNT." Ad ann., 1260, no. 18. Cf.
       Ehrle, _Zeitschrift für kath. Theol._, t. vii. (1883), p.
       386.--"_Communicaverat sanctus Franciscus plurima sociis suis et
       fratribus antiquis, que oblivioni tradita sunt, tum quia que
       scripta erant in legenda prima, nova edita a fratre. Bonaventura
       deleta et destructa sunt_, IPSOJUBENTE _tum quia_ ..." _Chronica
       tribul._, _Archiv._, t. ii., p. 256.

  [80] Bon., 188-204.

  [81] Bon., 218.

  [82] Bernardo (Bon., 28), Egidio (Bon., 29), and Silvestro
       (Bon., 30).

  [83] Bon., 49.

  [84] Bon., 112.

  [85] Bon., 111.

  [86] Vide Bon., 115; 99, etc. M. Thode has enumerated the
       stories relating especially to Bonaventura: (_Franz von Assisi_,
       p. 535).

  [87] Manuscript I, iv., 33, of the library of the University of
       Turin. It is a 4to upon parchment of the close of the fourteenth
       century, 124 ff. It comprises first the biography of St. Francis
       by St. Bonaventura and a legend of St. Clara, afterwards at f^o
       95 the _De laudibus_. The text will soon be published in the
       _Analecta franciscana_ of the Franciscans of Quaracchi, near

  [88] In reading it we quickly discover that he was specially
       well acquainted with the convents of the Province of Aquitania,
       and noted with care everything that concerned them.

  [89] Wadding, ann. 1230, no. 7. Many passages prove at least
       that he accompanied Bonaventura in his travels: "_Hoc enim_ (the
       special aid of Brother Egidio) _in iis quæ ad bonum animæ
       pertinent devotus Generalis et Cardinalis predictus ... nos
       docuit_." F^o 96a. _Jamdudum ego per Theutoniæ partes et
       Flandriæ cum Ministro transiens Generali._ Ibid., f^o 106a.

  [90] Bernard de Besse is the author of many other writings,
       notably an important _Calalogus Ministrorum generalium_
       published after the Turin manuscript by Father Ehrle
       (_Zeitschrift für kath. Theol._, t. vii., pp. 338-352), with a
       very remarkable critical introduction (ib., pp. 323-337). Cf.
       _Archiv für Litt. u. Kirchg._, i., p. 145.--Bartolommeo di Pisa,
       when writing his _Conformities_, had before him a part of his
       works, f^o 148b, 2; 126a, 1; but he calls the author sometimes
       _Bernardus de Blesa_, then again _Johannes de Blesa_. See also
       Mark of Lisbon, t. ii., p. 212, and Hauréau, _Notices et
       extraits_, t. vi., p. 153.

  [91] "_Denique primos Francisci xii. discipulos ... omnes
       sanctos fuisse audirimus preter unum qui Ordinem exiens leprosus
       factus laqueo vel alter Judas interiit, ne Francisco cum Christo
       vel in discipulis similitudo deficeret_," f^o 96a.

       *       *       *       *       *



In this category we place all the acts having a character of public
authenticity, particularly those which were drawn up by the pontifical

This source of information, where each document has its date, is
precisely the one which has been most neglected up to this time.


The _Instrumentum donationis Montis Alvernæ_, a notarial document
preserved in the archives of Borgo San Sepolcro,[1] not only gives the
name of the generous friend of Francis, and many picturesque details,
but it fixes with precision a date all the more important because it
occurs in the most obscure period of the Saint's life. It was on May 8,
1213, that _Orlando dei Catani_, Count of Chiusi in Casentino, gave the
Verna to Brother Francis.


The documents of the pontifical chancellery addressed to Cardinal
Ugolini, the future Gregory IX., and those which emanate from the hand
of the latter during his long journeys as apostolic legate,[2] are of
first rate importance.

It would be too long to give even a simple enumeration of them. Those
which mark important facts have been carefully indicated in the course
of this work. It will suffice to say that by bringing together these two
series of documents, and interposing the dates of the papal bulls
countersigned by Ugolini, we are able to follow almost day by day this
man, who was, perhaps without even excepting St. Francis, the one whose
will most profoundly fashioned the Franciscan institute. We see also
the pre-eminent part which the Order had from the beginning in the
interest of the future pontiff, and we arrive at perfect accuracy as to
the dates of his meetings with St. Francis.


The pontifical bulls concerning the Franciscans were collected and
published in the last century by the monk Sbaralea.[3] But from these
we gain little help for the history of the origins of the Order.[4]

The following is a compendious list; the details have been given in the
course of the work:

No. 1. August 18, 1218.--Bull _Literæ tuæ_ addressed to Ugolini. The
pope permits him to accept donations of landed property in behalf of
women fleeing the world (Clarisses) and to declare that these
monasteries are holden by the Apostolic See.

No. 2. June 11, 1219.--_Cum delecti filii._ This bull, addressed in a
general way to all prelates, is a sort of safe conduct for the Brothers

No. 3. December 19, 1219.--_Sacrosancta romana._ Privileges conceded to
the Sisters (Clarisses) of Monticelli, near Florence.

No. 4. May 29, 1220.--_Pro dilectis._ The pope prays the prelates of
France to give a kindly reception to the Brothers Minor.

No. 5. September 22, 1220.--_Cum secundum._ Honorius III. prescribes a
year of noviciate before the entry into the Order.

No. 6. December 9, 1220.--_Constitutus in præsentia._ This bull concerns
a priest of Constantinople who had made a vow to enter the Order. As
there is question here of _frater Lucas Magister fratrum Minorem de
partibus Romaniæ_ we have here indirect testimony, all the more precious
for that reason, as to the period of the establishment of the Order in
the Orient.

No. 7. February 13, 1221.--New bull for the same priest.

No. 8. December 16, 1221.--_Significatum est nobis._ Honorius III.
recommends to the Bishop of Rimini to protect the Brothers of Penitence
(Third Order).

No. 9. March 22, 1222.[5]--_Devotionis vestræ._ Concession to the
Franciscans, under certain conditions, to celebrate the offices in times
of interdict.

No. 10. March 29, 1222.--_Ex parte Universitatis._ Mission given to the
Dominicans, Franciscans, and Brothers of the Troops of San Iago in

Nos. 11, 12, and 13.--September 19, 1222.--_Sacrosancta Romana._
Privileges for the monasteries (Clarisses) of Lucca, Sienna, and

No. 14. November 29, 1223.--_Solet annuere._ Solemn approbation of the
Rule, which is inserted in the bull.

No. 15. December 18, 1223.--_Fratrum Minorum._ Concerns apostates from
the Order.

No. 16. December 1, 1224.--_Cum illorum._ Authorization given to the
Brothers of Penitence to take part in the offices in times of interdict,

No. 17. December 3, 1224.--_Quia populares tumultus._ Concession of the
portable altar.

No. 18. August 28, 1225.--_In hiis._ Honorius explains to the Bishop of
Paris and the Archbishop of Rheims the true meaning of the privileges
accorded to the Brothers Minor.

No. 19. October 7, 1225.--_Vineae Domini._ This bull contains divers
authorizations in favor of the Brothers who are going to evangelize

This list includes only those of Sbaralea's bulls which may directly or
indirectly throw some light upon the life of St. Francis and his
institute. Sbaralea's nomenclature is surely incomplete and should be
revised when the Registers of Honorius III. shall have been published in


   [1] It was published by Sbaralea, Bull., t. iv., p. 156, note h.
       This act was drawn up July 9, 1274, at a time when the son of
       Orlando as well as the Brothers Minor desired to authenticate
       the donation, which until then had been verbal.

   [2] See _Registri dei Cardinali Ugolino d'Ostia e Ottaviano
       degli Ubaldini pubblicati a cura di Guido Levi dall'Istituto
       storico italiano.--Fonti per la storia d'Italia_, Roma, 1890, 1
       vol., 4to, xxviii. and 250 pp. This edition follows the
       manuscript of the National Library, Paris: Ancien fonds Colbert
       lat., 5152A. We must draw attention to a very beautiful work due
       also to Mr. G. Levi: _Documenti ad illustrazione del Registro
       del Card. Ugolino_, in the _Archivio della societa Romana di
       storia patria_, t. xii. (1889), pp. 241-326.

   [3] _Bullarium franciscanum seu Rom. Pontificum constitutiones
       epistolæ diplomata ordinibus Minorum, Clarissarum et
       Poenitentium concessa, edidit Joh. Hyac. Sbaralea ord. min.
       conv._, 4 vols., fol., Rome, t. i. (1759), t. ii. (1761), t.
       iii. (1763), t iv., (1768)--_Supplementum ab Annibale de Latera
       ord. min. obs. Romæ_, 1780.--Sbaralea had a comparatively easy
       task, because of the number of collections made before his. I
       shall mention only one of those which I have before me. It is,
       comparatively, very well done, and appears to have escaped the
       researches of the Franciscan bibliographers: _Singularissimum
       eximiumque opus universis mortalibus sacratissimi ordinis
       seraphici patris nostri Francisci a Domino Jesu mirabili modo
       approbati necnon a quampluribus nostri Redemptoris sanctissimis
       vicariis romanis pontificabus multipharie declarati notitiam
       habere cupientibus profecto per necessarium. Speculum Minorum
       ... per Martinum Morin ... Rouen_, 1509. It is 8vo, with
       numbered folios, printed with remarkable care. It contains
       besides the bulls the principal dissertations upon the Rule,
       elaborated in the thirteenth century, and a _Memoriale ordinis_
       (first part, f^o 60-82), a kind of catalogue of the
       ministers-general, which would have prevented many of the errors
       of the historians, if it had been known.

   [4] The Bollandists themselves have entirely overlooked those
       sources of information, thinking, upon the authority of a single
       badly interpreted passage, that the Order had not obtained a
       single bull before the solemn approval of Honorius III.,
       November 29, 1223.

   [5] And not March 29, as Sbaralea has it. The original, which I
       have had under my eyes in the archives of Assisi, bears in fact:
       _Datum Anagnie XI. Kal. aprilis pontificatus nostri anno sexto_.

   [6] The Abbé Horoy has indeed published in five volumes what he
       entitles the _Opera omnia_ of Honorius III., but he omits,
       without a word of explanation, a great number of letters,
       certain of which are brought forward in the well-known
       collection of Potthast. The Abbé Pietro Pressuti has undertaken
       to publish a compendium of all the bulls of this pope according
       to the original Registers of the Vatican. _I regesti del
       Pontifice Onorio III._ Roma, t. i., 1884. Volume i. only has as
       yet appeared.

       *       *       *       *       *




Born at Giano, in Umbria, in the mountainous district which closes the
southern horizon of Assisi, Brother Giordano was in 1221 one of the
twenty-six friars who, under the conduct of Cæsar of Speyer, set out for
Germany. He seems to have remained attached to this province until his
death, even when most of the friars, especially those who held cures,
had been transferred, often to a distance of several months' journey,
from one end of Europe to the other. It is not, then, surprising that he
was often prayed to commit his memories to writing. He dictated them to
Brother Baldwin of Brandenburg in the spring of 1262. He must have done
it with joy, having long before prepared himself for the task. He
relates with artless simplicity how in 1221, at the chapter-general of
Portiuncula, he went from group to group questioning as to their names
and country the Brothers who were going to set out on distant missions,
that he might be able to say later, especially if they came to suffer
martyrdom: "I knew them myself!"[2]

His chronicle bears the imprint of this tendency. What he desires to
describe is the introduction of the Order into Germany and its early
developments there, and he does it by enumerating, with a complacency
which has its own coquetry, the names of a multitude of friars[3] and
by carefully dating the events. These details, tedious for the ordinary
reader, are precious to the historian; he sees there the diverse
conditions from which the friars were recruited, and the rapidity with
which a handful of missionaries thrown into an unknown country were able
to branch out, found new stations, and in five years cover with a
network of monasteries, the Tyrol, Saxony, Bavaria, Alsace, and the
neighboring provinces.

It is needless to say that it is worth while to test Giordano's
chronology, for he begins by praying the reader to forgive the errors
which may have escaped him on this head; but a man who thus marks in his
memory what he desires later to tell or to write is not an ordinary

Reading his chronicle, it seems as if we were listening to the
recollections of an old soldier, who grasps certain worthless details
and presents them with an extraordinary power of relief, who knows not
how to resist the temptation to bring himself forward, at the risk
sometimes of slightly embellishing the dry reality.[4]

In fact this chronicle swarms with anecdotes somewhat personal, but very
artless and welcome, and which on the whole carry in themselves the
testimony to their authenticity. The perfume of the Fioretti already
exhales from these pages so full of candor and manliness; we can follow
the missionaries stage by stage, then when they are settled, open the
door of the monastery and read in the very hearts of these men, many of
whom are as brave as heroes and harmless as doves.

It is true that this chronicle deals especially with Germany, but the
first chapters have an importance for Francis's history that exceeds
even that of the biographers. Thanks to Giordano of Giano, we are from
this time forward informed upon the crises which the institute of
Francis passed through after 1219; he furnishes us the solidly
historical base which seems to be lacking in the documents emanating
from the Spirituals, and corroborates their testimony.


Our knowledge of Thomas of Eccleston is very slight, for he has left no
more trace of himself in the history of the Order than of Simon of
Esseby, to whom he dedicates his work. A native no doubt of Yorkshire,
he seems never to have quitted England. He was twenty-five years
gathering the materials of his work, which embraces the course of events
from 1224 almost to 1260. The last facts that he relates belong to years
very near to this date.

Of almost double the length of that of Giordano, Eccleston's work is far
from furnishing as interesting reading. The former had seen nearly
everything that he described, and thence resulted a vigor in his story
that we cannot find in an author who writes on the testimony of others.
More than this, while Giordano follows a chronological order, Eccleston
has divided his incidents under fifteen rubrics, in which the same
people continually reappear in a confusion which at length becomes very
wearisome. Finally, his document is amazingly partial: the author is not
content with merely proving that the English friars are saints; he
desires to show that the province of England surpasses all others[6]
by its fidelity to the Rule and its courage against the upholders of new
ways, Brother Elias in particular.

But these few faults ought not to make us lose sight of the true value
of this document. It embraces what we may call the heroic period of the
Franciscan movement in England, and describes it with extreme

Aside from all question of history, we have here enough to interest all
those who are charmed by the spectacle of moral conquest. On Monday,
September 10th, the Brothers Minor landed at Dover. They were nine in
number: a priest, a deacon, two who had only the lesser Orders, and five
laymen. They visited Canterbury, London, Oxford, Cambridge, Lincoln, and
less than ten months later all who have made their mark in the history
of science or of sanctity had joined them; it may suffice to name Adam
of Marisco, Richard of Cornwall, Bishop Robert Grossetête, one of the
proudest and purest figures of the Middle Ages, and Roger Bacon, that
persecuted monk who several centuries before his time grappled with and
answered in his lonely cell the problems of authority and method, with a
firmness and power which the sixteenth century would find it hard to

It is impossible that in such a movement human weaknesses and passions
should not here and there reveal themselves, but we owe our chronicler
thanks for not hiding them. Thanks to him, we can for a moment forget
the present hour, call to life again that first Cambridge chapel--so
slight that it took a carpenter only one day to build it--listen to
three Brothers chanting matins that same night, and that with so much
ardor that one of them--so rickety that his two companions were obliged
to carry him--wept for joy: in England as in Italy the Franciscan gospel
was a gospel of peace and joy. Moral ugliness inspired them with a pity
which we no longer know. There are few historic incidents finer than
that of Brother Geoffrey of Salisbury confessing Alexander of
Bissingburn; the noble penitent was performing this duty without
attention, as if he were telling some sort of a story; suddenly his
confessor melted into tears, making him blush with shame and forcing
tears also from him, working in him so complete a revolution that he
begged to be taken into the Order.

The most interesting parts are those where Thomas gives us an intimate
view of the friars: here drinking their beer, there hastening, in spite
of the Rule, to buy some on credit for two comrades who have been
maltreated, or again clustering about Brother Solomon, who had just come
in nearly frozen with cold, and whom they could not succeed in
warming--_sicut porcis mos est cum comprimendo foverunt_, says the pious
narrator.[7] All this is mingled with dreams, visions, numberless
apparitions,[8] which once more show us how different were the ideas
most familiar to the religious minds of the thirteenth century from
those which haunt the brains and hearts of to-day.

The information given by Eccleston bears only indirectly on this book,
but if he speaks little of Francis he speaks much at length of some of
the men who have been most closely mingled with his life.


As celebrated as it is little known, this chronicle is of quite
secondary value in all that concerns the life of St. Francis. Its
author, born October 9, 1221, entered the Order in 1238, and wrote his
memoirs in 1282-1287; it is therefore especially for the middle years of
the thirteenth century that his importance is capital. Notwithstanding
this, it is surprising how small a place the radiant figure of the
master holds in these long pages, and this very fact shows, better than
long arguments could do, how profound was the fall of the Franciscan


This chronicle was written about 1330; we might therefore be surprised
to see it appear among the sources to be consulted for the life of St.
Francis, dead more than a century before; but the picture which Clareno
gives us of the early days of the Order gains its importance from the
fact that in sketching it he made constant appeal to eye-witnesses, and
precisely to those whose works have disappeared.

Angelo Clareno, earlier called Pietro da Fossombrone[11] from the name
of his native town, and sometimes da Cingoli, doubtless from the little
convent where he made profession, belonged to the Zelanti of the March
of Ancona as early as 1265. Hunted and persecuted by his adversaries
during his whole life, he died in the odor of sanctity June 15, 1339, in
the little hermitage of Santa Maria d' Aspro in the diocese of Marsico
in Basilicata.

Thanks to published documents, we may now, so to speak, follow day by
day not only the external circumstances of his life, but the inner
workings of his soul. With him we see the true Franciscan live again,
one of those men who, while desiring to remain the obedient son of the
Church, cannot reconcile themselves to permit the domain of the dream to
slip away from them, the ideal which they have hailed. Often they are on
the borders of heresy; in these utterances against bad priests and
unworthy pontiffs there is a bitterness which the sectaries of the
sixteenth century will not exceed.[12] Often, too, they seem to
renounce all authority and make final appeal to the inward witness of
the Holy Spirit;[13] and yet Protestantism would be mistaken in seeking
its ancestors among them. No, they desired to die as they had lived, in
the communion of that Church which was as a stepmother to them and which
they yet loved with that heroic passion which some of the _ci-devant_
nobles brought in '93 to the love of France, governed though she was by
Jacobins, and poured out their blood for her.

Clareno and his friends not only believed that Francis had been a great
Saint, but to this conviction, which was also that of the Brothers of
the Common Observance, they added the persuasion that the work of the
Stigmatized could only be continued by men who should attain to his
moral stature, to which men might arrive through the power of faith and
love. They were of the violent who take the kingdom of heaven by force;
so when, after the frivolous and senile interests of every day we come
face to face with them, we feel ourselves both humbled and exalted, for
we suddenly find unhoped-for powers, an unrecognized lyre in the human

There is one of Jesus's apostles of whom it is difficult not to think
while reading the chronicle of the Tribulations and Angelo Clareno's
correspondence: St. John. Between the apostle's words about love and
those of the Franciscan there is a similarity of style all the more
striking because they were written in different languages. In both of
these the soul is that of the aged man, where all is only love, pardon,
desire for holiness, and yet it sometimes wakes with a sudden
thrill--like that which stirred the soul of the seer of Patmos--of
indignation, wrath, pity, terror, and joy, when the future unveils
itself and gives a glimpse of the close of the great tribulation.

Clareno's works, then, are in the strictest sense of the word partisan;
the question is whether the author has designedly falsified the facts or
mutilated the texts. To this question we may boldly answer, No. He
commits errors,[14] especially in his earlier pages, but they are not
such as to diminish our confidence.

Like a good Joachimite, he believed that the Order would have to
traverse seven tribulations before its final triumph. The pontificate of
John XXII. marked, he thought, the commencement of the seventh; he set
himself, then, to write, at the request of a friend, the history of the
first six.[15]

His account of the first is naturally preceded by an introduction, the
purpose of which is to exhibit to the reader, taking the life of St.
Francis as a framework, the intention of the latter in composing the
Rule and dictating the Will.

Born between 1240 and 1250, Clareno had at his service the testimony of
several of the first disciples;[16] he found himself in relations with
Angelo di Rieti,[17] Egidio,[18] and with that Brother Giovanni,
companion of Egidio, mentioned in the prologue of the Legend of the
Three Companions.[19]

His chronicle, therefore, forms as it were the continuation of that
legend. The members of the little circle of Greccio are they who
recommend it to us; it has also their inspiration.

But writing long years after the death of these Brothers, Clareno feels
the need of supporting himself also on written testimony; he repeatedly
refers to the four legends from which he borrows a part of his
narrative; they are those of Giovanni di Ceperano, Thomas of Celano,
Bonaventura, and Brother Leo.[20] Bonaventura's work is mentioned only
by way of reference; Clareno borrows nothing from him, while he cites
long passages from Giovanni di Ceperano,[21] Thomas of Celano[22] and
Brother Leo.[23]

Clareno takes from these writers narratives containing several new and
extremely curious facts.[24]

I have dwelt particularly upon this document because its value appears
to me not yet to have been properly appreciated. It is indeed partisan;
the documents of which we must be most wary are not those whose tendency
is manifest, but those where it is skilfully concealed.

The life of St. Francis and a great part of the religious history of the
thirteenth century will surely appear to us in an entirely different
light when we are able to fill out the documents of the victorious party
by those of the party of the vanquished. Just as Thomas of Celano's
first legend is dominated by the desire to associate closely St.
Francis, Gregory IX., and Brother Elias, so the Chronicle of the
Tribulations is inspired from beginning to end with the thought that the
troubles of the Order--to say the word, the apostasy--began so early as
1219. This contention finds a striking confirmation in the Chronicle of
Giordano di Giano.


With the Fioretti we enter definitively the domain of legend. This
literary gem relates the life of Francis, his companions and disciples,
as it appeared to the popular imagination at the beginning of the
fourteenth century. We have not to discuss the literary value of this
document, one of the most exquisite religious works of the Middle Ages,
but it may well be said that from the historic point of view it does not
deserve the neglect to which it has been left.

Most authors have failed in courage to revise the sentence lightly
uttered against it by the successors of Bollandus. Why make anything of
a book which Father Suysken did not even deign to read![26]

Yet that which gives these stories an inestimable worth is what for want
of a better term we may call their atmosphere. They are legendary,
worked over, exaggerated, false even, if you please, but they give us
with a vivacity and intensity of coloring something that we shall search
for in vain elsewhere--the surroundings in which St. Francis lived. More
than any other biography the Fioretti transport us to Umbria, to the
mountains of the March of Ancona; they make us visit the hermitages, and
mingle with the life, half childish, half angelic, which was that of
their inhabitants.

It is difficult to pronounce upon the name of the author. His work was
only that of gathering the flowers of his bouquet from written and oral
tradition. The question whether he wrote in Latin or Italian has been
much discussed and appears to be not yet settled; what is certain is
that though this work may be anterior to the Conformities,[27] it is a
little later than the Chronicle of the Tribulations, for it would be
strange that it made no mention of Angelo Clareno, if it was written
after his death.

This book is in fact an essentially local[28] chronicle; the author has
in mind to erect a monument to the glory of the Brothers Minor of the
March of Ancona. This province, which is evidently his own, "does it
not resemble the sky blazing with stars? The holy Brothers who dwelt in
it, like the stars in the sky, have illuminated and adorned the Order of
St. Francis, filling the world with their examples and teaching." He is
acquainted with the smallest villages,[29] each having at a short
distance its monastery, well apart, usually near a torrent, in the edge
of a wood, and above, near the hilltop, a few almost inaccessible cells,
the asylums of Brothers even more than the others in love with
contemplation and retirement.[30]

The chapters that concern St. Francis and the Umbrian Brothers are only
a sort of introduction; Egidio, Masseo, Leo on one side, St. Clara on
the other, are witnesses that the ideal at Portiuncula and St. Damian
was indeed the same to which in later days Giachimo di Massa, Pietro di
Monticulo, Conrad di Offida, Giovanni di Penna, and Giovanni della Verna
endeavored to attain.

While most of the other legends give us the Franciscan tradition of the
great convents, the Fioretti are almost the only document which shows it
as it was perpetuated in the hermitages and among the people. In default
of accuracy of detail, the incidents which are related here contain a
higher truth--their tone is true. Here are words that were never
uttered, acts that never took place, but the soul and the heart of the
early Franciscans were surely what they are depicted here.

The Fioretti have the living truth that the pencil gives. Something is
wanting in the physiognomy of the Poverello when we forget his
conversation with Brother Leo on the perfect joy, his journey to Sienna
with Masseo, or even the conversion of the wolf of Gubbio.

We must not, however, exaggerate the legendary side of the Fioretti:
there are not more that two or three of these stories of which the
kernel is not historic and easy to find. The famous episode of the wolf
of Gubbio, which is unquestionably the most marvellous of all the
series, is only, to speak the engraver's language, the third state of
the story of the robbers of Monte Casale[31] mingled with a legend of
the Verna.

The stories crowd one another in this book like flocks of memories that
come upon us pell-mell, and in which insignificant details occupy a
larger place than the most important events; our memory is, in fact, an
overgrown child, and what it retains of a man is generally a feature, a
word, a gesture. Scientific history is trying to react, to mark the
relative value of facts, to bring forward the important ones, to cast
into shade that which is secondary. Is it not a mistake? Is there such a
thing as the important and the secondary? How is it going to be marked?

The popular imagination is right: what we need to retain of a man is the
expression of countenance in which lives his whole being, a heart-cry, a
gesture that expresses his personality. Do we not find all of Jesus in
the words of the Last Supper? And all of St. Francis in his address to
brother wolf and his sermon to the birds?

Let us beware of despising these documents in which the first
Franciscans are described as they saw themselves to be. Unfolding under
the Umbrian sky at the foot of the olives of St. Damian, or the firs of
the March of Ancona, these wild flowers have a perfume and an
originality which we look for in vain in the carefully cultivated
flowers of a learned gardener.


In the first of these appendices the compiler has divided into five
chapters all the information on the stigmata which he was able to
gather. It is easy to understand the success of the Fioretti. The people
fell in love with these stories, in which St. Francis and his companions
appear both more human and more divine than in the other legends; and
they began very soon to feel the need of so completing them as to form a
veritable biography.[32]

The second, entitled Life of Brother Ginepro, is only indirectly
connected with St. Francis; yet it deserves to be studied, for it offers
the same kind of interest as the principal collection, to which it is
doubtless posterior. In these fourteen chapters we find the principal
features of the life of this Brother, whose mad and saintly freaks still
furnish material for conversation in Umbrian monasteries. These
unpretending pages discover to us one aspect of the Franciscan heart.
The official historians have thought it their duty to keep silence upon
this Brother, who to them appeared to be a supremely indiscreet
personage, very much in the way of the good name of the Order in the
eyes of the laics. They were right from their point of view, but we owe
a debt of gratitude to the Fioretti for having preserved for us this
personality, so blithe, so modest, and with so arch a good nature.
Certainly St. Francis was more like Ginepro than like Brother Elias or
St. Bonaventura.[33]

The third, Life of Brother Egidio, appears to be on the whole the most
ancient document on the life of the famous Ecstatic that we possess. It
is very possible that these stories might be traced to Brother Giovanni,
to whom the Three Companions appeal in their prologue.

In the defective texts given us in the existing editions we perceive the
hand of an annotator whose notes have slipped into the text,[34] but in
spite of that this life is one of the most important of the secondary
texts. This always itinerant brother, one of whose principal
preoccupations is to live by his labor, is one of the most original and
agreeable figures in Francis's surroundings, and it is in lives of this
sort that we must seek the true meaning of some of the passages of the
Rule, and precisely in those that have had the most to suffer from the
enterprise of exegetes.

The fourth includes the favorite maxims of Brother Egidio; they have no
other importance than to show the tendencies of the primitive Franciscan
teaching. They are short, precise, practical counsels, saturated with
mysticism, and yet in them good sense never loses its rights. The
collection, just as it is in the Fioretti, is no doubt posterior to
Egidio, for in 1385 Bartolommeo of Pisa furnished a much longer


We find here at the end of the life of Francis that of most of his
companions, and the events that occurred under the first twenty-four

It is a very ordinary work of compilation. The authors have sought to
include in it all the pieces which they had succeeded in collecting, and
the result presents a very disproportioned whole. A thorough study of it
might be interesting and useful, but it would be possible only after its
publication. This cannot be long delayed: twice (at intervals of fifteen
months) when I have desired to study the Assisi manuscript it was found
to be with the Franciscans of Quaracchi, who were preparing to print it.

It is difficult not to bring the epoch in which this collection was
closed near to that when Bartolommeo of Pisa wrote his famous work.
Perhaps the two are quite closely related.

This chronicle was one of Glassberger's favorite sources.


The Book of the Conformities, to which Brother Bartolommeo of Pisa
devoted more than fifteen years of his life,[38] appears to have been
read very inattentively by most of the authors who have spoken of
it.[39] In justice to them we must add that it would be hard to find a
work more difficult to read; the same facts reappear from ten to fifteen
times, and end by wearying the least delicate nerves.

It is to this no doubt that we must attribute the neglect to which it
has been left. I do not hesitate, however, to see in it the most
important work which has been made on the life of St. Francis. Of course
the author does not undertake historical criticism as we understand it
to-day, but if we must not expect to find him a historian, we can boldly
place him in the front rank of compilers.[40]

If the Bollandists had more thoroughly studied him they would have seen
more clearly into the difficult question of the sources, and the authors
who have come after them would have been spared numberless errors and
interminable researches.

Starting with the thought that Francis's life had been a perfect
imitation of that of Jesus, Bartolommeo attempted to collect, without
losing a single one, all the instances of the life of the Poverello
scattered through the diverse legends still known at that time.

He regretted that Bonaventura, while borrowing the narratives of his
predecessors, had often abridged them,[41] and himself desired to
preserve them in their original bloom. Better situated than any one for
such a work, since he had at his disposal the archives of the Sacro
Convento of Assisi, it may be said that he has omitted nothing of
importance and that he has brought into his work considerable pieces
from nearly all the legends which appeared in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries; they are there only in fragments, it is true, but
with perfect accuracy.[42]

When his researches were unsuccessful he avows it simply, without
attempting to fill out the written testimonies with his own
conjectures.[43] He goes farther, and submits the documents he has
before him to a real testing, laying aside those he considers
uncertain.[44] Finally he takes pains to point out the passages in
which his only authority is oral testimony.[45]

As he is almost continually citing the legends of Celano, the Three
Companions, and Bonaventura, and as the citations prove on verification
to be literally accurate, as well as those of the Will, the divers
Rules, or the pontifical bulls, it seems natural to conclude that he was
equally accurate with the citations which we cannot verify, and in which
we find long extracts from works that have disappeared.[46]

The citations which he makes from Celano present no difficulty; they are
all accurate, corresponding sometimes with the First sometimes with the
Second Legend.[47]

Those from the Legend of the Three Companions are accurate, but it
appears that Bartolommeo drew them from a text somewhat different from
that which we have.[48]

With the citations from the _Legenda Antiqua_ the question is
complicated and becomes a nice one. Was there a work of this name?
Certain authors, and among them the Bollandist Suysken, seem to incline
toward the negative, and believe that to cite the _Legenda Antiqua_ is
about the same as to refer vaguely to tradition. Others among
contemporaries have thought that after the approbation and definitive
adoption of Bonaventura's _Legenda Major_ by the Order the Legends
anterior to that, and especially that of Celano, were called _Legenda
Antiqua_. The Conformities permit us to look a little closer into the
question. We find, in fact, passages from the _Legenda Antiqua_ which
reproduce Celano's First Life.[49] Others present points of contact
with the Second, sometimes a literary exactitude,[50] but often these
are the same stories told in too different a way for us to consider them

Finally there are many of these extracts from the _Legenda Antiqua_ of
which we find no source in any of the documents already discussed.[52]
This would suffice to show that the two are not to be confounded. It has
absorbed them and brought about certain changes while completing them
with others.[53]

The study of the fragments which Bartolommeo has preserved to us shows
immediately that this collection belonged to the party of the Zealots of
Poverty; we might be tempted to see in it the work of Brother Leo.

Most fortunately there is a passage where Bartolommeo di Pisa cites as
being by Conrad di Offida a fragment which he had already cited before
as borrowed from the _Legenda Antiqua_.[54] I would not exaggerate the
value of an isolated instance, but it seems an altogether plausible
hypothesis to make Conrad di Offida the author of this compilation. All
that we know of him, of his tendencies, his struggle for the strict
observance, accords with what the known fragments of the _Legenda
Antiqua_ permit us to infer as to its author.[55]

However this may be, it appears that in this collection the stories have
been given us (the principal source being the Legend of Brother Leo or
the Three Companions before its mutilation) in a much less abridged form
than in the Second Life of Celano. This work is hardly more than a
second edition of that of Brother Leo, here and there completed with a
few new incidents, and especially with exhortations to perseverance
addressed to the persecuted Zealots.[56]


Evidently this work, written about 1508, cannot be classed among the
sources properly so called; but it presents in a convenient form the
general history of the Order, and thanks to its citations permits us to
verify certain passages in the primitive legends of which Glassberger
had the MS. before his eyes. It is thus in particular with the chronicle
of Brother Giordano di Giano, which he has inserted almost bodily in his
own work.


This work is of the same character as that of Glassberger; it can only
be used by way of addition. There is, however, a series of facts in
which it has a special value; it is when the Franciscan missions in
Spain or Morocco are in question. The author had documents on this
subject which did not reach the friars in distant countries.


   [1] _Chronica fratris Jordani a Giano._ The text was published
       for the first time in 1870 by Dr. G. Voigt under the title:
       "_Die Denkwürdigkeiten des Minoriten Jordanus von Giano_ in the
       _Abhandlungen der philolog. histor. Cl. der Königl. sächsischen
       Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften_," pp. 421-545, Leipsic, by
       Hirzel, 1870. Only one manuscript is known; it is in the royal
       library at Berlin (Manuscript. theolog. lat., 4to, n. 196, sæc.
       xiv., foliorum 141). It has served as the base of the second
       edition: _Analecta franciscana sive Chronica aliaque documenta
       ad historiam minorum spectantia. Ad Claras Aquas (Quaracchi) ex
       typographia collegii S. Bonaventuræ_, 1885, t. i., pp. 1-19.
       Except where otherwise noted, I cite entirely this edition, in
       which is preserved the division into sixty-three paragraphs
       introduced by Dr. Voigt.

   [2] Giord., 81.

   [3] He names more than twenty four persons.

   [4] It does not seem to me that we can look upon the account of
       the interview between Gregory IX. and Brother Giordano as
       rigorously accurate. Giord., 63.

   [5] _Liber de adventu Minorum in Angliam_, published under the
       title of _Monumenta Franciscana_ (in the series of _Rerum
       Britannicarum medii Ævi scriptores_, _Roll series_) in two
       volumes, 8vo; the first through the care of J. S. Brewer (1858),
       the second through that of R. Howlett (1882). This text is
       reproduced without the scientific dress of the _Analecta
       franciscana_, t. i., pp. 217-257. Cf. English Historical Review,
       v. (1890), 754. He has published an excellent critical edition
       of it, but unfortunately partial, in vol. xxviii., _Scriptorum_,
       of the _Monumenta Germaniæ Historica_ by Mr. Liebermann,
       Hanover, 1888, folio, pp. 560-569.

   [6] Eccl., 11; 13; 14; 15. Cf. Eccl., 14, where the author takes
       pains to say that Alberto of Pisa died at Rome, surrounded by
       English Brothers "_inter Anglicos_."

   [7] Eccl., 4; 12.

   [8] Eccl., 4; 5; 6; 7; 10; 12; 13; 14; 15.

   [9] It was published, but with many suppressions, in 1857, at
       Parma. The Franciscans of Quaracchi prepared a new edition of
       it, which appeared in the _Analecta Franciscana_. This work is
       in manuscript in the Vatican under no. 7260. Vide Ehrle.
       _Zeitschrift für kath. Theol._ (1883), t. vii., pp. 767 and 768.
       The work of Mr. Clédat will be read with interest: _De fratre
       Salembene et de ejus chronicæ auctoritate_, Paris, 4to, 1877,
       with fac simile.

  [10] Father Ehrle has published it, but unfortunately not
       entire, in the _Archiv._, t. ii., pp. 125-155, text of the close
       of the fifth and of the sixth tribulation; pp. 256-327 text of
       the third, of the fourth, and of the commencement of the fifth.
       He has added to it introductions and critical notes. For the
       parts not published I will cite the text of the Laurentian
       manuscript (Plut. 20, cod. 7), completed where possible with the
       Italian version in the National Library at Florence
       (Magliabecchina, xxxvii.-28). See also an article of Professor
       Tocco in the _Archivio storico italiano_, t. xvii. (1886), pp.
       12-36 and 243-61, and one of Mr. Richard's: Library of the École
       des chartes, 1884, 5th livr. p. 525. Cf. Tocco, the _Eresia nel
       medio Evo_, p. 419 ff. As to the text published by Döllinger in
       his _Beiträge zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters_, Münich,
       1890, 2 vols., 8vo, II. _Theil Dokumente_, pp. 417-427, it is of
       no use. It can only beget errors, as it abounds with gross
       mistakes. Whole pages are wanting.

  [11] _Archiv._, t. iii., pp. 406-409.

  [12] Vide _Archiv._, i., p. 557 ... "_Et hoc totum ex rapacitate
       et malignitate luporum pastorum qui voluerunt esse pastores, sed
       operibus negaverunt deum_," et seq. Cf., p. 562: "_Avaritia et
       symoniaca heresis absque pallio regnat et fere totum invasit
       ecclesie corpus_."

  [13] "_Qui excommunicat et hereticat altissimam evangelii
       paupertatem, excommunicatus est a Deo et hereticus coram
       Christo, qui est eterna et in commutabilis veritas._" _Arch._,
       i., p. 509. "_Non est potestas contra christum Dominum et contra
       evangelium._" Ib. p. 560. He closes one of his letters with a
       sentence of a mysticism full of serenity, and which lets us see
       to the bottom of the hearts of the Spiritual Brothers. "_Totum
       igitur studium esse debet quod unum inseparabiliter simus per
       Franciscum in Christo._" Ib., p. 564.

  [14] For example in the list of the first six generals of the

  [15] The first (1219-1226) extends from the departure of St.
       Francis for Egypt up to his death; the second includes the
       generalate of Brother Elias (1232-1239); the third that of
       Crescentius (1244-1248); the fourth, that of Bonaventura
       (1257-1274); the fifth commences with the epoch of the council
       of Lyon (1274) and extends up to the death of the inquisitor,
       Thomas d'Aversa (1204). And the sixth goes from 1308 to 1323.

  [16] "_Supererant adhuc multi de sociis b. Francisci ... et alii
       non pauci de quibus ego vidi et ab ipsis audivi quæ narro._"
       Laur. Ms., cod. 7, pl. xx., f^o 24a: "_Qui passi sunt eam
       (tribulationem tertiam) socii fundatoris fratres Aegdius et
       Angelus, qui supererant me audiente referibant_." Laur. Ms., f^o
       27b. Cf., Italian Ms., xxxvii., 28, Magliab., f^o 138b.

  [17] The date of his death is unknown; on August 11, 1253, he
       was present at the death-bed of St. Clara.

  [18] Died April 23, 1261.

  [19] "_Quem (fratrem Jacobum de Massa) dirigente me fratre
       Johanne socio fratris prefati Egidii videre laboravi. Hic enim
       frater Johannes ... dixit mihi_...." _Arch._, ii., p. 279.

  [20] " ... _Tribulationes preteritas memoravi, ut audivi ab
       illis qui sustinuerunt eas et aliqua commemoravi de hiis que
       didici in quatuor legendis quas vidi et legi._" _Arch._, ii., p.
       135.--"_Vitam pauperis et humilis viri Dei Francisci trium
       ordinum fundatoris quatuor solemnes personæ scripserunt, fratres
       videlicet scientia et sanctitate præclari, Johannes et Thomas de
       Celano, frater Bonaventura unus post Beatum Franciscum Generalis
       Minister et vir miræ simplicitatis et sanctitatis frater Leo,
       ejusdem sancti Francisci socius. Has quatuor descriptiones seu
       historias qui legerit_...." Laurent. MS., pl. xx., c. 7, f^o 1a.
       Did the Italian translator think there was an error in this
       quotation? I do not know, but he suppressed it. At f^o 12a of
       manuscript xxxvii., 28, of the Magliabecchina, we read:
       "_Incominciano alcune croniche del ordine franciscano, come la
       vita del povero e humile servo di Dio Francesco fondatore del
       minorico ordine fu scripta da San Bonaventura e da quatro altri
       frati. Queste poche scripture ovveramente hystorie quello il
       quale diligentemente le leggiera, expeditamente potra cognoscere
       ... la vocatione la santita di San Francisco._"

  [21] Laur. MS., f^o 4b ff. On the other hand we read in a letter
       of Clareno: "_Ad hanc (paupertatem) perfecte servandam Christus
       Franciscum vocavit et elegit in hac hora novissima et precepit
       ei evangelicam assumere regulam, et a papa Innocentio fuit
       omnibus annuntiatum in concilio generali, quod de sua
       auctoritate et obedientia sanctus Franciscus evangelicam vitam
       et regulam assumpserat et Christo inspirante servare promiserat,
       sicut sanctus vir fr. Leo scribit et fr. Johannes de Celano._"
       _Archiv._, i., p. 559.

  [22] "_Audiens enim semel quorundam fratrum enormes excessus, ut
       fr. Thomas de Celano scribit, et malum exemplum per eos
       secularibus datum._" Laur. MS., f^o 13b. The passage which
       follows evidently refers to 2 Cel., 3, 93 and 112.

  [23] "_Et fecerunt de regula prima ministri removeri capitulum
       istud de prohibitionibus sancti evangelii, sicut frater Leo
       scribit._" Laur. Ms. f^o 12b. Cf. _Spec._, 9a, see p. 248. "_Nam
       cum rediisset de partibus ultramarinis, minister quidam
       loquebatur cum eo, ut frater Leo refert, de capitulo
       paupertatis_," f^o 13a, cf. _Spec._, 9a, "_S. Franciscus, teste
       fr. Leone, frequenter et cum multo studio recitabat fabulam ...
       quod oportebat finaliter ordinem humiliari et ad sue humilitatis
       principia confitenda et tenenda reduci_." _Archiv._, ii., p.

       There is only one point of contact between the Legend of the
       Three Companions, such as it is to-day, and these passages; but
       we find on the contrary revised accounts in the _Speculum_ and
       in the other collections, where they are cited as coming from
       Brother Leo.

  [24] Clareno, for example, holds that the Cardinal Ugolini had
       sustained St. Francis without approving of the first Rule, in
       concert with Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo. This is possible,
       since Ugolini was created cardinal in 1198 (Vide Cardella:
       _Memorie storiche de' Cardinali_, 9 vols., 8vo, Rome, 1792-1793,
       t. i., pt. 2, p. 190). Besides this would better explain the
       zeal with which he protected the divers Orders founded by St.
       Francis, from 1217. The chapter where Clareno tells how St.
       Francis wrote the Rule shows the working over of the legend, but
       it is very possible that he has borrowed it in its present form
       from Brother Leo. It is to be noted that we do not find in this
       document a single allusion to the Indulgences of Portiuncula.

  [25] The manuscripts and editions are well-nigh innumerable. M.
       Luigi Manzoni has studied them with a carefulness that makes it
       much to be desired that he continue this difficult work. _Studi
       sui Fioretti_: Miscelenea, 1888, pp. 116-119, 150-152, 162-168;
       1889, 9-15, 78-84, 132-135. When shall we find some one who can
       and will undertake to make a scientific edition of them? Those
       which have appeared during our time in the various cities of
       Italy are insignificant from a critical point of view. See
       Mazzoni Guido, _Capitoli inediti dei Fioretti di S. Francesco_,
       in the _Propugnatore_, Bologna, 1888, vol. xxi., pp. 396-411.

  [26] Vide A. SS., p. 865: "_Floretum non legi, nec curandum
       putavi._" Cf. 553f: "_Floretum ad manum non habeo._"

  [27] Bartolommeo di Pisa compiled it in 1385; then certain
       manuscripts of the Fioretti are earlier. Besides, in the stories
       that the Conformities borrow from the Fioretti, we perceive
       Bartolommeo's work of abbreviation.

  [28] I am speaking here only of the fifty-three chapters which
       form the true collection of the Fioretti.

  [29] The province of the March of Ancona counted seven
       custodias: 1, Ascoli; 2, Camerino; 3, Ancona; 4, Jesi; 5, Fermo;
       6, Fano; 7, Felestro. The Fioretti mention at least six of the
       monasteries of the custodia of Fermo: Moliano, 51, 53;
       Fallerone, 32, 51; Bruforte and Soffiano, 46, 47; Massa, 51;
       Penna, 45; Fermo, 41, 49, 51.

  [30] At each page we are reminded of those groves which were
       originally the indispensable appendage of the Franciscan
       monasteries: _La selva ch' era allora allato a S. M. degli
       Angeli_, 3, 10, 15, 16, etc. _La selva d' un luogo deserto del
       val di Spoleto_ (Carceri?), 4; _selva di Forano_, 42. _di
       Massa_, 51, etc.

  [31] The _Speculum_, 46b, 58b, 158a, gives us three states. Cf.
       _Fior._, 26 and 21; _Conform._, 119b, 2.

  [32] This desire was so natural that the manuscript of the
       Angelica Library includes many additional chapters, concerning
       the gift of Portiuncula, the indulgence of August 2d, the birth
       of St. Francis, etc. (Vide Amoni, Fioretti, Roma, 1889, pp. 266,
       378-386.) It would be an interesting study to seek the origin of
       these documents and to establish their relationship with the
       Speculum and the Conformities. Vide _Conform._, 231a, 1; 121b;
       _Spec._, 92-96.

  [33] Ginepro was received into the Order by St. Francis. In 1253
       he was present at St. Clara's death. A. SS., _Aug._, t. ii., p.
       764d. The Conformities speak of him in detail, f^o 62b.

  [34] The first seven chapters form a whole. The three which
       follow are doubtless a first attempt at completing them.

  [35] Conformities, f^o 55b, 1-60a, 1.

  [36] See _Archiv._, t. i., p. 145, an article of Father Denifle:
       _Zur Quellenkunde der Franziskaner Geschichte_, where he
       mentions at least eight manuscripts of this work. Cf. Ehrle:
       _Zeitschrift_, 1883, p. 324, note 3. I have studied only the two
       manuscripts of Florence: Riccardi, 279, paper, 243 fos. of two
       cols. recently numbered. The Codex of the Laurentian Gaddian.
       rel., 53, is less careful. It is also on paper, 20 x 27, and
       counts 254 fos. of 1 column. F^o 1 was formerly numbered 88. The
       order of the chapters is not the same as in the preceding.

  [37] The citations are always made from the edition of Milan,
       1510, 4to of 256 folios of two columns. The best known of the
       subsequent editions are those of Milan, 1513, and Bologna, 1590.

  [38] He began it in 1385 (f^o 1), and it was authorized by the
       chapter general August 2, 1399 (f^o 256a, 1). Besides, on f^o
       150a, 1, he set down the date when he was writing. It was in

  [39] I am not here concerned with the foolish attacks of certain
       Protestant authors upon this life. That is a quarrel of the
       theologians which in no way concerns history. Nowhere does
       Bartolommeo of Pisa make St. Francis the equal of Jesus, and he
       was able even to forestall criticism in this respect. The
       Bollandists are equally severe: "_Cum Pisanus fuerit scriptor
       magis pius et credulus quam crisi severa usus_...." A. SS., p.

  [40] He has avoided the mistakes so unfortunately committed by
       Wadding in his list of ministers general. Vide 66a. 2, 104a, 1,
       118b, 2. He was lecturer on theology at Bologna, Padua, Pisa,
       Sienna, and Florence. He preached for many years and with great
       success in the principal villages of the Peninsula and could
       thus take advantage of his travels by collecting useful notes.
       Mark of Lisbon has preserved for us a notice of his life. Vide
       _Croniche dei fratri Minori_, t. iii., p. 6 ff. of the Diola
       edition. He died December 10, 1401. For further details see
       Wadding, ann. 1399, vii., viii., and above all Sbaralea,
       _Supplementum_, p. 109. He is the author of an exposition of the
       Rule little known which can be found in the Speculum Morin,
       Rouen, 1509, f^o 66b-83a, of part three.

  [41] This opinion is expressed in a guarded manner. For example,
       f^o 207a, 1, Bartolommeo relates the miracle of the Chapter of
       the Mats, first following St. Bonaventura, then adding: "_Et
       quia non aliter tangit dicta pars (legendæ majoris) hoc insigne
       miraculum: antiqua legenda hoc refertur in hunc modum_." Cf.
       225a, 2m. "_Et quia fr. Bonaventura succincte multa tangit et in
       brevi: pro evidentia prefatorum notandum est ... ut dicit
       antiqua legenda._"

  [42] However, it is necessary to note that not only are there
       considerable differences between the editions published, but
       also that the first (that of Milan, 1510) has been completed and
       revised by its editor. The judgments passed upon Raymond
       Ganfridi, 104a, 1, and Boniface VIII., 103b, 1, show traces of
       later corrections. (Cf. 125a, 1. At f^o 72a, 2m, is indicated
       the date of the death of St. Bernardin, which was in 1444, etc.)
       Besides, we are surprised to find beside the pages where the
       sources are indicated with clearness others where stories follow
       one another coming one knows not from whence.

  [43] F^o 70a, 1: "_Cujus nomen non reperi._" 1a, 2: "_Multaque
       non ex industria sed quia ea noscere non valui omittendo._"

  [44] F^o 78a, 1: _Informationes quas non scribo quia imperfectas
       reperi._ Cf. 229b, 2: "_De aliis multis apparitionibus non
       reperi scripturam, quare hic non pono._"

  [45] F^o 69a, 1: "_Hec ut audivi posui quia ejus legendam non
       vidi._" Cf. 68b, 2m: _Fr. Henricus generalis minister mihi
       magistro Bartholomeo dixit ipse oretenus._

  [46] The citations from Bonaventura are decidedly more frequent.
       We should not be surprised, since this story is the official
       biography of St. Francis; the chapter from which Bartolommeo
       takes his quotations is almost always indicated, and, naturally,
       follows the old division in five parts. Opening the book at
       hazard at folio 136a I find no less than six references to the
       _Legenda Major_ in the first column. To give an idea of the
       style of Bartolommeo of Pisa I shall give in substance the
       contents of a page of his book. See, for example, f^o 111a (lib.
       i., conform. x., pars. ii., Franciscus predicator). In the third
       line he cites Bonaventura: "_Fr. Bonaventura in quarta parte
       majoris legende dicit quod b. Franciscus videbatur intuentibus
       homo alterius seculi._" Textual citation of Bonaventure, 45.
       Three lines further on: "_Verum qualis esset b. F. quoad
       personam sic habetur in legenda antiqua ... homo facundissimus,
       facie hilaris_, etc." The literal citation of the sketch of
       Francis follows as 1 Celano, 83, gives it as far as: "_inter
       peccatores quasi unus ex illis_," and to mark the end of the
       quotation Bartolommeo adds: "_Hec legenda antiqua_." In the next
       column paragraph 4 commences with the words: _B. Francisci
       predicationem reddebat mirabilem et gloriosam ipsius sancti
       loquutio: etenim legenda trium Sociorum dicit et Legenda major
       parte tertia: B. Francisei eloquia erant non inania, neo risu
       digna_, etc., which corresponds literally with 3 Soc., 25, and
       Bon., 28. Then come two chapters of Bonaventura almost entire,
       beginning with: _In duodecima parte legende majoris dicit Fr.
       Bonaventura: Erat enim verbum ejus_, etc. Textual quotation of
       Bon., 178 and 179. The page ends with another quotation from
       Bonaventura: _Sic dicebat prout recitat Bonaventura in octava
       parte Legende majoris: Hac officium patri misericordiarum_. Vide
       Bonav., 102 end and 103 entire. This suffices without doubt to
       show with what precision the authorities have been quoted in
       this work, with what attention and confidence ought to be
       examined those portions of documents lost or mislaid which he
       has here preserved for us.

  [47] F^o 31b, 2: _ut dicit fr. Thomas in sua legenda_, cf. 2
       Cel., 3, 60.--140a, 2: _Fr. in leg. fr. Thome_, cf. 2 Cel., 3,
       60.--140a 1, cf. 2 Cel., 3 16.--142b, 1: _Fr. in leg. Thome
       capitulo de charitate_, cf. 2 Cel., 3, 115.--144b, 1: _Fr. in
       leg. fr. Thome capitulo de oratione_, cf. 2 Cel., 3, 40.--144b,
       1, cf. 2 Cel., 3, 65.--144b, 2, cf. 2 Cel., 3, 78.--176b, 2, cf.
       2 Cel., 3, 79.--182b, 2, cf. 2 Cel., 2, 1.--241b, 1, cf. 2 Cel.,
       3, 141.--181a, 2, cf. 1 Cel., 27. It is needless to say that
       these lists of quotations do not pretend to be complete.

  [48] F^o 36b, 2. _Ut enim habetur in leg._ 3 Soc., cf. 3 Soc.,
       10.--46b, 1, cf. 3 Soc., 25-28.--38b 2, cf. 3 Soc. 3.--111a, 2,
       cf. 3 Soc., 25.--134a, 2, cf. 3 Soc., 4.--142b, 2, cf. 3 Soc., 57
       and 58.--167b, 2, cf. 3 Soc., 3 and 8.--168a, 1, cf. 3 Soc.,
       10.--170b, 1, cf. 3 Soc., 39, 4.--175b, 2, cf. 3 Soc.,
       59.--180b, 2, cf. 3 Soc., 4.--181a, 1, cf. 3 Soc., 5, 7, 24, 33,
       and 67.--181a. 2, cf. 3 Soc., 36.--229b, 2, cf. 3 Soc., 14. etc.
       The reading of 3 Soc. which Bartolommeo had before his eyes was
       pretty much the same we have to day, for he says, 181a, 2.
       referring to 3 Soc., 67: "_Ut habetur quasi in fine leg_. 3

  [49] F^o 111a, 1, _Sic habetur in leg. ant._, corresponds
       literally with 1 Cel., 83.--144a, 2. _Franciscus in leg. ant.
       cap. v. de zelo ad religionem_, to 1 Cel. 106.

  [50] F^o 111b, 1. _De predicantibus loqueus sic dicebat in ant.
       leg._ Cf. 2 Cel., 3, 99 and 106. 140b, 1. Cf. 2 Cel., 3,
       84.--144b, 1, cf. 2 Cel., 3, 45--144a, 1, cf. 2 Cel., 3, 95 and
       15.--225b, 2, cf. 2 Cel., 3, 116.

  [51] F^o 31a, 1. Vide 2 Cel., 3, 83.--143a, 2. Vide 2 Cel., 3,
       65 and 116.--144a, 1. Vide 2 Cel., 3, 94.--170b. 1. Vide 2 Cel.,
       3, 11.

  [52] F^o 14a, 2.--32a. 1.--101a, 2.--169b, 1.--144b, 2.--142a,
       2.--143b, 2.--168b, 1.--144b, 1.

  [53] Chapters 18 (chapter of the mats) and 25 (lepers cured) of
       the _Fioretti_ are found in Latin in the Conf. as borrowed from
       the Leg. Ant. Vide 174b, 1, and 207a. 1.

       Finally, according to f^o 168b, 2, it is also from the Leg. Ant.
       that the description of the coat, such as we find at the end of
       the _Chronique des Tribulations_, was borrowed. See _Archiv._,
       t. ii., p. 153.

  [54] F^o 182a, 2; cf. 51b, 1; 144a, 1.

  [55] He died December 12, 1306, at Bastia, near Assisi. See upon
       him _Chron. Tribul. Archiv._, ii.; 311 and 312; _Conform._, 60,
       119, and 153.

  [56] Although the history of the Indulgence of Portiuncula was
       of all subjects the one most largely treated in the
       Conformities, 151b, 2--157a, 2, not once does Bartolommeo of
       Pisa refer to it in the _Legenda Antiqua_. It seems, then, that
       this collection also was silent as to this celebrated pardon.

  [57] Published with extreme care by the Franciscan Fathers of
       the Observance in t. ii. of the _Analecta Franciscana, ad Claræ
       Aquas_ (Quaracchi, near Florence), 1888, 1 vol., crown 8vo, of
       xxxvi.-612 pp. This edition, as much from the critical point of
       view of the text, its correctness, its various readings and
       notes, as from the material point of view, is perfect and makes
       the more desirable a publication of the chronicles of the xxiv.
       generals and of Salimbeni by the same editors. The beginning up
       to the year 1262 has been published already by Dr. Karl Evers
       under the title _Analecta ad Fratrum Minorum historiam_,
       Leipsic, 1882, 4to of 89 pp.

  [58] I have been able only to procure the Italian edition
       published by Horatio Diola under the title _Croniche degli
       Ordini instituti dal P. S. Francesco_, 3 vols., 8vo, Venice,

       *       *       *       *       *




The following documents, which we can only briefly indicate, are of
inestimable value; they emanate from men particularly well situated to
give us the impression which the Umbrian prophet produced on his

Jacques de Vitry[1] has left extended writings on St. Francis. Like a
prudent man who has already seen many religious madmen, he is at first
reserved; but soon this sentiment disappears, and we find in him only a
humble and active admiration for the _Apostolic Man_.

He speaks of him in a letter which he wrote immediately after the taking
of Damietta (November, 1219), to his friends in Lorraine, to describe it
to them.[2] A few lines suffice to describe St. Francis and point out
his irresistible influence. There is not a single passage in the
Franciscan biographers which gives a more living idea of the apostolate
of the Poverello.

He returns to him more at length in his _Historia Occidentalis_,
devoting to him the thirty-second chapter of this curious work.[3]
These pages, vibrating with enthusiasm, were written during Francis's
lifetime,[4] at the time when the most enlightened members of the
Church, who had believed themselves to be living in the evening of the
world, _in vespere mundi tendentis ad occasum_, suddenly saw in the
direction of Umbria the light of a new day.


An archdeacon of the Cathedral of Spalato, who in 1220 was studying at
Bologna, has left us a very living portrait of St. Francis and the
memory of the impression which his preachings produced in that learned

Something of his enthusiasm has passed into his story; we feel that that
day, August 15, 1220, when he met the Poverello of Assisi, was one of
the best of his life.[6]


The continuation of William of Tyre[7] brings us a new account of
Francis's attempt to conquer the Soudan. This narrative, the longest of
all three we have on this subject, contains no feature essentially new,
but it gives one more witness to the historic value of the Franciscan

Finally, there are two chronicles written during Francis's life, which,
without giving anything new, speak with accuracy of his foundation, and
prove how rapidly that religious renovation which started in Umbria was
being propagated to the very ends of Europe. The anonymous chronicler of
Monte Sereno[8] in fact wrote about 1225, and tells us, not without
regret, of the brilliant conquests of the Franciscans.

Burchard,[9] Abbot Prémontré d'Ursberg (died in 1226), who was in Rome
in 1211, leaves us a very curious criticism of the Order.

The Brothers Minor appeared to him a little like an orthodox branch of
the Poor Men of Lyons. He even desires that the pope, while approving
the Franciscans, should do so with a view to satisfy, in the measure of
the possible, the aspirations manifested by that heresy and that of the

It is impossible to attribute any value whatever to the long pages given
to St. Francis by Matthew Paris.[10] His information is correct
wherever the activities of the friars are concerned, and he could
examine the work around him.[11] They are absolutely fantastic when he
comes to the life of St. Francis, and we can only feel surprised to find
M. Hase[12] adopting the English monk's account of the stigmata.

The notice which he gives of Francis contains as many errors as
sentences; he makes him born of a family illustrious by its nobility,
makes him study theology from his infancy (_hoc didicerat in litteris et
theologicis disciplinis quibus ab ætate tenera incubuerat, usque ad
notitiam perfectam_), etc.[13]

It would be useless to enlarge this list and mention those chroniclers
who simply noticed the foundation of the Order, its approbation, and the
death of St. Francis,[14] or those which spoke of him at length, but
simply by copying a Franciscan legend.[15]

It suffices to point out by way of memory the long chapter consecrated
to St. Francis in the Golden Legend. Giachimo di Voraggio ([Cross]
1298) there sums up with accuracy but without order the essential
features of the first legends and in particular the Second Life by

As for the inscription of Santa Maria del Vescovado at Assisi it is too
unformed to be anything but a simple object of curiosity.[17]

       *       *       *       *       *

I have given up preparing a complete bibliography of works concerning
St. Francis, that task having been very well done by the Abbé Ulysse
Chevalier in his _Répertoire des sources historiques du moyen age_,
Bio-Bibliographie, cols. 765-767 and 2588-2590, Paris, 1 vol., 4to,
1876-1888. To it I refer my readers.


   [1] He was born at Vitry sur Seine, became Curé of Argenteuil,
       near Paris; Canon of Oignies, in the diocese of Namur, preached
       the crusade against the Albigenses, and accompanied the
       Crusaders to Palestine; having been made Bishop of Acre, he was
       present in 1219 at the siege and at the capture of Damietta and
       returned to Europe in 1225; created Cardinal-bishop of Frascati
       in 1229, he died in 1244, leaving a number of writings. For his
       life, see the preface of his _Historiæ_, edition of Douai, 1597.

   [2] This letter may be found in (Bongars) _Gesta Dei per
       Francio_, pp. 1146-1149.

   [3] _Jacobi de Vitriaco Libri duo quorum prior Orientalis, alter
       Occidentalis Historiæ nomine inscribitur studio Fr. Moschi Duaci
       ex officina Balthazaris Belleri_, 1597, 16mo, 480 pp. Chapter
       xxxii. fills pages 349-353, and is entitled _De ordine et
       prædicatione fratrum Minorum_. See above, p. 229.

   [4] This appears from the passage: _Videmus primus ordinis
       fundatorem magestrum cui tanquam summo Priori suo omnes alii
       obediunt._ _Loc. cit._, p. 352.

   [5] It is inserted in the treatise of Sigonius on the bishops of
       Bologna: _Caroli Sigonii de episcopis Bononiensibus libri
       quinque cum notis L. C. Rabbii_, a work which occupies cols.
       353-590 of t. iii. of his _Opera omnia_, Milan, 1732-1737, 6
       vols., f^o. We find our fragment in col. 432.

   [6] This passage will be found above, p. 241.

   [7] _Guillelmi Tyrensis arch. Continuala belli sacri historia_
       in Martène: _Amplissima Collectio_, t. v. pp. 584-572. The piece
       concerning Francis is cols. 689-690.

   [8] _Chronicon Montis Sereni_ (at present Petersberg, near
       Halle), edited by Ehrenfeuchter in the _Mon. Germ. hist.
       Script._, t. 23, pp. 130-226, 229.

   [9] _Burchardi et Cuonradi Urspergensium chronicon_ ed., A. Otto
       Abel and L. Weiland, _apud Mon. Germ, hist._, t. 23, pp.
       333-383. The monastery of Ursperg was half-way between Ulm and
       Augsburg. Vide p. 376.

  [10] _Matthæi Parisiensis monachie Albanensis, Historia major_,
       edition Watts, London, 1640. The Brothers Minor are first
       mentioned in the year 1207, p. 222, then 1227, pp. 339-342.

  [11] See the article, _Minores_, in the table of contents of the
       _Mon. Germ. hist. Script._, t. xxviii.

  [12] _Franz von Assisi_, p. 168 ff.

  [13] See above, p. 97, his story of the audience with Innocent

  [14] For example, _Chronica Albrici trium fontium_ in Pertz:
       _Script._, t. 23, _ad ann. 1207_, 1226, 1228. Vide Fragment of
       the chron. of Philippe Mousket ([Cross] before 1245). _Recueil des
       historiens_, t. xxii., p. 71, lines 30347-30360. The number of
       annalists in this century is appalling, and there is not one in
       ten who has omitted to note the foundation of the Minor

  [15] For example, Vincent de Beauvais ([Cross] 1264) gives in his
       _Speculum historiale_, lib. 29, cap. 97-99, lib. 30, cap.
       99-111, nearly every story given by the Bollandists under the
       title of _Secunda legenda_ in their _Commentarium prævium_.

  [16] _Legenda aurea_, Graesse, Breslau, 1890, pp. 662-674.

  [17] A good reproduction of it will be found in the _Miscellanea
       francescana_, t. ii., pp. 33-37, accompanied by a learned
       dissertation by M. Faloci Pulignani.

       *       *       *       *       *




A dissertation upon the possibility of miracles would be out of place
here; a historic sketch is not a treatise on philosophy or dogmatics.

Still, I owe the reader a few explanations, to enable him with thorough
understanding to judge of my manner of viewing the subject.

If by miracle we understand either the suspension or subversion of the
laws of nature, or the intervention of the first cause in certain
particular cases, I could not concede it. In this negation physical and
logical reasons are secondary; the true reason--let no one be
surprised--is entirely religious; the miracle is immoral. The equality
of all before God is one of the postulates of the religious
consciousness, and the miracle, that good pleasure of God, only degrades
him to the level of the capricious tyrants of the earth.

The existing churches, making, as nearly all of them do, this notion of
miracle the very essence of religion and the basis of all positive
faith, involuntarily render themselves guilty of that emasculation of
manliness and morality of which they so passionately complain. If God
intervenes thus irregularly in the affairs of men, the latter can
hardly do otherwise than seek to become courtiers who expect all things
of the sovereign's _favor_.

The question changes its aspect, if we call miracle, as we most
generally do, all that goes beyond ordinary experience.

Many apologists delight in showing that the unheard of, the
inexplicable, are met with all through life. They are right and I agree
with them, on condition that they do not at the close of their
explanation replace this new notion of the supernatural by the former

It is thus that I have come to conclude the reality of the stigmata.
They may have been a unique fact without being more miraculous than
other phenomena; for example, the mathematical powers or the musical
ability of an infant prodigy.

There are in the human creature almost indefinite powers, marvellous
energies; in the great majority of men these lie in torpid slumber, but
awaking to life in a few, they make of them prophets, men of genius, and
saints who show humanity its true nature.

We have caught but fleeting glimpses into the domain of mental
pathology, so vast is it and unexplored; the learned men of the future
will perhaps make, in the realms of psychology and physiology, such
discoveries as will bring about a complete revolution in our laws and

It remains to examine the stigmata from the point of view of history.
And though in this field there is no lack of difficulties, small and
great, the testimony appears to me to be at once too abundant and too
precise not to command conviction.

We may at the outset set aside the system of those who hold that Brother
Elias helped on their appearance by a pious fraud. Such a claim might
indeed be defended if these marks had been gaping wounds, as they are
now or in most cases have been represented to be; but all the testimony
agrees in describing them, with the exception of the mark on the side,
as blackish, fleshy excrescences, like the heads of nails, and in the
palms of the hands like the points of nails clinched by a hammer. There
was no bloody exudation except at the side.

On the other hand, any deception on the part of Elias would oblige us to
hold that his accomplices were actually the heads of the party opposed
to him, Leo, Angelo, and Rufino. Such want of wit would be surprising
indeed in a man so circumspect.

Finally the psychological agreement between the external circumstances
and the event is so close that an invention of this character would be
as inexplicable as the fact itself. That which indeed almost always
betrays invented or unnatural incidents is that they do not fit into the
framework of the facts. They are extraneous events, purely decorative
elements whose place might be changed at will.

Nothing of the sort is the case here: Thomas of Celano is so veracious
and so exact, that though holding the stigmata to be miraculous, he
gives us all the elements necessary for explaining them in a
diametrically opposite manner.

1. The preponderating place of the passion of Jesus in Francis's
conscience ever since his conversion (1 Cel., 115; 2 Cel., 1, 6; 3, 29;
49; 52).

2. His sojourn in the Verna coincides with a great increase of mystical

3. He there observes a Lent in honor of the archangel St. Michael.

4. The festival of the exaltation of the cross comes on, and in the
vision of the crucified seraph is blended the two ideas which have taken
possession of him, the angels and the crucifix (1 Cel., 91-96,

This perfect congruity between the circumstances and the prodigy itself
forms a moral proof whose value cannot be exaggerated.

It is time to pass the principal witnesses in review.

1. Brother Elias, 1226. On the very day after the death of Francis,
Brother Elias, in his capacity of vicar, sent letters to the entire
Order announcing the event and prescribing prayers.[1]

After having expressed his sorrow and imparted to the Brothers the
blessing with which the dying Francis had charged him for them, he adds:
"I announce to you a great joy and a new miracle. Never has the world
seen such a sign, except on the Son of God who is the Christ God. For a
long time before his death our Brother and Father appeared as crucified,
having in his body five wounds which are truly the stigmata of Christ,
for his hands and his feet bore marks as of nails without and within,
forming a sort of scars; while at the side he was as if pierced with a
lance, and often a little blood oozed from it."

2. Brother Leo. We find that it is the very adversary of Elias who is
the natural witness, not only of the stigmata, but of the circumstances
of their imprinting. This fact adds a peculiar value to his account.

We learned above (Critical Study, p. 377) the untoward fate of a part of
the Legend of Brothers Leo, Angelo, and Rufino. The chapters with which
it now closes (68-73) and in which the narrative of the miracle occurs,
were not originally a part of it. They are a summary added at a later
time to complete this document. This appendix, therefore, has no
historic value, and we neither depend on it with the ecclesiastical
authors to affirm the miracle, nor with M. Hase to call it in question.

Happily the testimony of Brother Leo has come down to us in spite of
that. We are not left even to seek for it in the Speculum, the Fioretti,
the Conformities, where fragments of his work are to be found; we find
it in several other documents of incontestable authority.

The authenticity of the autograph of St. Francis preserved at Assisi
appears to be thoroughly established (see Critical Study, p. 357); it
contains the following note by Brother Leo's hand: "The Blessed Francis
two years before his death kept on the Verna in honor of the B. V. Mary
mother of God, and St. Michael Archangel, a Lent from the festival of
the Assumption of the B. V. M. to the festival of St. Michael in
September, and the hand of God was upon him by the vision and the
address of the seraph and the impression of the stigmata upon his body.
He made the laudes that are on the other side, ... etc."

Again, Eccleston (13) shows us Brother Leo complaining to Brother Peter
of Tewkesbury, minister in England, that the legend is too brief
concerning the events on the Verna, and relating to him the greater
number of the incidents which form the nucleus of the Fioretti on the
stigmata. These memorials are all the more certain that they were
immediately committed to writing by Peter of Tewkesbury's companion,
Brother Garin von Sedenfeld.

Finally Salembeni, in his chronicle (ad ann. 1224) in speaking of
Ezzelino da Romano is led to oppose him to Francis. He suddenly
remembers the stigmata and says, "Never man on earth, but he, has had
the five wounds of Christ. His companion, Brother Leo, who was present
when they washed the body before the burial, told me that he looked
precisely like a crucified man taken down from the cross."

3. Thomas of Celano, before 1230. He describes them more at length than
Brother Elias (1 Cel., 94, 95, 112).

The details are too precise not to suggest a lesson learned by heart.
The author nowhere assumes to be an eye-witness, yet he has the tone of
a legal deposition.

These objections are not without weight, but the very novelty of the
miracle might have induced the Franciscans to fix it in a sort of
canonical and so to say, stereotyped narrative.

4. The portrait of Francis, by Berlinghieri, dated 1236,[2] preserved
at Pescia (province of Lucca) shows the stigmata as they are described
in the preceding documents.

5. Gregory IX. in 1237. Bull of March 31; _Confessor Domini_ (Potthast,
10307. Cf. 10315). A movement of opinion against the stigmata had been
produced in certain countries. The pope asks all the faithful to believe
in them. Two other bulls of the same day, one addressed to the Bishop of
Olmütz, the other to the Dominicans, energetically condemns them for
calling the stigmata in question (Potthast, 10308 and 10309).

6. Alexander IV., in his bull _Benigna operatio_ of October 29, 1255
(Potthast, 16077), states that having formerly been the domestic
prelate of Cardinal Ugolini, he knew St. Francis familiarly, and
supports his description of the stigmata by these relations.

To this pontiff are due several bulls declaring excommunicate all those
who deny them. These contribute nothing new to the question.

7. Bonaventura (1260) repeats in his legend Thomas of Celano's
description (Bon., 193; cf. 1 Cel. 94 and 95), not without adding some
new factors (Bon., 194-200 and 215-218), often so coarse and clumsy that
they inevitably awaken doubt (see for example, 201).

8. Matthew Paris ([Cross] 1259). His discordant witness barely
deserves being cited by way of memoir (see Critical Study, p. 431). To
be able to forgive the fanciful character of his long disquisitions on
St. Francis, we are forced to recall to mind that he owed his
information to the verbal account of some pilgrim. He makes the
stigmata appear a fortnight before the Saint's death, shows them
continually emitting blood, the wound on the side so wide open that
the heart could be seen. The people gather in crowds to see the sight,
the cardinals come also, and all together listen to Francis's strange
declarations. (_Historia major_, Watts's edition London, 1 vol. fol.,
1640, pp. 339-342.)

This list might be greatly lengthened by the addition of a passage from
Luke bishop of Tuy (Lucas Tudensis) written in 1231;[3] based
especially on the Life by Thomas of Celano, and oral witnesses.

The statement of Brother Boniface, an eye-witness, at the chapter of
Genoa (1254). (Eccl. 13.)

Finally and especially, we should study the strophes relating to the
stigmata in the proses, hymns, and sequences composed in 1228 by the
pope and several cardinals for the Office of St. Francis; but such a
work, to be done with accuracy, would carry us very far, and the
authorities already cited doubtless suffice without bringing in

The objections which have been opposed to these witnesses may be
reduced, I think, to the following:[5]

_a._ Francis's funeral took place with surprising precipitation. Dead on
Saturday evening, he was buried Sunday morning.

_b._ His body was enclosed in a coffin, which is contrary to Italian

_c._ At the time of the removal, the body, wrested from the multitude,
is so carefully hidden in the basilica that for centuries its precise
place has been unknown.

_d._ The bull of canonization makes no mention of the stigmata.

_e._ They were not admitted without a contest, and among those who
denied them were some bishops.

None of these arguments appears to me decisive.

_a._ In the Middle Ages funerals almost always took place immediately
after death (Innocent III. dying at Perugia July 16, 1216, is interred
the 17th; Honorius III. dies March 18, 1227, and is interred the next

_b._ It is more difficult than many suppose to know what were the habits
concerning funerals in Umbria in the thirteenth century. However that
may be, it was certainly necessary to put Francis's body into a coffin.
He being already canonized by popular sentiment, his corpse was from
that moment a relic for which a reliquary was necessary; nay more, a
strong box such as the secondary scenes in Berlinghieri's picture shows
it to have been. Without such a precaution the sacred body would have
been reduced to fragments in a few moments. Call to mind the wild
enthusiasm that led the devotees to cut off the ears and even the
breasts of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. [_Quædam aures illius truncabant,
etiam summitatem mamillarum ejus quidam praecidebant et pro reliquiis
sibi servabant._--_Liber de dictis iv. ancillarum_, Mencken, vol. ii.,
p. 2032.]

_c._ The ceremony of translation brought an innumerable multitude to
Assisi. If Brother Elias concealed the body,[6] he may have been led
to do so by the fear of some organized surprise of the Perugians to gain
possession of the precious relic. With the customs of those days, such a
theft would have been in nowise extraordinary. These very Perugians a
few years later stole away from Bastia, a village dependent on Assisi,
the body of Conrad of Offida, which was performing innumerable miracles
there. (_Conform._, 60b, 1; cf. Giord., 50.) Similar affrays took place
at Padua over the relics of St. Anthony. (Hilaire, _Saint Antoine de
Padoue, sa légende primitive_, Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1 vol., 8vo, 1890, pp.

_d._ The bull of canonization, with the greater number of such
documents, for that matter, makes no historic claim. In its wordy
rhetoric we shall sooner learn the history of the Philistines, of
Samson, or even of Jacob, than of St. Francis. Canonization here is only
a pretext which the old pontiff seizes for recurring to his favorite

This silence signifies nothing after the very explicit testimony of
other bulls by the same pontiff in 1227, and after the part given to the
stigmata in the liturgical songs which in 1228 he composed for the
office of St. Francis.

_e._ These attacks by certain bishops are in nowise surprising; they are
episodes in the struggle of the secular clergy against the mendicant

At the time when these negations were brought forward (1237) the
narrative of Thomas of Celano was official and everywhere known; nothing
therefore would have been easier, half a score of years after the
events, than to bring witnesses to expose the fraud if there had been
any; but the Bishop of Olmütz and the others base their objections
always and only upon dogmatic grounds.

As to the attacks of the Dominicans, it is needless to recall the
rivalry between the two Orders;[7] is it not then singular to find
these protestations coming from Silesia (!) and never from Central
Italy, where, among other eye-witnesses, Brother Leo was yet living
([Cross] 1271)?

Thus the witnesses appear to me to maintain their integrity. We might
have preferred them more simple and shorter, we could wish that they had
reached us without details which awake all sorts of suspicions,[8] but
it is very seldom that a witness does not try to prove his affirmations
and to prop them up by arguments which, though detestable, are
appropriate to the vulgar audience to which he is speaking.


This question might be set aside; on the whole it has no direct
connection with the history of St. Francis.

Yet it occupies too large a place in modern biographies not to require a
few words: it is related that Francis was in prayer one night at
Portiuncula when Jesus and the Virgin appeared to him with a retinue of
angels. He made bold to ask an unheard-of privilege, that of plenary
indulgence of all sins for all those who, having confessed and being
contrite, should visit this chapel. Jesus granted this at his mother's
request, on the sole condition that his vicar the pope would ratify it.

The next day Francis set out for Perugia, accompanied by Masseo, and
obtained from Honorius the desired indulgence, but only for the day of
August 2d.

Such, in a few lines, is the summary of this legend, which is surrounded
with a crowd of marvellous incidents.

The question of the nature and value of indulgences is not here
concerned. The only one which is here put is this: Did Francis ask this
indulgence and did Honorius III. grant it?

Merely to reduce it to these simple proportions is to be brought to
answer it with a categorical No.

It would be tedious to refer even briefly to the difficulties,
contradictions, impossibilities of this story, many a time pointed out
by orthodox writers. In spite of all they have come to the affirmative
conclusion: _Roma locuta est_.

Those whom this subject may interest will find in the note above
detailed bibliographical indications of the principal elements of this
now quieted discussion. I shall confine myself to pointing out the
impossibilities with which tradition comes into collision; they are both
psychological and historical. The Bollandists long since pointed out the
silence of Francis's early biographers upon this question. Now that the
published documents are much more numerous, this silence is still more
overwhelming. Neither the First nor the Second Life by Thomas of Celano,
nor the anonymous author of the second life given in the Acta Sanctorum,
nor even the anonymous writer of Perugia, nor the Three Companions, nor
Bonaventura say a single word on the subject. No more do very much later
works mention it, which sin only by excessive critical scruples: Bernard
of Besse, Giordiano di Giano, Thomas Eccleston, the Chronicle of the
Tribulations, the Fioretti, and even the Golden Legend.

This conspiracy of silence of all the writers of the thirteenth century
would be the greatest miracle of history if it were not absurd.

By way of explanation, it has been said that these writers refrained
from speaking of this indulgence for fear of injuring that of the
Crusade; but in that case, why did the pope command seven bishops to go
to Portiuncula to proclaim it in his name?

The legend takes upon itself to explain that Francis refused a bull or
any written attestation of this privilege; but, admitting this, it would
still be necessary to explain why no hint of this matter has been
preserved in the papers of Honorius III. And how is it that the bulls
sent to the seven bishops have left not the slightest trace upon this
pontiff's register?

Again, how does it happen, if seven bishops officially promulgated this
indulgence in 1217, that St. Francis, after having related to Brother
Leo his interview with the pope, said to him: "_Teneas secretum hoc
usque circa mortem tuam; quia non habet locum adhuc. Quia hæc
indulgentia occultabitur ad tempus; sed Dominus trahet eam extra et
manifestabitur._" _Conform._, 153b, 2. Such an avowal is not wanting in
simplicity. It abundantly proves that before the death of Brother Leo
(1271) no one had spoken of this famous pardon.

After this it is needless to insist upon secondary difficulties; how is
it that the chapters-general were not fixed for August 2d, to allow the
Brothers to secure the indulgence?

How explain that Francis, after having received in 1216 a privilege
unique in the annals of the Church, should be a stranger to the pope in

There is, however, one more proof whose value exceeds all the
others--Francis's Will:

"I forbid absolutely all the Brothers by their obedience, in whatever
place they may be, to ask any bull of the court of Rome, whether
directly or indirectly, nor under pretext of church or convent, nor
under pretext of preaching, nor even for their personal protection."

Before closing it remains for us to glance at the growth of this legend.

It was definitively constituted about 1330-1340, but it was in the air
long before. With the patience of four Benedictines (of the best days)
we should doubtless be able to find our way in the medley of documents,
more or less corrupted, from which it comes to us, and little by little
we might find the starting-point of this dream in a friar who sees
blinded humanity kneeling around Portiuncula to recover sight.[10]

It is not difficult to see in general what led to the materialization of
this graceful fancy: people remembered Francis's attachment to the
chapel where he had heard the decisive words of the gospel, and where
St. Clara in her turn had entered upon a new life.

When the great Basilica of Assisi was built, drawing to itself pilgrims
and privileges, an opposition of principles and of inspiration came to
be added to the petty rivalry between it and Portiuncula.

The zealots of poverty said aloud that though the Saint's body rested in
the basilica his heart was at Portiuncula.[11] By dint of repeating and
exaggerating what Francis had said about the little sanctuary, they came
to give a precise and so to say doctrinal sense to utterances purely

The violences and persecutions of the party of the Large Observance
under the generalship of Crescentius[12] (1244-1247) aroused a vast
increase of fervor among their adversaries. To the bull of Innocent IV.
declaring the basilica thenceforth _Caput et Mater_ of the Order[13]
the Zealots replied by the narratives of Celano's Second Life and the
legends of that period.[14] They went so far as to quote a promise of
Francis to make it in perpetuity the _Mater et Caput_ of his

In this way the two parties came to group themselves around these two
buildings. Even to-day it is the same. The Franciscans of the Strict
Observance occupy Portiuncula, while the Basilica of Assisi is in the
hands of the Conventuals (Large Observance), who have adopted all the
interpretations and mitigations of the Rules; they are worthy folk, who
live upon their dividends. By a phenomenon, unique, I think, in the
annals of the Church, they have pushed the freedom of their infidelity
to the point of casting off the habit, the popular brown cassock.
Dressed all in black, shod and hatted, nothing distinguishes them from
the secular clergy except a modest little cord.

Poor Francis! That he may have the joy of feeling his tomb brushed by a
coarse gown, some daring friar must overcome his very natural
repugnances, and come to kneel there. The indulgence of August 2d is
then the reply of the Zealots to the persecutions of their brothers.

An attentive study will perhaps show it emerging little by little under
the generalship of Raimondo Gaufridi (1289-1295); Conrad di Offida ([Cross]
1306) seems to have had some effect upon it, but only with the next
generation do we find the legend completed and avowed in open day.

Begun in a misapprehension it ends by imposing itself upon the Church,
which to-day guarantees it with its infallible authority, and yet in its
origin it was a veritable cry of revolt against the decisions of Rome.


   [1] The text was published in 1620 by Spoelberch (in his
       _Speculum vitæ B. Francisci_, Antwerp, 2 vols., 12mo, ii., pp.
       103-106), after the copy addressed to Brother Gregory,
       minister in France, and then preserved in the convent of the
       Recollects in Valenciennes. It was reproduced by Wadding (Ann.
       1226, no. 44) and the Bollandists (pp. 668 and 669).

       So late an appearance of a capital document might have left
       room for doubts; there is no longer reason for any, since the
       publication of the chronicle of Giordano di Giano, who relates
       the sending of this letter (Giord., 50). The Abbé Amoni has
       also published this text (at the close of his _Legenda trium
       Sociorum_, Rome, 1880, pp. 105-109), but according to his
       deplorable habit, he neglects to tell whence he has drawn it.
       This is the more to be regretted since he gives a variant of
       the first order: _Nam diu ante mortem_ instead of _Non diu_,
       as Spoelberch's text has it. The reading _Nam diu_ appears
       preferable from a philological point of view.

   [2] Engraved in Saint François d'Assise, Paris, 4to, 1885, p. 277.

   [3] _Bibliotheca Patrum._ Lyons, 1677, xxv., _adv.
       Albigenses_, lib. ii., cap. 11., cf. iii., 14 and 15.
       Reproduced in the A. SS., p. 652.

   [4] The curious may consult the following sources: Salimbeni,
       ann. 1250--_Conform._, 171b 2, 235a 2; Bon., 200; Wadding,
       _ann. 1228_, no. 78; A. SS., p. 800. Manuscript 340 of the
       _Sacro Convento_ contains (fo. 55b-56b) four of these hymns.
       Cf. _Archiv._ i., p. 485.

   [5] See in particular Hase: _Franz v. Assisi_. Leipsic, 1
       vol., 8vo., 1856. The learned professor devotes no less than
       sixty closely printed pages to the study of the stigmata,

   [6] The more I think about it, the more incapable I become of
       attributing any sort of weight to this argument from the
       disappearance of the body; for in fact, if there had been any
       pious fraud on Elias's part, he would on the contrary have
       displayed the corpse.

   [7] See, for example, 2 Cel., 3, 86, as well as the encyclical
       of Giovanni di Parma and Umberto di Romano, in 1225.

   [8] The following among many others: Francis had particularly
       high breeches made for him, to hide the wound in the side
       (Bon., 201). At the moment of the apparition, which took place
       during the night, so great a light flooded the whole country,
       that merchants lodging in the inns of Casentino saddled their
       beasts and set out on their way. _Fior., iii. consid._

       Hase, in his study, is continually under the weight of the bad
       impression made upon him by Bonaventura's deplorable
       arguments; he sees the other witness only through him. I think
       that if he had read simply Thomas of Celano's first Life, he
       would have arrived at very different conclusions.

   [9] The most important document is manuscript 344 of the
       archives of Sacro Convento at Assisi. _Liber indulgentiæ S.
       Mariæ de Angelis sive de Portiuncula in quo libra ego fr.
       Franciscus Bartholi de Assisio posui quidquid potui sollicite
       invenire in legendis antiquis et novis b. Francisci et in
       aliis dictis sociorum ejus de loco eodem et commendatione
       ipsius loci et quidquid veritatis et certitudinis potui
       invenire de sacra indulgentia prefati loci, quomodo scilicet
       fuit impetrata et data b. Francisco de miraculis ipsius
       indulgentiæ quæ ipsam declarant certam et veram._ Bartholi
       lived in the first half of the fourteenth century. His work is
       still unpublished, but Father Leo Patrem M. O. is preparing it
       for publication. The name of this learned monk gives every
       guaranty for the accuracy of this difficult work; meanwhile a
       detailed description and long extracts may be found in the
       Miscellanea (ii., 1887). _La storia del perdono di Francesco
       de Bartholi_, by Don Michele Faloci Pulignani, pp. 149-153
       (cf. _Archiv._, i., p. 486). See also in the Miscellanea (i.,
       1886, p. 15) a bibliographical note containing a detailed list
       of fifty-eight works (cf. ibid., pp. 48, 145). The legend
       itself is found in the _Speculum_, 69b-83a, and in the
       _Conformities_, 151b-157a. In these two collections it is
       still found laboriously worked in and is not an integral part
       of the rest of the work. In the latter, Bartolemmeo di Pisa
       has carried accuracy so far as to copy from end to end all the
       documents that he had before him, and as they belong to
       different periods he thus gives us several phases of the
       development of the tradition. The most complete work is that
       of the Recollect Father Grouwel: _Historia critica S.
       Indulgentiæ B. Mariæ Angelorum vulgo de Portiuncula ... contra
       Libellos aliquos anonymo ac famosos nuper editos_, Antwerp,
       1726, 1 vol., 8vo. pp. 510. The Bollandist Suysken also makes
       a long study of it (A. SS., pp. 879-910), as also the
       Recollect Father Candide Chalippe, _Vie de saint François
       d'Assise_, 3 vols., 8vo, Paris, 1874 (the first edition is of
       1720), vol. iii., pp. 190-327.

       In each of these works we find what has been said in all the
       others. The numerous writings against the Indulgence are
       either a collection of vulgarities or dogmatic treatises; I
       refrain from burdening these pages with them. The principal
       ones are indicated by Grouwel and Chalippe.

       Among contemporaries Father Barnabas of Alsace: _Portiuncula
       oder Geschichte Unserer lieben Frau von den Engeln_ (Rixheim,
       1 vol., 8vo. 1884), represents the tradition of the Order, and
       the Abbé Le Monnier (_Histoire de Saint François_, 2 vols.,
       8vo, Paris, 1889), moderate Catholic opinion in non-Franciscan

       The best summary is that of Father Panfilo da Magliano in his
       _Storia compendiosa_. It has been completed and amended in the
       German translation: _Geschichte des h. Franciscus und der
       Franziskaner übersetzt und bearbeitet_ von Fr. Quintianus
       Müller, vol. i., Munich, 1883, pp. 233-259.

  [10] 2 Cel., 1, 13; 3 Soc., 56; Bon., 24.

  [11] _Conform._, 239b, 2.

  [12] See in particular _Archiv._, ii., p. 259, and the bull of
       February 7, 1246. Potthast, 12007; Glassberger, _ann. 1244_
       (_An. fr._ t. ii., p. 69).

  [13] _Is qui ecclesiam_, March. 6, 1245, Potthast, 11576.

  [14] 2 Cel., 1, 12 (cf. _Conform._, 218a, 1); 3 Soc., 56;
       _Spec._, 32b ff.; 49b ff.; _Conform._, 144a, 2.

  [15] _Conform._, 169a; 2, 217b. 1 ff. Cf. _Fior._, Amoni's ed.
       (Appendix to the Codex of the Bib. Angelica), p. 378.

       *       *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *



   Text surrounded by underscores (_text_) indicates italics in the

   Text surrounded by tildes (~text~) indicates bold in the original.

   'Folio' abbreviation: The original has two versions. 'F' or 'f'
   followed by superscripted 'o' is transcribed F^o/f^o.
   'fo.'/'fos.' is transcribed 'fo.'/'fos.'.

   [Cross] is used where the text had a single character that resembled a
   Maltese Cross, and denotes year of death.

   Footnotes have been moved from the bottom of each page to the end
   of each chapter, and renumbered by chapter.


   In many spots in the scans, primarily in footnote citations,
   periods and commas are partially or completely obscured, with
   white space where the mark would logically appear. Where the scan
   is unclear, punctuation has been transcribed to match the most
   common use in the book. Where the punctuation is different from
   common usage, but clearly present (i.e. no extra white space
   after an abbreviation or full comma where a period seems to make
   more sense), the scans have been replicated.

   There were a number of incidences of missing closing quotation
   marks, particularly for dialog or prayers. These have been
   corrected without further comment.

   Two lines missing from the translation of the prayer commonly
   known as "The Canticle of All Creatures" (Chapter XVII) have been
   added. The added text is shown in braces ({}).

   'Analecta Fracniscana' in CRITICAL STUDY OF THE WORKS, Section IV,
   Part III, Footnote 9 was changed to 'Analecta Franciscana'.

   'Served by a poor priest who scarely' in Chapter IV was changed to
   'Served by a poor priest who scarcely'.

   In the original text, 'obediunt' was NOT italicized in the
   following quotation: "Videmus primus ordinis fundatorem magestrum
   cui tanquam summo Priori suo omnes alii obediunt." (CRITICAL
   STUDY OF THE WORKS, Section III, Part V, Footnote 4). It is
   italicized here.

   Chapter XV, footnote 4 had no anchor marker in the original text.
   The placement of this marker in this transcription is not confirmed.

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including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.